HISTELEC NEWS No.6 August 1997

    1. HOW GREEN IS YOUR CHAIRMAN ?
    2. CAIRNS ROAD HOLD-UP
    3. LARGE SUPPLEMENT
    4. FOWEY WEEKEND GO-AHEAD
    5. WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS
    6. FINCH FOUNDRY AT STICKLEPATH
    7. SALTFORD BRASS MILL, NEAR BATH
    8. COLLECTORS' LOT
    9. SHOE MUSEUM, STREET
    10. DARTMOOR WALK
    11. BATH CANAL BOAT TRIP
    12. CASTLE DROGO HYDRO-POWER
    13. STORY OF CHRISTY BROS

    Supplement to Histelec News No.6
    Electric Arc Lamps in Bristol + Bristol's Arc Lighting System

    NEXT EDITION

    Please send information, articles, photographs or letters to Peter Lamb at 35 Station Road, Backwell, Bristol BS48 3NH or telephone on 01275 463160 or

    HISTELEC NEWS No.6 August 1997

    HOW GREEN IS YOUR CHAIRMAN ?

    Nowadays there is increasing concern about global warming caused by the build-up of so called 'greenhouse gases' in the atmosphere. These are mainly carbon dioxide and methane, which result from burning fossil fuels, (coal, oil and natural gas), to produce electricity. Governments are beginning to realise that we must use much more renewable energy from natural resources if we are to avoid permanent damage to our planet.

    In the South West peninsula we are fortunate to have untapped natural resources in the wind, tides and hotrocks. I'm not so sure about solar energy! Looking back to the past I see that in 1906 Falmouth started to burn town waste in its power station furnaces to drive steam turbines. In the 1930's Christy Bros. constructed the Mary Tavy Hydro-electric scheme on Dartmoor. No doubt you can think of other examples. It seems that those pioneers were on the right track in the early days. The Society has already visited Mary Tavy and Morwellham and plan to visit Delabole Windfarm in Cornwall in the future. We are too late for Falmouth Power Station, it closed in 1948!

    So roll on the Severn Barrage scheme and Cornwall's hot-rocks technology, and continue the tradition started by those early engineers in the South West. It looks as though studying the history of electricity can teach us a thing or two!

    John Haynes

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    CAIRNS ROAD HOLD-UP

    I am sorry to report that there has been no movement on the renovation of the second room at Cairns Road. Our initial euphoria is somewhat dented, since although we have gained access to the room. no work has commenced to date.

    The renovation and conversion of the room has been costed at roughly 6,000. 1,500 of this would be taken from the Engineering Budget, since it involves repair to the existing building The rest is for levelling the floor, decoration and separating the toilets and main access from the Operational Areas The good news is that we have been promised the Avonbank Conference Room furniture when it closes in December.

    The justification for the expenditure has been prepared illustrating how we would use the additional room as a Visitor Centre. School and Scout panics and adult groups would be encouraged to visit and hear talks by members. So we now await a response from Glen Kundert SWEB's new Corporate Communications Manager.

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    LARGE SUPPLEMENT

    The supplement this time is a reproduction of two articles, which appeared in the BIAS Annual Journal for !997 (published in March by Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society). The Arc Lamp article is written by, your Secretary Peter Lamb and the Arc Light System by the late Cedric Blackett who started with BCED in the 1930's as a student engineer rising to be Bristol's District Engineer with SWEB. He moved to Exeter as District Manager before retirement. He died in October 1996. An attempt was made to get Cedric's article printed in the BIAS Journal for 1996, but it was unfortunately deferred until 1997 and therefore Cedric sadly missed its publication.

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    FOWEY WEEKEND GO-AHEAD

    Response to our Fowey Weekend (3rd/4th/5th Oct) has been excellent with 38 members and spouses looking forward to the event. Unfortunately one couple have had to pull out, so if you would like to join us for what promises to be an interesting and enjoyable weekend. please telephone me.

    Barrie Phillips

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    WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS

    Bob Horn and Alan Hooper have joined us since the last newsletter. We hope to see them at some of our events. The membership now stands at 96. We only need to enroll a few more people to tip it over the 100 mark There's a challenge for everyone!!!

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    FINCH FOUNDRY AT STICKLEPATH

    The National Trust is keen to preserve the old Hay, Maryon and Co. Ltd. water turbine that has been rusting away at the Finch Foundry for some time. The turbine was coupled to a Brush 12kW 230volt single phase alternator.

    Barrie Phillips

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    SALTFORD BRASS MILL, NEAR BATH

    An invitation has been received from Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society (BIAS) to visit the Mill to see the renovation work being carried out to which we have contributed in a small way. Individuals or parties are welcome.

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    COLLECTORS' LOT

    Earlier this year I turned on Channel 4 for a programme, which appears four days a week at 3.30pro called "Collectors' Lot". Normally our TV set stays off until 6.0pm and perhaps it should have done on that day! The presenter, Sue Cook, asked for anyone with an unusual collection to write in. My wife said "If you're daft enough, go on". I was and I did!

    It was only a couple of weeks later that we found ourselves driving to an old house near East Grinstead with the back of my car full of electrical appliances, which I have rather haphazardly gathered over several years, originally to illustrate a talk on "Electricity in Bridgwater". East Grinstead is a long way from our home in HuddersfielcL so we were glad of the offer of an overnight stay in a good hotel.

    The filming took place without any rehearsal or script, merely a dab of powder to stop my head from shining. At the instigation of the camera crew, I demonstrated an old Hotpoint toaster, explaining its lack of timer or pop-up feature. The drawbacks were amply shown a few minutes later when I had forgotten all about it and Sue Cook pointed out that the toast was on fire. Sue Cook was very professional and kept the programme moving whilst putting me at ease. At the end of my four or five minutes, she asked me if there was anything I needed for my collection. Somewhat thoughtlessly I commented that most of the old appliances have lost their original flex and plug. At this point filming ceased and we went out to the chuck wagon for a plate of pasta.

    Soon after my interview was broadcast, my life took on a new dimension. I became accustomed to people stopping me in the village. "Was that you on television? What a weird/strange/ unusual collection you have. The conversation was usually accompanied by the sort of look given to someone slightly demented.

    Next the post started to arrive and it hasn't stopped since! I've had parcels of unusual, dirty, broken electrical bits, questions about old appliances, letters from other collectors, I've had many offers. One of the most interesting enquiries has been from a lady whose father-in-law was the designer for Premier Electric Appliances, who were taken over by BTH and later AEI-Hotpoint. She told me about the early days of the firm and has arranged to visit me to show her granddaughter the work of her great-grandfather.

    All this goes to show the enormous interest in old appliances and bodes well for the potential of the Redland Museum and Visitor Centre.

    Colin Hill (member)

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    SHOE MUSEUM, STREET

    Visiting the Clark's Shoe Museum in May was particularly fascinating, since their collection involves shoes from all "walks of life" and for that matter from a wide range of time, including some early Roman footwear. A large proportion of the shoes came from the 16th century and these are in a remarkably good condition.

    A separate room had been reserved at the Bear Inn opposite the Museum for Sunday lunch and 23 of us sat down to an excellent lunch in very pleasant surroundings. A shopping spree around the Clark's Village of 'factory' shops provided an entertaining afternoon in glorious sunshine!

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    DARTMOOR WALK

    This year's Summer Solstice was celebrated by 18 loyal members of our Club not by worshipping the sun. but at least wishing it would gain dominance m the sky over the brooding rain gods of Dartmoor.

    On Saturday 21st June following a very enjoyable lunch at the Two Bridges Hotel, Brian Byng guided our party on a walk around the pre-historic remains to be found at Merrivale, near Princetown. Brian explained that following the end of the Ice Age in lO,OOO BC, this Moor had gradually become a dense forest, which was used by Pre-historic Man to hunt for food.

    Dartmoor Walk -Wind & SunIn about 4,000 BC the land started to be cleared as primitive farming slowly developed. By about 2,000 BC these early farmers commenced to establish stone buildings and other features, the remains of which arc visible today. For the next 2,000 years which encompassed the Bronze and Iron Ages, field systems were established together with stone huts, stone circles, stone rows, standing stones and cists (burial chambers sunk into the ground and covered by granite slabs).

    Dartmoor Walk - Wind and Rain (Wet Lens!!)Huddled together in our wet weather clothing with backs to the wind, rain and hail, our party was asked to imagine the warmth of the day as the sun rose gloriously in the east in an adjacent hill rock formed aperture and traversed the heavens to set in the west on a similar hill shape. The factual and yet humorous nature of Brian's description of these events just about enabled our party to see through the driving rain the possibilities for the sun's daily journey! Another interesting feature were the Guide Stones. These mark the routes between towns (not the distances) and were set up not by pre-historic man but as the result of an Act of Parliament in the late 17th century. The ones at Merrivale mark the route between Ashburton and Tavistock by having the letters "A" and "T" inscribed on opposite sides of the upright stones. Surprisingly the "A" is on the side facing Ashburton so that a traveller would encounter the "A" having come from that location, and similarly for Tavistock understand?.

    So with this confusing thought in our minds, the promise of a cream tea and a drying wind blowing from the west, our party set course for the return to the Hotel. Our thanks to Brian and his wife for making the trip thought provoking, humorous and stimulating.

    Mike Williams.

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    BATH CANAL BOAT TRIP

    An excellent day out was enjoyed by 34 members and their friends on the 20th July on the Kennet/Avon Canal. The weather was gorgeous and the company good. We started out from the Top Lock at around 11am nearly leaving behind Barrie Phillips, who had journeyed from Exeter that day. He had not come the greatest distance however, since John Haynes and Roger Christ)' both from Cornwall were on board and Mike Williams had friends from Norway with him. We journeyed to The George at Bathampton for lunch and then to the Claverton Pumping Station, an enormous waterwheel pumping station for the canal, which has now been superseded by an electric pump alongside. Then to Dundas Aqueduct before turning around to return by 6pm. A great day out!

    Peter Lamb

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    CASTLE DROGO HYDRO-POWER

    Those of you who enjoyed our visit to the turbine house below Castle Drogo in the Summer 1995 may be interested to know that the National Trust is still hopeful of restoring the station to life.

    Unfortunately the Environment Agency requires the NT to obtain a new Abstraction Licence and arc insisting on a full study, of the River Teign from source to sea, before considering the application. The study is being undertaken for the Trust at a cost of over 3,000.

    Barrie Phillips

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    STORY OF CHRISTY BROS

    You may remember that we re reported that Bill Tincknell has written up the history of Christy Bros which is available at 30. We are indebted to Roger Christy for donating a copy to the Archives.

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