Bolton Archives Final Visit..….. Mission Accomplished !

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Caroline from Bolton Archives and the volunteers from the Friends of Hafod Morfa Copperworks examine the original Musgrave and sons order book detailing the order number from 1910 for the Steam Engine, Barring Engine and Gantry Crane and also the original plan for the steam engine.

A small group of volunteers made another, and final, visit to Bolton Library Archives at the beginning of March. The aim was to try to go through the many remaining rolls of Musgrave engineering drawings and complete the detailed photography and recording of those sheets that related to our Vivian Musgrave Engine …and other useful sheets that would help with our restoration & knowledge of Musgrave in South Wales.

The steam engine at Ellenroad Steam Museum is a 3000 hp twin tandem compound steam engine…….it’s a monster!

From the start our existing enthusiasm was boosted by a visit, on the Sunday afternoon, to Ellenroad Ring Mill Steam Museum near Rochdale to see the largest working mill engine in the world in full steam.  Not only was this a fantastic engine to see and experience, the museum and it`s volunteer staff were a fine example of how a heritage site and steam museum can be run and organised. The main engine was supported by various other working and static engines, displays, rooms and authentic vintage workshops. Also of note was the number of young volunteers operating engines and talking confidently and knowledgeably to the public.  Tom (and others of us) could have spent all three of our allocated days just at this site …. but we had to move on for the work at Bolton Archives on the Monday and Tuesday.

Our two long days at the archives proved to be, yet again, very successful. Not only did we manage to complete our thorough examination of the remaining rolls of drawings but all the photography and recording of key sheets was finished too. 

More Vivian Musgrave Engine sheets were discovered as well as drawings relating to Musgrave Engines at Lanelly, Gorseinon, Brymbo and `Weavers Corn Mills` in Swansea. Unknown, even to Tom, the discovery by us that there was a massive Musgrave Single Tandem Engine at Weavers was an added bonus to our work. Yet again, each individual volunteer discovered something of importance and value to our work back at Swansea. At times the work was very tiring, back-breaking and grubby but as ever we all had nothing but admiration for the engine designers and draftsmen (and women tracers probably in those days) that did such fine work on every sheet we looked at.

The following pieces of information and the above photos of our Bolton Library Archives Research show the scale of the exercise ….and crucially it`s success. 

Tom has made a total of 6 visits to Bolton Archives to look for the relevant plans in the Musgrave Collection, he first visited back in 2016. The above data relates to all 6 visits by Tom and his enthusiastic band of helpers.

Our thanks go to Bolton Museum Archive Service and especially to Caroline the chief archivist for all of her help and willingness to go ‘above and beyond’ anything expected and, with her staff, put up with us ‘invading their space’ and bringing a level of noise and humour that they may have never experienced before.

Caroline has written a blog for the museum service about the link between Bolton and the Hafod Copperworks- here is the link to the blog:

Thanks also to Tom who always keeps us organised and enthused.  Blog entry written by Mike P