The Wessex Stationary Engine Club lost a good man on Monday with the untimely passing of Gary Sainsbury. Although Gary had not been well for a while nobody was expecting to hear such bad news, and he will be missed by everyone. R.I.P. Gary and condolences to the family.
The Midsummer Show entry forms and membership renewal form for 2020 are now in the “Forms” section of the website. Please note that from now on any renewals or new enrolments will be valid for 2019/2020 although the new insurance card will not be available until the end of the year. That also applies to any online enrolments or renewals.
Despite the lack of a speaker, last night’s meeting went well. After Eric gave a short talk on Fowler engines and the usual raffle was held there was a chance for members to mingle and chat. It was good to see Roger looking so fit after his recent serious health scare, and good to see that so many members had taken the trouble to come along. The next meeting will be the model evening on October 28th, so bring along your models and show us what you can do!
It is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of Mary Verrall after suffering a recent set-back. Mary and Brian have been members of the club since the beginning, some 40 years ago, so most of you will have known her and will appreciate all she did for the club. She will be missed, and my thoughts go out to Brian and family.
On Monday night we were treated to an interesting talk by Terry Williams, telling us of his family’s five-year project to set up the Poppy of Honour, in which the names of all the British and commonwealth soldiers killed in the first world war are written on poppies and preserved for the future, along with a box of representative articles from the war. The names were written by volunteers all over the world, and assembled by another group of volunteers at home, all of the materials and construction work being donated by local businesses.
The Poppy of Honour began as a response to finding out that the names of all of those killed were not recorded on a single memorial, only on individual memorials around the country, and there was very little representation of the commonwealth soldiers, of whom there were many. Terry set out to do something about it. In sourcing the poppies he encountered resistance from the British Legion, who wanted payment for any help they gave him, and even went so far as to demand that the Poppy be handed over to them when finished. As the British Legion only commemorate the British dead, and then in a very formulaic way, Terry wasn’t prepared to do that.
With the success of the Poppy’s tour Terry is now involved in constructing a museum near Wincanton, in which everyone of any age, sex, race and religion can interact with the memorial, in the hope that the young can be educated in the futility of war and the stupidity of fighting.
Throughout the talk Terry’s passion showed, and we all left with plenty to think about.
At the recent Maiden Bradley crank-up a local photographer, David Hargrave, came along and took some shots for a magazine. He was kind enough to let me have the pictures which are now on the “Club Photos” page of this website. You can find more plus a great write-up at https://www.dcrh.co.uk/galleries-information/2019-events/
A Soldier in the Great War
Just fifteen of us turned up at the Old Down Inn last night to hear Barry Williamson give us a talk. It started off quite slowly but it soon became apparent that it was a fascinating tale of detective work by himself and a group of schoolchildren whom he was teaching at the time.
Following the story of one soldier, chosen at random from the memorial board at their school, they traced his history from his birth in Clifton to when he was tragically killed in the first world war, and were able to contact his last surviving relatives and find a home for his effects, including the letters he wrote to his mother, and to go to see his grave. As well as being an intriguing story it was also a reminder of the futility of war, and the struggles of those involved in it.
It was remarkable that this one person, chosen at random, should prove to be such a fascinating subject when he could so easily have led to a disappointing dead end.
The Somerset Arms, Maiden Bradley. 28th July.
Over twenty engines, a miniature steam traction engine, a display of tools, some model steam engines, an air engine and a motorcycle were all on display at the Somerset Arms on Sunday.
The weather was just about perfect and the venue couldn’t have been much better. With plenty of food and drink at the bar and a huge BBQ in the garden our hosts couldn’t have been any more welcoming.
There were a few engines I don’t remember seeing before as well as some old favourites, and David Lacey even brought his drone along to take some high-level photos. On the subject of photos there was also a professional photographer there to take some for the Vintage Spirit magazine, and various members have posted some on our Facebook page.
“Gutenberg To Gates”
a report by Roger Pike
Eric, the Chairman, opened the meeting with a few announcements and then introduced the speaker for the evening – Mr Roy Ackrill. There were 17 members present and we were all treated to a very interesting talk, complete with items about the early printing to present day.
Printing was a very major industry from way back. The Bible was one of the main items to change from decade to decade. Symbols and Roman letters were used at the beginning, changing all through the years until the letters are as we know them today.
One main man was Gutenberg, who used natural oils to make ink, moving on from clay and gum. He was born in roughly 1394/1404 and died 1468. He attended grammar school and was responsible for the first printed bible, of which there are only 48 surviving today.
Lots of items were passed around the room; printing letters, paperwork with different prints and newspapers for us all to look at. Magnifying glass or glasses were definitely needed. A small printing press was on show too.
William Caxton, who died in 1491, was the first English printer. William Tyndale, who spoke 8 languages, translated and printed the first Tyndale bible. The Bible played a big part in the English language. The type-setting point progressed from 1 sheet at a time to the present day with hundreds of copies. The printing industry used many types of presses.
In 1712 there was a newspaper tax of 1d. Roy brought an old Bristol Journal from 1785 to compare printing and language. In 1955 Bill Gates modernised things again by introducing microsoft. As the years go on the internet is taking over most communications these days with the use of Facebook and emails, which have now made the art of letter writing a dying thing. The talk was so interesting and Roy went for 15 mins longer than he should have. Lots of interest and questions followed, with 3 ex-printers being in the audience
Eric then thanked Roy for one of the best talks we have had. The raffle then took place and everyone left having had a really good evening
Planning for the 2020 Wessex Midsummer Vintage Show has now begun, so would anyone willing to help, or with any ideas for improving the show, please contact the Secretary. Meetings are held once a month in Trowbridge and usually last for a couple of hours. Come and join the team, and help to make next years show the best ever.
Our first event at the Tuckers Grave Inn turned out to be a very enjoyable affair. Although not particularly warm the sun shone brightly all day on a happy band of engineers. Our hosts put on a BBQ, which was well received, and of course drinks flowed freely throughout the day for those not driving. The beer garden seemed to be extremely popular.
Upon arrival it appeared that the field had been double-booked, but we fitted in well with the amateur radio enthusiasts who were holding a rally at the same time. The twenty-odd engines, a beautifully restored US Army staff car, some nice miniature cars and a couple of bikes just about filled the remaining space. Although the turnout of vendors was disappointing the few people who were selling had a fine selection of goods, and lots of people were seen carrying away their purchases.
The engines on show ranged from Robin’s hot air engine to a lovely Victoria being shown by Don and Christine. Steve and Sacha brought along a little Tarpen generator that buzzed away all day keeping its bulb alight, while next door Sam’s Christensen was far more laid back. There was a great variety of pumps driven by a number of different engines; Lister, Bernard and Amanco to name but a few, and Roger had his T300 generator rigged up, shining bright despite the sunshine. Eric seemed to be having trouble with his wick, but he had an interesting display nonetheless.
Thank you to everyone who came along to this, the first, I hope, of many crank-ups at this venue. I can think of few better ways to spend a sunny Sunday, and I hope that next time a few more sellers will take advantage of the opportunity to flog off some stuff. And a mention must go to the ladies who worked tirelessly selling raffle tickets to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
About 25 members got together at the Old Down Inn last night to hear Tony Coverdale’s interesting talk on the copper and brass industry along the Avon in the 18th and 19th century. He explained how it was tied in to the slave trade, and how, like so many of our industries, failure to adapt led to its demise.
Our next talk, on the 20th May, takes us a little further afield, to the moon! I look forward to joining lots of members and non-members to hear from Mike Chipperfield “how Newton and Apollo got us to the moon”.
The WSEC presence at Mells Daffodil Festival was pretty impressive, with over 40 engines of over 23 different makes and all types. Robin had his hot air engines, Adrian his model steam, powered as usual by the trusty Wolseley and compressor, and Adrian Masters a couple of Redwing models. The full-size engines ranged from an almost unique vertical 1898 ish Pierce 1 hp to a tank-cooled Wolseley WD8 and Dave & Mary’s 5-1/2 hp Blackstone. There was an impressive variety of driven equipment too, with lots of different pumps, and corn mills ranging from Mr Bishop’s little Bentall No 1 to the much larger one of Alex Shire. Well done to all, especially Herb who arranged it and put in most of the work, and the organisers of the festival for inviting us.
Despite a bitterly cold wind we had a good turnout for the crank-up at the White Horse Country Park in Westbury yesterday. The miniature train was kept busy giving rides, and lots of people came to see what was an extremely varied selection of engines. Apologies to anyone who missed us, but I’m afraid that in the end the cold got to us and by three thirty it was all over.
What a fine day for the Cranmore sale. Lots of sellers, lots of buyers, and a fine sunny morning. Who could ask for more? If you missed it don’t miss the next one, at Tucker’s Grave on the 12th May.