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Elsecar Colliery Pumping Engine

Hob Uid: 314723
Location :
Barnsley
Barnsley
Barnsley
Grid Ref : SK3870099960
Summary : The Newcomen Beam or Atmospheric Engine at Elsecar New Colliery is the only surviving atmospheric engine of its type still in its original operational site. In 1794 the building materials were gathered and construction of the engine house began. By September 1795 the engine was complete and began working. In 1801 it was fitted with a new cylinder and the beam was replaced with the present cast iron version in 1836. It was in service until 1923 when it was replaced by electric pumps. It was used as a standby until 1930 and then only for demonstrations until the early 1950s. The Newcomen Beam Engine was bought by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council in 1988 and a program of conservation and restoration was begun.The engine is housed in a three storey stone engine house with slate roof. The large iron beam is accommodated, half in and half out, on the west side of the top storey. The second and third floors have a central well to house the cylinder and piston and each floor is accessed via a wooden staircase. A platform runs from the engine house to the adjacent gantry alongside the beam on the top floor. The engine consists of a vertical cylinder with a piston connected by a chain to one end of a large rocking beam. Chains descended from the other end of the beam into the mine. The original rocking beam was made of timber, however, it was replaced by a cast-iron one in 1836. It is 24ft long and 4ft wide at its centre and the cylinder measures 4ft in diameter with a stroke of 5ft. The boilers were originally "haystack" type, later replaced by the Cornish externally fired type. Steam was then used to power the engine, supplied by a modern boiler from nearby workshops. The engine worked by injecting water directly into the cylinder to condense the steam within and therefore drive, under atmospheric pressure, the piston above. At maximum output the engine could achieve 6-8 strokes per minute and lift 50 gallons of water from the mine with each stroke.
More information : SK 387999. Elsecar Colliery Newcomen Engine - Scheduled. (1)

(SK 38709996) At Elsecar a Newcomen type atmospheric engine inside the original engine house (grid reference deduced from photograph No 34 (2) and OS 1:1250 1956, see Illus card). The lintel is dated 1787; the engine was worked either from this date (2) or not until 1795. (3-4)

It continued working regularly until 1923 although used later in emergencies and for demonstration until 1945, now preserved in situ by British Coal. (2-4)

Elsecar Pumping Engine, near Rotheram, Yorkshire (102/SE 390003) The Newcomen-type atmospheric engine at Elsecar, built in 1787 and last used in 1930 is preserved by the National Coal Board. Numerous modifications have been made to the engine including replacement of the original timber beam with one of cast-iron and the chains to the pump rods with parallel motion. The engine made six to eight strokes per minute and delivered 50 gallons each lift. The piston is packed with spun yarn held in position by a junk ring, and some 6in of water stands on the top of the piston to maintain a seal. Cylinder diameter is 4ft and stroke 5ft. The engine can be viewed on Mondays to Fridays between 9am and 5pm, by prior arrangement with the Staff Manager/Secretary, National Coal Board, South Yorkshire Area, Golden Smithies Lane, Wath-upon-Dearne, Rotherham, Yorkshire, Tel: Wath-upon-Dearne 3331. (5)

SK 387 999. Elsecar Colliery Newcomen engine. Scheduled. (6)

Additional references. (7)

This source discusses the financial transactions involved in building the Newcomen Engine and its erection at the Elsecar New Colliery. The engine was built from 1794 and erected in 1795. The source includes plans and plates of the engine. (8)

Additional references. (9-10)

It is the last Newcomen Atmospheric Engine to remain in its original location. It has been modified substantially over the years and a new cylinder, piston and beam added. Built in 1795 it had a 42 " bore cylinder and a conventional arch head wooden beam with chain connections to the pump rodding and piston. In 1801 it was fitted with a larger (48") cylinder and the beam was replaced with the present cast iron version in 1836. The engine was in service until 1923 and then on standby until 1930. It was then used for demonstrations for visitors until 1953 and today (2009) it is not running. There are some indications of minor cracking at the base of the engine. (11)

Built c.1795, in service until 1923 and then used for demonstrations until 1946. The engine was built at the end of the C18th to pump water from Elsecar coal mine. A date over the Engine House door reads 1787 but the engine may not have been installed until 1795.

The engine has a cast iron beam 24ft long and 4ft wide
at its centre (probably cast locally) and a cylinder (diam.4ft with a stroke of 5ft). Originally the boilers were "haystack" type, later replaced by the Cornish externally fired type. Later still steam was piped in from a modern boiler sited in nearby workshops.
At maximum output the engine could achieve 6-8 strokes per minute and lift 50 gallons of water from the mine with each stroke. Steam was
generated at almost atmospheric pressure and filled the cylinder during the upward stroke of the piston. The valve was then closed and the stream condensed by a jet of cold water through the bottom of the cylinder. This caused a vacuum under the piston. The atmospheric pressure (c.151bs/sq ins) then forced the piston down from the top thus lifting the pump rod and the water. The piston was raised again by closing the injection valve.

The engine is housed in a purpose built three storied stone building
with a slate roof. A large opening on the west side of the top storey
accommodates the large iron beam half in and half out of the building. The second and third floors are made of wooden planks with a central well to house the cylinder and piston. Each floor is reached via a wooden staircase and a platform runs from the Engine House to the adjacent gantry alongside the beam on the top floor. (12)

The Elsecar New Colliery was sunk by the end of 1795 and as it was much deeper than previous ones a Newcomen Beam Engine was built to extract water from the mine. It was built by John Bargh of Chesterfield in 1795 at a cost of £167 19s 3 3/3d. The Beam Engine ran from 1795 until 1923 when it was replaced by electric pumps. The workshops and Newcomen Beam Engine were bought by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council in 1988 and a program of conservation and restoration was begun. (13)

Newcomen's engine consisted of a vertical cylinder placed above a copper boiler with a lead top. The cylinder had a piston connected by a chain to one end of a large rocking beam. Chains which hung down into the mine were connected on the other end of the rocking beam.
It worked by injecting water directly into the engine cylinder to condense the steam within and therefore drive the piston above, under atmospheric pressure. By repeatedly applying low-pressure steam to the cylinder, followed by water, the engine would operate the beam driving the pumps. This could be controlled by a system of levers to allow the engine to become self operating.
The use of the engine was extensive and over 110 are known to have been built in Britain and Europe by 1733. By 1800 over 2000 are thought to have been built. (14)

According to feedback received via the PastScape website on 13-JUN-2011, the condition of the engine is said to have deteriorated. (15)

Sources :
Source Number : 2
Source : The BP book of industrial archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 61-62
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Industrial archaeological sites of Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 84
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 25-Jun-87
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Elsecar Heritage Centre. 2009. The History of Elsecar Heritage Centre, [Accessed 10-AUG-2009]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : The Newcomen Society. 2009. The Newcomen engine, [Accessed 10-AUG-2009]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : PastScape feedback received 13-JUN-2011
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : The archaeology of the Industrial Revolution
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Industrial Archaeology Guide, 1971, (ed N Cossons and K Hudson)
Page(s) : 68, 71, 73
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : English Heritage, SAM List, South Yorkshire, 31-DEC-1987, p 3
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Archaeology Journal 137, 1980, 441-2
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Transactions of the Newcomen Society for the study of the history of engineering and technology
Source details :
Page(s) : 97-108
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 35, 1962-3
Source Number : 9
Source : Transactions of the Newcomen Society for the study of the history of engineering and technology
Source details :
Page(s) : 69-86
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 35
Source Number : 10
Source : Transactions of the Newcomen Society for the study of the history of engineering and technology
Source details :
Page(s) : 87-96
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 35
Source Number : 11
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Stationary Steam Engines. 2009. Elsecar Newcomen Engine, [Accessed 10-AUG-2009]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Built & installed 1787-1796
Monument End Date : 1796
Monument Start Date : 1794
Monument Type : Atmospheric Engine House, Steam Engine, Mine Pumping Works
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Altered 1801
Monument End Date : 1801
Monument Start Date : 1801
Monument Type : Steam Engine
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Altered 1836
Monument End Date : 1836
Monument Start Date : 1836
Monument Type : Steam Engine
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Early 20th Century
Display Date : Replaced by electric pumps 1923
Monument End Date : 1923
Monument Start Date : 1923
Monument Type : Electric Engine
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Late 20th Century
Display Date : Conserved 1988
Monument End Date : 1988
Monument Start Date : 1988
Monument Type : Steam Engine
Evidence : Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 61442
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : AA93/01405
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SY 1146
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 109921
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : AA93/01417
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1004790
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SK 39 NE 14
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : ELSECAR NEWCOMEN ENGINE
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31