A three day engineering show in Scarborough, featuring companies including Fanuc, Moog, Festo and the Bloodhound supersonic car, has attracted 1,500 visitors in two days, where 90% are school children.
Now in its third year, Scarborough Engineering Week is a three-day festival of engineering demonstrations and exhibitions from North Yorkshire companies and their suppliers.
The demo version of Richard Noble’s Bloodhound SSC world land speed record-attempting car was on display and helped to pull in more than 1,400 school children in the first two days.
More than 20 exhibitors filled the regal venue of the Spa Grand Hall on the seafront, fully restored to its Victorian glory in 2011 at a cost of £10 million. New companies exhibiting included North Sea Winches, Firmac, Atlas Ward – makers of the London 2012 Olympics’ iconic Orb tower – and F1 in Schools.
The Bloodhound show car is a full scale replica of the world land speed machine that Richard Noble and team hope will smash the land speed record on the Hakspeen Pan in South Africa in 2014.
Problems manoeuvring the car, which weighs over three tonnes, into the venue meant that local coach building company Plaxton fabricated a tailor-made cradle for the car on Sunday on the eve of the exhibition. The car was safely hoisted into the building using the cradle to the organisers’ immense relief. A Formula 1 car had to be tilted on its side to get it through the venue doors.
A local crane company provided the crane to lift Bloodhound, at short notice and for no fee, an example of “the huge team effort” made many companies in the town referred to by the major of Scarborough at the Ambassador’s Dinner hosted at the Spa on Tuesday night.
Scarborough Engineering Week was devised in 2008 as a means to attract more young people into a career in manufacturing and engineering. The town and local area – sometimes described as “being 42 miles from England” (in reference to Hull) – has some good engineering firms but they have struggled to attract both young, and experienced, technical workforce to the town.
“Scarborough is a little like an island cast off from the mainland when it comes to recruitment,” says the show’s co-founder Alan Pickering, MD of tube-bending machine manufacturer Unison. “It’s a great place and the quality of life is high but it is a long way from Hull and York and it is not easy to compete on salaries with some companies further south. Attracting this number of visitors [>1,500] is a huge achievement.”
With over 1,400 school kids through the doors and seeing a range of engineering product demos on Monday and Tuesday, the organisers are hoping to change that.
The headline sponsor is York Potash, which is building a mine in the region soon, and the event was supported by a range of companies that supply products and service to businesses in the region, including Fanuc, Moog, Festo, Angelic Bulldog and Siemens.
The schools were marshalled by Nybep, the North Yorkshire education business services provider, and the student’s from Yorkshire Coast College at Scarborough were involved in mentoring school students around the exhibits.
The festival pulled in 400 visitors in its first year, 750 visitors in 2011 and is on track to hit 1,800 visitors this year. “We hope very much the show will continue on this trajectory,” says event co-founder and Unison marketing director Peter Wilkinson.
The region is expecting the demand for technical skills to increase greatly when York Potash sets up in the town next year, and US oil company Oramco has also been courting for skilled workers in Scarborough, Whitby and the north Yorkshire coast, as it has plans for further North Sea oil development.