The young Newton recorded the London Extension of the Great Central Railway - "the last main line" - between Nottingham and London, travelling the route with his camera.
Significantly, in addition to photographing the railway and its associated features, Newton also recorded the navvy community and the rural life in the villages along the course of the line. The collection provides a unique picture of life in Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire around the turn of the 20th century.
This unique collection was presented to Leicestershire County Council's Museums Service in 1980. Although it includes some pieces made by their competitors, the collection essentially tells the story of the Symington company over a period of one hundred and thirty years. It includes garments and supporting advertising material, which provide an insight into the development of corsetry, foundation garments and swimwear from the late 19th century through to the beginning of the 1990s.
Held at the Collections Resources Centre, Barrow-on-Soar
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You can see an Auster aircraft on display at Charnwood Museum.
In 1938, Leicestershire County Flying Club bought a new Taylorcraft Model A aircraft from America. One of its members, A. L. Wykes, a pilot from World War One (WWI) and a local businessman, was so impressed with this aircraft, he decided to build them himself.
With no previous experience, but a love of flying and some local financial backing, Wykes headed for Taylorcraft in America to purchase a licence to produce their aircraft. He returned with a Taylorcraft Model B aircraft, details of how to manufacture them and 50 engines.
The Early Years
In November 1938 Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England) Ltd, was formed in the spare buildings at the rear of Wykes' machinery factory "Crowthers" in Thurmaston. The first aircraft produced, the model Plus C, sold for approximately £500.
The company continued to produce aircraft until the outbreak of WWII in September 1939, when all civilian flight was banned along with the manufacture of civil aeroplanes.
Because of the ban, Wykes negotiated contracts to produce other goods to keep it afloat. This included repairing Tiger Moth, Typhoon and Hurricane military aircraft. Meanwhile, the Army had been undertaking trials to test modern methods for air observation. For this they needed a light aircraft that could be used by artillery officers to locate enemy forces. Wykes knew of this and produced for the trials 6 new Taylorcraft Model Plus D aircraft. Taylorcraft were awarded the contract because of their factory facilities and the Model D was:
- small enough to avoid attacks
- low cost to run
- easy to handle
- easy to dismantle and reassemble
- easy to transport
Air Observation Posts
To distinguish the military aircraft from the civilian they were renamed "Auster" - the Latin word for a warm, dry southwesterly wind. he first military aircraft produced was the Auster Mk 1, 100 of which were ordered in 1942 for use as the new Air Observation Posts (AOP). Under the direction of the RAF, the AOPs were flown by trained Army artillery pilots. The Austers became known as the "eyes of the army" and were used worldwide throughout the war years.
With increased demand and a shortage of a male workforce, women were employed to take on their workloads. By the end of the war in 1945, over 1600 Austers had been built.
Auster Aircraft Ltd 1946-1961
After the war, the company under the new name "Auster Aircraft Ltd" continued to develop new, improved military Austers. A new line of more economical and low powered civilian Austers were also produced from the successful wartime Mk 5 model. The aircraft were modified for a variety of purposes and were used at home and around the world. These included:
- crop spraying and dusting
- aerial advertising
- aerial photography
- pleasure trips
- private flying
However, lack of demand and the availability of cheap ex-military aircraft soon led to a slow down in production and many redundancies throughout the workforce. To keep the company productive, they established connections with motor companies and started making car parts, including gear changes for the Hillman Minx and Hunter.
The End of the Company
Auster Aircraft Ltd continued to make civilian and military aircraft until 1960 when it was absorbed into British Executive and General Aviation, better known as "Beagle", part of the Pressed Steel Group. Auster models, such as the Terrier, Airedale and Husky, continued to be produced by Beagle until 1968, when all aircraft production ceased.
The Symington collection was created by the Market Harborough company R. & W. H. Symington, which began to make corsets for fashionable Victorian ladies in the 1850s. The company eventually grew into an international concern and one of its most famous products, the Liberty Bodice, was produced for almost seventy years.
The Symington garment collection is held at the Collections Resources Centre, Barrow-on-Soar
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More corset patterns can be viewed in the Symington catalogues held at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.
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Read more about the Harborough Collection
Visit Melton Carnegie Museum