Part of the Stroud Valleys Arts open studios the old mill at St Mary’s, Chalford was open. This mill isn’t normally open to the public except on certain days so I went to have a look at the Tangye steam engine that once powered it.
The mill once made walking sticks although I think it played its part in other items throughout its life.
Along with the impressive engine there is also an enormous old water wheel that would have powered the mill before the steam engine was introduced.
Some of the mills in these valleys are like museum pieces as over at Longfords Mill in the Avening valley is a big room containing an old steam engine, a very impressive water powered electricity generator (powered by the lake) and a huge old diesel engine generator.
The Tangye engine is a double cylindered beast of a machine. The two cylinders are different sizes as one is for high pressure steam and the other is low pressure.
The boiler has long since gone so an electric motor turns against the huge flywheel so you can see it operating, although much slower than it would if it were powered by steam. It also makes a lot of noise!
I remember as a very young child seeing a rather large derelict boiler in the building and a search on the Internet produced the following image, which appears to be the boiler. Copyright of the image for putting on a website is not mentioned, but the image is from the extensive collection of photographs by the late E M Gardner.
The image can be found in the following link, they have other images including much higher resolution ones that can be downloaded for a fee:
There ia a big water tank under the engine room that was used to condense exhaust steam back into water.
The water wheel is equally impressive in size and although it’s not turning, the gears and drive shaft from it are still in place.
Stroudie Central YouTube video of the engine being turned over by an electric motor. More local videos can be found on our YouTube channel.
Some incredibly sparce information on St Marys Mill can be found here
There are links to more information on the old mills in the area from that page.