Ivanhoe Ashby de la Zouch U3A U3A Group Logo

The Industrial Heritage Group

Leader:  Mike Stow - indhist@ashbyu3a.co.uk - phone 01530 469152

The Industrial Heritage Group is for members who have an interest in our industrial heritage of trains, cars, planes, bikes, early manufacturing etc. to visit museums, railways, factories and other places related to our industrial past. We occasionally take a quite broad view of what constitutes "Industrial Heritage" if it is of interest to us!

Travel arrangements vary depending on how far we have to travel, but generally we meet in Ashby to car-share.

Our trips are normally on Wednesdays unless otherwise stated

Future programme

Wed 23rd Oct9.30 at Featherbed Lane to car-shareSoho House, Birmingham B18 5LBHenry and JuliaSoho House was the elegant home of the industrialist and entrepreneur Matthew Boulton from 1766 to 1809. The house has been beautifully restored and reflects the fashions and tastes of the late Georgian period. See some of the products of Boulton's nearby factory (now demolished) and where he developed the steam engine with James Watt. Soho House was also a meeting place of the Lunar Society, a leading Enlightenment group. Members of the society included Erasmus Darwin, James Watt and Joseph Priestly.

We plan to arrive at 10.30 with tea, coffee and cake on arrival. The guided tour starts at 11.30 and lasts approx 1 hr. Entry is £10 including refreshments. Free on-site parking so we can car-share.

Lunch afterwards will be taken at the nearby Victorian pub, The Black Eagle. Meals will have to be pre-ordered.
Wed 27th NovTBAThe Pen Museum and the Coffin Works in Birmingham's Jewellery QuarterBill & Avril WilsonWe'll take the train from Tamworth to Birmingham, walk or take the tram up to the Jewellery Quarter and then possibly split into two groups to visit each of the museums in turn as they are both small and can't accomodate large numbers. We shall take lunch in one of the area's historic pubs. After lunch, the two groups will visit the other museum they missed in the morning. The Coffin Museum didn't make coffins but rather the 'furniture' for them, ie the brass handles etc. including for the Queen Mother's and Churchill's funerals

Wednesday 25th September. Walsall Leather Museum

A surprisingly large group of 24 members were sufficiently interested in the history of leather manufacture to turn up at our usual meeting point to car-share to Walsall. Unfortunately on arrival the adjacent car park was completely, full leaving everyone to find parking spots in the surrounding streets but we (almost) all arrived in time for coffee before our two guides showed us around the museum.

We split into two groups and swapped guides at halftime. One group was first shown the history of Walsall and why it became the centre of the leather and particularly the saddlery trade in the UK. We also learned how leather is formed from the hides of various animals, some more suitable and some more rare than others. The rare hides (snakes, crocodile, ostrich etc.) are not necessarily the best just the most expensive. The distinctive pattern of those animals hides are often mechanically embossed onto cow hide as a cheaper substitute.

The second group first learned how the leather was worked, often by women, and cut, stitched and formed into saddles, bridles, belts and latterly, after the decline of the horse as a means of transport, into gloves, handbags and wallets etc.

Walsall still has a small number (34) of companies making premium leather goods for sale in London, New York and Japan. The Queen's handbags are made there.

The whole history, like that of so many other declining or extinct manufacturing jobs, is fascinating, and it is good to see museums reminding us of what were once major industries.

After looking round the museum shop selling handbags and wallets etc. we finished off by having lunch. Some opted for the nearby pub by the canal while others ventured further to a traditional Black Country pub dating back to 1627. I think it qualifies as Industrial Heritage by all by itself!

Another great day out.

Previous trips