On the last Sunday of each month, we hold a Live Action Working Day with a selection of exhibits, steam-powered or not, hard at work.

You can see our extensive collection of working static and portable engines, and if you are lucky, you might be able to see the magnificent Basford Beam Engine in steam. Keep your eyes (and ears open) for one of our two grand Fowler Ploughing Engines that may be out and about in full steam in the yard. You can’t miss its piercing whistle!

These huge traction engines were the last two made by John Fowler & Co Engineers of Hunslet, Leeds. Farmers used two engines like these to drag ploughs across fields reducing dramatically the time taken to plough a field. Our engines enjoyed a different role and ended their working days ploughing in treated sewage at a large dairy farm at Stoke Bardolph.

Our Fowler Ploughing Engine (photo courtesy of Coal Fired Media)

In addition to these two giants of steam, many more steam and diesel engines work during the day. One is a vertical compound steam engine (perhaps you can help us identify it?) driving a dynamo built by Siemens Brothers Dynamo Works Ltd in Stafford. Several of our small portable engines will be working. These 1-5 horsepower engines powered by steam, petrol or oil, provided farmers with much-needed assistance. We also have several vintage tractors in our collection.

Add to this the many other exhibits in our museum galleries, and there is plenty for everyone in the family to see and do. Children can draw pictures for our monthly art competition, and we have trails for those who like to find our secret items. We often have object handling sessions and demonstrations, for example of bobbin lace making or printing.

Volunteers work hard on our Working Days and to maintain the exhibits all year round. The museum is open every weekend and selected Bank Holidays but we can only have a Working Day once a month due to the considerable costs involved. Your support allows Nottingham’s only industrial museum to celebrate the efforts of workers in the coal, textile, communications and engineering industries over the last 300 years. Please do visit and share the experience with us.