Thanks to Rich Anderson we have some interesting artifacts and photos from the Rockwell plant in Hopewell – where both his father and grandfather worked, along with hundreds of others.
These materials span from the 1940s up to 1974, when Rockwell closed the Hopewell facility.
These include a Rockwell taxi meter and parachute quick release, Rockwell News and other brochures, and photos of people and equipment.
== View the new Rockwell images and artifacts in the Image Gallery ==
== View the new Rockwell brochures in the Pamphlet Collection ==
The Hopewell Museum does have some other Rockwell materials, but we would welcome both more information about these materials, and additional photos, documents, and artifacts of Rockwell in Hopewell – before they are lost.
- See also Rockwell Fire Brigade on Somerset
- See also The Kooltronic / Rockwell / Smith Story
Rockwell relocated its Taximeter operation to Hopewell in 1963, and it remained a major focus of the facility until the end in 1974.
Here in Hopewell, we make over half of the taximeters sold in the United States.[Rockwell ad, Trenton Evening Times, 1/7/1970]
Apparently, the taxi meters were specific to each city, and therefore had interchangeable parts so they could be customized for the location.
There are five models of the Rockwell Taximeter and over nine hundred parts are needed in their assembly. Most of the machined parts are made at Hopewell, with most of the stamping being made in DuBois. These parts are fitted together during three sub-assembly operations and six line assembly operations. There is also a checking operation, and a packing and testing operation.[Rockwell News – Hopewell Division, 1963]
This meter appears to be from that period, and therefore from Hopewell, since it still has the circle-R blue and red Rockwell logo, and not the Rockwell International name and logo that followed the merger in 1973.
Does anyone have further information on dating and identifying these meters?
Rockwell Parachute Quick Release
During World War II, the H. A. Smith Company in Hopewell manufactured equipment for the armed forces. (Smith was the predecessor company that became the Hopewell Rockwell plant after Rockwell was renamed.)
During World War Two, the plant turned out 100,000 turn-and-bank aircraft flight instruments under contract for Bendix Aviation. Over 200,000 parachute quick releases also were made for the Air Corps, as well as thousands of screw parts, and parts for bomb fuses.[Trenton Evening Times, 1/7/1964]
The parachute quick release contract was national news:
The H. A. Smith Machine Company figured in the national news on the war production front Sunday night when Washington radio commentator, Drew Pearson, revealed that the local plant had been awarded an important contact for Parachute Quick Releases which are critically needed for all soldiers and air-borne troops.[Hopewell Herald, 3/22/1944]
This parachute quick release is from the Hopewell plant. To load up, snap the four parachute clasps in at the four corners (there’s a beveled edge in the front that lifts the rod to insert the clasp). To release, twist the dial a quarter turn and then push – and all four clasps release, nice and quick.
Can anyone tell us more about these devices? Apparently there was concern from the people who jumped out of airplanes that it might not be a good idea to have such an easy way to instantly release all the parachute lines.
Rockwell Fire Brigade
The Rockwell Manufacturing Company organized the Rockwell Fire Brigade around 1953, using an American LaFrance pumper provided by the Borough. This was a adjunct to the Hopewell Fire Department, which by then was located in its current building at South Greenwood and Columbia Avenues. The Rockwell equipment (Old Number 1) was returned to the Fire Department in 1968.
There is a version of this photo that has been published in the Fire Department Anniversary booklets, but this photo is not only much higher quality, but also is slightly different in the posture of the people, and in showing more of the building behind.
The building is now the Twine gift shop at 8 Somerset Street, and previously was the Princeton Doll and Toy Museum in the 2000s and 2010s.
Does anybody have more information on the Rockwell Fire Brigade and this building? We don’t know much about it in the 1900s.
== View the new Rockwell images of people, equipment, and artifacts in the Image Gallery ==
== View the new Rockwell brochures in the Pamphlet Collection, including issues of the Rockwell News, and handouts from Old Timers and Awards dinners ==
- See more on the story of Smith / Rockwell / Kooltronic, with a link to the full history brief
- See more on all the Hopewell Borough Fire Companies, including the Rockwell Fire Department, with a link to the full history brief
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