WADIHS

Watford & District Industrial History Society

LECTURE PROGRAMME FOR 2008 - 2009

18 September 2008

ROBERT STEPHENSON: THE EARLY YEARS 
Robert Stephenson was the leading railway engineer of the early Victorian era, being responsible for building a third of the country's mileage by 1850. This talk by Dr. Michael Bailey, the first of a quartet of talks about his career, covers his apprenticeship and early responsibilities under his father, George Stephenson. It then examines the rapid progress he made with locomotive development, including Rocket, as well as railway surveying and building, from the Liverpool & Manchester Railway to his appointment as Engineer-in-Chief of the London & Birmingham Railway.

16 October 2008

THE AUSTIN MOTOR COMPANY 
The Austin Motor Company was founded in the summer of 1905 and started manufacturing motor cars at Longbridge that year. Tony Osborne, Chairman of the Austin Ex-Apprentices Association and the former Longbridge Works Historian, will tell the tale of manufacturing at 'The Austin' from those early days until the end of production on 8 April 2005, just seven months short of 100 years. The story covers the low points after WW1, the introduction of the Austin Seven, which helped to save the Company, aircraft manufacture during WW2, the 1950s when Great Britain had to 'export or die', the Austin Allegro in the 1970s, the MG and Rover days ending in April 2005 with closure and then bringing us up to date with the Chinese. 

The Lecture will be followed by the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

20 November 2008

NARROW GAUGE RAILWAYS 
Tonight Allan Willmott has put together a programme of films from his archive collection of the numerous Narrow Gauge railways of England, Wales, the Isle of Man and Ireland, covering both yesterday and today.

18 December 2008

STAGECOACH JOURNEY and our SOCIAL EVENING
Hugh Granger speaks on this topic, because his family ran a coaching inn in Hampshire for eight generations. He describes a journey from London to York in 1820 from the point of view of a passenger and he includes several genuine coaching stories, and the origins of many sayings derived from the age of coaching. All the details are accurate: only the names have been changed, to protect the innocent! The talk will be followed by our annual informal get-together when we let our hair down and indulge in a wild orgy of coffee and nibbles. 

15 January 2009

WHITEFRIARS GLASS - A CONCISE HISTORY 
This talk by Mike Beech describes the history of Whitefriars, one of the most famous and enduring glassworks within the UK. It deals with the early history of the company in London from the start of the 18th century through to the development of sophisticated glassware designed for the aspiring tastes of Victorian Britain. In 1923 the company moved to Wealdstone, Harrow, where it stayed until its closure in 1980.

19 February 2009

DRAINING THE SOMERSET LEVELS 
Large areas of Somerset are very low-lying and a considerable proportion is at or below sea level. As in the fens of East AngUa, this area of England has to be pumped to keep it dry. Drainage has been carried in one form or another for centuries but tonight's talk by Ian Miles will deal with the more modern methods. At one time there were five steam pumps operating. The first pumping station was the Westonzoyland Pumping Station, opened in 1831, and where there is now a museum.

19 March 2009

THE NORTHAMPTION SHOE INDUSTRY 
In 1800 Northampton was a small county town with a population of 7000 people; one hundred years later the population had expanded to 87,000! In less than a century Northampton had become the shoe manufacturing centre for the region, the country and eventually the world. This talk by Ruth Thomas will look at the development of shoe manufacturing in Northampton from a small cottage industry to a factory industry employing thousands of workers which dominated every aspect of the town.