English Electric’s Willans Works in Rugby had very important visitors on 12 May 1967 when The Queen and Prince Philip were given a guided tour of the engineering and power generation site. The planning that went in to the visit is revealed in the work’s archives being catalogued for the Boaters & Bright Sparks project at Warwickshire County Record Office.
A file on the visit includes correspondence between English Electric and Buckingham Palace showing preparations for the tour including press arrangements, a pre-visit tour of the works, a plan showing the route (by foot and car), the tour programme, a short works history, the list of photos of The Queen that can be used, and arrangements for signing the visitors book. There are also letters from Buckingham Palace thanking the company chairman Lord Nelson and others for ‘an outstandingly successful visit’ and thanking the company apprentices for the miniature tool kit presented to The Queen.
There is also internal English Electric correspondence about material to be displayed, the length of time allocated to the people speaking to The Queen and a description of what they intend to say to her, briefings, press previews, the final dress rehearsal, and a letter from Lord Nelson thanking people at the site for a successful day.
Newspaper cuttings on the visit are also in the file, as is a newsletter from English Electric Turbine Division including an article written by the visit co-ordinator. A brochure containing a short history, a commentary on the Rugby works, the composition of the parties, the tour, and a layout drawing of Rugby works was published; as was a a smaller booklet containing photos and a list of people presented to The Queen and Prince Philip.
Photographs in the file show some of the exhibition boards and parts displayed during the visit such as a diesel power unit for a locomotive and cylinders for a steam turbine at Longannet power station in Scotland. There are also images of the tool kit and a ‘cubicone’ mounted on a plinth presented by the apprentices.