One of the most remarkable survivors of time at this iconic Victorian tower brewery is the 25hp steam engine that can drive the machinery, just as it has done for the past hundred years. Installed in 1899 it was used to provide the motive power that the brewery needed to produce its beer and it is believed to be the last steam engine in the country that can still be used for its original purpose.
We run the Steam Engine on the first Saturday of each month about 11.30a.m for an hour.
The steam engine drives a range of machinery in the brewery via belts and line shafting:
The copper in which the wort is boiled was heated directly by a coal fire until the 1970s when steam pipes were inserted to do the work more efficiently. Steam also helped to keep staff happy by supplying a heating system to the new office building when it was completed in 1897.
Cask washing required ample supplies of hot water, which was heated by reusing the exhaust steam from the engine. A note in the brewing book for 1901 records that the temperature of the water in the washing tank was raised by this means from 74 degrees Fahrenheit at 8.00 am to 180 degrees Fahrenheit by 3.30 pm.
Steam Pressure: 80 psi
Valves: Thornley drop inlet, Corliss exhaust, driven by two eccentrics
Crank Discs: Counterbalanced
Flywheel: 7” dia, 9” face
Belt pulleys: 4’ and 18” (all drives are now via belt and lineshaft from the larger pulley)
An unusual feature of this engine is that it is fitted with a type of valve cut-off gear invented by Mr George Thonley, one of the partners in the firm of Buxton & Thonley. The mechanism was later descried in detail in Engineering vol. LXXVIII, 1904.