Mill Engine - Elizabeth

Vital Statistics

Type - True Vertical Compound with Grasshopper Beam

Output - 250hp @ 60 r.p.m. and 150lbs steam pressure

High Pressure Cylinder - 11" Bore & 3'-11" Stroke

Low Pressure Cylinder - 22" Bore & 3ft Stroke

Governor - Lumb Governor driven by ropes

Main Crank - 3ft Stoke

Flywheel - 12ft Diameter

Transmission - gear wheel on rear of main crank shaft


This true vertical steam engine was built by Schofield & Taylor of Turnbridge, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in 1887/9 to drive a woolen mill in Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield.

When operated on steam at 150 pounds per square inch, and turning at 60 r.p.m., Elizabeth could develop 250hp using two compounded cylinders and condensing of the exhaust. The unusual feature of this engine is that it includes a 'grasshopper beam'. That is a beam, at ground floor level, that is pivoted at one end rather than in the middle. Both cylinders are connected to the beam through parallel motion and then drives are taken off to the flywheel, the air pump (for the Condenser) & the boiler feed pump. The drive to the Mill machinery was from a pinion gear on the outer end of the crank shaft

It is thought that this was the first engine constructed by Schofield & Taylor and that it is the largest engine of this type ever built. It worked until 1962 when the mill was converted to run from electric motors.

In 1976 the owners of the mill, Edwin Shaw, agreed for the engine to be saved from the mill and rebuild at Wortley Top Forge. Because of the design of the engine, it has to be housed within some form of structure. In the original mill, the engine house was made as small as possible, both to save space and to keep the weight of the engine close to the supporting walls. As a result the internal staircase, that is original, is both narrow and steep.

The engine is now housed in a purpose built building, partially funded by Barnsley Metropolitan council, but cannot be run on steam due to lack of funds to buy, install and maintain a boiler. The engine has been tested on a compressor but at present this will not repeated until the alignment of various parts has been checked. The new building for Elizabeth was completed during 1983.

It was original intended that Elizabeth should form part of the end wall of a large exhibition hall, however lack of finances and volunteers has meant that this project has been stopped. Unfortunately this has resulted in Elizabeth being partially open to the weather for several years, with the east face for the building only protected by plastic sheets. The basement has also proved to be liable to flooding until remedial work was undertaken.

Proposed Improvement Work

In order that visitors can see Elizabeth at close quarters, it is intended to build a staircase up the outside of the current building, that will allow easier access to the first floor. In association with this, the front of the building will be closed to the weather. This will allow the restoration of the engine to be completed and the engine to be demonstrated on a regular basis.

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