Fred Dibnah engine at risk

Posted by Chris Graham on 2nd September 2020

Fred Dibnah

This Fred Dibnah-restored horizontal, single-cylinder engine, built around 1890 by WC Holmes & Co of Huddersfield, could be under threat due to housing development (Pic: Dr David Collier)

An engine room containing a steam engine restored by the late Fred Dibnah, is at risk of being demolished to make way for a housing development.

The engine room at Wetheriggs Pottery near Penrith, Cumbria, figures in a site proposal that’s been given the green light by Eden District Council, to be converted to five homes.

The pottery closed for business back in 2008 and, with it, went the c1890 horizontal, single-cylinder engine built by WC Holmes & Co of Huddersfield, which was originally at the Stoke Gas Works. The 4hp engine, with a cylinder of 8½in x 1ft 2in, was restored by Fred Dibnah in 1995.

The plan is for the pottery kilns to be demolished and the engine stripped out. Since the pottery’s closure, which was due to its parent company being in trouble rather than the Penrith business, Historic England had been called to examine the site and ‘was horrified at the level of deterioration and the sorry state of repair.’

Wetheriggs Pottery, in Cumbria, as it was in August 2009, shortly after its closure.

The developer plans to repair some of the sensitive, historic buildings on the site, albeit for residential conversion. Both Historic England and the local authority have approved these plans, but a petition with more than 2,700 signatures, has been started, and there’s very strong local opposition to the plan.

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