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By Kate Campbell-Payne on

Power Hall: We need your help!

Do you have an interesting story to tell about one of our working standing engines? If so, then we would love to hear from you to help us with our new Power Hall interpretation.

If you’ve been to the museum recently or if you follow us online, you’re probably aware that our Power Hall is currently undergoing considerable restoration. It is one of the most beloved industrial heritage galleries not just in the city but in the whole country, and houses a large collection of working standing engines, the majority of which were built and/or operated in Manchester and the surrounding area.

When the Power Hall reopens, we want to tell our visitors more about the people who used the machines that kept Manchester’s industries, factories and businesses moving. To help with this, we would love you to share any stories you may have about the engines listed below.

This could be direct experience of working with the machines, the memories of someone they know who did, or photos of the engines and the people who worked with them. We want to put local people at the heart of the Power Hall’s story and talk about the individuals who helped to make Manchester an industrial powerhouse.

If you have anything you would like to share, please drop us an email at with Power Hall memories in the title.

Firgrove Mill

This engine was located in Milnrow, Rochdale, and the picture below shows Billy Hardwick, who we know ran the engine. We’d like to hear from anyone who knew Billy and could give us some more information about his life and work.

A man sat next to a steam engine
Firgrove Mill engine in engine house, R.Barnes Mill, Firgrove, Rochdale
Science Museum Group Collection

Robinson gas engine

This type of engine was used in chip shops to peel potatoes and power fryers. We’d love to hear from anyone who worked in, or knows someone who worked in a chip shop with one of these engines.

An early 20th century gas engine
Single-cylinder inclined gas engine, made by A. E. & H. Robinson & Co., Manchester, 1907
Science Museum Group Collection

Crossley atmospheric gas engine

This was used to power a dough mixer in a local bakery, but we don’t know which one. Again, it would be fantastic to hear from anyone who worked with, or knows someone who worked with this engine and what the work in the bakery was like.

A 19th century steam engine
Vertical single-cylinder atmospheric gas engine, made by Crossley Brothers Ltd, Openshaw, Manchester, c.1874
Science Museum Group Collection

Diagonal engine, made by John Wood

This engine was used at Frankenstein Rubber Regenerators in Newton Heath and it drove a calico printing machine.

A 19th century steam engine
Double diagonal engine, made by John Wood, Ramsbottom, 1890
Science Museum Group Collection

Vertical engine, made by John Chadwick

This one was used at Simplex Circulume, a lighting manufacturer in Salford. We’re looking for information about how it was used and anyone who worked with it.

A 19th century steam engine
Single-cylinder vertical engine, made by John Chadwick, Manchester, c.1860
Science Museum Group Collection

2 comments on “Power Hall: We need your help!

  1. I spent many years working in the Education Department in the MSI. We worked with all the schools in Manchester and Salford together with many other groups. The qualified teachers taught in all the galleries.
    In my earlier life I had been a Lancashire loom weaver and was able to operate the weaving looms in the Textile Gallery.

    1. I used to go and watch the engine running and have a photo of the engineer with the engine. The last engineer to run the engine was Trevor Lees, I was a friend of George Watkins and Frank wight an, I also started the orthern mill engine society.

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