Our programme of summer visits has included three which involved very different aspects of transport.
In May, we were fortunate to be allowed behind the scenes at East Midlands Airport to see the new Control Tower which was completed recently at a cost of £3.5 million and is the second highest in the UK. It consists of a slender concrete tower, 174 feet tall, which was cast in a continous process to avoid any joins. It is topped by the observation/operations room whilst, at is base, is the radar room showing aircraft movements over parts of the UK.
The airport itself started from small beginnings but is now the largest pure cargo base in the country. In 2002, it handled over a quarter of a million tonnes of freight and now forty plus cargo related companies operate from the base. It also handles ad-hoc specialist flights to support local companies such as Rolls Royce and Toyota, as well as dealing with one and a half million first class letters every night with Royal Mail. With the growth of budget airlines, its passenger traffic is also rising sharply with over three million passengers crossing its threshold in 2002 (36% up on the previous year)
Our visit was organised by Richard Clark, one of the watch supervisors in Air Traffic Control. Security was tight and we had to carry passports or photo driving licences which were checked before passes were issued. We made our way behind the scenes via the usual scanning and search procedures and ascended the tower in a lift (in case of failure, there is also an iron spiral staircase). After spending sometime at the top, watching the comings and goings, we were able to spend time in the radar room watching the complexities of keeping track on aircraft movements.
The photo shows the view eastwards from the airport - the power station on the left is on the other side of the M1, just north of junction 24. The buildings on the right are part of the freight terminal.
In the same month, we paid a daytime visit to Bombardier plc, trainmakers in Derby. Their plant is housed in the old carriage and wagon works, dating back to probably the early 1900’s. However, the processes which now take place there are in the forefront of train construction. The main products are multiple units - Electrostar Class 375/377 and Turbostar Diesel Class 168. Bombardier (whose parent company is in Canada) have revolutionised the construction processes.
The accepted wisdom used to be that the first process was to construct the complete shells, then fit them out. No longer; pre-manufactured components, some small, some large (eg. complete ends for the units) are delivered and sides, floors and roofs for the units are assembled separately from aluminium on large jigs which enable them to be tilted to any angle. Then, the sides, floors and roofs are fitted out as completely as possible, the tilting ensuring that all jobs are done in the most efficient way. Only then are the parts fixed together to make a complete shell , to which, after painting, the cab ends, made of steel and themselves already fitted out, are bolted. Now that the assembly is rigid, it can be lowered on to its bogies and the heavy components such as motors etc. fitted to complet the product. The plant has its own test track so that each completed unit can be tried out before delivery.
The photos show roofs on their jigs, the start of final assembly, a cab end ready for fittings and examples of the final product.
Our third transport visit was to the M & C Collection of Historic Motorcycles in Bakewell, Derbyshire. This is run by Phil Crosby and Peter Mather who are both enthusiasts and use the Museum as a fund raiser for Bakewell and Eyam Community Transport. On a fine summer’s evening, we were greeted by Phil and Peter who had put on outside display four gleaming machines (all in running order), the newest of which was over 50 years old. We then went into the small but beautifully arranged Museum where there were machines dating back to 1901 together with associated memorabilia. Our visit was refreshed by tea and biscuits whilst Peter and Phil dealt with the many questions which were asked.
The photos show the outside collection, an early scooter (“Skootamota”) and an unusual machine built by the Simplex Company in Sheffield (who also made cars). This Simplex machine has a body made from sheet steel.
If you are in the area, a visit is recommended. Opening hours are 1100 to 1700, opening days are Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 26 July to 1 September 2003.
For group visits at other times, contact Phil or Peter on 01629 815011.The Museum is on Matlock Stret, just off Rutland Square in the centre of Bakewell, through the archway by Wards Shoe Shop.