The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Cherry Hill

Winner, Joe Martin Foundation Metalworking Craftsman of the Year Award for 2017

Added to museum: 2/12/2017

The Joe Martin Foundation has selected model engineer Cherry Hill of Malvern, Worcestershire, England as "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" award winner for 2017. Though she cannot attend in person, her work will be honored April 30-31 at the North American Model Engineering Society Expo in Southgate, MI. The award includes a check for $2000.00, an engraved gold medallion, an award certificate and a commemorative book. She has generously asked that her award money be returned to the Joe Martin Foundation to be used to encourage and reward craftsmanship through our awards program.

Cherry Hill, Award Winning Model Engineer

Striving for Perfection in Model Engineering

Cherry Hill accepts the Duke of Edinburgh Award at the Centenary Model Engineer Exhibition in 2007. Presenting the award is chief judge, Ivan Law. The Duke of Edinburg Award is the highest given in the UK for model engineering. Cherry has won the award 9 times. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Photos used in this article are courtesy of David Carpenter, Norman Mays, Cherry Hill, The Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Model Engineer Magazine (My Time Media)


When Joe Martin conceived of and began working to attain IRS recognition for a non-profit organization to honor fine work in miniature and model engineering in particular we began a search for the world’s best model engineers. Our search started with those we were familiar with in the United States. Having attended model engineering shows in the USA for many years representing his line of Sherline precision miniature machine tools, Joe was acquainted with many world-class model makers and model engineers and their work. He also recognized that some of the world’s finest model engineering projects are built in England. In asking around among those who had traveled or shown their work internationally who they had seen that impressed them as “the best of the best,” one name kept coming up: Cherry Hill. Mention of the name was usually accompanied by a shake of the head and followed by the words, “And she’s a woman!”

Certainly the world of metal working and machinery as well as the hobby of model engineering has traditionally been a male-dominated field, so it came as a bit of a shock to many that the very best in their field might be a woman. None were seemed dismayed by this, but rather intrigued and amazed. Who was this woman who built these incredible working models of ornate Victorian traction engines?

For those who want the full details and an extensive sample of fine photos of her work, we recommend David Carpenter’s book entitled Cherry’s Model Engines—The Story of the Remarkable Cherry Hill. (CLICK HERE to order the book on The hardbound book tells her story and is packed with photos that do justice to Cherry’s fine work. David and Mrs. Hill have given us permission to use some of the copy and photos from that book to give you a brief introduction to her work, as no site that honors model engineers would be complete without reference to her and her models. Information obtained there was correct as of the 2014 publication date. In our most recent contacts with Mrs. Hill she has stated that she is finally going to take it a little easier now, as the demands of extremely fine work on the eyesight and fine hand skills have taken their toll after 60-some years of world-class model engineering. What may be her final major project, a Nathaniel Grew ice locomotive is currently a work in progress. Fortunately for those who appreciate fine model engineering, the body of her lifetime of work will continue to set a very high bar for other model engineers to attempt to attain. Also, the results of the extensive research she has done on vintage engines will live on in her models.

Cherry Hinds is seen with her Allchin traction engine and Merryweather fire engine models in July, 1968 (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Getting Started in Metalworking

Cherry was the daughter of George Hinds, an agricultural machinery manufacturer. In 1936, he started a business in Worcester manufacturing hop-picking machines. The outbreak of WWII meant the closing of his business. Machinery being in short supply, he and his equipment, including a Pittler lathe dating from 1914, were moved by the government to the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnsborough. In 1946 it returned to Malvern. Cherry was 7 when the war broke out, but her dad’s 1914 Pittler lathe is still in her workshop to this day.

Cherry’s first model was made at the age of 9 or 10. It was a small wooden chest of drawers. At age 11 she made a scooter that led to experience using nuts, bolts and threads. Like many children during the war who built models of warships and aircraft, she built a model of a Sunderland flying boat that received special mention in a model contest.  After the war and despite parental objections she purchased a second-hand 2-cycle Excelsior motorbike which was soon replaced by a 250cc 4-cycle Matchless. After graduation she joined the family firm that again built hop-picking machines. When her father died in 1961, the company was purchased by a larger group and she worked with Bruff Engineering until 1975. She then worked with a weighing and packing company in research and development until 1984 when she was married to professional toolmaker and fellow model engineer Ivor Hill.

Her interest in engineering as a hobby had been stimulated on vacations from the university when she built a custom car based on a 1926 Humber. The chassis was narrowed by 8 inches and shortened by 26 inches and Austin 7 axels and wheels were fitted. She also built her own hydraulic brakes and duralumin bodywork and registered the car for road use in 1954, eventually trading it for a 1936 MG TA. After that she owned a series of British sports cars. She also went on to invent and patent a carburetor balancing device for pairs of SU carburetors called the Crypton Synchro-check that was manufactured by AC Delco. Original versions are still sought after among classic car enthusiasts.

In 1953, however, her interest in engineering shifted back to the scale model versions with the purchase of a Stuart No. 9 steam engine casting kit. She built the kit in 18 months between 1956 and 1957, making minor adjustments to improve its scale appearance, and seeing the engine come to life left her “thrilled to bits.” She said, “For the first time I experienced the amazement that I had managed to build an engine that ran!” In 1964 the model won a Bronze Medal at a model engineering exhibition at a London hotel and now resides with the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers (SMEE), both she and her late husband Ivor being long-standing members of this organization. That first model changed the direction of her model engineering career, leading eventually to an interest in ornate Victorian traction engines which has been her focus ever since.

Cherry became a subscriber to Model Engineer magazine at about the time Bill Hughes was starting a series of articles on how to build the Allchin traction engine. Plans could be purchased for 50 shillings (about US$3 today), and model engineers around the world did so in large numbers, making it the most popular traction engine model of all time. Cherry, however was concerned about the model’s large size and at the suggestion of her father decided to make hers half size: 1/16 scale instead of 1/8. This established a scale at which she would build almost all her future models. There were no casting sets made for the Allchin at this scale, making her task all the more difficult. She was able to locate the actual original Allchin Royal Chester No. 3251 nearby making it possible to measure important parts assuring the model was totally accurate. It took seven years to build, being completed in 1964 and entered in the Model Engineer exhibition where it took a Silver Medal. Two years later the SMEE judges awarded it a runner up award for the Duke of Edinburgh Award—the highest honor in model engineering. Her career in model engineering was certainly off to a good start.

Building Her Models

Cherry builds a study model (left) first to test out aspects of the construction before starting on the finished model (right). Shown here is of Taylor's Steam Elephant. (Sorry, no larger images available.)

Cherry’s first models were built from designs that existed as models, full-size examples or at least had complete plans available. She soon was drawn to the more unusual models, many of which were poorly document or no originals had survived.  After extensive research in old archives and magazines, she chose subjects that were unusual in design, challenging to build and could actually be made to run. After selecting the engine to be built, the process involves research, measuring and making working drawings. She also usually makes a simple model to block out the basic forms and test certain aspects of the function before starting on the final model. Each model takes about seven years to build, so it is important to have all the kinks worked out in advance, and a study model definitely helps with this. Also, Cherry does not use CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machinery in the building process, preferring to do everything manually on traditional machine tools, including still using the Pittler lathe on occasion.

Specialized processes, like photo etching of the tiny nameplates, that would normally be farmed out to specialized suppliers are brought in-house as well. Though it took six months to learn this process, Cherry decided it was worth it to be able to control every aspect of the model. With few exceptions over the years, all parts that are castings on the original machine are machined from billet stock on the model.

Finally comes testing, painting and photography. The models are shown in public exhibitions for several years and then given away. None of Cherry’s models have ever been sold, and most reside in the archives of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London. Earlier models were given to friends or family. The web site has photographed thirteen of her models and turned them into zoomable, rotatable 360° surround photos which we have linked to in a section below.

Cherry's Workshop

Cherry’s machine shop includes tools from many eras—from a pre-WWII Gamages sensitive drilling machine to a Myford Connoisseur lathe. The largest machine is a Myford milling machine. She also has an Emco and a Centec mill. There is also, of course, her father’s old 1914 Pittler lathe now permanently set up for dividing, as well as several other lathes down to an IME watchmakers lathe and a Cowells lathe for small work. On the really small side, there is a row of tiny home-made BA open-end wrenches from 16BA increasing in gaps of 0.002" as well as several custom-made dividing plates. The shop is very well organized with wall racks for raw material storage on down to divided matchboxes for storage of the smallest parts and fasteners. She also has a room with a large drafting table with mechanical drafting machine for doing the scale drawings. Painting and grinding are done in a separate room at the end of a garage.

Cherry Hill in her workshop in 2014. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

The uncompromising craftsmanship exhibited in Cherry’s work is a result of her attitude of accepting nothing less than perfection. For example, when a stud boss on her Blackburn engine turned out to be 1mm too long it was scrapped and remade, though she was reminded that no one would ever know. Her reply: “I would.”

Cherry Hinds and two of her models graced the cover of Model Engineer magazine in February, 1968. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

 (Cover photo with the permission of My Time Media Ltd.)


Cherry Hill has won the following awards for excellence in the field of model engineering for her ornate traction engines. Her earlier steam engine models also received awards in 1964 and 1968.


·    Sir Henry Royce Trophy for the Pursuit of Excellence, 1989 and 1995


·    MBE (Member of the British Empire) awarded by the Queen for services to model engineering, 2000


·    Elected Companion of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2004


·    Honorary Member of the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers, 2004


·    Nine gold medals at the annual Model Engineer Exhibition in London


·    Bradbury Winter Memorial Trophy, 8 times


·    Aveling Barford Cup, 2 times


·    Crebbin Memorial Trophy


·    Championship Cup, 3 times (Forerunner to the Gold Medal with only one awarded each year)


     Gold medal, 9 times (Only one awarded each year)


     Duke of Edinburgh Award, 9 times


J    Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship, Metalworking Craftsman of the Year, 2017

Viewing photos of Cherry Hill's engines from all angles

Thirteen of Cherry Hill’s models now reside in the archives of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London. They have posted an archives page featuring these models that show a 360° panorama photo of each that can be zoomed and rotated on your computer screen. Allow sufficient time for each image to load. Time will vary from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the speed of your Internet connection. To visit this page see: .

Other models in their archives can be seen at .

Here are the individual links to panoramic photos of thirteen of Cherry Hill's nineteen models from the web site:


Gellerat steam road roller


Savage Fairground engines


William Batho road roller 


Merryweather fire engine


Law & Downie road locomotive


Aveling & Porter road roller


James Taylor "Steam Elephant" traction engine


Wallis & Steevens 'Simplicity" road roller


Wallis & Steevens 'Advance" traction engine


Andrew Barclay's traction engine and boring and winding engine


Gilletts & Allatt traction engine


Isaac & Robert Blackburn agricultural engine


Robert Blackburn agricultural engine

Cherry Hill's models can be seen in person at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, England. Though open to the public, it is recommended that you call for an appointment to see the models in the archives section. David Carpenter, author of the definitive book on Cherry Hill's work and former editor of Model Engineer Magazine also produces a web magazine on model engineering at See that site for more on Cherry Hill and other model engineering projects.

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Here are several examples of Cherry Hill's work:

Photos courtesy of David Carpenter, Norman Mays, Cherry Hill and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Click on small photos below to view a larger image.

Description of Project

The Allchin “Royal Chester” Traction Engine

Scale: 1:16

Built: 1957 - 1964

Size: 12-7/8" x 6" x 8"

Awards: Silver Medal, 1964; Runner up, Duke of Edinburgh Award, 1966

Merryweather Self-propelled Fire Engine with Twin Pumps

Scale: 1:16

Built: 1964-1966

Size: 5.5 kg

Awards: Silver Medal and Bradford Winter Cup 1968, Runner-up for the Duke of Edinburgh Award

1931 Aveling & Porter Type AF 10-ton road roller

Scale: 1:16

Built: 1966 - 1969 (approx. 2500 hours)

Size: 15" x 5-1/2" x 7-7/8" (16 kg)

Awards: Championship Cup* and Crebbin Memorial Trophy 1970, Duke of Edinburgh Award 1971

*This annual award was the predecessor to the Gold Medal

1922 Burr ell showman’s engine.

Scale: 1:12

Built: 1969 - 1975 (approx. 8000 hours)

Size: 24" x 9" x 12-3/8" (66 pounds)

Awards: Championship Cup and Bradbury Winter Trophy 1976

1931 Wallis & Stevens’ “Simplicity” single-cylinder road roller

Scale: 1:16 scale

Built: 1975 - 1979

Size: 9-3/8" x 4" x 6-1/4" (6.4 kg)

Awards: Championship Cup and Bradbury Winter Trophy 1980, Duke of Edinburgh Award 1981

1936 Wallis & Stevens’ “Advance” 2-cyliner 10-ton, road roller

Scale: 1:16

Built: 1975 - 1979

Size: 12-1/2" x 5-1/4" x 7-5/16" (11 kg)

Awards: Championship Cup and Bradbury Winter Trophy 1980

1862 Taylor's Steam Elephant

Scale: 1:16

Built: 1978 - 1983 (approx. 4000 hours)

Size: 13-1/4" x 7-1/8" x 9-3/4" (14.5 kg)

Awards: Gold Medal and Aveling Barford Cup 1984

The 1934 Savage Fairground Engines

A stationary boiler with 2 steam engines—A No. Centre Engine ran fairground equipment while a No. 4 Organ Engine powered an organ.

Scale: 1:10

Built: Begun 1968, finished 1982 to 1984, (Approx. 2500 hours)

Size: 8-3/8" x 5-1/4" x 8-1/2" (7.3 kg)

Awards: Gold Medal 1985

1870 William Batho 25-ton Road Roller


Built: 1983 - 1986 (Approx. 6000 hours)

Size: 15" x 7-3/4" x 9-1/2" (22 lb)

Awards: Gold Medal and Aveling Barford Trophy 1987, Duke of Edinburgh Award 1990

1863 Law & Downie Road Locomotive


Built: 1986 - 1990 (Approx. 6500 hours)

Size: 14-1/4" x 6-3/8" x 9-3/8" (16 lb)

Awards: Gold Medal and Bradbury Winter Memorial Trophy 1992, Duke of Edinburgh Award 1993

Law & Downie Road Locomotive before paint and with the top of the boiler open. Detail is reproduced down to the scale size fasteners.

1881 Rouleau Compresseur à Vapeur steam roller made by E. Gellerat & Cie of Paris

Scale: 1:16

Built: 1986 - 1991, 1995 (approx. 6600 hours)

Size: 14-1/4" x 6-1/8" x 9-3/8" (16 lb)

Awards: Gold Medal and the Bradbury Winter Memorial Trophy 1996 and the Duke of Edinburgh Award in 1997.


Andrew Barclay’s Traction Engine and Boring Engine of 1862-1863

Scale: 1:16

Built: 1988 - 1994 (Approx. 9000 hours)

Size: 29" x 14" x 13-1/8" (4000+ parts, 10lb each engine)

Awards: Gold Medal and Bradbury Winter Memorial Trophy 1998, Duke of Edinburgh Award 1999.

1862 Gilletts and Allatt Traction Engine —An original design for a Traction Engine, patented and built in miniature by Cherry Hill.

Scale: 1:16

Built: 1990 - 1998 and 2001 (Approx. 6500 hours and 7800+ components, 15.4 kg))


Awards: Gold Medal and Bradbury Winter Memorial Trophy 2002 Duke of Edinburgh Award, 2003

1857 Blackburn Agricultural Engine—Unusual "engine within a wheel" design

Scale: 1:16

Built: 1996 - 2003, 2005 (Approx. 6500 hours and 5200+ components)

Size: 15.4 kg

Awards: Gold Medal and Bradbury Winter Memorial Trophy, 2005, Duke of Edinburgh Award, 2007

A comparison of the 1857 Blackburn Agricultural Engine assembled but before paint and after painting. Models are test run and video taped in action before painting. Disassembly and painting can then add a year or more to the finished model.

1863 Blackburn Agricultural Engine—A second version with improvements (See David Carpenter's book for photos or CLICK HERE for a rotateable, zoomable image from

Scale: 1:16

Built: 2010 (Approx. 7500 hours over 9 years)

Size: 15.4 kg

Awards: Gold Medal and Bradbury Winter Memorial Trophy 2010, Duke of Edinburgh Award 2011

Nathaniel Grew Ice Locomotive

Scale: 1:16

Another unusual subject— A steam powered road locomotive with spiked wheels and ice sled runners for moving heavy items across frozen lakes near Moscow, Russia.

Built: Work in progress

Photo: David Carpenter, progress as of 2017

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New Submissions Welcomed

If you have additional information on a project or builder shown on this site that your would like to contribute, please e-mail We also welcome new contributions. Please see our page at for a submission form and guidelines for submitting descriptive copy and photos for a new project.

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