The annual visit by the Preservation Society is always a joyous occasion for visitors and Museum engineers alike. Under the watchful eye of society chairman Mike Bond, the standing engines and historic vehicles are always meticulously set out and public safety standards are maintained at the highest level. On Sunday 8th April the Museum courtyard sang to the tune of fourteen engines which operated all day faultlessly. In addition, the numerous vintage tractors and other historic vehicles added extra delight for Museum visitors.
Society member Jamie Saunders from Yorkley demonstrated his Moteur Japy 13E. This 1½hp hit-and-miss petrol engine was made in France in 1929. The firm dates all the way back to 1777 when the Japy brothers set up a tiny workshop in Beaucourt, north east France, to make watches. Their heyday was around 1900 when a total of 5000 workers were employed and the firm had diverged into engineering. Regrettably the family dynasty came to an end in 1979 when the last Japy company went into liquidation. A museum in Beaucourt is all that remains.
The Waterworks Museum became interested in Pelapone engines when a 1950s 4-cylinder diesel of the ilk was donated by Ministry of Defence Estates from their site at RAF Hullavington in Wiltshire. It was therefore a particular delight to see society member Adam Bond of Hereford bring his Pelapone PF1 engine to the Museum. Paraffin fuelled, the 7 to 8hp engine had been manufactured in Dewsbury in 1922. It is the oldest of only six remaining of this type. The firm specialised in electric lighting systems originally but Charles Prudence set up a company in Leeds in 1910 called Prudence Electric Lighting and Power Our New Engine, hence the trade name Pelapone.
Rob Sparrey, a Society member from Kidderminster, brought along his Lauson Junior Frost King. This neat 1½hp petrol-fuelled engine is of American manufacture. The firm was another family dynasty which began in the 1880s in New Holstein, Wisconsin, to repair steam traction engines. They expanded into the manufacture of gas engines with hot-tube ignition. By 1916 the firm added paraffin-fuelled engines to their list, from 3½ to 28hp, known as Frost Kings. They also diversified into tractor manufacture but John Lauson died suddenly in 1922 and the firm gradually went into decline.
In the 1790s an entrepreneur, William Bentall, designed a new plough which was to form the basis of a whole new industry in Heybridge, in the Maldon district of Essex. His son Edward inherited the business and expanded into other agricultural machinery and by the 1870s had diversified into screw-cutting machinery. Edward became a very wealthy man. His son Edmund took over the thriving business in 1898 and as the century turned Bentall’s rose to the challenge of the new internal combustion engine. Regrettably he stuck to separate cylinder engines for the car he was developing whereas the monobloc system was becoming fashionable for automobiles and his developments were discontinued. Nevertheless, his petrol-fuelled stationary engines were doing very well and by 1914 the firm was employing 700 hands. It is an engine from this time that Society member Jim Poyner from Ledbury brought along called a Bentall Pioneer. Of 1½ to 2½hp his compact and economical petrol engine has an unusual lubricating system. Like all the other engines on display it ran sweetly throughout.
The Museum’s engines, steam, gas, diesel and hot-air, were all running through the day and generally the new season has got off to a good start. The Hereford Preservation Society will make another great visit next Spring so keep a look out for the date.