Swannington Incline Winding Engine, Leicester & Swannington Railway, 1832
Winding Engine, Leicester & Swannington Railway, Swannington Incline Winding Engine, 1832, horizontal.
The Swannington incline stationary steam engine was built in 1833 by the Horsley Coal & Iron Company to a design of Robert Stephenson. It drove a winding drum which carried a long rope for hauling coal trains up the 1 in 17 incline on the Leicester & Swannington Railway for supplying coal to Leicester.
In 1892, the Swannington engine saw a complete reversal of role. It was then used to lower coal down the incline to supply the boilers of the pumping engine which prevented flooding of operational collieries in the area. The engine ceased work in 1947 when the steam pumping engines were replaced by electric pumps.
The Leicester & Swannington engine is unusual for the period in that it is horizontal rather than vertical, and is fitted with an early form of piston valve gear later used extensively on locomotives. In the 1830s it was thought that gravity would cause the weight of the piston to wear the cylinder bore oval. To overcome this a substantial tailrod arrangement with slidebars and slippers was fitted.