Derby Silk Mill – What If? Machine

Posted on February 14, 2016 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer

Derby Silk Mill - What If 091With my projected photo book of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site in mind, I spent an enjoyable Saturday afternoon photographing at Derby’s Silk Mill as six teams combined in the 2016 What If? Machine project.

Derby Silk Mill - What If 019Running since 2012, What If? sees the design, build and operation of a Goldberg / Heath Robinson ‘chain reaction’ machine.

Rube Goldberg and W. Heath Robinson designed contraptions with a simple objective but which were simultaneously ingenious, over-complicated and makeshift.

Remember the board game Mousetrap?  If so, that will give you the idea.

This is a splendid, fun project involving – as you’ll see from my photos – whole families.

What If? is also a nod to Derby’s engineering heritage and it’s entirely appropriate for the Silk Mill with it having been re-energised as ‘The Museum of Making’.

Although my photos can’t show the six machines creating a chain reaction – that’s for moving film – hopefully they convey something of the eccentricity and ingenuity of the contraptions, not to mention their absurdity.

Mind you, as you’ll also see from the faces, all the teams took it quite seriously.  There was some intense minds hard at work but it was smiles and cheers at the end.

Here is a gallery of some of the photos.  If you want to see all 95, click here to go to my website gallery.



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