Down to See the Engines

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

Down to See the Engines

I reckon this Waverley video dates from circa 1990. It has been split into 5 parts for loading up to YouTube. Links to all five parts are given below although you can also navigate between them if you go onto the YouTube site. Its amazing to think that 2 decades  have passed since this film was made so there are a number of well known faces (then) including Captain Jimmy Addison, engineers George Beveridge, Jimmy Graham . Also brief shots of former donkeyman John Lees, ‘Wee Davie’ Muir, deckie the late Donald (Angus) McKinnon, ‘new’ purser Jim McFadzean and Ken Henderson, in apprenticeship days, who subsequently became Chief Engineer. Most of the film is set in the engineroom (as the title would suggest, or perhaps it wouldn’t if you know the ‘lore’ behind that expression) but there is some nice, if brief, on deck shots at the start. For some of us 1990 seems relatively recent in the Waverley story – until we realise its now 20 years ago. So its a bit of a nostalgia trip for us oldies but, even if you’ve only come to know Waverley in relatively recent times, I hope that you will find something of interest in this fine film and historical record. Sadly, I don’t know who made the film but all credit is due to them. So, ‘Cedarcam’, many thanks for these wonderful memories

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

and Part 5

Additionally, and especially for the Branch Chairman, in Part 4 there is a close up of the port-side steam-engine driven Howden FD fan. which resided on the platform at main deck level at the forward end of the engineroom. Originally, the ship was fitted with a double-ended Scotch Boiler, built by the enginebuilder, Rankin & Blackmore, at their Eagle Foundry in Baker Street, Greenock. The boiler had six furnaces (3 at each end) originally each being fitted with firebars in a grate for coal firing. The boiler draught (air flow) containing the oxygen for oxidation (burning) of the carbon and hydrogen in the coal was maintained by creating a relatively steady pressure differential between the boileroom and the flue exit at the top of the funnesl both of which were for creation of boiler draught in those days (the separation of Waverley’s funnels are typical of that required for the ubiquitous Scotch boiler). As a safety measure, to reduce the chance of blow-back of combustion products from the furnaces, the area around the boiler firing positions was maintained at a pressure higher than the ambient air pressure. Effectively there was a sealed chamber around the lower half and the twin steam engined forced draught (FD) fans blew air from the engineroom into boilerroom through two openings in the bulkhead that separates the two compartments. To prevent dipping the pressure in the boilerroom stokehold twin-door air locks were needed for access and egress of the boilerroom. The systems was well known as ‘Forced Draught on a Closed Stokehold’. One of the pioneers of this innovative improvement in the firing performance of boilers was the Glasgow engineer James Howden who was working in the industry from the 1850s onwards. Originally building marine engines and boilers to supply the large and rapidly expanding Clyde shipbuilding industry, Howden was a very original-thinking innovative engineer, proposing several improvements that fate has subsequently credited to others. The Howden company established a large manufacturing works in Scotland Street, Glasgow, adjacent to the site subsequently occupied by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s renowned Scotland Street School (now the Glasgow Museum of Education.

Former Howden Design Offices and Manufacturing Works
8-18 Scotland Street, Glasgow.
This part of the works still exists but it has been under threat of demolition for redevelopment recently,  The Scottish Industrial Heritage Trust has an alternative plan to save the premises and develop it as a working Museum dedicated to industrial heritage
While maintaining a general engineering facility Howden’s specialised in air (and gas) moving  equipment (fans, blowers and compressors) and associated airheaters, which play a crucial role in optimising the efficiency of steam-based utility systems. In this work Howden’s formed a strong and long lasting association with the innovative Swedish engineer Ljungstrom. Over the years Howden’s have absorbed many of their competitors, one notable example being the famous Sirrocco Works of Belfast-based fanmaker Samuel Davidson & Co where Howden fans are now built. On closurre of the Scotland Street works Howden moved their base to Old Renfrew Road in Refrew, close to the Braehead shopping complex. It was in these Renfrew Works that Howden built the large tunnelling machines for the  Channel Tunnel project.
The starboard side Howden fan was removed from Waverley when the Scotch Boiler was removed from the vessel in March 1981. The new Babcock Steambloc boiler that replaced it had twin furnaces fitted with oil burners, supplied by combustion specialists Saake, that had their own integral FD fans. However the port-side Howden fan was retained to assist in maintaining adequate ventilation of the boilerroom, The fan was removed during the second reboilering in 2000.

A Howden development for the Scotch boiler but, unlike the one that used to be on Waverley, it has an air jacket to improve the overall efficiency of the unit and a superheater / desuperheater for control of final steam temperature. The unit  is also a single ended Scotch boiler like those on SS Shieldhall


Stuart Cameron