Model engineering is generally considered to be a man thing, as men in sheds everywhere don overalls and shape metal into models. But arguably the world’s greatest model engineer, Cherry Hill, is, in fact, a woman. And the word ‘models’ hardly does justice to what she produces. For the past several decades Cherry has created scaled-down versions of traction engines – and not just run-of-the-mill types, but elaborate Victorian flights of fancy.
Extensive research and meticulous design are the secrets of her success. She has created almost twenty models over the sixty-year period since her father gave her an old lathe from the workshop of his agricultural machinery business. One of the most impressive aspects of Cherry’s work is that all her engines are fully working and what comes out of her workshops in Worcestershire and Florida is perfection, both in terms of design and craftsmanship. Every last part, even tiny chain links, is made in the workshop from metal stock. No parts are bought in.
Once completed, all her models are given away: early ones to friends and family and later ones to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Each model typically occupies 7,000 hours’ work, and Cherry’s staggering efforts have been rewarded with the highest honours, including nine gold medals and an MBE from the Queen for Services to Model Engineering. Here, for the first time, the fruits of her illustrious career are displayed in all their intricate glory for your inspiration and enjoyment.
David Carpenter was originally an engineer who moved into journalism, working for national daily and weekly newspapers. David then retired after some time as a communication consultant to blue chip companies and the public sector but came out of retirement to edit Model Engineer magazine and, later, to set up a weekly model engineering web magazine. He is also a model engineer, although, ‘sadly not in the Cherry Hill league!’
Get your copy of Cherry’s Model Engines: The Story of the Remarkable Cherry Hill here.