The Northumbrian Water-owned Ryhope Engines Museum suffered a small fire during its reopening at Easter, which was the first time it had been open to the public in more than two years after a combination of the pandemic, seasonal closures, and refurbishment work.
During the opening weekend, museum volunteers were devastated to discover the fire, which had started because of spontaneous combustion, a well-documented phenomenon of stockpiled coal, deep inside the closed coal bunker overnight, despite stringent safety procedures being in place.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service were on the scene quickly to put the fire out and although the coal bunker itself was damaged, along with the boiler house door and some electrics – thankfully none of the historic boilers or pipework that make up the heart of the museum were affected.
Seven weeks later and the Victorian waterworks is once again preparing to welcome thousands of visitors over the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend, after dedicated volunteers have completed most repairs.
The museum, which was built in 1868 and supplied drinking water to Sunderland and the surrounding areas for 100 years, usually only opens to the public around bank holiday weekends.
This bank holiday, Ryhope Engines Museum will be open free of charge for the full four days, from Thursday 2 June until Sunday 5 June, between 11am and 4pm.
Visitors will be able watch the hypnotic motion of two 100 horsepower beam engines operating at full speed, find out about the three 'Lancashire' boilers, dating from 1908, join the blacksmith’s forge demonstrations, and much more.
A Steampunk event will also be held at the museum on Saturday 4 June and Sunday 5 June for the first time, with a range of market stalls, fun activities, and wonderful costumes on display.
Keith Bell, Chairman of Ryhope Engines Museum, said: “We were devastated to find the small fire in the boiler house over Easter, especially with it being our grand reopening following 900 days of closure!
“However, thanks to the passionate work and dedication from our amazing volunteers, and the longstanding partnership support from Northumbrian Water, we’ve been able to repair a lot of the damage and are looking forward to supporting the Queen’s Jubilee and opening to the public once again.
“We’re also very excited about our first Steampunk market this weekend too, in partnership with David Smith’s Steampunk Events. Everyone is welcome along - including your four-legged companions, as long as they are friendly and well behaved.”
Ryhope Engines Museum is open from Thursday, June 2 to Sunday, June 5, 2022, between 11am and 4pm with free parking, which is limited. Improved access is available for visitors with mobility issues and parents with pushchairs.
Those wanting to really get involved, can arrive just before 11am on each of the opening days and help the volunteers start up the engines for the day.
There is now an event number for people to call if they wish to get in touch to find out more information, which is 07759 309 990. This number should only be called during steaming events and between the hours of 9am and 4pm.
The postcode for the site is SR2 0ND and for more information about the museum, please visit www.ryhopeengines.org.uk