past events

Chester & District Roadsmart Events

 Jaguar Landrover at Halewood, Liverpool – 18 November
We arrived at the very impressive visitor centre reception area and were greeted by Roz, with top notch mugs of coffee.  A short form for us to complete for the necessary Health and Safety and we were ready for the tour.

Roz introduced us to John; a dedicated tour guide who was being shadowed by two other guides “in training”.  John provided us with Hi-Viz jackets, ear plugs, safety glasses and a wireless headset each to listen to his commentary along the route.  Cameras are not allowed.

A minibus takes us to the main assembly building where we disembark and start the 3 hour tour.  It’s very obvious from the start that John knows his subject in great detail. There’s a fair bit of walking involved in this tour too so it’s not ideal for those with mobility issues.

We started at the metal cutting/pressing machines which are absolutely enormous. They are decades old but still work perfectly well. It’s like a time warp and as we walk through the cavernous building the engineering quality is immediately evident.  Along the route there are plenty of small areas set aside for display boards with lots of supplementary information to read.

Our next stop is the robotic area that does the spot welding.  John asks us all if anybody has a phobia of robots. Apparently there are several people that do. It’s an impressive sight to see, robots cutting, spot welding (sparks a plenty here) and moving items around. They even change their own tool attachments without human involvement. All of the robots are monitored and any breakdowns/issues are sorted by a team of engineers in minutes.

Next we find the area where the chassis meets the doors for the first time before the vehicle enters the painting process.

Stringent checks of the bodywork from experienced body defect technicians iron out any blemishes or scratches before a 10 layer primer/paint/lacquer process is applied.

The doors are removed again to facilitate the interior installation to be completed without further damage to the paint. The dashboards are fitted as a single unit by a laser guided robotic arm before being secured to the chassis by four automatically torqued screwdrivers. The engine, gearbox, transmission and shock absorbers are then installed literally in less time than it takes to make a cuppa!

The chassis and doors are reunited and adjusted to precise tolerances. The vehicle enters the fuelling area where just a few litres of fuel are added to the tanks to facilitate the first engine start of its’ long driving life.  Every engine we saw started at the first attempt with no problems.

The final stop is the “snagging” area where the most fussy technicians scrutinise the whole vehicle inside and out for anything wrong or defective.  They also subject the vehicle to a simulated severe rainstorm of water to ensure the seals are doing their jobs.

It was certainly one of the most interesting visits to a manufacturing facility that I have attended. Our guide made it even more interesting and the 3 hours literally flew by.  Following a debrief and a commemorative certificate issued to each of us, we left Halewood feeling very satisfied.  I would certainly recommend this tour to you.  It’s not a free tour, but i feel you get good value from the fee paid.

report by Chris Jones

Chester Fire Station Visit – 21 October

Fire Engine with floodlightsOur group toured Chester Fire Station, and we were treated to a a very informative station tour and to our surprise, a demonstration, involving removing a “casualty” from a vehicle by removing the roof!



Matty showing the in cab information system

Matty showing the in cab information system

A modern fire engine is equipped with GPS, and live access to vehicle databases, maps, local risks etc. and the operator has access to lots of information, details of everything from location of fire hydrants and water courses, both to source water, and to avoid contamination of ground water.


Matty explaining the use of the positive pressure fan

Matty explaining the use of the positive pressure fan



The “positive pressure” fan is an essential option to clear smoke, and reduce the temperature in a burning building, with potential benefits to occupants and fire fighters.  The use of positive pressure may seem counter intuitive, but often, its use is of real benefit, rather than fanning the flames.





Group members discussing the finer points of tea

Well, its thirsty work!



Matty’s enthusiasm and knowledge made the evening very enjoyable, as well as informative.




Raising the roof

Raising the roof

It took just a couple of minutes to remove the roof.  Extreme care is taken to protect the casualty within the car.
Regular practice at freeing a dummy casualty ensures every watch is experienced and efficient. This was evident in the way the firemen worked as a team!


Many thanks to Matty and the members of the watch on duty that evening, some of whom had to leave quickly on a real “shout”

report & photos by Chris Jones & Phil Brown