On the ground floor, at the back end of the courtyard, was the Plating Shop (this was originally the Polishing Shop, as the architect’s drawings show). Electro-plating was undertaken in this workshop. This is an electro-chemical process that covers metallic objects with a thin ‘plate’ of another metal to give them the desired look or finish. The main types of plating that were undertaken in this workshop were brass plating and copper plating. The basic equipment comprises large vats containing dangerous chemicals such as sulphuric acid. The items to be coated are dipped into the vat and an electric current is passed through them, depositing a thin outer coat of the desired metal.
Anthony Allen, the son of Arthur Allen, Newman Brothers’ travelling salesman between 1903 and 1939 describes the whole set up as “very Heath Robinson. One had the feeling that you could be electrocuted just going through the door… fumes and bubbles, and slightly frightening.”
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