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B558 Steam engine, six-column beam type, cast iron / steel / brass / paint, made by Maudslay, Sons & Field, Engineers, Lambeth, London, England, 1837, used at William Bradley's flour mill and brewery, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia, c1838-1921. Click to enlarge.

Beam engine made by Maudslay Sons & Field, London, 1837, used at Goulburn, NSW, c.1838-1921

This engine was made by the company established by Henry Maudslay, who is renowned for his founding role in British precision engineering. The engine reflects the skill and pride in workmanship that he instilled in his workers, several of whom became leading designers and manufacturers of machine tools.

Maudslay Sons & Field made factory and marine steam engines that were well designed and beautifully finished. This example, thought to be the only remaining Maudslay six-column beam engine in the world, runs smoothly and quietly and is aesthetically very pleasing.

Boulton and Watt introduced the six-column beam engine as a free-standing compact version of its house-built engines. This engine incorporates four of Boulton and Watt's innovations: Watt's separate condenser and parallel motion; the centrifugal governor, adapted by Watt from windmill practice at Boulton's suggestion; and the D slide valve invented by employee William Murdoch.

The engine was installed in 1837 or 1838 at William Bradley's mill near Goulburn in regional New South Wales and was used there until 1921. It is a rare surviving example of the many stationary steam engines that improved the productivity of rural industries in the colony during the nineteenth century. Portable engines, the other type widely used in rural areas, have survived in greater numbers.

A large amount of firewood was used to fuel the two boilers that produced steam for the engine. Thus the engine represents one of several trends that drove the destruction of large areas of native forest across NSW, and it reminds us that biomass (including firewood) is a sustainable energy source only if it is grown and harvested in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Debbie Rudder, Curator, and Noel Svensson, Powerhouse Volunteer, January 2010

Cantrell J and Cookson G (eds), 'Henry Maudslay and the pioneers of the machine age', Tempus, UK, 2002

Langford J, 'Henry Maudslay: engineer', paper presented to Midland branch, Newcomen Society, Birmingham, 7th February 1996


Object No.


Object Statement

Steam engine, six-column beam type, cast iron / steel / brass / paint, made by Maudslay, Sons & Field, Engineers, Lambeth, London, England, 1837, used at William Bradley's flour mill and brewery, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia, c1838-1921

Physical Description

Steam engine, six-column beam type, cast iron / steel / brass / paint, made by Maudslay, Sons & Field, Engineers, Lambeth, London, England, 1837, used at William Bradley's flour mill and brewery, Goulburn, NSW, Australia, c1838-1921

This rotative double acting six-column beam engine is capable of developing 12 horsepower (8.9 kW) at 20 rpm when supplied with steam at a pressure of 7 psi (48 kPa). It is similar to the museum's Boulton & Watt beam engine except that it is free-standing, the cooling water tank runs the whole length of the engine, and the flywheel is turned by a crank. It features classical columns, a corniced entablature, and a panelled plinth around the tank. Most parts of the engine are painted green. The cylinder, which is cast in one piece with its steam jacket, is painted black.

There are five vertical rods hanging from the overhead beam. Viewed from the front (that is, with the flywheel at the back), the rod on the far right is the piston rod. Pushed by steam acting on the piston in the cylinder below, the piston moves the beam via a Watt parallel motion mechanism, which converts the straight-line motion of the rod into the arc-wise motion of the end of the beam.

The second rod (to the left of the piston rod) operates the air pump, which sits in the tank below the cylinder and which evacuates the separate condenser and delivers the condensate (water formed when the exhaust steam cools) to a small holding tank. The third and fourth rods operate pumps that return the condensate to the boiler through the black-painted pipes.

The heavy cruciform rod at the left hand end of the beam is the connecting rod, which drives the output shaft and flywheel through a crank. The flywheel maintains momentum throughout the engine's stroke. It is cast in two parts, which are elegantly joined via curved scarf joints at the rim and hub. Its eight spokes are octagonal in cross section and splay smoothly to meet the hub and rim.

Steam supply to, and exhaust from, the top and bottom of the cylinder is controlled by the valve gear attached to the right hand side of the cylinder. Steam is supplied cyclically above and below the piston by a sleeve valve driven, via a bell-crank lever, by a long triangular linkage connected to an eccentric on the crankshaft. A second, concentric, sleeve valve regulates the duration of steam admission and thus controls the speed of the engine. This control is achieved by the use of the Watt governor (on top of the engine at the far left-hand side) acting through two bell-crank levers and a rod running the length of the engine. The governor is driven by a belt drive from the crankshaft through a pair of bevel gears.

Manufacturers specifications
Cylinder bore: 22 inches (559 mm),
Cylinder stroke: 30 inches (762 mm).
Speed: 20 to 30 revolutions per minute
Valve: Very rare long "D" type (virtually as long as the cylinder)
Valve gear: Eccentric and gab
Governor: Centrifugal Watt type


Plaque on side with raised lettering "MAUDSLAY / SONS & FIELD / ENGINEERS / LONDON / 1837"



4300 mm


2300 mm


5300 mm


10000 kg



The engine was manufactured by Maudslay, Sons & Field of Lambeth, England in 1837.

Henry Maudslay was born in Woolwich in 1771 and began work, when 12 years old, as a 'powder monkey' at the Woolwich Arsenal. In 1789 he went to work for Joseph Bramah, designing and making lock-making machinery. From this opportunity, Maudslay achieved recognition for his production, and standardisation, of screw threads. In 1797 he set up in business as a toolmaker and engineer in the centre of London.

In 1810 Maudslay transferred his business to Lambeth Marsh. By 1812 the firm was known as Henry Maudslay & Co, and it became Maudslay Sons & Field in 1820. Joshua Field, who had been a draughtsman at Portsmouth Dockyard, joined the firm before that date, and three of Maudslay's sons joined it at different times. The firm built marine steam engines, and by 1900 some 658 vessels had been fitted with Maudslay engines. The firm also made time balls, including the one that was installed at Sydney Observatory in 1858.

Another achievement was the training provided at Lambeth for foremost British engineers including Joseph Whitworth, James Nasmyth, Joseph Clement, William Muir and Richard Roberts. The firm went into receivership in 1899 and ceased trading in March 1900.



The engine was installed at William Bradley's Mill at Bradley Grange near Goulburn in 1837 or 1838 and was used there continuously until 1921. At first it was used to drive flour millstones, the central lift in the mill, and maltings equipment.

A brewery section was opened around 1840 and operated until Bradley's death in 1868. The next owners, Messrs Walford, Spark and Emanuel, used the complex solely for milling flour. The Goulburn Meat Preserving Company used the premises from February 1869 until October 1871, and it is likely that much of its machinery was driven, via line shafting, by the Maudslay engine. The site was redeveloped and reopened as a brewery in 1874 by W J Bartlett & Co, which became famous for its stout. The business was sold to Tooth & Co Ltd in 1921, after which the plant was closed down. In the sale agreement with Tooths, Mr Bartlett retained the right to dispose of the engine.

Mr Bartlett donated the engine to the museum in October 1929. It is thought to be the only existing Maudslay engine of its type. For many years it shared an engine house behind the main museum building (on a site shared with Sydney Technical College) with the Boulton and Watt beam engine and Locomotive number 1.

In 1981 the engine was restored and displayed in Stage 1 of the Powerhouse Museum project, located in the repurposed tram shed that became known as the Harwood Building. It was set up so it could be seen in motion, turned by an electric motor. In 1988 it was returned to steaming order and placed on display in the Powerhouse proper, in the exhibition 'The steam revolution' alongside one of the boilers that had produced steam for it in Goulburn. The cylinder was lined and a smaller piston was installed so that the original parts would not be subject to wear. The original piston was placed in store so that this refit could be reversed at a later date.


Credit Line

Gift of WJ Bartlett, 1929

Acquisition Date

22 October 1929

Cite this Object


Beam engine made by Maudslay Sons & Field, London, 1837, used at Goulburn, NSW, c.1838-1921 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 November 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Beam engine made by Maudslay Sons & Field, London, 1837, used at Goulburn, NSW, c.1838-1921 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 November 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in The Steam Revolution at the Powerhouse Museum.


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.