Virtual WIAS

Welcome to Virtual WIAS!

If you have an item you would like to share on this ‘Virtual’ page, the ‘Contributions’ page or the ‘Members Films’ page you can send it direct via the ‘Contact’ link in the main menu or click here

‘WIAZ’ AUTUMN – WINTER ‘ZOOM’ PROGRAMME
All meetings commence at 7.30pm and last approximately 1 hour 
You can join the meeting from 7pm

  • 10th Sep 2020: Informal AGM (formal AGM deferred to 9/9/21) & Roger Cragg talk on ‘The Dale Dyke Dam Disaster’. 
  • 08th Oct 2020: Alain Foote, ‘Industrial Archaeology Highlights of a round-the-world trip in January and February 2020’. – (Recorded)
  • 12th Nov 2020: John Berkeley, ‘Crossley & Son, Aircraft Constructors of Banbury’.
  • 10th Dec 2020: Liz Woolley, ‘The Victorian and Edwardian Industrial Buildings of Oxford’.
  • 14th Jan 2021: David Skillen, ‘The Bentley Boys’.
  • 11th Feb 2021: Margaret Ingham, ‘UK’s Forgotten Transporter Bridge and the Campaign to Save It’.
  • 11th Mar 2021: David Fry, ‘Eighteenth Century Coventry Silkmen: Master’s of the City’s Industrial Universe’.
  • 08th Apr 2021: Dr Mike Nevell, ‘The Salt Archaeology of Cheshire’.
  • 13th May 2021: Dr. Ray Wilson, ‘Gloucestershire’s Industrial Heritage’.
  • 10th Jun 2021: Dr. David Eveleigh, ‘The History of the Kitchen Range’.

A simple guide on how to access ZOOM is available to download at this link

During 2020 WIAS received many contributions – to free up website space these are now archived in a single .pdf document. Unfortunatley most of the links will no longer work but many of the items now have their own space on the WIAS web site. Click on the link in the main menu to view.


WIAS 2021 Survey. There are only 2 days left to complete the survey. If you haven’t already done so please consider it. 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

Heritage of Industry – Latest Trips. The latest newsletter from this organization detailing events planned for later this year is available at this link. 13th 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

RU 3845 Singer 10-26 (1926)

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

1929 Bentley 3 litre DS 6579 at Le Touqet beach in 2006 and
1930 Bentley 4 1/2 litre GF 3372 at Stowe on the Wold in 2013

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). 

(Image by kind permission of Caughley Society)
A saucer made at the Caughley factory circa, 1782-94 – (Image by kind permission of Caughley Society)

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

WARWICKSHIRE AVIATION
by Alfred J. Jenks
ISBN 978-1-5272-7216-3
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

Click here to view the article

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