You have heard people talking about the engine that exists within Waterloo Mill but few have ever seen it. I was allowed to take pictures and I would like to share this wonder of engineering with you. Please click on the first picture to see the slideshow:
Waterloo Steam Engine, Silsden
Pictures by Peter Ford
Howden Road (south side)
Waterloo Mill and attached engine-house
Worsted mill, now the premises of three textile-related businesses and a car-repair workshop.
Building begun between 1867 and 1877 for Charles Hastings and Co, worsted spinners and the site completed by 1884 as a Room and Power mill; alterations, including rebuilding of engine house 1916 for Taylor Brothers, tenants of the Waterloo Room and Power Company. The main facade to Howden Road built of coursed squared hammer-dressed gritstone, some rock-faced, and with gritstone ashlar dressings; the side walls of thinner coursed local gritstone; grey slate and glazed roofs; cast and wrought iron gates. The mill complex is composed of 4 building groups:
1) The main entrance to the site is from the north, (Howden Road). The gates, gate piers and flanking walls survive; the square plinth and octagonal chimney is behind the walling on the right. The monolithic gate piers are approximately 1.5m high, square on plan with semi-circular arched heads; the cast and wrought iron 2-leaf gates have 3-panelled plated lower section surmounted by rails with fleur-de-lis finials; flanking walls of rock-faced gritstone laid to diminishing courses with rounded coping, curved in from pavement line on plan, the left wall approximately 2m long, abutting the north mill office range, and the right walling approximately 5m long and ramped up to meet the north wall of the warehouse range of the west mill group. The chimney plinth has a chamfered base and bracketed ashlar cornice, the tapering stack is octagonal, most survives but it lacks the headpiece.
2) The mill yard is dominated by the tall 3-bay engine house of 1916 projecting forward from the north-west corner of the c1870 4-storey, 18 x 5 bay spinning mill which has parallel hipped roofs; the single-storey boiler-house is attached to the west gable. The original spinning mill has tall narrow 6-pane windows to lower 3 floors and square windows to the top floor throughout, all with plain lintels and continuous sill band; bracketed eaves cornice and hoist rings above the windows. On the north facade the original 3-window engine house bay breaks forward on the right and has a hipped roof at right angles to the main roof. The original tall round-arched window is obscured by the 1916 engine house but the head is visible on the upper floor interior. The probably original entrance is to the left of the engine house bay and is obscured by the north weaving shed, as are the blocked ground floor windows. The rear (south) elevation overlooks the Leeds-Liverpool canal and the ground floor is below the water level; the tall narrow doorway at the left end, now reduced, opened into a flight of stone steps up to the beam engine house – the lower treads of the flight have been demolished. Windows to the right of this doorway light the original stairs to all floors of the mill. Right: a fire escape against loading doors or modified windows; projecting hipped-roofed toilet bay with paired narrow ventilated windows far right. Left return (east facade): central tier of loading doors in segmental-arched openings, original boarded double doors over heavy frames; gabled housing for the hoist mechanism above. Right return (west facade): the central narrow round-arched window lit the original beam-engine house; the top storey has a row of 6 windows, the central 2 having windows inserted below sill level, probably to light the upper part of the inserted 1916 rope race.
3) Interior: the original engine house, for a double beam engine, is divided from the working floors of the spinning mill by a thick stone wall, partly built of massive ashlar blocks. Similar blocks make up a parallel wall within the engine house and are part of the original engine bed; this wall was adapted to divide the rope race from the body of the mill in 1916; steps up to a maintenance platform for the rope race remain, with blocked access on 2 levels. Original stone stairs of 2 straight flights round a lift shaft to each floor are built across the window line at the south end of the original engine house bay. On each main working floor a row of 14 cast-iron columns with quatrefoil collars, most encased but visible (with original paintwork) at top floor level, is aligned slightly south of the centre line and support shallow sockets for the massive timber cross beams which are built into internal buttresses on the outer walls and carry wooden flooring. The cross beams retain hangers and bolting marks from the line shafting. Roof structure: 5 king-post trusses to each ridge line; the ridge-glazed roof is undersealed with timber boards which show evidence of a fire at the west end; the hoist housing structure and floor hatches survive at the east end. A ground floor partitioned room contains fly wheels linked to the 1916 rope race and the wall boxes, shafting and gearing of the power transfer system can be seen on each floor of the main mill; a brick protective structure on the top floor of the original engine house bay probably covered part of the power transmission system and is lit by the inserted west windows. The low single storey boiler house range is built against the spinning mill west wall; the roofing slates have been replaced with artificial tiles. The flat-roofed, 3-window engine house of 1916 projects on the left; the north facade faces the mill yard and has strong architectural detailing which includes low basement storey of rusticated masonry with access to engine bed left and central window with massive rusticated voussoirs; above these a deep ashlar band and tall 10 x 4 pane margin-light window also with massive voussoirs, key stone and projecting sill on stone brackets. An entrance to the engine platform is above the ashlar band on the right return. Interior: original wood panelling, plasterwork and electrical fittings; the 1905 Scott and Hodgson inverted vertical cross compound engine installed in 1917, wiht the rope race built through the lower part of the original beam-engine house window and into the main spinning mill, together with cast-iron access steps and landings, all survive (see extra information below).
4) On the north side of the spinning mill a single-storey, 7-bay weaving shed with north-light roofs, and a taller single-storey, 10-bay office/furnishing shop range with ridged roof, parallel to the Howden Road. It slightly post-dates the spinning mill and the pair of semi-detached mill houses at the east end. The main (north) facade has a board door with overlight in keyed round arch far right and tall 4-pane sash windows, sill band and stone gutter brackets. A similar entrance into the mill yard on the right return, with parapet and rainwater pipes from the north-light roofs of the shed. The shed roof has clay ridge tiles and three tall conical ventilators, one reduced. Interior: 7 rows of 4 cylindrical cast iron columns with plain rolled mouldings support pierced girders which in turn carry the guttering between the timber framework of the north light windows. Power was brought into the shed through the north wall of the spinning mill. Interior of office/furnishing shop frontage not inspected. The pair of mill houses, nos 2 and 4 Howden Road, are reported to have been built for the manager of Waterloo Mills and the chief engineer. They are a mirrored pair, 2 rooms deep, the doors and window frames replaced. 4 stone steps up to segmental paired keyed entrance arches, ashlar bay windows to ground floor and 4 upper floor windows; stone gutter brackets and end stacks. The gable ends have narrow stair windows and the front gardens retain ashlar footings for railings, a short length of which survives to left, with a gate pier and gate, all in the same style as the main mill entrance: cast iron panels and wrought iron rails with fleur-de-lis finials.
5) The western half of the site is occupied by a mill group of c1870 which consists of a 9-bay single-storey combing/weaving shed with north-light roof; a warehouse/wool sorting range of 2 storeys over cellar and 16 x 5 bays on the north side, parallel to Howden Road, and a 2-storey, 10 x 2 bay warehouse/finishing range facing an entrance yard from Howden Road on the west side. The north facade (to Howden Road) has entrance bay 3, taller ground floor windows, continuous sill bands to ground and first floors, stone gutter brackets; at pavement level a curved cast iron grating runs the full length of the building, ventilating a cellar (not inspected). The south face is linked to the north-light shed; the left return is partly obscured by the chimney and has a low corner tower with round-arched window left, and another in the gable, inserted loading doors right, gable copings and turned-back kneelers; later C20 attached chimney. The narrower 2-storey range facing Hainsworth Road has 2 tiers of windows but lacks the continuous sill band; possibly original entrance left (now onto stairs to upper storey), an inserted entrance to right. The south side of the 2-storey west range is clearly of one build with the single-storey shed; the plain south wall has a tall 2-phase single bay building with single-pitch roof built against the eastern end, known as the engineering workshop and supporting the line shafting from the engine house, part of which survives in the wall between the building and the west wall of the boiler house range. Interior: the wide north range probably had a solid wall separating it from the shed, demolished when a steel framework was inserted into the shed to support modern textile machinery. The original shed structure: 8 rows of plain cylindrical cast iron columns to which pierced girders are bolted and which support the gutters and framework of the northlight windows. In the wide northern warehouse range 4 plain cast iron columns with roll mouldings and wings together with probably later additional timber posts support cross beams; plain cast iron columns support the open ground floor of the narrower west range. Timber flooring throughout. History: the mill engine was originally built for J and W Hamer of Union Mill, Guide Bridge, Manchester to drive cotton spinning machinery; it was bought by the Waterloo Room and Power Company after a fire at Union Mill and transported by canal to Silsden in 1917. Taylor Brothers were then the main tenants of the mill. A description from the official Scott and Hodgson records, written for the RCHM by David Collier, states that it was built in 1905, cylinders 17? and 35?; stroke 48?, 160 PSI, 75 RPM (BP), horsepower (HP) 700, Corliss valves on HP cylinder and piston valve on LP cylinder, flywheel 18? diameter with 18 cotton ropes, Lumb governor. Information also from the files of the Northern Mill Engine Society. It last ran in 1977 and is the sole survivor of its type; the rope race is also very rare.