Gas Engine


| August/September 1994

It was just a year ago, as the August 1993 issue of Gas Engine Magazine went to press, that a group of 75 gas and steam power enthusiasts were gathering in airports across the nation (in fact, across the world, as we had some folks from Canada and from South Africa), to depart on a two-week excursion tailored specifically to the interests of the vintage machinery collector.

Our tour was expertly organized by Rob Rushen-Smith, of Wade Farm Tours, Felixstowe, England. British engine aficionado Alex Skinner served as consultant engineer to Wade Farm Tours, and provided valuable input as to what a group of traveling American old iron buffs should be shown in Britain. All agreed that Rob, Alex, and the Wade Farm staff had done a 'bang-up' job in selecting the sites we would visitwe didn't have one wasted moment during the whole fortnight. I'd like to say that each day brought something new and exciting to look at, but that's not true; each day actually brought something old and exciting. Rob, a genial young man, also served as one of our escorts for the tour, assisted by Jackie Coggan, a gregarious, enormously knowledgeable, and lovely lady who charmed everyone on the tour. Jackie also arranged an 'escape' or two for the ladies on the trip who had seen enough old iron for a while.

Our tour began with a visit to the British Engineerium at Hove, near Brighton. The Engineerium is housed in the former Goldstone Pumping Station, built in 1866 and expanded in 1876 to supply residents of the surrounding area with water for drinking, sanitation, and all domestic needs. By 1975, the station had fallen into disrepair, but was rescued by Jonathan Minns and a dedicated corps of preservationists who have restored several buildings in the complex. The old coal storage building currently serves as an exhibition hall, where an extensive collection of steam models are displayed, along with a working 1859 Corliss design engine built by Crepelle &. Garand of Lille in France. We also toured the boiler room, workshops, and the No. 2 engine house, which houses a 250 HP jet condensing Woolf Compound Engine built by Eastons & Anderson. This engine, which is beautifully restored and was put back into steam on Good Friday 1976, is capable of pumping 150,000 gallons per hour to a mean height of 250 feet.

While at the Engineerium, we were welcomed and treated to an enthusiastic lecture by founder Jonathan Minns, which was greatly enjoyed despite the fact that many in the group were struggling valiantly against the effects of jet lag! We were soon enough back to our hotel in Winchester for a good night's rest.

Our first full day of touring began with a drive through the New Forest, a region once reserved as a royal hunting ground, parts of which are now open to the public for recreational use. A large population of wild horses roams the area, much like they do in the Chin-coteague/Assateague area of Virginia on America's east coast.

Our drive brought us to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu (pronounced byoo-lee). Established by the current Lord Montagu to honor his father, John, Second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, who was a motoring pioneer, the museum has grown into what must be one of the finest collections of historic automobiles extant. Hundreds of well-kept veteran (up to December 1918) and vintage (January 1919-De-cember 1930) cars are on display, as are commercial vehicles, sports cars, speed record breakers, racing cars, and post-war mass market automobiles. The display is complemented by exhibits of maps, motoring gear, and other items of automobilia which paint a total picture of the motoring experience in Britain. There is also a collection of early motorcycles, and several steam traction engines and road rollers.


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