The Jolly Farmer name lives on courtesy of Network Rail

Our Heritage Open Day visit on Saturday was to the Woking Electrical Control Room.

As Southern Railway moved from steam to the electric third-rail system in the 1930’s its expanding electrification needed additional electricity sub stations. The electric power supply from these sub-stations was managed from control rooms, which could reconfigure the electric power in the event of a fault. Of the original five control room Woking is the only one retained in its original condition.

Southern Railway adopted an Art Deco styling to their electrification and station building. Woking has three railway building in the art deco style. It’s station, signal box, and the lesser known Electrical Control Room. Built in 1936, and opened in 1937, the control room continued in operation till 1997, when it was superceded by computer control.

The control room is Grade II listed for the building, control room panels, switches, and lighting. The concrete building has a flat roof with metal-framed casement windows.

Entering the building, past offices still in use, you enter a narrow corridor running around the edge of the building past panel of electro-mechanical switch gear. From the corridor you enter the impressive control room, just as it was when its use ceased in 1997, even the chairs remain.

Operated 24 hours a day, the three attractive copper and iron uplighters were designed to give a soft diffused light. We learned that the original light bulbs have been replaced with LED lights, close to the original lighting effect, though giving off a whiter light than that that I saw when first visiting the control room in 2007.

The inner walls of the control room are a representation, and name of each of the electric sub stations, with coloured lights to indicate the state of operation. The switches allow a controller to divert electric supply to in the event of a fault.

I expect you’ll be wanting to know about how the Jolly Farmer name lives on. Well, the name Jolly Farmer appears on the control panels for the sub station close to what was the Jolly Farmer pub, now American Golf shop. To prove that the Jolly Farmer name is still in use, I hacked through undergrowth to get near the railway line and take a photo of the sub station, which is still named Jolly Farmer.

Here are the photos [click to expand] of our visit, and the Jolly Farmer sub station.

 

 

Photos of The Great Fall landslide uncovered

Here’s a wonderful piece of history uncovered by Derek Butcher, a route asset manager at Network Rail [@NetworkRailSE], who found historic images of The Great Fall in a filing cabinet while moving offices.

The Great Fall was an immense coastal landslide that occurred at Folkestone Warren in December 1915. Such was the seriousness of the landslide that the railway line that ran through the Warren, used to convey troops in WW1, was not reopened until well after the end of the war.

I learned about this historic event from a tweet on Mark Smith’s twitter feed The Man in Seat 61, and its associated conversations.

Here are photos [click to enlarge], and the maps that were found. It is thought that the train drivers and passengers were evacuated back along the line to Folkestone, while the landslip continued, resulting in crazy angles of the train and carriages.

 

Blue plaques for the Bisley Village Hall heritage project

Residents and community organisations in Bisley responded magnificently to the plea by the Trustees of Bisley Village Hall to bring to life the story of the Shaftesbury School and the village hall. Closely intertwined, the chapel of Shaftesbury School and Farm School became the Bisley Village Hall soon after the closure of the School in 1959.

In response, yesterday Bisley Village Hall had a display of information boards, old photographs, and School memorabilia. The hall is the heart of the community affairs in Bisley, and so it’s fitting that yesterday’s heritage event involved the the unveiling of two blue plaques on village hall.

One plaque commemorated that the hall was one the school chapel of Shaftesbury School, and the other to commemorate the boys from the school who lost their lives in the two World Wars, replacing the memorial tablets lost after the school closed.

From Bisley Residents Association newsletter of Spring 2018 is this about the Bisley Village Hall Heritage Project. The Trustees of Bisley Village Hall seem themselves as guardians of its heritage, in addition to their responsibilities for the Hall. This is where the Heritage Project aims to capture information and reminiscences about the building and its place in the history of Bisley.

In the second part of the 19th century Bisley became a place of refuge and support for poor, homeless, and orphaned children. First came the Refuge Farm School constructed in 1868 then, in 1873, the larger Shaftesbury School (with which the Farm School was amalgamated in 1919). In 1874, a chapel was built to accommodate the pupils and staff from both schools, with a separate room in which villagers could buy a cheap cup of tea and meet friends. That chapel is at the heart of the present Bisley Village Hall.

Here are photos of the yesterday’s heritage and plaque unveiling event. Surrey Heath Mayor, Cllr Dan Adams, thanked those involved in the day’s event. Jim Henbest, honorary president of the village hall, unveiled the plaque commemorating the chapel, and Keith Mansfield, former school pupil and bandmaster of the school’s band, the plaque commemorating the memorial tablets.

Events reminder: Heritage Open Days in Surrey Heath: 8-9 and 13-16 September 2018

Surrey Heath Borough Council announce that,

There’s lots going on in Surrey Heath this month to celebrate the Heritage Open Days festival. Click on image to expand.

Surrey Heath Museum, along with many local organisations, has organised a series of free events over two weekends, 8-9 and 13-16 September. They include building tours, from Bagshot Chapel to St. Michael’s Bell tower in Camberley, associated talks and heritage walks in the Borough.

This year a number of historic blue plaques will be unveiled, recognising historic buildings locally and the people associated with them.

Bisley Village Hall was once the chapel of Bisley School, which existed from 1868 to 1959 to provide refuge for destitute boys from London. On Sunday 9 September, visitors will have the opportunity to walk around the Village Hall, find out about its fascinating history, and how it is used today. The blue plaques will be unveiled at 12 noon by local dignitaries, followed by a talk with Old Boys from the school.  There is also the opportunity for local children to design replacement stained glass windows for the Chancel section of the original Church.

Frimhurst Family House, once the home of two remarkable women, Ethel Smyth (Composer and Suffragette) and Grace Goodman (local Philanthropist) will open its doors on Saturday 15 September, with tours of the building plus a talk on both of these significant local figures. Blue plaques to mark the legacy of these two women will be unveiled at 2pm. Frimhurst is now owned and managed by the international charity ATD Fourth World, which exists to support families to raise themselves out of poverty – a cause both Smyth and Goodman would fully support.

Saturday 8 September also sees the launch of Surrey Heath Museum’s ‘What, Where, Why and When’ display space in Camberley Library. The library will host two presentations on the local heritage collection at 2.30pm and 3.30pm.

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers.  Every year in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all FREE. Links to both flyers are below, and can also be accessed on the website below.

www.surreyheath.gov.uk/museum
www.heritageopendays.org.uk

Visiting the historic wind tunnels in Farnborough

Some readers may have heard of the wind tunnels in Farnborough. Even fewer will have seen them, as they were in the secret Royal Aircraft Establishment [RAE]. The UK has a proud history in the development of wind tunnels. Recently we visited two of the preserved historic wind tunnels in Farnborough.

A wind tunnel is used to help solve the aerodynamics issues of aircraft and aircraft components. A smooth and stable flow of air is passed over a scale model of an aircraft, or, a whole aircraft where the wind tunnel is large enough. A variety of measurements are then observed and recorded. Aircraft wing design has been and remains one of the important uses of wind tunnels.

Having covered what they are, we can get down to the historic wind tunnels. The RAE, and its predecessors at Farnborough, played a central role in the development of aviation in the UK, and its wind tunnels were a key part of that role. The RAE closed in 1993, with its research work being part privatised. The Farnborough Air Sciences Trust [FAST] was established to save the heritage of the RAE and its wind tunnels.

There are three wind tunnel buildings in Farnborough, known as R52, Q121, and R133. Only the first two can be visited with asbestos in R133 limiting access. The buildings remain as they were when last used over 20 years ago.

The R52 building dates from 1911 and is Grade 1 listed. It originally housed two 7-foot wind tunnels. Both are now gone, though one is now located at the University of Southampton, in their place is a ‘low turbulence’ 4 x 3 foot tunnel built in 1946.

Iconic is a much misused word, though can be applied to the Q121 building, which is recognisable to all who pass by. Again it’s Grade 1 listed. Never have I known what went on inside. Now I know. It houses the 24 foot wind tunnel. Actually, the whole building is the wind tunnel. It was opened in 1935 and remained in use until 1996.

The wind tunnels are not open to the general public. Tours of the wind tunnels are by pre-arrangement, last for around 2.5 hours, and a group of no more than 20.  Wind tunnels remain important for aeronautical research, as the March 2018 article The future role of wind tunnels in test and development in Aerospace Testing International magazine.

Here are a few photos of the buildings, and their wind tunnels.

FAST Museum houses historic aviation collection

I’ve got a touch behind in articles here. Last week we visited the FAST Museum in Farnborough – properly known as the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum. There were two aspects to our visit, with the Camberley and District Probus Club, in the morning to the FAST Museum, and an afternoon visit to the historic Wind Tunnels.

Firstly about our museum visit. I’ll write about the wind tunnel visit later. If you haven’t visited the FAST Museum, you’re missing a treat. The museum is packed full of historic aviation material, be it photographs, aircraft engines, space rockets satellites, flight simulators, and historic military and civil aircraft, all available with accompanying knowledgeable museum volunteers.

The museum is open on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holiday Mondays from 10.0am till 4.0pm, with entry being free. I’m ashamed to admit not having previously visited the museum, though having frequently passed by it on the A325. Funny isn’t it, it’s the attractions nearest to you that don’t get visited.

The old-looking white building housing the Museum is historic itself. Known as Trenchard House, named in commemoration of Lord Trenchard’s work in the creation of the RAF. FAST say about the building that it,

…. is the earliest building on the historic Farnborough aviation site. It was built in 1907 by the Royal Engineers to be the headquarters of their Balloon School and it is one of the oldest aviation related buildings in the country.

The FAST Museum volunteers created the Cody Pavillion, containing a full-sized replica of the British Army’s Aeroplane No1A, alongside a gallery of photographs about Samuel F Cody’s colourful life, all marking his achievement in the first successful powered aeroplane flight in the UK.  Here are a few photos of our visit,