National gas engine found

Posted by Chris Graham on 3rd April 2020

Alan Cullen reports on an interesting find he came across during a recent visit to the Papplewick Pumping Station and Museum in Nottinghamshire.

National gas engine

National gas engine found: The engine and dynamo now reside at the Papplewick Pumping Station and Museum. (Pic: Alan Cullen)

While on a recent visit to Papplewick Pumping Station and Museum, I was pleasantly surprised to spot the National gas engine featured in this story. This engine had supplied electricity, via a belt-driven dynamo, for a goodly number of years in the Plaza Cinema in Bolsover, Derbyshire. It must have brought hours of pleasure to many thousands of cinema-goers, without them realising it was running underneath where they were sitting as they enjoyed watching the films.

National gas engine

The National gas engine as installed at the Plaza Cinema in Bolsover, Derbyshire. (Pic: Geoff Challinor)

I have tried to research this engine with the help of Geoff Challinor, of the Anson Museum; although I took photographs of the engine at Papplewick, we were unable to see the number clearly enough to be sure it was correct due to the copious amounts of paint. However, it is believed to be serial number 49126, which Geoff says is allocated to a type ‘TB’, and which was the largest of the series ‘B’ engines built. He added that it dates from around 1936, and that there were only 130 type ‘TB’ engines produced. The engine has a bore with a diameter of 11 inches, and a 19-inch stroke.

The belt-driven dynamo.

Geoff has very kindly provided a couple of photographs showing the engine in the cinema, taken just before it was removed in 1978. These are included here together with a couple that I took while at Papplewick. I have tried to discover the engine’s serial number from the folks at Papplewick, but it’s been put into winter storage and will not be accessible until Easter 2020.

National gas engine

Another view of the engine at its new home, at the Papplewick Pumping Station and Museum.


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