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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Industrial power house

IN this era of petrol and electricity it is easy to forget that steam was once the key to industrial development and power generation in Furness.

Individual factories, textile mills and mines installed their own engines to pump water, drive machinery and provide lighting.

Very little of this equipment has survived into preservation but a giant example of steam power is being saved at Lancashire’s Grane Mill in Haslingden.

The results of a restoration project were shown to members of Civic Trusts from all over the North West.

The 500hp engine supplied power to more than 1,000 textile looms at just 68 revs per minute.

In Barrow, a similar huge engine would have provided power at the Jute Works in Hindpool which started in 1870.

It emerged from an idea by the town’s first mayor Sir James Ramsden to provide work for women in a booming new town which was based on work for men at mines and furnaces.

A fire destroyed a large portion of the building in 1879 and there was a second major blaze in 1891.

From 1897 the complex was brought up to date under the control of Barrow and Calcutta Jute Company which had its head office in Liverpool.

The Jute Works covered a 12-acre site with its own railway link and the hundreds of workers spun jute yarn and made jute bags for everything from chemicals to sugar and the fabric backing for linoleum.

It was one of many firms to fail in the world industrial recession which followed the First World War and was standing empty by 1925.

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