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Horse gin or whimsy
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Bersham Heritage Centre & Ironworks
Wrexham LL14 4HT
United Kingdom

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Horse gin or whimsy

How did farmers power their machinery before the invention of the engine? You can't do everything by hand, but you can use horses.

Horses supplied the original horsepower and using a machine like this, they could power machinery.

The farm labourer would lead the horse round and round in circles and the horse would push or pull a pole that would turn the central wheel. The wheel would turn the gears which would work a belt to power a machine.

The horse would have to learn to step over the shaft and eventually it would go round and round on its own, usually with some encouragement, either carrot or stick.

Horse gins were used to power all sorts of machinery and in locations below ground as well. The large wooden contraption at the entrance to the car park is a reconstruction of another kind of horse gin. That type of horse gin was used to raise and lower men up and down the pit and to bring coal to the surface.

Did you know?
Horse gins were used at Minera Lead Mines from medieval times. Other miners used windlasses, where you had to do the hard work, not the horse. If a lead miner broke the rules, then he would be pinned to his windlass as a punishment.
See trails with this object:
With one horse, you could work this machine, called a horse gin, to power your farm machinery. You would lead the horse round and round which would turn the central wheel, which would turn the gears to drive the belt that would power the machine. The original green energy!
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Where is it located?
Bersham Heritage Centre - Open Air Gallery
Who made it?
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