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About The Museum


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About The Museum


The Museum of Technology stands high above Cambridge and the surrounding area, being the tallest building for miles around. Standing beside the beautiful river Camb between Stourbridge Common and Midsummer Common, the museum shows the progression of power technology through steam, internal combustion, to electricity.

The exhibits in the museum include working engines, telephone exchanges, printing presses and many more wonderful and interesting contraptions.

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The Main Engines


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The Main Engines


This is one of the two Hathorn Davey pumping engines installed in 1894 to pump the sewage from the well beneath the engines to the treatment plant at Milton. These are the only engines of this type still running in the world.

Each engine itself consists of two cylinders in tandem, high pressure and low pressure, driving a rocking disc. This disc acts as a ninety degree bell crank converting the horizontal motion of the engine into the vertical motion of the pump rods. There are two pump rods which drive the bucket of each pump in turn.

These steam engines pumped the sewage from Cambridge through underground pipes to the sewage farm at Milton, 2 miles away (2km). As the town grew in size and more roads and pavements were drained into the sewage system the original pumps could no longer cope with the volume of fluid in a heavy rainfall.

This mixture of water and other objects was used to cool the condensers of the steam engine and when the condensers were cleaned some of the pipes were often found blocked by scrubbing brushes or similar objects. The condenser air-pump is driven from an arm on the end of the flywheel shaft through two vertical rods.

Also in the Main Engine house there is a number of other steam engines including a Mumford engine used to pump feed water back into the boiler and a Crompton and Parkinson engine which was used to generate electricity to power lights in the pumping station and the engineer's house.

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Electric Room


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Electric Room


Crompton Parkinson Electric Pump
This electric pump was the last to be installed on the site, in 1937. It is a 114 h.p. (85kW) Crompton Parkinson electric motor that drove a 18 inch (0.46m) diameter Gwynnes' centrifugal pump in the basement below it through a vertical shaft.

Its purpose was to cope with increasing storm surges from the new housing estates and increased drainage to the sewers. It pumped to holding tanks only.

When the pumping was in commercial use, this electric pump was always the last to be started in the event of a storm surge, because the cost of electricity was so high and the electric motor was quite inefficient.

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Boiler House


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Boiler House


No.4 boiler, built in 1923 by Babcock & Wilcox.
It is a water tube boiler that was fired on coke and was installed to supplement the original three boilers, one of which was removed in 1952 to provide a coke storage area.

These original three boilers burnt household rubbish, but nine men were required to keep them stoked. As the cost of labour increased and the calorific value of the rubbish fell, so the station became more dependant on the coke fired No 4 boiler. At the end of the station's working life steam was supplied totally by this boiler, the coke being supplied from the gasworks next door.

The pumping station required fifteen people to run it, not including the 9 destructor staff. With this amount of labour it became worthwhile to invest in a new automated, pumping station, and in 1968 the 'Riverside Pumping Station' just next door took over the job. This station, not staffed in later years, represented the new era in technology but by 1993/4 was to be replaced by a new tunnel sewage system. The Riverside Pumping Station has now been re-developed into a number of houses and flats.

Let's Go and see our man Nick in the Print Shop.

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Print Shop


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Print Shop


Housed in a former workshop is the working exhibition of letterpress-printing equipment ranging from early hand operated presses to power machinery, including hot metal casters.

 

Here in the print room there are examples of hand set, linotype and monotype printing. There are Albion, Wharfedale, Columbian, Adana, and proof presses.

At the heart of the letterpress printing process is the use of moveable type - individual pieces of metal or wood, each bearing a character in relief on one end, that can be brought together to form words and sentences. Johann Gutenberg is traditionally regarded as the inventor of printing in Europe, but the significant part of his discovery was the production of metal type using a mould - the first example of precision mass-production.

The process of making type begins with the punch-cutter, who makes a steel punch in the shape of each letter required. The punch is hardened and then driven into a block of soft copper to form a 'matrix' or mould from which type can be cast.

Type was cast in a hand-mould, which produced types of a fixed height but was adjustable for width so as to be able to cast narrow characters like 'i' and wide ones like 'W'. Molten type-metal - an alloy of lead, tin and antimony - was poured into the mould with a small ladle and solidified almost at once. The piece of type was extracted from the mould and the process repeated. A skilled caster might turn out 4000 types a day.

In the 19th century various machines were developed to cast type automatically at a rate of 20,000 a day or more. But the steel punches had still to be cut by hand.

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The Chimney


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The Chimney


You know you've arrived as a chimney when you've been scaled by Fred Dibnah, the godfather of TV demolition. Fred has straddled some premiere chimneys in his time and put down a few monster constructions too... although he has made is name playing the demolition game Fred would much rather be known for his work in the restoration field and in 1992 he turned up just in time to rehabilitate our mighty but ailing construction...he arrived on the 11th of May and after taking a little time to overcome the overhang made rapid progress erecting his higher ladders, well before the TV cameras turned up to film Fred erecting his 'Dibnah Flying Scaffold'.

The chimney shaft is 175ft (53m) high, and is 6ft (1.8m) across the top inside measurement. The plinth is of moulded stone, and the shaft, which is square at the base and octagonal above is built of brick in four sections of 35ft 6in (10.8m) each, the first section being three bricks thick, the second two and a half, the third two, and the forth one and a half bricks thickness