Visit to the Long Shop Museum, Leiston
Each year for our August meeting our monthly meeting is a visit out and this year was no exception. At 18.00 hours our coach left from our usual spot at the Shoppers car park Martlesham.
When we arrived at the Long Shop Museum. Leiston we were welcomed by our very own Tony Errington, with Stephen Mael the Museum Manager, and his volunteer helper Frank Huxley.
Welcome to MHAS members from Stephen Mael, second from left.
Stephen despite feeling unwell and with a sore throat gave a quick introduction to the Long Shop and then handed over to Tony. Tony explained that in the 1980s he was first approached to set up a museum. At that time the place was derelict and under several inches of water.
Using volunteer help and some gentlemen from the manpower services scheme he set about assembling the now splendid set up we see today. Much of the equipment and showcases etc. were begged and borrowed from anywhere available including gondola ends from the local coop store.
Richard Garret and Sons was a household name in years gone by and are known Worldwide for their steam engines, but they were involved in many other aspects of engineering, including aircraft, washing machines, ovens and much more. For a few years, they even took over production of Burrell steam engines, formerly their closest rival.
To me the most interesting feature was the Long Shop itself. A long two-storey workshop, with a balcony running around the inside. A boiler system would be introduced at one end and, as the item moved along parts were dropped down and fitted. A finished steam engine would then emerge at the end. This system was being used some 100 years before Henry Ford introduced the "moving assembly line” to the World.
This was meant to be one of our non-aviation meetings but you can’t escape it. There was a large display about the “Yoxford Boys” 357th Fighter Group and their Mustangs. Bud Anderson and Chuck Yeager were two of their flyers.
During the First World War, Richard Garrett also produced the FE2b Figher Bomber, Night Bomber, and Reconnaissance aircraft, below:
Photograph of FE2b from the RAF Waddington web site
During the manufacturing process the factory obviously used a large amount of water therefore they had their own extraction well. This is over 300 feet deep, with the first, large chamber being over 30 feet deep. You can stand on a metal grid and look down. Quite scary.
There was also a display dedicated the nuclear power station just down the road at Sizewell and as we left we could see the impressive white dome of the Sizewell "B" - Britain's only Pressurized Water Reactor - apparently floating above the horizon.
I can remember as a schoolboy when my parents had a caravan at Aldeburgh, visiting Leiston and it was all Richard Garrett. The factory made the town and nearly everyone worked there. It is sad to see such a place closed but the work that Tony did, and that Stephen does now, does it proud.
We would all like to say a big “THANK YOU”