Thomas Engine, West Kitty

On the 21st February the Museum took delivery of Ian Yarwood’s 1/16th scale model of Thomas’ Engine, West Kitty. Along with the model were all of his engineering plans and research, accompanied by a large number of books relating to Cornish mining. Any of the books not needed for the collection may be sold to help raise funds for the Museum. Three generations of the Yarwood family helped make this all possible. The model, plans and books were donated by Ian’s widow.

Ian was from Leicester but had visited St. Agnes on holiday for many years, regularly staying at Presingoll Farm. Ian was fascinated by Cornish Beam Engines. He was able to use his skill as a tool designer and model maker to draw the engine in full engineering detail, assisted by drawings from the Science Museum. Ian then commenced with building the model itself. All of the working parts were made by Ian. The cylinder (pictured) and beam were cast with the help of a local foundry. Our Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, recalls Ian showing parts of the model to him on one of Ian’s many holidays to Cornwall. The model is also mentioned in our Newsletters 15 and 22 in 1990 and 1994 respectively.

Ian Yarwood’s 1/16th scale model of Thomas’ Engine cylinder
Ian Yarwood’s 1/16th scale model of Thomas’ Engine cylinder

The craftsmanship of the model is superb and a testament to Ian’s skill.  Ian was never able to complete his model. However the majority of the parts are present and it is hoped that a suitable individual may be found to complete the model. Maybe one day we will even see it in steam?

The model is based upon the 40 inch engine built in 1863 by Harvey & Co. of Hayle. This engine also worked at West Polbreen Mine at St. Agnes from 1872 to 1885 before being moved to West Kitty (Thomas’ Shaft). It was later moved to the Carpalla clay works near St. Austell before coming to its final resting place at the Science Museum, London. The Science Museum’s plans of the engine are illustrated inside the cover of D.B. Barton’s The Cornish Beam Engine, 1965 (new edition 1969).