Historic mill ‘fire-beater’ Joshua up for top award

Joshua Walker
Joshua Walker

The man who keeps the fires burning in Burnley’s most iconic steam engine has been nominated for a top award.

Joshua Walker is the fire-beater at Queen Street Mill in Harle Syke, home to the famous “Peace” steam engine which powers the line shaft in the weaving shed in the last surviving steam powered weaving mill in the world.

Following an online public vote hosted by Johnston Press, Marketing Lancashire announced Joshua as one of the three finalists in the Lancashire Tourism Awards Tourism Superstar 2015 category.

Joshua’s job is a highly-skilled role and as one fellow worker explains “if the boiler isn’t right, it’s a time bomb waiting to go off”.

His typical morning involves firing up the coal-fired boiler and building up steam in time for opening to the public.

On an average day he can shovel up to a quarter of a ton of coal.

Colleagues say his enthusiasm is contagious and all are fascinated by his tales of the mill and experience of the workings of the boiler room.

The winner will be announced at the ceremony on November 5th in the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool.