The International Steam Pages


Steam Engines in the Indian Sugar Industry by Geoffrey Hill

This article originally appeared in the Bulletin of the International Stationary Steam Engine Society and is reproduced by their kind permission. Necessarily the information is dated (the last visit was in the 1980s), but will provide a foundation for future visitors in search of working stationary steam. Rest assured that following my discoveries in Indonesia, Burma and Thailand there is plenty still out there in India.


The modern sugar industry in India developed as a result of the Sugar Industry Protection Act of April 1932 which imposed duty on imported sugar and molasses. The tariffs were 31% ‘ad valorem’ on molasses and 9 Rupees 1 Anna per hundredweight on sugar. Hitherto Indian producers of refined sugars had competed fairly successfully against more produced imports, although there had long been a large local industry producing khand, jaggery and gur, non-crystalline sugar.

In 1920 there were 22 mills producing sugar from cane but immediately following the Protection Act many new mills came into production, particularly in the populous northern region now forming the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar; no less than 58 in these areas between 1932 and 1935.

Since independence in 1947 increasing demand for sugar resulting fron a doubling of population and greater prosperity has stimulated continual growth in the industry. Much of the new capacity has been insyalled in the south, away from the original cane growing areas. By 1984-5 there were 355 mills, the largest numbers being in the states of Uttar Pradesh (99), Maharashtra (89), Andra Pradesh (32), Bihar (29), Karnataka (27) and Tamil Nadu (23). About half the mills are run as co-operatives by local communities, most of the remainder being in the private sector, although a number of these which have become insolvent have been nationalised, notably in Uttar Pradesh (30) and Bihar (11).

Before 1947 mills were predominantly equipped with British machinery but since independence rapid industrialisation has made India self sufficient in sugar mill plant. Names such as Walchandnagar, K.C.P., Triveni and Texmaco are now seen on new equipment. However, while visiting long established mills (mainly in search of steam locomotives) in the period 1982-1990 I was able to see much original machinery in use. A summary of this is provided below. Mills then operating steam locomotives are indicated by an asterisk (*).

Andra Pradesh

Shakarnagar (*)

The Nizam’s Sugar Factory, started 1937-8 (No. 1 Mill) and 1951-2 (No. 2 Mill)

No. 2 Mill

Mill engine by Mirrlees, Watson, Glasgow #2720 (1952)
Single cylinder, Corliss valves, 800hp

No. 1 Mill

Formerly had 2 x 300hp Mirrlees, Watson engines (1937)

Visited: 14th December 1986

Bihar

Barrah Chakia (*)

Champarun Sugar Co., 1905-6

Mill engines

Three by Harvey Engineering, Glasgow, 1906, 1921, 1925
Single cylinder, 200hp, 150hp and 200hp respectively

Vacuum pump

Harvey Engineering #3121 (1921)
Single cylinder

Carbon Dioxide Pump

Harvey Engineering (1924)
Single cylinder

Visited: 25th January 1985

Originally an indigo factory until the invention of Reckitt’s Blue killed the trade in 1904.

Lohat (*)

Bihar Sate Sugar Corporation Limited, 1914-5

Mill engine

‘MAHARAJAH’ by Mirrlees, Watson, #2576 (1913?)
Single cylinder, 1000hp

Vacuum pumps

Two by Mirrlees, Watson
Single cylinder

Visited: 23rd January 1985

Marhowrah (*)

Cawnpore Sugar Works Ltd, 1904-05

Mill engines

Two by Harvey Engineering, (1920 and 1924)
Single cylinder, both 175hp

Compressors

One by Harvey Engineering, (1911)
Single cylinder
One by George Fletcher, Derby (1957)
Single cylinder

Water injection pump

Blairs Ltd, Glasgow (1904)
Vertical single cylinder

Visited: 26th January 1985

Motihari (*)

Gobind Sugar Mills Ltd, 1932-33

Four mills

Driven by steam turbines
Triveni Engineering Works, New Delhi, 600hp

Vacuum pumps

One by Duncan Stewart, Glasgow
Single cylinder
One by Blairs Ltd
Single cylinder

Steam generators

One by Belliss & Morcom
Vertical, enclosed, 300kW
One by Sulzer, 450kW

Boilers

Seven, burning bagasse, wood
Six Babcock and Wilcox, one Texmaco, forced draught

Visited: 4th January 1987

Riga (*)

Riga Sugar Co. Ltd., 1933

Mill engines

Two by Blairs Ltd
Single cylinder

Visited: 5th January 1987

Ryam (*)

Bihar Sate Sugar Corporation Limited, 1913

No. 1 Mill

Mill engine

One by Mirrlees, Watson, #2619 (1932)
Single cylinder, 24” x 48”, 273hp, Corliss valves, cost Rs 16000 new

Nos 2, 3 and 4 Mills

Mill engine

One by Mirrlees, Watson, #2423 (1914)
Single cylinder, 300hp, piston valves, cost Rs 15000 new

Visited: 23rd January 1990

Sakri (*)

Bihar Sate Sugar Corporation Limited, 1933-34

Mill engines

Two by Mirrlees, Watson, (1933?)
Single cylinder, 1000hp

Compressor

One by Mirrlees, Watson
Single cylinder

Visited: 23rd January 1985

Uttar Pradesh

Anandnagar

Ganesh Sugar Mills, 1932

Mill engines

Two by Blairs Ltd
Single cylinder, 350hp, driving 2 mills
Four other mills driven by steam turbine

Vacuum pumps

Two by Blairs Ltd
Single cylinder, 75hp

Steam generators

Two by Bellis and Morcom, #5984 & 7340
Vertical, enclosed. On stand by.

Visited: 7th January 1987

Baheri (*)

Kesar Enterprises Ltd, 1933-34

Mill engines

Two by Stork Werkspoor, Netherlands
# S 86763 (1933), single cylinder, 1100hp at 80rpm
# S 87295 (1933), single cylinder, 700hp at 80rpm

Vacuum pumps

Stork Werkspoor
# S 96813 1933?), single cylinder, 75hp

Boilers

Six by Babcock and Wilcox (1933), natural draught
Three by Walchandnagar (1981), forced draught

Visited: 26th December 1986

Balrampur

Balrampur Chini Mills Ltd., 1933-34

Mill engines

‘BARRY’ by Mirrlees, Watson, #2623 (1933)
Single cylinder, Corliss valves
Another engine in pieces in the mill yard.

Other mills

Driven by Walchandnagar Maag steam turbine (1978)

Vacuum pumps

One by Mirrlees, Watson
One by Allenmax
Both single cylinder

Steam generators

Three by Bellis and Morcom
Vertical, enclosed (1935)
To be replaced by high pressure engines.

Boilers

Eight by Babcock and Wilcox (1933), natural draught
Three high pressure (1978)
New Texmaco, oil fired, forced draught boiler being erected.

Visited: 1st January 1987

Chhitauni

Uttar Pradesh State Sugar Corporation Ltd., 1934

Mill engines

Two by Mirrlees, Watson
Single cylinder, 300hp

Vacuum pumps

One by Mirrlees, Watson
Single cylinder

Steam generators

One by Mirrlees, Watson
One by Bellis and Morcom
Both in the power house

Boilers

Ten by Babcock and Wilcox (1920/1933)

The mill and its workshop were a treasure house of additional steam engines including:

Five vertical pumps (three by Mirlees, Watson and two by Belliss and Morcom, including #8188)
One duplex horizontal fan belt engine by R. Garrett of Leiston
Three horizontal single cylinder engines (by Ruston, Proctor # 15326, Ruston and Marshall #71876?)
A single cylinder Mirlees, Watson engine driving fan belting
A Mirlees, Watson vertical engine driving the bagasse line

Visited: 6th January 1987

Gola Gokarannath (*)

Hindustan Sugar Mills Ltd, 1932

New Mill

Mill engines

Driven by steam turbines

Old Mill

Mill engines

Two by Stork, Netherlands # 7460, 7461 (1957)
Single cylinder, 1100hp

Vacuum pumps

One by Mirrlees, Watson
One of German manufacture
Single cylinder

Boilers

Nine by Babcock and Wilcox, natural draught
Three with forced draught, two by Texmaco, one by Babcock and Wilcox

Visited 27th December 1986

Hargaon

Oudh Sugar Mills Ltd., 1952

Mill engines

Three by Stork Werkspoor
S 88404 (1936), 7507 (1957) and 7551 (1957)

Respectively 350, 600 and 450hp
One by Delattre et Mariolle, France

Vacuum pumps

One duplesx by Mirrlees, Watson
Three single cylinder, one by Delattre et Mariolle,
Two by unknown makers

Boilers

Twenty by Babcock and Wilcox, natural draught (1932 - 45)
One forced draught (1972)

Visited 28th December 1986

Pilibhit

L.H. Sugar factories Ltd., 1909-10

No. 1 plant

Mill engines

Two by George Fletcher, Derby
Single cylinder, 300-350hp

No. 2 plant

Mill engines

Two, makers unknown
Single cylinder

Vacuum pumps

One by George Fletcher (#4866?)
One by Pickering, Portland, Connecticut, USA
Both single cylinder

Visited 26th December 1986

Prattapur (*)

Prattapur Sugar & Industries Ltd., 1903

Mill engines

Two by Harvey Engineering (1923)
One is #3177, single cylinder, 300hp

Other engines

Two working cane shutes by Blairs (1932)
One duplex engine driving conveyor between shutes and crushers, by Blairs

Visited 27th January 1985

Said to be the oldest mill in India

Sardanargar (*)

Saraya Sugar Mills Ltd., 1927-28

Mill engines

Two by Fives Lille, France (1925)
Single cylinder, Corliss valves
Named ‘SIR WILLIAM MARRIS’ and ‘SIR MALCOM HAILEY’
One twin tandem engine by Stork Werkspoor (1933) – this engine had gone by 2004.

Other engines

Two single cylinder engines by Werkspoor (1933)
One small vertical cylinder engine, maker unknown
There is (was) a preserved remnant of an earlier mill on the site dating from ca 1912 

(Sir William Marris and Sir Malcolm Hailey were both Governors of the United Provinces in British India.)

Visited: 8th December 1982

Seohara (*)

Upper Ganges Sugar & Industries Ltd., 1933-34

Mill engines

Two by Blairs (1934)
One by Stork, Netherlands (#7100,1955)
One by Thirlau, Belgium

Vacuum pump

One single cylinder, maker unknown 

Visited 25th December 1986


Rob and Yuehong  Dickinson

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