Bolton Steam Museum

North-West Bolton, 1.3 miles

Large collection of static steam engines, sometimes running, in airy space


image of bolton-steam-museum

Get there

Public transport: many buses from Bolton run close, but uphill walk through houses. Private transport: The museum is at the end of a shopping complex carpark. There’s a petrol station too—no problems. Steam days are on major holidays.


Bolton Steam Museum is a collection of the wrought/cast iron flywheel powerhouses that drove mill machinery/cruise‐ships or pumped water—not trains. The collection ranges from the earliest engines to survivals from the last days of the mills. And development versions—the museum has a gas‐fired static engine by Mr. Royce, later of Rolls–Royce. The museum is deep—the Society fixes, maintains and steams these engines, so they have the old measurement and maintenance gear. Also different—the signage is relentlessly informative. If you’re not interested in detail, you can watch these machines move—even when not steaming the museum can run the engines from compressed air or electricity. And has fine‐engineered working models. Then there is the building, an old mill with ceiling windows—even on a dull day it’s light, and platforms have been built for high‐angle views. On one of the platforms is a small cafe that opens on steam days. The people who maintain the museum wander about in overalls, ready to answer questions. I’d say this—unlikely location, and static steam engines are a specialized interest, but if you go to the most well‐known museums in Europe, I doubt you will find a engine hall this good.