River Don Engine (vertical steam engine) - DSCF3269

The River Don Engine in the Kelham Island Museum

The River Don Engine is a 1905-built steam engine used for hot rolling steel armour plate. It was built by Davey Bros. Ltd of Sheffield. It is a 3-cylinder simple engine of 40 inches (1.0 m) diameter bore, with a 48 inches (1.2 m) stroke. At its operating steam pressure of 160psi, it developed 12,000 horsepower (8.9 MW), and was able to reverse from full speed in 2 seconds. The rapid reverse was an essential feature of an engine used for rolling, as delays would result in cooling of the workpiece. This engine was one of four built to the same design, one going overseas to the Japanese Government, one to John Brown's Atlas plant, and the destination of the final one being unaccounted for. It is claimed to be one of the most powerful steam engines ever built, and the most powerful remaining in Europe.[1]

The River Don Engine worked for over 50 years at Cammell's mill before being moved first to British Steel's River Don plant (hence its name) and then to its present home at the Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield. The engine was last used for commercial work in the 1970s, to roll out reactor shield plates for nuclear power plants.

The engine is normally regularly demonstrated at the museum, without load, and under only 5 psi of steam pressure. It had to be taken out of service following the Sheffield Floods of July 2007 which extensively damaged the museum complex and parts of the engine. An 8-week program to restore it to working order was begun in June 2008, and has since been completed, making the engine once again capable of normal operation.

See alsoEdit


  1. Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust

External linksEdit

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Coordinates: 53°23′22″N 1°28′20″W / 53.389503°N 1.472345°W / 53.389503; -1.472345

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