Category Archives: Charity News

The latest updates for Grace’s Guide….

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


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.

Hinkley Point in Pencil

Plant OverviewAS

Nuclear power stations aren’t generally considered as places of beauty, or sites of inspiration with many environmentalists opposing their existence at all in light of renewable energy trends. But last week we received an e-mail regarding Hinkley Point A Nuclear Power Station in Somerset, UK, that shed a different light on industrial power plants, with a refreshing story alongside.

Alan Sorrell was a well-known member of the Royal Watercolour Society, and built a strong reputation for himself painting archaeological illustrations, which he produced for the Ministry of Works, books, museums and the Illustrated London News. He was employed as an artist to record the construction of Hinkley Point A, from it’s beginnings , right through to its completion – a job that included climbing the great Goliath crane 250ft high to gain the best views across the site.

We’ve been very lucky to view some of these sketches, a few of which were published in ‘The Sphere‘ during the 1960’s. Unlike the many technical drawings and dark photographs printed in The Engineer,  they certainly offer a different perspective of the power plant, which has now shut down and been decommissioned.

ColourInterior AL

His family have been in touch, and are eager to locate the original sketches of his work, so please do get in touch with Grace’s Guide, if you have any more information on their whereabouts. 

A Review of 2014

2014 was a great year for the project and some of our frequent visitors will have noticed or read about key progressions within Grace’s Guide as they happened last year.

Here’s a reminder of some of our key events from 2014:

January – This time last year, (and after nearly seven years of hard work), we reached charity statusfor the advancement of the education of the public in the subject of the industrial and engineering history of the UK.

April – Then we hit over 100,000 pages in April, achieving a great milestone for the project and the content being made available to freely read and use everyday.

June – By early summer we had completed photographing the journals of The Engineer to provide perhaps the only complete digital version of The Engineer from 1856– 1960 available today.

October – We re-launched this blog last autumn to reach out to our readers and connect you to some of our greatest pages.

2015 is set to be another good year, so please get involved if you want to be a part of our volunteer team, contact us if you can add to any of our history pages, or simply keep supporting and returning to the site to find more exciting pieces of history and hidden gems about our industrial past.

Mechanics Magazine

Mechanics Magazine

Following on from the last blog post, the team has just uploaded two early bound volumes of Mechanics’ Magazine, that were kindly loaned to us by Mr Jeal of Devizes.

Now available on Grace’s Guide in PDF format:

Volume 19 of 1832-33
Volume 20 of 1833-34

We’re always looking for early books, volumes and magazines, so please do get in touch if you own anything you’re willing to loan or send in that can help us with the project.

Exciting Historic Volumes in time for Christmas

The team at Grace’s Guide are working on a few lovely additions to the site at the moment – the early volumes of ‘The Engineering Times and Mechanics Magazine and the first volume of ‘The Autocar’.

The Autocar Title

Malcom Jeal – an established member of The Society of Automotive Historians in Britain (SAHB) kindly got in touch with us quite recently introducing a collection of very rare and immaculate bound volumes of historic reference books.

We were kindly loaned ‘The Autocar’ volume 1, ‘The Engineering Times’ volumes 1 and 2, and a couple of early volumes of ‘Mechanics’ Magazine’, which we are currently processing.

As always, we are so grateful for contributions like these and the people behind them who kindly loan precious books for our digital archives.  Rare volumes, perhaps never publicly available before, are then preserved in our digital archive and reproduced online for your pleasure and convenience.

So please do get in touch if you feel you can contribute to Grace’s Guide and we will always strive to reply to you.

We are still processing Mechanics’ Magazine journals at the moment but have a look at the volumes now available to read online below:

The Autocar 1895-1896 Volume 1

The Engineering Times 1898-1899 Dec-Jun Volume 1
The Engineering Times 1899-1900 Jul-Jan Volume 2



Research Tips

Top Tips for The Researcher on Grace’s Guide

To ensure you make the most of all the information archived on the site and don’t miss any hidden gems, we’ve put together a few top tips in a detailed guide.

Read our top tips for searching the site.

With over one hundred thousand online pages and even more images and PDF’s, Grace’s Guide is a leading source for free-to-use historical information on Britain’s industrial past.

We’re the first and perhaps only site to hold a complete digital archive of the rare original volumes of The Engineer, spanning 100 years from the 1860’s. Every page of The Engineer is in an easy to read PDF format, both searchable on Grace’s Guide and the top search engines.

Eventually and with funding, we hope to do the same for ‘Engineering’ to collect even more rare accounts, editorials and engravings for you to freely use and view at your convenience.

Enjoy exploring the site!

Interesting Telegraph Equipment – Solved!

We’ve had an interesting enquiry regarding this lovely old piece of telegraphy equipment and as our research continues we’ve uncovered some interesting answers!

We often receive e-mails from people wanting to know more about their hidden treasures or mystery antiques. Most items and any related information finds a place on the Grace’s Guide history pages and we’re often able to look up more details for our reader straight away. Sometimes however, we need to do a bit of extra research and with items like this, we’ll ask museums, collections, enthusiasts and experts to help us find the answers.

In this case we got in touch with Porthcurno Museum in Cornwall, The Central Archive of The British Museum and The Siemens organisation itself. All proposed excellent information, but the most certain came from Professor Emeritus Tom Perera of the Montclair State University. Take a look at his online telegraph museum.

He expertly identified the object as a Siemens Code Transmitter designed to send a specific message in Morse code when activated. The message in this case being “S” and “I”. Adding to this he tells us it was most likely an alarm device that sent those characters to alert the main station that an event had occurred at the site, identified by ‘I’ ‘S’ and dated it between 1890 and 1930.

Do you know anything more? If you think you can add to the story of this fascinating piece of equipment– please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  We’d love to hear from you.


Completion of The Engineer (1856-1960)

After a national search, several journal courier trips and plenty of nail-biting moments, we’ve successfully managed to piece together the last remaining pages of The Engineer, to finally make our online archive complete!

Although we have 103 of the 210 volumes held here in the SMC Library, we couldn’t have done it without the generous help of three organisations: Bristol Reference Library, The Engineer (Centaur Communications) and The Institute of Mechanical Engineers , both of London, whose combined efforts into lending us journals to archive, we’re so thankful for.

View the complete bound volumes here.

The next step for The Engineer project completion is now to finish indexing the journals. Enriching the site with crucial links back to relevant pages of the journals, indexing is an invaluable process for those wanting to research deeper into engineering subjects.

Found at the footer of each page, there may be a link to an Engineer journal. By clicking through one of these links, you will be presented with a list of information found within the journal, including the subject you’re pursuing, as well as a full list of other subjects within that month/year. Here you can find out which page number you need to refer to for your subject before opening the searchable PDF file located at the top of the page for further reading.
For example, John Fowler has a link from his page to the journal of 1873/07/11:

The EngineerClick-through to this page and you’ll find a list of main subjects. For, John Fowler in this example, he is referenced to the 1873 Royal Agricultural Show.

Note the page number you’ll need when you’ve found your subject and open the PDF at the top of the page to find and read more information:

The Engineer 1873We’re constantly indexing the site, so make sure to keep checking back!