Cornish tin mine plaque unveiled

Engineering Heritage Awards for landmark British feats

Two major feats of British engineering have been recognised with an Engineering Heritage Award.

The first Cornish recipient of an Engineering Heritage Award is Cornwall’s oldest tin mill – the King Edward Mine Mill.

The mill, now a museum, is the 83rd recipient of the accolade which celebrates British engineering feats such as Tower Bridge, the Channel Tunnel and the Jaguar E-type. The mill shows visitors how mined ore is treated to produce finished tin concentrate.

“The King Edward Mine Mill is a true feat of British engineering which marked a major change in tin concentration processes and technology,” said John Wood, chairman of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage Committee.

“It pioneered the most up-to-date technologies of the time and has been training mining engineers for generations,” Wood continued, marvelling particularly at how well preserved the site is for future generations.

Wood presented the award to Tony Brooks, chairman of the King Edward Mine, at a ceremony at the mill on 17 May.

“To be recognised by a body such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers is a real honour and is a reflection of the tens of thousands of hours put in over 25 years by our team of dedicated volunteers,” said Tony Brooks, chairman of the King Edward Mine.

Another engineering feat to be given an Engineering Heritage award is the Advanced Passenger Train-Experimental (APT-E), which is being recognised for being the world’s first self-propelled active tilting train and being the precursor to tilting trains in current use, like the Pendolino.

“The train marked a number of world firsts, including being the first self-propelled active tilting train; the first train to have computer designed wheelsets and active suspension; and the first train to run at over 100 mph on any track without side-to-side instability,” says Professor Isobel Pollock, past president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. “Its legacy has been integral to the development of modern railway travel,” Pollock continues.

The APT-E was powered by gas turbines, the only multiple unit by British Rail to use this technology. The unit was only intended for testing and was never intended to be used in ordinary public service, although it did carry office staff and the occasional dignitaries on trial runs.

When its period of testing was complete in June 1976, it was sent to the National Railway Museum in York for preservation before being moved to the National Railway Museum in Shildon.

During phase 2 of the project, three prototype trains were introduced, known as the APT-P, into revenue service on a route from Glasgow to London route. But the APT-P enjoyed only limited service due to bad publicity.

“Managerial and political issues caused the APT project to be scrapped, not the technology,” says Paul Leadley, from the APT-E Conservation and Support Group.

The last phase of the project – the introduction of the Squadron fleet designated APT-S – was therefore never completed.

The APT-E Conservation and Support Group has been working on restoring the train for over 13 years, which also includes correcting the public’s views towards the APT project as a whole.

The award will be presented to Paul Leadley at a special ceremony at Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon, County Durham on 24 May.

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