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SERIAC 94

South East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference 1994

"Making Air Work"

Saturday 16 April 1994, hosted by SIHG

King Edward's School, Witley, Godalming, Surrey

0930-1000 Registration and Coffee; Displays Open
                Chairman for First Session: Gordon Knowles, Chairman SIHG
1000-1010 Welcome and Opening Remarks
1010- 1110 Hot Air Engines - John Day
1115-1215 The Development of Coastal Sailing Ships - Richard Perks
1215-1345 Lunch; Displays Open
                Chairman for Second Session: Prof Alan Crocker, Vice-President SIHG
1345-1445 Air and Music: a Technical Concert - Michael Ryder
1450-1550 Rope of Air: the Story of Atmospheric Railways - Roger Morgan
1550-1620 Tea; Displays Open
                Chairman for Third Session: Gordon Knowles
1620-1720 Early Days of Flying - Bill Gunston
1720-1730 Closing Remarks
1730-1800 Visit to the Site of the School Gas Retort House


Speakers and Synopses of Lectures:

The Hot Air Engine
John Day B.Sc.(Eng), C.Eng., M.I.Mech.E.
The hot air engine had a doubtful birth with the ancients of Greece, who did not appear to differentiate between air and steam. Later, the phenomenon of hot air tending to rise was used for primitive gas turbines. Atmospheric pressure, announced by Torricelli in 1643, provided the driving force for the water raising engines of Papin, Savery and Newcomen. By the beginning of the 19th century Caley was looking for a light enough engine to power a flying machine and Stirling and Ericsson were experimenting with, and producing, engines using air instead of steam to avoid the complication of coal fired boilers. Moreover, these engines were, theoretically, more efficient. Eventually, the advent of the internal combustion engine saw the demise of both air and steam, though a few people continued to experiment with sophisticated hot air engines and the gas turbine is still to be heard.
John Day is a retired Principal Examiner of H.M. Patent Office. He was an Engineering Apprentice at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, from 1934 to 1939 and was seconded to the Ministry of Aircraft Production from 1939 to 1945 where he was responsible for Rolls-Royce engine manuals and, from 1943, for manuals on gas turbines. Having a lifelong interest in engines, his sole reason for the present paper is that he once wrote a book on "Engines" containing a chapter on hot air engines. He has been a council member of a number of societies including the Newcomen and Road Locomotive, and belongs to a number more, including SIHG. His present interests are ordnance of the 1850/1940 period and model engineering.

The Development of Thames Estuary Sailing Vessels in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Richard H. Perks
This paper concentrates on the wind-powered sloops, smacks, barges, small brigs and schooners which worked out of the Thames Estuary ports of Essex and Kent during the 18th and 19th centuries, prior to the assistance of mechanical propulsion.
1. A review of types of shipping and shipping trades which existed within the Estuary during the middle of the 18th century.
2. A brief overview of River Thames craft of the same period.
3. The late 18th century - a period of change. The decline of the pink; the extension of the hoy; the development of the schooner and brigantine; and the evolution of the sailing barge how and when it first left the confines of the river and began to trade down the Essex and Kentish coasts.
4. Contemporary review of shipping in the Estuary either side of 1800 through the eyes of the Customs Shipping Registers (commenced 1786) and diaries, guides, newspaper accounts and paintings.
5. The development of the spritsail barge.
6. Life and conditions in Thames Estuary craft; the hazards of navigating steep-to channels flanked by treacherous sands; beach and creek work; the carriage of hay, straw, muck, building materials, fuel and foodstuffs; shell fishing and trawling.
7. Conclusions - What can be learned about vessels of this period and the uses to which we can put this knowledge to serve the protection and preservation of surviving traditional Thames Estuary craft and examples of associated industrial archaeology.
Richard H. Perks lives in Kent and is a member of the academic staff of the Faculty of Built Environment Science and Technology at the Anglia Polytechnic University in Chelmsford, Essex.

Air and Music
Michael J. Ryder
Without air no sound, however musical, could be heard, but Michael Ryder will demonstrate that under certain circumstances it is lack of air that can make music. Whether vacuum or pressure, air can be taught to play a wide variety of musical instruments.
Michael Ryder has been involved with the Musical Museum at Kew and its collection of automatic musical instruments for well over 20 years. He is now Chairman of the Museum and one of the regular demonstrators of the instruments. He has lectured on the history and development of these amazing machines on many occasions.

Rope of Air - The Story of Atmospheric Railways
Roger J Morgan
Cubitt, Rammell and the 'Rope of Air' - Towards an Alternative to the Railway Locomotive, 1840 - 1870.
Steam locomotives were heavy. They wasted large amounts of energy overcoming their own momentum when accelerating and weight when climbing gradients. The track and bridges had to be unnecessarily strong to bear them. Their waste products rendered long tunnels unfeasible. Almost from their inception a search was instituted for some form of power transmission to the train, which of course ultimately came to fruition in electric traction. Abandoned precursors included the pneumatic methods covered in this lecture, typified by the Croydon Atmospheric and Crystal Palace Pneumatic Railways.
Roger J Morgan is an architect, now working in a London planning department. His interests cover Industrial Archaeology, Parapolitics and Skepticism. Published articles include 'Watery Death' an account of the London Hydraulic Power Company, and 'The Man Who Almost Is' - an attempt to identify the corpse used in Operation MINCEMEAT. He was on the committee of the London Subterranean Survey Association, is Treasurer of Subterranea Britannica, and also runs Xenophon, a group interested in recreational cryptography. His interest in Thomas Webster Rammell, promoter and patentee of the pneumatic railway, was sparked by doing research for the quest for the Crystal Palace Pneumatic Railway.

Early Days of Flying
Bill Gunston
'Early days of flying' could be construed as exclusively being concerned with winged heavier-than-air flight, but I propose to include not only fanciful legends but also balloons and airships, and even a brief mention of parachutes. In general my lecture will be confined to South East England, though with occasional mention of things further afield. I propose to take the story up to about 1909.
Bill Gunston was educated at Pinner County School, University College, Durham, and Northampton Engineering College (now The City University). During the war he was a part-time flight-test observer with de Havilland Aircraft and Librarian to the London Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1945 to 1948 he was an RAF pilot, mainly as a flying instructor. Then, after 3 years at NEC, he joined "Flight" editorial staff, becoming Technical Editor in 1955. Later he moved to other appointments in what by 1964 had become the International Publishing Corporation, but resigned in 1970. Since then has written 323 books, numerous scripts for films and videos, pieces for magazines and newspapers, official reports and other tasks. He is a director of a company specialising in fine-art books. He married his "Flight" secretary, who flew gliders, and has two daughters (both taller than him).

The Iris Initiative
Jane Robson
This initiative by the AIA is being run on their behalf by the Lancaster University Archaeological Unit. Jane Robson has been recently appointed Project Assistant, taking over from Michael Trueman, who is now Project Manager for the unit. A recent decision made between the AlA and the RCHME that the computerisation of completed IRIS forms will be carried out from a centralised approach, is being circulated to all relevant organisations and individuals by a formal statement. As a result the data input will be easier to co-ordinate and be consistent in format, ensuring that the records are easily retrievable when needed.

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