FOCUS on Industrial Archaeology No. 68, June 2007


European Route of Industrial Heritage

Living Landmarks: People's Millions

A meeting with Prof. Mick Aston


Meetings Reports

December 2006 — Wessex Film & Sound Archive

January 2007 — Exploring the seabed of the Isle of Wight

February — History of Milling

March — Calshot and the Flying Years

April — An idiosyncratic look at the British Canal System

May — Wiltshire in the age of steam



AIA Ironbridge Weekend Conference on Roads

Flax & Hemp-based Industries in Wessex

South Eastern Region Industrial Archaeology Conference 2007

South West and West of England Region IA Conference 2007



Twyford Waterworks Trust

Maritime Projects

HIAS Rescue and Restoration Section


Book Review

Southampton's Quayside Steam



Itchen Navigation

Replica Cody Aircraft to be built

SR locomotive Lord Nelson — the continuing story

Thomas Telford 250

English Heritage Car Project

Snippets — for those who missed them





European Route of Industrial Heritage  (Rodney Hall)

The ERIH is a project aimed at the promotion of industrial heritage and culture through the networking of existing sites, with appropriate interpretation, information and signposting to enhance their tourism potential.


Recognised for its educational and hobby value, industrial heritage has been viewed by the general tourist industry as a niche market and the aim of the project is to widen the appeal and awareness of industrial sites.


The concept is to obtain ‘Partners’ — usually Local Authorities, National organisations, Universities etc. — and identify key industrial heritage sites, known as ‘Anchor Points’. Other suitable sites in the area of the Anchor Points are identified and a ‘Regional Route’ around the Anchor Point established. The Anchor Points are special, of the highest quality, representative of one or more aspects of industrial history, such as processing and manufacture, inland transport, generating and using power, and civil engineering. They have a key promotional role, advertise the whole system, and provide information.


Trans-national ‘Themed Routes’ are to be developed, encompassing Mining, Iron and Steel, Textiles, Production and Manufacture, Application of Power, Transport and Communication, and Water. The idea is that potential visitors can either follow the route of an industry they are interested in or discover the industries in a particular area.


At present, participating countries are Belgium, France (north east), Germany (North-Rhine Westphalia), Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and United Kingdom. Four Regional Routes, so far, are in the process of being set up in the UK and to give an idea of the set-up Essex County Council is one ‘Partner’ with Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Museum as the ‘Anchor Point’, the ‘Regional Route’ being round industrial heritage sites in East Anglia. The ‘Regional Route’ round North-West England has as Partner the University of Manchester with Anchor Point the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. West Midlands has the Partner Telford & Wrekin Council with Ironbridge Gorge Museums as Anchor Point. South Wales has Torfaen Council as Partner and Big Pit Mining Museum as Anchor Point. Potential Anchor Points in other parts of the UK have been identified but have yet to be developed.


In the longer term, if the idea is successful, it is hoped to extend the Themed Routes world-wide and the ERIH organisation will concentrate on advertising, overall marketing and quality control.


This project has the potential to transform the way industrial heritage is perceived and greatly benefit industrial heritage sites not only in visitor numbers but also in the authenticity with which they can portray the industrial past. As ‘they’ say, watch this space.


More information can be seen on the ERIH web site, 

(This information has been taken from a booklet European Route of Industrial Heritage, Our Common European Heritage.)



“Living Landmarks: People's Millions”  

Six projects will be competing for the £50m ‘Living Landmarks’ challenge, where there will be a live televised vote on ITV in November. Bidders have already been given £½m each to develop their submissions, which were to be handed into the National Lottery's charitable arm, the Big Lottery Fund, by 31st May.


The six projects are:- Sherwood: The Living Legend — to transform historic Sherwood Forest as a tourist attraction; Connect2 — Transport charity Sustrans to help fund 50 or more local foot and cycle bridge schemes across the UK; Eden project climate change biome — a new attraction to teach people about the perils of climate change; Waterlinks — 51 Somerset-based projects to open up rivers and canals to people, including historic canal renovations and new canal locks; Black Country as an Urban Park — Four flagship developments at Dudley (regeneration of the Wren’s Nest and Seven Sisters Mine), Sandwell, Walsall (both linked by a new footpath) and Wolverhampton (creation of a walkway alongside the canal network).


The sixth is closer to home and goes under the name of Inspired. This is a project based at the Science Museum's store on the former airfield at Wroughton near Swindon. The idea is to attract more young people into science and engineering by creating a new experience for them. The development team want to inspire children ahead of their GCSEs by allowing them to spend several days exploring scientific artefacts and allowing them time to understand the principles that make things work. The ‘Inspired’ initiative needs £64m.


Apart from a couple of refurbished buildings which are now the offices for the museum staff, the 221ha air base at Wroughton is little changed from the days when it was used as a maintenance site during WWII. The Science Museum in London can display only 8% of its exhibits at any one time. There are ten hangars on the site which house around 200,000 of the Science Museum's largest exhibits. Only one hangar is open to the public but, if ‘Inspired’ can find the money it needs, another hangar could be opened up and a main museum building constructed. Existing plans would make this — a concrete structure with a cantilevered steel roof covered with chalk downland grass — the second largest free standing museum building in the world at 40,000m2 in its total surface area. It would allow aircraft to be suspended and give exhibits the space they need.

(information from the New Civil Engineer, 17 May 2007)



A meeting with Professor Mick Aston (Angela Smith)

It’s strange how coincidences occur. In December’s Focus I wrote an article about Time Team’s archaeologist Mick Aston having given his first extra-mural lecture in Birmingham in 1968 to a group of us on one of Edwin Course's IA ‘weeks’ with Southampton University. Well, in February Mick was giving a talk at Winchester University so Nigel and I went along. Mick is a very entertaining speaker … just the same as he appears on TV. His slide talk covered a little of “how he became an archaeologist” but mostly about what goes on during filming of Time Team.


A “question-time” of nearly half-an-hour followed. One person asked why there were so many Roman sites chosen on Time Team … was this because there were so many, above all other types of sites, submitted. The answer was that the programme organisers want it that way as they think that is what the viewers want, and gets the best viewing figures. At least half of the programmes will be Roman excavations. Mick would prefer more sites such as old houses, monasteries … and industrial archaeology: something that is a bit different from yet another Roman villa. Another person commented about the problem of recruiting younger people to archaeology. Mick said that he is worried about the future for archaeology, but he has training programmes to try and get youngsters interested in the subject before they old enough to be “sidetracked” in their teens. He also has strong connections with Winchester archaeology and the university there.



Angela Smith meets Mick Aston at a talk he gave in Winchester on February 27th, 2007


Afterwards I was able to have a brief chat with him and showed him the 1968 study tour programme (he instantly said “That was Dr Course, wasn't it”) which he was delighted to see as this gave him a definite date which he didn’t have previously. He asked his PA to make a note of the dates and she copied the programme on her digital camera. I showed Mick the December Focus and explained how the group had metamorphosed into HIAS, and he asked about Edwin. Mick only gives about 8 lectures a year so, if you ever see one advertised, my advice is make the effort to attend.



Meetings  (report by Carol Burdekin)


December's meeting found us all gathered at the County Records Office in Winchester as guests of the Wessex Film & Sound Archive, presented by David Lee, who gave the group a similar presentation two years ago.  Started in 1988 and with about 26,000 items of film and sound archive dating back to 1890, the WF&SA is still collecting for the future. Although always lobbying for more funds, WF&SA is fortunate in that Hampshire County Council is very supportive which, according to David, is quite unique for a county council. Amongst their latest acquisitions is Southern TV’s archive as they are unable to house them following their move to smaller premises. David said it would be nice to have the Cathedral and College archives one day as amongst the College’s papers is a document signed by “Rufus” from William of Wykeham’s time.


Amongst the footage David showed us were pre-fabs being erected on the Stanmore Council Estate just after the war for temporary housing, until more substantial brick houses were built, featuring the Mayor of Winchester posing with the new tenants, and handing over the keys. A 1930s film of the construction of Southampton’s No. 7 Dry Dock built especially to take the Queen Mary and other large liners [closed last year, but now Listed] and, to finish, a film that David said he could not show anyone else except I.A enthusiasts — Highbridge Gravel Pits! Owned by Halls and made by one of the staff, the film took us through the whole process of producing building gravel from getting it out of the ground to seeing it deposited on a building site ready for use. Many thanks to David for giving up his free time to show us some of WF&SA’s unique collection.


January 2007 — the New Year started with a talk by Rebecca Causer on Exploring the Seabed of the Isle of Wight. Rebecca works for the Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology, a job she has been involved in for two years. The H&WTMA was formed in 1991 to “identify, preserve and make people aware of this fragile and mostly unseen heritage” with the backing of HCC and the then Isle of Wight County Council. Rebecca went on to tell us about the richness of our maritime archaeology situated around the Solent, and the magnificent finds that have been discovered over the years including bones of a buried mammoth, flint tools from the Mesolithic period, jars from Roman cargoes and, of course, many wrecks which number about 4000 in the Solent alone.


Rebecca went on to tell us that the co-operation of the aggregate industry in the Trust’s work is very important and is relied upon a lot for marine archaeology information. With 200 million tons of aggregate removed per year for U.K. needs, the profession is strictly supervised with detailed surveys carried out, and licenses required. Also sports divers can make a contribution in locating historic sites and wrecks.  


It was obvious from Rebecca’s talk that the potential of what marine archaeology can tell us is immense, and we were very grateful to her for sparing the time in coming along and sharing this with us.


Owing to an unfortunate mix-up, February’s meeting, The Future of Historic Dockyards around the World by Dr Celia Clark, was unable to go ahead and instead we had a talk by John Silman on the History of Milling. Before John’s talk, Celia did tell us that she is trying to get Portsmouth designated as a World Heritage Site, but is facing a lot of competition from other Dockyards around the country. What makes it more complicated for Portsmouth is that there are five local authorities involved in the process. Watch this space!


John started his talk by showing us sketches of early man and his endeavours to feed himself through his wits. Then he went on to show us a sketch of what a Roman corn mill would have looked like together with a medieval water wheel circa 14th Century with its own eel trap, a 1590s floating boat wheel, a 1662 German corn mill and French & Italian water wheels. Windmills, John said, have been around since the 1100s. With this information, John slowly built up a comprehensive evolutionary picture of how both sorts of mills have progressed and changed over the years.


John’s slides were then of a variety of mills, many still standing, but alas many now demolished including a 120ft nine-storey windmill in Southsea built as a co-operative by the dockyard workers, but demolished in 1922, with others having been more fortunate including Longbridge Mill at Sherfield-on-Loddon, which is now a Whitbread pub, and has undergone an extensive programme of repair and renovation following a fire. The Hampshire Mills Group now carries out milling there every fourth Saturday in the month, and do a healthy trade in selling the flour over the bar. One of John’s prettiest slides was of Maybury Mill in West Virginia, which John told us is reputed to be “the most photographed mill in the U.S”.


We do hope that Dr Clark will return and present her lecture sometime in the future, but were very grateful to John for standing in at the last minute.


March's meeting welcomed back Colin Van Geffen whose talk this time was titled Calshot and the Flying Years. Colin apologised for missing his last scheduled talk, and thanked us for asking him back. As well as slides, Colin brought along a selection of model planes that feature in his talk, and an assortment of other flying memorabilia. Explaining the difference between a flying boat and a seaplane, which has its floats in the water whereas a flying boat has its hull in the water, Colin informed us that on the 29th March 1913 Calshot Naval Air Station was opened. Its original purpose was the testing of seaplanes for the Royal Flying Corps’ Naval wing but, with the advent of WW1, the station undertook aircrew training and anti-submarine and convoy protection patrols. On the 5th February 1922 it became RAF Calshot.


Back in 1914 a successful drop of a torpedo by a Sopwith seaplane was carried out at Calshot, the pilot being a Captain Gordon Bell. At this time the demand for Sopwith Camels was such that it had to be franchised out to other airplane manufacturers. Some of these planes survived well into WW2 and were used for training purposes. Between the wars the station continued with training and testing and in 1927, 1929 and 1931 it was used by the RAF High Speed Flight to train for the Schneider Trophy Races.


During WW2 Calshot was mainly used for repair, maintenance and modification of RAF flying boats, and the maintenance side continued after the war until it was finally closed on the 1st April 1961. We were pleased to have Colin back again, and trust he will come again and give us another interesting talk.


Unfortunately, Jeff Pain was unable to give his advertised talk on 40 Years of I.A. at April’s meeting, but fortunately John Silman stepped in again [see February’s meeting] with a talk on An idiosyncratic look at the British Canal System.


With a wide selection of slides, mainly taken on family holidays in the past, John started off by explaining how canal systems worked and then talked us through his slides which included a fair bit of I.A content as well as specific canals and their boats. From a 1963 slide showing an old butty converted to an 8 horse powered engine with a leaky roof and about 9" of snow on the ground [was this a holiday?] to different canal tunnels, a steam powered dredger [now in a museum], towpaths [without the horses], canals before and after restoration, numerous locks together with John's very informative commentary throughout. 


Other information included snippets such as, did we know that mules and donkeys were used to tow the narrow boats as well as horses, and that mules would not drink contaminated water, but horses were not so discerning. How one year the Farnborough Air Show nearly didn’t go ahead as the nearby Basingstoke Canal overflowed and the runway was in danger of being flooded. Also the Basingstoke Canal [mainly restored by volunteers] which, although in Hampshire and Surrey, has only one lock in its Hampshire section whereas Surrey has about 19 to maintain, and explaining to us about side pounds which ensure there is always enough water in the canals for boats coming either way.


What came over well in John’s slides was that wherever there was a canal, even if it was in the middle of an industrialised city such as London or Birmingham, there was always a feeling of it being in a more rural location than it actually was, so bystanders can enjoy the canals just as much as the people who actually use the waterways for work or pleasure. 


A big thank you and round of applause to John was standing in at short notice, and we still have Jeff’s talk to look forward to, rescheduled to August.


May Meeting  (report by Angela Smith)

Carol was somewhere up in the wilds of Scotland when Dr Peter Stanier visited us once again, this time to talk about Wiltshire in the age of steam, which just happens to be the title of the third in his “in the age of steam” books which was published a year ago, following Dorset (2002) and Somerset (2003). He explained that the publishers thought that putting “steam” in the title might encourage more sales, although the books are basically covering industries in those counties during the years since “steam” was introduced.


Illustrated were such subjects as transport (railways, roads and canals), quarrying, mills (water, wind and textile), breweries and workers’ housing. Peter commented, referring to Brunel’s Great Western Railway, that there are hopes of making the whole of the GWR line a World Heritage Site as he showed the ornamental portal of Box Tunnel which is twice the height of the bore of the tunnel. When the tunnel was being cut, Bath Freestone was discovered, so underground quarries were cut to remove this delicately coloured limestone. Other limestones which are quarried in the county include Portland and Purbeck, the most famous of which is Chilmark Stone. A slide of Tisbury Stone Quarry about 1850 was shown, although this site is now completely overgrown. Limekilns and a stonemason’s yard in Great Bedwyn full of salvaged stone items were illustrated.


Passing through Wiltshire are parts of three canals — Kennet & Avon with highlights such as the Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes, the Dundas Aqueduct and the steam pumping station at Crofton, the derelict Thames & Severn (which just creeps into the north of the county) and the Wilts & Berks, some parts of which have been restored.


It was a fascinating talk, perhaps more so as the majority of the illustrations were fairly recent, so it is possible to visit some of the places. One frustrating aspect — Peter kept on referring to the slides he was unable to fit in! However, anyone really interested can always purchase Wiltshire in the Age of Steam where everything seen during the talk is illustrated, many sites with grid references. It can be ordered from the publisher, Halsgrove Direct, Halsgrove House, Lower Moor Way, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6SS at a cost of £19.99 with p&p £2.95. Cheques payable to Halsgrove. Email: The ISBN number is 1 84114 549 1.





AIA Ironbridge Weekend Conference on Roads — 14/15 April 2007(Ray Riley)


For some years the Ironbridge Weekend has been themed, following particular aspects of industrial archaeology, an approach which has proved attractive judging by the numbers who attend. The April 2007 meeting concentrated on roads — ports, canals and railways having previously featured.


John Crompton introduced proceedings with an examination of the evolution of the British road system from medieval packways to the first motorway — the Preston by-pass — in 1958. Particularly interesting were time-distance graphs showing just how much time has been controlled. A more specifically historical approach was taken by Keith Lawrence who demonstrated the bewildering complexity of legislation affecting roads in the 16th to 18th centuries. Since most carters were barely literate, the strategy widely adopted was to ignore the rules. What’s new? Through careful photography round Shaftesbury, Peter Stanier showed how new road building may take different lines from the old, while Alan Rosevear explained the basis of the data bank the Milestone Society is building on turnpikes.


There was a fascinating walk on Saturday afternoon viewing four important nearby bridges on the Severn: Buildwas (1796), Ironbridge (1779), Jackfield (1909) and Coalport (1780).


The evolution of the street tram was capably presented by Chris Irwin, followed by Ray Riley on the evolution of the road bridge from Greek times to the 19th  century. The weekend concluded with a talk by David Lowe on commercial issues facing modern road hauliers. The talks certainly provided a useful background to industrial archaeology which tends to emphasise detail rather than process.



Flax & Hemp-based Industries in Wessex  

Report of a one-day conference held on 3rd February 2007 in East Coker, Somerset, under the aegis of The Coker Rope & Sail Trust.

by Eleanor Yates, Roger & Wendy Hedge, Mick Edgeworth & Andy Fish


After coffee and a welcome by the organisers, Robert Allwood and Sandy Buchanan, the first paper on the industries in Somerset was given by Steph Gillett, consultant for the South Somerset District Council’s Project. He outlined the history of the flax and hemp industries: the plants were originally introduced by the Romans; later Henry II brought Flemish linen weavers to England and by 1309 the industry was present in West Coker. Henry VIII encouraged the growing of flax and hemp for about 30 miles round Bridport as the expanding Navy needed sails and ropes. Sixty sites are recognised by English Heritage in the West Country, and Wessex supplied hemp to the rope walks at Woolwich and Portsmouth. Later it is thought that the Royal Navy, including Nelson’s fleet, had sailcloth supplied by Coker because of the very high quality, despite heavy competition from Ulster. The last webbing works at Crewkerne only closed in 2005. Mills such as East Mill at Fordingbridge and Abbey Mill at Romsey were converted from grist to fulling or flax mills, others had dual use. The name Flaxfields can still be found on maps where the industry flourished.


Mike Bone, an economic historian and industrial archaeologist, gave the second paper covering Dorset. He quoted from papers included in journals like those of Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society and North Somerset Notes and Queries. Evidence has been found of hemp grown in places as far away as Dundee and Leeds being imported through West Bay and processed in Dorset in some of the earliest industrial buildings in the area.


The third paper was by Pam Slocombe of WANHS on Wiltshire’s industry. She had important points to make about the soils (greensand & clay) where hemp and flax can be grown and the areas of Wiltshire (Salisbury, Calne, Swindon, Melksham, Bradford-on-Avon etc) where coir matting, sacking, ticking, dowlas, smock, cheese-cloth and sailcloth were made. Some of the hemp used was imported through Hamburg and from Indian hemp-works. Lots of flax fields in Europe were lost because of WWl battlefields, although there was more demand for uniforms, ropes etc.


After lunch short papers were given by Ann Heeley on an oral history project based in Glastonbury, including interviews with flax workers; Ross Aitkin on the Coker Rope, Twine & Sail Trust and its research into the 16 new scutching mills built in the years leading up to the WWII, each able to handle locally grown flax from about 3000 acres; Sally Jackson on ten cottages in East Coker clearly associated with the industry, though this is not immediately apparent now; Robert Allwood on pits, shown on maps, which may or may not have been used for sheep dips or flax retting and finally Sandy Buchanan on the ‘missing’ bleach fields, shown on maps until the C19, but now unrecognised, and the different chemical methods of bleaching sailcloth used later. Interesting points were made about the subsidiary industries of linseed oil, tow and the techniques of growing flax and hemp.


Coker Rope and Sail Trust . . . and a Salted Cod recipe

The Trust issued its first Newsletter in February. HIAS members may remember that it entered last year’s BBC Restoration Village competition with the Dawes Twine Works. The programme has generated much support for the project to restore the works. The site has been secured and rubbish is being cleared. Fragile material had already been cleared and is being stored through the offices of Yeovil Museum. An item mentioned at the Flax & Hemp Conference was a Salted Cod recipe. This dish came about when the boats from Dorset and Devon in the 16th Century went out to Newfoundland where they fished for cod using lines made in Coker. They salted the cod, traded it in Jamaica and the Caribbean for rum and this is where the recipe came from.


Hemp History

This item was spotted by Wendy Hedge and comes from the magazine Handwoven, Jan/Feb 2001 (Interweave Press USA), and appears to be a contribution from a reader relating to a comment from a 1984 reprint of a book by Harriette Simpson Arnow called Flowering of the Cumberland.


“Hemp had no history of widespread cultivation in the American colonies. England had long offered bounties for its production, but most farmers … felt the hard and long labor of producing hemp fiber made the crop … non-profitable. England in order to supply her rapidly expanding navy with rope had to depend largely on Russia, producer of a very high grade, snow-rotted hemp.


“The American Revolution cut off the supply of hempen rope, and the growth of the plant became more wide-spread, for with a scarcity of imported cloth and all cloth expensive, even the hempen variety increased in use. As early as 1780 hemp was being grown in Kentucky for cloth. With yields sometimes as much as fourteen hundred pounds of fiber to the acre, the … pioneer could grow a small patch, less than a quarter of an acre, and from it get fiber enough to make needed rope or cords, coarse clothing, towels, even tablecloths and feather ticks for a whole family. The poor white man often wore hempen clothing during pioneer years, while the field hands of the Deep South knew little else for work clothes.”



South Eastern Region Industrial Archaeology Conference 2007 (Rodney Hall)


This year’s SERIAC was held in the John Madejski Theatre of the Agricultural Building, University of Reading, on Saturday April 21st, hosted by Berkshire IA Group.


After the official welcome, the proceedings were led off by Paul Sowan whose talk was entitled, not surprisingly, Chalk Mines and Underground Quarries in Berkshire. There are 5 chalk mines in Berkshire which are accessible but the total number is unknown, as every-so-often another one collapses, sometimes creating a hole in someone's garden. Interpretation of debris left in mines aids determination of the purpose of the mine, e.g. for flint, building blocks, lime burning etc. This led to uses for chalk and extractive methods being explained. Chiselhurst ‘caves’, Dawson’s (of Piltdown infamy) dene holes and World War II storage also got a mention.


The subject of the second talk, the Epsom Mental Institutions - History & Services, given by Alan Thomas, was rather on the periphery of IA. Built in the early 20th century to house, treat and if possibly train those people with mental illness, the site catered for up 8000 inmates. The final, sixth, institution planned for the site was never built and rundown started after the second World War, final closure being in 1996. Most of the site has since been demolished. Self-contained, the site had its own artesian well, the electricity power station providing light and power for the site including the three sets of water pumps. The empty boiler and power houses (latterly used as training workshops) have been restored as part of a leisure complex and the in-situ water pumps have been cosmetically restored.


The last talk of the morning, by David Buckley, was on the ideas and development of the European Route of Industrial Heritage. This is a scheme setting up a series of industrial heritage trails in north-western Europe to foster interest in industrial heritage spurred by the collapse of industry, especially in the Ruhr.


Dick Greenaway gave the first talk after lunch which was about Woodland Archaeology in the Wessex AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), which covers an area of Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire. Very little is known about archaeological remains within ancient woodland as many woods are private and they are also difficult to explore. However, much remains for the discerning eye. Banks and ditches may be the remains of ancient deer fences. Long narrow depressions could be old saw-pits, sometimes with potash pits nearby. Levelled areas for charcoal burning are often numerous. There is often evidence of extractive industry and also the making of wood products.


Six well-known Civil Engineers in the Thames Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries were selected for the next talk by Stephen Capel-Davies, and the work they undertook was explored. Notice was also taken of links between them, e.g. who was apprenticed to whom. John Smeaton, the first person to call himself a civil engineer (as opposed to a military engineer) made improvements to the waterwheel which was applied in water mills. He also engineered London Bridge — the one built in 1763-1771. Josias Jessop made surveys and reports on the River Thames, especially for navigation. John Rennie Snr. was associated (as were Boulton & Watt) with Albion Mills, East and West India Docks, the Kennet & Avon Canal, Southwark, Waterloo and London (1824-1831) bridges. I.K. Brunel, the Thames Tunnel, the GWR, the building of the Great Eastern. John Hawkshaw had a hand in the underground railways, Charing Cross bridge and some work on the Thames. Joseph Bazalgette engineered London’s sewer system along with other work in London.


The final talk was Information Explosion and the 19th Century Printing Industry by Martin Andrew, on the printing industry and the collections in the Typography & Graphic Communication Department of the University of Reading. Printing is an essential element in the dissemination of knowledge. Modern printing can be said to have started with the invention of moveable type in 1450. The first real manual of printing was issued in 1683. Only the wealthy and educated read books until the 19th century. With industrialisation came the need for advertising, stationery, packaging, price lists, catalogues, posters etc. Universal education, railways (entertainment on journeys), and the penny post all increased the demand for printing. The development of compositing machines and the rotary printing press enabled much faster and cheaper printing and up-to-date news. Similarly, developments in producing images allowed the change from purely text to pictorial posters, books, etc.


After the conference there was a choice of visits; either to the Museum of English Rural Life or the Printing History Collection in the Typography and Graphic Communication Dept, both part of the University. The writer opted for the Typography visit. A range of printing presses of all ages are housed in the Department with a policy of them being working examples, not static exhibits. Thus the development of presses and the method of operation could be followed. Printed ephemera is collected and examples were displayed and described so that the progression in type fonts and illustrations could be followed. 2 hours' explanation by staff member Martin Andrew soon went. Not open to the public, visits by local societies can be accommodated so could also be a venue for a HIAS trip, although Reading is a bit far for an evening.



South West and West of England Region IA Conference (Roger Hedge)

A few notes on the 38th IA Conference of South Wales and West of England.


The Conference was held by the Somerset IA Society on 19th May 2007 at Wellington Rugby Club, just south-west of Taunton. As well as being attended by myself and Wendy, Tony Yoward and Barry Duke were there. Many of the faces present at the Conference of the East Coker Trust for Flax Conservation were there, including the Chair for the day, Sandy Buchanan.


We learned that the venue had been selected for its ample car parking. Sod’s Law prevailed, however. Mayhem ensued just as Councillor Andrew Govier completed his opening remarks and welcome to Wellington. It transpired that the car parking area had been booked for a triathlon to be held the following day and that cars in a certain area would either be blocked in or towed away, while preparations were made! The triathlon organisers had not been told of the IA Conference, nor had SIAS been told of the triathlon. Eventually, it was agreed that we could park on the outskirts of the rugby field. Late arrival has its blessings; we had arrived with minutes to spare to be directed to the field, though at that stage we did not know why, other than lack of space.


Things got under way, after all this, with an excellent presentation by John Willows, Curator of the Wessex Water Museum at Sutton Poyntz. The written word cannot do justice to the detailed illustrated history of water supply to the area and of setting up of Wessex Water. I am suggesting this may be a future talk for HIAS, as it embraces Bournemouth Water and West Hants Water, on the fringe of our area of influence. What was illustrated equally applies to water supplies anywhere and other references were made to Southampton, too. For me, with my interest in the SS Great Britain, I have at last learned how the funnel of the Great Eastern came to be used as a strainer at Sutton Poyntz. After the Great Eastern foundered it was towed to Weymouth to be broken up by the self-same contractor involved in new works at Sutton Poyntz. Improvisation is a route to increased profit! A further curiosity was that, following a burst dam at the first Sutton Poyntz reservoir, there had been a Board Meeting to discuss plans for a new reservoir the very day the Great Eastern ran aground. Whose hand was that?


Mary Miles, a noted historian of Somerset and the new Chair of SIAS, gave a talk based on her new book on the breweries of “modern” Somerset. As an introduction, she showed the difficulties of losing part of Somerset to the new County of Avon. The records for the ‘Avon’ part got sent to Bristol Record Office at the outset, though some accommodation has now been made to return some to Somerset. She decided to stay with the “rump” County [my term]. She illustrated the distribution of sales from selected “local” breweries and sought to relate these to the degree of enterprise of the owners, the road system [one day’s dray ride!!] and the impact of the railways. It was quite remarkable how far one brewery penetrated, expanding its sales literally across the Empire and Britain's sphere of influence, from Singapore to Montevideo. The First World War scuppered the fortunes of all, partly from restrictions on grain supply to breweries and partly by other influences. The Anglo-Bavarian Brewery promptly dropped Bavaria from its name!


Henry Gunston, from the Vale of White Horse Group [nb not Society], gave a fascinating overview of the types and designs of water flow mechanisms to prevent flooding upstream in tidal rivers and fenland areas, hard to depict without illustrations. Many illustrations came from the Fens. Somerset Levels terminology for a “pointy” gate pair, opened and shut by the flow is clyse. The pointy end is downstream, just as for lock gates. Because silt often obstructs operations, these always have a simple sluice immediately upstream, to be closed if the gates do not shut. Every imaginable combination of pivots, tilts and radial rotations exists somewhere and even the Thames Barrier got a mention. A new term for me was that of “cycloidal” tide gate. This seemed to depend on the “pivot” being an extended structure that rocked on a plane — not easy to describe. He also dealt with rymers, a really elaborate and time-consuming system of pillars, set into plates on the river bed, with cross planks to act as the weir. Apparently, such systems were the source of many a conflict between millers and bargees, who needed the weir open and shut at different times and hesitated to get involved in the labourious task of replacing the situation they found on arrival. Overall, this may well be a topic of interest to HIAS. Henry appears to tour the UK giving local variants of this talk.


The afternoon started with an interesting overview of some of the 20th century wartime structures that have been recorded in Gloucestershire, before total decay or demolition. Alan Strickland has made determined efforts to elicit the purpose of assorted buildings before all knowledge has been lost. He dealt with a range of airfield buildings, even down to firing ranges, where little but a wall remains. The most curious was a tall block that turned out to have been used to train bomb aimers, where an image simulating the target area was projected on to the floor and it was moved in response to the bomb aimer‘s actions, while laying on a platform set at a height to reflect an aircraft's position. An early analogue simulator. He also covered parachute packing stations, where a key stage is drying, barrage balloon hangars and Royal Observer Corps posts, that were continued after WWII and eventually became nuclear fall-out observer posts, should the event have arisen. He didn’t have time to cover POW sites, searchlight installations, munitions activities and others.


The next lecture on coal shipping facilities in South Wales dealt with the Newport, Barry and Cardiff complex of ports. There were innumerable plans of dock basins and their evolution, with sidings galore, all in black and white, backed up with a droning presentation. Some of the more interesting was the array of hoists and how they evolved with time. Also, the spat between the Taff Railway Company and its competitor over the rights of access to a new dock was quite fun.


The Kelly Mine Preservation Society pairing gave an intriguing review of the formation of their Trust and all that went on, involving finally getting the co-operation of the land-owner, in setting up the Trust, to rescue the buildings and extensive equipment of this unique legacy of mining of micaceous haematite in the Bovey Valley. The mineral has no mica in it but gets its name from the shiny — nay, glittering — appearance of the ground product. Over the centuries it had several uses, not least in drying ink writing before blotting paper was introduced, selling for an enormous price, some £8 per ounce [probably in 18th century money but not made entirely clear … the whole Conference was marked by there being no sessions for asking questions]. The greatest use in tonnage terms was as a pigment for paints. Notably, the mineral has a distinct anti-corrosion effect when included in paints for wrought iron. I don't know the chemistry of this effect and it was not dealt with. Nevertheless, it was stated that the GWR included the use of material from this and adjacent mines in its specification for its paints. The team of four have rebuilt every element of the process, incorporating as much original material as was recoverable and can now demonstrate the process from start to finish. They are even asked, now, to teach other operators how to do it.


During restoration, overnight, a missing cover plate that had been taken by “vandals” mysteriously reappeared. Sadly, this didn’t apply to all the brass bearings, water gauges, valve fittings and the like, all of which had, as is so common, gone to line someone’s pockets in the thirty years of dereliction. Some losses occurred when the more rudimentary part of the main building collapsed under the weight of snow in 1963. The team has made a remarkable job of researching the process and equipment and rebuilding it, much from scratch.


The day concluded with a choice of three alternative site visits, which we forewent. One was to the nearby Westford Pumping Station, another to the lift and aqueducts at Nynehead on the Great Western Canal and the third was a walk around Wellington, including a visit to the Museum.





Twyford Waterworks   (Ian Harden)

The period since the last report has been one of considerable activity. Although a return to steam remains some way off, a significant step forward has been made with the removal by specialist contractors of the remaining asbestos and brickwork surrounding the boilers. This was completed only days before the May open day and afforded visitors the rare sight of Babcock boilers in skeletal form. Unhindered access to the quarry was also possible for the first time since the New Year.


Whilst present day volunteers have been making great strides forward, we have had cause to remember the contributions of two past engineers. Bunny Burrell died in mid February. At the suggestion of his family, a celebratory Tea was held at the Waterworks in late April attended by family, friends and volunteers past and present. Bunny's son presented a cheque for £1 000 to the Trust in his father’s memory and this will be put towards the refurbishment of the Jewry Street kiosk.


Unbeknown to us at the time, the previous day saw the passing of the Trust’s first Chief Engineer, Jack Sara aged 89 years. A Cornishman by birth, he graduated at King’s College, London in Mechanical Engineering and spent the first part of his working career in research and design with English Electric at Rugby. This led to a research and teaching post at Southampton University, retiring from there in 1984. He had soon made the acquaintance of Dr. Edwin Course and was consulted often in the period before restoration at Twyford began in earnest in 1985 whence he served a further four years before his second “retirement”.


As for on-site progress, work on the kiosk has proceeded well with a new slate roof and outer timber cladding now in place. Grants from HIAS and Twyford Parish Council have helped enormously with this project and are much appreciated. A further grant from the Parish Council has contributed towards improving the handrails on the steps up to the lime kilns.


In the Filter House, four of the seven tanks are now in position after extensive cleaning and painting; one has also had its Haines filters installed. This terse statement however, belies the time spent removing the remaining external pipework and freeing the valve rods before needle-gunning out many years accumulated rust and chalk sludge.


Out in the open air, the eastern end of the railway has been widened to accommodate a stabling siding and the spoil tipped on the downhill side of the line midway across from the lime kilns at the end of a short spur. In the adjacent meadow, a nature trail has been created, courtesy of the local Wednesday Conservation Volunteers, running past the boat pond up a new set of steps, across the railway and round in a loop to the kilns. The group has also built a fence and planted a hedge parallel to the railway.


Beyond the confines of the Waterworks, the Trust joined forces in mid January with other local attractions at the Excursions 2007 event at Alexandra Palace in London to promote the Winchester area to tour companies and others who organise days out to various locations. Reaction was deemed to be very favourable.


The first open day of this year on May Bank Holiday Sunday was highly successful in financial terms and was augmented the next day by guided tours of the site which attracted another 50 visitors despite some atrocious weather that luckily had not prevailed 24 hours earlier. This format was trialled at Easter when 200 people attended on the Sunday and Monday. A similar programme to previous years is planned for the remainder of the summer including a Railway Gala in June and a Model Day in July. In a departure from normal routine, both events will take place on the second Sunday of those months. Normal service will be resumed for the August and September open days.



Maritime Projects       (Angela Smith)

S.S. Shieldhall    (

The ship has been a hive of activity over the winter months to carry out work funded by the HLF grant. New wooden decking has been laid and caulked on the fo’csle and poop deck, two aft cargo tanks have been cleared of redundant stored items and cleaned to a spotless finish, and a replacement fresh water tank installed. In addition the annual check of engines and boilers has been carried out and a new bar fitted, among other ‘minor’ tasks. The lottery grant was under budget and the HLF has suggested using the remainder on a business plan. The first public voyage took place on April 21st when 136 passengers were carried. May 12/13 was spent at Portsmouth for the Portsmouth Steam Fair: unfortunately the Sunday was very wet but there was a good number of visitors over the weekend. The organisers will decide later in the year whether to hold this event again. The Shieldhall needs good passenger numbers this year to help pay for next year’s dry-docking.


Tug/Tender Calshot    (

Much work has been carried out on the tug/tender. Marine growth on the hull has been removed by divers, with the vessel having to be turned on its berth in Southampton docks by tugs. The hull has also been ultrasonically tested and the report is awaited. There is a query about the thickness of the plating and the Trust members are trying to locate the original specification. The port and starboard engines have been run for the first time in ten years. Vosper Thornycroft built replica water tanks which arrived on May 1st. Decking quotes are being sought: the original wood was pitch pine, but it may be difficult to get this wood naturally dried now, and kiln-dried would not be suitable. The cost may be up to half a million pounds. The HLF Project Planning Grant has been spent and the Trust is now preparing a full lottery application which it hopes to complete by the end of the year.


S.T. Challenge

The steam tug is still berthed at Shoreham but the site there has recently been sold so the Trust is uncertain about its security of tenure. A HLF PPG has been awarded and the Trust is now working up to a full lottery application for further work.


Medusa - HDML 1387 (harbour defence motor launch)

The Medusa's rebuilding work, which is taking place at a former shipyard in Hythe (Hants) which the Medusa Trust took over, is expected to be complete in the spring of 2008. Costs are on target for the £1m lottery grant.


British Military Powerboat Trust    (

ST1502 and FMB Ark Royal still operate from Marchwood and are available for trips. The Trust has about three years before the proposed Poole Maritime Centre will materialise.


Ex-Hythe ferry Hotspur II

This 1936-built Hythe ferry, which was sold to operate as Kenilworth on the River Clyde in 1978, has recently been advertised for sale. There is local interest in returning the vessel to Southampton.



HIAS Rescue and Restoration Section 

Timsbury waterwheel and pump   (Angela Smith)

The work to restore the waterwheel and pump at Mayfly Cottage, adjacent to Timsbury Manor House north of Romsey, is drawing to a close. A trench was dug to take a pipeline from the pump to a nearby pond, also fed by the ‘carrier’ off the River Test, where a fountain was to be installed. On March 18th, Vintage Spirit magazine news editor Ken Rimell and his wife visited to take photographs and make notes for an article, which appeared in the May edition. By this time the mechanism to divert the water flow to the wheel was in operation and the wheel was turning beautifully. John Christmas brought along and installed the final section of the pump and water came through for the first time since the 1920s. A final sluice gate to cut off the flow through the bypass channel alongside the waterwheel was the last component to be installed. The irony of this story is that the owners, Mr and Mrs Faulkner, who have financed the work and put up with all the disruption since 2002, sold the property and moved to Switzerland at the end of March without seeing the finished work.



Timsbury waterwheel and pump


Mr. & Mrs. Faulkner and Heavy Gang members watch the first demonstration of the wheel operating the pump.


An interesting aside about the property is that right alongside the waterwheel and almost hidden under the overhanging trees is the last surviving bridge over the former Andover to Redbridge Canal. A short section of the canal still flows past Timsbury Manor House, but the space under the bridge has been filled in and the alignment of the canal northwards is now impossible to trace, although Mick Edgeworth is very keen to investigate it.




John Christmas adjusting the pump.




Book Review

Southampton’s Quayside Steam  (Nigel Smith)

Southampton’s Quayside Steam is an interesting new publication by local author Dave Marden who started work for Southampton Harbour Board in 1963. The book is dedicated to giving a fairly in-depth survey of steam locomotives that worked the many quayside railways around and in the port area. The area covered stretches from Eling Wharf to the Woolston Rolling Mills and includes the Eastern and Western Docks plus the once numerous private industrial lines. Each site is given a brief historical overview with a few tantalising general pictures showing the work in progress, for example constructing the Western Docks in the 1930s and building the King George V Dry Dock. However, most illustrations are of the locomotives that worked the railway systems and each is accompanied by its own potted individual history from building to scrap or preservation. The pictures have generally reproduced well on the glossy art paper, and the soft cover A4 format avoids the need to overcrop which can detract from other publications. All pictures are monochrome except for the cover.


[Southampton’s Quayside Steam by Dave Marden, published 2007 by Kestrel Railway Books at £16.95. PO Box 269, Southampton, SO30 4XR.   ISBN 978-1-905505-02-9.]





Itchen Navigation

The Environment Agency has made a £400,000 donation to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to spend on the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project, which will prevent further degradation of the banks of the waterways and improve the quality of the rare chalk stream habitat. Rod Murchie of the Environment Agency said that the Itchen Navigation has international importance for aquatic plants and animals, and can be walked from Winchester to Southampton. Funding has already been received from the HLF and local authorities for a scheme which is estimated to cost £2m in total. Detailed planning of engineering work is underway. The majority of work is bank protection, using soft coir rolls planted with reeds, and path restoration. Mansbridge Lock, a shallow turf-sided chamber with remains of stone and brick gate abutments, will benefit from clearance and conservation which will also be carried out at St Catherine’s Lock at Winchester, the top lock and also turf-sided with extensive brickwork remains. A wooden hatch used for supply to water meadows at Brambridge will be restored and be in constant use to create a Southern Damselfly habitat in the adjoining meadows. A three-year schedule of works is planned at Mansbridge with monthly Inland Waterways Association-led working parties to clear the lock and 60m of chanel below it, then repair the brick and stone structures.


Replica Cody Aircraft to be built

Southampton’s Solent Sky museum has announced that, in conjunction with Hawker Restorations Ltd and the Shuttleworth Collection, it plans to build a flying replica of British Army Aeroplane No. 1B, which flew in January 1909. Designed by Samuel F. Cody, it was an extensive rebuild of the previous aircraft, BAA No. 1A, which made the first flight in the UK of a heavier that air, powered aeroplane in October 1908 at Farnborough. The Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) plans to build a non-flying full size replica of the latter in time for its centenary. HIAS member John Asteraki sent an update on May 16th from the FAST newsletter from which comes this quote. “Detailed design work has continued apace and most of the fuselage components have now been drawn. All the wooden components for the making of a section of the wing structure have now been made and work to establish details of the wing fabric is about to start. A control column replicating that used by Cody is being developed to enable control actions to be tested. Work has started on the production of a replica of the Antoinette engine used by Cody, a visit to the Science Museum having been made to measure the original engine which is on exhibition there. Sources are now being sought of control cable, turnbuckles for the rigging and potential suppliers of the mechanical items which will have to be constructed. Donations are being sought to fund the Cody Flyer Project.”


SR locomotive Lord Nelson … the continuing story  (Angela Smith)

Steam locomotive No. 850, Lord Nelson, passed its loaded test run to gain its mainline certificate on March 7th in NE England. However, upon its return to the depot at Carnforth after the run, a tender wheel became derailed on some poor trackwork. The following morning was spent re-railing it and the planned journey south back to Minehead on the West Somerset Railway only got as far as Didcot where it arrived at 10.30pm. As my brother was one of the support crew, the mobile phones were really buzzing as Nigel and I had to fetch him back to Southampton, and there were messages such as “we're taking on water at Birmingham” and “we're going through Oxford”. It was quite eerie standing in the dark, in a light drizzle, alongside a hot steaming locomotive.



Lord Nelson at Minehead just prior to making its inaugural mainline run back to Eastleigh, March 31st , 2007.


This is just one small example of things that can go wrong with running steam locomotives on the mainline. The support crew has a never-ending task of keeping “Nellie” fit for service and, as it is now based at the Old Oak Common depot in west London, many hundreds of miles of travel up and down the M3.


The locomotive’s first mainline run was on Saturday 31st March when Nigel, myself and HIAS member Jeff Pain were passengers. A diesel hauled us from the Southampton area to the West Somerset Railway. Lord Nelson was attached at the head of the train at Minehead and the return journey was via Bristol (with a water stop), Bath and Salisbury. Everything went well. Since then it has run three more trips and has an ever-increasing diary.



“Thomas Telford 250”

Following the Brunel 2006 celebrations commemorating the bicentenary of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s birth, this year sees the 250th anniversary of the birth of another of Britain’s famed engineers, Thomas Telford (9 August 1757). A Scottish shepherd’s son, Telford opened up northern Scotland by building 920 miles of new roads, constructing the Caledonian Canal and making significant harbour improvements, as well as engineering roads, bridges, canals and aqueducts in England and Wales.


He was trained as a mason, but in his late thirties he adopted cast iron as a structural material with a rare willingness to innovation. Almost all of his major cast iron bridges survive. Telford was the first British engineer to design “the longest span bridge in the world”. In 1800 he proposed a 600ft span in cast iron, which was unprecedented; in 1814-17 he planned a 1,000ft span suspension bridge across the Mersey at Runcorn; finally, in 1826, the Menai suspension bridge was opened when Telford was 69. Overall he worked on nearly 60 major projects.


Telford accepted the presidency of the Institution of Civil Engineers, thus becoming the first president of the first professional engineering institution in the world. He died in 1834 and is buried in Westminster Abbey, one of only two civil engineers to be buried there, the other being Robert Stephenson.

(some information taken from New Civil Engineer)



English Heritage Car Project

Motor cars have been using the roads of England now for over 100 years. Changes, sometimes dramatic, have occurred in response to the increased use of cars and English Heritage has launched a research project to explore the impact on people and places. Whole new types of buildings have evolved to meet the needs of cars and their drivers, and roads, bridges, etc, have been adapted with dual carriageways and motorways being built.


In an attempt to avoid duplicating research already done by others, English Heritage is asking that people and organisations which already have information that may be useful in this project to get in touch with them at — Research Department, English Heritage, 24 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge, CB2 8BU, Phone 01223 582700. (This information is from an EH leaflet ‘The Car Project’).



Snippets — for those who missed them   (Rodney Hall)

……… from the BBC


-     Geevor tin mining museum in Cornwall has been awarded a HLF grant of £3.5m for building renovation and a new ‘museum’ to attract more visitors.


-     A Lottery grant of £50 000 has been given towards renovating the old Crickheath limestone wharf on the Montgomery Canal. Work will be done improving the towpath of the dry canal and providing a picnic area.


-     Bristol City Council approved plans for 140 flats and an educational centre near SS Great Britain, where the developers have pledged £4.4m to the ship’s Trust.


-     A scheme by a private company has been put forward to repair and reopen the pier at Hastings, which was closed by the local council last November on safety grounds.


-     Draft plans have been put forward to rebuild the water towers that once stood at either end of the Crystal Palace, this time to house wind turbines for power generation. Demolished in WWII, I.K. Brunel was associated with the original towers.


……… from the Department of Culture, Media & Sport press releases


-     The remains of an, as yet unidentified, shipwreck off the coast of one of the Scilly Isles has been designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. The ship’s cargo contains 19th century Cornish mining equipment, which presumably was being exported.


-     It is 5 years since many museums that formerly charged for entry were made free entry and the Department has published a list of changes in visitor numbers over that time. Of IA interest, The Museum of Science and Industry at Manchester increased visits by 24%; National Maritime Museum, Greenwich — 72%; National Museums, Liverpool — 138%; National Railway Museum


— 55%; Science Museum, London — 81%. On the other hand, the National Media Museum, Bradford, an always free entry museum, had a 25% fall in visitor numbers.


-     The white paper on proposed changes to the heritage protection legislation has been published. The main proposals are a single system for designation of historic places, replacing listing, scheduling and registering. English Heritage to be responsible for designating (not DCMS). Greater public involvement in designation. Introduction of ‘interim protection’ while consideration is being given for designation. Create new appeals procedures against designation. Merge listed building, scheduled monument and conservation area consents with planning permission. Clarify and strengthen protections for World Heritage Sites. Enhance protection for marine archaeological remains and those on cultivated land. These are for England and Wales only, as Scotland and Northern Ireland have a different system.

For the UK as a whole improved marine protection is proposed.  To broaden the range of marine assets that can be protected, introduce simpler and clearer record, flexible consents and voluntary management agreements.





Southampton model on show again: A 10' x 6' model of old Southampton as it looked in 1620, which was constructed in 1980 by former SUIAG member, the late Ken Hellyar — a founder member of the city’s tourist guides — has been refurbished and put on display in the city’s God's House Tower Museum. It was formerly in the Bargate but was removed when the upper floor was taken over as an art gallery two years ago.


Beaulieu Tide Mill: Following the devastating fire at the tide mill a year ago, Beaulieu Estate has confirmed that work will be starting soon on a massive restoration scheme which is expected to take several years. English Heritage is being consulted about the best way to restore the 16th century building. Repairs will cost about half a million pounds. New oak structures will have to be sourced and will be difficult to install due to their size and weight. In a Southern Daily Echo article of March 16th, Beaulieu Estate’s agent gave a special mention to the Hampshire Mills Group saying that after the fire “Volunteers came down every weekend to sift through the ashes and help us salvage anything we could”.


Yarmouth Pier under attack: The wooden piles of the Isle of Wight’s Yarmouth Pier are being eaten by gribble worms and the pier is in danger of collapsing. The local harbourmaster and local schoolchildren are trying to raise funds to buy new timbers. (BBC Radio Solent news, 28 May 2007)


Isle of Wight viaduct upgrade: Part of the Cowes to Newport cycle path has been upgraded in a £16,000 Isle of Wight Council project during February and March. The project involved widening the Cement Mills Viaduct from 1.5m to 3m, creating a new steel-beamed structure with new steel railings and timber decking to enable two cyclists to pass. The existing original railway support columns are in good order and were retained. The Cement Mills Viaduct, a mile north of Newport, is 73m long and used to form a stretch of the Cowes to Newport railway line, taking trains over the creek below. (from the Isle of Wight County Press via Gerald Davies)


MP calls for disused railway protection: Shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling said that disused railway lines, such as Lewes-Uckfield and Oxford-Milton Keynes, should be proected from development in case they have to re-open to relieve overcrowded roads. (from The Times, April 2007)


Wey & Arun Canal: The cost of fully restoring the Wey and Arun Canal, which provided a link between London and the South Coast until the late 1800s, has been estimated at £93m. The Wey & Arun Canal Trust, set up in 1973, has now received the results of an independent study into making the 36km route fully navigable again (BBC South Ceefax, 16/5/07)


Wilts & Berks Canal: In his talk on IA in Wiltshire at HIAS’s May meeting, Peter Stanier mentioned the possibility of restoring the full length of the Wilts & Berks Canal, but commented that sections through Melksham and Swindon would prove a problem as the original alignment had been obliterated by re-development. The Inland Waterways Association journal in May printed this interesting item:

“A £500,000 traffic survey commissioned by Swindon Borough Council, funded from central government, is studying the feasibility of restoring the Wilts & Berks Canal through Swindon as part of the traffic options. This would mean closing some existing roads to enable the canal to be restored largely along its original line; for the construction of a marina, and the return of the waterway to the centre of the town.”


New hangar at Cosford air museum: In January a stunning new hangar was opened at RAF Cosford air museum. The 135m long angular steel building will house the National Cold War Exhibition. Its skeleton consts of a central braced frame spine supported by steel truss rafters which must support the weight of a 9-ton Dakota and a 13-ton Canberra aircraft. (New Civil Engineer, 11 January 2007)


Vulcan flight delay (Vulcan to the Sky Trust): A plan to fly Vulcan XH 558 over the Mall on June 17th for the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Falklands conflict had to be cancelled due to essential extra work on corrosion and other unforeseen tasks having been found. This has also increased the restoration costs by more than £300,000.