Virtual WIAS

Welcome to Virtual WIAS!

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

THE SOCIETY IS PLANNING A RETURN TO ‘IN-PERSON’ MEETINGS AT WARWICK SCHOOL WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES PERMIT

Autumn Update

At our latest meeting the WIAS committee took the decision to hold the meeting on September 16th. as a ZOOM meeting rather than gathering in person. This was not an easy decision, and was taken only after a long discussion, but given the prevailing uncertainty over Covid and the necessary restrictions we would have to introduce for in-person gatherings, we felt this was the most appropriate course of action. Subsequent meetings will be reviewed on a month-by-month basis. In the interests of canvassing members’ opinions, we would be happy to receive any responses to this decision – favourable or otherwise.

I do hope that we can boost our ZOOM audience amongst members who have preferred not to use it before. Help and advice is readily available – please get in touch. A reminder that the meeting on the 16th. September is our AGM followed by a talk by myself on ‘The diversity of Warwickshire’s Industrial Heritage: Chains, Caravans and Corsets’, which hopefully will provide a suitable start to the new season.

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

Martin Green, Chairman WIAS, 3rd September 2021


Derek Billings. A tribute to the late Derek Billings has been added to the website, click here to visit the page. 18th September 2021

The WIAS Database. The database continues to grow and WIAS welcomes new contributions. If you know of an existing piece of IA, that is not already listed, please send us the details and a photograph if possible. Complete the simple form at this link to submit a new entry. 11th September 2021

The Engine House © Kempton Steam Museum

Kempton Steam Museum and Hercule Poirot. What’s the connection you might ask? ITV3 and Drama, amongst other channels, are showing the brilliant Poirot series starring David Suchet. If you saw the episode ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ this week, you might have spotted that the enormous ‘factory’ in the story was in fact the Engine House at Kempton Steam Museum, home of the world’s largest working triple-expansion steam engine. Worth watching on ‘catch up’ if you missed it. Click here to visit the Kempton web site. 11th September 2021

46100 Royal Scot passing through Kenilworth on Saturday 4th September 2021

46100 Royal Scot creeps under Common Lane bridge into the passing loop at Kenilworth Junction on Saturday 4th September 2021. This was an excursion from Crewe to Salisbury which travelled south via Birmingham, Coventry and Leamington Spa.

A very short video clip 46100 Royal Scot passing through Kenilworth Station at about 2045hrs on Saturday 4th September 2021. This was a late running return working of an excursion from Crewe to Salisbury which travelled south via Birmingham, Coventry and Leamington Spa on Saturday morning.

WIAS Newsletter No. 73. The latest newsletter is now available on the website. Click here. 9th September 2021

The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk–From Derbyshire to the Pacific Northwest.
Pages:318
eBook ISBN:9781098370923
Paperback ISBN:9781098370916

I have recently published a biography about Peter Kirk, a 19th century industrialist who manufactured rails and sold them around the world. He incorporated at least 15 of his own inventions into his products and the machines that produced them to fuel his success.
His knowledge base came from his Derbyshire family who had been in the wrought iron business since at least 1770.

Even though this story encompasses Peter Kirk’s life, including immigration to an American frontier to build a large-scale steel mill in 1886, there are many anecdotes of interest to industrial archaeologists. Some of these include: the Industrial Revolution additions his ancestors put to work to advance the forge, his family’s work philosophy, an incident after the 1842 Mines Act passed, how he and his brothers tackled the chemistry problems of the different ores and other resources needed, descriptions of his inventions, and how rails were made.

My book is titled The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk–From Derbyshire to the Pacific Northwest. You can read the first ten pages at Book Baby Bookshop: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/the-pioneering-life-of-peter-kirk. It is offered on Amazon, Waterstones, Baker & Taylor, and Bookshop.org.

Best regards,
Saundra Middleton

Life after Victoria. The Leamington History Group present our new film about the history of Leamington. Life After Victoria tells the story of the town in the early 20th century – its contribution to the First World War and the Votes for Women movement, the transformation in living conditions and workers’ rights, and the birth of some of Leamington’s most treasured cultural institutions. We also bring the long-lost Leamington and Warwick Tramway back to life! 16th August 2021

Water Towers in Warwickshire. Roger Cragg has put together a comprehensive paper containing details of Water Towers, surviving, converted and demolished in Warwickshire. There is also a photo gallery of some of the installations. The list of towers is searchable. Click here to visit the page. 9th August 2021

Precision Gauge Blocks. Also sometimes referred to as Slip Gauges or “Jo Blocks”, are the foundation of physical measurement in mechanical engineering. John Willock’s latest contribution explains in detail their importance in the world of precision engineering. Click here to read this fascinating illustrated paper. 6th August 2021

WIAS 2021 – 2022 Subscriptions. As we move towards re-launching a season of traditional WIAS meetings, (regulations permitting), a timely remeinder that subscriptions are due from the 1st September for 12 months. Full details and methods of payment are on our ‘Membership’ page. Click here to visit. 4th August 2021

UNESCO World Heritage Status for the Talyllyn Railway. Many people will have heard that the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales was granted this incredible accolade this week. The 6th component of the application was the Talyllyn Railway, Abergynolwyn and Bryneglwys Quarry, familiar to many from the Midlands who have taken holidays in the area. To celebrate the news – the Talyllyn Railway put on a special train, with No.2 Dolgoch pulling a rake of slate wagons – just like it would have done back in the 1860’s! The driver was none other than Anthony Coulls, familar to all of us at WIAS! Enjoy the interview with Anthony and a trip up the line with the slate train in this film. 1st August 2021

Funeral – The Late Derek Billings. The funeral will take place at  the North Chapel, Oakley Wood Crematorium on Monday August 9th. at 10.00 a.m. I do hope that those who knew Derek will be able to attend. Martin Green, WIAS Chairman 26th July 2021

Industrial Explorer – West Yorkshire 9th – 12th September 2021. The Heritage of Industry walking tour based in Bradford has been sold out for some time but, due to a late cancellation, we can now offer one place (would consider two people sharing a double or twin room) on an exploration of this former woollen town and surrounding areas. Read full details here and if you are interested email me quickly bill@heritageofindustry.co.uk and we may be able to get you in! Bill Barksfield, Managing Director, Heritage of Industry Ltd 26th July 2021

Chesapeake Mill, Hampshire. As far as we know, there is no Warwickshire link but John Willock’s latest contribution about how this fascininating mill got it’s name is a cracking historical story well worth reading. If you find yourself in Hampshire the mill is well worth a visit. Click here to read the story. 19th July 2021

The Friendly Midland Red. In an extensively illustrated presentation, Transport Author Roger Torode, will talk us through the 70-year history of this fascinating company, covering: its substantial growth from early horse bus operations through to its segmentation prior to privatisation; its distinctive and largely self-build vehicle policy; its people; its style; and its similarities (and differences) with parallel developments in London.

Produced by The Friends of the London Transport Museum
Donate to the London Transport Museum at https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/donate
Join the Friends at https://www.ltmuseumfriends.co.uk/

AIA e-News Bulletin July 2021. This edition is now avialable, click here to access. 15th July 20221

Death of WIAS member – Derek Billings. It is with much sadness that we announce the death of Derek Billings at 1pm on Tuesday 13th July 2021. He had been admitted to Warwick Hospital as an emergency on Saturday 10th. Derek was one of the most loyal members of WIAS, and his knowledge and photographic collection was unrivalled, he was particularly keen on Railway and Canal subjects for his camera lens. More than this, he was always courteous, helpful, and positive, ever willing to add to the knowledge of others. Our thoughts at this sad time will be with Pat, son Andrew and daughter Sarah. Further information will follow in due course. M Green & J Willock 13th July 2021

Derek Billings at Cherry Orchard

Image 1 of 2

Derek at the launch of his booklet, 'Kenilworth's Last Brickworks' at the site of the former Cherry Orchard Brickworks. 2005

Ivor Jones. Many WIAS members will remember Ivor Jones who died in 2020. Owing to the Covid-19 regulations the funeral was restricted to a limited number of family members only. Everyone is invited to a Service of Memorial to be held at St Nicholas Church, High Street, Kenilworth at 11am on Tuesday 5th October 2021, to commemorate Ivor’s life on what would have been his 94th birthday. The service will be immediately followed by the interment of Ivor’s ashes in the churchyard, to which all are also invited, after which the family hope as many people as possible will join them at Bubbenhall village hall for lunch. 7th July 2021

“A Worcestershire Wizard” The Heywood SH6 Series Air Compressor. Members might recall John Willock speaking about this interesting piece of aviation equipment at one of our Warwick School meetings. He has now produced a fine paper giving a lot more information about the compressor and how it was used in some of our most famous WWII military aircraft. Click here. 16th June 2021

Healey Blue Plaque. Following on from the opening of the ‘Healey Cars – For Speed and Glamour’ exhibition in the Market Hall Museum in Warwick, Peter Coulls has passed on this information:

Warwick Exhibition
The Shire Album

“On Saturday July 3rd there is to be an unveiling of a blue plaque at Healey Court, Warwick, commemorating the site of the Healey showroom. The organisers are expecting about 300 Healeys to descend on Warwick for this event and have arranged with the Town council to use part of Myton fields as a car park for the Healey cars. The organisers would like to assemble a team of volunteer marshals to keep an eye on the cars during the event. They are looking at covering a period from 9 until 5 and having two marshals at a time for 2 or 3 hours depending on the number of volunteers. If anyone is interested in helping out, please contact David Scothorn at :  davidscothorn@outlook.com.”

Incidentally, I have been asked about an easily accessible lead-in to the Healey story and I would recommend Graham Robson’s Austin-Healey (Shire Publications), available from the Museum Exhibition. I do hope the summer will give opportunities for further exploration of the industrial heritage, and that you will discover material that deserves to be shared with the WIAS community via website or talk. We are always ready to hear what you have to say! With best wishes, Martin Green, 15th June 2021

Snow Hill Station. If you remember travelling into Snow Hill, Birmingham, take a look at this collection of slides from Derek Billings taken in 1977. Click here. 13th June 2021

The Water Tower, Tainters Hill, Kenilworth. IA enthusiasts might be interested to know that Kenilworth’s famous water tower on Tainters Hill is currently for sale, priced at just £1.4 million. Once home to the owner of Druckers Vienna Patisserie chain, there are good photgraphs available on the Right Move web site at this link. 1st June 2021

Upton House & Shenington Airfield in Wartime. Further to recent dicussions, John Willock has put together a short paper about this interesting location in the south of the county. Click here. 29th May 2021

Cherry Orchard Brick Works, Kenilworth. There is a new request on our ‘Can You Help?’ page for information about surviving members of the Burgess family who owned and operated the brick works. For full details visit the page here. 24th May 2021

HMS Hood. John Willock has put together some information to mark the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the battlecruiser HMS Hood on the 24th May 2021. Click here to visit the new page in our ‘Contributions’ section. 19th May 2021

Photo – Peter Bolton

Drain Spotting: The people who keep their minds in the gutter! Manhole covers, coalhole covers and drain covers all offer access to an underground world that is full of artistry, history and in many cases beauty. Click here to visit this BBC feature on a fascinating aspect of IA.

The BBC programme: ‘Boring Talks’ No 49, Coal Holes. “Amir Dotan explores the small metal discs on our pavements and door steps”, is available via BBC Sounds at this link. 15th May 2021

Crossness Engines. I have received this note via Alain Foote from the Greenwich Industrial History Society concerning a Zoom talk on the crossness Engines. Crossness will be familiar to many WIAS members and this looks like an ideal opportunity to learn more. There is a limit on numbers so move quickly to register. Details are included in the message. Martin Green, 7th May 2021

FROM GREENWICH INDUSTRIAL HISTORY SOCIETY
Next Tuesday, 11 May, we are holding our eighth virtual talk. Mike Jones, of the Crossness Engines Trust, will be talking about Crossness engines past and present. Crossness — down the river, just beyond Thamesmead — is famous as the site of the Joseph Bazalgette sewage works. This follows the talk from Chris Binnie back in February 2021 about the history of London sewers from Bazalgette to the Thames Tideway Tunnel. (You can still see Chris’s talk and all of the others on YouTube, at http://tinyurl.com/GIHSvideo

As will all of the other talks in the Covid era, Mike’s talk on Tuesday will be free of charge, but you must sign up in advance via Eventbrite using this link:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/crossness-engines-past-and-present-tickets-153544109565

Two Zoom presentations to tell you about. The second is run by AIA and takes place on Saturday 8th. May and offers a truly global view on the subject of industrial archaeology. It is The First East-West Workshop on Industrial Archaeology’, with speakers drawn from very different parts of the world.The two speakers from the West should be familiar!

The first is closer to home. It announces the next WIAS Zoom Presentation on Thursday 13th. May when Dr. Ray Wilson will give a presentation on the “The Industrial Heritage of Gloucestershire’. The variety of the county’s industrial heritage sites will provide a fascinating evening, and hopefully may tempt you out on day trips, or even a longer ‘staycation’. All are very welcome to tune in, particularly those considering joining us for the first time. Both events are free, although the AIA requires registration first. Martin Green, 6th May 2021

Topic: WIAS 13 May 2021 meeting, Time: May 13, 2021 07:00 PM London – Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88309962203
Meeting ID: 883 0996 2203, To join the meeting using your ‘phone’, please dial:, 03300885830 or 01314601196

AIA ZOOM Presentation – Saturday 8th May 2021 10:30 – 12:30 online
The 1st East-West Workshop on Industrial Archaeology.
Full details and registration available at this link.

‘Retort Magazine’. The original WIAS annual publication, ‘Retort’, has been available to view on the website for some time. The digital copies have now been turned into ‘Flip Books’ so when you view them it’s just like turning the real pages over. At the bottom each page there is a small toolbar where you can toggle the pages and make them full screen for easy reading – zoom in or out to make text larger or smaller etc. Click this link to view. 4th May 2021

For Sale. If you are a Frank Whittle admirer, you might be interested in part of Frank Whittle Mews in Leamington Spa which is currently being advertised for sale! Frank Whittle Mews 3rd May 2021

Early Wooden Railways. There is a tendency to think that railways were a nineteenth century phenomenon, the names of Trevithick, Blenkinsop, Hackworth and Stephenson, et al, being synonymous with their early development. However, this is a very incomplete view of the historical picture! The latest paper from John Willock delves into this interesting subject. Find it in our ‘Contributions’ section or go directly at this link. 3rd May 2021

WIAS 2021 Survey. Thank you to everyone who took part, the survey has now closed. 18th April 2021

Heritage and Culture Warwickshire have a series of Live virtual talks over the next few months. The first is on 28th April and is about Warwick County Lunatic Asylum. Details on this talk and the others are on the link. https://heritage.warwickshire.gov.uk/adultsandyoungpeopleevents

We are hoping to open the County Record Office and Market Hall Museum in May if restrictions are lifted. Market Hall will have a new exhibition on Healey Cars so I hope you will be able to visit us soon.

Austin Healey Motor Company
Wednesday 9 June 8pm – 9.15pm Cost: £3*
Join us for this virtual talk on the archives of the Donald Healey Motor Company, now part of an exhibition at Market Hall Museum. The Donald Healey Motor Company is best remembered for the world famous Austin Healey sports cars but did you know that the company was based in Warwick? Rob Eyre, Senior Archivist explores the history of the company and its founder Donald Healey, with reference to the archive material now held at the County Record Office.

BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE

Louise Louise Jennings
Development Coordinator (Marketing and Fundraising)
Heritage & Culture Warwickshire (HCW)
Email: louisejennings@warwickshire.gov.uk 15th April 2021

WIAS 2021 Survey. There are only 2 days left to complete the survey. If you haven’t already done so please consider doing it to help plan the future of the society. Click on this link to complete the on line form, it only takes 2 or 3 minutes. 15th April 2021

Underfloor Hypocaust Warm Air Heating System. There is a new request for information about this heating system that was installed in some south Warwickshire churches on our ‘Can You Help’ page. Two Leamington builders were responsible. Click here to read the full request. 14th April 2021

Heritage of Industry – Latest Trips. The latest newsletter from this organization detailing events planned for later this year is available at this link. 13th April 2021

Donations. Thank you to those who have donated to WIAS recently. Although we are not meeting in person yet, the society still has running costs. All support is very much appreciated. 12th April 2021

Swing Bridges & Burning Issues! Paul Waller thought the attached eventbrite event might be of interest to members 
Burning Issues: The Future of Fossil Fuels in Heritage

Pater Coulls has supplied some photos of the Anderton Lift which are now up on the website and I include two shots of the Northwich Swing Bridge on the River Weaver, plus a youTube video. Feels like a return visit to Cheshire is coming on! 
PreviewPreview3:14Northwich Town Swing BridgeYouTube · mykaskin7 Oct 2014

Best wishes to all, Martin Green, Chairman WIAS. 12th April 2021

Anderton Boat Lift. After mention of the Anderton Boat Lift during this months Zoom talk, ‘The Salt Archaeology of Cheshire’, Peter Coulls supplied these photos he took on a vist in 2014. 10th April 2021

European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards. Although the award winners cover all sorts of structures – the majority have some sort of industrial interest.  Those that don’t are still worth looking at.  There is not a lot of text (in three languages) but the pictures are splendid.  Something over 200 pages but well worth downloading. It highlights 50 winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards from 19 different countries. As such you would expect 2 or 3 from each country, but there are in fact 12 winners from the UK! Click on ‘Further information on the publication’ and then under ‘Object Links’ on the righthand side, click ‘Download’ to download a pdf of the publication, but be aware it is about 440MB! It takes a while for the document to open. Link. Chris Barney 4th April 2020

Thank You! to all those who have supported WIAS with donations during the difficult period of lockdown and subsequent restrictions. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. Thanks also to all those who have returned the Survey forms. We have heard from several of our more regular supporters, but we are equally keen to hear from those who are occasional visitors or, indeed, new contacts. The information about the Survey and Donations can be found on the website. 3rd April 2021

Next WIAS Zoom Lecture is on Thursday April 8th. at 7.30pm, when Dr. Mike Nevell will speak on ‘Cheshire’s Salt Archaeology’. Dr Mike Nevell is a landscape, buildings, community, and industrial archaeologist with more than 30 years experience, and has become one of the country’s leading figures in the field of industrial archaeology. He was Chairman of the Association for Industrial Archaeology from 2017-2020, and he is currently Industrial Heritage Support Officer for England, a project funded by Historic England. 3rd April 2021

Coventry Singer. On a rare trip out to the local farm shop today this beautiful Singer pulled into the parking area. This particular vehicle is a Singer 10-26 (1926), Engine 1308cc S4 OHC, Production 15500, Registration Number RU 3845. A modernised version of the Singer 10 with four wheel brakes from 1926 as indicated by the red triangle on the rear bumper Cost for complete car £220 in 1925! 30th March 2021

RU 3845 Singer 10-26 (1926)

Martin Green, WIAS – Old Warwickians Talk, March 2021 – Thanks to Anne Douglas, Alumni Relations, Warwick School, WIAS is able share the following film. 175 OWs from across the globe and decades zoomed in to Martin Green’s fascinating talk on Warwickshire’s Industrial Heritage and Warwick School. From Scotland to San Diego and Sydney to South Africa, OWs reconnected with each other, with Martin and with the school. 29th March 2021

WIAS 2021 Survey. The survey is now available to complete on line. Please help define the future of WIAS by giving us your views. Click here. 27th March 2021.

Gloucester-Whittle E28/39 ‘Pioneers’. In the latest paper in our Aviation section, John Willock concentrates on the development of this incredible jet powered aeroplane. Although not actually constructed in Warwickshire it made many flights from RAF Shenington/Edgehill across the Warwickshire countryside. Click here. 27th March 2021

Guestbook. Our WIAS Guestbook page is now available, click here. 19th March 2021

Bentley Cars. Following on from our January “Bentley Boys” talk I remembered taking these photographs which might be of interest. Better late than never! 19th March 2021

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

GPO Marker Post etc. This web site is dedicated to those cast iron pieces of street furniture that almost always go un-noticed, but are reminders of our social, technological and physical past. Marker posts of a standard design were used by the Post Office (later known as the General Post Office, or GPO) from the earliest days of telecommunications, when they ran the fledgling telegraph network in the UK. There is an interactive UK map showing positions of markers and cables and a detailed section on Manhole covers. Well worth a visit. Click here. 16th March 2021

WIAS March Talk. Our speaker this month, David Fry, has very kindly made the text of his talk on the ’18th Century Coventry Silkmen’ available to us. Click here to view. 13th March 2021

WIAS Database. More contributions to our IA database are always welcome. If you have a photo of IA that still exists and can be seen today you can complete a simple form on our database page and send it to us. The database team will do the rest. Just click on the link in the main menu for full details. You can also search the database by, industry, location or photograph. The database has just been updated with a number of new entries. 10th March 2021

Coventry Factories – Long gone Coventry Factories including, MF, BL Triumph, Rootes, Coventry Climax and Hawker Siddeley feature in this Coventry Telegraph album. Click here to view. 2nd March 2021

Jet Man: The Making and Breaking of Frank Whittle, Genius of the Jet Revolution by Duncan Campbell-Smith. This new publication has now been reviewed by John Willock. Click here to visit our ‘Book’ page and read it. 22nd February 2021

R F Brookes Pie Factory. Following on from Martin Green’s research, Paul Cooke sent the following information.

I found you story “ R.F.Brookes, Pie Factory “ very enjoyable, I started working there in the latter part of 1969 as an oven operator. Both a Mr Stewart and a Mr J Griffiths worked in a management capacity, if I remember correctly Mr Griffiths was the factory manager.

A few months into my employment I can remember that we were told to expect a important visit, the visitor was a Mr Rick Turnbull who was a Canadian by birth and a relative to Mr Brookes. We later understood that Mr Turnbull was to takeover the running of R.F.Brookes. I never saw Rick again and later found out he was based at Wigston, Leicestershire.

Shortly after his visit there was a restructure and a change of management, one or two moving over the canal to start Shire Foods. Sometime after we were taken over by Avana Meat Products. At sometime I had started the management training program and part of that role was to represent the management on the social club side.

As far as I can remember it was always called R.F.Brookes social club, but I’m not sure if it didn’t have or was possibly going to have a name change to Avana Products ?? I think it was turned down as everyone knew Brookes or pie factory. We did have a football team which was called Avana, I do have a photo of the team which was near all Warwick based.

I left Brookes in 1976 and moved away to Ross-on-wye, only to return a couple of years later to work for Rick Turnbull at Wigston.
17th February 2021

Hydro Electric Power & Aluminium Production. Stuart Robertson & Martin Green highly recommend this 30 mins video. To read Stuart’s notes on the area and the process click here. 13th February 2021

Transporter Bridges. Following the interesting talk on Thursday night, Peter Coulls has supplied these excellent photos of Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge which he took in the 1980’s. 12th February 2020

WIAS February Meeting. Don’t forget our Zoom meeting this Thursday 11th Feb, Margaret Ingham, ‘The UK’s Forgotten Transporter Bridge and the Campaign to Save It’.

WIAS in the past. Do you ever wonder what we were doing years ago? Have a look at our ‘Index of Meetings’ page and you can see all our meeting and events back to 1993. Use the search box in the top right corner to search for a word or year. Link here. 10th February 2021

More Aviation – Own a V Bomber! Our aviation enthusiasts might be interest in a forthcoming auction to be held by the well known auctioneer Charles Hanson. (Link here).

‘We are pleased to be offering a unique private collection of part restored V Bomber cockpits, along with many additional individual items from the collection. This is a rare opportunity to own a collection accumulated over many years. We are currently inviting offers on the entire collection, with a view to going to auction as catalogued if the complete collection has not been sold. From left to right, Victor B2 XH670, Vulcan B2/K2 XH560, VictorK2 XH669 At rear Valiant B1 XD826’. 1st Feb 2021

The Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. The latest paper from John Willock in our Warwickshire Industries, (Aviation Section), is now available here. Another excellent read from our aviation expert! Click here to visit. 25th January 2021

Newsletter No. 71. Thanks to Mike Hurn the latest WIAS newsletter is now available to read on the website. Visit the ‘Newsletter’ page here. By the way, many of the latest web browsers and pdf readers now offer an audio function should you prefer to listen to it being read to you! 21st January 2021

Diana Barnato -Walker The Powder Compact Incident. Born in 1918 Diana Barnato was the daughter of playboy “Bentley Boy” racing driver Woolf Barnato and his wife Dorothy. The Barnato family, who were extremely wealthy, had made their considerable fortune in the diamond mines of South Africa. Consequently, Diana had something of a gilded upbringing being a debutante and had the means to learn to fly privately before the Second World War broke out. She was an extremely attractive young woman and this contributed to her persona.

If you joined our WIAS January Zoom meeting this week, you may have noticed John Willock holding up a sign with ‘The Powder Compact Incident’ written on it! Unfortunately John had no working microphone so he was unable to tell us the story. He has since written it down and this fascinating incident is now available here.

Fine Porcelain. Members may be interested in this piece of porcelain which features the Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale. It is a superbly painted and extremely accurate image of the Iron Bridge based on the William Ellis engraving of 1782 – itself based on an original painting by Michael Angelo Rooker. The item is a porcelain tray, part an Imperial Vienna Porcelain Factory Cabaret Set, comprising: Tray, Coffee Pot, Coffee Cup & Saucer, Sucre and Milk Jug, Circa 1801. Only the tray carries the image, which is set against a lovely Mazarin Blue ground. The inscription is in French. The set is displayed in the Museo delle  Porcellane, Pitti Palace, Florence. Porcelain comes quite high on my set of interests and it doesn’t come much better than this. Its rather a pity its not on a piece of English porcelain – of course one would immediately think of Coalport. I wrote about this item in  the Caughley Society Newsletter No71, August 2017. Industrial Archaeology comes in many forms, as we all know! 

(The original engraving, shown above, was acquired by the British Museum in 1870 but is not on display. For full details click on this link). 

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

This rather naïve mostly printed, but with some hand wash, image of the Iron Bridge on a saucer was made at the Caughley factory circa, 1782-94. It is extremely rare with only one example known to date. The image contains one little known feature of the bridge when it was first built. If you look at the third, innermost, rib it will be seen that it does not continue right through to the base. This rib continuation was added subsequently. This feature can be most easily discerned in a 1780 print (woodcut) made by J Edmunds, from which this ceramic print was most likely made. John Willock, 14th January 2021

AIA Newsletter. The latest AIA newsletter is available to read here. 9th December 2021

WIAS Zoom Meeting 14th January at 7.30pm. David Skillen – ‘The Bentley Boys’. The Bentley Boys were a group of wealthy British motorists who drove Bentley sports cars to victory in the 1920s and kept the marque’s reputation for high performance alive. In 1925, as the marque foundered, Bentley Boy Woolf  Barnato bought the company, leading to the creation of the famous supercharged Bentley Blower car. 8th January 2021

WARWICKSHIRE AVIATION
by Alfred J. Jenks
ISBN 978-1-5272-7216-3
534 pages. 297mm x 207mm. Hardback.
£25 + £7 p&p UK

If you are considering buying a copy of this excellent publication you can now read John Willock’s review of the book on our ‘Book’ page, click here. 8th January 2021

Norman Engineering. There have been some useful e-mail exchanges recently concerning a company named Norman Engineering, a firm initially located in Upper Grove Street in Leamington Spa, before they moved to Millers Road in Warwick in 1936. Among other things, they made portable petrol engine driven generator sets for the military during the Second World War.  Thanks to information supplied by Tony McGuire we now know they made much more; including components for several of the minor aero-engine manufacturers such as Pobjoys and Cirrus-Hermes. They also seem to have made airframe components, including machined tube end attachment fittings, similar to those used in aero engine bearers. John Willock 30th December 2020

Kenilworth Scooter. Jon Tait, a member of the Vintage Motorcycle Club, reminds us of the following: “I’m a member of the Vintage Motorcycle Club, and was going through a backlog of club journals, I came across this article that may be of interest to you and your members. The Kenilworth scooter itself is interesting, but I was unaware of the Norman Engineering Company, who were in Leamington and supplied the engines. Does anybody know anything more about them? I enclose a scanned copy of the article. Please feel free to distribute it, as appropriate.”

I am happy to pass this on with grateful thanks to Jon and the Vintage Motorcycle Club. Martin Green 29th December 2020

Click here to view the article

More Great Central. Thanks to Chris Barney who follows up Roger Cleal’s story of walking through the Catesby Tunnel, but with a slightly more disconcerting tale!

“My experience of the tunnel was somewhat different.  In 1975 or ‘76 some friends were staying with us and they, as we, had a 7 year old son. It was a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon and I had the idea to walk through Catesby Tunnel. Our respective wives dropped us near the South end and drove around taking the even younger children to wait for us. I and my friend set off with the two little boys in summer clothes and a couple of torches into the darkness. We were completely unprepared for the thick fog we encountered after about a hundred yards so thick the torches were barely any use at all. We should have turned round but that would have meant a long and devious walk by the lanes to catch up with the rest and of course there were no mobiles, so we kept on. If anything the fog got thicker and as we got further in we came to where they were scrapping up the ballast and so the surface was very rough and at one point I fell flat on my face into a pile of ballast. As you can imagine the seven year olds were beginning to get quite frightened and so keeping them cheerful was another worry. Reciting rhymes and singing was about the best we could do. Then we got cold – we really needed full arctic wear but only had skimpy shirts and shorts on with sandals or the like. It was not good. Three or four times there was ghostly light as we passed under the air shafts. Right in the middle, the strangest thing, we came to a little dozer probably a D4 or a Drott left there by the contractors which we nearly walked into. The mixture of fog and pitch black I shan’t forget. It took a long time but finally a faint glimmer ahead cheered us up and after a bit more we came out into the bright sunlight, none the worse but very relieved indeed.” 29th December 2020

Great Central Railway. In the midst of unremitting gloom, rest assured that WIAS and its membership will be able to discover glimmers of light. Roger Cleal – together with others – has recalled experiencing a trip through Catesby Tunnel, now being converted to an interesting alternative use. This was as a result of the TV programme ‘Walking Britain’s Lost Railways’ Series 3 Episode 4: the East Midlands, available on My5. This explores the Great Central Railway, which passes for a short stretch through Warwickshire. This is strongly recommended – Roger calls it Compulsory Christmas Viewing! He writes “We as a cycling group had walked a couple of times with our bikes through the tunnel south to north usually from either Badby or Greens Norton youth hostels. I hadn’t appreciated it was 1.7 miles long. My memories are of a very dark, dangerous walk done during my late teens or 20’s in the early 1970’s with huge holes in the floor and water dripping from the air vents. I’m glad to see it put to some good use. It was a pity the viaduct was after the tunnel in the programme and not in the correct order. In addition. it was a great shame it ended there and did not continue to Marylebone”. Also highlighted is the quality of the civil engineering and the use of high-quality blue bricks. These structures can be seen throughout the line, and I attach a couple of examples, taken before lockdown near Wolfhampcote. This is where the Great Central crosses the Marton Junction to Weedon Branch of the LNWR almost at right angles. The quality of the Great Central accommodation bridges and tunnels for local farmers is shown, with the name of Joseph Hamblett to the fore.

WIAS Members. Just a thought about WIAS members not on the internet. If you know of any of our members/supporters who are without internet access, please call them before Christmas and wish them well and remind them that WIAS is still thriving and hopefully will be back with them as ‘live’ meetings sometime in 2021. Martin Green 23rd December 2020

Dambuster Programmes on TV. George Illingworth sent the following: “Members who watched those programmes may be interested in the Meccano model I built in 1993 to mark the 50th anniversary.  The models still exists, stored in major sections for transport. It is 1/12 scale so 8ft 6in wingspan and contains 9 electric motors to operate functions including the spinning UPKEEP weapon. Building an accurate model in 1993 was not easy as there was still a lot of inaccurate and indeed intentional disinformation about what had been a top secret weapon system.  The basic aircraft was straightforward as drawings are readily available but I also drew on many sources including declassified AVRO drawings, published scientific papers and a German intelligence report on the weapon which survived a crash in Holland.  It has been very reassuring to see that as more details have been released over recent years the accuracy of the model is there to see.” George Illingworth 6th December 2020

Photos of the model


Talk On Sir Frank Whittle – 9th December 2020 Duncan Campbell-Smith will be giving a talk entitled ‘Frank Whittle and the Jet Engine’ via Zoom at the Rossiter Books virtual literary festival, at 7pm on Wednesday 9th December. Jet Man: The Making and Breaking of Frank Whittle, the Genius behind the Jet Revolution. Duncan Campbell-Smith will talk about his new book, The story of Frank Whittle – RAF pilot, mathematician of genius, inventor of the jet engine and British hero. Drawing on Whittle’s extensive private papers, Campbell-Smith tells the story of a stoic and overlooked British hero, a tantalizing tale of ‘what might have been’. For tickets and further information, go to: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/rossiterbooks/t-dmndmm

Paul Waller / Martin Green 6th December 2020

The Gas Industry. John Brace writes “amongst my archives I have references to a number of Gas Films from the National Grid Archives at Warrington.  Many of these would probably be of interest to our members but if I were to pick out two”:-

  • A film made by North Western Gas Board showing the latest service laying techniques being used on new housing estates –
    click here to view the film.
  • A British Gas film about the end of gas production in the Scottish town of Millport on the Firth of Clyde –
    click here to view the film.

John Brace 5th December 2020