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Elsecar Colliery, Yorkshire - Page 1

My Father, Cyril Charles Ware, and the Newcomen Pump Engine at Elsecar

Ian Ware - Cyril Charles Ware was born in Bristol in 1922

Cyril became one of a team of fitters who restored the Newcomen Pump Engine

Cyril Charles Ware was born in Bristol in 1922 and on leaving school in 1937 began an engineering apprenticeship  with the Parnall Aircraft Company (Bristol).  When war broke out Cyril was in a reserved occupation, but was still required to give up some non-work time to provide cover with the Auxiliary Fire Service (see photo to left).  During this time he fought fires in Bristol Exeter and Plymouth. On finishing his apprenticeship in 1943, he was released from reserved occupation work and volunteered for the RAF where he trained as an aircraft mechanic.  On completion of his training he was posted to Egypt, where he remained until early 1947. The time in Egypt left Cyril with a great love of history in general and Egyptology in particular.  After demob, Cyril resumed his trade in Bristol until 1949 before moving to Wentworth in South Yorkshire for family reasons.

On finding himself in Yorkshire, the easiest place to find work was always going to be either the coal mines or the steel industry.  As Elsecar Colliery was just down the road, I presume this was his ‘first port of call’. On obtaining employment in the workshops, Cyril became one of a team of fitters who restored the Newcomen Pump Engine to working condition as part of the 1951 Festival Of Britain celebrations (see personal correspondence).  Shell made a short film of the pump in action at the time, but this is not now generally available. 

Pumping Engine
Elsecar Colliery Pumping Engine

Shortly afterwards, while being driven ’under steam’, the pump was badly damaged and left to deteriorate.

As small children, my brother and I never really appreciated the education value of the fossils that Cyril took the trouble to bring home from the mine. 

In 1954, Cyril was offered the post of Instructor at the NCB Mines Mechanisation Centre in Sheffield, where he and the other instructors indulged in an informal competition to see who could produce the biggest firedamp explosion in a small test rig.  This was curtailed after there were complaints from the Principle that they were shaking his office.  It was however a useful practical demonstration for the trainees, as to the dangers of methane explosions!

Cyril continued his studies by evening class to obtain An ONC in Mechanical Engineering (1957) and Mine’s and Quarries Act (1954) Mechanic’s Certificate Class 1 (1958) (see picture).  He continued to study for HNC but found it increasingly difficult (with a young family) to complete the necessary hours of study.

Frustrated by a block to his career path within the NCB, Cyril moved to Samuel Foxes Stainless Steel works at Stocksbridge, Sheffield and then down to South Devon as an Apprentice Instructor with Centrax in 1961. 

While in South Devon, he was given the opportunity to re-train as a secondary school teacher (maths/physics) in 1967 but spent the rest of his teaching career teaching metalwork in Oxfordshire!!  Having taken early retirement, he then returned to engineering as a draughtsman for BMC, Cosworth and several other  companies.

He died in 2012 after a short illness.

Further reading: -

  • The Beam Engines of Elsecar,Leawood and Middleton Top by P.J.M. Southworth - ISBN 0-9511856-4-0
    See Amazon Books
  • Elsecar Pumping Engine.  (nice short overview)
  • Aristocratic Enterprise by Graham Mee ISBN 0-216-90050-6.  This book details the history of the Fitzwilliam Estate, which includes various industries within South Yorkshire (including Elsecar Colliery)
    See Amazon Books

Newcomen Pump Engine at Elsecar

Part Of The 1951 Festival Of Britain Celebrations

- Photo Gallery -

Photo's From His Son, Ian Ware