New exhibition of Willans Works at art gallery

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A new exhibition at Rugby Gallery and Museum delves deep into the archives of the town’s Willans Works.

The Willans Works exhibition celebrates Rugby’s rich engineering heritage by tracing the history of Willans and Robinson – the firm which pioneered the manufature of steam engines and turbines ion the town.

The exhibition features photographs, brochures, company newsletters and advertisements from the Willans Works’ archives.

The collection also includes records of the Queen’s visit to the Willans Works in 1967.

Engineering firm Willans and Robinson was founded in Surrey by Peter Willans and Mark Robinson in 1880.

Looking to expand its operations, the company built the Victoria Works, in Newbold Road, in 1897 – relocating to Rugby due to its excellent transport links and skilled manufacturing workforce.

The company was taken over by Dick, Kerr and Co in 1917, before becoming part of English Electric and later GEC.

Today, Alstom’s thermal power division operates from the Willans site.

The Willans Works exhibition follows Warwickshire County Record Office’s Boaters and Bright Sparks project, which secured £50,000 in grants to catalogue the office’s archive of records relating to the works.

Duplicate records have been donated to Rugby Art Gallery and Museum’s industrial history collections, which include medals, awards and photographs from the Willans Works which also feature in the exhibition.