This page is dedicated to my father Victor Percival Mills who designed the famous Mills Compound Marine Steam Engine (also known as the Beaumaris Compound Engine).  



The beautiful Mills Compound in Perseverance 


This video is NOT of the Mills Compound Engine, but a similar one to give an idea of one running although this one sounds rather noisy!

The engine was designed for Hugh Jones of Beaumaris Instrument Co (BICO) by my father Victor Percival Mills just before he died in 1974. Hugh had acquired an old Shepherd's of Windermere launch hull that was extensively restored by the local boat builder David Ellis of Llandegfan. As he then needed a steam engine my father volunteered to design one for him. Three were built, one for Hugh Jones and the other two to be sold to help finance the project. The launch was named Sapphire and was powered by Engine Number 1 and can be seen HERE.

My father lived just long enough to see the prototype run on compressed air. Eventually quite a number were built over the years until Hugh Jones retired and subsequently sold the designs and manufacturing jigs, patterns etc to a retired German Captain. As far as I know the parts can still be obtained from another source in Germany, but with some design alterations - a different bed, and a piston valve for the HP cylinder (twin slide valves were originally fitted at the request of Hugh Jones in the belief that they would 'wear-in' rather than 'wear-out'). HP piston valves were planned for the future, but I don't believe Hugh Jones ever made any.

As the engine was not quite complete when my father died, Hugh asked me to design the twin feed pumps and air pump that was finally fitted to later engines. One customer even purchased a LH & RH pair of counter-rotating  compound engines. What a beautiful setup that would be. I have just discovered they are at the Elliott Bay Steamboat Company in Portland Oregon and are for sale. I only wish I could buy them.

The engines were finished to 'Exhibition Standard" with their fine paint job. Crankshafts, connecting rods and other bright steelwork were all nickel plated for protection. Mahogany cladding, polished brass strapping and lubricators completed the picture. 

These Marine Compounds have been acclaimed as the finest quality modern steam engines available. Originally they were 2.5" + 4" bore x 4" stroke.

A later 'large bore' version was produced 2.75" + 4.5" bore x 4" stroke.


Below is an engine of cast bronze built by Rainer Radow in Germany for his fine steamboat 'Emma'.

See his website for an animated CAD drawing and the following two photos show Rainer's lovely engine (excluding cylinder lagging).


Rainer Radow has a fine animation of his engine HERE


I recently found this short 8mm cine film clip taken by my father in early 1974 of a batch of Mills Compound engines being built in Beaumaris.


Another recently discovery are these old photos taken in the BICO workshops of an early batch under construction. No pumps mounting brackets were fitted to these early engines. 


I drew this 'steel engraving' style drawing using 'Scraperboard' in 1977.


If you have any information about these engines, please contact me below.


Below:  The lovely SL Louise fitted with a Mills Compound engine 


This engine uses the Mills Compound engine with an additional low pressure cylinder beautifully grafted on the end. The whole engine has now doubled in length.


The following is a computer animation of one of Titanic's engines 

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