During the early days of the Covid pandemic (May 2021), I was asked to write a short blog about my involvement with the Dowty Heritage Project at the Gloucestershire Archives… here is what I wrote….
“In many ways, the Dowty Group left its mark in Aviation, Mining, Electronics and other industries, not just here in the UK but across the globe, where it employed thousands of employees, in particular, here in Gloucestershire at many of the different factories, which in turn, were supported by other local businesses.
All employees considered Dowty an excellent employer, where many had been trained as apprentices and who continued to work there for much of their working lives, all the employees were proud to be a part of this company that was created by George Dowty.
Back in 2018, the Gloucestershire Archives Hub organised a talk about the History of Dowty by one of their Archivists, Ally McConnell.
As an ex employee of the Dowty Group, I attended out of interest and maybe find out a little more of the organisation that I once used to work for and maybe meet some old colleagues, as Dowty were the main employer in the Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury area.
At the end of the presentation, the Project Archivist explained that they required assistance in documenting the Dowty Archive they had inherited from the company and that there was an opportunity to create a Dowty Heritage Website, with the aim of creating a lasting legacy.
As I had worked across many of the local Dowty sites, I decided that I would volunteer my services to assist the Dowty Heritage Project in anyway that I could.
I quickly found myself opening up boxes containing hundreds of photographs and documents from all over the Dowty Group, including some dating back to the start of the company when it was being formed by George Dowty.
The documents and photographs from these boxes, all needed to be listed and scanned, then uploaded to the Dowty Heritage website, along with descriptions and stories that accompanied them.
The Dowty Heritage website, which I have been privileged to be involved with, now has over 50 web pages representing each part of Dowty Group along with its subsidiaries across the globe, has over 1300 posts and over 12 thousand photographs, providing a documented history of the Dowty Group including the products that were manufactured, the people who worked there, the factories it managed, many articles from documents and oral histories from some of the people who worked there.
As a Volunteer, assisting the Gloucestershire Archives and the Dowty Heritage Project, has enabled me to put something back into the local community, something that I am proud to have been associated with, and in particular, also an opportunity to recognise what Dowty did for me, which started from the trust that they had in me as a young 16 year old, for which I will always be grateful, along with co-workers for their skills, knowledge and the help they gave to me along the way in my early working career.
Now long time retired!”
John W Redfern
Dowty Heritage Project Volunteer