In a rather fortuitous twist of fate, an event for a children’s day at Ellenroad Engine House came up on my Facebook timeline. Despite only being a short journey up the M60 and M62, it’s not a place I have heard of before.
Anyhow, as you will be aware, the children did Stephenson’s Rocket as their History Fair project earlier in the week (and you can read more about that here) and this fitted perfectly, allowing them to actually see a steam engine in action. And, in another twist of fate, this weekend happened to be the monthly ‘steaming’ day.
Ellenroad Engine House is home to the world’s largest working steam mill engines and they really are rather spectacular. We headed to Ellenroad which was really easy to find from junction 21 of the M62 – in fact you can’t miss the 220 ft tower as you exit the motorway! We paid our entry fee and walked into the steam filled yard (adults are £5 and children are free). We went into the first hall where there was an engine in operation – the smell of the steam was wonderful and I think the children were quite impressed. It was good for them to see the wheels turning; using the same principles as Stephenson’s Rocket did.
We watched this for a short while then went to the Boiler Room where we got to see the furnaces – and when they opened the doors the heat was intense – it’s not a job I can ever imagine being able to stand doing!
We next made our way to see Victoria and Alexandra – the large working steam mill engines. On the way in D spotted a model of Stephenson’s Rocket which sort of brought everything full circle for us.
Watching the men and women set up the engine and then set it off was fantastic and it never fails to amazes me that these huge machines still work to this day. They are magnificent and I can only imagine how much they revolutionised industry when they were introduced – it’s impossible for me to even begin to comprehend the huge social changes they brought with them.
After watching these engines for a good while we headed back out and found another room where a blacksmith was busy working. He was making a poker and the children, and us, were truly fascinated with the process – he made it look so effortless and the family who bought the poker (a bargain at just £5) took home a wonderful souvenir of their day. It also fitted nicely following a visit to Portland Basin earlier this week when we had seen the model Blacksmith – so D was able to make the links to that.
Ellenroad Engine House is a wonderful place to visit and it’s great to see places like this preserved for us to enjoy today. As part of the history project I had D and E thinking about what The Rocket would have smelt and sounded like and today gave them a little bit of insight into that.