The Marsden Engine - Eleanor Nightingale Project


The Marsden engine is recognised as the last steam mill engine to have powered the mill for which it was designed and built. It was manufactured in 1907 for Barker’s tannery in Otley. It ceased production on 6th July 1988 and was purchased by John Wilson, who, with the help of a retired Marsden engineer, Alan Nightingale, dismantled and stored the engine. When becoming a volunteer, he offered the engine on loan to the Trust on the condition that it was restored and rebuilt.

The Ellenroad trust applied for a competitive grant from the Big Lottery Fund. The group won the competition and was given £48,000 to develop links with young people and use the rebuilding as an example.

After being stored for over 20 years, the day finally came when the engine could be transferred to the Engine House. Most of the essential parts were in reasonable condition having been stored indoors, however, the piston rod was badly corroded and it was necessary to have this metal sprayed and reground to size. The cylinder block also had minor imperfections due to the River Ryburn flooding the surrounding area and running through it. 

Building a concrete foundation that was substantial enough to take the weight of the engine and provide an accurate base was one of the biggest jobs of this project. The next task was to assemble the parts.  The flywheel and crankshaft took many hours of adjustment before they were deemed to be as good as possible.  Luckily most of the other major parts were assembled quickly. The valve components had not been altered so the volunteers were able to build the mechanism without the need for re-setting the valves and timings. The final task was to find a set of white metal packings to seal the valve rods of the Corliss valve gear. Surprisingly, these were made by the same company who supplied the originals.

The Marsden engine is a single horizontal engine with 100IHP.  
The cylinder is 24" in diameter and has a stroke of 3ft.  The working
pressure was original 50PSI and ran at 92RPM. The valve gear is of the Corliss type operated by eccentrics on the crankshaft. The flywheel is made of two castings weighing a total of 7tons with a 10ft diameter.  The engine has a standard Pickering Governor which is run by shafts with bevel gears.  the shafts originally ran in channels below the floor but the engine has been rebuilt on a higher base so that the drive is visible to the public.  Lubrication is mainly performed through dropper bottle lubricators but an oil pump was inserted to recycle oil through the main bearings and to the Governor drive as this was originally out of reach under the floor.


For more pictures of the  Marsden Engine - Eleanor Nightingale Project, see our Google+ Page.