Working Museum is a 36 acre open-air museum dedicated to the industrial
heritage of the south-east. Staffed largely by volunteers, the Museum
contains a wide range of exhibits, ranging from transport-based
collections, such as the Southdown bus collection & the village
garage, to industry-based collections, such as the Print Workshop &
Wheelwrights. I visited the Museum in 2004 and was delighted to find
several rare generators and other interesting exhibits among them a
welding machine used to found JCB and some early electric vehicles. I
hope to have time to include some of my photographs on this page soon. NK
Museum is also home to a number of resident craftspeople, who work to
traditional methods. Many people like to take an introductory tour
of Amberley, which can be accessed from their Online Exhibition
section or by clicking here.
Robey stationary steam engine at work in India
The collection was initially started by Seeboard in 1971, and from 1975
to 1989 it functioned at The Slade, Tonbridge, as the "Milne
Museum", before moving to Amberley Working Museum in 1993. It was
named after the late Archie Milne, who was Chairman of Seeboard between
1974 & 1975.
garden area in front of the building displays outdoor sub-station
equipment including Insulators, Transformers & Switchgear, plus an
unusual pole-mounted Lightning Arrester and two decorative cast-iron
the Front Hall, the centrepiece is a Belliss & Morcom high-speed
steam-driven generating set, from the old Wills Tobacco Works in
Bristol. To the left and right are 2 large open-type distribution
switchboards, once common in factories & institutions. Beyond is a
Rotary Balancer from Folkestone Power Station, used in the days of DC
(direct current) supply. Other exhibits in this room include plugs,
sockets & switches, electricity meters, cables, enclosed-type
switchgear, electric motors & electric vehicles old & new. There
is also a working display of the Asea substation remote control system
used by Southern Railway in their electrification schemes from 1930
the opening into the rear hall is a large neon sign, originally from
"Electric House", Croydon, depicting the word
"Electricity" in the style used by Michael Faraday in his
experimental notes. Behind the window is a 250,000 volt Impulse
Generator, as used in industry for testing high-voltage components for
the electricity supply system. This exhibit is demonstrated periodically
and the "artificial lightning" produced is an impressive and
noisy spectacle! There is also a Tesla Coil illustrating the spectacular
and continuous discharges produced with high-frequency electricity.
the left side of the rear hall is a "hands-on" Introductory
Gallery named after Bob Gordon, the Milne's first Curator, and along the
right side are the Domestic Displays - grouped in decades to show how
the number and sophistication of appliances have increased over the
the back are shop-front displays illustrating more period domestic
appliances, medical and laboratory test equipment. The upstairs lecture
area is used for special talks and demonstrations on electricity,
available by prior arrangement to schools and other booked parties.
from the EDF Energy Electricity Hall have their own website, www.milnemuseum.org.uk
and there are a number of other interesting links below.
Museum early electrical switches and controls
site was developed in the early Victorian era to quarry chalk, which was
converted in kilns to produce lime, a key building material for mortar
and cement. The quarries are known to have developed prior to 1840,
making good use of their proximity to the River Arun and Amberley
Station. The building now known as Humphrey's Barn was built around 10
years earlier, when the site was still a farm.
The oldest kilns at Amberley are to be found in the South Pit, which now
back on to the Museum car park. These "flare" kilns are of a
simple but (for their time) effective design, and work by burning the
fuel beneath the chalk, as opposed to being mixed with it.
These were augmented by a new series of kilns built in the 1870s. These
were built to a revised and improved design, but still working on the
flare kiln principle, and were supported by a grinding mill and readily
available access to the rail network. These kilns can be found next to
the Museum Ticket Office and the Smithy.
A third & final set of kilns were built at Amberley around 1905, to
a Belgian design by Hippolyte De Witt. Built in a block of 18 firing
chambers (two rows of nine, back to back), the intention was for the
kilns to provide a continuous operation. The design was unsuccessful,
however, and by 1910 the kilns were significantly modified and converted
to conventional updraught kilns.
The site flourished during the first half of the 20th century, making
good use of a 1937 government subsidy for the use of lime on
agricultural land, and a modernisation scheme was undertaken in the
1950s. Originally quarried by hand and with explosives, and moved by
horse & cart, mechanical excavation took over during the mid 20th
century until the quarry closed. The quarry was originally home to
several lime producers, but by 1876 John & Thomas Cunningham Pepper
had bought out all the other producers on site. Developing their
business to include the manufacture & distribution of building
materials (and using a number of depots scattered across Sussex towns),
the business continued until 1968, with the last lime burnt in 1964.
Quarry site lay stagnant for several years after the business closed.
After the closure of the quarry in 1968, it lay derelict for several
years, and nature took no time at all to start reclaiming the site.
Roland Puttock, a former manager of the quarry, came back in 1978 and
was shocked to see how lush & green the site had become!
to the present
In 1974 the quarry was bought by West Sussex County Council to secure a
cessation of the chalk extraction and to protect the site from
unsuitable commercial development. The Southern Industrial History
Centre Trust subsequently negotiated a long-term lease with the Council
in 1978 and Amberley Museum was formed.
The Museum formally opened on Saturday the 25th of May, 1979, and over
the years has developed significantly, taking in a range of new
exhibits. The vintage wireless exhibition, Southdown Bus Collection,
Print Workshop and narrow-gauge industrial railway were among the first
major additions to the Museum, and many have since followed. The
SEEBOARD (now EDF ENERGY) electricity hall, Paviors museum of roads
& roadmaking and Wheelwrights building represent the major
constructions of the 1990's, whilst since the millennium the Museum has
seen many developments and additions, including Betchworth Hall, the
Connected Earth telecommunications building (founded by BT), Fairmile
Cafe, the Railway Preservation & Conservation halls, a Bodger's
Camp, a new Tools & Trades History Society hall and the impressive
Limeburners Restaurant. Ongoing developments include a fire station
modelled on 1930s design and (dependent on funding) the complete
restoration and re-interpretation of the De Witt Kilns complex.
Museum is open from mid March to late October each year
The 2007 season will see the Museum open on Wednesday 14th March until
Sunday 28th October, 10.00am to 5.30pm (with last entry at 4.30pm).
The Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday each week, and also Bank Holiday
Mondays and West Sussex School Holidays during our season.
Aid provides the means for Amberley to gain more value from your visit
Gift Aid (simply put) is tax relief provided by the government for
single outright cash gifts made to charity. This means that Amberley can
claim tax relief on your admission ticket if you provide consent and a
donation that is at least 10% of our entry fee.
As a thank you from us, the Museum will provide you with a token worth
more than the extra money spent by you, meaning that both parties
60 - £7.70
(5-16 yrs) - £5.50
Fives - FREE
Ticket (2 adults & up to 3 children) - £25.00
01798 831370 .
WORKING MUSEUM: Our hosting Museum
ELECTROPOLIS MUSEUM: EDF
ENERGY Museum: located in Mulhouse, France
A Dutch language museum with some interesting exhibits.
of ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY
Archives Biographies and Features
of ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY
History of Technology web pages
MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY: Some
images of electrical science
SWITCH ON: A virtual museum
of small electrical appliances.
WESTERN ELECTRICITY HISTORICAL SOCIETY:
Electrical History S West England
MUSEUM of ELECTRICITY: Scottish
& Southern Energy Museum, Bargate, Christchurch
MUSEUM of SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY:
A premier electrical collections
Electricity Generating Works Circa. 1900 - 1936
Express 1913 |
Sussex CC |
Heritage | SIAS
of Herstmonceux by Margaret Pollard
alternative tastes for adventure capitalists
Red | Solar
Crush + | Solar
Cola | Solar
Citrus + | Solar