The Whessoe Story

A film tracing the design and construction of the 4500 ton Hydraulic Press for Whessoe Limited

By Ollie Taylor

Click on the image to play the video. Then click on the square icon at the bottom-right corner of the film to watch it in full-screen mode. Press Esc. to exit full-screen mode.

This film traces the design and construction of the 4500 ton Hydraulic Press for Whessoe Limited.  It is one of the largest machines in the country for forming heavy plates used in Nuclear Engineering.  The story includes the research and experimental work involved and follows this up with fabrication and machining of the heavy parts, transport problems to the customer's works, erection and testing of the plant.  A most interesting film showing the many problems and achievements of British heavy engineering.

If this film brings back memories of Fielding and Platt - the people, places, and machinery that appear in it - or if you learnt anything from or enjoyed this film, please share your memories and thoughts by clicking on the grey words Add a comment about this page at the bottom of this page or leave a message on our message board.

This page was added by Ollie Taylor on 19/07/2013.
Comments about this page

I served my apprenticeship at Whessoe and saw this machine at work in the late 1960s and early 70s

By Mike Whalen
On 04/09/2013

At about 11.18 into the film, a group is standing next to the press. The chap in the light jacket with a collar and tie is Robert S. McCulloch who was the Site Manager for the building contractors (Bovis) who were responsible for all construction work associated with the new shop in which the press was based along with other aspects of Whessoe's expansion and development. He was my Dad and I spent many Saturday and Sunday mornings and the odd day during holidays with him at work exploring the site and watching both the construction work and also the work of Whessoe itself.

By Alistair McCulloch
On 04/09/2013

Taken from the Whessoe Heavy Engineering and Darlington As It Looked Facebook pages I posted the link on:

"Alistair McCulloch 7 August 05:15 wrote: 'My Dad was in charge of the construction of the shop (and a variety of other things around Whessoe) - he worked for the main contractor Bovis - and can be seen, wearing a light coloured jacket, in the video at 11.18 for a few seconds. Lovely to see, both for him and as a place I used to play around when I went to work with him on Saturday mornings and during holidays. Remember particularly Jeff, his site clerk, who kept me entertained with crazy drawings. Thanks a lot.'"

By Mike Whalen
On 04/09/2013

Thanks for adding these comments Mike and Alistair - I'm glad that the film was enjoyable for you both and I wonder what other memories it brought back for you? What did people at Whessoe say about the press and its installation? And what was it like to see, hear, and smell the thing in action? It's be great if you could share further memories about the people who operated Whessoe, the site, and anything else. Cheers, Ollie

By Ollie Taylor
On 04/09/2013

In the late sixties I was an apprentice at Whessoe and I loved to visit that press shop. I used to have my bait with the blacksmiths who were in the same shop or close by. I can always remember they had a blacksmiths striker who could crack a walnut on the anvil with a pneumatic hammer (may have been hydraulic) he never used to smash the nut. Jim Atkinson. I taught the Chilton Charmer everything he knows. Anyone remember the name of that striker?

By James Atkinson
On 07/10/2013

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