04.06.19 Past Master Martin Payne

A Coachmaker day out at the Shuttleworth Collection


A visit to the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden ticks several boxes for enjoyment and relevance. Our thanks go to Past Master Michael Kimber for organising the visit and for all the Coachmakers who enjoyed the warm sunny day out.

Having assembled and greeted one another, we sat down to a hearty lunch. This built us up for a tour of the various hangars before returning to the restaurant for a cream tea, strawberry jam and scones and the journey home.

The origins of the Shuttleworth Collection began with the Clayton and Shuttleworth business founded in 1842. Located near the river Witham, it started as an iron and steel foundry producing pipes for the new Miningsby to Boston water supply. Following the development of a portable steam engine in 1845, its first traction engine was built in 1858, from which a wide range of agricultural equipment emerged and was widely exported. The wealth generated by this enterprise enabled Joseph Shuttleworth to buy Old Warden Park, which is where we began our visit.

1914 Clayton and Shuttleworth engine ‘Dorothy’.

1914 Clayton and Shuttleworth engine ‘Dorothy’

The Lincoln based firm of Clayton and Shuttleworth Ltd was founded in 1842. It became one of the largest producers of steam engines and agricultural machinery from the end of 1850s. “Dorothy” was built in 1914 as a roller ordered from new by Stockton on Tees Council. It was used in France until 1921 when she was acquired by the War Department. Preservation began in 1963 when the front roller was replaced with two steel wheels. It was acquired by the Collection in 1991 and some further restoration has brought it up to the condition seen today.

As the tour began, we were split into two groups and taken through the hangars by expert guides who explained the history behind the collection of antique flying machines from the 1910 AVRO tri-plane; built by the Hampshire Aeroplane Club at Eastleigh, Southampton for the film, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965). In the film the aircraft comes to grief in a railway tunnel in France – in reality this sequence was filmed close to Old Warden. It is powered by an upright 4-cylinder inline Cirrus Hermes engine which is of a similar configuration to the original’s 35hp Green Engine.

The 1941 Supermarine Spitfire MK VC (pictured above with the Coachmaker team) was built by Westland Aircraft at Yeovil as a Mark VC and issued in 1942 to No 310 (Czech) Squadron based at Duxford. It undertook escort duties to USAAF bombers, including the famous ‘Memphis Belle’, of the 91st Bombardment Group during 1942-43. In post war years it was used as an instructional airframe at Loughborough College and was acquired by the Shuttleworth Collection in 1961.

1945 DH89A DRAGON RAPIDE

1945 DH89A DRAGON RAPIDE

1945 DH89A DRAGON RAPIDE

Built in 1945 as a Dominie by Brush Coachworks Ltd at Loughborough, GSH was civilianised as a DH89a and first registered to Channel Islands Airways Ltd of Jersey in July 1945. She then went to the Minister of Civil Aviation from November 1946 to January 1947 before spending nine years with BEA as James Keir Hardie, operating the Highlands and Islands service. ‘GSH was later bought back by BEA in the early 1960s and as its last biplane, named Lord Baden Powell, operated the Lands End to Scilly Isles route until the introduction of helicopters. During her life she has passed through the hands of many owners, including more than half a dozen small airlines, a short spell in Ireland as EI-AJO, and the RAF Sport Parachute Association at Abingdon.

Why keep the Collection flying?

Nothing compares to watching these aircraft in the air, hearing the sound of their engines and the smell of castor oil. Shuttleworth has never been a museum of static exhibits but a living, working collection. It’s also a world-class vintage air display venue which depends on the historic aircraft being maintained in flying condition. The engineers and volunteers take on that challenge, while the pilots have to learn how to fly aircraft designed during earlier periods of aviation development.

The aircraft span a period from the early pioneers of aviation to the 1950s and include the oldest aircraft still flying and the oldest British aircraft still flying – some of the aircraft here are now over 100 years old. Designed originally for a whole range of purposes, from fighting the enemy in the two World Wars to breaking world records, they have all contributed to pushing the boundaries of aircraft design.

The montage here will help recall some of the delightful aircraft that are still flying; some even after 100 years.

 

A montage of items from the Shuttleworth Collection

A montage of items from the Shuttleworth Collection