The restoration team at a historic Derbyshire Victorian gasworks are on track to complete an important part of their major renovation programme, with help from nearby neighbours JCB.
Engineers and apprentices from JCB World Headquarters at Rocester and a number of other JCB factories have recreated vital parts of the Sudbury Gasworks engineering centrepiece. The first phase has now been installed at the village-centre site.
Sudbury Gasworks Restoration Trust trustee Brice Bozier, who is also an engineer at JCB, has been working with a team of engineers and eight apprentices to recreate the special metal frame that held the ovens used in the gas-production process.
A JCB Loadall telescopic handler has now lifted the frame into place and the apprentices are busy working on crafting doors, pipes and a furnace hatch to complete the project, ready for the grand unveiling of the gasworks on 20 May.
The original Victorian mechanism, which dates back to 1874, was an impressive feat of engineering, introducing coal into a brick oven, capturing natural gas that the baked coal released and then piping it to nearby Sudbury Hall and village homes.
‘This is a vast project which requires a lot of specialist knowledge and skills and it is fantastic that JCB has really got behind the project,’ Brozier said. ‘Our engineers have used CAD technology to create blueprints of the gasworks’ machinery and now the designs have been brought to life by the apprentices, who have crafted the retort frame. Involving the apprentices is really a win-win situation for us and for JCB – the apprentices get hands-on experience of design and engineering, while the trust is able to take a step closer to our goal of creating a living history museum and community venue.’
Anyone interested in supporting the restoration is invited to a volunteer recruitment day on 25 March. To discover more, click here.