Denis W. Brandt, who arranged for Mrs. Lestz and myself to visit the Brighton & Hove Engineerium, is a steam collector and restorer living in London. He has served the National Traction Engine Club as Public Relations Officer and Rally Sub-Committee Chairman. On our trip to London in 1975, he drove us in his handsomely restored steam lorry through the heart of London, pulling to the curb in busy Trafalgar Square and answering all sorts of questions from curious passers-by. We appreciate his many kindnesses. Gerald S. Lestz
The Brighton & Hove Engineerium, located in the former Goldstone Pumping Station buildings, is an unusual British institution which tells the story of steam through huge engines, models, and classes in engineering history. We visited it on a drizzly English day with Denis W. Brandt, who is active in the National Traction Engine Club and fully into steam preservation.
In the massive brick engine houses are two Easton and Anderson two-pillar, house built compound beam engines of 1866 and 1875.
Design and workmanship are superb. The engines are several stories high. The 1875 engine has been fully restored and is regularly steamed up weekends using the original Lancashire boilers.
Jonathan Minns, the founder of the Brighton & Hove project, emphasizes its use for instruction in the history and application of steam for industrial purposes. He sees the Engineerium as not only a unique industrial archaeological monument, but also as a center for developing more persons fully familiar with steam.
'People come to us in six-week courses,' he says. 'We provide intensely practical instruction in the history of engineering, both through the process of restoration and running of plants and machinery.
'This is very rare as a concept. Engineers were never taught history.'
The Engineerium was opened on Easter, 1976, and thus far has not been highly publicized. But Minnis is seeking apprentices for the course from all over the world.
The original coal store (bin would be the American word) has mighty capacity. Fuel used includes the wood provided by a local demolition company which is used to keep the 1875 engine going.
The later coal store is being utilized for a higher Exhibition Hall housing many full size and model steam engines and mechanical inventions of the Victorian Era.
One of the largest items on display in this hall is an engine designed by Corliss in America in 1859 and built in France in 1889. It won first prize at the Paris Exhibition. It was transported from France and re-erected, Minns notes.
We were fascinated by the multitudes of well constructed models. Changing exhibitions are planned, showing the many applications of steam, as well as hand and machine tools, printing presses, early clocks, and mechanical musical instruments.
Between special exhibitions, sales of historical steam engines and ship models are held at the Engineerium by Christies, the famous auction house.
Edward Langley, assistant chief engineer, very kindly answered all our questions on a special guided tour. If you are planning on a visit to England, include this on your tour list.
The Engineerium offers to do renovation work on engines, and to build engines for collectors all over the world.