Welcome to WIAS!
“Bringing WIAS to the comfort of your armchair”
We hope that we can boost our ZOOM audience amongst members who have preferred not to use it before. Help and advice is readily available – please get in touch. If you haven’t joined a ZOOM meeting before please consider giving it a try and enjoying an evening of I.A.
Non – Members are very welcome at Live meetings and ‘ZOOM’ meetings. If you would like to join a ‘ZOOM’ meeting please complete our simple form at this link. WIAS suggests a voluntary donation of £3 for non-members to assist with running costs.
Death of WIAS member. With much sadness we record the death of Elizabeth Margaret (Liz) Sayell, 21st June 1939 – 17th September 2023. A service in memory of Liz was held at All Saints’ Church, Emscote on Tuesday 17th October 2023”. Liz and her husband George have been active members of WIAS for many years and for a long time prepared the refreshments at our monthly meetings. She also embraced the ‘Zoom’ technology to follow WIAS during Covid and our current monthly schedule. 23rd November 2023
New WIAS Zoom Recordings. We are very fortunate to have been able to record our last two WIAS meeting speakers. Victor Riley’s talk in October, ‘The Riley Story’ and Chris Clack’s talk in November, Harry Ferguson ‘Man of Vision’ are now available on our web site at this link. Sub-titles are available. 14th November 2023
Database of Warwickshire Bridges. WIAS member Roger Cragg has now compiled a comprehensive list of the bridges throughout Warwickshire. The list is similar in format to our main database project. There are no plans to link photographs at this stage. You will find links in the main drop down menu and at the foot of the Database page. 2nd November 2023
RAF planes that won the Battle of Britain were built on German machinery: How Jewish refugee engineer, Ludwig Loewy, was crucial to the war effort. This was the subject of a recent meeting of the Newcomen Society, Sheffield Branch, presentation by Dr Jonathan Aylen. Thank you to Alain Foote & John Willock for bringing this to our attention. The talk was recorded and it is hoped will be available at a later date. In the meantime the full story is available at this link and is well worth reading. Our onetime WIAS member, the late Richard Hartree, and Banbury Aluminium are mentioned. 2nd November 2023
From Stuart Roberston of WIAS. The November auction of classic vehicles, held at the NEC, contains amongst many other things, the Rolls Royce of fairground dodgem cars! Built in Warwick to very high standard, this model named ‘Fats Domino’ comes with its electric motor and pole. Re-live those innocent days of head-on crashes, whiplash and steering wheel spinning induced sprained wrists. In need of a little care to bring it back to its former glory days. Click here to view the lot.
Stuart has also found this great photo, left, featuring the AP offices and vehicles in Leamington Spa. 31st October 2023
WIAS October Meeting
There was an excellent attendance at the October meeting to hear Victor Riley, grandson of the founder of Riley Cars, talking about the history of the company which was started in Coventry. Two visitors very appropriately arrived in a magnificent 1949 Riley RMB 2.5-litre!
Members and visitors are encouraged to visit the Riley Archive Project at Coventry Canal Basin. Visit the website here. 13th October 2023
Steam Launch “Consuta”. A new contribution from John Willock about this interesting steam powered launch built in 1898. Click here. 3rd October 2023
Newsletter 79. Thanks to our Newsletter editorial team, edition 79 is now available on the website at this link. All our newsletters are available on the ‘News and Retort!’ page of the website, click here to visit. 27th September 2023.
Brick Making & Brick Building in the Midlands.
This is an academic study which explores the question Why did People Build in Brick? It discusses the pragmatic answers of availability, price, building costs and transport but also emphasises the social value attached to brick and its impact on the visual landscape. It contains evidence of brick technology, the fuels employed and the range of bricks produced (over 40 are listed). It discusses evidence from Warwickshire, eg output of the Strelley kilns at Sherbourne and the relationship between brickmaking and coal mining. ISBN -1-85858-758-5 Copies available from booksellers or the author. Thank you, Dr Mike Kingman. 19th September 2023
Leamington History Day
Some photos from Martin Green showing the WIAS stand at this event and a splendid view from the top of All Saints Church tower! 16th September 2023
IMPORTANT – WIAS NEW MEETING VENUE – Over the summer the Warwick Junior School Playground has been re-surfaced, trees planted, and playground equipment installed such that it is no longer available for us to use as a car park. After discussions with the School, it has been decided to move our venue for meetings from the Halse Pavilion to the Warwick Prep School Hall CV34 6PL. This is at the far western end of the school site, accessed from the Banbury Road. The Prep School Hall has a large amount of adjacent parking spaces, with the offer of reserved space if required, and six disabled spaces. The hall itself has many advantages, both on the technical side and in terms of space available.
The attached map indicates the location and entry point from the Banbury Road. The entrance to the Hall is to the left of Main Reception. There will be directional signs to aid you on the night. Could I please encourage you to attend the meeting on Thursday to view this facility and to familiarise yourselves with entry and parking. It would be very valuable to have your input on the change – I feel sure that the adjacent parking will be an enormous benefit. It is also, of course, a chance to meet up with fellow enthusiasts after the summer break, to be part of the AGM and to enjoy the Members’ Contributions. We greatly value the personal contact that these meetings provide. Martin Green, WIAS Chairman, 11th September 2023
2023/2024 Season. Our full programme of talks is now available on our ‘Programme‘ page. The new format, last season, proved successful so once again it will be a mixture of 7 Live/Hybrid meeting and 3 ZOOM only meeting. 14th August 2023
WIAS Database Project. The Database project continues to go from strength to strength. Thanks to Roger Cragg a number of interesting new entries have been added and all versions updated. Visit the Database page at this link and do consider submitting a few entries. There are plenty of suitable objects around the county not yet included. 16th July 2023
WIAS Membership. We are pleased to confirm that membership fees for 2023-2024 will remain unchanged. Membership runs from 1st September each year for 12 months. £20 per individual and £26 per couple at the same address. (If you join WIAS after February, membership fees will be reduced on a pro-rata basis). 14th July 2023
Water Towers in Warwickshire. Roger Cragg has just updated his interesting article from 2020 with new and revised information. Click here to view. 14th July 2023
Newsletter 78 Now available on line – the June edition of the WIAS Newsletter which covers the meetings held in February and March, plus a couple of photos from each of two of the Visits organised by Alain Foote over the Spring. Many thanks to Chris Barney for taking on primary responsibility for writing up the meetings, and to Mike Hurn for putting the articles together. Newsletter 79 will be published in time for the new season, with full details of the programme 2023-2024. 21st June 2023
WIAS Meeting – The WIAS June meeting is the last of the season and I hope I can encourage as many as possible to attend in person at the Halse Pavilion, Warwick School. It is always good to meet up with fellow enthusiasts for the industrial heritage and the meeting will focus on a family and two firms that had a very significant influence on the industrial history of Stratford-upon-Avon, a topic worthy of a wider recognition and further research. The presentation is entitled ‘NCJoseph Ltd, SONA and Stratford Produce Canners’. Brian Joseph will be in attendance together with a few items from his family’s collection of SONA products. It will bring back memories of searching for that SONA wedding gift on the shelves of Rackhams or Debenhams! Martin Green, 6th June 2023
Making a Barrel! There must be many different ways to build a barrel but here is a German Cooper. Click on this link to watch. John Brace, 3rd June 2023
The Coronation of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen Consort
Saturday 6th May 2023
WIAS Committee and Newsletter. Edition number 77 is now available on the website at this link. The 77th. edition of the WIAS Newsletter will be the last to be edited by Mike Hurn. He is handing over the computer keyboard after 15 years as editor, having produced 45 Newsletters over that period. The Newsletter is primarily a record of all the meetings held by WIAS, and Mike’s ability to accurately reflect the content and flavour of these meetings, whilst at the same time adding his own editorial style, have always made these reports a pleasure to read – as well as being a most valuable record for the Society. I am sure you would wish to join with me in offering our sincere thanks to Mike for all his efforts over the past 15 years. He should be very proud of what he has achieved in creating a lasting record of the activities of WIAS.
For the future, Chris Barney has agreed to maintain a watching brief over the role, but would very much like to increase the number of people willing to write up reports of meetings. There may a topic that is of particular interest to you – feel free to contact us if you would like to be involved. From my own experience, an occasional contribution has been a rewarding experience both in terms of coming to grips with a topic, and in contributing to the records of the Society.
In addition, at the end of the current season of meetings, our Membership Secretary Sue Hammon has decided to resign her role, after many years of service. This is a key role in the Society and her calm, unobtrusive and efficient approach has been greatly valued. We are grateful for all that she has done over a long period of time. Once again, anybody willing to consider taking on this role should contact us, and we can discuss potential ways in which you might be able to help. The WIAS wheels need to keep turning and we rely to a large extent upon the efforts of a few. It would be very good to expand the number of people involved in running the society. Give it some thought! Martin Green, Chairman 16th April 2023
Next WIAS Meeting: 13th April 2023 (Hybrid) – ‘A View of Computing History – 22,000 Years in 60 Minutes’ – Peter Hoath.
I write to remind you of the next WIAS meeting, together with the fact that the meeting will be held in the PYNE ROOM, WARWICK SCHOOL, not the Halse Pavilion. This is because the Pavilion is being utilised for an Easter Holiday Programme of Activities.
Dennis Eagle Warwick Factory Tour – 22nd March 2023. A group from WIAS were indeed fortunate to enjoy a very full and informative tour of the Dennis Eagle plant on the Heathcote Industrial Estate, Warwick, part of the Terberg Environmental Group. Dennis Eagle manufactures over 1000 vehicles per year for a range of UK local authorities, and private sector contractors such as Biffa and Veolia. It is the dominant supplier in the UK market. The firm also has a continually expanding customer base in continental Europe, Scandinavia , Australia and the USA. Click here to read about the visit and view photos and a short video. Martin Green, Chairman 25th March 2023
Windmills in Germany! Another fascinating link to watch thanks to John Brace. This film, in German, shows how the sails for a windmill are erected. Click here to view the film. 17th March 2023
BALH Newsletter. The latest edition is now available, if you don’t receive this directly click here to view. 11th March 2023
Heritage of Industry Tours 2023. Please follow this link if you are interested in any of their planned tours as some of the dates have now changed. 11th March 2023
Death of WIAS Member. It is my sad duty to pass on the news that John Bell has died at the age of 85 years of age. John will be remembered as a quiet, modest man who was a loyal, long-serving, member of WIAS. Alongside and beyond a career at Armstrong Siddeley, Bristol Siddeley, Rolls-Royce and Jaguar Land Rover, he was blessed with the ability to develop a range of interests from arts to the many branches of engineering, combined with the pleasure of walking and overseas travel. He shared these interests and experiences with a group of friends from Coventry and these notes are very much based on the information supplied by one of those friends, Martin Woolston. John was always on the look-out for interesting meetings or places to visit, and he was a regular attendee on John Haslam’s former Heritage Coach Trips. I always found him courteous and friendly, with genuine enthusiasm for the transport and industrial heritage. He was typical of that generation that possessed widespread knowledge and experience, willing to share with others, but never in an over-bearing way. He was a highly-valued member of Warwickshire Industrial Archaeology Society.
John had suffered kidney problems for some time, manfully coping with the demands of dialysis, but he had been in and out of hospital for the past three months. He had a partner, Gill, for 40 years, and he is survived by two nieces. His funeral will take place at 1.45pm 0n Monday April 3rd. at Charter Chapel, Canley Crematorium, CV4 7DF.
Martin Green, Chairman, WIAS. 11th March 2023
WIAS Website 2014. For a glimpse at how we looked in 2014 click here. 25th February 2023
St Mary’s Church, Warwick. Many of you will know Tim Clark and remember his talk on Warwick’s Worsted Mill. Over many months Tim has been dedicated to recording the history of St. Mary’s Warwick (embodied in a book he has written) and he comments;
“Try as I might, I can’t find a connection between HISTORY 900 and WIAS, but I knew that nonetheless you’d be interested in seeing details of the programme, including the launch of the book on the history of St. Mary’s on 27 April. A copy of a poster we have produced is attached, and there are more details on www.faireandgoodlybuilt.org.uk and our Facebook and Instagram pages.” Martin Green, 18th February 2023
Barford Power Station. An interesting article on a little known hydro scheme, by John Brace, is available now in our ‘Contributions’ section. Click here. 18th February 2023
BALH Newsletter. The latest edition of the BALH Newsletter is now available to view at this link. As always, it is full of great articles. 15th February 2023
Barnacle Hall Brickworks. A new paper by Chairman, Martin Green, detailing the history of this little known location in North Warwickshire. “The unusually named hamlet of Barnacle lies on the outskirts of Coventry, and at least one site for brick-making had an important presence in the area during the second half of the nineteenth century through to the early years of the twentieth century”. Click here to view. 9th January 2023
Heritage of Industry Tours 2023. A new series if IA related tours including Swansea, Amsterdam and Portugal. Full details and booking information is available at this link. January 6th 2023
Welcome to WIAS 2023
‘The History of Stourbridge Glass’, Dr Kate Round. If you were unable to hear this excellent talk at our meeting on December 8th, it is now available to watch on our ZOOM recordings page. Click here to view the page now. There is also plenty of further reading on Kate’s website at https://kateround.com. 14th December 2022
Steam Returns to Leamington Spa! For any I.A. enthusiast, model engineers and children! Not quite full size, but each Sunday until Christmas you travel along a section of The Parade on this splendid 71/4″ gauge railway – steam hauled! 4th December 2022
British Association for Local History e-newsletter, December 2022. Thanks to Martin Green and Victor Lobb for providing a link to the latest newsletter from the BALH. As always, along with their excellent website, it is filled with very interesting quality articles. Click here for access. 4th December 2022
Leamington Spa. There is a new request for help on our ‘Can You Help’ page. Click here for full details. 29th November 2022
Vulcan XM 655 at Wellsbourne Mountford. John Willock has supplied this wonderfully evocative selection of images of Vulcan B Mk2, XM 655, taken at Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire on the 12/11/22. This aircraft has been at Wellesbourne Mountford since early 1984. This particular aircraft was the third last Vulcan to be completed and was equipped with the more powerful Bristol Olympus 301 engines. This machine is fitted with two sets of underwing “hard points” for the attachment of the projected Douglas GAM–87A Skybolt missile. This missile was cancelled by the Americans in December 1962, causing political difficulties between Britain and the USA; perhaps hastening the introduction of the submarine launched ICBM and the demise of the nuclear bomber.
Of the nineteen (19) Vulcans preserved worldwide, eight (8) are likely to have Skybolt missile pylon attachment points. Of these six (6) are in the UK and two (2) in the USA. Every Vulcan from and including the 61st B Mk 2 machine (XM 597), had wing strengthening and the Skybolt pylon attachment points. They are as follows: XM 597, at Lothian; XM 598, at Cosford; XM 603, at Woodford; XM 605, at Atwater, Cal. USA; XM 606, at Barksdale AFB, Bossier City, Louisiana. USA; XM 607, at RAF Waddington; XM 612, at City of Norwich and XM 655, at Wellesbourne Mountford.
For more on the the full Vulcan story, visit our page ‘Vulcans at Bitteswell’.
© All Images by Richard Willock. 22nd November 2022
Programme Change – November 10th 2022. It is with regret that I have to announce that Chris Clack, our speaker for Thursday’s meeting on Harry Ferguson, has tested positive for Covid and will be unable to deliver his talk. We have been in close contact via e-mail with Chris and he is very disappointed not to be able to join us and has agreed to deliver his talk at a future meeting. The current advice is that two clear days of negative testing should be in place prior to a meeting, and we are very mindful of the make-up of our membership, so would not wish to take any risks. However, I am delighted to report that Roger Cragg has agreed to step in and to deliver a talk on ‘The London and Birmingham Railway’.
There is so much controversy about the HS2 route from London to Birmingham that it would seem timely to examine the earliest ‘high speed’ option between London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street stations – The London and Birmingham Railway. It is a crucial link in the development of the UK rail network, and we are fortunate that Warwickshire is included in the path of this pioneering route. Roger will be known to many of you, with a highly respected knowledge of the civil engineering heritage of the Midlands, and I can guarantee an evening full of interest.
I look forward to seeing you either in person or online for the meeting this Thursday. Refreshments available from 7pm at the Halse Pavilion.
Martin Green, Chairman WIAS 8th November 2022
Midland Red Book Signing
Kenilworth Books, Talisman Square, Kenilworth
12th November 2022, 1030am to 1.30pm
Meet transport specialist Ashley Wakelin and discover his two beautiful books about the history of Midland Red buses. Find out about his books, chat to the author and buy signed copies of ‘Inside Midland Red’ and ‘Midland Red Influence’. Perfect Christmas Gifts? 3rd November 2022
Railways Remembered. Rob Foxon returns to the Benn Hall, Newbold Rd, Rugby at 7.30pm on Wednesday 5th October. ‘The East Coast Main Line 1896 -1966’ is a carefully researched programme of rare archive films recalling more than 100 years of East Coast Main Line Running. Tickets £8 on the door, licenced bar available. 22nd September 2022
The Maginot Line. My son Mark has just completed a television documentary for SWR Television based in Baden-Baden on the Maginot Line, which has just gone out respectively on the German and French national television systems. Whilst not exactly Industrial Archaeology of Warwickshire, it might just interest one or two of our members from an engineering point of view. Despite its somewhat blinkered military thinking, the Maginot Line was an innovative and brilliant blend of terrain and engineering solutions to meet a particular set of circumstances, ie, an existential threat from the east. Some of the Maginot Line forts are in excellent condition and contain much of their original equipment, including fully operational electric railway systems, etc. Very worth a visit. The documentary unfortunately is in German and some French, and runs for 44 min 22 secs. John Willock, 21st September 2022. Click this link to play the film.
BALH Awards 2022. Watch WIAS Chairman Martin Green being interviewed following receipt of a 2022 BALH Award for Outstanding Individual Contributions in Local History. The presentation of the Award took place during Local History Day on Saturday 11th June 2022 held at Conway Hall, London and online. 9th September 2022
Ice Breaker ‘Marple’
Following a review in 2020, the Canal & River Trust identified a number of vessels that were eligible for ‘re-homing’ on the boats for disposal register. One of the vessels, an ice breaker named ‘Marple’, has found a new home at the Saltisford Canal Trust Basin, Warwick.
The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company acquired the Peak Forest Canals in 1848 and in the 1860s built a series of 7 ice-breakers at their depot in Gorton, Manchester. Four seem to have survived, including ‘Marple’. 17th August 2022
Industrial Archaeology News. The latest edition of the AIA News, full of interesting articles, is available here. 27th July 2022
Summer News Supplement! Chairman, Martin Green, has put together a collection of items of interest to all. If you are on the WIAS mailing list you should have received it but it’s also available at this link. 23rd July 2022
WIAS Newsletter. Our latest newsletter, No. 76, is now available on line at this link. Many thanks to Mike Hurn for all his hard work in the preparation, volunteer editors/reporters are very welcome to assist! 20th July 2022
Newspaper Archive On Line. Warwickshire residents can now access over 3 million pages of historical newspaper articles online for free at a selection of Warwickshire Libraries or at the County Record Office. As part of an initiative from The British Library to digitise their historic newspapers, millions of pages have been scanned and made available online from The British Newspaper Archive (BNA). Warwickshire Library members will be able to benefit from this extensive resource saving hours of painstaking manual searching through microfilm. Click here for full details. 5th July 2022
Contributions. The start of July has seen two new contributions by WIAS members John Brace and John Willock. John Brace has supplied an interesting article about the arrival of electric power in Shipston on Stour in South Warwickshire. John Willock has given us his personal memories of Midland Garage Services, (MGS Engineering Co), Rugby Road, Leamington Spa. Both make excellent reading and can be found in our ‘Contributions’ list at this link. 3rd July 2022
BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR LOCAL HISTORY AWARDS 2022
It is with pleasure that we announce that WIAS Chairman Martin Green has received a 2022 BALH Award for Outstanding Individual Contributions in Local History. The presentation of the Award took place during Local History Day on Saturday 11th June 2022 held at Conway Hall, London and online.
Many will know that Martin was one of the founders of the Warwickshire Industrial Archaeology Society in 1989 and since then has been involved and responsible for countless amounts of research and publications including “The Iron Men of Leamington Spa”. A very well deserved award!
Left – Martin Green receives his award from Professor Caroline Barron, President of the BALH.
Watch the 2022 Awards here.
(Martin Green’s award is at 6m.25s)
Foundry Wood, Leamington Spa, has recently taken on the piece of adjacent land to the woodland – via a lease from Network Rail – to manage as a woodland and wildlife space. Much of the rail track has been left in situ (4 x railway sidings and buffers). You can see from the attached picture – how the silver birch trees are all growing between the tracks and look quite amazing. Full details available at http://www.foundrywood.co.uk/ and in our WIAS photo gallery here.
The Late Keith Rogers. I have received details from Martin Woolston of a Memorial Meeting to be held for Keith Rogers on Tuesday 5th. July at 2pm at the Hatton Locks Café on the Grand Union Canal just outside Warwick. Rather than sending full details to everyone, I thought it more appropriate just to send to those who knew Keith and would like to remember him via this gathering. There are no formal proceedings but simply a chance to share memories of Keith. I am very happy to pass on fuller details or they are available from Martin Woolston at email@example.com. Martin Green, Chairman WIAS 1st June 2022
Visit to HS2 Tunnel Site. Thanks to an initiative by George Illingworth, Alain Foote has arranged a visit to the Long Itchington Wood HS2 Tunnelling Works Visitor Centre for Wednesday 29th June at 13:00. We will visit the purpose-built Visitor Centre and viewing platform. We will not enter the tunnel nor require PPE. The visit will last around one hour. Not quite industrial archaeology just yet, but it will certainly be of considerable interest. Please book your place with Alain Foote, WIAS Visits Secretary, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and he will send additional details. 23rd May 2022
City Safaris. The last tour of the season in 2022 is now open for booking. Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city and has been a port for almost 1000 years. As a member of the Hanseatic League it had a lot of influence in the Middle Ages and traded with most of the known world. Full details of this trip are available at the Heritage of Industry web site. Click here. 23rd May 2022
Replacement of Rugby Rd Railway Bridge. Details and photos of the Rugby Rd, (Milverton), bridge replacement project in Leamington Spa have been added thanks to George Sayell. Visit this new page here. 26th April 2022
‘Silent Servants: the long story of electric vehicles in Britain’ by Eric Woodcock.
If you weren’t able to get to the brilliant April meeting of WIAS, why not visit Eric’s website, Zavanak.com, for more information on this fascinating topic. 15thApril 2022
Left – The last of a large fleet of battery powered refuse trucks operated by Birmingham City. The vehicle is in the museum store and not on public display.
TV Tonight! Peter Coulls draws our attention to a programme tonight at 7.30pm ‘The Story of Slate’ on BBC4 where Huw Stephens visits the National Slate Museum in Llanberis. The North Wales slate industry has been very much in the news recently due to the award of World Heritage Status, and, of course, we benefited from the recent Zoom lecture by David Gwyn to WIAS. 4th April 2022
Rugby Road Railway Bridge, Leamington Spa. George Sayell has drawn attention to the activity associated with the replacement of the railway bridge at Milverton, Leamington Spa. Most obvious is the use of the fields in front of Rock Mill (known by many as the Potterton Fields), and he supplies photographs of that activity. He has been monitoring progress, with the field levelled and raised to create a working area, the creation of an access ramp for low-loaders; ‘ready-made’ pieces of the structure (e.g. concrete from Ireland) arriving by low loader; and the large crane installed (which arrived in pieces and was erected on site). It will be interesting to observe progress. 30th March 2022
WIAS. A reminder to one and all that WIAS meetings re-start in person at The Halse Pavilion, Warwick School tomorrow, Thursday 10th March 2022. Doors open at 7pm for coffee and chat with the presentation at 7.30pm. If you cannot attend in person the meeting is also being ‘ZOOMED’. 9th March 2022
WIAS Newsletter No. 75. Thanks to Mike Hurn, the latest newsletter is now available on the WIAS website. Visit the Newsletter & Retort page or click here. 9th March 2022
Death of WIAS member. I am afraid I have to pass on the very sad news that Keith Rogers passed away on Friday last. Keith was one of the earliest members of WIAS and had loyally supported the society for many years, travelling from Coventry on a regular basis to society meetings. His enthusiasm for transport and industrial heritage, and for steam power in particular, was renowned, and he would often phone me with snippets of news or suggestions that might be of interest or benefit to the society. He also involved himself enthusiastically in other groups, for example the Wickman Railway Club, where for several years he gave an annual DVD presentation, characterised by meticulous preparation of his material. He not only brought considerable knowledge to proceedings of any group in which he was involved, but did so with an upbeat optimism, and his infectious smile and sense of humour was greatly valued by us all. He will, indeed, be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to family and friends, and I will pass on details of any funeral arrangements once they are known. Martin Green, Chairman, WIAS, 28th February 2022
White Japanned Clock Dial. The latest paper from John Willock is a brief history of the White Japanned Clock Dial and its manufacture for about a century, predominantly in Birmingham. Everyone is familiar with the so called “Grandfather Clock”, more accurately called a long case clock, and the white faced dial that is often an accompanying feature. Click here to read John’s latest contribution with excellent illustrations. 18th February 2022
Photos. The photo gallery is available again but may disappear from time to time to allow for updating and re-construction. Contributions welcome. 9th February 2022
Heritage of Industry Tours. Managing Director Bill Barksfield is pleased to announce that a full programme of UK and International tours is now available. Bookings can be made through their website at this link. 8th February 2022
Railways Remembered at Rugby. Rob Foxon returns to The Benn Hall, Rugby at 7.30pm on Wednesday 16th February 2022. This new programme includes footage of the famous Rugby Locomotive Testing Station in action plus much more. Tickets are £8 on the door, licenced bar and sales stand. 29th January 2022
Death of WIAS Member. I’m afraid I have to pass on the sad news that Jeromy Hassell has died. Jeromy had not been able to attend meetings in recent years, but many members will remember the series of talks he gave to the Society associated with his pamphlets on various aspects of Coventry’s industrial history e.g. ‘The Coventry Machinists’ Company’ and ‘White & Poppe’. There will be a memorial service at midday on Thursday 3rd February at St James’ Church, Alveston (Stratford-upon-Avon). All friends welcome. No gifts or flowers please, but Jeromy was a keen supporter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and it seems fitting that if anyone would like to make a charitable donation, it goes to this organisation please. Martin Green, WIAS Chairman. 26th January 2022
‘Brass, Steel and Fire: 100 years of Model Engineering’. A talk by Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator Rail Transport & Technology – National Railway Museum. If you were not able to join our January ZOOM meeting, this excellent talk by Anthony was recorded and is now available, (with sub-titles), on the web site at this link. 19th January 2022
The Bentley BR1 & BR2 Rotary Aero Engines of World War 1. This is the subject of the latest paper from our WIAS aviation writer, John Willock. John has excelled once again with a detailed history of the rotary aero engines, a joint collaboration between W.O. Bently and the Humber Motor Co, Coventry. Click here to read the full article. 12th January 2022
AIA eNews Bulletin January 2022. The latest edition from the AIA is available now at this link. Full of information, as always, there is an interesting item about the re-purposed Catesby Tunnel between Rugby and Banbury. The tunnel is now a high tech vehicle test track, possibly the only one of its kind in the world. 12th January 2022
WIAS Newsletter No. 74. The latest WIAS Newsletter is now available on the web site. Click here to visit the Newsletter page. Many thanks to Mike Hurn for preparing the newsletter which involves a great deal of time & effort. 6th January 2022
‘ZOOM’ Visitors. Non-members can now visit a new page where they can complete a short form and make a suggested donation of £3 to access a ‘ZOOM’ meeting. If you know anyone who may like to take advantage, please pass on the link. You can visit the page here. 6th January 2022
The AW 55 Apollo. The latest paper from John Willock gives us a look at the short lived Armstrong Whitworth AW 55 Apollo – ‘The Forgotten Airliner’. Click here to read the full article. 29th December 2021
The Late Richard Hartree. Many will remember Richard Hartree, who died in March 2020, as splendid company, genial at all times, and ever-willing to share his knowledge with others. Richard made the journey from his home in Sibford Ferris, Oxfordshire to most WIAS meetings. He was also the society treasurer for a number of years. A full obituary, detailing a distinguished career, is now available at this link and a pdf version of his excellent book, The Aluminium Works at Banbury 1929-209, can be read here. 17th December 2021
Winter Steam on Saturday 11th December. If you are a steam enthusiast, there is a treat in store on Saturday.
1) 44871 Black Five will be passing through Leamington Spa on a northbound ‘Christmas Market Excursion’ from Paddington to Birmingham and then on to Shrewsbury. It returns via the same route in the evening. NOTE – Loco change – Duchess of Sutherland is replaced by Black Five 44871.
Timings – Northbound, Leamington Spa at approx 1009hrs, Southbound at approx 1948hrs.
2) 7029 Clun Castle will be heading south on ‘The Merchant Venturer’ stopping at Leamington Spa having already collected passengers at Solihull, Dorridge and Warwick Parkway. It’s final destination is Bristol.
Timings – Southbound, Leamington Spa at approx 0902hrs, Northbound at approx 2123hrs.
More timings are available via links on the Rail Advent website. 9th December 2021
WIAS Meeting. I write with details of the next WIAS meeting on Thursday December 9th. at 7.30pm delivered by Zoom, where Dr. David Eveleigh will give a presentation ‘Bogs, Baths and Basins: the history of domestic sanitation’. Services utilised by us all every day have an interesting history and Dr. Eveleigh will explore this and the associated developments in technology. He is the leading expert in the UK on this subject, well recorded in his highly-regarded book. Martin Green. 6th December 2021
LMS Princess Coronation Class 46233 Duchess of Sutherland coasts down Hatton bank and through Warwick Parkway Station on a glorious November morning. The locomotive was re-positioning from Tyseley, Birmingham to Southall, London prior to hauling Christmas excursions over the coming weeks. There was a notable absence of people at Warwick Parkway! 22nd November 2021
‘FLAG’ meeting on Tuesday 18th January 2022. ’18th Century Coventry Silkmen – Masters of the City’s Industrial Universe’ by David Fry. If you were unable or chose not to join in this presentation to WIAS via ZOOM earlier this year, this is an opportunity to see and hear it again ‘in person’. FLAG (Friends of Leamington Art Gallery) presentations take place at Dormer Conference Centre at 7.30pm. All welcome. 30th October 2021
The Late Ivor Jones, 1927 – 2020. An obituary page is now available to view at this link. 30th October 2021
Crossness in 1961 by George Sayell. From 1957-62 I did a Student Apprenticeship with English Electric, Rugby, manufacturers of steam turbines and large slow revving static diesel engines for power generation. In the Spring and early Summer of 1961 I was sent down to the ‘Southern Outfall Works’ (Crossness) where the company was in the preliminary stage of installing diesel engines and associated equipment in the new power house. (In fact the power house was then an empty building. The engines would not have appeared until the following year). The engines were to be ‘dual fuel’ in that they would start up on oil and then run on methane gas. During my time there I took a number of photos on 3 films, the script provides information on the films. It must be appreciated that these are my recollections after 60 years. To view the full article and photos click here. 26th October 2021
Coventry Transport. A nice trip down memory lane for transport enthusiasts! This gathering of Coventry Transport vehicles was photographed over the late summer bank holiday weekend outside Yardley Wood Garage in Birmingham. 21st October 2021
WIAS MOLE. The WIAS MOLE, (Monthly On Line Edition), was launched in September 2021 to keep the WIAS on line community in touch with news and views on the industrial heritage of Warwickshire and beyond. A printed version was sent to those without internet access. It was always intended as an experiment and after the first three issues, we are in a position where social distancing is diminishing and access to sites, museums etc is easier, so we shall not continue with further editions. Any crucial pieces of information will be sent out by e-mail, but only on an occasional basis. The 3 editions of the MOLE are reproduced at this link. Use the small tool bar at the bottom of the screen to enlarge, zoom, flip pages etc. Martin Green, WIAS Chairman, 13th October 2021
“Regent of London“ David Strasburger Limited, Leamington Spa. This new contribution from John Willock describes the history of a fascinating Leamington Spa manufacturer of fancy goods. Do you still have any of the items they produced at home perhaps? Click here to read now. 30th September 2021
Derek Billings. A tribute to the late Derek Billings has been added to the website, click here to visit the page. 18th September 2021
The WIAS Database. The database continues to grow and WIAS welcomes new contributions. If you know of an existing piece of IA, that is not already listed, please send us the details and a photograph if possible. Complete the simple form at this link to submit a new entry. 11th September 2021
Kempton Steam Museum and Hercule Poirot. What’s the connection you might ask? ITV3 and Drama, amongst other channels, are showing the brilliant Poirot series starring David Suchet. If you saw the episode ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ this week, you might have spotted that the enormous ‘factory’ in the story was in fact the Engine House at Kempton Steam Museum, home of the world’s largest working triple-expansion steam engine. Worth watching on ‘catch up’ if you missed it. Click here to visit the Kempton web site. 11th September 2021
46100 Royal Scot passing through Kenilworth on Saturday 4th September 2021
A very short video clip 46100 Royal Scot passing through Kenilworth Station at about 2045hrs on Saturday 4th September 2021. This was a late running return working of an excursion from Crewe to Salisbury which travelled south via Birmingham, Coventry and Leamington Spa on Saturday morning.
WIAS Newsletter No. 73. The latest newsletter is now available on the website. Click here. 9th September 2021
The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk–From Derbyshire to the Pacific Northwest.
I have recently published a biography about Peter Kirk, a 19th century industrialist who manufactured rails and sold them around the world. He incorporated at least 15 of his own inventions into his products and the machines that produced them to fuel his success.
His knowledge base came from his Derbyshire family who had been in the wrought iron business since at least 1770.
Even though this story encompasses Peter Kirk’s life, including immigration to an American frontier to build a large-scale steel mill in 1886, there are many anecdotes of interest to industrial archaeologists. Some of these include: the Industrial Revolution additions his ancestors put to work to advance the forge, his family’s work philosophy, an incident after the 1842 Mines Act passed, how he and his brothers tackled the chemistry problems of the different ores and other resources needed, descriptions of his inventions, and how rails were made.
My book is titled The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk–From Derbyshire to the Pacific Northwest. You can read the first ten pages at Book Baby Bookshop: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/the-pioneering-life-of-peter-kirk. It is offered on Amazon, Waterstones, Baker & Taylor, and Bookshop.org.
Life after Victoria. The Leamington History Group present our new film about the history of Leamington. Life After Victoria tells the story of the town in the early 20th century – its contribution to the First World War and the Votes for Women movement, the transformation in living conditions and workers’ rights, and the birth of some of Leamington’s most treasured cultural institutions. We also bring the long-lost Leamington and Warwick Tramway back to life! 16th August 2021
Water Towers in Warwickshire. Roger Cragg has put together a comprehensive paper containing details of Water Towers, surviving, converted and demolished in Warwickshire. There is also a photo gallery of some of the installations. The list of towers is searchable. Click here to visit the page. 9th August 2021
Precision Gauge Blocks. Also sometimes referred to as Slip Gauges or “Jo Blocks”, are the foundation of physical measurement in mechanical engineering. John Willock’s latest contribution explains in detail their importance in the world of precision engineering. Click here to read this fascinating illustrated paper. 6th August 2021
WIAS 2021 – 2022 Subscriptions. As we move towards re-launching a season of traditional WIAS meetings, (regulations permitting), a timely remeinder that subscriptions are due from the 1st September for 12 months. Full details and methods of payment are on our ‘Membership’ page. Click here to visit. 4th August 2021
UNESCO World Heritage Status for the Talyllyn Railway. Many people will have heard that the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales was granted this incredible accolade this week. The 6th component of the application was the Talyllyn Railway, Abergynolwyn and Bryneglwys Quarry, familiar to many from the Midlands who have taken holidays in the area. To celebrate the news – the Talyllyn Railway put on a special train, with No.2 Dolgoch pulling a rake of slate wagons – just like it would have done back in the 1860’s! The driver was none other than Anthony Coulls, familar to all of us at WIAS! Enjoy the interview with Anthony and a trip up the line with the slate train in this film. 1st August 2021
Funeral – The Late Derek Billings. The funeral will take place at the North Chapel, Oakley Wood Crematorium on Monday August 9th. at 10.00 a.m. I do hope that those who knew Derek will be able to attend. Martin Green, WIAS Chairman 26th July 2021
Industrial Explorer – West Yorkshire 9th – 12th September 2021. The Heritage of Industry walking tour based in Bradford has been sold out for some time but, due to a late cancellation, we can now offer one place (would consider two people sharing a double or twin room) on an exploration of this former woollen town and surrounding areas. Read full details here and if you are interested email me quickly email@example.com and we may be able to get you in! Bill Barksfield, Managing Director, Heritage of Industry Ltd 26th July 2021
Chesapeake Mill, Hampshire. As far as we know, there is no Warwickshire link but John Willock’s latest contribution about how this fascininating mill got it’s name is a cracking historical story well worth reading. If you find yourself in Hampshire the mill is well worth a visit. Click here to read the story. 19th July 2021
The Friendly Midland Red. In an extensively illustrated presentation, Transport Author Roger Torode, will talk us through the 70-year history of this fascinating company, covering: its substantial growth from early horse bus operations through to its segmentation prior to privatisation; its distinctive and largely self-build vehicle policy; its people; its style; and its similarities (and differences) with parallel developments in London.
AIA e-News Bulletin July 2021. This edition is now avialable, click here to access. 15th July 20221
Death of WIAS member – Derek Billings. It is with much sadness that we announce the death of Derek Billings at 1pm on Tuesday 13th July 2021. He had been admitted to Warwick Hospital as an emergency on Saturday 10th. Derek was one of the most loyal members of WIAS, and his knowledge and photographic collection was unrivalled, he was particularly keen on Railway and Canal subjects for his camera lens. More than this, he was always courteous, helpful, and positive, ever willing to add to the knowledge of others. Our thoughts at this sad time will be with Pat, son Andrew and daughter Sarah. Further information will follow in due course. M Green & J Willock 13th July 2021
Derek Billings at a Leamington History Day
Ivor Jones. Many WIAS members will remember Ivor Jones who died in 2020. Owing to the Covid-19 regulations the funeral was restricted to a limited number of family members only. Everyone is invited to a Service of Memorial to be held at St Nicholas Church, High Street, Kenilworth at 11am on Tuesday 5th October 2021, to commemorate Ivor’s life on what would have been his 94th birthday. The service will be immediately followed by the interment of Ivor’s ashes in the churchyard, to which all are also invited, after which the family hope as many people as possible will join them at Bubbenhall village hall for lunch. 7th July 2021
“A Worcestershire Wizard” The Heywood SH6 Series Air Compressor. Members might recall John Willock speaking about this interesting piece of aviation equipment at one of our Warwick School meetings. He has now produced a fine paper giving a lot more information about the compressor and how it was used in some of our most famous WWII military aircraft. Click here. 16th June 2021
Healey Blue Plaque. Following on from the opening of the ‘Healey Cars – For Speed and Glamour’ exhibition in the Market Hall Museum in Warwick, Peter Coulls has passed on this information:
“On Saturday July 3rd there is to be an unveiling of a blue plaque at Healey Court, Warwick, commemorating the site of the Healey showroom. The organisers are expecting about 300 Healeys to descend on Warwick for this event and have arranged with the Town council to use part of Myton fields as a car park for the Healey cars. The organisers would like to assemble a team of volunteer marshals to keep an eye on the cars during the event. They are looking at covering a period from 9 until 5 and having two marshals at a time for 2 or 3 hours depending on the number of volunteers. If anyone is interested in helping out, please contact David Scothorn at : firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Incidentally, I have been asked about an easily accessible lead-in to the Healey story and I would recommend Graham Robson’s Austin-Healey (Shire Publications), available from the Museum Exhibition. I do hope the summer will give opportunities for further exploration of the industrial heritage, and that you will discover material that deserves to be shared with the WIAS community via website or talk. We are always ready to hear what you have to say! With best wishes, Martin Green, 15th June 2021
Snow Hill Station. If you remember travelling into Snow Hill, Birmingham, take a look at this collection of slides from Derek Billings taken in 1977. Click here. 13th June 2021
The Water Tower, Tainters Hill, Kenilworth. IA enthusiasts might be interested to know that Kenilworth’s famous water tower on Tainters Hill is currently for sale, priced at just £1.4 million. Once home to the owner of Druckers Vienna Patisserie chain, there are good photgraphs available on the Right Move web site at this link. 1st June 2021
Upton House & Shenington Airfield in Wartime. Further to recent dicussions, John Willock has put together a short paper about this interesting location in the south of the county. Click here. 29th May 2021
Cherry Orchard Brick Works, Kenilworth. There is a new request on our ‘Can You Help?’ page for information about surviving members of the Burgess family who owned and operated the brick works. For full details visit the page here. 24th May 2021
HMS Hood. John Willock has put together some information to mark the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the battlecruiser HMS Hood on the 24th May 2021. Click here to visit the new page in our ‘Contributions’ section. 19th May 2021
Drain Spotting: The people who keep their minds in the gutter! Manhole covers, coalhole covers and drain covers all offer access to an underground world that is full of artistry, history and in many cases beauty. Click here to visit this BBC feature on a fascinating aspect of IA.
The BBC programme: ‘Boring Talks’ No 49, Coal Holes. “Amir Dotan explores the small metal discs on our pavements and door steps”, is available via BBC Sounds at this link. 15th May 2021
Crossness Engines. I have received this note via Alain Foote from the Greenwich Industrial History Society concerning a Zoom talk on the crossness Engines. Crossness will be familiar to many WIAS members and this looks like an ideal opportunity to learn more. There is a limit on numbers so move quickly to register. Details are included in the message. Martin Green, 7th May 2021
FROM GREENWICH INDUSTRIAL HISTORY SOCIETY
Next Tuesday, 11 May, we are holding our eighth virtual talk. Mike Jones, of the Crossness Engines Trust, will be talking about Crossness engines past and present. Crossness — down the river, just beyond Thamesmead — is famous as the site of the Joseph Bazalgette sewage works. This follows the talk from Chris Binnie back in February 2021 about the history of London sewers from Bazalgette to the Thames Tideway Tunnel. (You can still see Chris’s talk and all of the others on YouTube, at http://tinyurl.com/GIHSvideo
As will all of the other talks in the Covid era, Mike’s talk on Tuesday will be free of charge, but you must sign up in advance via Eventbrite using this link:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/crossness-engines-past-and-present-tickets-153544109565
Two Zoom presentations to tell you about. The second is run by AIA and takes place on Saturday 8th. May and offers a truly global view on the subject of industrial archaeology. It is The First East-West Workshop on Industrial Archaeology’, with speakers drawn from very different parts of the world.The two speakers from the West should be familiar!
The first is closer to home. It announces the next WIAS Zoom Presentation on Thursday 13th. May when Dr. Ray Wilson will give a presentation on the “The Industrial Heritage of Gloucestershire’. The variety of the county’s industrial heritage sites will provide a fascinating evening, and hopefully may tempt you out on day trips, or even a longer ‘staycation’. All are very welcome to tune in, particularly those considering joining us for the first time. Both events are free, although the AIA requires registration first. Martin Green, 6th May 2021
Topic: WIAS 13 May 2021 meeting, Time: May 13, 2021 07:00 PM London – Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 883 0996 2203, To join the meeting using your ‘phone’, please dial:, 03300885830 or 01314601196
AIA ZOOM Presentation – Saturday 8th May 2021 10:30 – 12:30 online
The 1st East-West Workshop on Industrial Archaeology.
Full details and registration available at this link.
‘Retort Magazine’. The original WIAS annual publication, ‘Retort’, has been available to view on the website for some time. The digital copies have now been turned into ‘Flip Books’ so when you view them it’s just like turning the real pages over. At the bottom each page there is a small toolbar where you can toggle the pages and make them full screen for easy reading – zoom in or out to make text larger or smaller etc. Click this link to view. 4th May 2021
For Sale. If you are a Frank Whittle admirer, you might be interested in part of Frank Whittle Mews in Leamington Spa which is currently being advertised for sale! Frank Whittle Mews 3rd May 2021
Early Wooden Railways. There is a tendency to think that railways were a nineteenth century phenomenon, the names of Trevithick, Blenkinsop, Hackworth and Stephenson, et al, being synonymous with their early development. However, this is a very incomplete view of the historical picture! The latest paper from John Willock delves into this interesting subject. Find it in our ‘Contributions’ section or go directly at this link. 3rd May 2021
WIAS 2021 Survey. Thank you to everyone who took part, the survey has now closed. 18th April 2021
Heritage and Culture Warwickshire have a series of Live virtual talks over the next few months. The first is on 28th April and is about Warwick County Lunatic Asylum. Details on this talk and the others are on the link. https://heritage.warwickshire.gov.uk/adultsandyoungpeopleevents
We are hoping to open the County Record Office and Market Hall Museum in May if restrictions are lifted. Market Hall will have a new exhibition on Healey Cars so I hope you will be able to visit us soon.
Louise Louise Jennings
Development Coordinator (Marketing and Fundraising)
Heritage & Culture Warwickshire (HCW)
Email: email@example.com 15th April 2021
WIAS 2021 Survey. There are only 2 days left to complete the survey. If you haven’t already done so please consider doing it to help plan the future of the society. Click on this link to complete the on line form, it only takes 2 or 3 minutes. 15th April 2021
Underfloor Hypocaust Warm Air Heating System. There is a new request for information about this heating system that was installed in some south Warwickshire churches on our ‘Can You Help’ page. Two Leamington builders were responsible. Click here to read the full request. 14th April 2021
Donations. Thank you to those who have donated to WIAS recently. Although we are not meeting in person yet, the society still has running costs. All support is very much appreciated. 12th April 2021
Swing Bridges & Burning Issues! Paul Waller thought the attached eventbrite event might be of interest to members
Burning Issues: The Future of Fossil Fuels in Heritage
Pater Coulls has supplied some photos of the Anderton Lift which are now up on the website and I include two shots of the Northwich Swing Bridge on the River Weaver, plus a youTube video. Feels like a return visit to Cheshire is coming on!
PreviewPreview3:14Northwich Town Swing BridgeYouTube · mykaskin7 Oct 2014
Best wishes to all, Martin Green, Chairman WIAS. 12th April 2021
Anderton Boat Lift. After mention of the Anderton Boat Lift during this months Zoom talk, ‘The Salt Archaeology of Cheshire’, Peter Coulls supplied these photos he took on a vist in 2014. 10th April 2021
European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards. Although the award winners cover all sorts of structures – the majority have some sort of industrial interest. Those that don’t are still worth looking at. There is not a lot of text (in three languages) but the pictures are splendid. Something over 200 pages but well worth downloading. It highlights 50 winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards from 19 different countries. As such you would expect 2 or 3 from each country, but there are in fact 12 winners from the UK! Click on ‘Further information on the publication’ and then under ‘Object Links’ on the righthand side, click ‘Download’ to download a pdf of the publication, but be aware it is about 440MB! It takes a while for the document to open. Link. Chris Barney 4th April 2020
Thank You! to all those who have supported WIAS with donations during the difficult period of lockdown and subsequent restrictions. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. Thanks also to all those who have returned the Survey forms. We have heard from several of our more regular supporters, but we are equally keen to hear from those who are occasional visitors or, indeed, new contacts. The information about the Survey and Donations can be found on the website. 3rd April 2021
Next WIAS Zoom Lecture is on Thursday April 8th. at 7.30pm, when Dr. Mike Nevell will speak on ‘Cheshire’s Salt Archaeology’. Dr Mike Nevell is a landscape, buildings, community, and industrial archaeologist with more than 30 years experience, and has become one of the country’s leading figures in the field of industrial archaeology. He was Chairman of the Association for Industrial Archaeology from 2017-2020, and he is currently Industrial Heritage Support Officer for England, a project funded by Historic England. 3rd April 2021
Coventry Singer. On a rare trip out to the local farm shop today this beautiful Singer pulled into the parking area. This particular vehicle is a Singer 10-26 (1926), Engine 1308cc S4 OHC, Production 15500, Registration Number RU 3845. A modernised version of the Singer 10 with four wheel brakes from 1926 as indicated by the red triangle on the rear bumper Cost for complete car £220 in 1925! 30th March 2021
Martin Green, WIAS – Old Warwickians Talk, March 2021 – Thanks to Anne Douglas, Alumni Relations, Warwick School, WIAS is able share the following film. 175 OWs from across the globe and decades zoomed in to Martin Green’s fascinating talk on Warwickshire’s Industrial Heritage and Warwick School. From Scotland to San Diego and Sydney to South Africa, OWs reconnected with each other, with Martin and with the school. 29th March 2021
WIAS 2021 Survey. The survey is now available to complete on line. Please help define the future of WIAS by giving us your views. Click here. 27th March 2021.
Gloucester-Whittle E28/39 ‘Pioneers’. In the latest paper in our Aviation section, John Willock concentrates on the development of this incredible jet powered aeroplane. Although not actually constructed in Warwickshire it made many flights from RAF Shenington/Edgehill across the Warwickshire countryside. Click here. 27th March 2021
Guestbook. Our WIAS Guestbook page is now available, click here. 19th March 2021
Bentley Cars. Following on from our January “Bentley Boys” talk I remembered taking these photographs which might be of interest. Better late than never! 19th March 2021
GPO Marker Post etc. This web site is dedicated to those cast iron pieces of street furniture that almost always go un-noticed, but are reminders of our social, technological and physical past. Marker posts of a standard design were used by the Post Office (later known as the General Post Office, or GPO) from the earliest days of telecommunications, when they ran the fledgling telegraph network in the UK. There is an interactive UK map showing positions of markers and cables and a detailed section on Manhole covers. Well worth a visit. Click here. 16th March 2021
WIAS March Talk. Our speaker this month, David Fry, has very kindly made the text of his talk on the ’18th Century Coventry Silkmen’ available to us. Click here to view. 13th March 2021
WIAS Database. More contributions to our IA database are always welcome. If you have a photo of IA that still exists and can be seen today you can complete a simple form on our database page and send it to us. The database team will do the rest. Just click on the link in the main menu for full details. You can also search the database by, industry, location or photograph. The database has just been updated with a number of new entries. 10th March 2021
Coventry Factories – Long gone Coventry Factories including, MF, BL Triumph, Rootes, Coventry Climax and Hawker Siddeley feature in this Coventry Telegraph album. Click here to view. 2nd March 2021
Jet Man: The Making and Breaking of Frank Whittle, Genius of the Jet Revolution by Duncan Campbell-Smith. This new publication has now been reviewed by John Willock. Click here to visit our ‘Book’ page and read it. 22nd February 2021
R F Brookes Pie Factory. Following on from Martin Green’s research, Paul Cooke sent the following information.
I found you story “ R.F.Brookes, Pie Factory “ very enjoyable, I started working there in the latter part of 1969 as an oven operator. Both a Mr Stewart and a Mr J Griffiths worked in a management capacity, if I remember correctly Mr Griffiths was the factory manager.
A few months into my employment I can remember that we were told to expect a important visit, the visitor was a Mr Rick Turnbull who was a Canadian by birth and a relative to Mr Brookes. We later understood that Mr Turnbull was to takeover the running of R.F.Brookes. I never saw Rick again and later found out he was based at Wigston, Leicestershire.
Shortly after his visit there was a restructure and a change of management, one or two moving over the canal to start Shire Foods. Sometime after we were taken over by Avana Meat Products. At sometime I had started the management training program and part of that role was to represent the management on the social club side.
As far as I can remember it was always called R.F.Brookes social club, but I’m not sure if it didn’t have or was possibly going to have a name change to Avana Products ?? I think it was turned down as everyone knew Brookes or pie factory. We did have a football team which was called Avana, I do have a photo of the team which was near all Warwick based.
I left Brookes in 1976 and moved away to Ross-on-wye, only to return a couple of years later to work for Rick Turnbull at Wigston. 17th February 2021
Hydro Electric Power & Aluminium Production. Stuart Robertson & Martin Green highly recommend this 30 mins video. To read Stuart’s notes on the area and the process click here. 13th February 2021
Transporter Bridges. Following the interesting talk on Thursday night, Peter Coulls has supplied these excellent photos of Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge which he took in the 1980’s. 12th February 2020
WIAS February Meeting. Don’t forget our Zoom meeting this Thursday 11th Feb, Margaret Ingham, ‘The UK’s Forgotten Transporter Bridge and the Campaign to Save It’.
WIAS in the past. Do you ever wonder what we were doing years ago? Have a look at our ‘Index of Meetings’ page and you can see all our meeting and events back to 1993. Use the search box in the top right corner to search for a word or year. Link here. 10th February 2021
More Aviation – Own a V Bomber! Our aviation enthusiasts might be interest in a forthcoming auction to be held by the well known auctioneer Charles Hanson. (Link here).
‘We are pleased to be offering a unique private collection of part restored V Bomber cockpits, along with many additional individual items from the collection. This is a rare opportunity to own a collection accumulated over many years. We are currently inviting offers on the entire collection, with a view to going to auction as catalogued if the complete collection has not been sold. From left to right, Victor B2 XH670, Vulcan B2/K2 XH560, VictorK2 XH669 At rear Valiant B1 XD826’. 1st Feb 2021
The Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. The latest paper from John Willock in our Warwickshire Industries, (Aviation Section), is now available here. Another excellent read from our aviation expert! Click here to visit. 25th January 2021
Newsletter No. 71. Thanks to Mike Hurn the latest WIAS newsletter is now available to read on the website. Visit the ‘Newsletter’ page here. By the way, many of the latest web browsers and pdf readers now offer an audio function should you prefer to listen to it being read to you! 21st January 2021
Diana Barnato -Walker The Powder Compact Incident. Born in 1918 Diana Barnato was the daughter of playboy “Bentley Boy” racing driver Woolf Barnato and his wife Dorothy. The Barnato family, who were extremely wealthy, had made their considerable fortune in the diamond mines of South Africa. Consequently, Diana had something of a gilded upbringing being a debutante and had the means to learn to fly privately before the Second World War broke out. She was an extremely attractive young woman and this contributed to her persona.
If you joined our WIAS January Zoom meeting this week, you may have noticed John Willock holding up a sign with ‘The Powder Compact Incident’ written on it! Unfortunately John had no working microphone so he was unable to tell us the story. He has since written it down and this fascinating incident is now available here.
Fine Porcelain. Members may be interested in this piece of porcelain which features the Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale. It is a superbly painted and extremely accurate image of the Iron Bridge based on the William Ellis engraving of 1782 – itself based on an original painting by Michael Angelo Rooker. The item is a porcelain tray, part an Imperial Vienna Porcelain Factory Cabaret Set, comprising: Tray, Coffee Pot, Coffee Cup & Saucer, Sucre and Milk Jug, Circa 1801. Only the tray carries the image, which is set against a lovely Mazarin Blue ground. The inscription is in French. The set is displayed in the Museo delle Porcellane, Pitti Palace, Florence. Porcelain comes quite high on my set of interests and it doesn’t come much better than this. Its rather a pity its not on a piece of English porcelain – of course one would immediately think of Coalport. I wrote about this item in the Caughley Society Newsletter No71, August 2017. Industrial Archaeology comes in many forms, as we all know!
(The original engraving, shown above, was acquired by the British Museum in 1870 but is not on display. For full details click on this link).
This rather naïve mostly printed, but with some hand wash, image of the Iron Bridge on a saucer was made at the Caughley factory circa, 1782-94. It is extremely rare with only one example known to date. The image contains one little known feature of the bridge when it was first built. If you look at the third, innermost, rib it will be seen that it does not continue right through to the base. This rib continuation was added subsequently. This feature can be most easily discerned in a 1780 print (woodcut) made by J Edmunds, from which this ceramic print was most likely made. John Willock, 14th January 2021
AIA Newsletter. The latest AIA newsletter is available to read here. 9th December 2021
WIAS Zoom Meeting 14th January at 7.30pm. David Skillen – ‘The Bentley Boys’. The Bentley Boys were a group of wealthy British motorists who drove Bentley sports cars to victory in the 1920s and kept the marque’s reputation for high performance alive. In 1925, as the marque foundered, Bentley Boy Woolf Barnato bought the company, leading to the creation of the famous supercharged Bentley Blower car. 8th January 2021
by Alfred J. Jenks
534 pages. 297mm x 207mm. Hardback.
£25 + £7 p&p UK
If you are considering buying a copy of this excellent publication you can now read John Willock’s review of the book on our ‘Book’ page, click here. 8th January 2021
Norman Engineering. There have been some useful e-mail exchanges recently concerning a company named Norman Engineering, a firm initially located in Upper Grove Street in Leamington Spa, before they moved to Millers Road in Warwick in 1936. Among other things, they made portable petrol engine driven generator sets for the military during the Second World War. Thanks to information supplied by Tony McGuire we now know they made much more; including components for several of the minor aero-engine manufacturers such as Pobjoys and Cirrus-Hermes. They also seem to have made airframe components, including machined tube end attachment fittings, similar to those used in aero engine bearers. John Willock 30th December 2020
Kenilworth Scooter. Jon Tait, a member of the Vintage Motorcycle Club, reminds us of the following: “I’m a member of the Vintage Motorcycle Club, and was going through a backlog of club journals, I came across this article that may be of interest to you and your members. The Kenilworth scooter itself is interesting, but I was unaware of the Norman Engineering Company, who were in Leamington and supplied the engines. Does anybody know anything more about them? I enclose a scanned copy of the article. Please feel free to distribute it, as appropriate.”
I am happy to pass this on with grateful thanks to Jon and the Vintage Motorcycle Club. Martin Green 29th December 2020
More Great Central. Thanks to Chris Barney who follows up Roger Cleal’s story of walking through the Catesby Tunnel, but with a slightly more disconcerting tale!
“My experience of the tunnel was somewhat different. In 1975 or ‘76 some friends were staying with us and they, as we, had a 7 year old son. It was a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon and I had the idea to walk through Catesby Tunnel. Our respective wives dropped us near the South end and drove around taking the even younger children to wait for us. I and my friend set off with the two little boys in summer clothes and a couple of torches into the darkness. We were completely unprepared for the thick fog we encountered after about a hundred yards so thick the torches were barely any use at all. We should have turned round but that would have meant a long and devious walk by the lanes to catch up with the rest and of course there were no mobiles, so we kept on. If anything the fog got thicker and as we got further in we came to where they were scrapping up the ballast and so the surface was very rough and at one point I fell flat on my face into a pile of ballast. As you can imagine the seven year olds were beginning to get quite frightened and so keeping them cheerful was another worry. Reciting rhymes and singing was about the best we could do. Then we got cold – we really needed full arctic wear but only had skimpy shirts and shorts on with sandals or the like. It was not good. Three or four times there was ghostly light as we passed under the air shafts. Right in the middle, the strangest thing, we came to a little dozer probably a D4 or a Drott left there by the contractors which we nearly walked into. The mixture of fog and pitch black I shan’t forget. It took a long time but finally a faint glimmer ahead cheered us up and after a bit more we came out into the bright sunlight, none the worse but very relieved indeed.” 29th December 2020
Great Central Railway. In the midst of unremitting gloom, rest assured that WIAS and its membership will be able to discover glimmers of light. Roger Cleal – together with others – has recalled experiencing a trip through Catesby Tunnel, now being converted to an interesting alternative use. This was as a result of the TV programme ‘Walking Britain’s Lost Railways’ Series 3 Episode 4: the East Midlands, available on My5. This explores the Great Central Railway, which passes for a short stretch through Warwickshire. This is strongly recommended – Roger calls it Compulsory Christmas Viewing! He writes “We as a cycling group had walked a couple of times with our bikes through the tunnel south to north usually from either Badby or Greens Norton youth hostels. I hadn’t appreciated it was 1.7 miles long. My memories are of a very dark, dangerous walk done during my late teens or 20’s in the early 1970’s with huge holes in the floor and water dripping from the air vents. I’m glad to see it put to some good use. It was a pity the viaduct was after the tunnel in the programme and not in the correct order. In addition. it was a great shame it ended there and did not continue to Marylebone”. Also highlighted is the quality of the civil engineering and the use of high-quality blue bricks. These structures can be seen throughout the line, and I attach a couple of examples, taken before lockdown near Wolfhampcote. This is where the Great Central crosses the Marton Junction to Weedon Branch of the LNWR almost at right angles. The quality of the Great Central accommodation bridges and tunnels for local farmers is shown, with the name of Joseph Hamblett to the fore.
WIAS Members. Just a thought about WIAS members not on the internet. If you know of any of our members/supporters who are without internet access, please call them before Christmas and wish them well and remind them that WIAS is still thriving and hopefully will be back with them as ‘live’ meetings sometime in 2021. Martin Green 23rd December 2020
Dambuster Programmes on TV. George Illingworth sent the following: “Members who watched those programmes may be interested in the Meccano model I built in 1993 to mark the 50th anniversary. The models still exists, stored in major sections for transport. It is 1/12 scale so 8ft 6in wingspan and contains 9 electric motors to operate functions including the spinning UPKEEP weapon. Building an accurate model in 1993 was not easy as there was still a lot of inaccurate and indeed intentional disinformation about what had been a top secret weapon system. The basic aircraft was straightforward as drawings are readily available but I also drew on many sources including declassified AVRO drawings, published scientific papers and a German intelligence report on the weapon which survived a crash in Holland. It has been very reassuring to see that as more details have been released over recent years the accuracy of the model is there to see.” George Illingworth 6th December 2020
Photos of the model
Talk On Sir Frank Whittle – 9th December 2020 Duncan Campbell-Smith will be giving a talk entitled ‘Frank Whittle and the Jet Engine’ via Zoom at the Rossiter Books virtual literary festival, at 7pm on Wednesday 9th December. Jet Man: The Making and Breaking of Frank Whittle, the Genius behind the Jet Revolution. Duncan Campbell-Smith will talk about his new book, The story of Frank Whittle – RAF pilot, mathematician of genius, inventor of the jet engine and British hero. Drawing on Whittle’s extensive private papers, Campbell-Smith tells the story of a stoic and overlooked British hero, a tantalizing tale of ‘what might have been’. For tickets and further information, go to: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/rossiterbooks/t-dmndmm
Paul Waller / Martin Green 6th December 2020
The Gas Industry. John Brace writes “amongst my archives I have references to a number of Gas Films from the National Grid Archives at Warrington. Many of these would probably be of interest to our members but if I were to pick out two”:-
- A film made by North Western Gas Board showing the latest service laying techniques being used on new housing estates –
click here to view the film.
- A British Gas film about the end of gas production in the Scottish town of Millport on the Firth of Clyde –
click here to view the film.
John Brace 5th December 2020