The Duke of Gloucester
On 26th September 2018, HRH Duke of Gloucester attended the Museum of Bath at Work’s 40th birthday celebration. It was the Duke’s third visit to the museum. His first visit was to open the museum in September 1978.
The Museum of Bath at Work opened as a reconstruction of the Victorian engineering and soft drinks factory of businessman J B Bowler. The factory shut in 1969, and the museum trust purchased the contents to preserve them for future generations. The museum has since expanded to include the many other ways in which Bath people have earned a living since Roman times.
The Duke of Gloucester launched the celebration by cutting the birthday cake-with a saw! In explanation, the cake represented Bath stone blocks, which are soft enough to be hand cut with a saw. Edward Cross, chairperson of Bath industrial heritage trust, said that when the Duke finally retires he might, as he knows the museum so well, consider being a volunteer.
The Duke, who has a keen interest in industrial history, had a tour of the museum to see the changes since his last visit. He was particularly interested in a guest exhibit: a motor bike with a revolutionary rotary valve. The engine developed by Roland Cross in the 1930s used a rotary valve to replace traditional poppet valves. The engine was not a commercial success, but the high performance sealing rings he developed for the engine were. The Bath firm he founded now exports alloy sealing rings worldwide.
The Duke then saw the museum’s plans for the next 40 years. The ambitious changes involve staged improvements that will expand the space devoted to displays and research facilities.
The Lord Lieutenant of Somerset Mrs Anne Mawe, Mr Edward Cross, and Museum Director Stuart Burroughs greeted HRH the Duke of Gloucester. Also present were many of the volunteers, Friends of the Museum and trustees without whom the museum would not exist: in the past, the present or the future.