In 2000 all manufacturing had finished in Bedford and the staff of Rolls Royce moved across town to new offices. In the years prior to this much of the heritage, in the form of company artefacts, documents and literature, was moved to new homes for preservation.
As much of the Company records as was available was deposited with the Bedfordshire County Records Office and has since been catalogued by them. In the 1980s a small group of ex-employees got together and deposited material they had acquired on the understanding that this material would be amalgamated with the material deposited by the company. The notes made by these employees have been useful in helping to catalogue not only their items but also others within the collection.
Most of the Allen Heritage lies in the places where it was installed. As time goes on these installations either become redundant and get replaced by modern offices or housing or a retail park. Some simply have the ‘old’ Allen engine replaced by an electric motor. A few Allen engines have been rescued and relocated to museums dedicated to preserving Britain’s engineering history. Unfortunately saving a 12 cylinder Allen diesel engine is not as easy as saving and restoring an old car. They are very large, heavy objects. They cost a lot to dismantle, move and rebuild. A suitable new home has to be found for them. Above all they require a lot of commitment from a dedicated band of volunteers to make it all happen.
The W H Allen Engineering Association is able to support these efforts with both financial and physical help as well as by means of information and research assistance. There is still a vast knowledge base within the memories of the members of the Association.
The Allen Heritage Award
The Allen Heritage Award was introduced in September 2007 with the objective of recognising items or displays that are of exceptional value to Allen product heritage.
The Award is an endorsement by The Allen Heritage Group to owners and promoters of Allen heritage in recognition of their commitment. All awards relate to items in working order which are accessible to the public.
The Allen Heritage Group Committee consider all applications and make a recommendation for endorsement by the WHAEA. It is recognised that there are many units in good preserved state and it is not intended that the Heritage Award be given for items that are simply well restored or presented.
The criteria for determining whether items or displays are of exceptional value include the following, accepting that not all may apply to an individual case:-
- The unit demonstrates a fundamental development in the history of Allen products.
- The unit is considered to be rare or unique in terms of type and/or manufacture and demonstrates an important step in Allen product or market development.
- The unit has been in continuous service for an exceptionally long period of time.
- An exceptional effort has been made in restoring a unit to working order.
- An exceptional effort has been made in making the unit operational in circumstances where working practices have been derived from first principles rather than by reference to personnel with existing knowledge and experience.
For those installations where an Allen Heritage Award is agreed a certificate is be issued to the organisations receiving the award. Where possible the Certificate is presented by a prominent member of the Association