I trained as a mechanical engineer, and I still love the fact that you can see what’s happening with mechanical devices. Of course some pieces of mechanical machinery are incredibly complicated, but motions, cams and flywheels are infinitely more interesting, visually at least, than the PLC’s used on modern machinery. I had to laugh when a metal spinner, a dark art that is a fusion of brute force and finesse, told me that when he is programming his CNC spinning machine, he has to stand up and pretend to carry out the actual spinning as he would by hand, so that he can translate it into a machine program – it’s the only way he can do it.
This old relic had survived a fire and exposure to the elements in the crumbling shell that was Ivy Bank Mill. I found the mechanics of it fascinating. I’m sure all this can now be done in a more efficient and compact manner on a modern machine, but it won’t be half as interesting, or last half as long!