Another week has passed by, and as ever it was a busy one in the T&I department at Beamish. I spent a few days on the road, carrying out some research for the Remaking Beamish project, including a trip to Amberley Chalk Pits Museum in Sussex…
Amberley Chalk Pits Museum
Below: The site of the museum was once a quarry, sending processed lime from the works, the kilns of which survive and have recently been conserved as seen below. The museum is a collection of specialist interest projects, volunteer run, which enables it to demonstrate skills and trades from the area across a fairly broad time frame. It includes an operational narrow gauge railway, Southdown bus garage (of which more below), a fire station, numerous craft and trade displays, the kilns below and a number of large exhibition spaces on specific themes such as electricity and communications.
Below: In the narrow gauge exhibition hall is this former Guinness Brewery shunting locomotive – famous as their own indigenous design and capable of being lowered into broad gauge (Ireland favouring 5′ 3″ gauge as ‘standard’) conversion frames, making these little engines very useful across the various railway systems used by the brewery. Of interest to us is the boiler – a marine type not dissimilar to Samson.
Below: The electricity display is very interesting and includes shows, at intervals, of high voltage electricity in action, using a large darkened and sealed (i.e. earthed!) cabinet – still powerful enough to make your hairs quite literally stand on end. It is also crammed with period electrical fittings and equipment.
Below: The telecommunications display has a huge collection, including sections of exchanges and some thorough explanations of how these worked. Also included are a selection of vehicles used to service the telephone lines, as seen here.
Below: The Southdown collection of buses from that company includes three bus garages, two of which are located together to form a display contain both vehicles and ephemera from the company. I spent over an hour in this space, to try and picture and understand how our own bus garage might look and work, with access for visitors and the parking/display space for vehicles exploited to the maximum.
RAF Museum: Hendon
Below: Heading north I called in at the RAF Museum at Hendon (who have a new WW1 exhibition). Here the Milestones of flight display is seen.
Below: I very much liked the original hangers and displays (which have dated, but this seems to add to their charm), including this Hudon and Stranraer. Note the roof truss construction.
Below: This ex RAF Trojan has some links to one of our own projects – Trojans were built as a very cheap commercial vehicle at the Kingston-upon-Thames works of Leyland – later to be the centre of production for the Cub models in both passenger and commercial guises.
Below: An overall view of the WW1 exhibition showing just how many airframes from this period exist – some original, some virtual replica and some actual replica. A number have flow in recent times though!
Below: Vehicles used by the ground staff of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) are also included – the Model T above and a Phelon & Moore motorcycle below (some also had sidecars to create a combination for ferrying pilots to their aircraft.
Below: Meanwhile, back at Beamish… Matt B is seen working on crossmembers for the frame of Samson’s tender – a replica of the London Lead Company ‘standard’ bottom discharge waggons. This will provide for carriage of tools and equipment that there is not room on the locomotive for, as well as additional water.
Below: Tony is carrying out some repair and modification to a fairground hook-a-duck stall. The Friends originally restored this, but it was damaged by high winds so is being modified before installation at the Fairground at Beamish.
Below: Work on Rowley Station’s improvements continues – a new sign for the entrance to the goods yard area has been made and is seen being signwritten by Sarah Jarman. Until now there has been little to indicate what this area is and where it leads, so this sign will fulfil this purpose. I could not find an original example to copy, but using a photo showing what might be the rear of one plus an amalgamation of other NER station and Goods Depot signage, this one has been created. The re-decoration of the exteriors of the station buildings is now underway and several other improvements to the area are also in hand. The site as a whole smells of fresh paint thanks to the relentless efforts of the painting team who are tearing through a long list of work at an impressive rate.
Below: Ian Finlayson, one of the Friends of Beamish volunteers is seen nearing the conclusion of the epic production run of A boards for use on site. These will be completed, painted and sign-written to enable their placement in areas where work may be underway and so any associated disruption can be explained to visitors.
Below: This 1931 Ford AA van has come on loan to us for a little while. It is in very original condition and was formerly a bread van before being preserved in the early 1960s by the late Prince Marshall, who liveried it in the colours of his ‘Old Motor’ magazine. Now owned by his son Sebastian, it looks rather striking outside the Town Garage & Showroom. We hope to use it around the Museum fairly regularly so look out for it on its travels…