Bolton Steam Museum

The Northern Mill Engine Society was formed in 1966 and can be seen as part of a growing nationwide awareness in the United Kingdom that the nation’s industrial heritage was under threat. The Society’s object was to collect examples of characteristic steam engines from the many textile mills in Lancashire and Yorkshire that were then being closed. The Society was able to hold its collection at the Atlas Mills in Bolton, a huge spinning mill complex, where there were once 400,000 spindles and 2,000 employees. A museum displaying re-constructed engines to the public, was opened in 1983.

The future of the collection was threatened in 1990 when the mill complex was sold for redevelopment as a supermarket, but the supermarket owners made available a warehouse of the 1890s on the perimeter of the site, which once accommodated 7,000 bales of cotton. All the engines had to be dismantled, moved and re-erected, but the museum was re-opened from 2006. Some 29 engines are currently displayed. One of the most notable is the 1500 hp twin-tandem Dee Mill engine, from Oldham, built by Scott & Hodgson of Guide Bridge in 1907. It powered machines by rope drive, and its flywheel has grooves for 38 ropes. The oldest engine is the Crossfield Mill beam engine from Wardle near Rochdale which dates from circa 1840 and worked till 1953. The largest is the 40-ton Cellarsclough engine from Marsden, near Huddersfield which dates from circa 1870, but was converted in 1908 into a two-cylinder compound on the principles developed by William McNaught (1813-81) of Glasgow. There are vertical and horizontal engines, and a collection of the small barring engines used to start larger engines, which were often the only parts that could be saved.

Bolton Steam Museum
Mornington Road
BL1 4EU Bolton
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1204 - 846490