WGH Transportation Engineering Collection at the National Fairground and Circus Archive

WGH Transportation Engineering was a specialist company operating between 1989 and 2016 from their headquarters in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Their business focused on the supply of amusement rides to the leisure industry and specialist transportation, such as inclined lifts and automated passenger transportation systems, to the wider sector.  

WGH was founded by Andrew Howarth, John Martin and Tony Brown, the Managing Directors of Gyro Mining Transport (GMT). GMT specialised in the supply of some of the most sophisticated narrow gauge locomotives and large inclined rope-haul transport systems in the world to the coal mining industry.

Anticipating the suitability of their existing products to the amusement sector through the application of creative and innovative engineering and design, they adventured into this industry almost seamlessly upon the decline of the British mining industry in the 1980s.

Through its history, WGH worked with some of the biggest names in UK leisure including; Jorvik Viking Centre, Cadbury World, Legoland, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Alton towers and Dreamland.  Additionally, they delivered international projects in the Middle East, Europe and East Asia.

WGH’s first significant project was the suspended monorail at the New Lanark Visitor Centre in Scotland. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, the ride built for The Annie McLeod Experience combined engineering with the Pepper’s Ghost illusion and it remains one of the site’s key attractions to this day.

This project was followed by the Ebbw Vale Garden Festival funicular in South Wales in 1992. The first funicular to be built in the UK since 1902.

Some of the company’s most prominent projects were the design of the automated platform for the London Eye in 1999, the inclined lift in the Urbis Centre in Manchester for which they received the “Project of the Year 2003” award, the mechanical systems for Alstom’s linear motor accelerated unmanned aircraft launcher in 2008 and the concept for the Vectus PRT project.

Vectus PRT looked into innovative ways to provide intelligent and environmentally friendly, personal public transport for the 21st century and was first tested in Sweden in 2006.  

The concept was based on providing autonomous vehicles to carry passengers between designated stations and several installations followed, including one in Suncheon Bay Ecological Park in South Korea in 2010.

In the leisure industry, WGH created a long list of iconic rides such as The London Dungeon boat ride, Wallace & Gromit at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and the dark ride for the Titanic Experience in Belfast. They also recommissioned the UK’s oldest rollercoaster at Dreamland, Margate in 2014 as part of the £18m restoration project to reopen the park.

WGH stop trading as an independent company in 2016 when it was acquired by Stage One Creative Services Ltd.

The WGH archive is held at the National Fairground and Circus Archive at the University of Sheffield Library. It provides a new perspective to the history of the popular entertainment industry through technology and design and together with the Orton and Spooner and the Savages of King’s Lynn collections, it covers over a century of ride manufacturing history and practices.

By Arantza Barrutia, Collections Manager National Fairground and Circus Archive

University of Sheffield Library

Website https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/nfca

Twitter @fairarchives

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nfcarchive/

ARA Scotland Announce Explore Your Archive Ambassador 2019

ARAScotland are delighted to announce that Jamie Crawford, who you may know from BBC1’s ‘Scotland from the Sky’, will be the ARA Scotland Explore Your Archive Ambassador for 2019-2020! 

James Crawford is an award-winning writer, publisher and broadcaster. His first major work of non-fiction, Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of the World’s Greatest Lost Buildings was published to critical acclaim in November 2015. Selected as a ‘Book of the Year’ by the New Statesman, the Independent and the Scotsman, it also led to appearances on the Today Programme, Start the Week and Newsnight, among others. In 2016 Fallen Glory was shortlisted for the Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award. In March 2017 it was published by Picador in the US, going on to feature in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and the National Post. The Wall Street Journal described it as ‘a book of and for the world’. 

In 2018 James scripted and presented the three-part, landmark documentary series Scotland from the Sky on BBC One Scotland (shortlisted for the 2019 Royal Television Society Awards for Best Specialist Factual Documentary). A second three-part series followed in Spring 2019. For over a decade he has worked with and researched Scotland’s national collection of architecture, archaeology and aerial photography, and has written a number of photographic books on its history and application, including Above Scotland, Scotland’s Landscapes, Aerofilms: A History of Britain from Above and Scotland from the Sky, the book of the BBC series. He is also the co-author of Who Built Scotland: 25 Journeys in Search of A Nation, with Kathleen Jamie, Alexander McCall Smith, James Robertson and Alistair Moffat.

He was born in the Shetlands in 1978 and studied History and Philosophy of Law at the University of Edinburgh, winning the Lord President Cooper Memorial Prize. He went on to complete a Masters in Journalism and was a radio broadcast journalist before he moved to London to work as a literary agent. For the past eleven years he has been the Publisher at Historic Environment Scotland – the lead body for the historic and built environment in Scotland – winning the runner-up award for Publisher of the Year at the 2018 Saltire Awards and making the shortlist for Best Academic Publisher at the 2019 British Book Awards. In June 2019 he became Publisher at Birlinn Books.

In 2016 he was elected as Chair of the Board of Publishing Scotland, the network body for the publishing industry in Scotland. He lives in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Explore Your Archive Event will take place this November at the National Records of Scotland, and will feature a talk from Jamie, as well as a presentation from Dawn Sinclair, Harper Collins archivist. More information is available here,

Powys Archives

Powys Archives is located in Llandrindod Wells, and serves as the official repository for the records of the county of Powys. Our collections date from the fourteenth century and include public records from bodies such as courts and hospitals; official records such as county council and school records; ecclesiastical and non-conformist records, which can provide information on births, deaths and marriages; as well as deposited records from solicitors and local groups.

Many people make use of our resources for family history but the archive is also a rich source for social history and learning about the local area. Original documents can be viewed in our searchroom in our newly developed facility.

Powys Archive, Llandrindod Wells

Along with preserving original records, we also hold a comprehensive local history collection of books and other publications. We have plenty of table space along with computers with Find My Past and Ancestry subscriptions, wi-fi for use of laptops and other devices, and microfilm/fiche readers.

The best way to reach us is through our website, where you can also view our catalogues and search for items in our database: https://en.powys.gov.uk/archives

You can also use our website to apply to our research and copying services if you are unable to visit us in person.

Powys Archives is open Thursdays and Fridays between 9.30am and 5pm but please get in touch with us before travelling so that we can reserve you a space.

Lleolir Archifau Powys yn Llandrindod a hon yw ystorfa swyddogol ar gyfer cofnodion Sir Powys. Mae ein casgliadau’n dyddio o’r bedwaredd ganrif ar ddeg ac yn cynnwys cofnodion cyhoeddus o sefydliadau megis llysoedd ac ysbytai; cofnodion swyddogol megis cofnodion y cyngor sir ac ysgolion; cofnodion yr anghydffurfwyr ac eglwysig, a all rhoi gwybodaeth ar enedigaethau, marwolaethau a phriodasau; yn ogystal â chofnodion a ddyddodwyd gan gyfreithwyr a grwpiau lleol. Mae llawer o bobl yn defnyddio ein hadnoddau ar gyfer hanes y teulu. Ond mae’r archif hefyd yn ffynhonnell gyfoethog ar gyfer hanes cymdeithasol ac i ddysgu am yr ardal leol. Gallwch weld dogfennau gwreiddiol yn yr ystafell chwilio yn ein hadeilad newydd.

Powys Archive, Llandrindod Wells

Yn ogystal â chadw cofnodion gwreiddiol, rydym hefyd yn cadw casgliad o lyfrau hanes lleol cynhwysfawr a chyhoeddiadau eraill. Mae gennym ddigonedd o le ar y byrddau a chyfrifiaduron gyda rhaglenni Find My Past a thanysgrifiadau i Ancestry. Mae gennym wasanaeth DiWifr ar gyfer gliniaduron a theclynnau eraill, a pheiriannau darllen microffilm a microfiche.

Y ffordd orau o’n cyrraedd yw trwy ein gwefan lle gallwch weld ein catalogau a chwilio am eitemau yn ein cronfa ddata: https://cy.powys.gov.uk/archifau

Ar ben hyn gallwch ddefnyddio ein gwefan i wneud cais i’n gwasanaethau copïo ac ymchwil os nad oes modd i chi ymweld â ni wyneb yn wyneb.

Mae Archifau Powys ar agor bob dydd Iau a dydd Gwener rhwng 9.30am a 5.00pm ond cysylltwch â ni cyn ichi deithio fel y gallwn gadw lle ar eich cyfer.