Farnborough Air Sciences Trust

Relaxing in the boardroom of the trust with a light lunch.

In September we visited the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST), in a historic building on the periphery of Farnborough Airfield, a site now dominated by the comings and goings of business aircraft (‘bizjets’). The building, in contrast to the more modern facilities around it, first housed the Balloon Section of the Royal Engineers. Continue reading


Shuttleworth near Biggleswade

12 of our members visited Shuttleworth, which must be an unsurpassed UK collection of vintage aircraft, many of which are preserved in flying condition – no mean feat. Somehow, they seemed to have the pilots to fly them as well from the adjacent Old Warden grass airstrip too, but we didn’t see that.

The sole Spitfire in the collection. The Supermarine Mark VC, Westland built, and undergoing restoration. It escorted USAAF bombers in 1942-43.

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Nene Valley Railway

34081 The Ferryman, Battle of Britain Class arrives from Peterborough – our transport for the day.

Few of us managed to get to the Nene Valley Railway near Peterborough, but those who did had an excellent (very warm) day.  The restored line runs along the attractive Nene Valley between Yarwell and Peterborough and forms part of of the original London and Birmingham Railway line which which was completed  in 1847 from the Northampton area to Peterborough.  Like so many east-west lines (eg Hatfield and St Albans), this one closed in 1972. Continue reading

Greenwich visit

Greenwich Maritime Museum (left), Queen’s House (centre) and Canary Wharf area in the background

In keeping with the maritime flavour of the day, we traveled from Bankside Pier near Tate Modern to Greenwich by a very comfortable riverboat to visit the maritime installations at Greenwich. Continue reading

Kirkaldy’s Testing and Experimenting Works

web_kirkaldyOur trip this month (February) was to the Kirkaldy Test Museum in Southwark, London. The founder, David  Kirkaldy (1820–1897), was unique in his time for recognising that industrial accidents such as the Tay Bridge Disaster were caused by failure to sufficiently understand and test the materials being used in the course of the Industrial Revolution.

He alone drove forward the development of materials testing and designed many of the testing machines housed in the museum, and his work continued in turn by his son and grandson. Notably, the motto which appears above the front door of the museum is “Facts Not Opinions”, and the building and museum contents are now Grade 2* listed. Continue reading