Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 142,989 pages of information and 229,205 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

W. and F. Wills

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Wills engine at Westonzoyland Museum showing the arrangement of cam-operated poppet valves
The valve on the extreme left is an inlet valve, operated by a variable profile cam. The axial position of the cam is determined by the governor. The exhaust valve has a simple fixed cam
Exhaust valve assembly partly dismantled, the valve itself remaining in place. Each valve is of the double beat type, and this arrangement, added to the fact that there are four valves in the manifold, makes for quite a complex manifold casting.
Exhibit in Westonzoyland Museum. Detail.

W & F Wills Ltd of Bridgwater, Somerset

Founded in 1876 by Walter and Frank Wills

Originally at Polden Street, moving in the 1890s to Perseverance Works on Salmon Parade.

General engineers and founders

Makers of cast iron road signs

Makers of clay-working machinery

Built a number of stationary steam engines, one of which is preserved in running order at Westonzoyland Museum. This has an interesting arrangement of cam-operated poppet valves, the inlet cams providing variable valve lift under control of the governor.

1894 Built steam boat 'Pioneer' for the Somerset Drainage Commission. This used a centrifugal pump to supply a water jet for eroding silt in the River Parrett. This worked for 23 years, and her success led to other contracts, including the 'Eroder' for Bridgwater Docks. [1]

c.1900 Horizontal steam engine supplied for turning butter churns, separators and a hoist at the small dairy of the Bridgwater Dairy Supply Company at the corner of Blake Street and Dampiet Street in the centre of Bridgwater. [2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Westonzoyland Engine Trust Information Sheet No. 2, from Westonzoyland Museum
  2. [1] Note: 11 MB pdf file. The Bridgwater & District Civic Society - Archaeological Building Report on 3 Blake Street.
  • 'Somerset in the Age of Steam' by Peter Stanier: Somerset Books 2003
  • Blake Museum, Bridgwater