It all started the Wednesday afternoon of the 23rd August, yes the Wednesday before the August Bank Holiday!
Put simply, the Doncaster Enquiries line received a call asking if we would like an Aircraft Jet Engine. Now it is not every day that this happens and when it does it can result in some unexpected outcomes.
At around this time last year we were offered an Olympus 200 series Jet Engine by a Power Generation Company, which we duly accepted. Unfortunately, during the period of mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II some thieves broke into the repair and maintenance depot of the Power Company and stole not 1 but 4 Olympus engines, one of which was allocated to us.
So now we had another opportunity this time from Crawley College in West Sussex, but what was the engine that was the question?
We got into discussions and it seems it had been gifted to them along with some other aviation pieces sometime in the early/mid 1990’s possibly from a museum. But an exact date unknown. If we didn’t want the engine then it would go to the scrap man. Now we don’t like heritage jet engines going for scrap especially not like this one.
It had been used as a teaching aid to explain the function of a jet engine and as an example of complex engineering. How you might say? Well, this engine has been professionally sectioned so the workings are there to be seen in all their complexity. No question, regardless of the “type” this was too good to miss out on and certainly not going to a scrap man.
There were one or two issues though.
Weight: the engine was on a wheeled support stand so our guess was that the whole assembly was about 3 tonnes, possible for our trailer which was actually down that way on loan. Could be lifted on as it would not be possible to winch up.
Time: The College had indicated that they would like it removed before the start of the new college term that was the 2nd September. It had also been said that if we didn’t then they would move it outside and put a tarpaulin over it.
This engine was being donated to us, so all we had to do was collect it. We asked the college if they had a suitable fork truck, unfortunately not. We checked with colleagues in Southend which was a possibility but a bit of a convoluted operation. “How about a flat bed truck with a Hiab Crane”, suggested the College. Investigations undertaken came out quite expensive and certainly not within the time scale. There was no way we were going to be beaten.
Light bulb moment, Vehicle Recovery truck and so Urban Vehicle Logistics Ltd based in Birmingham offered to collect from Crawley College and deliver to Stratford upon Avon Central Store, all before the college term started.
On Thursday 31st August the jet engine was collected from Crawley College, transported round the M25 and up the M40. If anyone saw it now you know whose it was.
The driver reported getting quite a few strange looks as he came up and when stopping for breaks noted a lot of people looking with interest at his very uncommon load. He reckoned more people looked than when he had a Lamborghini on the back!
On arrival at Stratford upon Avon it was unloaded, placed in the stores and is now available for viewing for those interested.
We are really glad to have this artifact and thank Tom Orr, Head of Estates and Facilities and Simon Wilson Sen Tech. of Crawley College for the donation and for their help in saving this little piece of history. Thanks guys. Crawley College is part of the Chichester College Group and include courses in Aeronautical Engineering to BTEC L3 Extended Diploma and also Higher National Diploma level.
A piece of history saved. Challenge Achieved
Now about that engine. We have a challenge for readers, A Challenge Laid Down. The engine has had its engine plate removed so the big question is what is it? We know it is not a Bristol Olympus 200 or 300 series, slightly too small, we know it is not a Rolls Royce Avon as found in our EE Canberra so what is it?
The stand has a small equipment ID plate that says B.E.A. 49152 (is that a clue or a red herring?) The engine is fitted with a Plessey Governor Pump and there are a lot of component parts that start with a B… and there are other components missing!
So what is it? If you know, where did it come from originally?
We have ideas but not the solution.
A small token of our appreciation to successful responses.
Additional info if required can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org