River Don Engine

Contributed by Kelham Island Museum part of SIMT

The River Don Engine in the Engine House of Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield. (c) Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust

Built in 1905 by Davy Brothers of Sheffield, this powerful 12,000 horse power engine worked for 73 years in the city, initially powering a rolling mill at Charles Cammell's Grimesthorpe Works. The rolling mill made armour plate for the first Dreadnought battleships in the mid 1910s, and during World War II it rolled plate for the King George V battleships. In the 1950s the engine was transferred to British Steel Corporation's River Don Works where it powered the rolling mill for producing heavy plate to be used on oil rigs and as reactor shields. The engine was moved to Kelham Island Museum in the late 1970s, and is now in working condition and steamed for museum visitors. It represents the power and volume of Sheffield manufacturing industries during the 1900s.

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  • 1. At 11:39 on 19 April 2010, Fred007 wrote:

    Just fantastic! If you find yourself anywhere near South Yorkshire, then this is a must visit place. When the engine is a full speed a 'switch' is thrown and it goes into full reverse within seconds! Amazing!

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  • 2. At 14:20 on 11 November 2010, Alan Price wrote:

    The River Don Engine is a most worthy candidate for inclusion as a "top one-hundred" object. The industrial world was created out of coal and iron and hard work, and all of the power, potential and perils of the mass production age are embodied in this wonderful object. That this machine was used to roll armour-plate for battleships tells something about the human costs technology can have, but does not detract from the size of human achievement it represents. And all of this happened in Britain!

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