Clocks Experiences at Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre (Sussex)

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by Kenneth Cobb (Clocks student)

Seven Clock students piled out of the Hyundi at Amberley Museum at opening time to see different working environments and to experience a slice of our industrial heritage.

The intro ….

Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre is dedicated to the industrial heritage of the South East with exhibits including Connected Earth telecommunications hall, electricity hall, printing workshop interconnected by a free narrow-gauge railway and bus service. The Museum is also home to the working of traditional crafts such as the stained glass making, a blacksmith's forge, potter and wood turning.

First off

A quick play on the water pumps by Jon: is that a lift pump or a force pump, Jon? ("Dunno"), and then a workman-like mug of tea.

Jon showing off

The Yellow Train

Being a practical bunch, we took the train to the top of the disused quarry to percolate down through the site.

The cute yellow ‘Hunslet of Leeds’ engine that pulled our train

Electricity Hall

At the Electricity Hall we were greeted with some very quaint electricity meters with dangly bits, and a Sinclair C5 (1985) car. The range of stuff included some electrical clockworks so the electrical clock sub-committee quickly formed a huddle (my committee notes show one member absent) and were lost for a little time while they argued, discussed all the exhibits and were finally asked to keep quiet and move on. Francoise enjoyed seeing a Leclanché cell, a cousin of the Daniel Cell (see her blog post here).

A battery of 4 Leclanché cells

We marvelled at how electricity was pivotal in promoting the wonders of modern technology in the 1950's and 60's - washing machine tub, television, big electrical transformers, switchgear, lightbulbs, Sinclair's first calculator and transistor radio, electrostatic generators etc., these all made our hair stand on end. The Hall's Tardis seemed to have stopped at about this moment in time (except for Sinclair's calculator and C5).

Early light bulbs no longer seen

Connected Earth Telecommunications Hall

Thence onto the Telecommunications Experience (thanks BT). The motorbike sub-committee were not disappointed - telegrams delivered by a uniformed dispatch rider on a red D3 BSA Bantam bike, but sadly telegrams are no more and the Post Office doesn't own dispatch riders either. The boys also spotted a P.O green 600cc single 'Sloper' linesman's bike with sidecar and ladder. Old telephones galore including ones with rotary dials, 'Press Button A' telephone boxes and equipment, and an in depth view of holes and poles. Ken saw a previous colleague on video.

Lunch and siesta

By now this was hard work so the lunch committee called it a day and after a short walk there followed a satisfying pit stop. Look at the smiles on their faces as they stuff themselves ….

After a morning’s learning, the team deserved a hearty lunch

Tools for all

With victuals taken, time for a sleep for some, while

the 'Interested in missing nothing' sub-committee shot over to see shed loads of tools for many trades, and

in the tool shed

Early instrument lathe with triangular bed

Exercise bike with a purpose

make anything out of wood exhibition,

and a quick stop to admire a MkII landrover

Mk II long wheelbase Landrover (probably)

Radio Room

One of the highlights was to see the vintage radio exhibition stuffed full of valve and transistor radios, televisions, record players (for LP's and 45's) reel to reel tape recorders while the air was filled with 'I have one of those' or 'I wish I hadn't thrown one of these away' and 'I remember that'. It was at this point Jon revealed he kept a Higgs Boson under his bed which made us all very jealous.

Printing shop

At our last exhibit we had an in depth demonstration by Tony and Jon, formerly of The Sun and Daily Telegraph when in Fleet Street, of a Type 78 Linotype typecaster. Jon set two sizes of typeface, one using the typecaster, that took seconds, and the other by hand - a bit longer. Tony and Jon then locked up the type and printed bookmarks for all using two hand presses; one being similar to Caxton's made out of wood.

Linotype machine (not a QWERTY keyboard) that produced line by line strips of typeface in printers' lead alloy

Type ready for printing, set in printer’s lead alloy by the Linotype machine

Ludlow matrices hand set used to make another strip in printer’s lead alloy. These were used for the newspaper headlines.

Tony Workman setting up the type form on the traversing table of the iron hand press. The wooden press is in the background.

And a West Dean student gets her own freshly printed ‘If Found return to‘ label.

Finally, not seen in Britain much, but,

Everyone in Texas has one of these

With Thanks

All students had a wonderful day, having seen and discussed a lot and realised how much technology has changed and is changing our lives. The entry is a tribute to a dedicated few who give up much of their time because their passion is to ensure something is available of the past presented to every visitor in an engaging way no matter what their age.

Kenneth Cobb (Graduate Clocks student)