Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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W. Roberts and Sons

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Engine nameplate at Queen Street Mill Museum
W. Roberts and Sons steam engine which drives the mill‘s lineshafts via bevel gears at Queen Street Mill Museum.

William Roberts & Sons - Phoenix Foundry, Nelson, Lancashire

See also William Roberts and Co

Engineers and millwrights

1862 Phoenix Foundry opened in Hibson Street

1870 Built a pair of beam engines for William Lund and Son, North Beck Mills, Keighley.

1871 William Roberts bought the company.

1889 800 HP horizontal cross compound engine for Atkinson Ltd., Lower Clough Mill, Barrowford, Nelson. Cylinders 24" and 42" bore, 5 ft stroke [1]

1895 Became a private limited liability company.

Between 1880 and 1895 they built over twenty mill engines in the range 300 to 1000 ihp. A further 25 textile mill engines were built in the 20th century.

1897 William Roberts and Co built an engine for Joshua Smith and Co (1908) Ltd of Colnholme, Todmorden[2]

G. Shackleton records that William Roberts built approximately 60 steam engines to drive textile mills, and gives brief details of 37 engines produced between 1863 and 1927 for cotton mills within the Borough of Pendle. He notes that over sixty textile mill engines were made by the company (a similar number to those produced by a nearby firm, Burnley Ironworks Co).

1929 Built a 1100 ihp Corliss-valved engine for Juggilal Kamlapat Jute Mills Co., Cawnpore (Kanpur), India. They had previously built a smaller engine for J and N Cowlas, Cawnpore.

1959 Phoenix Foundry closed and subsequently demolished, the site becoming a bus station and car park.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. ‘Stationary Steam Engines of Great Britain, Volume 3.1: Lancashire’ by George Watkins: Landmark Publishing Ltd.
  2. 'Stationary Steam Engines of Great Britain: Vol 10' by George Watkins, Landmark Publishing Ltd.
  • 'The Textile Mills of Pendle and their Steam Engines' by Geoff Shackleton, Landmark Publishing Ltd, 2006
  • Stationary Steam Engines of Great Britain by George Watkins. Vol 10