Back in the early 1980s, hot with enthusiasm following the recovery of the Victoria in a bog, another stationary engine attracted the attention of us ‘engine boys’, a huge hulk of a thing lying in the estuary of the Ogmore river. This was going to be a huge undertaking as we estimated the weight of this beast to be at least four times that of the Victoria. In addition, its very awkward location would need very careful planning as the engine was submerged by the sea twice a day.
We had the necessary equipment, a vintage tractor to assist with towing it away from the site and a substantial trailer to carry the weight of the engine. In addition we had block and tackle, winch pulleys, ratchet straps, pole levers, crowbars and all manner of tools to dig the engine from its watery grave.
A bit of research was necessary as we had no idea about the engine, the only thing we knew was that it had been manufactured by Petter, as the engine inspection hatches had the name cast in raised lettering. Petter was not a make with which I was overly familiar but on searching through my huge collection of manufacturer’s leaflets came to the conclusion it was a PD4. The mists of time have clouded my memory and I can’t remember when it was in production, all I know is it was a favourite with boat owners and presumably came from a rotted-out boat, common on the estuary in the 1950s and 60s.
Permission had to be sought, we were advised to contact the office of the fledgling Glamorgan Heritage Coast as the engine was within their area and I telephoned to ask for advise. They requested me to write in with full information and it would be dealt with. Weeks later I had a reply informing me that as it was below high water level I needed permission from the coastguard as it would be considered as salvage. I rang them and they advised me to put it in writing. By now the enthusiasm for the project was beginning to wane as already we had waited a couple of months, so when they replied that we needed permission from the Crown it just became too much.
For a few more years the engine sat in the estuary until round about 1985 when it disappeared. I understand the Heritage Coast and local Councils had got together to clear up the beach and estuary areas and the engine was a casualty of this. We knew that if we had been able to remove it from the estuary that restoration would be nigh impossible, I had intended it to be a static exhibit in the little museum I had created in a large shed on our land at Southerndown. Today, farther upstream near Portobello slipway can be seen the remains of another boat engine, the flywheel just peeping out of the bank.