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Lowering Stringfellows Triplane

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

In 1994 the Science Museum loaned Chard a scale model of the Triplane designed by John Stringfellow Every five years it has had to be lowered and its condition assessed. Up until 2017 our Maintenance Team had been able to carry out this assessment.

In the past years as everyone is aware, Health and Safety regulations have changed. New LOLER regulations covering the safe operating of suspended items whether it’s a crane on a building site or a model triplane in a museum have come into operation.

These regulations are complex. They include

· Suspended objects must be securely suspended so there is no danger to people

· Suspended items must Inspected every year by an ‘approved’ person.

· Suspended items can only be lowered when supervised by an approved person

· Suspended items have to checked annually

In late 2021 the Science Museum, who own the Triplane, indicated that an inspection was overdue and that we needed to carry this out. Initial quotes to undertake this indicated that this would cost the Museum just over £2000 each year.

Trustees became concerned that this had a serious cost implication if we were to continue displaying the model. With the help of the Science Museum and especially Kirsten Strachan, numerous options were explored.

The hard decision was taken to lower the model and transport it back to its owners in Wroughton for storage and conservation.

While a disappointing decision it has opened up all sorts of opportunities and possibilities.. The Trustees are now looking to commission a series of smaller scale models of all three Stringfellow machines. These would be displayed alongside a modern audio-visual exhibition telling the John Stringfellow story. The first step is recreating the Stringfellow display in time for opening this year on March 30th.

More news on this will become available.

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