Sixteen-ton steam engine for sale – buyer to collect

Posted On 06 Feb 2023 at 7:26 pm
The Corliss and Wheelock horizontal steam engine at the Engineerium in Hove

The Corliss and Wheelock horizontal steam engine at the Engineerium in Hove

The Engineerium in Hove is selling a 16-ton steam engine at auction this week – on condition that the buyer collects.

The buyer will also need tools to dismantle the 19th century horizontal steam engine and a sturdy truck capable of carrying not just the weight but a wide load.

The 33ft x 10ft machine was brought to Hove in the 1970s when the defunct Goldstone water pumping station became the Brighton and Hove Engineerium, later known as the British Engineerium. The engine’s flywheel has a 13ft diameter.

The engine, designed by Corliss and Wheelock, was built by Crepelle et Garand, of Lille, and exhibited at the World Fair – or Exposition Universelle – in Paris in 1889.

The showpiece of the fair was the newly built Eiffel Tower but the Corliss steam engine won the grand prix.

Bonhams, the auction house, said: “The engine would have been exhibited in the exhibition’s Galerie des Machines, an extraordinary 1,452ft-long exhibition centre housing hundreds of the leading engines and models of the day.

“The fair attracted international acclaim and was marketed at the time as a celebration of French artistic and technological achievement, marking a century since the French Revolution.

“It is particularly notable that the present lot was awarded the prestigious grand prix.

“Following the closure of the Paris exhibition, this engine was erected at the Hospital Emile Roux in Brevannes, south of Paris, along with a similar engine, generating electricity.

“The engine continued to work … until approximately 1940. In 1975 it was excavated and transported to the British Engineerium … celebrating its first run in its new home on (Monday) 25 October 1976.”

Last year the Engineerium was bought by the entrepreneur and investor Luke Johnson, 61, who runs the Brighton Pier Group, owner of the Palace Pier, and the author and behavioural science expert Paul Dolan, 54.

At the time, it was suggested that the venue might be used as “a cutting-edge centre for wellbeing”.

Mr Johnson said that the Corliss was not one of the original engines at the Goldstone Pumping Station which was built in 1866 – and it did not form part of the listing.

Luke Johnson

He said: “The reason we’re selling it is that it’s not an original working engine. It was one that was installed later. It’s not part of the original fabric. It’s from a completely different era.

“We’re not dismantling the Engineerium and selling off its assets. We’re selling one machine so that we can use the hall and welcome the public.

“It makes that large room unusable. It means that that room cannot be used for events of any kind.”

The engine is due to be auctioned by Bonhams, of Knightsbridge, London, at its “Connoisseur’s Library Sale” on Wednesday (8 February). The two-day sale starts tomorrow (Tuesday 7 February).

The guide price is £20,000 to £30,000 – and Bonhams added: “The successful buyer is responsible for the dismantling, removal and shipping of the lot from the British Engineerium.”

  1. Soph Reply

    It’s sold! £21,675 including premium. Would be fascinating to know who bought it and what they’re going to do with it… Precious childhood memories for many of us. Such a shame the whole building was closed for so long. Hope the building will once again be accessible to the general public.

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