Industrial historian to receive civic honour

Lincoln’s top honour is to be presented to a man credited with saving the city’s industrial history for generations to come.

Ray Hooley (89), who was information officer and librarian for former engineering company Ruston & Hornsby, was today named the 2017 winner of the prestigious Lincoln Civic Award.

And he will be presented with the highly-coveted silver award at a glittering ceremony in the city’s Guildhall on April 27.

On learning the news, Mr Hooley – who was nominated for the accolade by his daughter Kerry Blackbourn – said he was “flattered, overwhelmed and very grateful.”

Mrs Blackbourn said: “My father is nearly 90 years old. In my nomination, I said it would be wonderful to see my father acknowledged for all his efforts. He has put Lincoln on the industrial map.”

Since 1960 Mr Hooley has devoted thousands of hours of his spare time to  bringing Lincoln’s industrial past back to the city.

He instigated the return and restoration of many pieces of machinery and vehicles, including three Ruston-built cars, from Australia, Glasgow and Devon. Mr Hooley also donated a traction engine, affectionately known as Sylvie, to The Museum of Lincolnshire Life, as well as many oil and gas engines, Hornsby traction engines from Tasmania and Canada, a World War One tank and a 1909 steam excavator.

“One of his biggest achievements for the city was saving, maintaining and looking after the Ruston archives (1860 to 1990).  I feel that a lot of credit has been given to people involved in all of the above but, without Ray, none of these items would exist in Lincoln today,” said Mrs Blackbourn.

The above is a mere fraction of the work her father has done, which also includes providing a worldwide service for people in search of information about Ruston-built machinery.

Mrs Blackbourn said her father had also worked incredibly hard to secure funding for project and source manpower for restoration and the transportation of vehicles.

The permanent preservation of the vast Ruston & Hornsby archive was secured in 2012, thanks to a partnership between Siemens, Lincolnshire County Council and the University of Lincoln.

Photographs were rehoused in Lincolnshire Archives and films relocated to the Media Archive for England, based at the University of Lincoln.

Lincolnshire County Council won a £98,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which allowed work to begin on digitising this massive collection and putting it online – preserving it forever.

That eighteen-month project, which involves up to 150,000 photographic negatives, 150 reels of cine film and the recorded memories of former Ruston & Hornsby (which became part of Siemens in 2003) workers, continues.

A Lincolnshire County Council spokeswoman said: “Our latest statistics show that 93,512 negatives (out of an estimated of about 106,500) have been scanned.  In addition, 2,791 glass slides and glass negatives have been copied.

“These images and the accompanying catalogue entries are being checked, processed and transferred to   At the moment, there are 87,341 catalogue entries and 76,556 images available online, with more appearing each week.

“Volunteers are continuing in their valiant efforts and are currently scanning around 2,500 to 3,000 images a month.”

Chairman of the Lincoln Civic Award Trustees Henry Ruddock said: “Lincoln has a world-famous engineering heritage and the archives of that period –  more than a century – are of immense interest to social, historical and engineering researchers nationally and internationally. It is vital it is preserved for future generations.

“We had a very diverse range of nominations for this year’s award, but we felt that Mr Hooley’s tireless devotion to the preservation and interpretation of those archives has certainly helped numerous people become aware of Lincoln’s proud engineering past, which today’s innovative local firms and the University of Lincoln’s School of Engineering are continuing to develop and take forward.

“We are looking forward to the Civic Award presentation ceremony.”

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