29 January 2012

Eden Minns

Eden Minns, an architect by training, designed furniture for Gordon Russell Ltd, of Broadway, Worcestershire. Between 1936 and 1939 he worked for Richard Russell of London, designing cabinets for Murphy, with whom he later took up the position of Head of Cabinet Design. The AD94 of 1940, its housing designed by Minns, was Murphy's first Bakelite cabinet, pressed by De La Rue, of banknote fame. 

Because this AC/DC superheterodyne table set was produced during WWII, it did not have long wave tuning. In 1945, when Droitwich's long wave transmissions were reinstated, the set was reissued as the SAD94S, with medium and short waves, and the SAD94L, with medium and long waves (photographed prior to cleaning). It cost £12 15s 0d, plus purchase tax, in excess of £450 at 2012 prices, a major purchase at a time when disposable income was so much less.

27 January 2012

Inside Outside Broadcasting

Steve Harris, erstwhile TV lighting director and owner of On The Air, a glorious source of vintage technology in Hawarden, Flintshire, has a mammoth project on his hands. Combining all the challenges of classic commercial vehicles and complex and extensive electronics, North 3 was one of the BBC's nine colour mobile control rooms.

It's a 1969 Albion Clydesdale, with Leyland diesel, coachwork by Bonallack of Basildon, and interior by Pye. Six of the CMCRs carried EMI cameras, and three, including CMCR9, Pye-badged Philips cameras (a means to satisfy the letter of the BBC's policy at the time of buying British).  

Originally based in London, it was swapped with an EMI-equipped unit from Birmingham, to provide for consistency of kit at each outside broadcast centre, and ultimately moved to Manchester, when it became North 3. Decommissioned in 1982, it underwent various vicissitudes before being rescued by Steve, whose work on it, detailed at On The Air, provides eloquent practical definitions of  "skilled," "extensive" and "patient."

Hawarden Mill

Just outside the walls of Hawarden Park, Flintshire - once the home of William Ewart Gladstone, Grand Old Man of British politics - a public footpath runs along the top of the remains of a mill pond dam. This was fed by Broughton Brook, which runs under the footpath.

Released via sluice gates, the dammed water was channelled through a wooden trough to power the overshot wheel of Hawarden Mill, built in 1767 for Sir John Glynne. The corn mill was abandoned by the 1940s. Although the buildings have largely collapsed, the waterwheel survives, and the principal drive and gears, and some grinding stones, still lie scattered about.

25 January 2012

Pneu Beginnings

Benjamin Franklin Goodrich, having failed to make a success of The Hudson Rubber Company, of New York, founded the BF Goodrich Company in Akron, Ohio. This was the first American tyre producer, beating by two years the 1898 foundation of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, also of Akron, and named for Charles Goodyear, discoverer of vulcanization. Goodrich tyres were fitted to the first car to cross the USA, and to Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis, the first plane to be flown solo and non-stop across the Atlantic.

In 1911 Goodrich founded a French operation, with a factory at Colombes, in the north-west suburbs of Paris. Colombes was adopted as a brand. In 1945 a head office was set up in the Avenue Kléber, and the name changed to Kléber-Colombes. K-C continued Goodrich’s list of firsts by introducing the first tubeless tyre, in 1951. The brand was reduced to Kléber in 1968, and the company sold to Michelin in 1988.

22 January 2012

Beggar Thy Neighbour

The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act stipulated that no able-bodied person was to be relieved by the Poor Law authorities except as the inmate of a workhouse, supposedly to reduce vagrancy; and that workhouse conditions were to be deliberately harsh, supposedly to discourage indigence.

Each parish, or union of small parishes, was to build a workhouse. That at Llanfyllin, for 250 paupers, was built in 1838, to a design by Thomas Penson, co-pupil with Thomas Telford of the famous bridge builder, Thomas Harrison. Grade II Listed, it is now in the hands of a local charity and provides the backdrop for an annual music festival.

14 January 2012

Rime, no Reason ...

... beyond it being beautiful on this ivy (Hedera helix).

11 January 2012

Horsepower: Sufficient

The engine in the Phantom I, launched in 1925, this one nestling in its Cambridge garage, gives physical expression to the traditional response of Rolls-Royce to questions about horsepower: "Sufficient." With pushrod overhead valves, and two banks of three cylinders each, this giant straight-six 7.7 litre drives through a rubberised fabric coupling to the clutch, monumental four speed crash gearbox, and hefty torque tube.

Uphill in particular, it is quite capable of outpacing many a modern car, not least because one can, from the driver's seat, manually adjust the richness of the fuel mixture. A governor provides an early form of cruise-control. It apparently stops well, with servo-assisted brakes all round, and drives beautifully, semi-elliptic springs to the front and cantilever springs to the rear. This car, chassis 63AL, restored over the last 20 years, originally belonged to Sir Ernest Wills, the tobacco magnate.