Nellie - Object of the month

Bradford Industrial Museum

December 2017

December's object of the month is chosen by Lucy Courtney-Clegg.

'Hello, my name is Lucy and I am the new Community Engagement and Events intern at Bradford Museums and Galleries. As I write, I’ve just come to the end of my first whistle-stop tour of Cliffe Castle, Bradford Industrial Museum and Bolling Hall. I’ve quickly learnt that the museums are mini treasure troves of unexpected turns and objects.

Today, I met Nellie the Esholt Sewage Works Locomotive. Apparently, she’s quite famous at the Bradford Industrial Museum; lots of children enjoy visiting her and climbing the viewing steps to look at the cab where the driver once stood.

Built in 1922, Nellie spent most of her life travelling up and down the tracks of the Esholt Sewage Works Railway; her job was to carry ‘cake’ sewage sludge to a drying ground at Langholme.  The ‘Cake’ was left to dry in large piles for several months, before being reloaded into wagons to take back up to the works where it was bagged and sold to distributors as organic matter. Nellie and the sewage ran smoothly without any coal on site, she ran entirely on re-processed fuel made from human waste matter and the grease extracted from the sewers was also used sustainably by LMS (London Midland Steams) as the lubricant on wagon axle boxes.

You could say Esholt Sewage Works Railway was eco-conscious way before it’s time.  Nellie took her last trip in 1977 and less than 40 years on, scientist have begun work to turn human waste into plastic and nutrients to aid long-distance space travel. How times have changed!'


Share this Object of the month