Boiler Test

Following the successful 10 year hydraulic test and the boiler steam test, on Friday 19th June, the Beam Engine was steamed for the first time since the open day in October 2019.

The engine started without issue and we are pleased to announce that the Condenser Pump bearing repair, performed earlier this year, was a complete success.

Bill Wood

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of long-standing volunteer Bill Wood who died in the early hours of Wednesday 22 April at St Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington. Bill brought to the Society a lifetime of engineering knowledge as a marine engineer and boiler inspector. He was a valued member of the Wednesday gang and on open weekends would selflessly give help wherever needed, either on the machinery where he particularly enjoyed the beam engine or in the entrance where he would greet visitors with a warm welcome. His encyclopaedic knowledge of Pressure Vessel Regulations made Bill a natural choice for the administration of our boilers and compressed air plant. He organised boiler inspections and took care of all associated maintenance as well as documenting safe methods of work. For many years Bill was a member of the Management Committee where he acted as Treasurer and Administrator of boiler and public liability insurance. He would often entertain us with stories of his latest dealings with the bank’s increasingly bureaucratic procedures where his calm yet rigorous approach would save the day. However did you manage to keep your cool, Bill? Outside Tees Cottage his interests included Darlington Historical Society and visiting the Scottish Isles. He was also a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists where he arranged for George Beautyman to give a talk at the local branch a few years ago. It was a very enjoyable session. We will all miss Bill. He was liked and respected by all and a good friend to everyone. We will miss his conversation and seafaring stories told in his Kentish accent which still prevailed in spite of becoming a naturalised North-Easterner. Our thoughts and kind wishes go to Margaret, his daughter Katherine and his grandchildren. Rest in peace ol’ mate.

Water Fountain Refurbished

Tees Cottage Drinking Water Fountain

There has been a drinking water fountain outside the main entrance to Tees Cottage Pumping Station since 1950, when is was installed by the Darlington Women’s Temperance Association.

By 1981 this fountain was looking unloved and perhaps had been disconnected from the water supply.

Sometime between 1981 and the present day the cast iron cowl, located above the bowl, had been removed and left the installation in an even sorrier state.

In late March 2019 the volunteers at TCPS decided to attempt the renovation of the fountain and it was duly removed. Immediately we met with good fortune when one of our members recalled seeing pieces of broken casting under a table in one of our buildings and thought they may belong to the fountain. This was indeed the case and the two pieces of casting constituted perhaps 80 percent of the original cowl.

Utilising the general engineering skills of our site engineer and the traditional skills of the site blacksmith we have reconstructed the cowl and the whole drinking water fountain has now been reinstalled in its original location. Although it would be great to return the fountain to full working order, not least to provide water to trekkers on the Teesdale Way, we have decided that the risk of damage to the installation, or contamination of the water flowing from it, is too great for it to be reconnected to a water supply.

Below is an enlarged view of the plaque located above the fountain:

The fountain was installed by the Darlington Women’s Temperance Association. An internet search quickly revealed that since 2006 this Association has been known as the White Ribbon Association in tribute to the White Ribbons worn by the women of the Temperance Movement. The Association were approached and were in full agreement with the refurbishment of their gift.

Hornsby Petrol Engine, No 48064

This single cylinder engine was installed in the Gas Engine House at the same time as its big brother in 1914. The engine has a direct-drive compressor fitted and the purpose of this was to charge the air receiver to power the start-up of the large twin cylinder engine which drove the pumps which lifted water from the river and sent the clean water out to the customers, both industrial and private.

Also this small engine drives a generator which provided electrical power for the site including the Superintendant’s cottage. This engine was thought to be originally powered by gas produced on site, but at some stage was converted to run on petrol. We suspect that the original magneto was replaced fairly early on, too.

The engine was running in the early 1980s but since then had been standing idle.

In 2017, it was decided that this engine deserved to be seen working again and so a programme was embarked upon, not a ground-up restoration, but an overhaul to get it running again.

The valve-gear was overhauled, cylinder de-glazed, con-rod and piston retrieved and fitted, petrol tank topped-up and it fired up and ran raggedly, but it ran. Over the next 2 years many adjustments were made; valve timing reset (the camshaft was one tooth out on the drive gear), the magneto arm extended and adjusted and still she ran erratically. The mixture was too-rich and we fiddled with the 1920s carburettor, noticing that it ran better on warm days. The carburettor had a facility for warming the evaporating chamber via a water jacket, so hot water was piped from the cooling-water outlet through the carb and it now runs beautifully, hour after hour.

The generator was overhauled, the distribution board dismantled, new stepped resistors made “in-house” and re-assembled and it now produces electricity, enough to power a couple of bulbs anyway. A kettle plugged into the system took all day to almost boil, so we still have to go to the tea-room for our coffees.

So now this lovely little engine can be seen and barely-heard running on our open days.