Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club - for Rolls-Royce and Bentley Enthusiasts

George Clegg Reminisces

 

George Clegg (1886-1972) joined Rolls-Royce Ltd on 27 th February 1906

George Glegg’s Reminiscences were originally published in numerous instalments in The Bulletin 1968-1970. They have been extracted and collated by Peter Edwards from the archives of the West Midlands Section.

See also “In The Beginning – the Manchester Origins of Rolls-Royce” Mike Evans Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust 2 nd edition 2004

 

 

Introduction
Early Days
Cooke Street
The Sleeve Valve Engine
The Move to Derby
Gossip, Larks & Recreation
A Ghost Story
1914-1915
The Hiatus: 1915-1933
Return to Derby:1933
A Rumour of Royce’s Decauville
Later Years

Introduction

The present high quality of automobiles generally and the superlative performance of such cars of high class like Rolls-Royce, Jaguar and Mercedes is devoutly to be wished from the consummative efforts of such men as Henry Royce, WO Bentley and others; but it has not been achieved without the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, that have to be endured.

In this respect Royce was a martyr who even spent his last day on earth working on an idea to make motoring safer and more reliable.

Early Days

I look back even nostalgically to that period in my youth when the clamour of the knocker-up’s stick on my bedroom window at 4.45am and his ominous warnings in winter – ‘4.45 snowing’ – were the imperative instructions to be up and doing, unless I had taken a notion to have a quarter (that is to miss the 6.00am to 8.30am) and so lose 2½ hours pay.

I wonder how present-day apprentices would take to being rudely awakened round about 4.30am to make a cup of tea, catch a train at 5.22 to the city and have a two mile walk to the factory to be there at 6am until 5.30pm for 5 shillings (25p) a week. That was my lot, which was much better than my father’s, who started work in a foundry at the age of nine and worked 60 hours for 2 shillings and 3 pence (11.25 p) a week. To me it was taken for granted – all my friends were apprentices in one engineering works or another.

There was Joseph Whitworth’s ordinance factory, which turned out naval guns of high calibre. My next-door neighbour, Alf Renshaw, was a turner there and if he had less than 25 tons in his lathe he was on light work. Henry Royce of course was reared in those conditions. It became second nature to us all, and my father endured all those conditions from the age of 9 to 67, when he was knocked down by a horse lorry in Manchester and sustained two broken legs. Although he was just a simple artisan from Bury, he read avidly, and was intelligent and imbued with the milk of human kindness. My mother never went to school but was a competent housewife, although quite unable to read or write. She died at 49 when I was a boy of seven, and my sister and I were brought up by my eldest sister.

I am digressing. I did not like rising so early in the morning. At eleven years of age my father removed me from a primary C of E school to a secondary school, where at thirteen I won a scholarship value £36 which my father collected in cash over three years, but which resulted in my being too old to be taken on as an apprentice at nearly seventeen. So, finding myself in the summer holidays of 1903 on the streets without a job, I had to find something. No labour exchanges, no personnel managers; it was necessary to call at the factories and hope for the best. At the Ardwick Higher Grade School I had become head boy and the headmaster’s monitor, for which service Manchester School Board paid me 2/6 a week. A call at the GEC in Salford brought me a job at 5 shillings (25p) a week.

In my last year at school I had a general teacher who taught me the rudiments of trigonometry, French and general subjects. My teacher, Miss Fish, asked me what my intentions were of a career. I told her ‘engineering’. She then said she would give me a letter of introduction to a Mr Ritchie, commercial manager of Royce Ltd, electrical engineers, Cooke Street. (I later found out that Ritchie was her fiancé.) Mr Ritchie told me Mr Ellis would find me a job. Mr Ellis said yes and he’d send a letter to my father informing him of the conditions. The letter comes. The conditions? Six months for nothing, then 12 months at 4 shillings (20p) a week, 12 months at 6 shillings (30p) a week, 12 months at 8 shillings (40p) a week and the last 12 months at 10 shillings (50p) a week. My father said I wasn’t going there, so I had to fend for myself, which was how I got this job at GEC in the automatic cut-out department of the instrument room. It was here that I learned how to use a file, a hammer and a chisel.

Having achieved a degree of confidence, I had a quarter one morning and went to Ward and Goldstone, electrical work, and they started work at 8 o’clock and were much nearer the railway station. Thus I got two extra hours in bed and 7 shillings and sixpence (37.5p) a week. The foreman, Jim Smith, had a knowledge of arithmetic just within the limits of 2+2=4 and 2x2=4. He paid me 1 shilling (5p) a night at his home to teach him. One morning the manager caught us in Smith’s office with a page of figures before us. I got the sack; I don’t know what happened to him. However he gave me a letter of introduction to Alec Pohl, a pal of his who was a foreman at Heywoods. He gave me a job at 11 shillings (55p) a week, which was voluntarily raised to 13 shillings (65p) a week, and then the job went wrong and I was on the street again.

I went to the GEC (no, I told them I had never worked there before) and I got a job making ordinary house switches at 16 shillings (80p). I was getting on.

The department went very slack: I got the sack. No matter. I went again to the GEC making controllers for London Tube lifts at 18 shillings (90p) per week (and again I told them I had not worked there before) – what an accomplished liar I was! I worked there for about four months and one morning an argument with a charge hand finished by my asking for my coppers, and I was obliged.

Cooke Street

I went to Cooke Street and asked a foreman named Alf Golding for a job. He said he had no vacancy but my fellow foreman (yes, the same Ellis I had seen in Ritchie’s office 2½ years previously) would see me. He brought a carburettor down and asked me if I could make them and asked me what I wanted. I told him 22 shillings (£1:10) per week and he started me. I don’t think he remembered ever having seen me before. I was 19 years of age; I told him 20 and when I was 20 in October 1906 I was officially 21 and out of my time.

I had really served an apprenticeship of three years, but during that time I was studying applied mechanics and machine drawing at the Technical School. Evening classes three nights a week and working overtime at Cooke Street the other two. Apprentices now get their tuition gratuitously. I paid for mine except for two years which a scholarship gave me.

There was a degree of technique in my many changes of jobs. The workmen have their ‘trade unions’ and the employers their ‘federation’. When I left one job to go to another I left a job with a federated shop and tried an unfederated shop. I also did not run the risk of one shop asking about my age and what they paid me! Thus, if I had gone to Royce’s from school, at the age of 20 I would be getting 8 shillings (40p) a week. Instead, in the same department, under the same foreman, I was getting 24 shillings (£1:20) week plus bonus and I was able to give my girls excellent chocolates every Saturday night.

When I started at Cooke Street our department was called the ‘Instrument Room’. It was just as if three bedrooms of three ordinary terraced houses had been knocked into one, and for all I know, might have been. There we made carburettors, the controls on the steering wheel, sight feed lubricators, distributors, and induction coils and even the matrices of radiators of thin brass plates and ¼” tubes, and there behind a partition sat Florrie Austin winding the trembler coils on an old Singer sewing machine table fitted with a spindle. Every trembler coil made up to August 1914 was wound by foot power on the treadle.

We had three brass finishers lathes, and one small lathe on the bench on which I turned the 15° angled end of all Silver Ghosts needle valves. I also made the floats and on the same lathe turned by hand the brass weight on the underside to get them down to the correct weight - 3¼ ozs.

We had also in the room a B&R Rowlands face grinder, on which were ground radiator bottom tanks on the upper face (afterwards when we got the vertical milling machines they were milled). This grinding machine absorbed quite a deal of power: in fact it was the last straw which put the last ounce of power necessary to put all the lights out. This was excellent on a winter’s morning between 6 and 8am, when after having received the attention of the knocker-up just after 4.30am we felt like a wee snooze, so we’d set the machine on and then hold a radiator bottom tank to it. The lights would gradually go dim, then out. Champion, it always took some ten or fifteen minutes to get going again!

I saw the very first cylinder blocks for the Silver Ghost being machined on Teddy McGarry’s Bullard (a vertical boring machine). The cylinder blocks were cast and supplied by Willans and Robinson of Rugby. There was no detachable head, but there were water jacket covers. ‘Pa’ wanted his weekly chassis to play about with at Knutsford, and one weekend, either through a misplaced core in the casting or perhaps a dig-in by the borer which caused a weak section, one of the cylinder ends blew off into the water jacket and ‘Pa’ was subject to the indignity of a tow by a farm horse. It was a now irate Henry that appeared in the shop on the Monday morning and there were eleven cylinder blocks finished, machined and ready for the fitters. The fitters didn’t get them for he had bashed in eleven cylinder blocks, 33 bores in all, with a big hammer. He then sent for Walter Cheetham, foreman pattern maker, and instructed him to put diagonal strips across the cylinder heads and later he used the bossed-up intersection point to accommodate a second sparking plug.

The first few Silver Ghosts had a single jet carburettor. This was found inadequate for so big an engine and so he designed a two-jet carburettor. One jet operated at low speed and the increased induction when accelerating caused the air-valve piston to rise and thus expose the high-speed jet to function. I made the first double-jet carburettor and also the carburettor control which fitted on the dash. I made it out of sheet brass and cut the notches in the quadrant with a 4-inch file.

I have ridden on Lord Northcliffe’s ‘Legal Limit’ down Stratford Road, with Eric Platford driving. T’was an experience with which the electric brougham only could come towards equalling…no noise, no smell, no fumes and no speed. There were parts made for three chassis but only two were built.

Happy days during which we had no need to, like ‘Wilkins Micawber’, wait for something to turn up. It usually did and sometimes explosively.

What an amazing variety of chassis did Royce produce in the 22 months between the first two-cylinder 10hp making its debut on the road on 1 April 1904 (what an ominous date) and my starting on 27 February 1906. There were the 2-cylinder, 3-cylinder, 4-cylinder (heavy and light chassis), the 6-cylinder 30hp and the 8-cylinder 20hp thrown in for good measure. Not only that, there was fierce controversy in the motoring journals about the relative qualities of poppet valves and the Knight sleeve valve.

The Sleeve Valve Engine

In the early years immediately after the turn of the century a designer named Knight came out with a revolutionary type of valve gear, which consisted of two sleeves, in the inner one of which was a piston, and the whole assembly was in the cylinder. The two sleeves had a reciprocating motion, which opened and closed at the appropriate moment the inlet and exhaust ports. It seemed at the time rather ponderous, but it was taken up by Daimler, who standardized it and in their claims for it they positively enthused over it. Their enthusiasm for the ‘Silent Knight’ engine sparked off what I think were the hottest controversial arguments that the automobile industry has witnessed ever. The chief protagonists in this discussion (I might even say quarrel) where of course Daimler (who had the patronage of the Royal Family) and Rolls-Royce, who had the poppet valve engine, certainly as silent as the ‘Silent Knight’, but with more power and better power-to-weight ratio.

As a lad of nineteen I took both the Autocar and the Motor and in these journals the pros and the cons with perhaps more heat than sense. However, the sleeve valve engine had some impact which was not lost on Henry Royce, for he designed an engine which had little auxiliary cylinders set at about 60° to the centre line of the crankshaft in which little pistons opened and closed the ports (both inlet and exhaust). Now it must be remembered that Royce (like WO Bentley) was a locomotive man and had possibly seen in steam locomotives the early piston valves which had replaced the conventional D valves in the steam chest, and possibly that gave him the idea of piston valves working in appropriate little cylinders.

In Cooke Street I had the piston valve drawing on my bench to study. However, nothing ever came of it, but in (I think) 1964 I met Ernie Wooler of Pompano Beach, Florida, at luncheon at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, and I mentioned this engine design to him. (Wooler was one of the first, if not the first of Royce’s indentured apprentices; see reference to Wooler, Ernest in CW Morton’s book.) Wooler’s reply to me was immediate and emphatic: ‘Sure George I remember that design’. However, neither of us knew the end of it. The Silver Ghost came and put paid to all other production and the removal to Derby was imperative.

Knight’s design inspired many imitators. There was a Scotsman named Burt McCullom who made a single-sleeve engine in which the sleeve had both a rotary and a reciprocating action, which was taken up by the Argyll Motor Company in its elegant factory at Alexandria, Dunbartonshire. It became involved in lengthy and costly litigation with Daimler for contravening patents. The elegant factory practically on the shores of Loch Lomond became the government torpedo ordnance factory. I had many friends working there who emigrated to Scotland during the First World War (and thereby hangs another tale to be related later).

The Burt McCallom patent was taken up after the Second World War in 1946 by Rolls-Royce experimentally and we actually built an engine called the ‘Eagle’. It was the second piston engine of that name, the first having been made in 1915. This engine was a monster of 24 cylinders, really two engines in one in the form of the letter H in end elevation, being composed of four banks of six cylinders opposed with two crankshafts each geared to the propellor shaft. This engine was a single sleeve valve worked by an eccentric shaft instead of camshaft and the combination of a short reciprocating motion and a rotary motion of the appropriate degrees made it that any point on the diameter of the sleeve assumed an elliptical path which was used to open and close the ports. There was only one made and what became of it I don’t know.

In the engineering department of the art gallery and museum at Kelvingrove, Glasgow, there is a single sleeve Burt McCallum engine of one cylinder sectioned and operated by a handle which clearly shows its action. However, when I was last there it had been relegated to the cellars and I think a request to the curator of the engineering section would have to be made. Also in there is a sectioned Merlin aero engine. There is also a sectioned Merlin somewhere in the bowels of the new technological buildings in Manchester and this has the added attraction of the engine of Royce’s No.2 car of 1904 with its transmission in a glass case. These two exhibits used to stand in the entrance hall of the College of Technology in Sackville Street, Manchester. I do not think there would be any impediment to one’s seeing them, perhaps after a request by post.

In the Glasgow museum there are also many items showing the development of aero engines during the 1914-19 war. There is a Beardmore engine with copper water jackets around each individual cylinder cunningly put on. The cylinders were cast and then the whole of the outside was filed and emeried up to a nice clean surface and tinned. Then each was put into a jig which allowed a gap of 5/8” all over. Into this space was run molten Woods metal (a very low fusing point kind of solder), then taken out with a 5/8” thick coat of Woods metal. The metal surface was just smoothed off and the whole put into an electrical copper plating bath and copper was electrolytically deposited for 80-odd hours. When taken out there was a perfect water jacket around each cylinder. A pretty engine to look at, although its performance was not up to Rolls-Royce standards. After the copper deposition the cylinders were put into a bath of boiling water, the heat of which was sufficient to melt the Woods metal, which just ran into the bottom of the bath leaving a perfect copper water jacket. The copper was about 1/32 inches thick, which was sufficiently substantial.

 

The Cooke Street lads behind the chauffeurs in the company’s Silver Ghost are: George Clegg (the carburettor fiend) behind driver, on his left Jimmy Chadwick (steering column Jimmy). Just below Jimmy is Tommy Broome (lunch partner Tripe & Onions at tripe shop on Stretford Road) and Ben Pope (office boy) by the rear door: photograph courtesy Rolls-Royce.

 

 

 

The Move to Derby

In the year 1908 the Company, Rolls Royce, was in dire financial straits. There was a new factory built and tons of new equipment to be paid for. At that time motor companies were popping up like mushrooms and as quickly popping down. The banks therefore were cautious. John de Looze, the Company Secretary, made a pedestrian tour of Derby banks and had returned home empty handed. Despondent and deeply depressed, he went to bed though not immediately to sleep, and it came to him that there was one bank he hadn’t approached – the Midland. He went along the next morning and the manager handsomely accommodated him. Rolls-Royce thus survived the crisis and for most of the time since then seven figures have flowed through there per day.

Thus the action of an adventurous manager assured me of a good living and a pension in the eventide of my life, which provides me with an income which,if not affluent, is adequate for my simple life. Had that manager not been adventurous there would have been no Schneider Cup resting with Rolls-Royce in perpetuity and no Merlin engine which in the Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters certainly assured us of being able to sleep with security and serenity. The Midland did not pass by on the other side and helped a great company in its need.

When we went to Derby in 1908, John De Looze thought up a good one. When one had a quarter, his buff coloured clock card would be replaced by a white one and this endured a fortnight, in which time, if one had another quarter while on a white card he had to have a day off, which in those days was a not too expensive pleasure. In the shop there were quite a few anglers and the rivers near Derby, the Trent, Soar, Dove and Derwent, were happy hunting grounds. No need to ask the foreman for a day off; just indulge in a quarter while on a white card. The day off was automatic and no questions asked.

I went to Derby as a full journeyman getting full rate. In those days a fitter’s full rate in Manchester was 38 shillings (£1:90) for 53 hours. In Derby the rate was 35 shillings (£1:75p) for 54 hours. The bonus was good, though, and I used to travel home every Saturday noon and return on the night train on Sunday from the Central Station to be there for Monday morning.

Henry Royce was always knocking about the shop and one evening in the autumn of 1909 I saw him talking to my foreman Bill Ellis and from their glances and gestures I gathered that I was the subject of their conversation. I was right. They came and stood behind me and the following dialogue ensued:

Royce: “I do not think Clegg looks as well here as he did in Manchester.”

As this was spoken ostensibly for me to hear, I turned and assured Royce that I was very well indeed.

Ellis interjected: “He’s got a girl in Manchester.”

Royce: “Oh, that’s it, is it? Now look here, Ginger, when I was courting, my girl lived in London and I lived in Manchester. I used to see her once every three months. I’ll bet you see your girl more often.”

Myself: “Indeed I do – I go home every weekend.”

Royce: “There you go – you hurry from here at noon every Saturday to catch the first train and you return on the night train on Sunday to be here for Monday morning and then you’re living hungrily for the weekend after. How do you expect to keep well? You marry the girl, and settle in Derby! You’ve got a job here as long as I’m here.”

He went on to say that I would grow quite fat and proceeded to give me a lecture on how to protect myself from getting too fat. I married in December 1909.

 

Gossip, Larks and Recreation

I can give you many instances of workshop gossip, in workshop language too and although I myself do not indulge in profane language, it would lose point to a degree if told in BBC English.

I had a Cooke Street colleague who I shall call Fred. He was an excellent turner who became in Derby a superintendent of a precision department. Although he had lived in Derby 30 years he hadn’t lost his Lancashire accent where he was born. One day he came to my table in the Inspection Department and said:

‘Eh George, dosta know that wife o’ mine, well damned fool’s joined on o’ them American religious sects, Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh Day Adventists or some damned thing or other, and when I go home at niet I find th’ house full o’ praying women, and when I goo in’t room they look down their nose at me, but tha knows George it’s me that’s keeping t’ bloody house going!’

I sympathised with him saying ‘That must be very distressing Fred’.

‘Aye’ he resumed ‘and that lad o’ mine she would have him trained as a pastor in that organisation and when he graduated he thowt he would like to see the Passion Play at Oberammergau in Bavaria so I paid for him and his pal to go. When they got there t’ place were ram-jam full o’ tourists and they had some difficulty in finding accommodation, but at finish they were lucky and dost know who that lad o’ mine had to sleep with?’

I thought I was going to hear something salacious and said ‘Ah don’t Fred’.

Then he half whispered in my ear ‘B…… Pontius Pilate’. It came out so dry I could hardly contain myself. Anyway he had a most generous disposition and he and one of his cronies went to the Rolls-Royce children’s tea party. After tea and after they’d been in the local he said to his pal ‘I’d like to do something for these ‘ere kids’. Facetiously his pal said ‘give ‘em a tanner a piece’. ‘I will’ said Fred and he did. It cost him £26 but he paid up!

In the early days in Derby quite a host of boys came into the factory as premium apprentices. I was the leading man on the carburettor job; not the charge hand, but - as the late lamented Eric Platford called me - ‘The carburettor fiend’. These apprentices came to me in rotation for a course in the making and functioning of carburettors.

One such lad was the son of a Scottish lord, ‘The Master of Semphill’, a nice amiable lad but no fool. One morning he came in with a short shaft with trunnions on the end and said to me: ‘Look here, Clegg, this is the cardan shaft of my friend Dr Hogg of Shardlow. It is from a De Dion Bouton and I want to make another. How do I go about it?’ I said ‘Let’s get it on the bench and measure it up and we’ll get a piece of nickel steel that will clean up to it’. The measurements revealed that we needed a piece of steel bar 3½” diameter x 18” long. ‘How am I going to get that?’ he asked and I said ‘Just put it down on one of those green requisition slips, ask the foreman to sign it and if he asks you what you want it for, tell him you want it for a mandrel for George Clegg.’

The foreman was Bill Ellis. Semphill took the requisition note to him to be signed, was asked the question, and he told the tale. Ellis signed it and he took it to Jim Roney, the storekeeper, who sawed the length off for him. It was quite a hefty chunk of metal and I think the situation frightened him a little as he asked me anxiously what we were going to do with it. I told him we would get it centred and machined, and then I got out the appropriate list of operations and their sequences and moreover told him the operators who might oblige him. Thus with a half crown here and there, some two bobs and tanners disposed of in appropriate places, we made a beauty, although for more than 12” of its length we had to have it turned to about 1.125 and then turned the tapered end and screwed it and got the woodruff keyway cut. We then got the trunnion end machined, trunnions cadurised and case hardened and ground to precision limits – just a real Rolls-Royce job!

The piece went into its place like a glove in hand. Dr Hogg was delighted - so delighted in fact that he sent a whole boxload of parts to Mr Semphill for repair. That blew the gaffe and Semphill was on the mat before Wormald. Wormald’s office at that time was situated in our department and there was a window right opposite my vice and I could see Semphill giving me the wink. He was a tall lad, and Wormald, a little man in stature, sat down at his desk unseen by me. The upshot of it all was the sending of Semphill to John DeLooze with the suggestion he cancel his indentures. DeLooze complied and Semphill was thrown out on his ear. DeLooze was a nice fatherly figure and could not let him go without a wee homily. He dismissed him with this ‘Go and find a job more appropriate to your talents as you’ll never make anything as an engineer’!

Semphill joined the RNAS and was the first aviator to fly over the factory in a Rolls-Royce engined plane. The foremen and staff, with whom he was popular, clubbed to make him some small present as a memento of the occasion. Now here’s the run, De Looze in his capacity as secretary was deputed to make the presentation. Semphill thanked the donors suitably and then with a twinkle in his eye added ‘Well, it wasn’t such a bad performance for one who was never going to make anything as an engineer!’ He had a great career with the RNAS, and about seven years ago, after some articles of mine on ‘Working with Royce’ appeared in The Guardian, I wrote to him asking if I might use the circumstances of his dismissal, in which I was involved, either as material for an article or a talk for the BBC. His reply was most cordial. He thanked all those in Rolls-Royce who had laid the foundation of his career in the RNAS. He said it was of the utmost value when he was ‘Chief Engineer of the RNAS at Upavon, Chief Engineer at Cranwell, Chief Engineer of the RNAS Air Board and finally aeronautical advisor to the Government of the USA’.

I remember well the first inaugural meeting which formed the first Rolls-Royce Male Voice Choir under its conductor George Butterworth. Butterworth was a nice tenor singer, greatly in demand at Christmas in his home town Rochdale to sing the solos in the Messiah. I have heard of him going to a concert straight from work and having to change into his dress suit in the four-wheeled growler which was conveying him to the concert hall. Most of us had some choral experience in church and I remember vividly the first rehearsal. The piece chosen was the old glee ‘Comrades in Arms’. Some of us had some knowledge of music and could sing from staff notation (not tonic solfa) with some degree of accuracy and that pulled the rest along.

One of our fellows was a tester called Tom Warwick, who was a magnificent bass singer and a competent violinist. Indeed he was a fiddler (in more ways than one) and literally a musician to his fingertips and a very nice fellow to know. He was a driver in the Austrian Alpine Trial (which Rolls-Royce usually won). The year would be 1911 or ‘12. The team had been successful and were departing for home, but where was Tommy Warwick? He couldn’t be found so they returned without him. He turned up some time later at Nightingale Road and was on the mat to be disciplined.

“Where have you been?” he was asked; he replied, ‘Well I couldn’t resist it, opportunity only knocks once. I saw a poster announcing the Mozart Festival at Salzburg, so to Salzburg I went, and nothing matters now!’

In the small towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire (and particularly the Pennine villages) brass bands had their supporters like football clubs, but they were a deal more civilised. Even Royce played the flute and he was not an amateur at anything.

Messrs Fodens of Sandbach had an excellent brass band and an out of work mechanic applied to a foreman for a job. ‘Dost want any fitters?’ …. ‘No’ the foreman replied. ‘Well dost want any turners? I can work a lathe”: again the answer ‘No’ then the poor mechanic said ‘I’m a bloody good trombone player’. The foreman pricked up his ears and said ‘Tha’d better come inside’.

I am an old man with a very long memory. No doubt all the older members will remember a car called the Sheffield Simplex based in Sheffield in the early formative years of the industry. Well, was it just coincidental that there was a Rolls-Royce taxi plying for hire in the Sheffield streets? I don’t think so.

And another car called the Sizaire-Berwick, which was built in Holland Park, I believe. The Sizaire-Berwick’s radiator was a perfect replica of the Rolls-Royce almost to a thou – they were alike as two peas in a pod and impossible to tell the difference until one could see that the plate on the radiator was not Rolls-Royce but Sizaire-Berwick. Also the petrol tank was of similar shape and similarly positioned at the rear. And thereby hangs a tale which will be accurate only in proportion to the vagaries of an aged memory:

There was a premium apprentice who came to work with me for a course in the mechanics and functioning of carburettors. At that time Arthur Wormald (Works Manager) had a secretary called Eleanor Thornley. She was a very beautiful Nottingham girl (remember at that time I was in the springtime of my life, and you will see I was not alone in my assessment of her qualities). Well, young Bowring fell for her and I believe eventually married her. I did hear that Bowring acquired an executive position with Sizaire-Berwick, and that the marriage did not turn out too well. I believe that Eleanor Thornley left Rolls-Royce and became secretary to Lord Montague, and that she was chosen by Sykes the sculptor to be his model for that most elegant of bonnet adornments, the Flying Lady. With sorrow I heard that Eleanor Thornley was drowned in the ‘Iberia’ disaster.

(George’s memory is slightly inaccurate here. The lady’s name was Eleanor Velasco Thornton and she was killed when travelling in the SS Persia with Lord Montague. The ship was torpedoed off Crete on the way to Egypt. Lord Montagu survived. Ed).

One day when Royce was walking about the shop he saw a component being machined in an unsuitable lathe, and cried ‘ Who put this b ---- job in here?’. ‘Mr Wormald’ replied the turner. ‘Well take the b---- thing out. I’ll see Wormald about this’. At the next Directors meeting Wormald whined for protection against Royce’s depredations. I also heard that the Board was steeled for protection against Royce by the arguments of Claude Johnson, who though an honourable man was known to be as ambitious as Wormald. Thus Royce was exiled to the South of France and the poor condition of his health was the despicable excuse used for getting rid of him. For Royce to lose an immediate and active association with his brainchild was like robbing a child of his favourite toy and burning it.

Anyway Royce entered the establishment at Le Canadel, to which his chief executives and designers came often and plurally. Wormald came but ONCE and once only. At a conference Royce studied the agenda earnestly and he addressed Wormald: ‘I see that the first item on the agenda is a minor problem on production. We will attend to it and solve that first and that will dispose of the necessity of your presence.’ He then led Wormald into the garden, left him there and returned to the things that mattered.

What many don’t know is that Royce maintained an active and watchful eye over his interests in Royce Ltd Crane Builders in Trafford Park. My uncle Billy Parr was his charge-hand fitter, but I did not have much converse with him.

 

A Ghost Story

One Friday afternoon, just before the commencement of the Austrian Alpine trial, I was given the drawings of a priming device to be fitted to one of the competing chassis. The year might be 1911 or 1912. These cars had to be started by hand at high altitudes and low temperatures and as the bonnets were sealed, to prime the cylinder was impossible. Royce designed this arrangement, which consisted of a hand pump clipped to the steering column. Pushing the plunger back distributed the petrol through six branch pipes into the combustion chamber.

My instructions were to make up the complete assembly from the pump (already made) and attach it to the unions already fitted to the cylinder block, and I had to finish the job by working through the night to get the car across the channel and to the start before the deadline sometime over the weekend. I made up the whole assembly, making the branches, soldering on the nipples, connecting them to the service line, and having finished that, looked on the drawing for the arrangement of the pipe from the pump to the float chamber. The draughtsman had omitted it, and thus having no one to appeal to in the middle of the night I decided to put it where I thought best

Now on all Silver Ghost float chamber lids there is a boss sitting in the corner at the front, which accommodates the upper end of the needle valve. There are also two vent holes with grooves filed across them and the boss has a little dust cover fastened with a 5BA cheese-headed screw. I therefore drilled out this 5BA tapped hole with a .187 drill (3/16 th), soldered in a length of pipe to protrude well under the surface of the petrol and yet not to foil the brass weight on the needle valve, then connected it to the pump. Job finished, let petrol into float chamber, pulled out plunger and pushed it down again and all cylinders primed. The chassis went away, was on the line at the start, won the trial and everybody was happy. However, about a fortnight later Harry Swift (Assistant Works Manager) came to me and the following dialogue ensued:

Harry: ‘I say George was that priming arrangement all right?’

George: ‘Certainly, I tested it.’

Harry: ‘Now come on George, was there any provision on the float chamber to extract the petrol?’

George: ‘Not on the drawing but certainly, as you must know, on the job.’

Harry: ‘Well, what did you do then?’

I told him precisely what I had done, not having anyone to appeal to.

‘Well George, you know I should reprimand you for not working to the drawing.’ Just a pause and then he concluded ‘But it was a b…. good job as you so acted. The car could not have got there in time, let alone won it!’

 

1914-1915

My earliest friend in Derby was a young turner named Arthur Biddulph. I had got him the job (I knew Fred Gutteridge well, the foreman turner who was a Cooke Street colleague). Biddulph was always immaculate in dress and deportment, he would not wear a slop and overalls if they varied ever so slightly in shade of blue. Royce noticed him and on November 1 st 1909 he was promoted from the lathe to be ‘night shift manager’ at the age of 23.

He held this position till the outbreak of war and in the nascent panic he went to sub-contractors. The War Office, seeking work for a greatly depleted machine shop, brought him back machining Maudsley rear axles and axle trees for gun limbers. There were some Renault aero engines with cast-iron finned air-cooled cylinders made, but I do not think he was responsible for those engines coming. There were also orders for thousands of metal darts made from .437 (7/16) round bar, fluted at one end and pointed at the other. These were intended to be dropped ad lib on the German hordes. These jobs helped to get the machine shop running again.

What a panic there was at the outbreak of war. All the single men were sacked and the married men put on short time, and the finest works force was dispersed throughout the land. Whether this was due to the works manager (Wormald) or to the director I do not know, but Biddulph told me that he found Wormald one day in an attitude of deep depression. ‘This is the end’ he wailed, ‘nobody is going to buy luxury cars now.’ ‘No’ replied Biddulph, ‘but this is going to be an engineer’s war and it would pay you ultimately to keep those men at the machines even if they did nothing,’ All this was quite true, of course, but early in 1915 drawings came from the Office and forgings and castings began to appear in the shops. What a job it was machining these cylinders from solid forgings; the crankshafts were forged (as in all car engines) from solid webs. (A Silver Ghost crankshaft weighed 2cwt as received in the shop and 56lbs when fitted in the crankcase.)

In due course the ‘Hawk’ and ‘Eagle’ aero engines got into production and Biddulph became responsible for all aircraft engine production. When Royce designed these engines either at Le Canadel on the Cote d’Azur or at West Wittering in Sussex he had been exiled (or banished is the more appropriate word) from Derby four or five years. Biddulph told me that Royce wanted to call the first two engines ‘Esau’ and ‘Jacob’ (his eccentricities were unbelievable). I gave the information to Bill Morton (author CW Morton) when he was engaged on his “AHistory of Rolls-Royce Cars”. Morton was understandably incredulous, so he wrote to Mr Maurice Olley, who had worked for Royce during the designing of the engines and who by this time was in an executive position at General Motors, Detroit. Olley’s reply was ‘Mr Clegg is not quite right, but he is on the right track. Royce wanted to call his first three engines Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!’

Royce was full of tricks, quite alien to what might exist in the mind of any engineer of whatever stature. In West Wittering one Sunday morning he saw a very young boy and girl walking along the street carrying a basket each. He pulled his car up alongside and asked them ‘Where are you children going?’ Blackberrying Mr Royce’ was the reply. ‘What, dressed like that?’ (they were in their Sunday best). ‘Now go and change into your everyday clothes and come back here, and I will wait for you, for I know where there are plenty.’ The kids obeyed with alacrity and he took them to the location and spent a happy day with them.

 

The Hiatus: 1915-1933

Owing to a difference of opinion with Wormald in 1915 I chucked the job, despite Wormald telling me that he regarded me as part of the furniture. I was in the wilderness eighteen years (1915-33), subject to all the disasters of the late 20’s and early 30’s. It was a good job for me that I had another skill in my fingers and a knowledge of mathematics above my collar.

I got a job at Beyer-Peacocks, a locomotive firm, and the work in the erecting shop was hard and strenuous. However, in the beautiful summer of 1921 there was a coal strike and as Peacocks needed coal for their steam hammers, I was suspended. At that time the only car I had driven was a Ford Model T (‘Pedals to push: that’s all’ as the Adams Car company’s advertisements ran) and I had never driven a car with an orthodox gearbox. However at Crossley Motors during 1915-20 I had made hundreds of boxes and thus was perfectly knowledgeable of their operation. So here I was in 1921, out of work, but someone on the grapevine informed me that Willys-Overland-Crossley were wanting testers. I therefore went to the personnel department in Heaton Chapel (Fairey Aviation have it now) and asked for a job as a tester. They asked me where I had worked, I truthfully told them Rolls-Royce. They said come inside, and before I knew where I was I was driving up and down the avenue (over 1000 feet long) beside the works. Now George, I said to myself, you’ve got to learn how to change up and down (and down meant double declutching) without noise.

A bit of practice and the job was easy. I worked there for three weeks testing, then the strike was over and Peacocks sent for me back. I preferred Peacocks, heavy work though it was, so I went back, only to be suspended about a year later. Thus the economic blizzard shuttle-cocked up and down, but I was never depressed.

I worked for six years making gear boxes for Crossley Motors and in the winter months we usually had a spate of gear boxes from the test department with the reverse idler wheel completely denuded of teeth. There was nothing wrong with the design and the trouble worried the design office. The explanation was simple but diabolical. The chassis were tested in Derbyshire, which was ideal and there was even a clock at some pub where test drivers had to clock on to show that they had been there. However the Snake Road between Glossop and Sheffield in winter is bleak, wild moorland, nice in summer but devilish in winter when not snowed up. The test drivers, numb with cold and sighing for a day or two in the warmth of the shop, would come down the hill towards Glossop coasting with the reverse gear in and the clutch out; then, with sufficient speed on, they would let the clutch in and thus strip all the teeth in the reverse idler and they would be in the shop for a day! We on the job knew what caper was being played, but it only happened in winter. I know these roads well and they are all devilish in winter and barely hospitable in summer.

Another reminiscence of those early years was that one could buy at Lewis’ (now I believe a Selfridge subsidiary) a good pocket watch for 2 shillings and nine pence (13.75p). I’ve had plenty: one never got them repaired, but bought another one. Lewis’s two and niners were good value and some went for years. However I became general shop foreman of a crane and hoist firm. I had control of all the shop including pattern-makers and black-smiths. Now my wife’s father was a leading smith, there were only three fires, three anvils and a steam hammer. One morning my father-in-law’s striker failed to appear at 6am. He was having a quarter or long lay-in, which meant his appearance at 9am. Old George (the smith) had rather a sharp tongue and he belaboured the striker rather profanely. Jack Lewis, his striker, was very apologetic and said ‘This Lewis two and niner stopped and let me down’. ‘Let’s have a look at it’ said old George. He handed over the watch and George laid it under the steam hammer and gave the hammer driver the wink. Down came the hammer, and George took the watch, now somewhat increased in diameter, gave it to Jack Lewis with ‘There you are Jack, it’ll never let you down again!’

In the year 1923 there were four firms making cranes and lifting tackle in the Manchester area. They were Royce Ltd, Vaughan Ltd and a small company named Higginbottom and Mannock Crown Ironworks, Gorton. In early 1923 I got a job as a fitter at Higginbottoms. Inside twelve months I had become charge-hand fitter and then general shop foreman. It was heavy engineering but very interesting. The Westinghouse Company (later Metro-Vick and now AEI) had quite a number of our cranes from 5-ton capacity to 50-ton capacity – overhead cranes with 90-feet span (width between rail span). Until then Westinghouse had generated all its current needs in direct current and turned over to AC when Barton Electricity Station functioned. This changeover meant that all crane motors had to be turned over to AC, and we had 35 cranes to modernise with AC motors and other appropriate gear.

I was shop foreman and my duties took me into the drawing office, often to confer with the draughtsmen. Thus I was on easy terms with these gentlemen: Messrs Flynn (director), Tom Lindop, Crawford and Horatio Landsdale. The company went bankrupt in 1925 and I lost a good job (I’ve lost many a good job through getting sacked) and so did Lindop, Crawford and Landsdale. However Royce Ltd were very busy and these three draughtsmen applied for a job and he engaged all three.

I saw Lindop and Landsdale occasionally afterwards and Lindop told me that Royce stormed into the office one day and opened all the windows to get rid of the tobacco smoke. He declared ‘This office stinks like a b---- third class smoking compartment’. Despite Wormald and the Directors he was still very compos mentis and in 1929 he designed the engines that won the Schneider Trophy for Britain, and his influence in the design of subsequent engines, particularly Kestrel, Vulture and Merlin was easily to be discerned. Poor old Henry, despised and rejected by fools (not the first by any means), but I loved him and revere his memory. The long awaited film ‘Henry Royce Mechanic’ was shown on BBC2 on January 12 th 1970. I have been on occasion to see Bill Morton and I told him that if the actor who plays Sir Henry (one Anthony Brown) adopted Pa’s usual stance it would add a little authenticity to the production. In walking round the shop, or just meditating, he would have his right hand in his jacket pocket and his left hand free, or in his trouser pocket. The sculptor of the statue in the arboretum in Derby had it exactly with the head slightly inclined to the right.

The Statue of Royce in the Arboretum at Derby

 

Return to Derby: 1933

I worked in all sorts of jobs. I even set up as a draper and milliner and worked at that job for seven years, until the economic situation compelled me to seek a job as inspector with my old firm.

In 1935, when I was a mere stripling of some 49 years, I was the departmental inspector in No 1 shop in the milling bay. We had both vertical and horizontal machines and thus we performed milling operations on components for every part of the chassis, engine, gearbox, axles, steering, clutch, and even for the dynamo and starting motors, which were of Pa’s own design. (We did not fit electrical components from specialist producers like Lucas and Rotax until the Hives administration took over after the demise of Wormald in 1936-37.)

Suddenly in the early part of 1935 strange forgings (principally hand forgings) began to appear in our department and from what I could make of the detail drawings I formed the idea that they were for the new independent front suspension, then called in American journals ‘knee-action suspension’ (very aptly). We had to machine these hand forgings down to drawing dimensions. We had no jigs and the forgings coming through from the Experimental usually had one bore machined, which would be the datum for all subsequent operations. What cutting and carving we had to do to accurately produce the finished product. (Royce always believed in getting to the heart of the metal – for instance a Silver Ghost crankshaft forging had solid webs and the forging weighed 2 cwt. When the crankshaft went into the crankcase it weighed 56 lbs (1½ cwt of cuttings.)

You will be familiar with the two front levers of the lucky bone assembly near and off sides. There is a pad on both sides which you will probably find milled on both sides. On the original drawing there was (on front levers only) a hole drilled (about .500” or ½”). This hole had to be taper reamed in order to accommodate a ball pin (about 1” diameter), to which was attached a pendulum piece about 6” long, and to the lower end was a connecting rod (like a track rod) attached to both near and off-side pendulum pieces. This of course interfered with the independence of the separate functioning of the two sides and after a few had been so fitted it was abandoned. However, there was a small stock of front lucky bone levers already drilled and reamed and it was decided to fit tapered pins (like the shank of the ball pin) into the holes. Unfortunately the draughtsman who had detailed the machining of these front levers omitted to delete the drilling and reaming operations from the list of operations, and they set up a capstan lathe to make pins to fill up the useless hole. This went on for some little time and we were drilling and reaming holes (to fine limits) only to fill them up again with the pins made on the capstan lathe.

I rumbled this and reported the matter to my foreman, a fellow named Reg Clay. He dismissed my complaint rather contemptuously, saying ‘They must know what they are doing’. Thereupon I sent a note to Wormald (Works Manager) by internal works post explaining precisely what was happening - just drilling and reaming holes to fill them up again and the customer getting a botched-up job. By return of post I received a note from Wormald saying he was looking into the matter and two days later another note from him telling me to go to the cashier and collect £2.

In all engineering shops mistakes occur. I have heard of an experimental aero camshaft being designed with special cam contours to achieve certain results and would have been effective had the direction of rotation been correct. Also I have heard of a fan behind the radiator blowing the warm air out instead of the cold air in. Accidents happen in the best of regulated families.

A story has come to mind told to me by a Manchester Z car speed cop some time before 1939.

Smith’s father was a prosperous and successful builder, and young Smith was his only child and so heir to all his father’s fortunes. The father brought his son up in rather a Spartan fashion. He brought him into the business on leaving school and he had to start right at the bottom, digging foundations, hod carrying and brewing tea for his mates (who were instructed to keep him at it) and other menial tasks, and moreover he was kept short, very short of pocket money. He made good progress, and was a good lad albeit a bit of a devil. Not too late in his apprenticeship the father died suddenly and the boy inherited a good business and thousands of pounds. His reactions after the obsequies and probate duties etc. were immediate and startling.

He bought a stable of new cars, four in number, and the last was either a Phantom III or a Bentley (I forget which). This car could shift (not ‘arf) and Kingsway (A34) in our area is a two-way carriage road. The policeman told me that it was Smith’s custom to drive his Rolls-Royce product along Kingsway at a fantastic speed, against which the police Alvis was no use whatsoever. However, they knew his times and lay in wait for him. They pulled him up and he drew into the side. The police told him that on certain dates he had driven along Kingsway at far above the safe limits and they were going to report him. He said to the policemen: ‘Look at the car, have you ever driven one of these?’ They said No they hadn’t and he continued, ‘Well, take it away for half an hour or so and I’ll wait here.’

The police therefore had a run around and returned to Smith, who said ‘Well do you like it? Do you wonder at anyone with a machine like that having a fling?’ ‘No we don’t’ answered Charlie the Cop ‘ but do be careful: we’ll not report you.’ Charlie told me afterwards he had not experienced such facile motoring before, although Alvis was not to be denigrated at all, but there was just no comparison.

A Rumour of Royce’s Decauville

Last year I went out with Tim Brazier to Grappenhall near Warrington, where the Northern Section have located an old Decauville which the owner (a Mr Farrington) thought was the chassis that belonged to Henry Royce and which was the start of the business.

I went armed with a fully loaded camera, thinking that the photographs would grace The Bulletin with something good. Alas it didn’t materialize. The story starts with my presence at the Crewe works with the 20 Ghost Club. At the subsequent repast the talk at table was a discussion of the Decauville and I said I remembered the car well and had done some minor jobs on it. Some time later, during the bitter winter of six or seven years ago, a knock came on my door, and there stood a man who was in working attire, and who asked me if I was George Clegg. I pleaded guilty and he told me that he had got my name and address from Ron Sant of the Crewe works, who guided my little party round the factory.

I invited him in and he told me that his boss had what he thought was Royce’s chassis: he was restoring it and it was proposed to take me out in it when finished. I communicated this information to Jeremy Bacon (whom you may know as the publisher of the booklet The Rolls-Royce Owner). Bacon immediately got busy, called for me one bitter night and we went out to Knutsford. He wanted to see Brae Cottage, where Pa lived, and from Knutsford he made some telephone calls, which resulted in his locating the car. The working man who had called at my home had told me that his boss was a Mr Allen of Allen’s Chemical Works, Widnes. I suppose it was on that information that Bacon made the telephone calls that located the car. Bacon subsequently went to see it and came back with remarkable photographs. (Lyn Perkins, Rolls-Royce rep in New York, has my copy of the pictures.)

The Decauville had automatic inlet valves, and on this chassis the valves had been mechanized by a camshaft mounted on the cylinder block and which was driven by a long cycle chain, driven from a sprocket on the exhaust camshaft end. All this was clear and precise on Bacon’s photographs and on this evidence I was convinced that the chassis was Royce’s.

However, the years went by and I heard nothing. At the gathering at Lyme Park, Stockport, I spoke to members of the Northern committee, and they located a chassis in Grappenhall. I think that Mr Farrington, an amiable fellow and good to know, being a collector of ancient vehicles, would like to have evidence that he had got THE Decauville. On what I saw I do not think that this was Royce’s car. Mr Farrington was knowledgeable of the camshaft drive and the general arrangement, but not only had he not got the camshaft (although he said that it was accessible to him) but on this engine there was no provision at all for securing the bearing brackets, each of which was secured by two studs and about 3/8th” diameter.

He had some other interesting relics: two silent Knight Daimlers of about 1910 or so and an Argyll single sleeve engine (Burt, McCullom patent) which I did not see, although he said that he had competed in hill trials with it.

 

Later Years

I went to Blackpool to meet old colleagues and friends who were on the retired employees’ outing. What joy there is in meeting those with whom one had borne the problems and sorted them out on both piston engines and the train of sophisticated plumbers blowlamps called ‘Derwent, Nene, Avon, Dart and Conway. (The last was just coming on when I had a heart attack.) I don’t think that anyone enjoyed his job more than I did from the ages of 60 to 70.

Five machinists (none better anywhere) and all possessed of a sense of humour. I was the inspector and we were all complimentary to each other. Always plenty of good fun with those amiable rascals, but no scrap. The department was one of horizontal borers and many were the problems posed. To give one example:

On Friday night (I always worked nights) I came in to find on Freddie Goodman’s machine a Dart main casing. Our job was to drill seven sets of .187 (3/16”) holes 1.825” apart. These were dimensioned radially in degrees, minutes, second and decimal parts of a second and all at different angles. The job was spigotted on an aluminium plate some 4” in diameter and running true as a rotary table.

Quite candidly I was completely baffled. I had no datum and the assistant night manager came and I told him (he appreciated my difficulty) I didn’t know what to do. He said if I could evolve some scheme for day shift to carry on with, he would be satisfied. Still baffled, I looked over the job rather disconsolately and I came across a .500” (1/2) hole in an extended arm. I got the detailed drawing to get its accurate position. From dimension x and dimension y I was able to calculate the angle which became my datum. From that datum there was no need to leave anything for the dayshift, for we put a finished one on the floor at 6am.

The sequel was interesting and very pleasant for me. Three weeks after, there was about 45 shillings (£2:25p) too much in my pay packet. Having had no intimation I thought it was a clerical error and I reported it to my foreman. He knew nothing about it either and advised me to wait until the next week and see what happened. The next week there was 15 shillings (75p) too much so I went to Jesse Booth (nightshift manager) for information.

He said ‘Sit down George and I’ll tell you’. He said ‘Do you remember that job the other Friday night?’ I said ‘I’m not likely to forget it’. He then told me that Mr CP Jones (Percy) a director of the Aero Division, went to Bob Parker (Chief Super on inspection) and the following dialogue took place:

CP: “Eh what are you going to do about George Clegg?”

Parker: “Well, what about George Clegg?”

CP: “Well put him some more b… money in.”

Parker: “He’s over 65 you know.”

CP: “I don’t b* * * well care if he is over b* * * 95, put it in.”

The 45 shillings (£2:05) was a 15 shilling (75p) rise backdated three weeks and I drew the increase of 15 shillings per week until I retired at 70.

 

George Clegg- a ‘young 83’

To the best of my knowledge I am the sole man to receive a merit award after normal retirement age. I worked until the age of 70, because when I attained the normal retiring age of 65 in 1951 I was asked to continue because (Rolls-Royce reasons) mathematically trained inspectors are few and far between. T’was a good finishing up. From the committee of the Retired Employees Association I learned that I am the only surviving fitter who worked on the floor for and with Henry Royce (as he was then) in Cooke Street.

The other day I had the notion of walking up Stretford Road just as I used to at 5.45am to check in (not clock in) at 6am. I knew exactly the position of Cooke Street relative to the Zion Chapel (a rather impressive building on the opposite side. I crossed Great Jackson Street (now Royce Road) and continued to where I turned right into Cooke Street. I might just as well have been in the Sahara Desert: – nothing but chaos and quagmire and huge building operations proceeding. I walked a few yards towards the impasse and turned sorrowfully away. However I retraced my steps down Stretford Road, crossed Oxford Road and continued into what is left of Grosvenor Street. Just about 100 yards down on my right is the Oddfellows Hall, a rather cosmopolitan building which houses I suppose the offices of the Oddfellows Friendly Society, a Wesleyan (I think) chapel and a room lately taken over as the nucleus of a technological and engineering museum.

In it housed the Derwent jet engine, a Merlin piston aero engine and also, but not least, the engine and transmission of the No 2 Royce engine. This two-cylinder Royce car engine, the second made in 1904, is indeed a prize, and it used to stand in a glass case alongside the Merlin in the entrance hall of Manchester Technical College in Sackville Street. Also there are some Whitworth machine tools and I understand there is an ambitious plan to use the Manchester Central Station (now disused) as a transport museum. As the station had ten platforms and is almost a replica of St Pancras, this could accommodate big engineering products like locomotives, cranes, ordinance for which the works of Sir Joseph Whitworth was famous. In this connection, may I recall a piece of ordnance which was to silence a Big Bertha used by the Boers against Ladysmith (?) This was made at Whittys and had to be drawn perforce by horses to (I think) the Manchester Ship Canal to be sent to South Africa. Its progress down Ashton Old Road drawn by twelve magnificent shire horses to the accompaniment of seemingly scores of old-fashioned flaming torches is a vivid memory of seventy years ago. Another vivid recollection of that district was watching the royal train bearing Queen Victoria to Manchester in May 1894 to open the Ship Canal.

 

George Clegg, veteran Rolls-Royce employee, takes a long last look and says a silent sad farewell to the old Cooke Street Royce factory where, under Royce’s personal instructions, he built the carburettor for the 1906 TT race-winning light 20’s, and later the Silver Ghost. Royce appreciated George’s remarkable grasp of applied mathematics and trigonometry, his excellent coordination of brain and hand, above all his practical and thoroughly likeable character. Royce addressed him with friendly familiarity as ‘Ginger’ and encouraged him to marry and settle in Derby when the move came from Cooke Street to Nightingale Road.