Safety-first necessitated a bit of dressing up for the eighteen Headingley Rotarians and their partners and friends who visited the Bombardier train and carriage factory in Derby. In the Design workshops, the Director showed how clients and the International team of designers work together, from hand drawn sketches to ComputerAided 3-D images and, eventually to detailed specification for a new train. Recent contracts have been the new Elizabeth tube line and the contract gained in August 2016 to supply new trains for the East Anglian line.
Our delightful and informative guide, Kathryn Lancaster, then led us down an enormous shed from north to south in which the new Aventura five-carriage train for Great Western Railways was being created over a series of some fifty processes before the finished product proceeds to test pens and railway trials prior to handover. The distinctive dark British Racing Green of Great Western is as polished as a racing car. Paint is sprayed onto the carriages at an early stage of the union of the roof wall and floor sections.
Giant cranes raise, turn and invert the carriages which, after addition of cabling, insulation, air conditioning and pantograph connections come together. The addition of doors and windows is exacting precision work and pressured water testing ensures complete sealing of the units. At this stage the carriage is six feet up so that connections and lightweight equipment can be installed beneath.
Time for a team photograph with the carriage in the background, after which we were booted in plastic overshoes and allowed to inspect the quality of the finished product.
Kathryn led us to our lunch in the canteen and left us to go to talk to policemen about Prince William’s visit the next day. A fascinating morning seeing at first-hand a modern and complex engineering process. However, equally impressive was the pride in which the entire creation of Royal Crown Derby bone china is all manufactured beneath one roof and is proudly English.
Some of the exquisite china we saw in the shop at the end of the tour may have been beyond our means but it was quite beautiful. Much of the design work is applied from lithographed transfers but we also saw hand painting and burnishing of liquid gold and the detailed depiction of fur on the leopards. A highlight was meeting the lady working on the design and painting of a plate to commemorate The Queen’s seventieth wedding anniversary next year. The design is based on the flowers depicted in Her Majesty’s wedding gown. On our return to Headingley, a few of us gathered in a pub and we all felt a great debt to Drew Dodds who created this outing and to Monty Reid who led it on the day.
CJW Nov 2016