Caledon Beam Engine and Engine House

Location: Caledon

The Caledon Beam Engine is all that remains of Caledon Woollen Mills which was demolished in 1985. This unique piece of equipment dates back to the early 1830s and is one of the earliest surviving beam engines in Ireland. The engine is technically known as a beam engine on account of the massive beam which links the piston rod at one end of the engine to the connecting rod and drive shaft at the other end.  The Caledon Beam Engine is an integral part of the building which enclosed it since the framework which supports the rocker beam rests on metal girders, the ends of which are build into the side walls.  For this reason it is known as a “house-built” engine.

The Caledon Regeneration Partnership was formed in 1994 to take forward a planned social, economic and environmental regeneration strategy for the County Armagh village.  It is made up of representatives from the local community, local authority and Caledon Estates Company, which has an office in the main street.

One of the projects being undertaken is the restoration of the beam engine and engine house.  Last year a total of £220,000 in funding was secured to finance the first phase.  It is hoped that the engine will eventually be restored to a fully operational state, and become a tourist attraction for the area.  It was once used to power the Caledon Flour Mill and then Caledon Woollen Mills.

William Beattie of Caledon Regeneration Partnership said he believed the beam engine is unique in these islands:  “There are only about eight beam engines in Ireland, and this one is the only one which has a housed engine, making it a very important piece of industrial archaeology.  This is the only relic remaining of Caledon’s once famous mill industry, which produced quality woollen garments until the 1930s.  The mill, which was built in the early 1800s, was demolished in 1985.  During the summer, wood and coal was used to power the beam engine, when the water-flow was not strong enough to move the wheel.  The hope is to get the engine functioning again and to create a viable tourism attraction which will also faithfully record the history of the village”, he said.

Caledon Beam Engine House