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South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference 2018
“Industrial & Transport History Day”

BIAG logo

Saturday 21 April 2018

hosted by
Berkshire Industrial Archaeology Group (BIAG)
The Windsor Boys’ School
1 Maidenhead Road, Windsor SL4 5EH


09:00 onwards: Registration; displays set up, tea/coffee & biscuits available.
10:00 Welcome and Housekeeping [NB NO SMOKING on the school site]
10:10 The Miles Aircraft Factory by Ken Fostekew, Curator, Museum of Berkshire Aviation.
            Woodley airfield played a notable part in the early growth of
            civil aviation and aircraft were built there from 1932 to the early 1960s.
10:55 Comfort Break
11:05 Illustrating Catalogues: Jabez Hare, Commercial Wood Engraver by Martin Andrews.
            The talk will focus on the illustration of commercial catalogues
            in the nineteenth century, including the engravers’ working methods.
11:50 Blotters, Board and Bank Notes by Sheila Viner, Mills Archive Trust.
            A look at specialist paper making in Berks, Hants and South Bucks.
12:35 Lunch; if booked by 16th April; otherwise bring a picnic or pop into town.
            There will be a wide range of displays in the lecture hall.
13:50 The Hush-Hush Factory at Tubney Wood by Rosemary Kitto.
            Rosemary will tell us the story of Lord Nuffield’s secret WWII gun barrel factory.
14:35 Preservation of Public Road Transport in the Thames Valley by Colin Billington,
            Chairman, Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust.
            A talk about the Trust's vehicle and archive collection, and its restoration projects.
15:20 Refreshment Break – tea/coffee & cake available.
15:45 The Slough Industrial Estate and its Railway by Jaye Isherwood.
            Jaye will chart the history of the Industrial Estate and its transport system.
16:30 Closing remarks and Invitation to SERIAC 2019.
16:45 Conference Ends.
17:00 Depart for Site Visit or Walk returning to the School by 19:00.
            A choice is offered; please indicate which you would like to go on in order of preference on the form.
            Numbers are restricted and bookings will be processed in order of receipt;
            the alternative of staying for a film show is also available.
A       Thames Valley and Great Western Omnibus Trust; travel by vintage
            bus or coach to visit the Trust’s garage and workshop at Fifield.
B       Windsor Walking Tour; go on a guided tour from the School led by
            members of Slough & Windsor Railway Society, looking mainly at the town’s railway infrastructure.
17:15 Archive Transport Film Show. For those not going on the site visit or walk,
            Frank Banfield will be showing a selection of cine films finishing about 18:30.

Talk Synopses, Mini Biographies and Visit Notes

The Miles Aircraft Factory
Ken Fostekew Curator, Museum of Berkshire Aviation,
The Museum of Berkshire Aviation ( was opened to the public on 27 March 1993 and was formed to research and preserve the aviation heritage of the county of Berkshire. It celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, 2018. The Museum Trust is a registered charity and a totally volunteer organisation, and Ken Fostekew has been curator for a number of years. The Museum is happy to open outside its normal hours for groups by appointment and over the years has hosted many organisations.

Aircraft design and manufacture began at Woodley in 1932 when F. G. (Fred) Miles and Charles Powis formed a partnership to produce light aircraft for private owners and the rapidly emerging aero clubs nationwide. Hitherto many post First World War aircraft which had become surplus had been put to private use and to form the basic training aircraft for the many aero clubs throughout the country.

To overcome the use of many obsolete aircraft, a company was formed by Jack Phillips and Charles Powis to become known as Phillips & Powis. It was soon apparent that factory space was inadequate and a programme of expansion was undertaken to cope with the demand of the many designs from the drawing boards of F. G. Miles and his very talented wife Mrs Maxine Miles, hitherto always referred to as "Blossom".

With the prospect of another war in Europe, factory expansion was again undertaken between 1938 and 1939, this time to cope with the increase in demand for more advanced aircraft for training pilots for squadron service. There was a consequent huge increase of the workforce, which at one point numbered in excess of seven thousand personnel. By now the company was known as Miles Aircraft Ltd.

During the latter part of World War II, Miles Aircraft along with other aircraft companies in Britain were designing and producing aircraft for use by the hoped for civil airlines and feeder lines. However, the post-war austerity took its toll and in 1947 Miles Aircraft went into liquidation. A new company was formed by the Handley Page company, hitherto known as Handley Page Reading or HP(R). This company acquired the assets at Woodley and continued aircraft production until relocating to their original base at Radlett. The factory buildings and other assets including the airfield were acquired by a newly formed company "Adwest" who continued engineering in some of the original buildings. Later another company "Magal Engineering" occupied the buildings and is still manufacturing to this day.

Along with the airfield, the war time buildings which had been allowed to become derelict have been replaced by modern housing. Some of the old drawing offices, though substandard, remained in use until just prior to demolition.

Jabez Hare, Commercial Wood Engraver
Martin Andrews University of Reading (retd.),
Martin started his research into Hare & Co. when a student at Reading University. He became fascinated by the extensive archives of the firm of Ransomes, which are part of the collections at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading. Looking at the hundreds of blocks and printed ephemera in the collections it became obvious that the signature of Hare appeared on the majority of the wood-engraved illustrations - he realised that this was an opportunity to treat Hare and Co. as a study case providing a rare and unique insight into the trade of commercial wood-engraving.

Records of the day-to-day life of commercial wood-engravers are scarce. With the boom of manufacturing industries in the nineteenth century there was a growing demand for printed marketing material. Every manufacturer wanted to show off their latest product and distribute advertising material as widely as possible - they also needed illustrations of high technical quality to show the detail of the engineering. Jabez Hare, the focus of this talk, was born in Ipswich in 1797 or 1798. He went to school with members of the Ransomes family who were building up a major engineering and manufacturing company specialising in agricultural machinery. Jabez's father owned a ‘wire working’ firm and was an engineer and manufacturer and his son followed in his footsteps. As well as showing talent as an engineer at a young age Jabez also displayed remarkable skill as an artist and wood-engraver. The Royal Agricultural Show was started in 1839 and Jabez often helped the Ransomes firm as a sales person on their stand at the show promoting their latest products. It occurred to him that if he could make illustrations of all the manufacturers’ latest machinery in advance of the show, they could have illustrated catalogues for distribution to the farmers and landowners who flocked to the show. His knowledge of engineering, his skills as an artist and his connections with the agricultural industry meant that he was in the perfect position to set up a successful business - quickly establishing an almost monopoly in providing illustrations for this manufacturing sector. He trained and employed his whole family in the business and Hare & Co. expanded and carried on through two more generations providing printed wood-engraved illustrations of all sorts - illustrations for newspapers, magazines and books, advertising, but still specialising in engineering and machinery of all kinds.

The talk will trace the development of the firm but also explain the process of wood-engraving and its techniques and how important it was to the development of manufacturing. There will also be a display of examples of printing blocks, engraving tools and printed catalogues and other publications illustrated by Jabez Hare.

Blotters, Board and Banknotes
Sheila Viner
From an early age Sheila had an interest in the local mills, the River Thames, social and industrial history and the countryside. She is a keen supporter and former worker at the Mills Archive Trust in Reading see but relinquished this, and editorship of the Hampshire Mills Group Newsletter, in order to spend the greater part of her retirement researching the watermills which once existed in the pre-1974 county of Berkshire. She is revelling in the finds about which she enjoys giving illustrated presentations.

As a Hampshire Mills Group member, Sheila can be found at Longbridge Mill, Sherfield on Loddon, Hampshire, on demonstration milling days; for dates and for her work as Newsletter Editor see She is also a member of Berkshire Industrial Archaeology Group, Mills Research Group, Berkshire Local History Society, Berkshire Family History Society and Maidenhead Heritage Trust.

Ask anyone what a papermill produced and the answer is invariably, "Letter writing paper" or "Newsprint" but three of the south east's river valleys powered paper mills renowned for their diversity of paper based products which were certainly not "run of the mill" and yet have been everyday items in our homes.

Accidentally discovered at a small East Hendred Mill in the north of Berkshire, blotting paper manufacture was transferred to a mill on the River Wye in South Buckinghamshire. This product revolutionised the drying of ink hand writing, dispensing with the centuries old practise of shaking sand over it. Also on the Wye, Jackson's Millboard provided the fibrous backings to millions of radios and television sets. Photographic paper for Ilford Limited was designed and produced by Wiggins Teape at the Glory Mills in Wooburn whilst Colthrop, on the River Kennel, churned out a huge variety of packaging types, some with waxed coatings, under the Reed International banner.

Hampshire's Test Valley saw the development and very successful rise in the manufacture of bank note paper with intricate watermarks, pioneered by the Huguenot Henri de Portal, whose surname became synonymous with the Bank of England's "promissory notes". During WWII a team of Middlesex millworkers were assigned to Bisham on the Thames to produce a special, and at that time very unusual, form of paper for the War Department which was all very "hush-hush." Now it is safe to tell what the secret manufactory was; the veil of secrecy will be lifted on this, and all the mills and their stories revealed.

The Hush-Hush Factory at Tubney Wood
Rosemary Kitto

During November 1940 a German bombing raid devastated Coventry and four direct hits fell on the Hotchkiss Factory belonging to Lord Nuffield. The factory had just commenced production of Bofors guns for the Army and was desperate to increase the output up from five a week. Fortunately, the irreplaceable rifling machines were not damaged and so it was decided to create a secret factory at Tubney near Oxford to improve and secure the production required.

A 15 acre site hidden in pine woods was chosen and the builders, Benfield and Loxley, completed workshops 1 and 2 by April 1941 which, considering they were 300 feet long, 30 feet wide and 15 feet high, was an impressive feat as labour and materials were in short supply. The No. 1 workshop was heightened to 30 feet at the entrance to allow for the unloading of the rough castings that came on lorries from Sheffield. Further workshops followed plus offices, a sewage works, a swimming pool, dormitories, a canteen and later 16 prefabricated bungalows for essential workers.

The site was completely camouflaged by the trees that surrounded it and even covered the tops of the buildings. The narrow entrance dog-legged behind a thick hedge and was not signposted, very few people outside those who were involved in the production knew of its existence.

There were only two factories making the vital Bofors gun barrels in Great Britain and it was essential for the war effort that they were kept a secret. Therefore the Tubney Wood site became known as The Hush-Hush Factory. Over 300 people worked at the site producing 200 gun barrels a week - they worked a 12 hour shift either night or day for 7 days a week. Travel to and from the factory was difficult with some walking or cycling miles either end of their long shift. Working conditions were dangerous and accidents were so frequent that a surgery was also erected on the site. 51 years later, in March 1992, the site was demolished and eventually sold to Oxford Instruments for their new factory making semi-conductors. However due to the determination of Nigel Dawe, a local military historian, we have an accurate record and some reliable information about the site and some of the people who worked there.

Preservation of Public Road Transport in the Thames Valley (Talk and Visit)
Colin Billington Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust,
Colin Billington is Chairman of TV&GWOT, Deputy Chairman of the National Association of Road Transport Museums and a member of the HLF's Industrial, Maritime and Transport advisory group.

The Trust (TV&GWOT) describes its area of operation as "fro' Paddington to Penzance" and exists to educate the public in the history of public road passenger transport and in the history of those companies and types of vehicles operating along this important route. The Great Western Railway was a pioneer in motorbus operation as a cost effective way of extending the reach of the railway. The GWR’s first motorbus service, inaugurated on 17 August 1903, was between Helston Station and The Lizard. This service has run continuously ever since and today is operated by First, operators of today’s GWR. The GWR’s bus network spread rapidly through Cornwall and this experience was soon applied across its rail network, coming to the Thames Valley in March 1904 (Slough to Beaconsfield); in October 1904, Wales and Wiltshire and, in November 1904, Wolverhampton - Bridgnorth. Following the Great War, army surplus chassis for use as lorries, buses and charabancs were in plentiful supply from the Slough &ssquo;dump’ as were returning soldiers with newly acquired driving and maintenance skills. The GWR expansion gained pace so that by the late 1920s they were one of the largest with a bus fleet of over 600. At this time due to changes in the railway companies’ statutory powers, they decided to combine with other bus operators by forming joint ventures such as the Western National Omnibus Co. in the West Country (with the National Omnibus & Transport Co.) or taking shareholdings as in the Thames Valley Traction Co. and the Bristol Tramways & Carriage Co. The Trust’s remit covers the study of these companies and their successors from the earliest days to the present day. The Trust owns, or has access to, some 70 historic buses and coaches including the sole surviving GWR bus which it has fully restored. The Trust carries out restorations and maintenance at its workshops near Maidenhead (in the visit programme for this Conference) and in South Devon, and also has extensive archives. It uses these resources to stage vintage bus running days at which its vehicles are used to authentically recreate the experience of bygone bus travel. In 2018 such events are planned for Tavistock, Penzance, Reading, Kingsbridge and a 3 day coach run from Victoria Coach Station to East Grinstead, Winchester, Bournemouth, Taunton, Ilfracombe, Bristol and back along the A4 to Maidenhead.

The Slough Industrial Estate and its Railway
Jaye Isherwood Slough & Windsor Railway Society,
Your speaker is the author of a book on the Slough Estates railway where she will be happy to provide a signed copy if you enquire at the Slough & Windsor Railway Society stand.

One hundred years ago the War Department purchased farm land west of Slough to construct a major facility intended to repair damaged vehicles arriving back from the WWI battlefields. Work started in June 1918, but costs nearly doubled from the original £1m estimate. By May 1919 vehicles started to arrive, but by now the depot was declared to be a huge white elephant and the works and 15 thousands trucks were all sold off to a motoring syndicate for a staggering £7m.

The works were extensive and included the Depot’s own power station, fire & ambulance service, canteen, parcels depot, rail connection and a GWR station dedicated to the site. The site drew its own water supply from multiple 1,000ft artesian wells that tapped into the Thames Valley water table.

Under the syndicate name of the Slough Trading Company, the site flourished with vehicles now being refurbished for the domestic market, however there was a limited supply of stock that gave the facility a finite life. Thankfully some WWI truck manufacturers chose the depot to locate their own UK works including Pee~ess, Four Wheel Drive and Citroen. With this formed what was one of the first ever industrial estates where tenants leased buildings gaining the benefits of all the facilities in the area.

Along with the motor companies, early tenants were Mars, Gillette, Johnson & Johnson, Weston Biscuits, Aspro, Black and Decker and Hygienic Ice who employed the pure water from the artesian wells to produce pure ice for the fish markets and London hotels.

The Slough Trading Estate continued to flourish even through the depression of the 1930s where even more staff facilities were added, including an innovative workers’ health service, community halls and leisure facilities. Throughout this time, transport of supplies and delivery of goods was highly dependent on the estate’s own railway, locomotives and main line rail connection.

The rail connection continued through WWII but by now transport was starting to move over to the motor vehicle. However, the steam locomotives and rail continued to supply the estate's power station right up to April 1973 and became one of the last industrial sites to be dependent on Steam.

Only two of the seven locomotives owned by Slough Estates survived into preservation, namely Loco No. 5 that is at the Yorkshire Dales Railway and Loco No. 3 that is owned by the Slough & Windsor Railway Society and can be seen running on the Middleton Railway.

Windsor Railway Walk
Malcolm Lock Slough & Windsor Railway Society
This walk will take place at the end of the conference and give delegates a chance to tour the railway infrastructure in the town as well as other sites of interest.

Leaving the school we will cross the road and make our way past Gardner Cottages, an interesting Victorian survival forming a square of terraced houses round a central green built by Robert Richardson Gardner, the MP for Windsor, in 1870. Continuing down Vansittart Road past the Windsor Leisure Centre, we reach Baths Island where we get a good view of Brunel's bowstring bridge and the brick arch viaduct which carries the line from Slough and learn something of the history of railways in Windsor.

Proceeding to Barry Avenue, a replica of Sydney Camm’s wartime Hurricane fighter can be seen. A short walk takes us past Windsor and Eton Brewery to the house where Camm grew up on Alma Road, marked by a blue plaque. Nearby is the 1960s-built Ward Royal complex, where a plaque marks the site where Windsor Model Aeroplane Club had its original workshop.

We then ascend to the GWR railway viaduct and enter Windsor Royal Station. The large office block to the right is on the site of the old gasworks - a short branch from the goods yard below allowed coal to be delivered. A shopping area now occupies the large station erected by the GWR for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1897, replacing Brunel's station of 1849, and the railway occupies a single platform at the back of the complex. A replica of a Swindon-built Dean Single is on display, sadly lacking its tender - it was built for a Madame Tussauds exhibition once located in the station. On the left hand side we can see a blue plaque to Daniel Gooch put up to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth. Leaving the station under the Jubilee Arch, we go down the hill, with the Castle on the right. Much of the stone work now to be seen dates from George IV’s renovations in the early 19th century. At the bottom of the hill is Bank House, now part of St George’s School but in its time a private residence, a bank and the brewery offices of Neville Reid. Outside a 'cock' horse was kept to assist wagons up the steeply inclined Thames Street. On the corner of Datchet Road is the Bel and Dragon restaurant. There has been a hostelry on the site since the 12th century and in the Victorian era the present building was known as the South Western Hotel. On the opposite corner is Lutyens' George V memorial.

Further along the road stands Windsor and Eton Riverside station. This was built by the London and South Western Railway to the design of Sir William Tile in 1851. It was recently named as one of Britain’s 100 best stations in a book by Simon Jenkins. After a look round, we can make our way back along the riverside. With luck there might be a Salters Steamer moored there. The elegant lines of Windsor Bridge, a cast iron structure dating from 1824 and closed to vehicles in 1970, can be seen as we follow the riverside path donated to the borough by Courage Brewery, successors to Neville Reid. On the left is the Jubilee fountain and then Alexandra Gardens, laid out in Edwardian times. A new bandstand was erected here to celebrate the present Queen's jubilee, the Victorian one having been removed in the 1960s. We pass the Hurricane once more and make our way back to the school.

Should there be the time and the inclination to do so, we can carry on past the Leisure Centre, under the Relief Road to Clewer village. St Andrew’s Church, part of which dates from Saxon times, is the oldest building in the vicinity. Gooch’s grave can be seen from the road and as we turn left to make our way back to the Maidenhead Road, we can see Gooch's workmen's cottages and the now closed Swan Inn as we return to the school.

Archive Transport Film Show
Frank Banfield

‘Nanook of the North’ (1922) has passed into folklore although this pioneering film is rarely seen. It was Grierson’s film ‘Drifters’ (1929) that was the outstanding step in establishing Britain as a country for fine documentary films and there followed a stream of films, usually quite short, on a myriad of topics. An extremely well-known, deservedly, film is ‘Night Mail’ (1936) with verse commentary by Auden, music by Britten and made by the legendary GPO film unit.

There were plenty of other film makers, good and bad, bringing the world to the people as not previously experienced. The War was the golden age for documentary makers such as Jennings. Propaganda, information, and morale boosts made significant contributions to the war effort when ignorance was dangerous. Post war perhaps the greatest film unit, among many, was British Transport Films with a plethora of films from straightforward factual to highly imaginative and brilliantly cut ones such as 'Snow' and 'Terminus'. As the great age of 'going to the pictures' passed away, the documentary baton went to TV but the atmosphere was not the same. Many of the old films are available on DVD but today's event takes us back as we hear the projector clatter, see the images flicker, and listen to those plummy voiced commentaries.

Frank Banfield has had a cine film projector since he was a small boy. He got seriously into collecting when he was given a collection in the mid-1990s and has amassed a wide range of films encompassing most forms of transport, and also various industrial archaeology topics.