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Apr 2015

Former Stormont Resident Back In Power

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A former resident of Stormont Belfast is looking for a new home.  Once a back up generator, for our Parliament buildings in the1930s, this last one of its kind, Blackstone, 4 cylinder oil engine generator is now up for auction. 

The generator stayed at Stormont between 1930 – 1974, to be used as a back up generator in case of a black out, when it was replaced by a more modern system.  It was then bought by a quarry but never assembled and lay dormant until David Herron, an animal feed producer with an avid interest in antiques bought the machine.  Despite being half a century old at the time of purchase, it had only been used once and was still a fully functioning piece of equipment which could come in very useful for the animal feed manufacturers.

Installing the generator was no mean feat taking a total of 5 months to install, requiring a massive 100 tons of reinforced concrete to provide its foundations.  Luckily Mr Herron along with his brother, William and Mr John Weir, had the help and expertise of a former Blackstone employee, Fred Stevenson, who served in the company during the First World War.

This huge contraption produces 180 bhp and is coupled with a 100 KVA alternator and according to extracts from letters received from users of Blackstone Engines, is highly reliable and cost effective.  One such extract from Atkinson & Sons, said “I have had a Blackstone oil engine for 24 years and as good to-day as when put in and has cost practically nothing for repairs all these years. They will last a lifetime”.  Its current owner, Walter Dodds acquired the generator when he bought the farm in 2007 and is now looking for a good home for this fabulous piece of Northern Irish history.  

The engine will be up for auction this Saturday 25th April, 12pm at Wilsons Auctions Portadown, by Powerpoint presentation. 

Viewings of the generator are available by appointment today, 23rd April, between 10am & 4pm. Visit the website for more details

Attached Images: Original Belfast Telegraph newspaper clipping about the generator, dated October 4, 1980; a hand written letter to Mr Herron from a maintenance fitter who had worked with the machine in Stormont 14 years prior to his purchase and an old Blackstone Engine catalogue.