Visits 2015

kew_museum_iconLondon Museum of Water and Steam

October 2015

Like many now redundant engineering triumphs of the 19th century and earlier, a visit to the London Museum of Steam and Water near Kew bridge showed us how the movement of water from the Thames included some very impressive pieces of machinery.

Beam engines like those once used in Cornish tin and copper mines form a focus at the museum, together with examples of the way water has been moved and purified down the centuries.  Very early sources of water were often contaminated enough to give rise tp cholera epidemics, by contrast with the water we take for granted today.


The massive beam moved by steam engine to pump vast quntities of water


Photo: Dave – somebody had to take this.

Thanks to our guide to London Museum of Steam and Water was indisposed on the day, but left us immaculate notes on the route to take.  Another really enjoyable day out, rounded off with a lunch at the nearby ‘One over the ait’ pub.


museum_iconWhitewebbs Museum of Transport

October 2015

‘The museum is owned and operated by the Enfield and District Veteran Vehicle Trust, a registered charity.  The building is an 1898 pumping station that was purchased by the Trust in 1986 in a near derelict state.  It originally housed two steam engines and boilers which pumped water from the well below the building into the New River’ – Whitewebbs Museum website.

If ever there was an eclectic collection this is it. The museum contains a fascinating assortment of exhibits, most of which are associated with transport.  The Victorian era pumphouse pumped water by means of a beam engine housed in this building. The beam had been removed.


Original pumphouse at Whitewebbs, designated New River Company 1888.


A view down the pumphole at Whitewebbs. There is water about 120 ft down.

Little seems to have daunted members of the Trust, for they succeeded in moving the heavy station canopy in the background below from Enfield Chase railway station.


Our group with a collection of veteran cars and trucks.

Many thanks to Terry for organising the visit and Howard for photos.

 Wings and Wheels Barbeque

September 2015

Terry and Helen (and family) very generously gave us a splendid bbq in their wonderful garden on September 20th. You can get a flavour of proceedings under Terry’s very capable control from the photo below.


north_wealdNorth Weald Airfield

September 2015

Dave and Lin organised for us a very historic day out, when we visited North Weald Airfield on 18th September. The airfield is also now home to their aircraft, following the untimely closure of Panshanger Airfield, last year. The trip started with a climb up to the Control Tower, everyone made it up the iron ladder. One of the Air traffic controllers explained the detailed workings of Air Traffic control just before we were joined by Arthur Morton, the airfield historian.


Hurracane and Control Tower, North Weald

Arthur pointed out all the key features of the airfield, before taking us to the Hurricane Memorial. On then to the WW2 hanger, this still bears the shrapnel marks from the war. We then moved onto the other side of the airfield, where much of the Battle of Britain film was shot.

An excellent lunch was had in the Wings café, followed by a tour round “Hanger 6”, housing many current light aircraft.

We then drove to the other side of the airfield, for coffee in the “Squadron”, a 1940’s café.


Dave’s trip to North Weald proved very popular.

The trip was not finally over, as Dave took a number of members flying the following Friday. They flew from North Weald, down to over the Dartford crossing, no crossing fee!!!, and then back to the Airfield.


View from Dave’s Tomahawk approaching runway 02LH, North Weald.    9 October 2015

Our thanks to Dave, Lin and Arthur who organised the trip, which coincided with the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, where North Weald played such a major role.

Have a look at the following site

stow_logoStow Maries Aerodrome

August 2015

The term aerodrome now seems outdated, but one such was established in 1916 at Stow Maries near Maldon with a primary role of stopping Zeppelin airships from across the channel entering urban areas in eastern England. Conditions were primitive, with a grass airstrip a few huts and just one telephone.

It’s not often the location for our visit can be reconnoitered from the air, but Lin and Dave managed it from their Piper Tomahawk before our visit and produced the photo  below.


Stow Maries aerodrome looking westward


At the memorial to the pilots who made the ultimate sacrifice flying from Stow Maries

Watching visiting aircraft

Watching visiting aircraft (below)


A Schleicher ASK16 motor glider (D-KANU) and and a Dutch Tiger Moth with an American registration (N8233)

Remarkably, much has survived, and Russell Savory and his team have invested a huge amount of time and effort to make a visit by eight of our members well worth while. Dave and Lin had planned to fly in, but the St Albans area was shrouded in mist, in contrast to what we found at Stow Maries – sunny periods and good visibility.

The site now boasts a museum, several workshops, hangars (one canvas covered), a cafe and an ‘ops room’. Wildlife is also a feature, with an area set aside for this and five types of owl have taken a fancy to some of the huts.

Replica Sopwith Pup used in a TV series

Replica Sopwith Pup used in a TV series


A German owned flyable Fokker D.VII built in New Zealand. Reputed to ‘make a good pilot out of mediocre material’.

Many of the WW1 aircraft on show at Stow Maries were precarious biplanes, including a French Bleriot and the notoriously vulnerable B.E.2 which resulted in many deaths when flown against German aircraft over the western front. Many other old aircraft types were on show, including those with private owners.  The lubrication of the engine of these old aircraft was provided by castor oil and it was this that limited the endurance of the aircraft on operational missions. It was sprayed over the cylinders, with the result that pilots and observers usually returned splattered in oil. The motor oil name ‘Castrol’ was derived from the castor bean oil.

At first, downing a Zeppelin was not easy, for bullets went straight through the structure. Only when an incendary type was included did the hydrogen inside the airship catch fire.

Much more information about Stow Maries can be found here.

Many thanks to Grant for arranging the trip and Grant, Dave and Lin for supplying photos.


Studio-434_logoStudio 434

July 2015

A nondescript building in Potters Bar provided us with quite a surprise, for it was packed with about 200 classic cars and motorbikes, all kept in amazing condition in a temperature controlled environment.  Even the batteries were connected to trickle chargers, so that cars could be started and roadworthy at very short notice.

We were welcomed to Studio 434 by Jeb, who proved to have an encyclopedic knowledge of classic cars. He showed us around the collection put together by Rodger Dudden and his son, who have amassed cars spanning the years 1911 (a Vulcan tourer) to 2012 (Bentley Continental GTC).  The Duddens seemed to have quite a passion for Aston Martin Lagondas, with the unrivalled lineup shown below.


The Duddens Aston Martin collection

The Studio 434 name arises because any car can be the subject of a photoshoot with specialised lighting and backdrop and 434 is the road number. The only problem seemed to be that so many cars have to be shuffled around to make space, a possibility that they seemed to make light of. Unsurprisingly, most of the cars can be hired with a driver for special events ranging from weddings to film/TV sets such as Downton Abbey. The building also houses several classic cars for customers for storage under special secure conditions.


At Studio 434    Photo: Peter

The Sibthorpe Arms pub near Hatfield proved a very agreeable lunch venue.   Many thanks to Pat and Margaret for organising the visit.

bob_iconDover Visit

June 2015

When Arthur Cracknell started the U3A Wings and Wheels group it was feared there just wouldn’t be enough interesting visits to keep up the group fully occupied.  But the recent, action packed, three day visit to Dover proved all the doubters wrong.  This was a very busy programme, an eye opener to those of us who had only passed through Dover on route to catch a ferry.

The 12 strong group met on Sunday morning at the Battle of Britain Memorial in a beautiful cliff top setting at Capel-le-Ferne.


Our group at the Memorial Wall, listing those who flew, fought and sometimes died in the 1940 conflict.

The site is dedicated to Winston Churchill’s “famous few” who fought in the skies overhead to keep Britain free from invasion.  The memorial is a quiet reflection of the bravery and sacrifice of the 3,000 airmen who fought and sometimes died in probably the most crucial battle fought by this country in the 20th century.


A model of the site which shows the unique buildings, bottom centre, shaped like Spitfire wings

Some members of the group went on to the impressive Dover Transport Museum while a breakaway pair headed along the coast to see Artist Derek Jarman’s shingle beach cottage garden at Dungeness.


Part of Dover Transport Museum

Next morning the intrepid group was first at the gates of Dover Castle to experience the action of frontline Britain.  There was time to climb the stairs to the fascinating Great Tower, created by Henry II with a vivid creation of this medieval palace.  They all took an adventurous journey into the secret wartime tunnels reaching 26 metres beneath this most iconic of all English fortresses.  In the tunnels they witnessed the “Miracle of Dunkirk” in the room where this incredible rescue operation was master minded. In the Underground Hospital there was more action with the gripping story of an injured fighter pilot being rushed through to emergency surgery.


Dover Castle, which dates from the days of Henry II


Cammanding views to seaward from the castle. The tower (arrowed) was a Roman lighthouse.

As if that wasn’t enough, the group moved on to the White Cliffs experience to look down on the bustling docks and, for some, an exhilarating walk in buffeting winds to marvel at the White Cliffs, one of this country’s most spectacular natural features.


View from the White Cliffs centre

In the evening a first class seafood dinner right beside the beach rounded off a splendid day. Still more on day three as members enjoyed a visit to the Battle of Britain museum at Hawkinge near Folkestone to see the most important collection of Battle of Britain artefacts.  They worked their way through a mass of aircraft, vehicles and weapons with relics from over 600 crashed aircraft. No photos permitted here, but you can get an overview of this and the Battle of Britain site from Google Earth.

What a trip! Planning is now in progress for yet more adventures.


A reminder of the proximity to France across La Manche. No wonder this part of Kent was called ‘Hell Fire Corner’ in 1940.

Many thanks to Ashley for his write-up and Dave for photos.

City Airport

March 2015

We were lucky, the sunny weather made our day.   Travel: Thameslink to St Pancras, then by DLR to Royal Albert station on day Travelcard group tickets. Aircraft types at City Airport included the Embraer 190 (BA CityFlyer) , the very quiet BAC Avro RJ85 and the turboprop Bombardier Dash 8 series (Flybe).  Several business jets also operate from the airport.

The north side provides excellent views of the runway and apron, but looks into the sun (see below) and is very exposed in bad weather.  A leisurely 30 minute walk to the terminal via a footbridge over the dock gave access to the viewpoint at the end of a covered way for the car park and, of course, airport terminal facilities.

Apart from one or two hiccups where our guide didn’t keep a close enough eye on all 9 members in the group, we got back to Tower Gateway and eventually caught a Thameslink train at Blackfriars.  A thoroughly enjoyable day out.  Thanks to Dave Britten for photos.

There was not enough time to visit Tower Bridge before the off-peak deadline around 4.30 pm – perhaps another day.

Mature plane spotters  on the north side – good views, but photos taken facing into the sun.

An immense amount of building work is taking place east of Canary Wharf.
Foreground: business jet area

A BA Embraer City Flyer – pointed nose like the Boeing 737, but extended trailing fusilage.

city7The very quiet BAC RJ85 lives on – landing against a background of the University of East London

An RJ85 belonging to the Irish operator Cityjet

…and the one that got away, which appears to be over what was the Victoria and Albert Dock
G-LCYG is an Embraer 190 (BA CityFlyer)

mol_iconMuseum of London

February 2015

The museum features a huge collection of artefacts and interactive exhibits to illustrate the history of the city from very early times when mammoths and tigers roamed the area through to Roman times, Victorian times, the two World Wars and even the ‘swinglng sixties’. Afterwards, Arthur led us to St Pauls, across the Millenium Bridge along the South Bank to Waterloo Bridge, The Strand and back through a warren-like series of passageways to the astonishingly extensive court chambers to Temple Church – an unexpected pleasure.

Lord Mayor’s Coach at the Museum