We are delighted to announce that our beloved ‘Paxman’ Steam Engine has returned to South Farm after an extensive programme of restoration at H Maskell & Son Ltd in Bedfordshire. The engine has been stabilised, preserved and returned to its original colour and splendour as the photos below show.
The world’s largest surviving Paxman twin cylinder (duplex) portable steam engine, number 18025, with a rating of 20 NHP (nominal horsepower), was manufactured by James Noah Paxman, born in 1832, at the Colchester Works he founded in 1865. The engine was shipped to Portugal in 1913 to the order of his Portuguese agent Von Hafe, placed in December 1912. On arrival at Oporto the massive engine, weighing in at 11 tons, was hauled by three teams of six oxen for 21 days over 70 miles high into the mountains above the River Douro. There it powered a sawmill, fired by the offcuts and sawdust from its own labours, much of it from oak planks for Port Barrels. She remained continuously in steam until 1970 when both engine and stoker, himself born in 1900, retired together after a partnership of 57 long years.
In 1974 James Paxman’s grandson Philip repurchased the engine from his Grandfather’s customer’s grandsons and repatriated her to his home at South Farm, East Anglia, the sealed firebox filed with Port, travelling via Oporto and Tilbury.
Following the celebration of her 100th Birthday in 2013 our Steam Engine embarked upon a restoration journey in January 2014. Removed from South Farm using two tractors and considerable man-power and lifted onto a vast lorry the engine travelled to H. Maskell & Son of Wilstead Bedfordshire who have painstakingly restored the engine to its former glory. Following the engine’s restoration and safe return to South Farm on 16th June 2015 the engine will be christened “James Paxman” in a fitting ceremony on July 7th 2015 by James Noah Paxman’s great, great grandchildren. We hope you enjoy the pictures and the story of our historic Steam Engine’s interesting life and recent restoration.