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'Jewel of the North' goes public for the first time as Carr's celebrates its 175th Anniversary

A RARE 'Carel' steam engine and giant flywheel that once powered the giant Carr's flour mill at Silloth in Cumbria went on public display for the first time in 101 years as the company celebrated its 175th anniversary.

Built in Belgium and shipped direct to Silloth from Ghent in 1905, the machine (pictured below) - that was mothballed in the 1970s - has been overhauled and is now in pristine condition.

the remarkable Carel steam engine and giant fly wheelDuring three days of celebration at the mill, visitors including customers, local VIPs and retired mill workers, visited the engine room which has been turned into a museum with artefacts reflecting the company's history of flour, bread and biscuit manufacture.

Before he died, steeplejack Freb Dibnah paid a private visit to the mill and described the Carel steam engine as an industrial 'jewel of the north'.

Chris Holmes, Chief Executive of Carr's Milling Industries, said:

"It's a truly fantastic sight and a proud symbol of the Carr family's industrial legacy.

"Even as we celebrate our 175th anniversary and look towards the future I do think it’s very important to respect what has gone before.

"By creating this museum and preserving the steam engine we are freezing a remarkable moment in time for future generations to enjoy."

Harold Bosward is interviewed for BBC Look NorthRetired mill foreman Harold Bosward, who was interviewed by BBC Look North (pictured), remembers showing Fred Dibnah the famous Carel engine:

"Fred went into absolute raptures over it and described it as a real jewel of the north," he said.

The 750 horsepower, coal-fired steam engine drove a 21-ton, 18ft 6ins diameter flywheel that in turn powered 20 ropes connected to the mill’s rolling machines.

It worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the giant flywheel turned continuous throughout World War One and World War Two. The engine needed 11 tons of coal every 24 hours and produced enough power to mill nearly 200 tons of flour a day.

On the one occasion the flywheel was split in two for repairs, in 1952, the then company boss Ivan Carr took the opportunity to hide a letter inside - a replica of which is on display in the museum.

Some scenes from the Engine Room Museum
(click on an image for a larger view):
Retired workers inspect the museum artefacts Artefacts in the museum Jane Carr's personal bible The remarkable Carel steam engine
Retired workers inspect the museum artefacts Artefacts in the museum Jane Carr's
personal Bible
The remarkable Carel steam engine

Due to the industrial nature of the mill and Health & Safety regulations the actual museum cannot be opened to the public on a regular basis.

However, the company will consider requests from interested individuals or organisations for private viewings at convenient times - contact Susan Sharp on tel: 016973 33700.

^ top of page 2008, Carrs Breadmaker, Solway Mills, Silloth, Cumbria CA7 4AJ - Tel: 016973 33715