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Steam Museum at Bolton

Steam Museum at Bolton
Steam Museum at Bolton
Steam Museum at Bolton
Steam Museum at Bolton
Geolocation Data
Bolton Steam Museum, Lancashire (53°35′5″N, 2°27′17″W)

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Steam Museum at Bolton
120 years ago,Lancashire produced more than half the world's supply of cotton textiles. Hundreds of mills were busy spinning and weaving and bleach works and dye works were thriving. Steam engines drove all the machinery in the mills and there were probably as many as 10,000 engines at work, mostly built by local engineering companies. But over the next 80 years the industry declined as production moved overseas and by the late 1960s only about a few hundred mills still survived, with more mill closures being announced every week.

The Northern Mill Engine Society (NMES) was formed in 1966 by a small but extremely dedicated band of enthusiasts who decided that something had to be done to preserve the steam engines from the textile industries of Lancashire and Yorkshire before they were all scrapped. Most established museums at that time did not have significant collections of this type of machinery and the work of volunteer organisations, such as the Northern Mill Engine Society, was important in ensuring that a reasonably representative sample of engines has been preserved.

The objective was to collect and preserve as many different types of engine as possible to demonstrate the development of the technology. As a result of this initiative, a number of rare and interesting engines were acquired, often donated by their original owners. The initial idea was to preserve the engines in-situ but as the mills were demolished and sites redeveloped, this became impossible and so the engines had to be dismantled and removed piece-by-piece, sometimes with great difficulty from almost inaccessible engine rooms.

With the generous support of the Mason family, the site owners, the Society was very grateful to be offered premises at Atlas Mills, Mornington Road, Bolton, where the rebuilding of the engines could begin.

After some 15 years work, a museum was opened to the public in 1983 in one of the original engine-houses of Atlas No 3 Mill where 5 of the rebuilt engines could be seen working in steam. It was decided to call the museum The Bolton Steam Museum and over the following 7 years it became a well-known attraction in the area.
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