The Sponsons Thread

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quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by quicksilver-wsr » Fri Feb 18, 2011 6:46 pm

Renegadenemo wrote:An armoured personnel carrier was coming in to be fitted with a Vickers gas turbine engine later in the week and the projects man wanted rid of the sponsons so he asked Ken if they could dispose of them. Ken asked for suggestions and was told that Coley's wagon was coming next day to haul away the unwanted gnat fuselage for scrap and he readily assented to the sponsons joining it. So the next day the whole kit and caboodle was loaded on the wagon and away it went. Our man is getting on but still bright as a button and matter of factly states he had the discussion with Ken having asked phoned Margaret to ask if he could go up and see him, helped put the sponsons on the wagon next day then watched the scrap leave the yard bound for Coleys. No reason to doubt him and a level of detail and first-hand knowledge that's tough to argue with.
I have been very busy these past few days, with no time to post again on the topic of the sponsons. Now I'm in the clear for an evening and can write - though Steve's latest post adds more than I can.

First off though, Bill, your chap's "first-hand knowledge that's tough to argue with" is very easy to argue with indeed, because for one thing - as Steve has now pointed out - the Gnat aircraft that was sacrificed for K7 was never at Ditchling. So if your chap says he saw that aircraft go off as scrap to Coley's Yard, with the sponsons on the same wagon, he either had very poor eyesight or he has a very iffy memory now.

He couldn't have seen what wasn't there, surely?

But Steve has beaten me to it with another point ... namely, was Ken Norris so callous as to dispatch him (Steve) on a wild goose chase to locate K7's sponsons in October 1989 when he (Ken) knew full well that he himself had issued the instruction for the sponsons to be sent off for scrapping at Coley's the next day, years earlier?

Ken would never have done such a thing. If he knew they had been scrapped - which, of course, he would do if he was the one who ordered them to be scrapped - but, perhaps, wanted to keep the fact to himself, he could simply have said to Steve, "My men have searched high and low for those sponsons and it seems they have disappeared". He would not have sent Steve searching for something he knew wasn't there.

It would have been a rotten trick to play - and unnecessary, to boot, as well as being totally out of character for Ken.

Anyway, why would Ken have brought up the subject of the sponsons in the first place? Steve wasn't looking for them, so why not let sleeping dogs lie? It was Ken who brought the subject up in the first place, October 1989 - immediately following an early Quicksilver meeting with me - and Ken then contacted Steve and asked him to go and try to find them.

And you say there were witnesses, too, to Ken issuing the "scrap them" instruction - so this just makes it all the more implausible that Ken would then issue a further order, years later, for a trusted aide and ally (Steve) to go and search for the blessed things ... because there would be people (Margaret and the chap with a memory "as bright as a button") who could so easily give the game away and make Ken look a right liar.

I will write more later tonight. The new "witness" has a memory like Swiss cheese.

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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by f1steveuk » Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:29 pm

The only thing I would add is that it is still possible these people are covering up the possibilty that someone whisked them away for a few "quid", then when they found out they'd scrapped something that was very much wanted, lied, kept telling Ken they were still there, then when confronted later said "oh those big blues things, we buried them", but I'd have thought one of them would have given the game away by now, either from guilt or by mistake. Strangely I visited Tidy's at different times with different people, and they all seemed to know the rough area (Big Box), but it's still a pretty big area. This might account for Ken thinking they were still there.

The upshot is, they're gone! (You watch some old boy turn up with them on the back of an old cart now!
Steve Holter, UK and France, and sometimes reality....................

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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by Renegadenemo » Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:30 pm

Bill's case for the sponsons going to Coley's has a witness that has said he saw it happen, although as I say, I don't think the geography adds up, and the Gnat/Midge, was never at Ditchling, and the sponsons were never at Burrell Road.
Been digging again. This time speaking with the man who did the Land-Rover lorry conversion (perhaps another with swiss cheese for a memory) and he says the sponsons absolutely positively came back to Burrell Road. He was 100% adamant on that one, he was a young man back then and he's still relatively young now with an excellent memory. Not a hint of cheese, as it happens.
The sponsons were variously placed in the wooden shed where K7 was worked on or outside the 'air building' an inflatable dome thing of Norris creation, and although he didn't know where they ultimately went he remembers the day the gnat stuff was 'cleared out' and deemed it perfectly possible that the sponsons went with it. What's perhaps most important is that the sponsons were lying about outside so clearly no more value was attached to them than to the pieces of scrap aircraft.
The armoured personnel carrier, it turns out, never went in the shed, it was too big so it went in the new Worcester Valves building over the road where they torched a hole in its hull to get the turbine engine in while Leo & Co messed with Jetstar in the shed with the Hamilton water jet engineers. Later the hull was made at Bolney. Margaret Stone, by the way, was the wife of the purchasing manager - found out who she was too.

So we have two eyewitnesses to the sponsons being at Burrell Road after the accident, one of whom remembers bits of gnat and the day they was hauled off to Coleys, and the other who says he asked Ken if he could send the sponsons with it and was told yes. Two blokes, neither of whom knew the other was still alive, with stories that cross-reference perfectly. Ken said they went for scrap...
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

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I have wrought my simple plan
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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by quicksilver-wsr » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Renegadenemo wrote:Two blokes, neither of whom knew the other was still alive, with stories that cross-reference perfectly.
Stories that cross-reference perfectly, but only add up to a plausible solution if you systematically ignore all other evidence and information.

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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by f1steveuk » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:15 pm

This is going to do my head in :lol:

Did your chaps say when Bill? because if the Gnat stuff went in 1967, from Burrell Road, and the press, books and Ken said the lorry with the wreckage was diverted to Ditchling on route from Coniston to prevent voyuers and the press seeing it, and Fred photographed the sponsons in 1976ish and I saw them in 1977/8, both times at Ditchling Common, it doen't make any sense.

And if you have ever seen Burrell Road, there is no storage there at all, the shed being put up on the car park, and I think the colour pictures of the "roll out", weren't actually done on Ken's bit of the Burrell site.

Again the geography doesn't make sense, there's some distance between the two sites, and there would be little point moving the stuff between the two.


As Fred Gumby once said "my brain hurts"!!!
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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by Renegadenemo » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:29 pm

As Fred Gumby once said "my brain hurts"!!!
At least we can agree on that much! It's doing my head in too.
Both agree that the gnat was cleared out fairly soon after the crash but it's not been nailed down to a date and even if it was I'd be very doubtful because the number of people who saw me on the telly lifting the boat two or three years ago is amazing.
Both accounts suggest the sponsons came to Burrell Road soon after the accident and that would make sense to me because that's where all the engineering had been going on. As a matter of interest they were said to be badly rippled along their length from the impact and, though this isn't apparent in the pictures I've seen, I can well believe it. I was offered another account some years ago when I first researched this of Leo trying to get rid of them out of the Jetstar shed by lashing them to a boat trailer and taking them to another site - Ditchling perhaps - and that they were soon sent back because they got in the way there too!
I can't find an absolutely indisputable eyewitness to the sponsons much later than the late 60s. Plenty of second hand tales but nothing that can be proven and I find people's memories to be anywhere up to ten years in error.
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

"As to reward, my profession is its own reward;" Sherlock Holmes.

I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who’s half a man,
Or the man who’s half a boy.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by f1steveuk » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:38 pm

One large bottle of Aspirin coming up!

Well I know the first time I saw them was 1974, and the last time was 77/78. I fell pretty certain that Fred's pic's were 76ish, so that's at least ten years.

Now I have to remember where I read that the wreckage lorry was diverted, but tat will ave to wait until after I have finished these rather nice Cobra beers !!!
Steve Holter, UK and France, and sometimes reality....................

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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by Renegadenemo » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:43 pm

Now I have to remember where I read that the wreckage lorry was diverted, but tat will ave to wait until after I have finished these rather nice Cobra beers !!!
Ahh - beer, what a splendid idea Steve... Are there company records at Norris Bro's where we might find out about special vehicle projects and when they took place?
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

"As to reward, my profession is its own reward;" Sherlock Holmes.

I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who’s half a man,
Or the man who’s half a boy.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by quicksilver-wsr » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:50 pm

f1steveuk wrote:And if you have ever seen Burrell Road, there is no storage there at all, the shed being put up on the car park, and I think the colour pictures of the "roll out", weren't actually done on Ken's bit of the Burrell site.
I only went to Burrell Road once, in 1975 ... coincidentally for a meeting with one of the chaps we're talking about - Bill Coley - plus Ken Norris and Leo Villa. So I'm not an expert on the site. But it was very much an office site, not a place that was suitable for "outdoor" storage.

I have a photo somewhere - a mono image - of K7 on the back of a truck not long before it left for Coniston in November '66, and it was taken outside the front reception entrance door at Burrell Road, in the little car parking area at the front there - simply because there was nowhere else they could have fitted it in.

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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by f1steveuk » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:54 pm

Norris House Burrell Road is now? The local office of the DHSS !!!!! There's no Norris buildings at Ditchling, Worcester valves is now Flowserve, Norcon Norris Burgess Hill is now a frieght company (although according to Google maps Syrene Paints is still opposite) so unless all the company archive went to Bournemouth and then on to Beaulieu, heaven knows were the company archive went.

I don't know what name the office Lew worked from at Ricebridge/Bolney traded under, but it was all very post Norris Bros I believe, and Lew' didn't seem to have a lot of time for history.

The Bournemouth/Beaulieu stuff (shed loads of brown archive boxes) had most things in there, the Archimedes concrete pump, blow up buildings, Calibre lighters etc etc so maybe that's in with the special vehicles?

The only thing missing from these beers is a bloody good curry ;)
Steve Holter, UK and France, and sometimes reality....................

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