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Everything posted by wagonman

  1. Errm, actually, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page...
  2. In the old days, before any of us were born, they had to be even more precise about their measurements. Take the bushel: there were many different bushels in use as it was a volumetric measure. Here in the great port of Cley (!) in the C18 the local Customs House had to stipulate that grain, of which a good deal was exported, was to be measured by the "Winchester Bushel, stricken" – ie the grain had to be encouraged to settle in the measure. Likewise incoming coal was measured in chalders but nowhere do the Port Books say whether these are Newcastle chalders (52.5cwt) or London chalders (half that). As the coal came from the NE the assumption is that the Newcastle measure was used – and that seems to fit with average loads and known dimensions of ships. Another problem is that in those pre-Whitworth days most local blacksmith cut their own threads and there was no guarantee the result would be compatible with a thread cut by a blacksmith in the next village. The trains I model were built to imperial dimensions, but my models are measured in millimetres. Not a problem in S scale of course – until they start trying to model Pendolinos or whatever... Yes, I know, they'll just divide everything by 64. So much better than dividing by 76.2, or indeed by 43.5/45/48 for 0 gauge.
  3. The French LGVs Nord and Sud Est both come out of Paris – also one of the most expensive cities in the world – but they manage to use existing infrastructure for the first stretch without seeming to compromise performance. The Mayors of the northern city-Regions are also keen to have new high speed infrastructure. They seem pretty desperate to get a slice of the 'progress' action. Can't disagree with that! I think of the early days of satellite broadcasting as a paradigm of the English disease: BSB arguably had superior technology to Sky. They also had a very swank HQ in central London to accommodate lots of overpaid men-in-suits – and b*gger-all content. Sky, on the other hand, was cheap and cheerful, operated out of a shed near Heathrow, and had signed up lots of sports rights and other popular stuff as they realised that content is king. HS2 seems to be beset with legions of 'consultants' all competing to push up the costs...
  4. Great idea, except that HS2 will have gobbled up all the money. They can't even afford to finish the GWML and MML works and so lumbered everyone with those stupid bi-modes. QWill someone please tell me why building a new HS railway in England costs 3x the price of similar lines in France, Germany, etc. Can it all be down to incompetence and corruption?
  5. Not taking issue with your analysis of the date, but I am surprised at the total lack of any motor vehicles.
  6. You don't have to resort to a foreign language, dead or alive, to obscure the meaning of your deathless prose. Terry Eagleton in the course of a review* of a series of essays on 'Tragedy' quotes one (American) writer on the subject of the King of Thebes: "Oedipus' deoculation concedes violability in the face of external impingements" *It's in the current LRB
  7. Ah, the joys of Latin classes. Not. A lot of the text books seem to have been inscribed with the lines: Latin is a dead language Dead as dead can be Once it killed the Romans Now it's killing me.
  8. The English language does seem peculiarly reliant on subtle differences of spelling and punctuation to convey meaning. I saw this notice above the the urinals in a gents loo in a Norfolk pub: "We aim to please. You aim too, please."
  9. They were Webb compounds. Of course they were temperamental!
  10. Puts me in mind of a certain notorious theatre critic who was said to have left no turn unstoned...
  11. A President can be a figurehead only – take the Irish system, or indeed the German one. No vast expense involved in electing or maintaining the Head of State, and when you get bored with them you elect someone else. Less messy than chopping their heads off...
  12. He did his best – see the battle of Mons Badonis...
  13. Could one not, at least in the early C19, be both a Catholic and a Whig historian? I had in mind the likes of E P Thompson or A L Morton, or alternatively the English equivalent of the French Annales school – if there is one. Raphael Samuel and his History Workshop perhaps?
  14. 'Tis a pity she was so humourless, but on the whole I share your tutor's contempt for the Whig view of History. There are alternatives, though most of them make at least a token nod in the direction of Marx. Karl, not Groucho. Mostly.
  15. Channeling The Sun is not right for any sentient being whatever the radio station.
  16. London was where much of it did indeed end up.
  17. Historically, in North Norfolk ships carried malt and barley out of small ports...
  18. The railways of this country have suffered from government interference in the C19 which vacillated between forcing them to compete one moment and then to cooperate at the next. The obsession with competition gave us a lot of wasteful duplication and a number of lines built more to keep the opposition out than to serve the community. Incidentally, Gladstone had proposed government control of the railways as far back as the 1840s. If, and it's probably a big 'if', the government had had the sort of change of heart that was induced by the war, they would have encouraged consolidation. The GCR/GER/GNR merger that had been blocked earlier would probably have gone ahead even without the Grouping. Likewise the LNWR/LYR. The MR is reputed to have had its eyes on the G&SWR to consolidate its Anglo-Scottish route and may well have looked at a few other possibles – such as the MSWJR, the N&BR, and even possibly the H&BR. I think the consolidation of the Underground group would have continued unchanged. As for other mergers...speculate away!
  19. Unlike say the greengrocer's plural...
  20. There is the story of the famously taciturn US President Coolidge. At a dinner one evening he was seated next to a rather garrulous young lady who told him that a friend had bet her she couldn't get more than three words out of him all evening. He turned to her and replied "you lose". Was Calvin Coolidge of Yorkshire extraction?
  21. Don't be misled by this – PO wagons were pooled on the outbreak of war so in 1943 could turn up anywhere in the country.
  22. I think I've got one of those kicking around in my "seemed like a good idea at the time" box, if anyone is interested...
  23. Talking of steam cars reminds me of recently deceased Scale7 Group member Steve Baldock who was such a great enthusiast for them that he built his own steam car....
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