Category Archives: Charity News

The latest updates for Grace’s Guide….

Grace’s Guide Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

10th Anniversary  Banner

 This month we celebrate a decade of archiving Britain’s industrial heritage.

The team at Graces Guide has spent the past 10 years collecting fascinating extracts from The Engineer, The Engineering Times, Mechanics Magazines and The Autocar to name a few, preserving them digitally for many years to come.

See our archive page here.

Our online archive includes over 186,000 images and over 122,000 web pages, on Britain’s industrial achievements, companies and engineering pioneers. The project also boasts 40,000 pages of biographical notes and over 500 industrial categories for researchers, academics and enthusiasts alike, to explore.

Im20140416-AIT                                              Andrew Tweedie – Founder and Editor

Grace’s Guide originated in March 2007 when Andrew Tweedie, founder and editor-in-chief, directed his attention to a long-term passion – industrial history. Motivated by his belief in the importance of preserving our heritage for future generations he was inspired to begin an extensive collection of historical material and publications. This new venture launched within days of the birth of his grand-daughter Grace, seemed too providential not to name the project “Grace’s Guide”.

The Engineer began publishing engineering developments and achievements in 1856 and has continued to record engineering history ever since. Sourcing these rare and early Engineer volumes to photograph and digitalise soon became a core purpose of Grace’s guide.

In 2014, the project reached an important milestone when not only did it become a registered charity, but 100 years worth of Engineer volumes had been photographed, digitalised and published online and free of charge to view and download.

There is currently no other online archive offering an entire digital run of these volumes in such an accessible way.

Many Engineer volumes were sourced from Grace’s Guide’s private collection, but many were also kindly loaned from Bristol Reference Library, The Institute of Mechanical Engineers and The Engineer (Centaur Communications).

The website attracts some 4,000 visitors each day and around half a million page views a month. Our team of volunteers help contribute to the website daily, so there are constant updates and new information to uncover with every visit.

Thanks to a continued sponsorship from Applegate Marketplace, Grace’s Guide will continue to provide people worldwide, from every generation, a free online resource to explore Britain’s rich industrial past.

Andrew Tweedie comments:

“We would like to thank all of those who have contributed information and publications to Graces Guide during these past 10 years. Without sponsorship and donations, we would not have been able to build such a vast encyclopaedia of industrial history. It’s wonderful to know there are so many people out there who share our dedication to maintain Britain’s great industrial history. As we look forward to the next 10 years we hope to expand the project by including more digitised publications and welcoming more contributors.”

Explore Grace’s Guide: www.gracesguide.co.uk

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Can you help us identify this family?

A  few years ago, we received an e-mail  with the attached photographs of this family supposedly relating to Beans Industries Ltd – Engineers and Ironfounders of Tipton in Staffordshire.

They are captioned ‘The Bean family’ in our records and the photographs are noted down as being between 1937-38, although we’re almost sure these dates can’t be accurate for both photographs.

If they are members of the Bean family, who are they? Can you help?

Please contact the editor if you have any information for us.

 

 

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.

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.

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.

 

A Tribute to Bruce Ward

The great Bruce Ward died on the 10th August 2015. He was renowned for his knowledge of the history of engineering and in particular to do with Cranes. From the early days he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Grace’s Guide project and his words of encouragement, introductions to others of a like mind and the publicity he gave us were greatly appreciated. Although some of his opinions in his writing could be controversial, his ability with words always made for interesting reading. He told me once that right from an early age he had an ambition to write and his talent for this always came through.

I had the great pleasure to meet with him earlier this year in his home town of Muroya, NSW, and although clearly not a well man, he was fascinating to talk with and I felt it would be easy to spend many hours in his company discussing engineering without any fear of tiring of him or the subject. As we were leaving he pulled up in his pick-up (Ute) which was stacked high with engineering books he was gifting to our project. There will never be another Bruce Ward. (Andrew Tweedie)

‘The Spitfire’ by Bert Martin

Spitfire

The Spitfire was a masterpiece of aerodynamic engineering, that adapted to every challenge the Second War World hurled in it’s way. It’s success shines through history, with numerous propeller designs and sixteen different versions , from reconnaissance planes to Seafires. It was the only fighter in production before, through and after the war, and around 20,300 produced for the RAF in total.

"Reginald Mitchell’s Spitfire fighter, is now a part of Britain’s heritage – history itself. Our history. And when I say 'our', I don’t mean a common market 'our', but a “Britain I’m proud of it our"…” …

"...when we heard the familiar wang of the Merlin engine – an unforgettable noise – followed by the victory roll, I said to myself – "there’s a little bit of me up there" and there must have been many others who felt the very same way..."

Bert Martin wrote down his feelings towards the production of Spitfires as he recalled his life memories in a short but touchingly detailed essay on the famed fighter planes. A talented and self-taught mechanical engineer, Bert worked for Follands, and was responsible for the Spitfire tail portion in the 1930′s.

His son Tony, has contacted Grace’s Guide with this fascinating and intimate account detailing the hey-day of Britain’s famed Spitfire.

Read Bert’s detailed account –‘The Spitfire’ now online on Grace’s Guide.