Photographs of presses from 1941

Machines used in wartime production

These photographs, taken around 1941, show some of the machinery Fielding and Platt produced in the Second World War. Click on the images to enlarge them.

They show Jeff Niblett working on a vertical hydraulic press, a straightening press, and a stretching and flattening press.

If you look closely in the top right of the first photo, you can see one of the cranes and its driver. Cranes were used to move the heavy components of the presses around the Heavy Machine Shop.

To view photos of other munitions presses supplied by the company during WW2, click on the link here.

What other details can you add about these photos?  Do you remember Jeff or do the pictures bring back other memories?  Perhaps you worked at Fieldings and know how these presses worked?  If you do, we’d love to hear from you!  Why not comment on this page below?

Comments about this page

  • Thanks Chippy, we haven’t had much mention of the painters and how the machines were painted so I wonder what you recall of John, Mike, and the innovative Jack?! What colours did the machinery tend to be painted and how long would it have taken them to paint, say, the baler you mention (with or without rollers!)? I take it that the machines were painted after testing but before they were dismantled for packing and delivery to the client? I bet there are a few funny memories of paint getting put on people and in places it wasn’t intended for…

    By Ollie Taylor (28/06/2013)
  • I think the sawdust was kept in a large sack/sacks in either the paint shop underneath the Hydraulic 1 foreman’s office, or in a small store next to that. To the right of the small store was the sliding door through which you went to get to the Boiler Yard and Pattern Shop, which were on the other side of the railway track. I can only think that the sawdust would have been collected from the Pattern Shop by one of the Fitting Shop labourers and brought over on a sack truck (porter’s truck).

    I’m not sure about this, but I think you might be able to see the foreman’s office and possibly the paint shop underneath in the photograph of the baler that appears on the loop at the top of the home page. The photo is of a scrap metal baler on test in bay 1 by someone who looks to me like Joe Pinkney? I think you can also see the sliding door out to the railway track and the warning sign on the wall.

    One of the painters that I can remember was John Miller and another man who I can see in my mind’s eye but cannot recall his name. Mike, possibly? Then in later years there was Jack who introduced the ROLLER to the paint shop! Everything was painted with brushes up until then if I’m not mistaken. Chippy Aston

    By Graham Aston (25/06/2013)
  • Absolutely fascinating as always Chippy! Especially the detail of the sawdust! I’d wondered what it was! Where was the sawdust kept? Did it require a trip to the Pattern Shop or was there a store of it somewhere nearer at hand? All the best, Ollie

    By Ollie Taylor (26/04/2013)
  • I remember Jeff Niblet from my time at Fielding’s. He was still working in the Fitting Shops when I started in September 1964. He eventually left the shop floor and went to work in the Acceptance Department.

    All I can add about the press in the first photo is that the two cylinders either side of the main cylinder at the top of the press would have been what were called ‘drawback’ cylinders because they would have pulled the main ram and the moving table/crosshead back up to the top off its stroke again.

    To Jeff’s left is a radial pump, which was more than likely a Fielding one. I’m not sure which number it is, the memory is a bit vague on that, it could be an A1 or an A3, I know that A2’s were used on the ‘stoneplant’ presses when they were being produced in large numbers.

    Around Jeff’s feet is sawdust, always on hand in case of oil spillages! And as Fielding’s had their own Pattern Shop and carpenters department there was never any shortage of sawdust! That was up until times changed and it was deemed unsafe to use it, I’ve many a time seen oil soaked sawdust go up in smoke because someone had been doing some welding or flame cutting nearby!

    On the floor on the far right it looks like there are some press columns (tie rods) waiting for machining.

    In the second photo it looks like it was definitely taken in the lower bay of the old Heavy Fitting Shop. In the foreground of the photo there appears to be what I would call a ‘container’ which was the part of an extrusion press through which the billet passed as it was being pushed through the die, keeping it hot as it went. To the right there is what looks like a main cylinder housing waiting for maybe final assembly.

    I also recognise the screw wedge jacks underneath the machine that Jeff is working on, they were still being used in the 1960’s and possibly on into the 70’s. Behind Jeff I think may well be part of the heavy machine shop, and possibly the ‘marking out’ table where a man is leaning.

    In the third photo, again probably taken in the lower bay of the Heavy Fitting Shop I can see the wall at the end is still plain brickwork in those days. I seem to remember that by the time I started at F&P it had been painted over. You can see windows along the wall, and if I am right, the works manager in the 60’s, Bill Meadows, had his office somewhere along there, Percy Taylor too. Up above there are some more windows visible and eventually that became what was known as the ‘Acceptance Department’, which is where Jeff Niblet ended up working after he had left the shop floor.

    The Acceptance Department dealt with the installation and ongoing maintenance of customers equipment on site, holiday shutdown overhauls, breakdown repairs etc.

    I also remember one of the crane drivers who used to work the cranes in that shop, his name I only knew as Joe, a big guy with somewhat rather bowed legs! He would climb up to his cab and spend the rest of the day there, apart from break times and the call of nature! Chippy Aston

    By Graham Aston (23/04/2013)
  • I remember Jeff working in the Heavy Fitting Shop, Hydraulic 1, as it was called when I started at Fielding’s in 1964.

    In the middle photo, in the foreground, is what was called a container and that was a part of an extrusion press. It was the part that the billet of metal was pushed through during the extrusion process, keeping it hot as it went into the die. At the far right of the photo is what looks like a main cylinder, maybe for the same kind of press shown in the first picture showing Jeff operating the machine. The main cylinder is the large part on the top of the press (photo 1) and that contained the main ram of the machine. There are two ‘draw back’ cylinders on either side to pull the main ram and the die table back up. The middle moving table would carry one part of the die and the other part would be on the bottom fixed table. The main ram would come down and press the dies (or whatever was being used) together, and then the draw back rams would pull the moving table and the main ram back up at the end of the cycle.

    To Jeff’s left is a radial pump which could well have been used to supply the press in the photo with hydraulic power. It was most probably a Fielding pump, possibly an A3 radial? I only ever worked on one of those, so I can’t really tell from the picture if it is an A3. I had a lot more to do with the A2 radial pumps which powered the ‘stone plants’.

    Chippy Aston

    By Chippy Aston (13/04/2013)

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