School visits back at Shuttleworth!

We were delighted to be able to recommence school’s visits this month and what better way to start than a whole school visit from our nearest neighbours, Caldecote CofE Academy? The pupils are currently studying local inventor Dan Albone, so a visit to our newly finished Ivel Cycle Works exhibition to see our unique collection of cycles made by Biggleswade’s favourite son made a fantastic finish to their topic.

Shuttleworth volunteer Ray Miller, who wrote the definitive biography of Dan, took the pupils on a journey starting with our 160 year-old Bone Shakers – the type of machine that Dan built as a child, sparking his lifelong passion for cycles. Setting up the Ivel cycle works, Dan produced and raced Ordinary’s (Penny Farthings to you and me) and was one of the first builders of the new ‘Safety’ Bicycle (or what we would recognise as a bicycle today). No less than three examples were on display – one of which belonged to Dorothy Shuttleworth, who used it on the estate throughout her life. As well as sharing his passion for cycling (their cycling parties were legendary), the Shuttleworth’s were also patrons of Dan’s. They supported and promoted his other inventions, including his motorcycle and car – the first to have independent suspension and electronic ignition. Dan is best remembered, however, for his Ivel Agricultural Motor. This incredible machine was the world’s first commercially successful tractor and its first public demonstration, and continuing trials, took place on the Shuttleworth Estate. As a special treat for the pupils, we arranged for Alex Albone, Dan’s great-nephew, to bring 131 – the Ivel company demonstrator and the world’s oldest working tractor – for the pupils to see.  We are extremely grateful to Alex for his continuing support.

Years 3 & 4 are also learning about the Second World War, so we took the opportunity to introduce them to Shuttleworth volunteer and Air Observer Corps veteran Ernest, who was able to explain his role in Chain Home, alongside our beautiful Spitfire. The pupils were then given the chance to try their hand at airfield defence with our Bofors Team, on a gun similar to those that made up the battery stationed in the field between the airfield and Upper Caldecote during the war.

The pupils also spent time in the Swiss Garden, exploring our sculpture trail and playing texture bingo, as well as learning about early flight in the Collection and enjoying a ride on our 1923 Charabus. All in all a very busy but incredibly rewarding day, and a wonderful way to mark the return of school visits to Shuttleworth.


Images by Darren Harbar