Clayton and Shuttleworth engine at Pioneer Park

The value of the collection at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum was recently affirmed with a request for detailed information on a rare item.

Jonathan Wheeler, a restorer based in England, contacted Griffith Pioneer Museum Park staff through the Museum’s Facebook page to ask for help in restoring a Clayton and Shuttleworth engine.

“This particular type of Clayton engine with the circular type firebox is not common,” wrote Mr Wheeler. “I know of only three – your 8 [horse power], [a friend’s] 6hp and this 12hp I am working on.”

The Clayton and Shuttleworth portable steam engine in the Museum’s collection was built in 1902 and is thought to have been used at Tubbo Station and Mr Wheeler requested photographs from a variety of angles to assist with his restoration project, as well as details of the firebox door handle.

“It was interesting to learn how scarce these old engines have become,” said Councillor John Dal Broi, Chair of the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum Committee. “What was even more surprising is that the Clayton and Shuttleworth engine here in Griffith appears to be the only known example with an intact firebox door handle.”

Jason Richardson, Museum Curator, sketched around the handle and provided detailed measurements to Mr Wheeler so that a replacement could be produced for his restoration project. Soon after, Wheeler shared videos showing his restored Clayton and Shuttleworth engine producing steam.

“It’s great to see interest in the old steam engines,” said Mr Richardson. “These workhorses powered communities around a century ago. They were used to drive mining crushers, wood saws, chaff cutters, and all sorts of other machinery.”

Portable steam engines were a forerunner to the traction steam engines that developed into the tractors we know from the early 20th Century. “These machines were the backbone of industry in regional Australia and helped transform the landscape from bushland to productive farms,” he added.