Getting young people interested in steam engines

Carrying on the steam engine tradition in Great Britain


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An idea to encourage young persons to carry on the steam traction engine tradition through a new organization in Great Britain, could be of interest to Iron-Men in this country too.

The organization is the Steam Apprentice Club, which will cater to those 12 to 18 years old. Announcement of the formation was made in Steaming, magazine of the National Traction Engine Club. Much interest was shown in having a club like this, in a survey taken during the 1978 rally season.

John Wharton is chairman; Sylvia Berth-Jones is secretary, Margaret Joachim is editor of the newsletter which will be sent to members of the new club, as well as publicity director.

One of the best sets of museum displays of interest to steam traction engine collectors can be seen at the Science Museum, in London. During a recent visit, we went through it from top to bottom and could have spent a week there examining all the displays.

Among the exhibits are some dealing with farm machinery, as well as with the progress of methods of tillage over the centuries.

There are also many other kinds of things to see models of boats and ships, old time aircraft, an 1880 bathroom, deep sea diving equipment, apparatus for splitting atoms, and other scientific items large and small.

The museum sells excellent drawings of engines, and very good postcards showing early farm machinery.

One of the most interesting steam installations in the London area is the Kew Bridge Engines Trust and Water Supply Museum. This was a steam pumping station helping to supply London with water. Now operated by a group of steam volunteers who are making it a living museum, it holds five giant beam engines dating from 1820-1871. Two of these are now in steam. An 18 foot flywheel compound beam engine has been added. It is open to the public weekends.

A high quality shop for collectors of models and one-of-a-kind miniatures in Steam Age, a shop in the Chelsea section of London.

It was founded by the late Ivan Scott but is now operated by Sue O'Connor, formerly his assistant, and his widow, as partners.

Miss O'Connor, a very knowledgeable and attractive young woman, can converse at ease about steam and the unusual collection of items in the shop.

'We cover the widest field of any shop of this kind in the world,' she says with a smile.

Much of her business is by mail.

'We have a lot of customers in the United States,' she says. 'Twenty-five percent of our mail each day is from the U.S. We send a lot of fittings there. One man telephones from Connecticut, about once a month.'

In her window, when we talked to her, was a portable engine which was to be sent to France.

She gave us a Reeves catalog, featuring materials for model makers, railroad and traction engine, with all sorts of equipment.

While in London we also visited the Hamley's Model Centre on Welbeck Street, which was exhibiting a number of good steam traction engine models.

From what we gathered there, it is not unusual for models to sell for large sums. The firm sells kits, and the model reports business brisk.