walker bros. engineering wigan

12 Apr 1924 Wigan Examiner

Severn Tunnel

Wigan Firm’s Engineering Feat

Interesting Presentation.

The important engineering work in connection with the ventilation of the Severn Tunnel, which some eighteen months ago was entrusted to Messrs Walker brothers (Wigan) Ltd engineers and ironfounders, Pagefield Ironworks, has now been satisfactorily completed, and that fact was signalised by a presentation to Mr Robert Seddon, the firm’s senior inspecting foreman.

It will be interesting to recall that during the construction of the Severn Tunnel, about 1883, the contractors were having great difficulty in clearing the workings of the dynamite fumes after blasting operation, and at the request of Sir John Hawkeshaw, Messrs Walker Brothers, now Messrs Walker Brothers (Wigan) Limited were instructed to supply a fan and engines for purpose of removing these fume to enable the workmen to return into the tunnel immediately after blasting operations. This fan proved such a success that when the tunnel was completed and ventilating apparatus was required, Messrs Walker Brothers were entrusted with the manufacture of the fan and engines for this purpose, these being erected in 1886, and which plant has run continuously up to the middle of March of this year.

For several years, owning to the number of trains passing through the tunnel exceeding anything that was anticipated when the tunnel was originally built, it was considered necessary to replace the original ventilating plant with a fan of very much larger capacity, and about eighteen months ago, after very careful investigation by the Great Western railway officials as to the most efficient methods to be employed, the contract for the new plant was again placed with Messrs Walker Brothers.

This new ventilating plant, which consists of a 28ft fan of Messrs Walker Brothers (Wigan) Ltd well known “Indestructible” type and horizontal engine, fitted with drop valves and forced feed lubrication, was constructed entirely at their works in Wigan, and last week-end was started up in the presence of several prominent officials of the great Western Railway Company.

This new plant, from the first day of running, has made a wonderful difference in the ventilation of then tunnel, and has added materially to the comfort of the passengers travelling through the tunnel. In addition to this, it has already made the working conditions in the maintenance of the tunnel, very much pleasanter and more healthy in every way.

The starting up of the new plant was made the occasion of a very interesting presentation at Sudbrook to Mr Robert Seddon, a very valuable and highly esteemed servant of the firm, who has this year completed forty years’ of service with them and who had assisted during his apprenticeship at the erection of the original plant in 1868. It was part of his duty last weekend to start the new plant, and to commemorate this fact the Directors of Messrs Walker Brothers had great pleasure in asking Mr Woodward, the Divisional Engineer of the Great Western Railway Company to present Mr Seddon, on their behalf, with a silver rose bowl with the following inscription: “Presented to Mr Robert Seddon by the Directors of Walker Brothers (Wigan) limited to commemorate the fact that Mr Seddon started the new Severn Tunnel Ventilating Plant in March 1924 and also assisted at the erection of the original plant in 1886.”

Major J S A Walker, who with a co-Director, Mr Halsall (who incidentally assisted at the erection of the temporary plant during the construction of the Tunnel), were both present at the starting up of the new plant.