Events

Feb
28
Tue
2017
Rocket Sites: The infrastructure of rocket research and missile deployment @ MANCHESTER: Museum of Science and Industry
Feb 28 @ 6:30 pm – 8:15 pm

A lecture by Wayne Cocroft (Historic England). The vital contribution of research facilities and infrastructure required to deploy high–tech defence systems is often neglected in the history of technology.  Surviving test sites stand not only as monuments to past scientific endeavours, but when analysed archaeologically provide valuable insights into testing regimes.  Sometimes the physical remains represent unique primary records, while in other examples it is possible to link them to documentary sources and oral testimonies.  Wayne Cocroft’s paper  discusses the German lineage in the design of  post-war British rocket test sites and places associated with development of this country’s indigenous missile programmes, including the Blue Streak intermediate range ballistic missile.  It also explores the infrastructure of missile deployment sites and reviews efforts to protect and present some of the most significant historic rocket and missile sites.

Mar
1
Wed
2017
The Brooke Family of Coalbrookdale @ BIRMINGHAM: Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum
Mar 1 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

A lecture by Paul Belford: The Brooke Family of Coalbrookdale

Mar
7
Tue
2017
The Presidential Address @ LONDON: The Dana Centre,
Mar 7 @ 5:45 pm – 7:45 pm

The Presidential Address by Michael Grace.

“Stuffed in attic trunks and the minds of aging scientists”? Reflections on Technical History and the History of Technology

It is widely accepted that the world as we know it today can only be understood by reference to technology and its history.  However, it is the impacts and consequences of technologies, rather than their inherent technical development, that provides that understanding.

As technologies have become more science-based and complex, it is increasingly difficult for those without specialist knowledge to fully understand and appreciate how these technologies work, how they arose and how they were developed.

Whilst the benefits of studying the history of technology as a factor in understanding social, economic and political history is more or less self-evident, the benefits of studying the fundamental underlying technical history is less so.  For example, to what extent do historians need to understand the technical development of aviation in order to understand and appreciate the social impacts of air travel in the second half of the twentieth century?

The lecture will consider the value of studying detailed technical history and the ‘amateur and recreational’ status sometimes accorded to such study, together with other related topics, in the context of the Newcomen Society.

Mar
9
Thu
2017
History of the hydroelectric industry in Scotland. @ EDINBURGH: National Museums of Scotland
Mar 9 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

A lecture by Ian Marchant.

Mar
13
Mon
2017
Henry Ford’s Holiday – Collecting British steam engines in 1928  @ SHEFFIELD: Kelham Island Museum
Mar 13 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

A lecture by Professor David Perrett:  Henry Ford’s Holiday – Collecting British steam engines in 1928. 

For directions to Kelham Island Museum please visit:- www.simt.co.uk/find-us 

Free parking at Kelham Island Museum for up to 40 vehicles.  This is split between the onsite parking and the Museum car park next to the Fat Cat pub. There are 3 accessible spaces at Kelham Island Museum.

Mar
21
Tue
2017
Frank Hornby & Mechanical Toys – Britain, Germany & the USA 1880 – 1950. @ NEWCASTLE: Tyne&Wear Discovery Museum
Mar 21 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

A lecture by Deborah Jaffé. A lecture by Deborah Jaffé. The entrepreneurial Frank Hornby was the inventor of Meccano, The Hornby Railway and Dinky Cars. This lecture looks at the origins of his designs, the manufacturing processes involved,  the images of modernity within the toys and how Hornby achieved his aims to enable  children to learn mechanic; all within the context of the toy industries in Germany, Britain and the USA. Deborah is a cultural historian, the editor of Newcomen Links and author of The History of Toys (Sutton 2006).

Aspects of the development of Naval wireless Telegraph @ PORTSMOUTH: Portland Building, Rm PO1-11, University of Portsmouth
Mar 21 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

A lecture by Clive Kidd

Marine Anchors: Development, Perceptions And Reality @ MANCHESTER: Museum of Science and Industry
Mar 21 @ 6:30 pm – 8:15 pm

A lecture by Dr William Craig: Marine Anchors: Development, Perceptions And Reality.  The form of the marine anchor has changed significantly over the centuries – from primitive stone anchors and killicks, through classical stocked anchors used from Graeco-Roman times to the nineteenth century, to articulated, largely stockless, anchors and later to specialist units for small vessels and for the offshore engineering industry. The lecture covers these changing forms.  It also looks at the images and analogies for anchors found in advertising, art, the navy, politics and religion over the centuries.  The main focus is on developments from the nineteenth century, the growing impact of engineering and materials technology and the recognition and understanding of the mechanics of the interaction with the seabed. Dr Bill Craig substantially retired from his post as Reader in Geotechnical Engineering in the University of Manchester in 2011. A Chartered Member of both the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Society for the Environment, he is a past Chairman of the British Geotechnical Society. He has been involved with the offshore industries since 1976. Interest in anchors began when he worked with Exxon on the assessment of specialist marine drag anchors for offshore drilling platforms in the soft clay seabed of the Gulf of Mexico, while on sabbatical at the University of Colorado in 1989-90.

Mar
23
Thu
2017
Engineering Behind Famous Feats of WW2 @ BRISTOL: BAWA
Mar 23 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Joint meeting with Royal Aeronautical Society (Bristol), at BAWA (Ballroom). A lecture by Dr Hugh Hunt, “Engineering Behind Famous Feats of WW2”,  (Dambusters, escape from Colditz etc).

Mar
30
Thu
2017
Visit to National Museum Wales Collections Centre, Nantgarw @ NANTGARW, National Museum Wales Collections Centre
Mar 30 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

There are still a few places available on our 30 March 2017 visit to South Wales. The plan is that we meet at 11am the National Museum Wales Collections Centre, Nantgarw, where the staff will show us the Transport Collection and Stationary Engines. In the afternoon, Stephen Jones and Stephen Rowson will take us to see the Melingriffith Water Pump and the Glamorganshire Canal. If you are interested in coming, please let me know as soon as possible. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 20.

Apr
5
Wed
2017
The Thames Tunnel @ BIRMINGHAM: Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum
Apr 5 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

A lecture by Julia Elton: The Thames Tunnel

Apr
12
Wed
2017
Frank Hornby & Mechanical Toys – Britain, Germany & the USA  @ LONDON: The Dana Centre,
Apr 12 @ 5:45 pm – 7:45 pm

A lecture by Deborah Jaffé. The entrepreneurial Frank Hornby was the inventor of Meccano, The Hornby Railway and Dinky Cars. This lecture looks at the origins of his designs, the manufacturing processes involved,  the images of modernity within the toys and how Hornby achieved his aims to enable  children to learn mechanic; all within the context of the toy industries in Germany, Britain and the USA. Deborah is a cultural historian, the editor of Newcomen Links and author of The History of Toys (Sutton 2006).

Apr
19
Wed
2017
ICI Billingham and Steam Reforming – The Catalyst that Saved British Gas   @ NEWCASTLE: Tyne&Wear Discovery Museum
Apr 19 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

A lecture by Dr Fred Starr FIMMM, C.Eng. It will surprise anyone younger than middle aged, that British Gas, in the 1950s seemed doomed, almost deservedly so. The world’s oldest energy conversion company, it was having to make gas from coal, using costly, filthy, toxic, manpower intensive equipment.  It is commonly held, even within the organisation, that it was only saved by the chance discovery of North Sea Gas in 1965.  The real picture is more complex.  Well before then, the Industry was fighting for its survival through the introduction of new technology.

Among the really critical developments was the widespread introduction of the steam reforming of naphtha, essentially a low grade gasoline, using a process developed by ICI Billingham. The technique involves reacting a hydrocarbon with steam at about 20 bar pressure and temperatures in excess of 800°C. Other units on this refinery type process were used to upgrade the output of the steam reformer, producing what was then called Town Gas. Unlike natural gas, which is about 95% methane, Town Gas consists of hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide and monoxide.  The cost of gas manufacture was halved, meaning that the company was in good shape, and able to take advantage of the discoveries in the North Sea.

ICI Billingham had been working on steam reforming since the early thirties. Their first commercial unit suppled hydrogen to their hydrogenation plant, manufacturing aviation fuel from coal. Feedstock was the small volumes of waste hydrocarbon gases from the hydrogenation process. However Billingham’s core business was the manufacture of ammonia, using Haber Bosch reactors, in which the massive amounts of hydrogen required had to be made from coal by the rather crude water gas process.

This sufficed until the 1950s, when, as with the Gas Industry, being reliant on coal, Billingham was becoming uncompetitive. R&D at Billingham led to the development of a new catalyst, 46/1, enabling them to run steam reformers on naphtha. Area Boards in the Gas Industry quickly adopted the technology to produce Town Gas. Our first plant was at Provan in Scotland, in 1962, being built by a Stockton-on-Tees company. Within five years, 50% of the gas was being produced using steam reforming.  However, it was a short lived revolution. With the introduction of North Sea Gas, most plants were shut down by 1975.

The author worked as a shift engineer on one of the early plants at Hitchin. But because of a policy change, at the purpose built British Gas Research Station at Killingworth, he became responsible for failure investigations in the southern half of Britain. Along with the history, he will recount some of the shortcomings of the ICI process, one of which, when working as Hitchin, nearly killed him.

Apr
20
Thu
2017
R101 Disaster and the Broken Elevator Cable @ BRISTOL BAWA
Apr 20 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

A lecture by Bryan Lawton: R101 Disaster and the Broken Elevator Cable

Apr
24
Mon
2017
Stealth – its history and technology @ SHEFFIELD: Kelham Island Museum
Apr 24 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

A lecture by Professor Barry Chambers:  Stealth – its history and technology. 

For directions to Kelham Island Museum please visit:- http://www.simt.co.uk/find-us

Apr
25
Tue
2017
Constructing the Severn Tunnel @ PORTSMOUTH: Portland Building, Rm PO1-11, University of Portsmouth,
Apr 25 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

A lecture by Roger Davies

Robert Steeds Film Evening @ MANCHESTER: Museum of Science and Industry
Apr 25 @ 6:30 pm – 8:15 pm

Robert Steeds Film Evening

Apr
29
Sat
2017
Visit to Mellor Mill @ MARPLE: Mellor Mill, Marple
Apr 29 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Dr John Glithero is leading a visit to the archaeological dig site of Samuel Oldknow’s cotton mill at Mellor Mill, Marple.  We will gather for lunch at the Roman Lakes Tea Rooms and visit the site in the afternoon.  There will also be an opportunity to see other features nearby, including the Marple  aqueduct on the Peak Forest Canal. The site can be reached by train or car.   Further details and travel directions contact jonathan.aylen@manchester.ac.uk

May
10
Wed
2017
The bulldozer in post-war Britain: on the tracks of a modern machine @ LONDON: The Dana Centre,
May 10 @ 5:45 pm – 7:45 pm

A lecture by Dr Ralph Harrington, School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies, University of Leeds.

The mechanized transformation of the environment has been one of the key defining themes of modernity. The bulldozer powerfully symbolises that theme. Appropriately, the bulldozer came into British landscapes as an instrument of war, brought by the American armed forces to construct airfields, roads and harbours and reshape the landscape for military purposes. Once peace came the bulldozers remained, driving the reconstruction of post-war Britain with the same ruthless power that had characterized their military role.

Huge, powerful and sometimes monstrous, the bulldozer has become both a symbol of technological progress and an archetypal image of environmental destruction. Protest movements and countercultures quickly and enduringly adopted the bulldozer in words and images as the symbol of all that they feared and opposed. The environmental destruction associated with the advance of modernity affected both urban and non-urban landscapes, and the bulldozer – inhabiting both realms, and haunting the debatable borderland that lay between – was the technology most publicly associated with that process.

This paper uses a range of source material and perspectives to trace the multifaceted and contested significance of the bulldozer as an agent of environmental transformation and an engine of technological modernity in modern Britain.

 

May
11
Thu
2017
International Early Engines Conference 2017 Newcomen & colleagues’ achievements untainted by the smokescreens of Watt @ BARNSLEY: The Ironworks, Elsecar,
May 11 @ 12:00 pm – May 13 @ 4:00 pm

The purpose of the conference is to provide a forum for presentation and discussion of new research into heat engines prior to 1812. A wide range of new field and desk research into early engines lacks an obvious outlet, forum or focus and this is the underpinning rationale for IEEC. The event design is based on the International Early Railways Conference (IERC). Repeat conferences are anticipated every 4-5 years. The conference will open at 12.00 on Thursday May 11, 2017 and close at 16.00 on Saturday May 13.

Synopses for 20 papers of considerable interest and variety have been accepted and can be seen on our website (www.earlyengines.org)
Catering will be provided and relevant publications will be on sale by the sponsoring organisations.
Delegate costs and are likely to be around £100/person and we will offer options for partners and day tickets.

A bound compendium of previously published articles relating to Early Engines will be provided for all attendees and the conference transactions will be published as a themed edition of the International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology.

Hotel and accommodation arrangements will not be handled by the conference. Sponsorship – IEEC e facilities and support will be provided by Barnsley MBC. The Newcomen Society will be lead sponsor and the Historical Metallurgy Society (HMS), the Northern Mines Research Society (NMRS) and the South Gloucestershire Mine Research Group (SGMRG) are also providing sponsorship.

May
18
Thu
2017
James Brindley and the Duke of Bridgewater @ BRISTOL: BAWA
May 18 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

A lecture by Victoria Owens: James Brindley and the Duke of Bridgewater

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