River Don Engine

River Don Engine Kelham Island Museum

See the River Don Engine in steam at 12pm and 2pm when the museum is open. 

Kelham Island becomes Power Island as part of our Heritage Lottery project - Sheffield 1916: Steel, Steam and Power.

Inspired by the 12,000hp River Don Engine, the most powerful working steam engine in Europe, the project's new displays and exhibitions explain the major role Sheffield played in shipbuilding and tells the fascinating story of steam power.

The mighty steam engine was built to roll armour plate for the Dreadnought warships that fought at the largest naval battle of the First World War, the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

The newly displayed gallery opens up the workings of the old boiler to reveal the secret life of the engine, from the story of armour plate to its place in the 20th century story of Britain, linking two world wars, nuclear power and the oil industry.

Go behind the scenes to experience the roar of the new River Don Engine boiler as it fires up to steam in the new Power House viewing platform located in the Transport Gallery. 

About the Engine

The River Don Engine was built by Davy Brothers of Sheffield in 1905 at Park Iron Works in Sheffield.  

It was made to drive Charles Cammell's armour plate rolling mill located at his Grimesthorpe Works. Cammell’s was one of the companies in the city that supplied the ship building industry with tough armour plate steel. At a weight of 400 tons and 12,000 horsepower, it enabled the huge mill to roll steel plate up to 40cm thick and 50 tons in weight.

The River Don Engine was one of four all built for the same purpose. The second went to John Brown's Atlas Works, the third to the Japanese government, and the fourth to Beardmores in Glasgow.

The River Don Engine ran at Cammell's mill for almost 50 years. The engine was then transferred to what was formerly known as the British Steel Corporation's River Don Works. At the Works, the engine continued to drive a heavy plate mill, producing products such as stainless steel reactor shields and steel plates for North Sea oil rigs.

In 1978, the engine ceased production and was transferred to the Kelham Island Museum site where it continues to run on steam as is the most powerful working steam engine remaining in Europe today.


Engine Technical Specification:

Metric Imperial
Cylinder bore 1.06m 41 inches
Piston Stroke 1.22m 48 inches
Working Pressure 11bars saturated steam 160 lb / sq. in. saturated steam
Crank pin diameter 0.53metres 21inches
Main journal diameter 0.53metres 21inches
Estimated total weight 426.83 tonnes 420 tons
Largest single component weight 51.83 tonnes 51 tons
Overall height 8.54 metres 28 feet
Overall length 12.2 metres 40 feet