The Bristish Engineerium at Hove has been closed for a while now, but with an invite for a visit from our good friend and Victoria’s previous owner, Peter Fagg who happens to be the Chief Engineer there, we were looking forward to our visit and to see this beautiful building and wonderful large beam engine.
With all the work that has gone on over the years since it was closed and sold, it would be great to see inside again, they have had a few open days over the years but nothing for the last few years.
A little history of us and the British Engineerium. The previous owner of Victoria, Peter Fagg, has worked here for many years and when he restored Victoria in 1980/81 this is mainly where the work was done, and then she lived here in the main exhibition hall until we purchased her in 2002. Peter still works and runs the engines, there are few engines of all different sizes for him to look after, so he knows the engines and buildings very well. We feel we have a large connection with here as Victoria and Peter, along with his wife Shirley, are still an important part of our engine’s life, so it was only right we would visit this lovely place again.
We arrived to see the car park has been tarmaced and new extensions have been added to the building. We walk in through the large door where once upon a time Victoria would steam in and out of, as this is where she lived for many years in Peter and his wife Shirley care until we bought her in 2002. Not that you would get Victoria in there now as the large wooden door is now a lovely glass window and door. The first thing we sadly noticed was that the beautiful steam engine that use to sit in the main hall has gone; the Corliss has been sold, removed and gone to Denmark where it is being installed into a museum where they will look after it and hopefully steam it, sadly its gone from here but great its gone to a good home.
We walked on through the small arch tunnel where we could sense that familiar smell of steam, oil and the heat of the fire, with the boiler alight and the coal being thrown in, it was a lovely sight to see, the place alive and in steam again.
We moved to the engine room, where the beam engine was ticking over, so quiet, you can see and tell that this engine is looked after by Peter, not a leak, noise or anything out of place. With just a handful of people there that had been invited, for one reason or another, it was wonderful to sit and watch not just the engine but I noticed a couple of older gents sitting on the bench watching and chatting, just soaking up the pure beauty of this engine. Peter then asked if we would like to adventure up the stairs to the top of the engine and take a look, of course we said yes before he had finished the sentence. You get a slightly different perspective from up here, to see it from the top and feel the power is lovely, we felt very privileged to have the chance to climb to the top.
We chatted with Mike, the other member of staff who is just as passionate about this place as Peter, there was also a young chap, about 18/20, I think his name was Harry who was happily throwing coal in the boilers while we all chatted. Harry again seemed very passionate about this wonderful place. Earlier I noticed he had a friend drop by and he was showing him around, the passion in his voice and his friend’s interest was just great to see. He then chatted about steam for a good while with our Harry and they seem to be having a good time, nice to see the youngsters enjoying the steam bug!
We had coffee and then lunch, we were going to sit in the car to eat our picnic but decided we would take our lunch into the engine room and watch the engine while eating, what could be better than lunch with that view.
With the day coming to a close and only us and the staff left, it was time to shut the engine off and put her to bed, we watched as Peter turned levellers and handles and before too long she had come to a stop.
Speaking to Peter he is hoping that next year the engine will be in steam for the public to come and take a look at, with only two steams in 2023 it feels that she needs using more, so please if you see that this wonderful engine is going to be in steam then make sure you visit to support these wonderful buildings, engines and their staff. If we don’t support them then we will lose them and this is not allowed, everyone should make sure they support this history and keep alive.
Keep an eye on our social media for updates, we will make sure as soon as we know of any dates we will post them on our website and social media pages.
Lastly we would like to thank Peter for the invite and his staff for what was a fantastic day.