Don’t miss another “Pie and Pea Supper” fundraiser…

Pudsey Roller 2016

 

In 1921 John Fowler and Co, renowned agricultural engineers of Leeds, built a magnificent steam roller. When its working life came to an end in 1959, it was placed in the playground of Pudsey Park for generations of children to enjoy and it became affectionately known as The Pudsey Roller.

In 1990, it was removed from the park for safety precautions, and inevitably was left to face years of neglect.

The Friends of Pudsey Roller are a dedicated group, united in the passion to see it restored back to working condition again. The organisation meets twice a year to continue the successful fundraising ‘Pie and Pea Suppers’ for the project to a “Transport and Steam” theme.

Money raised from ticket sales will go towards the cost of food, and the rest to the Pudsey Roller. This Spring the Friends will be meeting on 26th May 2016 and all are gratefully welcome to the event which is of local interest to people who live Stanningley and Farsley.

Read more about the project: www.pudsey-roller.co.uk

 

RMS Titanic – 104 year anniversary

The magnificent Titanic is perhaps the most famed ship in history and its tragic story still stirs emotions and imaginations today. She was one of the three Olympic Class liners of the White Star Line, built by Harland and Wolff at their shipyard in Belfast, and deemed “unsinkable”; an industrial sensation destined for America and one of the fastest liners yet.

imTitanic

…The Titanic was 1799 miles from Queenstown and 1191 miles from New York, speeding for a maiden voyage record. The night was starlight, the sea glassy. Lights were out in most of the staterooms and only two or three congenial groups remained in the public rooms. In the crow’s nest or lookout, on on the bridge, officers and members of the crew were at their places, awaiting relied at midnight from their to hours’ watch. At 11.45 came the sudden sound of two gongs, a warning of immediate danger.
The crash against the iceberg, which had been sighted at only a quarter of a mile, came almost simultaneously with the clink of the lever operated by those on the bridge, which stopped the engine and closed the watertight doors…

The maiden trip of the newest and greatest of the modern ocean liners in the world ended in the most appalling marine disasters in history when she struck an iceberg and sank 2 miles below the icy Atlantic .  Although, she was carrying 2,223 people on board, the ship carried lifeboats for only 1,178.

The tragedy resulted in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the most heart-rending maritime disasters ever recorded.

Visit our page on Grace’s Guide to read more and view photographs of the Titanic.

Rachel Parsons – A woman ahead of her time

Rachel Mary Parsons was an extraordinary woman, born ahead of her time into an illustrious family. She had a remarkable impact on women’s rights in the engineering world,  founding societies and well-known in the highest of social circles for her glittering parties and grand houses in London and Suffolk. Sadly, wartime sorrow and estrangement haunted her life until she met her tragic end.

She inherited the talents of her father, Charles Algernon Parsons, and shared his interest in the world of engineering, accompanying him aboard the Turbinia during trials and sailing with him aboard the Mauretania in 1909.  She was the first woman to read Mechanical Sciences at Cambridge University in 1910.

During the hardships of World War I, women were called to work in the munitions factories, replacing the men fighting on the front line. Taking on the role of director of the family’s Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company, Rachel trained thousands of women assembling aeroplane components and making searchlight equipment to scan the skies for aircraft. As the supply of war materials became more and more urgent, Rachel trained more and more women to excel at intricate, physically demanding and highly important tasks, from installing electrical wiring on battleships, to working hydraulic presses.

See our previous blog on Women in Engineering

ParsonsGirls1
Parsons Women Labourers during WWI (ref: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums)

Rachel had no intention of following the conventional path expected of a young lady. Inspired by her experiences and determined to prove her worth she, with the help of her mother, founded the Women’s Engineering Society and became its first president. She was a keen member of the Royal Institute of Great Britain, and in 1922 joined the London County Council standing as a candidate for the Conservatives the year after during a time when only two female MPs were in office.

Later life hampered her political ambitions and faded her career aspirations. She found renewed lifestyle and enjoyed her parent’s inheritance, throwing grand parties and attending horse races.

She eventually moved to Newmarket and bought a stud farm in the surrounding Suffolk countryside.

It was here she met a brutal end when she was struck down and murdered by a stable worker and ex-employee of hers. He escaped the death penalty when he was found guilty of man-slaughter in the face of unendurable provocation.

Her story, though with a terribly tragic end, tells one of a lady’s determination to succeed and prove herself in times of great challenge.

Read more about Rachel Parsons here: www.rachelparsons.co.uk

 

Thank-you

Donations

As a non-profit organisation, we rely wholly on the generosity of the people who appreciate and support the project. Without donations and sponsors, it wouldn’t be possible to publish the amount of historical content we do everyday.

Already this year we have received numerous e-mails with attached photographs, written work and links from you, to help further the content on our webpages. Some of you have also been donating  magazines, books, and company publications in the post, which we are always very grateful to receive.

Thank-you for your continued support. With your help we can continue to preserve and grow the project. And remember to keep checking back to the website as we add new information daily.

If you think you can help in anyway, we want to hear from you. Please see our Wanted page or send us an e-mail.

British Industrial History in Sculpture

Look out for these striking works of art around the UK, built by the English sculptor Robert Erskine. Combining a passion for engineering and industry with his talent for creative thinking, he has fabricated his own masterpieces around the country to represent our country’s great industrial achievements.

1. Dead Blow (2011) in Openshaw Manchester, UK. To represent the Nasmyth steam hammer first produced on this site.

Nasmyth Hammer 1Nasmyth Hammer 2

 James Nasmyth with the steam hammer he invented. Picture taken in 1856.

2.  Roll Down (1996) in Bilston, Midlands, UK.  Sited on the former Bilston Steel Works No. 1 Furnace. To represent the rolling process of a steel bloom and reflect the thriving steel industry of the Black Country.

British Steel 1

British Steel 2

Nile Street steel works, Birmingham. Picture taken c1905-20.

3. Gloria (1996) in Canley, Coventry, UK. Situated on the historic site of the Triumph cars facility. To mark the centenary of the British car industry and tribute the technique of the wheeling machine used to curve body panels.

Triumph1

Triumph2

An example of an advert for the Triumph Renown showing the signature curves of the wheel arches.

Visit the sculptor’s official website for his full portfolio.

Grace’s Guide to Christmas Puddings

Christmas Pudding

Did you know more than two thirds of Christmas puddings sold in the UK come from one Derbyshire firm?

So when you sit down to your festive pud this season it’ll probably be one of the 26 million produced each year by Matthew Walker , the world’s oldest Christmas pudding maker.

Matthew Walker, a farmer’s son, started making preserves and Christmas puddings, from family recipes. After the Victorians adopted the pudding as a festive favourite for the family Christmas menu, Walker made enough sales to open a small factory in Derby’s Exeter Street in 1899. It was here where the firm began its extraordinary success story producing festive puds for the majority of the British market.

In 1967 Matthew Walker opened the factory in Heanor, where they still remain.
From here they use 1.3 million litres of alcohol and 300,000 tons of raisins to churn out around 7,500 tons of Christmas pudding each year. They sell to every supermarket, produce 280 varieties of pudding, and export as far as Australia.

Visit the official Matthew Walker website.

The first Christmas pudding recipes date back to the Middles Ages when rabbits, pheasants and partridge made up the bulk of pudding portions. The Plantagenets continued the savoury trends and introduced beef and mutton to the mix during the 14th century. It was a highly effective method of preserving meat to last the winter months. Livestock was slaughtered in autumn, and the meat was mixed with dried fruit, sugar and spices to act as preservatives when the mixture was stored in its pastry casing. “Plum pottage” was a name for this mix of meat, fruit and spices and it became a favourite dish served before meals in the 1500s.

A Christmas CarolThis seasonal treat was only enjoyed for a few decades before it was banned by the Puritans in 1664. But King George I (also known as The Pudding King) lifted this ban in the early 18th century. As meat preserving techniques bettered, the meaty ingredients were used less and less, and eventually they were replaced by breadcrumbs, fruit and spirits.

It wasn’t until the 1830’s that the fruity pudding we know, complete with holly sprig atop, came into fashion. They became a classic symbol of the Victorian Christmas menu encouraged more by Charles Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’ and newly found ideas of a traditional family Christmas.

Sources of information: http://www.matthewwalkerchristmaspuddings.co.uk/ and From Her Majesty to HMP: The Christmas pudding factory that feeds the nation
By Daily Mail Reporter: 02:07, 23 December 2008

Wartime woes captured in fascinating letters from December 1941

A company director pours his heart out about war time struggles in a dramatically touching letter we were lucky enough to receive from a reader of Grace’s Guide.

Sir Alan George Clark was born the son of a businessman in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1898. By the time of his death in 1962, he had helped and watched Plessey grow from a struggling company employing a handful if people, to a multi-million pound global organisation.

He wrote to a Mr C. J. Stewart of the Ministry of Aircraft Production in December 1941 in a dramatic state of despair:

Letter from A G Clarke

Mr Stewart’s reply:

ReplytoClarke

 

Plessey contributed greatly for the war effort, producing many varieties of components and equipment from shell cases to radio receivers. Despite the bombing of its Ilford site, Plessey built a new factory at Swindon and opened several other shadow factories around the U.K. They even converted a tunnel, built as an extension of the London Underground Central Line, into a munitions factory, and their wartime workforce was doubled from 5,000 in 1939 to over 10,000 in the early 1940s.

These personal letters don’t only give us a rare and incredible insight into the terrible economical impacts companies faced in wartime Britain; they take you back to Christmas 1941 and one man’s desperate struggle for himself and his company’s future.

Visit Grace’s Guide to find more historical treasures from Britain’s industrial past.

Another “Pie and Pea Supper” with The Friends of Pudsey Roller

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Please note: This image is taken from The Friend’s of Pudsey Roller’s website; http://www.pudsey-roller.co.uk/history.html

In it’s heyday, the ‘Pudsey Roller’ would’ve been a magnificent steam roller, built at the Steam Plough Works, of Hunslet in Leeds, by John Fowler and Co Ltd in 1921.

It was to become the pleasure of generations of  local children, when it was placed in the playground of Pudsey Park in 1959, remaining a popular attraction until 1990 when it was removed for safety reasons, inevitably left to stand many years of neglect.

 The Friend’s of Pudsey Roller are a dedicated group, working to raise money for the affectionately named steam roller, and they are united in the passion to see it restored back to working condition again.

The organisation meets twice a year to continue the successful fundraising  ‘Pie and Pea Suppers’ for the project to a “Transport and Steam” theme.  Money raised from ticket sales will go towards the cost of food, and the rest to the Pudsey Roller. This autumn the Friends will be meeting on Thursday 12th November 2015 and all interested are welcome.

See below for details.

To find out more about the project and how you can get involved check out the Friend’s of Pudsey Roller website.

Friends of Pudsey

 

 

 

 

Nearly 30,000 British Engineers on Grace’s Guide – It’s Time to Find out Who’s Who.

Who's Who Spotlight

We’re approaching 30,000 biography pages on Grace’s Guide… 

Which means there are even more engineer’s records you can freely access on the site, whether for historical and reference studies, or family history research.

Since digitizing our publications of Who’s Who in Engineering (1921-22) and The Engineer’s Who’s Who (1939), we’re busy uploading up to one hundred more engineers a day, so it’s worth checking back now and then to follow our progress.

View The Engineer’s Who’s Who (1939) or  Who’s Who in Engineering (1921-22) now to find out names you may recognise.

Can you help?

If you have any family records, memories, old photographs or accounts of any of our engineers or companies, we want to hear from you. Please get in touch with anything you’d like to contribute via our contact form here.

Explore our IMechE Records…

IMechE copy

We’ve updated our records on The Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

You can now access over 130 years of material on the Institution of Mechanical Engineers with no charge or restrictions on Grace’s Guide.

To date, we’ve collected and digitised proceedings of the IMechE from 1847 to the early 1970s detailing everything from new members and council members to visits of company works write-ups. Our digital archive also includes approximately 5,600 obituaries on past members of the institution, all of which we have created landing pages for.

Go to The Institution of Mechanical Engineers Archive Page.