The latest news from Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust
It has been a very busy and active summer - 100 years since Armstrong Siddeley cars were first produced. To mark the occasion, a group of car owners mainly from the U.K. but joined by members from Holland, Belgium, Germany, Australia and USA came together to participate in part or all of the Celebration programme.
Bamburgh Castle, home to Armstrong, was the venue for the start of a trip to Kenilworth Castle bought by John Siddeley when he became Lord Kenilworth.
A stop-over in York for two days made for an easy and enjoyable trip for both elderly cars and drivers as they made their way south to Chesford Grange Hotel close to Kenilworth. From here outings, which included the Coventry Transport Museum, a Mayoral reception in the historic Guild Hall, and a reception in the Kenilworth Castle Gatehouse followed by an inspection of the Armstrong Siddeley exhibition housed there. The Saturday morning car runs allowed for the exploration of the beautiful Warwickshire countryside.
Sunday the 14th July was the final part of the event and some 103 cars gathered in the Memorial Park, Coventry. Models on show ranged from the 1904 Siddeley to the last Star Sapphire (MkII) registered in August 1960.
The 'icing on the cake' was a special flypast by the only UK airworthy Lancaster Bomber.
A.V.Roe was bought by John Siddeley in 1928 and became a subsidiary of The Armstrong Siddeley Development Company which passed to the Hawker Siddeley group who produced the majority of these planes. The range of Armstrong Siddeley cars produced after WWII were named Lancaster, Hurricane, Typhoon and Whitley declaring the companies aircraft heritage.
To view scenes from this event please click here.
A new section added to the site containing selected articles from the Heritage Trust members magazine "Siddeley Times".
A new page featuring the Armstrong Whitworth Argosy has been added to the Aviation section, this is the Argosy built for Imperial Airways in the 1920s, not the AW 650 introduced in the 1950s.
At a local Armstrong Siddeley event last weekend, a couple were admiring the cars and the gentleman was overheard to say that he thought the sphinx indicated there was some connection with Egypt. This gave an opportunity to inquire if they would like to know the story behind the use of the Sphinx as a mascot, The suggestion was welcomed and it was related how back in about 1912 a journalist when road testing a Siddeley Deasy car had used the phrase 'as silent and as inscrutable as the Sphinx'.
John Siddeley latched on to this concept and thereafter the Sphinx in various forms graced the Siddeley Deasy and then Armstrong Siddeley cars till production ceased in 1960. Further conversation revealed that in the lady's family when she was young there had been a much loved Armstrong Siddeley car. Mention of the forthcoming 100 years celebrations starting at Bamburgh Castle caused her to recount a very recent visit there. When asked if they had viewed the Armstrong Siddeley car in the museum, they enthusiastically gave assurance that they had and the lady finished her remarks by adding in hushed tones 'it was what I liked best, better even than the castle.'
Today is a rather special day. Why? You ask.
Let me take you back to the morning of 30th May 1949. A lovely late Spring Monday morning. Just the job for a further test flight of the new type of aeroplane which Armstrong Whitworth were developing at Bitteswell aerodrome.
So it was that Jo Lancaster, test pilot, received orders to take the new AW52 flying wing aircraft for a flight to establish limiting speed, the next stage in a progressive part of the test programme.
Over rural Warwickshire, the aircraft built up severe vibrations. Fearing complete disintegration of the plane Jo bailed-out, using for the first time in a real emergency the newly developed Martin-Baker ejection seat. He landed safely, if somewhat bruised, close to the Cuttle Inn at Long Itchington.
Today it is 70 years since that event and almost 8000 airmen and woman have been saved by the ever developed and improved ejection seat.
The celebration is doubly sweet as Jo Lancaster is still with us today, having celebrated his 100th birthday last February.
Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52
The AGM held on the 11th May was very positive, showing our charity to be in good order.
Trustees and members present agreed that there was much to look forward to in the coming celebrations marking the 100 years of Armstrong Siddeley History.
In December of last year, we published two photos sent to us by a member of the Heritage Trust who asked: "did we know anything of its origin?" The photos concerned a spoon with Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft stamped on its handle. Another member, Dick Teasdale, has replied that while working on the demolition of the AWA buildings at Bagington he found an identical spoon below the floorboards.
This would support other comments we have received that the cutlery in the works canteen at Bagington were all stamped similarly, presumably to remind the workers not to take any items home with them! Still, it is refreshing that the AWA workers had real cutlery and not the wooden or plastic implements that we so often encounter today.
Please scroll down the page to the 21/12/2018 entry to see the original article.
In the current December/January issue of Practical Classics Magazine, there is an interesting article drawing our attention to the opening of the M1 motorway some 60 years ago in October 1959. This was the section from junction 5 to junction 18 and was pronounced open by Ernest
Marples the then Transport Minister. Unbeknown to the general public plans were in place to create another new idea, the Ministry of Transport vehicle road worthiness ' ten-year' test. Like the motorway, it would expand over the following years, though in this case perhaps less welcome.
At that time, Principal Private Secretary to the Minister was John Garlick the owner of a fine 1954 Mk1 Armstrong Siddeley 346 car and it was his vehicle which attended The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Vehicle Inspection Station, Aerodrome Road, Hendon N.W.9 on the 31st October 1959 with a view to setting the parameters for the new MOT test. The results of the test can be seen in the picture showing the two cards which were used that day dated 31 October 1959. The cards rather like some rail or bus tickets of the time are punched on the left hand edge indicating items which require attention. Sad to relate there was discovered a broken hand brake cable and a missing near side reflector!
With the introduction of the test in about the spring of1960 the fail items were Brakes, Steering and Lights. The cost which to us today seems very little was 14 shillings (70p) and one shilling (5p) for the certificate. (The average weekly wage was £12.00 ) In December 1961 due to the high failure rate, the test was made applicable to 7 year old cars and in 1962 commercial vehicles were included.
By 1967 the testable age was reduced to 3 years with an ever growing list of items to check. Looking again at the cards in the picture I certainly have no memory of such being used by MOT stations. Were they based on the civil aircraft test records which was the other task of the Vehicle Inspection Station, especially at Hendon? I note that both cards have a dotted line at the top edge which has been trimmed through possibly with a knife. If anyone can shed light on these matters please get in touch, please go to the contact page to send an email. It is the little details which give colour to history.
John Garlick (later Sir John Garlick KCB) kept the car and it was subsequently given into the care of the Heritage by his daughter.
These are the original test cards issued at the end of the prototype MOT test:
A page on the Siskin aeroplane added to the Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft page.
New aviation pages created.
One of our members when renewing his Heritage subscription sent these two pictures of a teaspoon which he thought we might find of interest, it is! However, we don't know its history. Was it from the directors dining room or more prosaically from the works canteen? Can anyone reading this tell us anything about it? Please go to the contact page to send us an email.