150 years of Engineering Excellence

The celebrated Gloucester engineering firm of Fielding & Platt (F&P) was based, until the early years of this Century, at the site of what is now the Quays retail unit. Eagle eyed visitors to the Quays can spot information panels giving background information about the Company in a number of locations. In its day F&P had a world-wide reputation and was involved in the building and developing of machines and equipment that have touched our everyday lives – everything from Concorde to the first vacuum cleaner!
The Archives was a partner in a highly successful Heritage Lottery funded project to celebrate the history of the Company a few years ago, and one result of this is the excellent web site administered by proud former F&P employees, http://www.fieldingandplatthistory.org.uk. Since the HLf project finished, the Archives has continued to work with the F&P heritage group to collect reminiscences of former employees and to enhance the catalogue lists of the large collection of F&P material deposited with us.
2016 represents the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Company, and the heritage group has organised a number of events to celebrate this. A reunion event for former employees was held at Walls’ Club on 16th July. This proved hugely popular with over 150 attendees, as this photograph shows.

Former employees of Fielding & Platt at reunion day, 16th July 2016 (copyright John Davis)

Former employees of Fielding & Platt at reunion day, 16th July 2016 (copyright John Davis)

We have also put together an exhibition to run from 9th August until December at the Life Museum in Westgate St, to which there will be free access during Gloucester’s heritage open days (Thursday 8th – Sunday 11th September). This will tell the story of F&P, using a mixture of original documents (loaned from the Archives), artefacts and information panels. The artefacts are kindly loaned by John Davis, who entered F&P as an apprentice in 1949 and retired from the Drawing Office 49 years later. You will be able to see a number of tools that John made as part of his apprentice training, and which he continued to use throughout his time with the Company. You can watch a short film in which John talks about his apprenticeship and creating the tools at http://www.fieldingandplatthistory.org.uk/page_id__228.aspx?path=0p2p.
A number of promotional films were produced by the F&P and Heenan Group Film Units during the 1950s, and several of these have been edited together onto a DVD which you can buy from September at the Life Museum shop at a cost of £10.00. Brian Mince, who joined F&P as an apprentice photographer in 1952 and became the Company’s chief photographer until 1974, was involved in the creation of the films. You can watch a short video in which Brian talks about his time at F&P and creating the films at http://www.fieldingandplatthistory.org.uk/page_id__229.aspx?path=0p2p .
Finally, look out for members of the F&P heritage group at the Gloucester Retro Festival day on Saturday 27th August. We will have a stand in Kings Walk between 10am and 5pm, and you’ll have a chance to talk to John, Brian and other former F&P employees about their many happy years with the Company.

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