RogerBW's Blog

Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester 20 April 2016

Also over Easter, I went to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Images follow: cc-by-sa on everything.

Avro F, first enclosed-cabin monoplane to fly (1912). It wasn't preserved, so this is a modern replica.

Manchester Baby, first stored-program computer; another reconstruction, though apparently using period components.

Whitworth planing table, this one used at the Crewe locomotive works to make horn blocks for axle boxes.

Various mill machinery. (I am not particularly interested in cotton, but someone who is would have fun here.)

Programmed loom for coloured ribbons.

Nameless steam condenser.

Parsons steam turbine, the fourth production model, from 1885; used for electric lighting on the steamship Earl Percy.

Brush Ljungstrom radial-flow steam turbine (1910 design, this one from 1957; how many industrial designs from 1969 are being manufactured now?).

Control room equipment from Back o' th' Bank power station in Bolton, 1935.

Limestone sewer pipe from the early 1800s. You might think limestone wouldn't work very well. You'd be right; the company realised this after a bit, but couldn't admit anything to its shareholders, and went comprehensively bust.

Reconstruction of vaulted sewer section.

Know your airships!

Live steam! It was only hauling people down to the end of the site and back, but the smell is still one of my favourite things. (Replica of Stephenson's Planet class).

Into the Power House. A Lancashire boiler made by Galloways in 1889, with twin furnaces for higher efficiency.

Water wheels and pumps.

The main hall. Well, about half of it. Anyone searching for inspiration for steampunk machinery should spend several hours here.

An early mill engine (Earnshaw and Holt of Rochdale, 1864).

Electrical genset, 1910.

I didn't get the details of this one, but it's lovely even so.

Ferranti cross-compound inverted engine, 1900.

1928 diesel genset.

RB211-22B high-bypass turbofan.

Beyer-Garratt GL class locomotive, 1930: in three articulated parts, a central boiler and two sets of cylinders, to fit round tight curves.

Vulcan 4-4-0, a broad-gauge locomotive by Beyer, Peacock and Co.

EM2 Ariadne, BR Class 77 in Nederlandse Spoorwegen livery.

Double diagonal engine (J. Wood of Ramsbottom, 1890). Offered a quick start-up.

Outside.

Over into the Air and Space hall. Well, air, anyway. English Electric P.1A, development airframe for the Lightning.

Roe Triplane I (before he formed Avro).

Avro Avian IIIA. (The whole Avian line was comprehensively outsold by the de Havilland Moth family.)

Avro 504K.

Flying Flea. (Many aviation museums seem to have one of these. I assume the recall was effective before most of them crashed.)

Rolls-Royce Avon 100.

Bristol Siddeley Olympus 201.

An old friend, DH.89a Dragon Rapide.

A miscellany of engines. (Power Jets W2/700, Napier TS100 blower to supercharge diesels, Metro-Vickers B10 Betty compressor, P2/1 jet, F2/2 Frieda compressor, P2/3 jet and P3 augmentor.)

A flying overcast: AEW Shackleton.

Miss Windermere VI, past propeller-driven water speed record holder.

One of very few surviving Ohka suicide planes; this is an unpowered glider prototype.

Olympia EoN 463 glider and Bensen B-7M autogyro.

Bristol Belvedere, in RAF service 1961-1969. (AVPIN is an engine starting aid, isopropyl nitrate. Its explosion products are themselves explosive when mixed with air.)

From Avro to Avro: the 707, one of three sub-scale models for the Vulcan.

Overall, things are tucked away in obscure places, and the overall theme seems to be "stuff that was built in Manchester", but this was still well worth the trip.


  1. Posted by John Dallman at 01:40pm on 20 April 2016

    That's a load better than IWM North. Wish I'd had the time an energy to go with you to this one.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 01:46pm on 20 April 2016

    Yeah. I can't work out what the intent of IWM North was meant to be, and therefore whether they succeeded or failed. This place is mostly "we have many buildings full of heavy engineering which isn't wanted any more, so let's put it all in one place and let people look at it".

  3. Posted by Owen Smith at 12:47am on 21 April 2016

    Does the Manchester Baby rebuild have working CRT memory storage? I believe they were called Williams Tubes.

    Memory seemed to be the bane of early computers, until core store came along. The EDSAC rebuild decided not to build authentic mercury delay line memory if I recall correctly. It's a shame but I can see why.

  4. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:14am on 21 April 2016

    What a wonderful selection of stuff! I'd have to be dragged out at closing time I suspect.

    That Avro 707 is the only one with engine intakes representative of the full size Vulcan. The earlier two 707s both had a single dorsal engine intake behind the cockpit.

    That Dragon Rapide looks in flying condition, do you know if it is?

    The Avon jet engine information board fails to mention an Avon was used in Thrust 2 which was Richard Noble's first land speed record car (a record the UK has held ever since, currently with Thrust SSC).

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 09:15am on 21 April 2016

    As I understand it, the Baby is a fully functional reconstruction, though it wasn't running when I was there.

    I don't think their Rapide is flyable; it was last in service in 1969 (round here, actually, at Booker airfield).

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