Jane B (knally) wrote,
Jane B

Celebration of Steam

I did manage to get down to Portsmouth Dockyard yesterday for the Celebration of Steam to celebrate Brunel's 200th Bicentenary.

They had about a dozen traction engines there, including a ploughing engine which is about the biggest engine you can see. The ploughing engines actually worked in pairs at either side of a field. They have a reel of cable underneath, to which a plough was attached, and that plough is then pulled between the two engines. (I wonder if there are ever demonstrations of this?)

There were a pair of Sentinel Steam Lorries which I'd never seen before. The funnel for the smoke comes up the back of the cab, so that must keep it warm! One enterprising gentlemen had built his own steam bicycle, and here's a link to his story of building it. I have seen a steam cycle before but I believe that was an original and looked a lot more dangerous, although I still think a certain amount of courage is needed to ride one of these things. I must admit it did appear to give a smooth ride. About half-a dozen miniature engines were scattered about, they are fully working replicas and are very powerful since they can easily take a couple of people for a ride.

The main attraction was a beautiful steam merry-go-round ('gallopers', I believe is the proper name) gorgeously decorated, and enjoyed by ALL ages. I saw several elderly couples reliving their youth :-) It also bore the wonderful inscription 'James Horton's Grand Stud of Jumping Horses From the Past for you to Ride Today'.

After looking at the engines I went to see H.M.S. Warrior, which was the first iron-hulled battleship, and was powered by steam as well as sail. Although built in 1860 it looked surprisingly similar to Victory in the layout and crew quarters. This was in part because they had to keep the same width of ship to fit in the docks that were available at the time of building. The big difference was when you went right down to the bottom where the furnaces and engines lived. Even in the cool of a spring day, they were dark and oppressive. When the fires were actually burning, it must have seemed like hell itself. The temperatures could get into the 40's Centigrade (over a 100 Fahrenheit). They had the engines turning over at Slow speed - I presume they do this with electric running from the shore - which gave an impression of the power that they were capable of.


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