Pontefract. Where playing around can cost your head.

by John

Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s 5th wife was beheaded in 1542 because she had an affair with Thomas Culpepper in this castle.

The castle, the second strongest in England, after the Tower of London, and considered impregnable, because it is built on rock at the top of a hill, was actually captured during the civil war by the roundheads.  The roundheads had learned that officers of the castle garrison were trying to buy beds.  So some of the roundheads got access to the castle by pretending to be bed merchants, and the castle was taken.

After that the castle was demolished, encouraged by the locals who were fed up with being the target of many armies.


Not much of the huge castle remains


There are 3 cannon ball impact craters in this photo.


Is that a nuclear power plant?

Pontefract is mainly infamous because Richard 2 was murdered here.  A red hot poker allegedly.

Then, after this cheery history lesson, I drove on through the beautiful country of the Derbyshire Dales.  Winding roads.   Deep rocky gorges.  Open fields with stone fences.  To my destination of The Anson Machinery Museum.  This is a smallish museum, recommended by a Melbourne colleague (thanks Ian, if you are reading this), but containing some absolute machinery gems.  Many photos, but I will show just a few.


It must be 5-6meters long



Ah.  This looks like my sort of museum!


WTF?  ” A single cylinder, double acting wall engine of 1800.  Note the parallel motion bars, designed to (successfully) circumvent James Watt’s patent.  The gothic arch surrounds are actually steam pipes.  About 5″ tall, plus a large flywheel (partly seen).



The beam engine stands about 5′ high.  Made by Fowlers of Leeds 1872.


And my personal guide for an hour or two,  an expert steam head, Geoff Baker.


And just feast your eyes on this beauty!  It is a compound twin, about 3’6″ – 4′ tall.  The propulsion engine for a 63′ torpedo boat 1880.  Not yet formally displayed.


This is a compound twin from a paddle steamer,  a rich man’s toy.

There were many more engines, including a huge atmospheric engine, a very large compound twin horizontal mill engine, which was difficult to adequately photograph, many oilers, diesels, a steam driven workshop, a steam driven hammer.  A really interesting smaller museum in a beautiful country location.