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Left to right: Foreperson Tom McKellar; John Murdoch; Technician James Tollan; Foreperson Gerry Cavanagh; Chargehand Mechanical Services Engineer Bobby Swan; Ian McInally; Tam Walsh; Eddie Ward; Mechanical Engineer Chris Boyle.

End of an era: university’s old boilers make way for new

First fired-up in 1971, the steam boilers that have supplied heating to the Royal College, James Weir and Thomas Graham buildings for the past 47 years were shut down for the last time on Friday 18 May.  

The two steam boilers located in the John Street energy centre are making way for three new state-of-the-art 8-megawatt Bosch units that, along with a 3.3-megawatt engine, will supply heat to the whole campus via the new £20m Combined Heat and Power District Heating system.  These new boilers are more energy efficient, produce less pollution and are fully automatic in terms of operation.

Over the decades, the boilers, which had an anticipated lifespan of 20-25 years were maintained by a team of engineers.

Their oversight and repairs have ensured the equipment has continued working almost twice as long as expected. Members of the team – past and present – gathered to see the boilers for one last time before they are removed in the next couple of weeks.

Ross Simpson, Head of Building Services, said: “With these boiler running for 47 years the many University Estates Engineering staff involved have put a lot of sweat and tears into keeping them operational.

“The dedication and skill of many people over the years has allowed the boilers to remain operational for so long and they deserve a huge vote of thanks.”

Built by the John Thompson Company and installed over two phases in 1971 and 1972, the boilers have had a multitude of repairs carried out over this period to keep them operational.  They have been fully re-tubed twice, the burners were replaced in 2000, and numerous patch repairs have been carried out on a regular basis. 

Ross added: “Technology has helped the boilers over time with more automatic burners, remote system monitoring to allow periods of unattended operation, and better water treatment to protect the internal surfaces.”

21 May 2018