Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,518 pages of information and 233,949 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Chard Museum

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Models of some of John Stringfellow's steam-powered aircraft
Two cylinder engine made by John Stringfellow in 1870, intended to be used to power a balloon to help relieve the seige of Paris
Boiler made by John Stringfellow for 1870 balloon engine
Replica of John Stringfellow single cylinder steam aero engine and boiler which powered his experimental model in 1848. Made by Rolls-Royce
Boy-powered wood-turning lathe
Equipment from wheelwright's workshop, including a morticer by Thomas Robinson and Son
The field roller in the foreground was made by Wightman and Dening. Its neighbour dates from the 1840s
Columbian printing press made by Alex Wilson and Sons of London
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Horse-powered cider mill
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Granite crushing roll on cider mill
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Wooden gearwheel on vertical wooden shaft which is turned by the horse, via the wooden and iron arms
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Brass bearing, which can be moved horizontally by a jacking screw to reduce the gap between the crushing rolls
Showing how the gear wheel is 'staked' onto the square shaft
Heavyweight lace-making machine, and a sample of its delicate output
Plethora of gears on lace-making machine
Lace-making: brass bobbins in their carriages
Roof in one of the exhibition halls, made in 1986 by Space Decks, a subsidiary of Dening and Co

in Chard, Somerset

This excellent museum was created by people with a deep interest in the town's history, and is run by enthusiastic volunteers. The wide range of artefacts on display is well-chosen, and the breadth and depth of the exhibits is sufficient to warrant return visits.

Displays of special interest include artefacts relating to aviation pioneer John Stringfellow, machinery manufacturers Dening and Co., and the local lace industry. There are also excellent displays of the workshop equipment of local trades, including blacksmiths, woodworkers, plumbers, cider makers, and even a 'surgical mechanic'.

Rarities include a Stringfellow aeronautical steam engine and boiler, a complete horse-driven apple-crushing mill (without the horse!), and stripped-down examples of the magnificent gilded shop fascia board which used to grace many a high class Victorian emporium.

The horse-powered cider mill, with its granite crushing rollers, is worthy of close scrutiny as an example of early heavy engineering applied to a rural industry. The gears on the horse mill side are driven by square shafts and secured by groups of square keys. Similar arrangements can be seen on steam engines built c.1800, although it was more common (and more rational) to use eight keys. The gears on the other side of the rollers are of different design, presumably later additions or replacements.

[1] Museum website

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