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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Country: Great Britain

    Default Glass Plates - the origins.

    All this talk of glass plates prompts me to ask if I'm alone in the belief that the concept came originally from the Ministry of Works security team who were responsible for Crown Post Office premises, safes, and strongrooms.

    In conjunction with the Stratford Safe Company in the late 1960's a safe with revolutionary lock and boltwork combined with a tempered glass plate connected to a pair of cross-locking re-lockers was designed and produced at Borehamwood and named the Stratford Treasury.

    Attachment 20543 With subsequent company acquisitions this became the Ratner 8500 and Tann Fortress.

    I would welcome any alternative thoughts on the original concept as my memory could be playing tricks again.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Stratford Treasury.jpg  

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
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    18
    Country: Australia

    Default

    Very interesting

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    1,477
    Country: Wales

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    Safeman this subject is worthy of its own discussion, so I've copied it here as the original will get overlooked and lost in whitepointer's Australian Commerce thread.

    My understanding is the same as yours in that it was two gents in the Ministry Security Team in particular, who not only conceived the use of the glass plate but also the whole concept of the Government and Ministry issue Grade 1A safes. They came up with the lock on glass and the primary and secondary boltwork, the reuleaux double drive cam and live relocking linkages that operate off it. The resulting Ministry issue Grade1A's actually differed considerably from the publicly available Stratford, Tann and Ratner 'cousins'.

    Id go as far as to say I probably encountered most variations of the Ministry G1As, as I was thrown into these at a very young age and by 19 or 20 was going all over to service, repair, re-key and open them under all circumstances.

    Unfortunetely I didn't record numbers or dates off every single one but made tech drawings with makers name and DOM only when I saw a variation, so still have dated drawings for most in the 3 most common sizes of the 4 they made, the fourth being a rarely seen tall but narrow oddball.

    The earliest I made notes on were indeed made by Stratford Safe like you say, and was dated 1967, and I have records of two other makers both both manufacturing them in 1968, one of which was John Tann.
    As you know many different makers produced them and not only known safe manufacturers, but also a few very heavy engineering firms made them under contract as well.
    As far as I know the Stratford's were the first and from memory I think 1966 was the earliest I ever saw.

    Externally they all deliberately looked identical, the very first early examples were a lot more basic inside with just one dead relocker off the glass and all had smooth round handles without the knurling (or 'milled' edge) adopted on the later safes.

    By the mid 1970s they were at their peak in design and spec, and one 1980 SLS example always stuck in my mind for having 8 relockers and 3 glass plates, with the timelock not only covered by glass, but also blocking both the primary and secondary boltwork from both directions !

    Seeing the pictures that you and Tim posted of glass plates not doing their job reminded me of the power of the springs on Grade 1A relockers, they didn't mess about they had enough tension to put you on the moon and never failed to trigger.

    Tbh the more I think back, I cannot think of another safe with such a massive and satisfying clunk to the boltwork as a Grade 1A, nothing comes close, the size and weight of the primary and secondary plates, all welded from over half inch thick 328 stainless steel was in a class of its own. It's no wonder they were the ridiculous prices they were.
    Anyway it's beer time now, safeman I hope you don't mind me making this thread from your post, cheers for a great subject that triggers lots of great memories for me.

    ATB,
    Huw

  4. #4
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    Default

    I hope you don't mind me making this thread from your post, cheers for a great subject that triggers lots of great memories for me.

    ATB,[/QUOTE]

    Huw, I am staggered at the volume of knowledge you have at your fingertips. Ah!,memories.

    I suppose that Pilkington's have a statue of Roy Saunders in their vestibule for having created a demand which was only to enable specifiers to obtain safes which would resist technical drilling and scoping attacks that were quite unrealistic in terms of what was actually happening to safes and only gives unnecessary problems to the legitimate technicians of today.

    Great post.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Cleveland, Ohio USA
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    Country: United States

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    I would add what I knew of the early glass plates use, but unfortunately I have few memories of the times. As the saying goes, " if you remember the 70''s, you weren't really there." Seriously though, the unnecessary difficulties does increase the odds of a new safe sale. And keeps the job from getting boring.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    22
    Country: New Zealand

    Default

    What amazing information Safeman and Huw.
    In what sorts of situations were these Ministry safes used. Obviously the Post Office, but were they used in all government departments as well(army, police etc.)
    They seem to be a very high specification.
    Were they all of the Stratford Treasury specification?

    Strangely enough I remember working on a ministry safe at a butchery in NZ when I first started working about 19 years ago. It was totally out of place and over the top for a butchery, but they must have purchased it second hand from somewhere. I do remember the wonderful boltwork action, and an epic amount of Hard face welding protecting the vital parts. I thought to myself I don't really want a call back on this safe so I took my time.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Country: Wales

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    My understanding was that the grade 1A concept was actually born of necessity following successful explosives attacks on the Post Office's grade 1 safes that preceded them.

    The grade 1's were reasonably good safes, but no where near bankers quality, with roughly an inch and a half door plate, good anti-drill, heavy body, sturdy boltwork and a single dead relocker.

    The fact that they were compromised in successful attacks clearly indicated any effective successor was going to have to be the absolute works, to bankers or even treasury level ideally, hence the 1A's were born.
    Not just an improved grade 1 but an entirely new safe with massively increased defences more appropiate to the risks of their use, the new boltwork and glass being an important addition after the attacks and defeat of the earlier grade 1's.

    Interestingly throughout many decades use, I cannot recall hearing of a single grade 1A, safe or strongroom door, being successfully attacked illegally, and this aspect often popped up in conversations on site both with those fascinated by them and those that used them.

    They were used in all manner of applications to protect anything from the highest level secret papers and plans, to giro cheques, parcels or cash.
    In fact, I recall a brief glimpse of a strongroom on the news about 15years ago, where Customs had made a big seizure of narcotics. I think it was at one of the big ports,, and it was all wheeled in past the grade 1A door for safe keeping awaiting its future destruction.
    I also saw quite a few on site where departments had moved or changed, leaving the grade 1A in the corner to a rather sad retirement of guarding tea bags or biros..
    Last edited by Huw Eastwood; 03-12-18 at 09:01 PM.
    Huw

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    leeds
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    Country: Great Britain

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    Not what I call the grade 1a boltwork, but I liked the ministry safe with two manifoil locks on where either one could be entered to open the safe boltwork. I suppose it was so either of a couple of users or departments could use there own numbers to access a shared safe without compromising their codes.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2013
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    Country: Wales

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Stephenson View Post
    Not what I call the grade 1a boltwork, but I liked the ministry safe with two manifoil locks on where either one could be entered to open the safe boltwork. I suppose it was so either of a couple of users or departments could use there own numbers to access a shared safe without compromising their codes.
    Yes they were unique Gary, did see a few but not many as they were made for foreign embassies and consulates etc, so most went overseas. No where near grade 1A level like you say, but they did have big glass and stellite everywhere, certainly an unusual safe and mods aside, they were pure Stratford, like they based it on the Cashier or similar.
    Huw

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    leeds
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    Country: Great Britain

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    I saw them most often in the BT places. What was Stellite, was that the hardfacing weld? I always heard that referred to as Cobalarc?

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