Virtual WIAS

Topics of interest to members during the lock down!

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

From the Chairman. A number of issues have come to my notice – thanks to all contributors. First of all, a bonus in today’s post. The AIA has published  ‘A Guide to the Industrial Heritage of Merseyside’ originally designed for the (postponed) 2020 AIA Conference in Liverpool. It follows the usual Gazetteer format, and would be an invaluable asset to anyone visiting the area. In the very unlikely event of someone willing to risk a (socially-distanced) trip to the North-West, the guide is available to borrow! However, it does emphasise the wealth of industrial heritage in the area – and it remains the venue for the 2021 Conference – so perhaps you will be tempted then. Members of the AIA receive a free copy.

AIA 2021

Richard King – something of an expert on the Hill Wootton bridge collapse adds this note. “The accident and inquest are reported in great detail in the “Leamington Courier” 15 and 22 of June 1861. Two photographs of the accident are known to exist and appear to be by the same unidentified photographer. They show different sides of the bridge. The photograph shown in the article is from Wikipedia and the other is held by the Leamington Museum and Art Gallery. As a result of the accident and the inquest there was public concern over the safety of the type of bridge involved as there were two other examples locally viz. over Rugby Road and the High Street, Leamington. Both bridges were quickly examined and condemned, being replaced with a more conventional design within two years. The two inquest findings that I remember were firstly that the bridge was not designed for the weight of the engines now running over it and secondly the company’s Permanent Way department should be kept informed of future developments in engine design. A moving reminder of the accident is the grave of George Rowley, the engine driver, who is buried at Dodford, a village near Weedon. His grave has a memorial stone with an inscription which mentions the accident. A short account of his funeral can be found in the “Leamington Advertiser” 27 June 1861.”

Eage-eyed Richard has also pointed out the Stanton & Staveley Arabic writing can be observed on a cover on the Emscote Road opposite Humphris Street. He also poses a question concerning the Victoria Brickworks, “Your reference to the Victoria Brickworks at Longford reminded me of an advert for the ‘Victoria Brick & Tile Works’ that I came across in the “Warwick Advertiser” of 11 November 1882. No address was given for the works, only the chief office: Clarendon Street, Leamington. It is not mentioned in the local directories and I have found no further reference to it. Could this firm be the same as the one you are interested in?” Can anyone help out?

From Brian Ellis, Mike Heath, Richard Johnson: Details for registering for the WGCG talk on Mining in North Wales are as follows: You are invited to a Zoom meeting. When: Aug 19, 2020   7:30 PM London time. Register in advance for this meeting by going to this link:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

John Willock reminds us to keep an eye on Channel 81. “Channel 81,Talking Pictures, on Saturday evening (1st Aug) presented 30 minutes of pure nostalgia with a film entitled, ‘A Day Begins in Manchester, 1960s’. Among the items featured were, an early start at the Bus Depot with Daimlers and Leylands abounding, loading of cargo onto ships at Manchester Docks, preparatory work on Steam Locomotives at a Motive Power Depot and some interesting footage of machining work being carried out on a large commutator (actually machining the radial slots using a sizeable Butler Planer) possibly at Ferranti or a similar establishment. The 1960s pop music that accompanied the film wasn’t too bad either! Do watch if repeated!” Now … I would not have placed John Willock as a fan of 1960s pop music but WIAS members never fail to surprise!!

Richard Johnson highlights the efforts made for a safe visit to the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway

Just in case you feel moved to deliver a talk on that favourite topic of yours, The WIAZ group is still happy to receive any offers of ZOOM talks.

Thanks to everyone for the above contributions. I hope I have missed no-one. Continue to stay safe. Martin Green 3rd August 2020

Ansley Hall Coal and Iron Co. Richard Smith asks if anyone can throw some light on an item fitted to an old car owned by his grandfather. It shows the name Ansley and dates from 1898. Click here for full details and photograph. 29th July 2020

Further Contributions. Roger Cragg adds this to the item on the Leek Wootton bridge collapse: “The mention of the railway accident at Leek Wootton reminded me that there is a reference to the accident in ‘Railway Reminiscences’ by George P. Neele* who at the time was the Superintendent of the Line for the Central Division of the L.N.W.R. The reference on page 67 reads:

Early on the morning of June 11th. (1861) I received a telegram announcing that the bridge carrying the line over the cross roads at Leek Wootton on the Coventry, Kenilworth and Leamington Line had fallen in, that the driver and fireman of the goods engine under which the bridge had collapsed were both killed. The line between Kenilworth and Milverton – a single line – was broken through, and the high road underneath quite blockaded. Arrangements had to be made to carry on the traffic from Leamington on the one side and from Kenilworth on the other; it was five days before the road [railway] was reinstated for traffic. The inquest was twice adjourned, and was attended by Captain Tyler [an Inspecting Officer], Mr. Cawkwell [Manager of the L.N.W.R.] and the legal talent from Euston: the heavy engine had found out a weak place in the bridge, where a crack ion the iron plating had been attempted to be strengthened with fish-plates, and the engineers in charge had a very uncomfortable time in prospect of the verdict.”

From the photograph it looks as if the engine may have been running tender first and had jack-knifed which presumably accounted for the death of the crew. The fractured cast iron cross members, which presumably supported the bridge deck, can be seen hanging down from the twisted side member.

It is interesting to note that they had the railway open again in 5 days – how long would it take today I wonder?

*’Railway Reminiscences’ by George P. Neele – McQuoruodale & Co. Ltd. London 1904

Tired of steam trains? Perhaps a foolish question, but the TV Channels had had their fair share of such programmes during lock down. Two more on tonight and Tuesday BBC4 8pm: ‘The Golden Age of Steam Railways: The story of some of those who rescued Britain’s steam railways – narrow gauge on Monday; standard gauge on Tuesday. 

Hope all have managed to steer clear of the virus and that spirits remain high. Martin Green, 27th July 2020

Contributions. The ‘Contributions’ page has been been re-designed to make the spacing better. It’s now in a table format with a search box at the top right corner. Contributions are always welcome, please send them direct to the website using the ‘Contact’ link in the main menu. 25th July 2020

Thanks for the various e-mails sent to me recently. I pass on details to a wider audience … Mention of the Victoria Colliery, Coventry Power Station and the movement of coal reminded Stuart Robertson of the incident involving an LNWR goods train carrying Victoria Colliery coal wagons over the bridge at Hill Wootton 11th June 1861. see also Warwickshire Railways website Robin Leach’s book ‘Kenilworth’s Railway Age’. The implications for the constructional use of iron makes interesting reading.

Hill Wootton 11th June 1861.

Following the item on Carbodies, Dennis Crips’ son-in-law Richard Thomasson writes …”I seem to remember the Carbodies plant was opposite or at least on the same road as the Alvis factory somewhere Dad would take me during school holiday time audits. A prize possession at one time was a brochure with the mighty Saracen and Stalwart, the latter being rather special as it was a swimming vehicle.Then came the Scorpion – still the world’s fastest tank having been clocked at over 50 mph!

A rather successful Coventry product! The Scorpion was or is used by the armed forces of Belgium, Botswana, Brunei, Chile, Honduras, Iran, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Venezuela and The United Arab Emirates. The Iranian army acquired 250 Scorpions in the late 1970s and a number of them are still in use after being refurbished locally as the Tosan tank. The Scorpion was on occasion deployed to main UK airports as a measure against possible terrorist threats, e.g. Operation Marmion at Heathrow Airport in 1974. Similar operations in 2003 used the then-current Scimitar”.

With the easing of lockdown, thoughts might turn to potential trips to the coast and John Willock whets our appetite with this photograph, courtesy of Richard Willock.

(Wheal Coates, Towanroath Pumping Shaft (100 fathoms), part of the Chapel Porth Mining Complex on the North Cornish Coast)

Richard Johnson’s link to the Ffestiniog Railway prompted Robert Caldicott to suggest options further afield. “I can recommend the offshoot Ffestiniog Travel company. They fixed up a wonderful bespoke trip for us on the Zurich Glacier Express and the Bernina Express a couple of years ago. Good hotels, within walking distance of stop-offs and trains for family to meet up in Zurich.”

Hope conditions will improve such that these trips become a possibility once more. I have more modest ambitions in seeking to build up my knowledge of Coventry’s industrial heritage, some of which I hope to pass on to the members at a future meeting.  A reminder that the Committee is always ready to accept potential Zoom lectures from members. These involve having a Powerpoint presentation of say 20-30 minutes and this would run whilst the speaker would provide a commentary. Technical assistance is readily available from the Team at WIAZ (Warwickshire Industrial Archaeology Zoom)!

Best wishes to all. Martin Green, 24th July 2020

Carbodies – London Taxi Manufacturer. New page with some information and photos about the this famous company which has now left their home on Holyhead Rd Coventry for pastures new! Click here. Martin Green, 21st July 2020

One Brick: Several Stories Part II by Martin Green. ‘Little Harry Webster: ever the cheery optimist’. The story of Wilkins & Webster, brickmakers, is a venture that brings together two Coventry families. Read this excellent continuation about some of the most well known brickmakers in the Midlands. The article also contains a short video. Click here. 17th July 2020

Vulcans at Bittewswell. John Willock’s excellent article on the service and maintenance of the aircraft has been reformatted. This should make the page easier to open for some viewers. Click here. 16th July 2020

WGCG Talk. The next talk is on Wednesday 19th August when the subject will be ‘Mining in North Wales’, by Rob Vernon. This might be of interest to many WIAS members. Full details of the event are available to view by clicking here, and the Zoom registration link will be published on or before the 12th August. Further information when the link is available. For the Zoom-shy the talk will also be live streamed on YouTube which needs no registration or a webcam. You can watch on any web browser on a PC, Laptop, Mac, Tablet or Smartphone, with speakers, by simply going to the YouTube web site.  13th July 2020

From Professor Marilyn Palmer …

I am very pleased to be able to tell you that the judges of the AIA Publications Awards have agreed that

Martin Green and Michael Jeffs, The Ironmen of Leamington: Iron-founders and allied traders in Royal Leamington Spa 1800-1900,  Leamington History Group and Warwickshire Industrial Archaeology Society, published by Shay Books, 2019, £18.

should be awarded one of the two Publications Awards being made by the AIA this year. The judges were all very impressed by the amount of work that you had all undertaken and the great variety of illustrations which you included. I was very interested myself, of course, having had no idea when I was at school in Leamington that the town was so famous for its ironworking companies, and especially Flavel’s. As you know, I have come to appreciate those even more lately with my work on country house technology.

Normally, I would ask if Martin and Michael might be prepared to give a short presentation at the AIA Annual Conference. As you know, this has had to be postponed until August 2021 but I still hope that you may be able to do that in Hope University next year and will keep in touch about this.

Best wishes, Marilyn Palmer

Congratulations from WIAS to Martin & Michael and if you haven’t got a copy yet
it’s available through the website – click here! 6th July 2020

From the Chairman. Dear all, a variety of issues have come to my attention ……Christine Hodgetts directed me to a film on the building of Waterloo Bridge in the Second World War. Strongly recommended.

Alwyn Sparrow shared some memorabilia of a 1912 railway accident at Leamington.

Roger Cleal highlights the services provided by Warwickshire Libraries and Harbury Library for Warwickshire Library ticket-holders. 

“As we are all aware all libraries are closed and no access can be had other than e books e Magazines and e Newspapers through Warwickshire Library services.

If you like to feel a book in your hand Harbury Community Library have what they call the Blue Label list

The AIA e-News Bulletin for July is available to read in full here.

Meanwhile a small sub-committee has been working hard on the technical aspects of Zoom meetings, and the provision of 30-minute lectures. One possibility, of course, is that we might also have some combination of short presentations by members along the lines of ‘Twenty’s Plenty’, but lasting perhaps 5-10 minutes each. Let me know if you have something that we might be able to include. Technical assistance will be provided!

The current plan for WIAS meetings is to have Zoom lectures until the end of the year, and then to consider starting meetings again in January 2021 or later if circumstances do not change. Warwick School have been very understanding in allowing these provisional bookings to be cancelled if necessary. It is possible, of course, that we may not be able to meet again until September 2021, but whatever happens, rest assured the committee will be working hard to develop an online programme, to update the Virtual WIAS material on the website, and to maintain contact with those not online.

Best wishes, Martin Green, 6th July 2020

Keep an eye open. We hope to release details of our Autumn programme in the next few weeks. Keep an eye on the website for further details. 4th July 2020

Wicksteed Park, Kettering. Across the border in Northamptonshire, I’m sure many of us will have enjoyed a vist at sometime to the famous park with the oldest water slide in the UK. Wicksteed Park is wholly owned by Wicksteed Charitable Trust and is a Grade II English Heritage Listed Park & Garden. The park was founded in 1921 as part of the extraordinary legacy of Charles Wicksteed which extends beyond the Recreation Park he created. As an entrepreneur and innovator Charles was also an inventor and respected successful engineer.

Wicksteed Park opened in 1921, making it the oldest theme park on UK mainland. Its founder, Charles Wicksteed purchased the land in 1913. His initial goal was to create a model village for the local community, however following World War One and housing reforms, Charles looked to develop a park for people to spend their leisure time. He set up a charitable trust in 1916 and went on to build a number of prefabricated houses – some of which still exist and are within the park grounds.

The large lake, a significant feature of the park, was dug by hand and steam ploughs in 1916-17. The railway, a favourite with visitors, was opened in 1931. As an inventor and engineer Charles designed and built play equipment, often using bits and pieces from his engineering business, and creating swings and slides to thrill young and old alike. This business grew, eventually exporting play equipment to over 80 countries around the world.

Wicksteed Park is much more than an amusement park and continues to attract thousands of visitors each year to play and explore in its beautiful grounds.

Wicksteed Park went into administration on 15th June due to the “financial strain” of the coronavirus lockdown. Wicksteed Charitable Trust is raising funds to try and save it and the total so far has reached £350,000. This means the park will be able to re-open when regulations permit and continue their policy of free admission. Full details are available on the parks  ‘Just Giving’ page, available here. To read more about the park and its history, visit their website here. 2nd July 2020

From the Chairman. Dear all, I forward the latest edition of the newsletter from the Mills Archive Trust. Thanks also to David Fry for some additional input on Coventry brickmakers, particularly in the Hillfields/Stoke area. I will incorporate this in a revision of the documents already posted. Myself, Victor Lobb and Peter Riley have written a short piece for the Association for Industrial Archaology’s Newsletter on the experience of WIAS in lockdown, in which we did mention that the release of time had enabled some members to spend more time on research, and Richard Williams confirmed this in a note to me:

In answer to one of your requests, I have been continuing my research at great pace.  I gave an on-line lecture to the Newcomen Society in May, which sadly has not been reproduced for further dissemination because there were a few glitches on the night.  Nothing to do with my talk of course.  My book is coming along nicely and I continue to develop new insights into the way the metallurgy of the industrial revolution developed. My paper on the life and work of John Baildon is being prepared for publication by the Newcomen Society.
Then I am partnering with a friend in North Wales to produce a paper on the development of coke iron pots during the 18th and 19th centuries.  We are trying to catalogue and describe as many as we can find, looking at microstructures where possible and analysing as many of them as we can.  I wonder if any member of WIAS has any in their attic or elsewhere? Useful things pandemics!
I sense members are beginning to emerge from lockdown and the committee will of course monitor the situation as it unfolds. Slightly discouraging early signs from Bournemouth and worrying statistics from Leicester.
Best wishes to all, Martin Green, 1st July 2020

From the Chairman. Dear all, two very different contributions from Stuart Robertson and Brian Ellis. Brian draws our attention to the following items: Two bits of information which members might find interesting relate to The ‘Earth Heritage’ magazine issue 53.  Google ‘Earth Heritage’ or simply ‘EH 53’ should find it. There are two piece which link Archaeology and Geology – pp 19-21 and pp 22-28  (but neither are industrial sites) and there is my piece on “A Tale of Two Sandpits” pp 31-34.  As you know these are local and fit into your ‘plea’ that we need to consider appropriate reuse of industrial sites.  The leaflet and interpretation board referred to in the article are available to see and download on the WGCG website.  Good locations to get some exercise. 

Brian has been very supportive of WIAS, utilising his expertise and experience of Warwickshire’s geology to great effect, and many will remember his recent excellent lecture to the Society.
Stuart provides us with the opportunity to listen to something slightly out of the ordinary to take our minds off the prospect of a ‘second spike’ in Covid-19 infections, details and link below. Best wishes to all, Martin Green, 29th June 2020
This week’s short play – The Signalman by Charles Dickens

Here we are approaching another weekend without live theatre so why not take a break, grab a cuppa and settle back to enjoy another short audio play from the Talisman Theatre as part of ‘keeping theatre alive’.

‘The Signalman’ by Charles Dickens
Featuring Michael Barker as The Signalman, Phil Reynolds as The Traveller, and Rod Wilkinson as The Engine Driver.  Adaptation, direction and technical production by Phil Reynolds. We hope you enjoy it. And if you do, please feel free to share it with friends and family. We’re supporting the work of front-line workers in our amazing NHS.  If you’d like to contribute, here’s a link to a JustGiving page we’ve set up.
With best wishes, Steve Smith, Steve Duckham and Rod Wilkinson – ‘Tea With The Tali’ Team.

Topics of interest to members during the lock down! 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 From the Chairman. A number of issues have co

Brickmakers of Coventry continued……. The firm with the strongest brickmaking presence in the city is that of Wilkins/Websters/Hemming Brickworks on the Stoney Stanton Road. In fact the company went through a number of ownership changes, and the detail of all this is a potential topic for further research. Suffice it to say that the company was the last brick producer in the city and – fortunately – a photographic record of their final years is available. The site of the works is currently (2020) being re-developed, with part allocated to public space as Webster’s Park. Read more about the family that ran it and their eventual emigration here. Martin Green, 27th June 2020

From the Chairman. Thanks for all the various comments and contributions in recent e-mails. It is always good to know that the message is getting through. Since my last e-mail lockdown restrictions now destined to be eased, so perhaps life is returning to normal – or the ‘new normal’ (whatever that will become). Perhaps you will not be tuning in anymore at 7.10 a.m. (yes a.m.) on the Yesterday Channel to watch ‘Abandoned Engineering’. This – plus the railways and the Nazis – seem to dominate the Yesterday schedule! 

My own activity has been related to – wait for it – brickmakers in Coventry and I have updated the items on C Gray Hill and Victoria Brickworks that appear on the website. I hope to soon publish one on Thomas and Joseph Wilkins on the website, which has a new twist on the concept of the ‘Non-conformist brickmaker’.
John Willock has written a detailed piece on Vulcans. The paper briefly explores the design and development of the Avro Vulcan Bomber aircraft and their subsequent servicing maintenance and repair in the 1960s -1980s at Hawker Siddeley Aviation Limited (HSA), situated at Bitteswell Airfield, just over the border in Leicestershire. Part of the paper is based on John’s recollections of Bitteswell during that period. It is a characteristically carefully written piece.
I am very grateful to Richard King for drawing my attention to Appendix 8 of Sidney Lelux’s book ‘Warwickshire Lime and Cement Works Railways’. This appendix looks at the narrow gauge railway that served the Napton brickworks, and much of the article concentrates on that railway (with the usual Leleux eye for detail). I had not realised this appendix existed, but Richard’s encyclopaedic knowledge saved the day. Richard also thought that the experience of the brickworks in the Second World War would be of interest. 
Production ceased at the brickworks in 1939, and they were taken over by the Ministry of Aircraft Production in November 1940. It was immediately occupied by Messrs Cornercrofts of Coventry who had been bombed out. As the accommodation was inadequate, Cornercroft moved out at the end of 1941 and GEC, Witton moved in, remaining for the rest of the war.They turned out small switchboards, ironclad switchgear, motor starters and choke coils, to a total value of £250,000.The last traces of GEC occupation were removed in July 1946 and a farewell function was held at the Craven Arms, Southam.
Having missed that, it was a bad week when Peter Bolton sent me a photograph of a Stanton and Staveley cover. How could I politely say that these were quite common without diminishing his enthusiasm? My reply produced a swift response – “look more carefully, Martin”.

Stanton & Staveley Cover with Arabic Writing at the Bottom

Turning to WIAS matters, we remain very aware of the importance of taking account of the interests and welfare of all members of the Society. A small group is working hard on developing Zoom lectures for the period September – December 2020. Beyond that, we have been in close contact with Warwick School, and they have been very sympathetic to our needs. We hope to make some provisional announcements quite soon. I have been giving a lot of thought to WIAS under lockdown and I wondered if anybody had enjoyed any positive benefits from the experience. Has it enabled anybody to engage more fully with the industrial heritage in any way? Please let me know if it has.
Best wishes to all, Martin Green, 25th June 2020

Heritage Railways. If you have been missing a day out at one of the numerous preserved railways in the UK, head over to the Rail Advent website. From today a list of the railways that are re-opening with details of the dates is available and constantly being updated. Click here. 24th June 2020

HCW News from Sarah Hann. The latest HCW Newsletter contains lots of information about what is taking place in Warwickshire at the moment. Click here to open. John Willock, 24th June 2020

Aviation. Two excellent features by John Willock (WIAS) are available in our ‘Aircraft Industry’ section of ‘Warwickshire Industries’ on the web site. The first is a 50 page paper documenting ‘The Rise and Fall of Coventry’s Airframe Industry’ and contains a weatlh of expert knowledge. The second is titled ‘Vulcans at Bitteswell’, (yes, just a few yards over the border into Leics!). This paper briefly explores the design and development of the Avro Vulcan Bomber aircraft and their subsequent servicing maintenance and repair in the 1960s -1980s at Hawker Siddeley Aviation Limited (HSA), situated at Bitteswell Airfield, in Leicestershire. Part of the paper will be based on the author’s recollections of Bitteswell during that period. Click here to visit the ‘Warwickshire Industries’ section. 20th June 2020  

Foundry Woood, Leamington Spa. If you enjoy a stroll around this former industrial site please note is still closed until at least the end of June. The following update has been received.

ARC and the Friends of Foundry Wood – who co-manage the woodland  – have met recently to review when to re-open Foundry Wood.Our main concern is to ensure that members of the public using the wood, and our volunteers who open and close the wood each day, are able to meet all current Government guidelines re outdoor spaces and activities, and to keep everyone safe. Foundry Wood will therefore remain closed until at least the end of June. You can read the full statement on the website here. 18th June 2020

Victoria Brickworks, Coventry. Following on from the last piece, Martin Green has now produced another excellent article on the Victoria Brickworks to be added to the ‘Warwickshire Industries. Click here. M. Green, 16th June 2020

C. Gray Hill, Coventry. New to our ‘Warwickshire Industries’ section is a piece by Martin Green on this Coventry brick maker. ‘One brick – several stories’, fron London’s Theatreland to Foleshill Rd! Click hereM. Green, 16th June 2020

Ufton Fields Nature Reserve. Well worth a visit as lockdown restrictions ease. Ufton Fields was quarried for limestone in the 1950’s and waves of low spoil heaps were dumped forming a series of ridges. Pools have developed in the troughs in between and larger pools in the old quarry pits. Fast-growing, non-native trees were planted but most of the site was left to recolonise naturally.  There are 32 hectares to explore. Managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, full details and access information is available here. 16th June 2020

‘Birth of a Spa Town’. Leamington History Group have released their excellent new film and we are very pleased to display it here. It’s a new short film about Leamington’s transformation from a small village to a thriving spa town in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the origins of Leamington’s spa industry, the creation of the Pump Rooms and the demise of the original baths in Old Town. Extremely well made, read more about how it came about on the Leamington History Group website here LHG, 15th June 2020 This is the first in what we hope will be a series of videos about the history of Leamington, celebrating the town’s rich history, engaging with other groups across the community in the process of story-telling, and helping share the knowledge of our local historians with new and diverse audiences – including residents of the town, tourists and school students. It tells the story of Leamington’s transformation from a small village to a thriving spa town in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the origins of Leamington’s spa industry, the creation of the Pump Rooms and the demise of the original baths in Old Town. This has been a collaborative process between Leamington History Group, local film-maker Mark Ellis, Leamington Spa Museum & Art Gallery, students and staff from Myton School and Alan Gill – actor and director of the Teatro theatre school. Our current plan is to produce at least a further five films over the next year. To achieve this, however, we will need external funding and support. If you are able to help, or have any suggestions either for sources of funding or for subjects for subsequent films, please get in touch with Mark Ellis ( or Margaret Rushton, Secretary of Leamington History Group (

Database of Early Steam Engines. A database recording steam engine construction in the UK up to and including the year 1800. The first erection of each engine is listed. Click here to visit the website. Peter Coulls, 11th June 2020

More from the BFI. Another distraction on BFI site is an entry ‘Cooke’s Explosives Limited – an account of explosives manufactured in Penrhyndeudraeth’, this is a silent film about a little known location in north wales. The site near Porthmadog has ceased to function as a factory , having been decontaminated, it is now operated by the North Wales Wildlife Trust, the bonus being for the industrial archaeologist is that a number of buildings remain, along with evidence of the internal rail system as seen in the later part of the film. It is free access and there are interpretation panels to assist visitors. Visit the BFI website here. Peter Coulls, 11th June 2020

Davenports, Umberslade & Napton. Davenports clearly stirred many memories, and Liz Sheasby reports ownership of a fine piece of memorabilia – a multi-coloured, liberally illustrated Davenports apron collected by Liz Sheasby’s father at a time he was Chairman of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and attended many celebratory gatherings for local firms. She has rejected the idea of wearing it at the first WIAS meeting after the ending of lockdown!

The use of Umberslade as a research centre for Wilmot Breeden had a personal connection for John Frearson; “My uncle – he married my mother’s elder sister – was a Breeden – later the family was of Wilmot-Breeden – but the Breeden family were a Birmingham brass-founding family – specialising in chandeliers and gas fittings and many of their registered designs are in The National Archives.  They latterly also made taps and similar – indeed my uncle obtained the contract for the taps and fittings etc. at the London Barbican, and his bonus that year made him better paid than the Directors!!

There was also a marriage link between the Breedens and the Lucas family.  One of the Breedens married a Lucas girl, the sister of the later MD of the Lucas lamps etc. firm.  Charles Breeden and his Lucas brother in law invented and made the first dynamo for motor bikes etc.  

I also inherited two of my uncle’s grandfather, Walter Lawrence Breeden’s drawings – he was also an artist, although more a teacher than well known, as well as a ‘brass-founder’.  They are pencil drawings probably of his father and of his sister – so good, that they almost appear like large photographs.  They are now in the Birmingham Library and Archive Art Collection. 

The Wilmot-Breeden group also encompassed all manner of other engineering and fittings for many cars and aircraft – even Concorde I recall – and ran splendidly humorous advertisements.”

John has also been very helpful in building up knowledge of the Napton brickworks once it joined up with the Nelson cement firm to become Watson Nelson. More information has also arrived concerning the latter years and the strike in 1973 over (owner) Len Sheasby’s Christmas bonus of £1 which several of the workers regarded as an insult. Brian Skidmore informed Mr. Sheasby of their disquiet and took half the workforce out on strike over the issue. A rather acrimonious dispute ensued. Martin Green, 10th June 2020

Warwickshire Industries. A new addition to our growing section on Warwickshire Industries is the inclusion of the Brickmaking Industry of Warwickshire, Coventry & Solihull. Compiled by Martin Green, there is an introduction and links to further reading , resources and photos. Visit the ‘Industry’ tab on the main menu to see all the contributions. 9th June 2020

BTH and Lamp making at Rugby. The Rugby works of the British Thomson-Houston company started as a small enterprise, but soon grew to colossal proportions as one of the largest industrial sites in the entire British Empire. Lamps, of course, formed just a small part of the company’s success which stretched across the entire spectrum of electrical appliances right up to enormous machines such as steam turbines, the first jet engines, power generation plant and diesel-electric locomotives. Rugby’s heart was deeply entrenched in the heavy electrical business and after five decades the small corner involved in lampmaking was reloacted to join the company’s other lamp factories, thereby allowing Rugby to concentrate on large electrical machines. You can read all about the lamp making activity at Rugby and much more at this link to the Lamptech Museum of Electric Lamp Technology  website. 8th June 2020

BFI Lighthorne Rough

BFI Lighthorne Rough. There is something of a link between Industrial Archaeology and film when it is the media used to record IA of the past. For many years now, the British Film Institutes master archive of highly volatile nitrate and other films has been housed in the former remote nuclear weapons ‘clutch’ store for V-bombers constructed in 1955 at Lighthorne Rough to serve RAF Gaydon. In recent years the site has undergone much re-development including the demolition of two of the original stores, three remain in place. Before demolition took place Warwickshire County Council completed a detailed archaeological recording complete with diagrams. These stores used massive amounts of concrete, a subject on which the late President of WIAS, Toby Cave, was an expert. A new state of the art store has been constructed alongside the remaining original structures. None of the site is visible or accesible but a short film is available via our web page. The BFI’s Head of Collections & Information, Ruth Kelly, showed BBC News around the old and new storage facilities, as well as what happens to film when it is not stored correctly. The Warkwickshire CC report is also available. Click here to visit. 6th June 2020

Leamington Bandstand. If you haven’t already seen them, there are two great little films on our page about the bandstand in the Pump Room Gardens. Click here to visit. 6th June 2020

Knowle in the 1960’s – More. The cine film of Dorridge Station has prompted Margaret Rushton to recall the role of the Muntz family in the development of Dorridge. George Frederick Muntz was a Birmingham industrialist of German origin who invented Muntz metal. This was an alloy brass made up of 60% copper, 40% zinc and a trace of iron. It was utilised in situations where resistance to corrosion was important e.g. shipbuilding. Umberslade Hall – probably the first of Francis Smith’s Warwickshire country houses – became the seat of the Muntz family in the mid-nineteenth century. The family were instrumental in the development of Dorridge, selling land for the 1852 GWR line from Birmingham Snow Hill to Paddington, and insisting on a station being built at Dorridge, then only a tiny hamlet. In a later life, Umberslade Hall became in 1955 the research centre for Wilmot Breeden (a Birmingham car component manufacturer), and in 1967 took on the same role for BSA/Triumph motorcycles. The Hall has now been converted into apartments. The nearby Umberslade Baptist Chapel was built by Muntz – a zealous Baptist convert – and the Chapel is now the responsibility of the Historic Chapels Trust, with our own Peter and Janet Coulls heavily involved in the care of the building. More information can be found at: 6th June 2020

The Politics of Manufacturing. From the early 18th century to the present day, Stan Neumann traces the history of the European working class in this documentary series in four installments. In this first episode, ARTE looks at 1820s England, when after decades of exploitation, the British working class start fighting back. Most of the examples are drawn from Britain, particularly the industrial north and Scotland, including a visit to New Lanark. It explores the plight of the working class and the earliest attempts of the Luddites to stem industrial ‘progress’. Click here to visit the Arte channel and watch. produced in French but with English sub titles. Martin Green, 5th June 2020

Engineers to the World. Another film from the wonderful BFI archive. This promotional film for the Ruston Group was made at a time when, according to the commentary, almost every family in Lincoln had a working connection with Ruston. From their foundry pounding out heavy crankshafts for trawler engines to the complex artistry of the gas turbine. Leaving historic Lincoln the film also has time to visit the equally historic Colchester where sister firm Davey Paxman produces the mighty Ventura 2,000 HP diesel engine. The Ruston Group was taken over by English Electric in 1966, which eventually became part of GEC. The Lincoln gas turbine factory was taken over by the German firm of Siemens in 2003. Click here to watch this film now.  Alain Foot, 5th June 2020

Knowle in the 1960’s. This was originally an 8mm film taken by Barry Holland of his parents garage in Knowle and surrounding area in the early 1960’s. Good shots of Knowle and Dorridge High Streets and Knowle and Dorridge Station. Plus all the old cars. Available on our ‘Members Films’ page. Click here to view or visit YouTube at this link here. Stuart Robertson 4th June 2020

Napton Brickworks. A comprehensive 15 page article on this once extensive industrial site just outside the village of Napton. Click here to view now or visit the ‘Contributions’ page at leisure. Martin Green, 4th June 2020

Mills Archive. From Paul Waller comes a link to ‘Mills Memories’. Mill Memories is The Mills Archive biannual newsletter. Each issue offers a range of articles, from intriguing recent additions to our collections and themes such as wind engines and water wheels, to events such as garden parties and archive training opportunities. Click here to view now. 4th June 2020

WLLR The latest newsletter from the railway is available here thanks to Richard Johnson, 4th June 2020

More Beer at Home! Stuart Robertson has reminded me that Davenports took over Dares (another Birmingham brewery) and the Dares sign used to be quite a landmark on the outside wall of Drum and Monkey in Dorridge before being taken over by Davenports. Stuart also recalls that Davenports took over Thornley Kelsey (Radford Hall) Brewery and its tied houses. The story of Thornley Kelsey has been carefully explored by Allan Jennings and can be found on the Leamington History Group website 

Stuart has a personal connection with the gentleman in the Davenports adverts. He was Mr. Carl Daniels, Sales Director at Davenports who insisted on being in all the adverts whenever possible. It was he who devised the slogan ‘Beer at Home means Davenports’. Stuart’s father used to play golf with Mr. Daniels, the latter possessing a very large house backing onto Ladbroke Park Golf Club, Tanworth in Arden. Stuart also still has a small item of Davenports memorabilia, photos attached. It was made by The Norfolk Pottery Company, set up in 1958, not in Norfolk but in Norfolk Street, Shelton, Staffordshire. Thanks to Stuart for his response. Martin Green

Beer at Home means Davenports! Who remembers that? Turning to lighter topics, the current focus on home deliveries reminded me of the Birmingham firm of Davenports who championed the home delivery of bottled beer, with that familiar slogan of “Beer at Home means Davenports”.  The original brewery has gone, but the name has been revived in a range of craft beers produced in Birmingham. The website offers some interesting historical material, a number of short adverts and longer films of the Davenports story are available on youTube. One advert shows a stressed housewife struggling with her duties reaching for a creamy, nourishing bottle of Davenports stout as the ideal answer to her prayers! Interestingly, Davenports supplied beers to many parts of the UK, not just the Midlands, and did also, of course, have their own public houses. Many Warwickshire pubs served their beers including the Maid of the Mill in Atherstone, the Woodman in Warwick and the Old Tramway in Stratford upon Avon. One of the films available online is from the 1940s, with stills taken from the 1930s publication ‘Fifty Years of Progress’, two examples of which included below – the brewery in Bath Row Birmingham and early delivery lorries. Follow the link here to go to the Davenports history page where the films are displayed. You won’t be disappointed. Martin Green, 3rd June 2020

Here is a sample of vintage Davenports adverts – listen out for the prices
and the answer to the housewives prayer!!

Topics of interest to members during the lock down! 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 From the Chairman. A number of issues have co

Napton Brick Works. Head over to our Facebook page to read an interesting illustrated article on the former brickworks site at Napton. Martin Green, 2nd June 2020

WIAS Dear all, your WIAS Committee is having a ‘Zoom’ meeting next Thursday, with the future plans for the Society obviously the main item for discussion. With so much uncertainty it will probably be impossible to take any decisions other than that we will monitor the situation very carefully. We are, of course, very aware of the age-profile of the group and many are regarded as vulnerable under current conditions, so we will be very cautious about launching a series of meetings. Government regulations, Warwick School’s policy with regard to such meetings, and the attempt to be fair to all members of the Society points to a considerable delay. It may be that the Society will not be able to meet again until 2021, possibly September 2021. We shall keep everyone fully informed, including a postal note to those not on e-mail.

I received a note from George Illingworth notifying the postponement of today’s HS2 webinar until Wednesday June 3rd., and, perhaps inevitably, a note from AIA that this year’s Conference in Liverpool is postponed until August 2021. The planned 2021 conference in Dublin is postponed until 2022.

We hope we can continue to keep members and friends informed on IA issues, and welcome contributions from all. Sorry not to bring any encouraging news. Stay safe. Martin Green, Chairman, WIAS, 28th May 2020

Event Postponement: Archaeology webinar about exciting discoveries from our Birmingham Curzon Street site rescheduled to 1pm – 2pm, Wed 3 June

Posted on May 27th 2020 by HS2 in Warwickshire. Unfortunately, we have to postpone tomorrow’s planned webinar.  We are sorry for any inconvenience caused and hope that you are still able to join us next week.   

The Archaeology of HS2 – Uncovering the Curzon Street roundhouse, will now be broadcast live from 1pm – 2pm on Wednesday 3 June.  All tickets will still be valid for the session on 3 June, so if you have already registered for the session you do not need to register again.

If you have not already registered but are keen to attend, you can still register your interest in attending this online event.

About the event

Hosted by HS2’s Historic Environment team, this webinar will focus on the unearthing of what is thought to be the world’s oldest railway roundhouse at our Birmingham Curzon Street construction site earlier this year. The webinar will feature previously unseen photographs, footage and imagery captured during archaeological excavations earlier this year. You will be able to ask the team questions via a live Q&A chat option.

We will be publishing video recordings of each webinar online, so if you are not able to listen live you can still learn about our archaeological work through a dedicated playlist on the HS2 YouTube channel.

For more information about this event or any of our forthcoming events please contact our HS2 Helpdesk team on 08081 434 434 or email

Annual Conference 2020
The Association for Industrial Archaeology
Promoting the study, preservation and presentation of Britain’s Industrial Heritage

It will probably come as little surprise that Council have decided we must postpone the Annual Conference this year. The ‘good news’ is that Hope University Liverpool, the venue for the event, and the local organisers have agreed that we can postpone until the same time next year.

The new dates are:
19th – 26th August 2021.
Booking will open in January 2021 –
Those who have already booked for 2020 will be refunded in full as soon as possible. The Conference planned for Dublin in 2021 has been postponed until 2022.

Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. Follow the work that is going on during the enforced closure by visiting the ‘News’ page, click here, or why not have a look at their very active Facebook page, here. Enjoy the latest edition of ‘The Earl’ newsletter for supporters and volunteers hereRichard Johnson, 23rd May 2020

The Rowland Emmett Society. The society was founded in 2012 and welcome new members. Read all about it at this link by clicking here. Richard Johnson, 23rd May 2020

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words. The latest newsletter, full of interesting topics, from the Mills Archive Trust is available to read here. Martin Green, 21st May 2020

Book your free tickets for our archaeology webinar to find out about exciting discoveries from our Birmingham Curzon Street site. Tickets for the latest event in our free ‘Meet the Expert’ webinar series are now available to book. Posted by HS2.

The Archaeology of HS2 – Uncovering the Curzon Street roundhouse, will be broadcast live from 1pm – 2pm on Thursday 28 May. 

Hosted by HS2’s Historic Environment team, this webinar will focus on the unearthing of what is thought to be the world’s oldest railway roundhouse at our Birmingham Curzon Street construction site earlier this year. The webinar will feature previously unseen photographs, footage and imagery captured during archaeological excavations earlier this year. You will be able to ask the team questions via a live Q&A chat option.

Tickets for this event are now open. Register your interest in attending this online eventAlain Foote, 21st May 2020

Saltisford Arm Warwick. Martin Green has supplied details and photos of the canal basin at Saltisford, before and after it was saved from destruction. Additional press cuttings from Richard Sanders. Click here or visit the ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page. 19th May 2020

The Railway Vicar from Leamington Spa. Does anyone remember the Rev. Andrew Dow from St. Pauls Church, Leamington Spa? Perhaps you have never heard of him! In 1978 John Swallow from ATV Today paid a visit to St Pauls to meet the vicar and find out about his rather unusual talent. Courtesy of the BFI web site, click here to watch this short film. You won’t be disappointed!! 16th May 2020

British Film Institute. Dear all, caught a reference to the free options on BFI Player Hours of watching of films/clips of an industrial theme, with a huge range of topics This morning took in the 1980s striking miners of Keresley (several of whom seemed to have NE accents) to the qualities of Black Country Food! All for free. The 1937 film of a trip along the Grand Union Canal from London to Birmingham shows much IA. They also have an excellent film featuring AP Leamington Spa ‘Wartime Factory’ which you will also find a link to on our ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page. Martin Green, 16th May 2020 

Tim Dunn Programmes – click to enlarge

From the Chairman – Dear all, a number of topics brought to my attention by members …..Derek Billings passed on the dates for the latest series of programmes on railway heritage with Tim Dunn. Peter Riley also added an item on railway heritage to the Virtual WIAS section on the website.

Mention of Leamington Spa Water Toffee prompted Peter Bolton to recall another famous local producer of the delicacy. “Perhaps it would be wrong to leave toffee without a mention of Chadbands of Warwick which also had branches in Leamington and Wellesbourne. As well as being  makers of toffee they were remarkable for  their catchy advertisements, which flooded local papers like ‘Toffy, Taffy, Toffy. The best is Chadband’s home-made butter toffee, the real old-fashioned sort,’ and ‘When everything seems wrong try Chadband’s butter toffee, 6d per quarter.’ They also specialised in pork pies which their surviving shop in Warwick sold until relatively recent times. ‘The Best Pigs in the world go into Chadband’s Pies and Sausages.’ They emphasised as a selling point ingredients and quality at a time when this was going out of the window and many people would be eating pies filled with ground gristle and mystery flavouring. Seems quite an interesting product combination – pork pies and toffee!

The Chadbands link is maintained via the wonderful restoration of Hill Close Gardens in Warwick explained by this extract from the Hill Close Gardens website. ‘Central Warwick was typical of many nineteenth century towns where a tradesman owned or rented premises and his family lived above the shop. His backyard was filled with a workshop, wash-house, privy and stable, leaving no room for a kitchen garden. If he wanted to cultivate fruit, vegetables and flowers, he looked for a plot to rent outside the town. Such plots were commonly found on the edges of crowded towns, before suburban development covered them.

Eagle Engineering’s ‘Warwick Patent Spiral Tiller’

In 1845, Hill Close pasture land began to be divided into garden plots which Warwick tradesmen rented. They planted apple trees and soft fruit, grew vegetables and flowers and kept pigs and poultry. They built summerhouses of brick or wood in order to shelter from rain or to sit and enjoy the view across the Common. At a later date, the freeholds of these plots were purchased individually, though some were then sub-let. In the early twentieth century, part of Hill Close Gardens was sold off for housing in Linen Street and St Paul’s Close. Fortunately the remainder has been saved and restored.

One such tradesman was Benjamin Chadband, confectioner of 12 Swan Street, who lived above the shop with his wife, Sarah, and his children. The family business had been established in 1828. The Chadbands appear in various Trade Directories as poulterers, grocers, confectioners and makers of pork pies and sausages.

Benjamin leased Plot 24 in 1870 and purchased the freehold in 1874. He built more pig sties on nearby Bread and Meat Close, presumably to produce pork for his shop. He was succeeded in the business by his son, Henry, who raised 11 of his 13 children over the shop and by his grandson Charles Dudley. The business was sold, but 12 Swan Street remained a pork shop until 2006.

Chadband Premises

The name ‘Chadband’ was noted by Charles Dickens on a visit to Warwick and used for the unctuous Rev. Chadband in his novel, Bleak House.’ I believe that Hill Close Gardens is closed at present, but definitely worth a visit when it re-opens. You might also spot the Eagle Engineering’s ‘Warwick Patent Spiral Tiller’ on view.

Alwyn Sparrow has also sent this newspaper cutting of 1945 with the note: ‘Seeing your contribution on C.D.Chadband has prompted me to give you some more information.I have a few pieces of paperwork as my father worked there for approximately 40 years until about 1960.This press cutting also ties in with V.E 75th Anniversary year, no doubt because of food rationing.’ Mind you it was not always plain sailing running a butchers shop in Warwick. The Leamington Courier in April 1849 followed a case concerning Mrs. Chadband: 

The Chadbands of Warwick, Leamington & Wellesbourne

WARWICK PETTY SESSIONS, MONDAY, April 2nd. 1849 (Before the Mayor, H. Blenkinsop, Esq., J, Goodhall, W. Walker, E. Greaves, and J. Wilmshurst, Esqs.) Mr. W. W. Thompson, Inspector of Nuisances, appeared on behalf of the Town Council, under the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act, 1848.

The next case was that of Mrs. Chadband, of Swan Street, for keeping swine; the complainants were Messrs. Whittell, owners and occupiers of the adjoining premises. Mr. Thompson stated the premises were in a very offensive state. The piggery and manure were very injurious to the health of persons in the neighbourhood. The complainants would depose to this fact. Mr. H. Enock, Watchmaker, of Warwick, said he would, with the permission of the Bench, appear for Mrs. Chatband. The piggery complained of existed for many years, and had never been attended with inconvenience to any one; if Mrs. Chatband had been applied to, she would have been willing to have abated the nuisance, so far as she could; but she had never been applied to. There followed a heated exchange over whether the case needed to be heard, with Mr. Thompson repeating that this was “one of the greatest nuisances in Warwick”, and eventually Mrs. Chadband was required to remove the nuisance.

Clyde Higgs Milk

The lockdown has caused many of us to turn to the delivery man for our fresh products and this reminded Peter Bolton of another producer with a fame for advertising slogans. This was Clyde Higgs, a farmer near Stratford upon Avon. “Perhaps the last of the great local pieces of advertising came from Clyde Higgs Milk whose ever-changing bottle slogans were a joy for many years. – ‘Cleopatra should have had her bath in best Clyde Higgs – a hundred litres for the bath and extra for her wigs’. Others were …’The cows that graze round Snitterfield – give a most delicious yield’ ‘Higgs milk, Higgs heggs – keep the workers on their legs’. 

I have to confess to a guilty pleasure of having collected these bottles for a while .. sad or what? I believe it became quite a craze and an article in The Independent of 1993 reported that husband and wife Naomi and Michael Hull had spent 16 years on the quest to collect milk bottles carrying advertising, and their efforts had yielded 1,300 milk bottles, occupying 60sq ft of shelves at their Gloucestershire home!

The Clyde Higgs posting also attracted comments from Alwyn Sparrow 

“Clyde Higgs was a pioneer of Milking Bales in this country, which basically involved taking the milking plant to the cows in the field thereby making the milking process fully mobile’. Peter Stocker remembers that “one of Clyde Higgs advertising features was that  their herd was the first TB attested herd in Warwickshire”. For John Willock it was the slogan ” You can whip our cream but you can’t beat our milk” that lingers in the memory.

Clyde Higgs Milk

Derek Billings also remembers several dairies in Leamington Spa, including Shepherd’s on the Tachbrook Road where the sign is still visible. Best wishes to all, Martin Green, 15th May 2020

Shepherds Dairy on Tachbrook Rd, Leamington Spa in 1983 – Photo D. Billings

A 102-year-old steam engine has made an unlikely appearance to save the day for winching duties at a Leicestershire quarry. AR Demolition deployed the old 1918 J&H McLaren engine to pull out sections of a decommissioned conveyor belt from the bottom of Croft Quarry. Click here to visit the Construction Index web site to read the full story. Don’t miss the great video of ‘Alvis’ in action at the bottom of the page. Peter Coulls, 15th May 2020

Water Mills. Sit back and relax for about 4 minutes to the sound of the master of English light music, Ronald Binge. The IA interest is the collection of beautiful paintings of water mills! The music is, of course, ‘The Watermill.’ Turn up the volume on your PC / tablet or put on the headphones. 14th May 2020

Video Thumbnail
Ronald Binge : The Watermill. Paintings.
Topics of interest to members during the lock down! 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 From the Chairman. A number of issues have co

Free 4 Week On Line Course. The National Railway Museum, in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, is promoting a free 4 week course called ‘Working Lives on Britain’s Railways: Railway History and Heritage’. Discover Britain’s industrial heritage and learn about the lives of British railway workers from 1840-1914. 

On this course, you will investigate the professional lives of the men and women working on the British railways from the 1840s until the First World War. Using archival materials from the National Railway Museum, you will learn about the mental and physical hardship endured by railway workers, as well as the risks and pleasures that came with working in this new industry. From Irish Catholic navvies to female office clerks based in industrial cities, you will discover the surprising diversity and complexity of the railway workforce.

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in railway history and heritage, working-class history and culture, industrial heritage, the Victorian period, or museums and their holdings. For full details of this interesting opportunity and how to enrol follow this link here. 13th May 2020

The Rise and Fall of Coventry’s Machine Tool Industy. This 40 page booklet, by the late Arthur Astropp, was first published in 2000 and then revised by Arthur in 2003 to inlcude some photographs of the various personalities and their companies. The additional pages of photos have now been found and added to the pdf edition on the website. 12th May 2020

The Brown Betty Tea Pot. A short film, (brought to our attention by Marianne Pitts), from the V&A on our ‘FILMS’ page showing how this classic tea pot is made. The red clay used was first mined near Stoke on Trent in the 1600’s. Click here to visit now. 12th May 2020

The Iron Pillar of DelhiAncient & Foreign Industrial archaeology. A new illustrated contribution from Stuart Robertson which takes an interesting look at how iron can survive without corrosion and be extremely durable. Available to read on the ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page or click here. 12th May 2020

The April 2020 edition of The Railway Magazine has an article on the Nuneaton to Leamington line and its various connections. In ‘A Line of Two Halves’ it tries contrast the northern section with all its industrial links, and the southern section passing through Warwickshire countryside. Martin Green 11th May 2020

A request from Peter Stanworth – I wonder if the society might be able to help with identification.  I am attaching photographs of two items that appeared when the foundations for the water tower were excavated.  One is a hollow copper ring with a much smaller ring riveted to the circumference near the join.  It is 5″ in diameter.  The other is a plastic (?Bakelite) disc with a face embossed on one side.  On the underside it has a moulded centre which looks as though it took a dowel for mounting.  It is 31/2″ diameter.  I have asked many people and none has any idea about them.

VE Day – Several may have enjoyed a cup of tea, with scones and jam, for VE Day, perhaps served on 1940s crockery. Marianne Pitts draws our attention to the story of the ‘Brown Betty’ Read the Brown Betty story

John Berkeley reminds us – that (as well as Kidderminster Carpet Museum) there are many independent museums that will be hard pressed to survive. In a cause close to his heart he provides this link to the Birmingham Pen Museum.

Television tonight – ‘How to build British: the London cab’. I assume this will be about the Coventry-based firm and their re-location to Ansty to produce the electric cab. The publicity reads: “The classic black cab goes green as we see how a 21st-century electric London taxi is made, from the aluminium chassis to the all-electric £60,000 eco-cab”

Another helping of pie information –Trevor Daw writes, “The information on Fleur-de-Lys pies was most interesting. I have personal memories of the company in the late sixties to seventies. R.F. (Roland) Brookes used to be a tenant of the Flowers pub at Lowsonford. I understand this was where the pie production commenced, eventually to outstrip the kitchen facilities at the public house. At the time I was employed by Watney Mann (Brewers) selling beer and Wines and Spirits to the West Midlands trade. I used to meet Roland and his Senior staff in a pub almost opposite the Mill factory, at the time renamed the Simple Simon. Also present would be his senior Sales Manager Alec Stewart.” We believe Alec Stewart left Fleur de Lys to start Shire pies. The Simple Simon was so called in 1970 after a previous life as the ‘Elephant & Castle’. There is a suggestion in the Leamington Courier of 15th. February 2013 that Roland Brookes actually owned the pub.

1990’s WIAS Trip – Trawling through old slides, I came across this visit to the Greaves Sidings signal box in the 1990s led by Peter Chater. Derek Billings confirmed the location together with these links to the Warwickshire railways website. (Not a HiVis vest in sight in those days!).

Hope I have not missed anybody’s contribution. Let me know if I have! Stay safe and treat any Boris-induced relaxation with caution!! Many of us are in a vulnerable group, and this has not changed. Martin Green 11th May 2020

‘Send more toffee!’ A fascinating piece of research with illustrations by WIAS Chairman, Martin Green. Moore Toffee was a confectionery business with several outlets in Leamington Spa specialising in  ‘saline toffee’. Available to read on the ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page or click here. 11th May 2020

USA to Radford Semele Film. A lot more information about this great little film is now available. Derek Billings, who provided the film, has now supplied his original notes made when he obtained the film from Bill Gibbons of Leamington Spa back in 2008. You will find all the notes on the ‘MEMBERS FILMS’ page or click here. 10th May 2020

Southam (Kaye’s) Cement Works. Today we have added a new page on the Southam Cement Works, written by Martin Green. There is also an interesting collection of photos, some were taken on a WIAS trip to the site on their open day way back in 1993. Updated photos from 2015 show the changes time makes. Available to read on the ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page or click here. 8th May 2020 

Seven Springs. Water Supplies to the Warwickshire villages of Knightcote, Northend, Fenny Compton, Avon Dassett and Burton Dasett by John W. Brace. This booklet of 28 pages was published by WIAS in May 1997 being Number 1 in a series of Occasional Papers. Apologies again for the scan quality, it will be improved once access to equipment is restored. Available to read on the ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page or click here. 4th May 2020

Emscote Mill, Warwick. A short history and photographs of the final days of Emscote Mill by WIAS Chairman, Martin Green. Find it in the ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page or click here. 2nd May 2020

The Rise and Fall of Coventry’s Airframe Industry. A profile of Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Ltd with personal reminiscences. Researched and prepared by John Willock of WIAS in 2001. This splendid publication is quite a large pdf, (53 pages), so keep the file size manageable the quality has been reduced. This will be improved when the Lock Down is over. Available to read on the ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page. Click here to visit now. 1st May 2020

Mining the Seams at Warwickshire County Record Office – Can you help? Mining the Seams, our remote volunteering project, is still very active and we are looking for new people to join us. We’re transcribing compensation ledgers from the Midland Colliery Owners’ Mutual Indemnity Company to create a searchable database of information from compensation claims from 1899 – 1940. Everything is done remotely with documents shared via the internet. If anyone is interested in joining us, then all they would need to do is email us at and we’ll be able to tell them more and sign them up fully from there. Click here for a profile of this role.

(You can see an example of some of the maps we are also working with on the short You Tube video Hall End Colliery map). This is also available on the WIAS ‘FILMS’ page. 

Sarah Hann, 
Volunteer Coordinator, Heritage & Culture Warwickshire, 
Warwickshire County Council, 
Resources Directorate, 
St John’s House, 
Warwick, CV34 4NF.

Email: Tel: 01926 736422

Stationary Engines. A contribution from Peter Coulls 30th April 2020

The Warwick Improvement Works. This publication by WIAS member John Brace documents the story of Warwick’s water supply and drainage between 1848 and 1877. Over 30 pages with drawings. You will find it listed in our ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page or you can read it now. Click here to visit. 30th April 2020

Warwickshire County Records Office.  12th April marks the anniversary of the first ground test of the jet engine in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1937. Therefore, April’s Document of the Month showcases documents we hold at the record office in relation to Sir Frank Whittle. Click here to visit. John Willock 30th April 2020

The Stone Pipe Company of Guiting Power, 1805-1815. Now available to read here, this is WIAS Occasional Paper No. 6, published in February 2013. Written by John Willock of WIAS in July 2012 with photos by Derek Billings & Peter Coulls. Other credits are to well known members, Martin Green, Mike Hurn, the late Arthur Astrop and the late Peter Chater who initiated this adventure into the history of The Stone Pipe Company of Guiting Power. You will find it on our ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ page or click here to visit now. 29th April 2020

Graces’ Guide to British Industrial History. Grace’s Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 139,348 pages of information and 226,307 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them. Click here to visit.
Thames Water Archive. This address has just been posted on a stationary steam group that I follow. There looks to be hours of entertainment, I’ve yet to explore but initial reaction suggests  a good deal of material. Best Wishes and stay safe. Peter Coulls 29th April 2020

Statfold Barn Railway. Filmed by Derek Billings in 2017 this 30 minutes film of the Statfold Barn Railway in Staffordshire is a IA/Railway buffs delight. There are numerous attractions including steam, a railcar and towards the end a tram. If ever you wanted a ‘garden railway’ this is what to aim for!! Available now on the ‘FILMS’ page. 28th April 2020

Canals & Standedge Tunnel. The series by Robbie Cumming is very good – he shows it as it is. Jackie and I particularly enjoyed the trip through Standedge Tunnel as it enabled us to see much more of the internal structure than when we did it in 2009 and 2011. We had similar difficulties with the water supply on both flights of the locks on either side of tunnel.  Inside the tunnel there are connections through to the railway tunnels which is why one gets a CRT chaperone to make sure you don’t stop off on the way and explore. He does not explain that one has to book a passage and they only allow three boats a day in either direction and only three days a week – west bound in the morning and east bound in the afternoon. Because of the profile of the tunnel, we had to load the bow of our boat with boxes full of water to give more clearance – this give us 2 inches more which mad all the difference. We are looking forward to the next episode on the Rochdale canal. This will be over a summit rather than a tunnel, but again water shortage can be a problem, particularly as BW sold the main reservoir to United Utilities and so CRT often have to buy water back during a dry spell. Richard Sanders, 28th April 2020
‘Mail Rail’ – Royal Mail Underground Railway. Many thanks to Robert Caldicott and his daughter for sending this brilliant link to the restored railway, formerly used to cary the mail under the streets of London. Well worth watching, approximately 10mins long. You can watch it here at this link or on our FILMS page. 28th April 2020
TV Topics. Thanks to several members who have pointed me to the Midlands Today piece on Charlecote Mill.
Derek Billings was one of those members, and he also selected Thursday evening‘s More4 9pm ‘Hunt for Arctic Ghost Ship: HMS Erebus’, having read Michael Palin’s book on the subject.
Robert Caldicott recommended Abandoned Engineering
Hope you have enjoyed some of the programmes that members have recommended. What an asset drone photography has become in illustrating these engineering structures. The canal programme left me no happier about facing a trip through Standedge Tunnel! Stay safe, Martin Green 28th April 2020

TV Tonight. This is quite interesting – Robert Caldicott 27th April 2020

AP. There has been an exchange on the website amongst former AP employees and it has revealed to us all the technical expertise that exists within WIAS. Stuart Robertson sets out his career path at AP …

“I Joined in 1973 as a Senior Process Engineer in Central Process Industrial Engineering. Working for John Squires. Transferred to Central Process Supervisory Staff in 1976. Firstly on Quality Control then on to Production. This was following a campaign by C.P. Management to increase the level of Technology directly on the Shop Floor in an effort to increase Quality Levels. The incentive to us to take up these positions was that our salary was greatly increased by Shift and Overtime payments. This was attractive to me as I had just bought a house in Lodge Crescent, Warwick with a large mortgage. By the mid eighties the future of AP and Central Process in particular looked gloomy. Plant was getting in a poor state of repair and work was being subcontracted out rather than furnaces being replaced. In 1986 I accepted voluntary redundancy (AP had an attractive scheme in place at the time) and went to Hammond Heat Treatment, Darlaston as Chief Metallurgist. Hammonds were Heat Treating a lot of Lockheed’s components on sub contract and suppliers basis. Also they were case hardening clutch Adaptor and Retainer plates in Sealed Quench furnaces for Rearsby Automotive who were making Valeo Clutches on Licence. I worked with old AP colleagues on treating samples of Borg and Beck Plates using Hammonds Techniques as an alternative to cyanide/press quench process. These were successful but the job was eventually awarded to TTI Heat Treatment (Now Hauck) probably on price.

Surface Colours on Steel

This is an interesting subject which could be described as a black art. This requires further investigation. These are mainly produced by oxides on the surface and/or staining by burnt on oils etc. On a commercial basis I have been concerned with the blue/black finish on High Tensile Bolts (Black Bolts). At Hammonds we used to have continuous hardening and tempering lines for fastener heat treatment. These were big furnaces which treated 1 ton per hour. In the line there was a Soluble Oil Tank (Suds) into which the bolts were transferred into after Tempering whilst still hot. The oil component of the suds were burnt on to the surface to give the black finish required. This only worked if the tempering was within a certain temperature range (400oC-500oC). Hence only on High Tensile Bolts. The tools which have a coloured/mottled appearance would have probably been treated in a small tool room heat treatment area. Case hardening Techniques such as pack carburising and Kasenit compounds could well have been used with re-heating in neutral salt which resulted in these attractive colours. A subject for further research I think.” Stuart Robertson 26/04/2020

TV Tonight. “One for tonight’s viewing BBC 4 @ 7.00pm “Pubs,Ponds and Power: The Story of a Village. Ben Robinson explores the history of Cromford in Derbyshire, which was at the heart of Richard Arkwright’s mechanised cotton mills and a textile revolution.” Followed  at 7.30pm by Canal Boat Diaries: across the Pennines. I cannot vouch for the quality or content.” Peter Coulls 26th April 2020

Rock Mill Leamington Spa. A new page added with information on Rock Mill and photos by Martin Green. You will find it under ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ or go direct here.  The photos will also be added to our gallery. Martin Green 26th April 2020

Photos. New photos from Derek Billings added to his album in our gallery including Warwick Cold Store in 1991. 24th April 2020.

Narrow Gauge. For all enthusiasts of the narow gauge you will enjoy ‘Railway with a Heart of Gold’ on the ‘FILMS’ page today. 24th April 2020

USA to Radford Semele Film. Have you see this little gem on our ‘FILMS’ page? We have received the following message; At 3.17 minutes there is a very brief shot of the Radford Semele shop at the corner of Lewis Road & Southam Road. My grandma, Jane Whitlock and her husband Alfred ran the shop for decades. It was my Dads home. I think it was filmed in 1934, so all three would have been living there then. Stayed there countless times in the 1950’s & !960’s. Fantastic bit of film for me. Thanks for posting. Happy Days…. David Whitlock 24th April 2020

Warwickshire Bridges. Roger Cragg has sent us a splendid collection of photos of some 46 bridges around the county. Some are well known and others are in lesser known locations. You will find the photos in our gallery at the link above or click here to go there directly. 24th April 2020

Borg & Beck. This is a really excellent response and I think it should be incorporated into the WIAS website if possible. The cyanide hardening report is obviously written by a person with a great deal of knowledge. I do remember all the flatness problems we had with disc-adaptors and retainer plates. I don’t think I actually know Stuart Robertson, which is rather strange. One slight byproduct of cyanide hardening, not mentioned in the article and not seen on automotive components, is the wonderful range of colours (browns, blues, purples, etc. ) that manifests itself on high quality gun locks, barrels, and similar components hardened by this method. I have several scribing blocks in the workshop with these features; wonderful to look at and handle! As a Toolmaker, I expect Peter’s Dad felt the same. No doubt Stuart could explain how this phenomena occurs or is obtained in the hardening process? It may be down to the steel spec. and initial surface finish. I would really like to know! Please pass this on to Stuart.
Best Wishes, Keep Safe, John Willock 23rd April 2020

I was delighted to read John Willock’s paper on Borg and Beck clutches. I have revived and reviewed my own article on the Cyanide Hardening of Clutch Plates at AP and attached for your review and possible inclusion. This was originally written for inclusion in the WIAS newsletter but was not used probably because of it size. I have also found a couple of photo’s taken at the time of the Cyanide Section in Central Process and some trade pictures of Borg and Beck Clutches which are relevant. You can see the article by Stuart here. ATB, Stuart Robertson, 23rd April 2020

MF. Thank you for passing on the many interesting snippets. With regard to Ferguson Tractors or the “Little Grey Fergie” in particular one trial site prior to mass production was at Ufton adjacent to the A425. By sheer chance that land is now occupied by Lister-Wilder, Agricultural Engineers and Massey Ferguson agents! The tractors were I believe originally made at Standard Motors, the same engine being fitted to Standard Vanguards. Sir John Black, who owned Standard Motors at that time lived at the property that is now Mallory Court. According to Wikipedia Reginald Walter  Maudslay  founded the Standard Motor company in 1903.

One of his relatives, Henry Eric Maudslay DFC was a Dam Buster pilot who did not survive the raid. He lived in Cubbington. Whilst visiting Guy Gibson’s grave in Steenbergen, Holland on Liberation day some years ago a local lady informed me that she came to England in her youth to improve her English and was employed at a South Coast plant nursery owned by Henry Maudslay’s elder brother, who always drove Standard cars. What a coincidence! 

Best wishes to all, Bernard Alsop, Regular visitor from Napton on the Hill. 23rd April 2020

Talking Pictures TV (Chanel 81)On a lighter note, I am sure many WIAS members will be aware of the joys of TV Freeview Channel 81 Talking Pictures, and the many films of interest that are shown almost every day. However, some members may not. Anyone interested in Railways, Ships, Aircraft, or period films not generally considered pc these days will be delighted with the offerings on this channel. For example, yesterday afternoon there was a short IWM film on Shipbuilding on the Tyne (1943) at the height of the war effort and last Saturday David Lean’s film entitled, “The Sound Barrier”, featuring the prototype and very troubled Supermarine Swift. Also in this film were shots of De Havilland Comet 1s under construction at Hatfield and Hawker Sea Fury’s at Langley, I think.  This is a great channel for nostalgia, which I am sure some of us are embracing (or perhaps wallowing in) wholeheartedly at the moment! Best Wishes and Keep Safe.

And a reference to last night’s Repair Shop for all those who have never understood the Ferguson Tractor 3-point linkage …One of the objects in for refurbishing on “The Repair Shop” programme last night was a very interesting salesman’s demonstration model of the Ferguson System. The spring driven model tractor featured the famed Ferguson three-point linkage, complete with matching plough. A simple plough, also part of the model, was presumably used to show the tractor tipping up when meeting an underground obstacle. I think I have previously seen photographs of these demonstration models. Altogether a very nice programme with a good mix of restoration projects. It may be a good idea to keep a date with BBC 1 on Wednesday evenings. It is Episode 30 – Catch it on iPlayer! John Willock 23rd April 2020

Another programme of interest, perhaps, is ‘Will He Ever Do It?’, a fine example of perils of procrastination. I am about to embark on a project to diminish my collection of IA slides by some unknown percentage, and to identify those that might be of interest to members. I hope to publish these on the website at some stage. By writing this I feel I am committing myself to doing it, a long-overdue task! Only time will tell …….. Keep sending in material and, of course, stay safe.  Martin Green 23rd April 2020

BTH Coton House  – Apprentices Hostel. Can this link be added to the website or otherwise circulated to raise interest ? Another part of the B.T.-H. story.  The site is maintained by John Richards, who has personally borne the running costs, but has now decided to give it up.  The whole site is less than 33 Mbytes, but there are several Gbytes of scanned material on the DVDRom archive being offered for £3.50. Regards, Paul Waller,, 22nd April 2020

To visit the site before it closes and order a copy of the DVD click on this link – Coton House

Cast Iron Cooking Pot. ‘The immense historical significance of the cast iron cooking pot’ was a talk presented to WIAS in 2017 by Richard Williams. We have added a video of a talk by Richard which takes this subject to a higher level! Click here to visit the ‘FILMS’ page. 22nd April 2020

Thank You! From a very embarrased Webmaster! 21st April 2020

Thank You! “We have received a number of e-mails thanking us for keeping WIAS in the public eye, combined with the desire to pass on good wishes to all members of the Society. To illustrate this, we attach a message from Peter Stocker via Martin Green 21st April 2020

To all members, I would like to add my sincere thanks to our Webmaster, Peter Riley, who has done – and I am sure will continue to do – a magnificent job of keeping me at any rate sane. I try and ration myself to a set number of articles each day and all of them are brilliant. It was wonderful to see Peter Chater’s name linked to so many articles – he was a wonderful person and reading his articles is one way of remembering him. Also many thanks to the Chairman for what he is doing during these dreadful times. Take care everyone, better times are just around the corner, as one half wit American president once said!” 

The USA to Radford Semele Film. When the American family visited London I see that the Houses of Parliament was covered in scaffolding. Two points. Could this help date the film? Was Big Ben stopped while the work was done? Further to my comment about dates, I see that in April1929 the scaffolders wages were withheld. Keep safe and smiling. Chris Purvis 19th April 2020

Shipston on Stour. I have been looking for any information on the Shipston-on-Stour Power Station.  This seems to have opened in, or about, 1912 and to have lasted into the 1930’s. John Brace,, 19th April 2020

Warwick Banking Engines. Reading the article by Peter Chater on the Warwick banking engine, and having lived in Cape Road as a lad, I was often down at Warwick Station, taking engine numbers and talking to the engine banking drivers. Eventually I managed to hitch a ride on the banking engine behind a Banbury iron ore train up to Hatton and back. While going under the Cape Road bridge I made sure that all of my mates, who were collecting engine numbers saw that I was riding the banker, which made them extremely jealous and at the same time upped my street cred. On the way back, we stopped at Budbrook signal box, where a quantity of engine coal was exchanged for a number of rabbits that the signalman had ensared earlier in the day. Upon arrival back at Warwick, the fireman filled up the side tanks, while the driver was preparing the coal shovel for cooking the crews supper. This consisted of some bacon, sausage and the odd egg. The fire box was duly opened and the shovel placed therein. What happened next was a total disaster – one of the station staff crept unseen and flicked the blower lever on the loco. The result that the contents of the shovel went straight through the boiler tubes, up the chimney and out on to the platform. Bearing in mind that that sort of food was hard to come by at that time the engine crew were less than amused with the result that the offender was duly caught and dealt with in customary fashion!

But it was quite incredible how old loyalties die hard. When I worked at AP Lockheed in the brakes division on production control, there was a line inspector, who had a number of LMS/LNWR locos. on the wall of his cubbyhole and I got talking to him and remarked that one of the pictures was of a Super  D the like of which used to be at the head of a daily brick train that came down the old Rugby to Leamington line. Yes he said, I used to drive them. Well, as I expect you know, this train crossed over to the old GWR metals via the old  Leamington Spa South junction with its signal box. This train used to then wend its ponderous way via Leamington station up towards Hatton. I then ( like the fool that I am ) said, so you must have picked up the Warwick banker. There then followed a deafening silence followed by a withering look and an even more withering statement to the effect that no self respecting LMS driver would use a GWR banking engine! Apparently what the crew would do was to shovel as much coal in the fire box open the regulator as wide as it would go and head for Hatton bank and just hoped that they would make it. Apparently they always made it – just! Peter Stocker, 19th April 2020

Various. A series on More4 starting next Monday 20th. 9pm is on the Building of famous British cars, starting with the Bentley. Aston Martin on the 27th., and Morgan included in the series. My newspaper suggested it was for ‘petrol-heads’ but the journalist could easily have meant members of WIAS!

Following the Chesterton Windmill in Blue piece, Chris Barney has managed to get hold of the image and will be using it as the next cover photograph of IA News, the Newsletter of the Association for Industrial Archaeology. The floodlit mill is all part of an attempt to raise money for the Air Ambulance.

A note from Tim Clark on his recent acquisition of a 1955 ‘Official Guide to Warwick’. Amongst the adverts he noticed the attached enticement to ride the Peter Pan Railway manufactured by Supercars of Gunnery Terrace, Leamington Spa, a firm we have encountered at WIAS Meetings. (Note: I remember riding on this as a child in the 1950’s – still running today but without the ‘Supercar’ built locos. Very much modernised but the track layout is still the same! Webmaster).

On a distinctly more sombre note, John Willock writes: This is merely an advisory e-mail to say that Ivor Jones’ Funeral will take place at Oakley Wood Crematorium on Monday, April 27th at 2.30 pm.    Due to Covid 19 restrictions, this will be a VERY STRICTLY LIMITED FAMILY ATTENDED SERVICE ONLY.  I am sure we all will have Ivor in our thoughts at the time of the service and indeed for many years to come.

And finally, the WIAS Committee meets in early June – hopefully via Zoom – and I wanted to assure members that we will take any decision about the future of WIAS next season and beyond extremely seriously and with the greatest caution. We are fully aware of the age-profile of the membership and the potential reluctance to attend meetings until the all-clear signal is delivered.

Best wishes to all, Martin Green, Chairman WIAS 18th April 2020

Thanks for all the-mail responses. I heard from Pete Grenfell and Stuart Robertson about comparisons of the Le Creuset Foundry with the Ford foundry. Pete wrote: “Ref the Le Creuset foundry programme, if anyone has any queries, I can probably answer them. The Disamatic moulding machine shown is very similar to the Ford ones, casting two pots at a time, and the charge makeup, melt and pouring unit also very similar. Ford furnaces were bigger, but the essentials of the operation are identical. I have been to many foundries around the world very similar to this one.” He is on if you fancy clarification or a foundry chat.

Kevin Haito also drew my attention to various links with regard to mills:

“Here are a few Facebook groups to while away the hours. First two are Watermill Hoppers & Windmill Hoppers. Third is the Facebook page I run as Miller in Charge of the mill. (You need a Facebook account). 
Anyone can publish to this account and the purpose is to produce a timeline of history for it. I also give open weekend dates and details.

I also run a Chesterton Windmill Twitter account @ChestertonMill (You need a Twitter account). Do a search when in Twitter.”

Thanks to all who have shown an interest. Stay safe. Martin Green 16th April 2020

I expect we have all been thinking about the post-Corona world, and the ways in which it could alter our behaviour. John Berkeley sent in these photos of the Rush Hush Hour on the M40 on Bank Holiday Monday with an invitation to other WIAS members to send in photos of how the current situation has altered familiar sites. How our attitudes to travel and transport may change is a very interesting issue – might we stay more local, might we appreciate our local environment more fully, might we wish to explore local history more enthusiastically? Could WIAS embrace some of these possibilities with new initiatives?

Talking of transport, Marianne Pitts sent in this extract from an article by transport historian and commentator Christian Wolmar which she thought might be of interest. The views are, of course, those of Wolmar and not necessarily those of the Society. He also refers to some of his books, which were generally well-received on publication. Martin Green 16th April 2020

Christian Wolmar April newsletter – and books for the lockdown!

Who would have expected that we would live in a time when it was illegal to play cricket in the park or even sunbathe? That we would all be queuing with masks on outside shops? That millions would be out of work and a magic money tree would have sprouted up?

In transport terms, it is very difficult to predict how this will pan out. In the short term the railways have been nationalised, hundreds of millions have been provided to retain bus services and virtually the whole airline fleet in the UK has been grounded.  The interesting question is what happens when the lockdown starts to be relaxed.. My view is that this will happen in stages and is likely to be partial – both geographically and over time, and possibly demographically. Will the vulnerable and the people with underlying health conditions have to stay in longer? Will some shops and catering establishments be allowed to open before others? Will some regions be freed first? And so on.

Then, most important, will any lessons have been learnt from the biggest change in the way we live our lives since the Second World War. Clearly the amazing improvement in air quality, the readiness of people to forego travel, the readiness to adapt to major changes and the restructuring of the rail industry will have lasting impacts. A return to the normal of congested roads, unbreathable air and a transport policy that takes no account of the needs of pedestrians and cyclists cannot be the height of our politicians’ ambitions. Surely even the Tories will have realised that the lockdown has highlighted some of the maddest aspects of the society that we allowed neo-liberal  economics to have created?

Maybe not. There is a real possibility that not only will things will quickly return to the way they were, but actually the future will be worse than the past. Say, for example, that people will decide that public transport is too risky and they will prefer resorting to using their car through fear of catching disease from fellow passengers? Or that the economic damage to many public transport organisations, both public and private, has been so profound that they cannot recover? Or that the government will prioritise boosting the car industry over supporting public transport and possibly even cut taxes on car use?

Books Book Books

I dug up a whole batch of my book Fire & Steam  in my attic during lockdown and flogged off a bunch via Twitter. If you want one, send me a fiver plus £3 p and p via
I also found stocks of other books there – Great Railway Revolution and Blood Iron and Gold but these are a bit pricier because I paid more for them – a tenner each plus p and p, while my new books Railways and the Raj, The Crossrail Story and Railways  are all £15 each but I will let you off the P & P

Our mailing address is: Christian Wolmar, 48 Crayford Road, Islington, London  N7 0ND

I forward an e-mail from Stuart Robertson to help us through the trials of self-isolation. Many thanks to him for putting it together. Martin Green 13th April 2020 

Cupola Furnace
As WIAS has been looking at the Iron founders of Leamington in meetings and  publications. I thought that they might like a bit more information about Cupola Furnaces with diagrams & videos about operating one.

Very much associated with W. Wilkinson, a Shropshire ironmaster in 1795
It a small blast furnace for melting metal
Mainly used for the re-melting and refining of Pig Iron for Quality Castings
15-20 feet High and 4-6 feet in Diameter
Charged with Coke, Limestone and Pig/Scrap Iron
Temperatures of around 1500oC obtained which is enough to melt cast iron but not wrought iron

Attached is a modern day video of a small Cupola in use by Thai Students
Notice the lack of Health and Safety!
Firstly they rake out the slag hole and run off some of the slag
Then start tapping the molten iron into a ladle (Fishing out more slag from the surface)
The ladle is carried over to Sand Moulding boxes and items are cast
Finally the bottom door is opened and ash etc. are deposited spectacularly on the sand floor
The Cupola furnace is usually used as a batch furnace and is shutdown at night

Attached is a second Video of a Cupola in production in an Asian Country ( India or Pakistan ?). Again lack of H & S
This is probably similar to 19th Century Leamington Foundries with the exception of the electric blast generation
Not many Cupolas are used in the Western World today due to environmental issues
The air quality around the Ford Foundry in Leamington was very poor in the 60’s/70’s due to them using Cupolas and was of great local concern
Cast Iron is now melted in Electric Induction Furnaces which mechanically tilt and tip the iron into ladles which are automatically transported to the moulds
Ford Foundry switched to Induction Furnaces long before they closed

Finally a Video by Pathe’ Film of a “modern “1940’s Foundry showing casting operations for gas cookers