NOSTALGIA: Stedham’s master of mini-engineering

This is the bare skeleton of what would eventually become a gleaming model of a fairground roundabout. This, Mr William Heather's current project at the time of writing, would take many thousands of hours to complete
This is the bare skeleton of what would eventually become a gleaming model of a fairground roundabout. This, Mr William Heather's current project at the time of writing, would take many thousands of hours to complete

In 1968, the Observer printed an article on a local man who was a master of ‘mini-engineering’.

For many hours each week, the paper stated, Mr William Heather could be found in the workshop of his house at Stedham making and assembling new items for his well-known collection of model engineering.

Mr William Heather, of Stedham, with the model traction engine which won him acclaim at an exhibition in London

Mr William Heather, of Stedham, with the model traction engine which won him acclaim at an exhibition in London

Mr Heather started seriously to indulge his desire to create and make working scale models when he retired eight years previously. Since then, he had taken taken his hobby beyond the wildest dreams of many fellow engineers.At the time of writing, he was working on a two-inch scale model of a fairground in wood and metal. He hoped to create an exact reproduction of the real thing, including the smallest cog and moving part.

The Observer reported: ‘In his workshop at Westbrook, Stedham, 64 year old Mr Heather, a former dairy and poultry farmer, demonstrated the careful and deliberate way he approaches the maraton tasks he set himself. Under a protective plastic wrapping there is a scale model of a traction engine, resplendent in its maroon livery with polished brasswork and intricate mechanisms to delight the connoisseur.

‘When one looks at it the mind boggles. For it is not difficult to imagine the countless hours of patience and determination which went into its making. In fact, the traction engine, which is Mr Heather’s most ambitious project so far completed, took two years to reach its present form, and Mr Heather has no idea off-hand of the number of cogs and small parts it contains. Another model in the collection is a 3.5 inch gauge Britannia class Pacific locomotive capable of pulling passengers round a garden track. The models work with compressed air, and Mr Heather demonstrated the system on a small stationary engine he had made’.

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