Group: (R - L) Geoff Mollatt; Paul Wakelin; Frank Johnson (Section Chairman); Terry Wakelin; Bernard Mellor; Geoff Andrews; Eddie Mollatt; Leslie Mitton (ex- Group Commandant 8 Gp)
Blue Steel Stand-off Bomb
In October , members of the Section enjoyed a day-time visit to Rolls Royce in Derby. This was arranged through Bill Baker who is one of the members of the Coventry Branch of the RR Heritage Trust. Following the loss of their premises near Coventry, their exhibits were moved to some surplus company accommodation at Mickleover, Derby.
Last year they had to move again and, after further problems, are at last settling in at the Light Alloy Foundry site on Osmaston Road, near Derby centre. The plan is that the premises will be shared with the Derby and Hucknall Branches of the Trust. The members from Coventry travel to Derby one day every week to continue to orgaise and develop their exhibitions.
Following our late morning arrival and receiving our company visitors' passes, we started on a tour of the extensive range of aircraft engines from Coventry but were soon loaded on to a coach for transportation to the Rolls-Royce Company's dining facilities. After lunch, the coach took us to the Learning and Development Centre, a modern training and exhibition facility; this is not part of the Heritage Trust but Bill had obtained permission for us to look round.
The exhibition traces the history of the firm and its aero engines, with other engines included for comparison. For example, near to the Merlin engines was an engine which powered, amongst other things, the Focke Wulf 190; this was so large that it was dificult to imagine it fitting into a fighter aircraft.
Even this, however, was dwarfed by the massive RB211 engine, near to the end of the tour. The display also reminded visitors of the problems which this engine caused for Rolls-Royce, mainly due to the initial use of composite materials for the turbine blades.
These led to cashflow problems, with eventually the Company going into receivership. The problems - technical and financial - were overcome and Rolls-Royce emerged again as a very successful enterprise.
We were unable to visit the training centres due to their on-going commitments both in training apprentices and in ensuring that Rolls-Royce customers' engineers are correctly trained in maintenance procedures on R-R engines (this is a requirement of the sales package).
It was now time to return to Osmaston Road (courtesy of the inter-site bus service) to resume our tour of the Heritage collections. In addition to aero engines which cover a long time-span, there were many other exhibits including some vintage Armstrong Siddeley cars (made at Ansty, near Coventry) and a large mock-up of a marine engine, used to develop the most appropriate routes for wiring and piping in the finished product.
We were also entertained to tea, complete with home-made cakes !
A very enjoyable and informative day was had by all.
Jon Layne Secretary Ashbourne Section CROCA