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Mather & Platt Engineering Collection

Mather & Platt Steam Engine

A note about Steam Engine-Trials

In a paper read to the Institution of Civil Engineers in December 1889, Professor Osborne Reynolds (qv Pumps Department) described with some pride a large triple-expansion steam engine which had been installed under his close supervision in the Whitworth Engineering Laboratory at Owens College.

Characteristically, Reynolds ensured that this new test facility was extremely flexible. The engine could be operated as a triple-expansion condensing engine or run in a variety of other ways. In his address he defined the purpose of the engines as two-fold; (i) to afford students practice in making the many measurements involved in steam engine-trials, to give them an insight into the action of the steam and the mechanical components and to familiarize them with good design; (ii) to supply a means of research by which the knowledge of the steam- engine could be extended.

The detailed design and the construction of the engines and the boiler were undertaken by Messrs. Mather and Platt, whose `zeal and liberality' Reynolds gratefully acknowledged.

It was decided to have the three engines on separate brakes and that these should be hydraulic devices rather than ones dependent on mechanical friction. William Froude had earlier developed a radically new design for a compact hydraulic brake for determining the power of large engines. Accordingly, Reynolds tested a 4-inch diameter model of the new design. He found that when the speed exceeded a certain limit, the brake partially emptied itself of water and the resistance correspondingly decreased. To overcome this defect, Reynolds had radial holes drilled through the metal of the fixed vanes in such a way as to maintain the water in the brake at atmospheric pressure or above it under all conditions of operation. Having tested this idea out using his model, Reynolds adopted it successfully on the 18-inch wheels which became the hydraulic brakes for his three-cylinder steam engine.

Click here to view a fine example of a renovated Mather & Platt steam pump which can be found at the Cambridge Museum of Technology, in England.

Calender Ten Cylinders Textile Printing

Pair of Generators
(Each 1200 HP)

Textile Printing Machine
(14 colours)

Gas Motor 1000


Gas Motor 1500


High-Lift Turbine Pump

Driven by a special M+P
direct-acting steam engine.

Zoelly Turbine 1800

M&P Dynamo
(It generated light for the

(2.708 M3/H. 13 bars)

Edison-Hopkinson Patent Slow-Speed Dynamo

Driven direct by a Tower Spherical Engine



Mather's Patent High-Speed Spring Beetling Machine

c. 1879


Bridge Transporter


Textile Printing Machine - 6 Colours

Drilling & Boring Equipment

A steam driven boring machine which used a flat hemp rope in place of 'boring rods'. The cutters of the 'boring head' and the rope were lifted by a vertical steam cylinder and allowed to fall freely. The fall varied from 2ft 6ins upwards. The weight of the cutting tools, guide bar, and rotating mechanism weigh upwards of a ton, depending on the size of the hole being bored. Holes up to 3ft in diameter could be bored down to a great depth and a solid core retrieved. Mather & Platt also manufactured Coal Cutting Machines.

Raising Machine

Early Light Three-Bowl Friction Calender

Engineering Hub - links to other divisions Back to Engineering Hub Mather & Platt powered Traction Engine - The Lord Lascelles.The Lord Lascelles - Traction Engine - Dynamo configuration was by Mather & Platt. This is a remarkable story of restoration and preservation and an important piece of social history.