With the help of members of the Friends we were made aware of some interesting industrial relics in Northumberland.
A 20ft set of workshop line shafting, complete with a Petter 5hp engine to run it. Many components of this type of machinery are regularly available. However, to find a complete set along with its accompanying history is becoming increasingly rare.
The Engine was supplied in 1919 before coming into the ownership of Alnwick Joiner, David Cockburn, in the 1920s. The pulley wheels and line shafting were united with the engine, in Mr Cockburn’s workshop, were they remained in daily use until the mid 1950s.
Remarkably, when the workshop was electrified, the set did not become another victim of the scrap man. Thanks to Mr Cockburn’s apprentice, David Spencer, the set was preserved. Mr Spencer’s intention was to recreate a traditional workshop. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints of running his own joinery business he was never able to carry out his dream. Luckily Mr Spencer kept the machinery in dry storage, ensuring its continued survival. Now semi, retired him self, Mr Cockburn has passed on the set, and its fascinating past, to become part of the Beamish Collection.
It is hoped, in the not to distant future, that the equipment can be incorporated into a working exhibit in the Colliery area of the Museum. The engine and shafting ran four pieces of machinery. A Band Saw, Rip Saw, Planer and Wood turning Lathe.
All collieries would have had a range of workshops. We currently show our Engine Works and small workshop but, at the moment, do not show a larger workshop. These workshops were integral to the running of a colliery and would be used to carry out tasks such as Tub mending, general blacksmithing work, joinery work and all the associated jobs needed to run an efficient coal mine.
Along with machinery Mr Spencer was still in the possession of an original set of instructions, supplied by Petters Westland Works, in May 1931, still in their original manila envelope.
The engine has been kept in running order and seems to only require limited work to re-commission it.
Its now another – watch this space – hopefully the ‘pulley wheels of industry’ will be turning again before to long.