by Dr Jim McQuaid
The Institute of Mechanical Engineers has awarded its coveted Engineering Heritage Hallmark to Wortley Top Forge. A plaque denoting the award was unveiled at the Forge on 25 March 1994 by the Institution's President Dr. Tony Denton.
What does the award signify and how was it achieved?
The IMechE's award scheme was set up to recognise objects or artifacts, preferably outside the orbit of museums, representative of Mechanical Engineering during the past 200 years. Technology is moving at an ever faster rate involving greater specialisation and sophistication in products now being produced. In recognition of the great ingenuity displayed by our forefathers, the IMechE decided on a scheme to award Engineering Hallmark plaques to suitable examples. Awards are not often made; examples so far include the Thames Barrier, the No.5 Parsons Gas Turbine in Dublin and, nearer home, the River Don Engine at Kelham Island.
The criteria that are laid down state that there must be evidence of :
a facet of mechanical engineering history or association with an event which has made a major contribution to the nation and/or mechanical engineering
some features which are unique, i.e.. first of a kind, oldest example, last surviving example, etc..,
The procedure is that the local IMechE. Branch Committee (Yorkshire and Humberside in our case) identify a suitable item in their area and make their own evaluation of the relevance of the item to the scheme. If the proposal is accepted by the Branch then it is/ submitted to IMechE HQ who subject it to evaluation by an independent industrial archaeologist and others as decided. Final approval of an award is made by the Institution's President.
In our case, the suggestion was first put to the local Branch in 1990 and received an encouraging response. This was followed in 1991 by a formal application. Branch Officers then conducted their evaluation, including a visit to the Forge. The Branch decided to give its full support to the proposal and forwarded it to London. There followed a further detailed evaluation for which further detailed documentation had to be provided and another on site examination was made at the Forge. Highly favourable reports were received; in fact we understand that the submission for the Forge surpassed in completeness and quality that for any previous award.
Notification of the award was received by the Society in October 1993 and arrangements began immediately to make the official ceremony in March 1994 a truly memorable event in the history of the Top Forge.
(The Cutting Edge - No.10 - 1994)
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