Fox Clough steam engine house

An impressive ruin, remote and mostly hidden by trees, still looking down on the water it was built to deal with over 200 years ago.


Constructed sometime before 1805 (it’s shown on a map of that date) and probably no earlier than the 1780s, the building housed a steam engine.

The south side of Colne’s south valley had been mined for centuries by this time and, out of a drift mine head, just a short way from the engine, down the hill by Waterside Bridge, tons of coal for the town’s mills came from deep inside the hillside.

The steam engine would have been an atmospheric or Newcomen engine of the same type as this one at the Black Country Living Museum:


Protected from the elements in the sturdy stone structure, the coal-fired boiler helped work the beam up and down on a pivot. One end of the beam protruded from an opening near the top and its pumping action was used to draw water up from the mine workings below so that they could be dug more easily and extensively.

Looking out from inside, huge pieces of worked masonry at ground level: what’s left of floor that supported the engine:

Looking in from the front:


And down from the rear:

The opening to the shaft up which the water was drawn is still visible:


Nearby are the remains of a small building – a workshop or store perhaps – and the steam has been covered in places, to allow access to the engine house across it (for coal supplies?) and maybe to better channel away the water brought up from below:

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