Victorian engine built in Rugby leaves for restoration in Wales

GE�"s John McCoach (right) and Clive Foote standing next to the central valve engine as it prepares to make its final journey to the Internal Fire Museum of Power in Wales. Photo: GE NNL-170620-160225001
GE�"s John McCoach (right) and Clive Foote standing next to the central valve engine as it prepares to make its final journey to the Internal Fire Museum of Power in Wales. Photo: GE NNL-170620-160225001

A 125-year-old engine built in Rugby and viewed by HM The Queen during a royal visit was donated to a Welsh museum to be restored and put on display today (Tuesday, June 20).

An 18-tonne central valve engine, used to power factories before steam turbines were invented, has left GE’s Rugby base for the 217-mile trip to the Internal Fire Museum of Power.

Preparations are made before the engine makes the 217-mile journey to Cardigan in Wales. Photo: GE NNL-170620-160250001

Preparations are made before the engine makes the 217-mile journey to Cardigan in Wales. Photo: GE NNL-170620-160250001

It will be stripped down, overhauled and restored at the museum in Cardigan, Ceredigion, with the hope of returning the machine to operation under steam power.

GE engineering leader for steam turbine service products David Bell said: “I will be delighted to see this great piece of engineering heritage on public display.

“It has been a pleasure working with the museum and I am tremendously excited at the prospect of seeing it restored to operation.

“My thanks go to Clive Foote, Phil Derges, John McCoach, Mick Manzella and the Internal Fire Museum of Power for making this happen.”

The final farewell for the engine outside GE's Rugby base. Photo: GE NNL-170620-160238001

The final farewell for the engine outside GE's Rugby base. Photo: GE NNL-170620-160238001

The engine was first built by Willans and Robinson in its Rugby factory and supplied to Druett Halpen in October, 1901, who installed it in Maples Furniture Shop in central London, where it remained in service until 1957.

After its retirement, the engine was returned to Willans Works, in Rugby and was put on display – where it was seen by Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the town in 1967.  

In 2011, the engine was granted an impressive Engineering Heritage Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at a ceremony attended by Will Willans, the great grandson of Peter Willans, one of the original inventors of the central valve engine. 

The engineering masterpiece will appear alongside other large engines from yesteryear at the museum’s exhibition.