Amazing stationary engines on display at Amberley Working Museum

Posted by Chris Graham on 9th January 2024

Allan Cullen reports on the amazing stationary engines seen on show recently at the excellent Amberley Working Museum, in West Sussex.

amazing stationary engines

Amazing stationary engines: International Famous from Perino Mastrocola.

On Sunday, October 1st, the early Autumn sunshine made for a pleasant drive down towards the Sussex Downs for this annual event at Amberley Working Museum, when the whole of the site has some sort of exhibit on display around the various sections of the museum. 

Our engine display, 12-strong, was sited around the famous Robey House, which was formerly at Littlehampton, but reconstructed to become the Robey House and, for many years, was overseen by the late Charles Hudson, a local man from Storrington, just a few miles away from the museum site.   

amazing stationary engines

The ‘Little Pet’ Petter and Le Grand deep well pump exhibited by Andrew Gisby.

Perino Mastercola displayed his International Famous 3hp petrol-fuelled vertical engine; these models were produced in various sizes, ranging from 2½hp to 6½hp in a vertical form, and from 5hp to 11hp in horizontal form. Perino’s engine was driving a Lister deep well pump, which was one of two such pumps to be seen in the section. The other was a Le Grand driven by a ‘Little Pet’ Petter owned Andrew Gisby, and which was featured in a recent issue of Stationary Engine. They had travelled from Kent.

amazing stationary engines

Wolseley WD2 and Argosy pump from Ashley Goldfinch.

Also from Kent was Colin Spence, with his radiator-cooled Lister D type and also Ashley Goldfinch with her 1946 Wolseley WD2 and Argosy pump and magic tap, which the children and some adults found fascinating. Ashley was joined by her granddad, John Fewster, with his Lister D type and Girdle Stone pump. Ollie Goldsmith was showing a Lister A type, s/no. 08021, which was driving a Richmond and Chandler No. O mill that I’d restored about 10 years ago.

amazing stationary engines

Keith West was showing his newly-acquired Bernard Tarpen generator unit.

A recent new purchase by Keith West was the Bernard Tarpen type WO generator unit. Keith is hoping that this engine will act as a ‘donkey’ to help him when it comes to starting a larger Bernard engine; it’s proving to be a handful and rather than do himself a mischief, he thought the engine would take the strain. Good luck with that, Keith!

Phillip Sampson was showing the Fairbanks Bull Dog engine, formerly owned by his father, Ian.

Peter Orchard’s 1928 Fuller & Johnson engine suffered a spring problem, so the engine and the vacuum pump it should have been driving turned into a static display. I’m sure Peter has sorted the problem by the time you read this report. Neil Harris had the 1948 Lister CS diesel that he’s custodial owner of. Neil has been looking after the engine since February 2023, and has learnt a lot about getting it to run smoothly all day. 

Rowan Sampson was showing an Amanco Hired-Man rated at 2¼hp.

Guy Taylor had a McCormick-Deering M type that was found in a ditch on a farm in Kent early in 1980; it’s been painstakingly restored to working condition, with several parts having to be sourced from America. 

Guy Taylor was exhibiting his McCormick-Deering M type engine.

Many of you engine people may have exhibited at Amberley on Stationary Engine Day, which was overseen by the late Ian Sampson; to mark the occasion, his son Phillip and grandson Rowan brought along two of his engines and, since the day, Phillip has come across a photograph of his dad, himself as a young man and David Ralph, another engine man at the time, sitting on the bench outside the Robey House just inches from where Phillip was showing the same Fairbanks Bull Dog engine.

The Petter PA engine I was looking after for the day.

The Bull Dog is a type ‘BD’ and was used to power a saw bench from 1927-1955. It then laid idle until it was discovered in Hailsham, East Sussex, in 1970 when it was purchased for restoration for the sum of £10. Rowan had an Amanco Hired Man,  rated at 2¼hp and dated 1919, which carries the s/no. 112430. The last of the engines on display was a Petter PA on loan to me in readiness for Petterfest. Unfortunately, it developed a fuel leak which we weren’t able to solve on the day.

This feature comes from the latest issue of Stationary Engine, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE


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