Willans Works exhibition celebrates Rugby's engineering heritage - The Rugby Observer

Willans Works exhibition celebrates Rugby's engineering heritage

Rugby Editorial 3rd Aug, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

THE RICH engineering heritage of Rugby is being celebrated by a new exhibition which delves deep into the archives of the town’s Willans Works.

The Willans Works exhibition at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum traces the history of Willans and Robinson – the firm which pioneered the manufacture of steam engines and turbines in 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.

The Friends of Rugby Art Gallery and Museum have launched a new project to record an oral history of residents’ memories and experiences of the Willans Works.

Residents interested in taking part in the project can email [email protected] or call (01788) 533200.

Willans Works runs at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum until Friday August 21.

Visit www.ragm.co.uk for more information.

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