The International Steam Pages


Robert Clive's Sugar Mill

Almost 250 years ago, India's future was effectively settled when Robert Clive's private army, officially at least in part representing the East India Company, triumphed over local forces at Plassey, some 160km north of Calcutta. Today, there is little more than a stone obelisk to commemorate the event and I doubt many tourists bother to visit the spot. 

However, next door is the Khaitan Sugar Factory for which the phrase 'run down' could have been invented and the water buffalo designed. 

It must have been a wonderful place for the stationary steam enthusiast before 'modernisation' but even the electric motors which have replaced the smaller steam engines are covered in sticky grime and look as if they have been there for ever. The mill dates from the 1930s, presumably around 1937 when this Stork engine was delivered to India, it appears similar to earlier engines I have seen in Java:    

Alas, we were a year too late for the Mirrlees Watson engine which powered the fourth mill. This large vertical (Weir type) seems to be a boiler feed water pump:

There are two newish Stork vacuum pumps, one bears 7377/1956, the other has no date:

The power house is a wondrous sight, there are four Belliss and Morcom generators, all in working order and running. 

The three small ones bear successive numbers and Mirrlees Watson (as agents) plates, each is 150 kW, the generating kit bears the name British Thomson Houston. I guess they are 'as supplied' to the mill here when newly constructed. 

Now see them in detail:

The fourth is a much larger (and later) 500 kW machine, the generator bears the name of UK's General Electric Company (who were BTH's successors through takeovers and amalgamations): 

This 'baby Belliss' is a disused water injection pump.

The impression we gained was of a sugar mill which was barely profitable yet badly needed investment just to keep going. I am sure that elsewhere in India there are many similar such operations with steam power, as always it is extremely difficult to get information and we only heard about this by luck. To which I would add that by and large we are 'lucky' on our travels, but I don't think it is entirely accidental that we keep turning up treasures like this..... 


Stationary Steam in India 2006 - introduction

A Reason to Return - a brand new steam powered rice mill in a green field site. 

Marshall Heaven - we always go the extra mile to bring you working stationary steam.

Just Another Marshall (Part 2) - too bad it wasn't working!

Just Another Marshall (Part 3) - drop valve action...

My Other Steam Engine is a Marshall too - if you're going to be different then don't do it by halves.

Make Mine a Robey, Please - as common as in Burma.

Many Happy Returns - unexpected returns to old gricing spots.

All I want for Christmas... - anything but another bloody Marshall.

The Loose Ends - the bits and pieces that ask as many question as they answer


Rob and Yuehong  Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk