The club met at Elmers Court Hotel when member John Osborne talked about Nuclear Submarines. His career in RN spanned 1962 to 1993; he entered the submarine service in 1969, took a nuclear reactor course in Greenwich and after periods in a number of subs joined Dounreay training staff on reactor plant prototypes . A period followed on the staff of Flag Officer Submarines before becoming head of the Dockside Test Organisation in Chatham and then Rosyth. Before retirement he was Naval assistant to Flag Officer Scotland, then turned poacher/gamekeeper with the base nuclear safety agency.
He reminisced about issues of storm weather kit with a polo sweater and string vest and its need in surface travel especially in rough seas in Scottish waters. With a number of bolsa wood models John explained the technology involved in submarine design with the need for a double skin, the inner one being the pressure hull, leaving the outer for housing equipment and ballast tanks
Early submarines used internal ballast tanks, flooding and pumping out for diving and resurfacing respectively. These took up a lot of internal space and were replaced by external tanks, more like water wings, which remove and restore buoyancy for diving and surfacing respectively. To remove the reserve of buoyancy vents are opened at the top of the tanks, thus diving the submarine, and to restore the reserve of buoyancy the vents are shut and the water blown out with compressed air, thus surfacing the submarine. When dived, buoyancy should be kept neutral by use of internal ballast tanks, and fore and aft planes are used to change depth. The sea-water will layer in density and affect the sonar system so a sub can hide under an enemy. Speed has to be kept at a minimum for stability and buoyancy is kept neutral. John related examples of vessels that got it wrong and sank.
He moved on to demonstrate the layout and techniques employed for nuclear propulsion through the generation of steam and use of electrical generation. Subs use the pressurised water reactor which essentially produces neutrons to split atoms releasing energy (E=mc2) which is used to produce steam. John’s models included a fuel element with fuel plates surrounding a control rod which controls the neutron population. In an emergency the control rod is let drop by gravity, thus scramming the reactor; an expression derived from Enrico Fermi’s first nuclear reactor, in which a control rod was moved by a rope, close to which was an axe and a note - “in case of danger cut rope and scram”. The avoidance of any leakage around the flanges is achieved by the use of electro-magnets. The pressure vessel is needed to keep the water from boiling with very careful measurement of the neutron population to determine the rate of fission
The layout is like an unvented hot water system with a primary boiler and a secondary plant for a hot water tank. Nuclear fission is achieved by exposure of U235 to neutrons as the atom splits into 2 daughter products and releases more neutrons creating a chain reaction. The control rod absorbs neutrons.
John ended his talk by reviewing the development of subs: in WW1 to the English this way of fighting was underhand, unfair and un-English! Members were fascinated by the tales of experiment and development problems particularly of issues arising in Russian vessels. He spent a short time discussing Polaris and the launching methods involved. In answer to a question on recoil he explained the actual launch was by compressed air so the missile fired when out of the water. And this did not impact too greatly on the sub.
During questions John explained the process of 5 year refits, testing equipment, the hulls and replenishing the uranium rods. He also stressed the key ways the environment is maintained in a positive mode for all on-board personnel with production of oxygen and absorption of CO. He thought the future of energy production had to include nuclear and new small units were available, but subject to political and environmental issues. Edgar Harris in passing the VOT commented on this being the ‘silent service’ which few knew much about like himself. The talk had opened a lot of eyes.
Meeting Report December 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
The club met at Elmers Court Hotel when Clive Rigden dressing in full uniform of Venetian Red coat & Trews with stockings and buckle shoes complete with shone steel Cockade Helmet (Morion), breastplate cuisire, sword, scarf and red tassled 12 foot pike, dazzled members with a highly memorable history and current activities of the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers serving with the Honourable Artillery Company of London. In a series of slides he painted pictures of shows, parades and drills that entertained crowds not only in London, but around the world keeping alive the treasured history of this nation.
As the oldest continuous active regiment in the UK, and even perhaps in the world, it was inaugurated by Henry V111 in 1637 from units active since the 13th and 14th centuries. It is still the only full reserve unit and the HCC from which members are recruited is active now in Afghanistan and Iraq having battle honours from the Boer War, WW1 & WW2. Under Oliver Cromwell parliament gave it powers to defend the City of London and the government from the King. Its HQ is in Spittlefield and it has a field in Moorgate where archery is practised; it owns the freehold of all properties around the square from which it earns £1.5 million a year. It is responsible for Royal Gun Salutes from the Tower of London and provides bodyguards to high profile visitors.
Its three commanders are the Colonel Commandant, a senior General near retirement; the General Officer Commanding who occupies the finest office in London in the centre of Marble Arch once the domain of the Duke of Wellington; and The Lord Mayor of London. Annually the company escorts the Mayor’s coach, six pikemen alongside (including Clive) with the officers and musketeers to the rear, from the Mansion House to the Law Courts of Justice and back for the Mayor to continue to swear allegiance to the crown. The numbers are maintained at 63 as determined by Act of Parliament since Charles 1 & 2, 5 officers and 58 men. Their uniforms date from Charles 1 and they follow a 17th century book of Military Discipline drills. The armour and morion weigh 15 lbs and the pike is shortened from an original 18 feet which can now be separated in two for taking on transport. The purpose originally was to break up a cavalry charge by creating a fence of spikes to dismount the rider who would then be attacked by the sword, while the musketeers fired from the flanks. As it took 13 drill movements to reload, only one volley perhaps could be fired before the charge went past. The red tassle was to absorb blood to prevent the pike becoming greasy. The uniforms become ever more complex with rank, the most distinguishing mark being the size of the lace collar which grows an inch each step up.
Clive gave an entertaining demonstration of a number of the drills and showed slides of the company in action forming battle squares, charge your pikes(a royal salute), adopt a lazy posture( stand easy), have a care(attention). Individuals had to keep and polish their equipment and it takes 20 minutes to dress. The upkeep is £70,000 a year and there are contributions from the Lord Mayor and other bodies in London. Today replacement of this uniform is ever more difficult due to cost and the scarcity of expert providers of the cloth and lace. The Royal Armouries and Guild of Balcksmiths provide armour and muskets. These use 2.02 blanks today. Clive said travelling to the US was extremely difficult with ammunition and required the British Ambassador the Secretary of State and endorsement by the President.
Clive in closing showed slides of events in which the Company had represented the country around the world in Nantes, Canada where there is a daughter unit, and Rome with the new recruits to the Papal Guard who lay claim to an equally long history. He showed pikemen, musketeers and drummers on parade and in bodyguard situations in London. Much of the time this seemed to include banquets, luncheons and merry-making particularly afterwards with their ladies who by tradition were called their mistresses.
In passing the Vote of Thanks the chairman Nigel Lang declared this to have been the most memorable and highly informative of all the presentations he had seen and congratulated Clive on his ability to perform is such a complicated uniform.
Meeting Report November 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
The club met at Elmers Court Hotel to hear reminiscences and anecdotes on The History of Magic from Ian Marriott, Chair of New Forest North Probus Club, whose professional life was as an accountant, but in 1997 he joined the Association of Wizards of the South to become a professional magician working in a variety of venues for dinners, weddings and children’s parties. He has also worked on product launches and in education and training. His interest in magic started when a boy of 7 he was given a magic set. After a disaster with his first stage performance using a rope through the body when the knot failed he gave up until much later in life. However he did experience the thrill of the theatre when as a member of the audience he helped a magician using sleight of hand to pick the pockets of many of their watches; only to find he was the recipient of them in all the pockets of his suit.
Thirty years later he again met David Burden at a private reception when the audience was asked who had seen his act and his family pointed to Ian. The magician responded by saying yes he remembered him, only to admit to Ian later he got the year wrong when he was at that theatre. It taught Ian never to miss an opportunity; always be prepared if you go to a function and admit to being a magician. What started him on his new venture was the request to perform to an ill son. He talked to other magicians and went to London and bought a book on Demon Magic from L. Davenport & Co Ltd., the most famous bookshop on magic in the world. Lewis Davenport also sold magic apparatus like Dicky Duck that nodded its beak to pick out cards from a pack to find the one selected by one of the audience, usually children. Ian demonstrated this to members. He did not say how it worked!
He talked about Robert Houdin, a French illusionist of 1856 who was a famous clockmaker, and became the finest magician in France. He had a book on his exploits. Algeria was being roused by a group of magicians and Houdin was sent to out-perform them. He did so by the trick of using an electro-magnetic device under the table to anchor a box with a cast-iron base. This technology was in its infancy and succeeded also in giving the Arab strongman an electric shock. Later in the nineteenth century David Devant and John Neville Maskelyne worked in London and established the Magic Circle in 1905. Six months earlier one had been established in Birmingham. Ian belonged to the AWA established in 1911which had celebrated its centenary 5 years ago in the Vendee. He now belonged to 4 with international memberships.
In America a Chinese magician developed the trick of catching a bullet in the mouth. This is still practised, but is very dangerous when things go wrong. This magician died shot in the head in 1915. Ian did not attempt this himself. The most famous magician was a Pole named Eric Weiss whose stage name was Houdini. He was largely an escapologist. The AWA on the sinking of the Titanic to raise money for the victims invited Houdini in 1913 and Ian had photos of him with the leading lights in the association, the founder Professor Harry Woodley and Captain Lawrence Glen.
Ian talked about the exploits of a grandson of Neville, Jasper Maskelyne, who was recruited by the army in the WW1 to deceive the enemy. The book by David Fisher entitled The War Magician has stories of making Alexandria disappear and a whole fleet of dummy battleships as well as a fully equipped army in the desert. Jasper produce many subterfuges on the battle field.
Ian stunned his audience by demonstrating his skill in memorising a pack of cards by cutting it in half and using two members first to pick a card which he could name by looking at the pack and then from memory telling one all the cards in his hand. He said the eight times memory champion of the world was Dominic O’Brien who could commit a pack in seconds. Ian had taken just 40. Another trick was to have a strip with a list of words which he cut at a point when the audience called stop as the scissors descended. This word matched a card previously given out.
Responding to questions Ian gave an amusing anecdote about producing a rabbit from a box. The problem arose because the mother wanted him to use her son’s pet rabbit which escaped messing the carpet. He also talked about the development of technology and some of the incredible acts possible on stage especially by David Copperfield such as being sawn in half by a circular saw. Then there is the ability to fly taking a member of the audience with him using a special jacket. He said if something is impossible you must look at how it can be done, even when at close quarters a transvestite like Fay Preston persuades you a bottle actually went straight through the table top. There must be two bottles. Paul Daniels gave lectures on the special techniques to club members. Joining any club and especially the Magic Circle is subject to audition. Ian had not joined this one having prepared to do so, but read its magazine where he was astonished at some of the vitriol and backbiting by some members.
In passing the Vote of Thanks for both the history and practice of magic Maurice Crosswell admitted that he too had been given a magic set when young but did not have the skill demonstrated so ably by Ian.
Meeting Report October 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liasion Officer
The club met at Elmers Court Hotel to be entranced by Alan Jones’ talk ‘Look into my eyes’ as he unravelled the mystery of hypnotism, a subject he had studied for 40 years since his days as an SRN which interested him in clinical hypnotherapy. He still practised this for patients seeking help for phobias and concerns such as nail biting and fear of lifts. He asked members to put out their hands one open with palms upward, the other with closed fist down and they were asked to imagine a weight in that and a balloon in the other. Some responded by letting one hand rise while the other fell. He then startled his audience by announcing that we all everyday use self-hypnosis by shutting out extraneous influences as we concentrate our minds on what we are interested in; our focus changes our perception when engrossed in a book, watching a scary film, or hitting the pillow with jumbles of thoughts in our minds before concentrating on one real issue. As children we play with sticks but convert them to swords in our minds and that becomes reality.
Hypnosis subjects want to be put under. They are of average intelligence and imagination, but essentially willing subjects; they are prepared to let it happen. Many cultures in the past had ways of inducing a trance-like state, whether by the use of incantation, dance, drumming or potions; from the aborigines in Australia, Red Indian tribes of America, to the peoples of Africa and the East. The Greeks had temples dedicated to trance sleeping. Alan talked about experiments in 1700 by a Venetian, Maximillian Hell, who espoused the idea of a magnetic Energy flowing around our bodies; this was taken up by a practitioner in Paris 50 years later holding sessions in special vats with subjects holding phials of liquids in each hand while he faced them with magnetised rods and circulated magnets around them to clear bad humours out of the body. Hounded out by the French King, Mesmer continued to develop his practice and entertain people around villages and fairs.
Others took this up with animals such as chickens, cats and dogs. One practitioner came to London Zoo and put a lion in a trance. He then had a show with a woman in a chair. James Brace, a surgeon, came on stage and tried inserting pins under her nails; he was so impressed he proposed this technique should be used for surgery. At that time amputations had to be hurried due to blood loss and problems with assistants; Brace was looking for a way to make time. He coined the phrase Hypnosis from the Greek Hypnos ‘sleep’ on the basis that subjects were asleep. They were not, but in a changed state of consciousness; he devoted his life to perfecting this procedure. A surgeon in India carried out many amputations in Calcutta using hypnosis and on return to England tried to promote this approach; the introduction of ether for anaesthesia left this practice on the shelf.
Alan discussed the conscious and unconscious mind as promoted by Freud. He used a volunteer reciting the alphabet as fast as possible to show that mostly we can do it unthinking; but not when asked to skip every other letter. Our minds filter out the vast majority of impacts on us; our conscious mind concentrates on some 7 while all the rest are handled by the subconscious. We can bring much of our past experiences to mind from our memory banks, but each time they will be slightly different. If there is a traumatic incident this may be side-lined into the unconscious and not included. The therapist brings it to mind to enable the patient to deal with it. We all live in the virtual reality we create; hypnosis aims to change our perception, awareness and focus.
Alan with a volunteer showed how we have automatic responses such as taking a hand offered in friendship. The practitioner uses this automatic response by avoidance and changing the subject’s focus to re-orientate his/her mind. He said every salesman knows that if you say ‘don’t buy’, a natural reaction is to delete the ‘don’t’. Actors, storytellers, orators all use techniques to change our focus and look at things differently. The clinical hypnotist will enable patients to shut doors to pain, phobias, fears and deep concerns by the way they view things. He cannot control minds and make people do what they are unwilling to do normally. They must believe what they are doing is normal.
Alan answered questions; on subliminal advertising where an image comes just for one fifteenth of a second; current practice on operations under hypnosis where a Spanish surgeon ensures patients keep saliva in their mouths as we associate fear with a dry mouth; other practices such as dentistry, birthing and overcoming stage fright; brain-washing and the question of changing peoples’ attitude to normal custom and morals. In his own practice he gives patients a CD afterwards to help them remember which will not work in a car to avoid distraction. He also said that hypnotism cannot work on subjects with dementia, strokes or brain injuries.
In passing the Vote of Thanks for this fascinating tour of history and practice Trevor Gaught commented that he now understood why his wife occasional said ‘I’ve called you three times’!
Meeting Report September 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liasion Officer
The club met at Elmers Court Hotel to hear the fourth talk by John Ellis on the history of the motor car entitled the Road Ahead. With his knowledge gained from supplying plastic components to the car industry and his role in Beaulieu Motor Museum John enthralled members with his insight into the developments that will power the cars of the future. This is moving away from traditional engines to electricity, hybrids and hydrogen with even sales and distribution starting to go direct. For city folk ownership is an encumbrance and customer habits are going towards rent, clubs and public transport systems which might be autonomous. Life styles are changing with younger people favouring gadgets and connectivity more than performance. There are new materials such as carbon fibre and different production systems. Aerodynamics once the purview of wind tunnels is now better modelled in detail on a computer without the need to produce prototypes. Software packages can monitor every streamlining effect and produce the whole car.
John then began his extensive series of slides of new and future cars to demonstrate all these developments. He showed current concepts with very expensive models from Aston Martin, BMW and Bugatti costing over £2m. Then there was the vision of self-drive and hybridisation with ever improving technologies. He listed the best selling cars by manufacturer in the UK and Europe with Ford, Vauxhall and VW at the top. There was also a review of the loss-makers including Smart by Daimler, Fiat’s Silo, VW Phaeton. The latter group now were developing small cars with models from different manufactures on the same production line sharing components. John’s lists and photos were very revealing with many names and models so far not familiar to UK motorists, some launching in 2018.
A key factor now is the market growth in China. The US and UK market is very mature with high percentage of customers owning a car; 800 per 1000 and 500 per 1000 respectively. In China it is 29 per 1000 so the potential is enormous. There is a steep decline in the purchase of the standard saloon with SUVs and four-wheel drives rising rapidly for comfort and height advantages especially for women. Diesels had outsold petrol in 2012, but now with emission problems the move is the other way. Range Rover is producing smaller models and companies such as Nissan have invested heavily in models such as the Qashquai and Juke. The Sunderland factory is the biggest in the UK and computer linked to the plastic factory nearby which John had run producing whole bumper and light assemblies called to order to meet demand on the line. This is at risk with Brexit. An SUV from Bentley has already sold out; new models are in hand from Aston Martin, Porche and even Jaguar.
The new Mini in Oxford is being developed with Start-Stop systems which use a different transmission arrangement; the motor and generator are linked direct to the transmission driving shaft. In some cars the voltage is rising dramatically from 12v to 48-60v. Hybridisation is becoming supercharged; there are also plug-in hybrids and pure electric drive-chains. John showed a model engine of 3 cylinders driven by hydrogen; 1.6 litres, 3 cycle and supercharged. A Range Rover driveline has 9 speeds. A GKN Torque vector delivers 11% increase in fuel efficiency by balancing the power between the wheels.
Electric’s advantage is no emission and no gear box with instant torque, but there is anxiety over the range averaging 130 miles with a slow charge up. Tesla model, by increasing the voltage, can be topped up in 30 minutes. The UK has only 3000 charge points compared with 30,000 in Norway. There are test models for Nissan and Ford giving 250 miles with new streamline flow designs from their computers studies. New chassis designs have the batteries located low in the middle for balance and some are ready for autonomous driving. BMW has set up a new company to market their i series with carbon fibre bodies which is recyclable. The i 3 is like a Golf and the i 8 is a sport model with high performance. The small engine just boosts the large battery. Designs of batteries is now highly advanced in the US with Tesla linked to a huge factory using photoelectric cells and windmills to produce new generation units; Tesla has some 350,000 orders in hand for their model 3 for 2018. Batteries can be stored in garages to top up. VW has also set up a new division.
Hybrids such as the Toyota Prius have highly complex systems with battery power alternating with the engine. John showed details of this process and then demonstrated new ideas where the electric motor drives the car continuously, but the battery is being topped up by a seperate small engine generator mounted in the rear. This system seems the dominant approach in future. John then showed a range of developments from many companies including Vauxhall, Volvo, KIA, Hyundai. He also showed this on buses with the batteries under the rear stairs. This would greatly reduce diesel emissions in towns. Even the London Taxi Company was going for new models and also looking at the white van market which with on-line shopping was now adding to the emission problem around the country.
He demonstrated this combination of power units with the highly costly and complex racing car, the Bloodhound SSC, being developed by Richard Noble combining jet propulsion from Rolls Royce and 2 engines. He showed this was the powering system of the new class of destroyers using 4 electric motors plus a jet engine and 2 diesel generators which were too small for purpose posing problems for the UK. The US had put much larger ones into their Zuna-Walt ships. Toyota has a Mirai in production in Japan which uses Hydrogen at 700 bar (3-4000 psi) in a carbon fibre body. Manufacturers such as Honda, Hyundai, KIA, Daimler and Benz were building up technology enhancements. A whole range of other systems are growing such as autonomous driving, ABS and AES plus parking assist. The Volvo 40 is semi -autonomous and Milton Keynes have runabout pods on-call by customers.
Members were stimulated to ask many questions such as: the life of Lithium Batteries and their potential over-heating; how long could lithium be available; safety procedures in crashes especially in hydrogen cars; the immense strength now of the fibre glass bodies; the sealing on the platforms; the cost of maintenance and the life span of the battery with high cost replacement; the issue of DC and conversion from AC charging systems.
In passing the Vote of Thanks for such a wealth of information Colin Jolly said he worried about the reliability of computers when putting one’s life in their hands as he had experience of many failures. What about a third rail on the road perhaps to guide and power the future
Meeting Report August 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liasion Officer
The club met at Elmers Court Hotel when David Hudson regaled members with reminiscences of his days as a rebel enjoying his National Service in the RAF. He had spent a career of 45 years in Westminster Bank after leaving the forces in 1953. David gave a vivid description of his first week on entering service in June 1951, being kitted out in clothes and shoes far smarter than he had before with the restrictions of rationing still pressing hard on the UK. Now 65 years on the memory was still fresh of the sheets, haircut, medical indignities and bromide tea, which did not seem to do permanent damage. He recalled the admonitions lecture in the camp cinema on the dangers of VD.
When volunteers were asked for he stepped forward to go to a WOSB selection board. The Korean War had been going on for a year and had revealed to the powers that be a woeful shortage of pilots and navigators so a full scale recruitment programme was in hand to increase the aircrew intake 10 fold. Anyone selected was under pressure to sign on for a short-term commission of three years to justify the training. David resisted and received some sharp rebukes. However he was registered as a cadet navigator. Of the 14000 volunteers just one third was chosen.
David talked about the dispersal of the forces into the far east including 4 aircraft carriers and that the planes were manned by 41 US pilots. The Russian MIG 15 was an advanced plane and it needed the Australian Mustang 5 LD to provide better support. The British Meteors were very vulnerable to ground fire and many were downed; 890 were lost. David said Korea was the forgotten war when there were more casualties many of which were National Service men than in Afghanistan and Iraq. The army earned 4 VCs and the Gloucesters were particularly honoured. He gave a figure of 1,400,000 sorties carried out by the UN.
Reverting to his early training David recalled 12 weeks of square bashing with parachute training in a large hanger. By 1952 there were 800 pilots and navigators and he spoke with some fondness of the Ansons and Wellingtons. He completed 330 flying hours as there was a ‘press on regardless’ attitude due to shortage of personnel. He remembered particularly the studies he went through on 30 different subjects including the use of charts. He commented that navigation had not progressed greatly and relied on map and compass-reading. There was a beacon system, but in poor weather planes had to be talked down. Night flying was very restricted.
In his time he visited Washington and Malta; this latter took him over Portland Bill with refuelling in Marseilles. What impressed him was the food available there compared with impoverished UK; he brought back things like tins of salmon not available here. Following his service he was in the reserves for three and a half years. He still flies once a year in an event called Operation Propeller organised by civilian pilots, and commented on some of the improvements in his lifetime.
At the end of his talked he spoke with some feeling about the fact that Bomber Command had not received the recognition it deserved. Crews were expected to complete 30 Sessions, but due to high casualties only 30% did so. 650 planes were lost compared to the 544 in the Battle of Britain. Much has been made of the raid on Dresden, but it took place when 13 V2s dropped on London. In the 50.s this country spent 27% of its GDP on defence; today it is 2%.
In passing the Vote of Thanks for an entertaining trip into the past David Jones talked about his time in the army being sent to Korea and the Americans asking why he was going home and not them. Nigel Lang, the chairman, also chipped in with comments about the rivalry between the services being a naval man.
Meeting Report July 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liasion Officer
The club met at Elmers Court Hotel to hear reminiscences of his life as a marine pilot from Geoff Stokes who first went to sea with the British India Company, a section of P&O, at the age of 17. In those days most ships were British owned and the company had 60. That is now all gone as costs and competition mean most are registered overseas with foreign crews. He qualified as a Chief Officer and had an eye on a career as a pilot, but could not afford 6 months without pay to qualify through Trinity House. The law changed in the 1987 Pilot Act allowing each port now to employ its own pilots directly who have experience as Ship’s Officers. He worked in Mombassa for 2 years getting two salaries, one from the UK to ensure he had comparable rates with those based in this country. From 1975 he was Port Manager and Pilot in Dubai where the money was good. Jeff gave members accounts of experiences in these ports and what the job of a pilot entailed.
Masters of ships arriving in ports often need assistance to make sure they can enter and exit the port safely. This assistance is provided by Marine Pilots who are normally required to undertake the following: Physical tasks – Marine Pilots are required to board moving vessels from small high powered launches, often in rough seas. This involves climbing high ladders to access vessel decks; Pilotage planning – before boarding a vessel the Marine Pilot is required to plan the course of the vessel taking into account tides, weather, size, weight and operational characteristics of the vessel, and if there is a need for tugs; Piloting the vessel – the Marine Pilot will have responsibility for navigating the vessel safely in and out of the harbour and needs to work very closely with the captain, and other members of the crew, to achieve this. They would also need to be able to use the ship’s navigational and communications equipment, liaising with other vessels and the port control centre. The requirement to board vessels at sea means that a marine pilot needs to be reasonably fit, comfortable working on the water and at height. Due to the nature of the work, many pilots have previously worked as a ship’s officer or master. There may also be some on-call requirement and shift or weekend work is very likely.
Geoff highlighted in graphic detail the hazards in boarding and leaving large moving ships especially in rough weather when both boats are rising and falling many feet with the importance of timing and avoiding being caught on the next rise to be flung into the sea with dramatic consequences if one did not get quickly up the ladder. Pilot craft are powerful and capable of 25 knots, but closing with a large ship is an art. Pilots wear protective jackets with a rapidly expanding life-jacket type collar fitted with lights and transponders for locating them if necessary. Pilots cannot wear a harness as the lines would impede jumping, so it all down to fitness and skill.
Experience and knowledge of one’s port is essential which is why many pilots only operate in one location. Today many ship captains are not as well trained and spend most of their time out at sea. They enter port only infrequently so depend heavily on pilots. Some vessels such as ferries do not require them by regulation as long as the captain has the qualifications and experience. These ships are highly manouverable due to the range of propellers and their ability to swivel and control forward. reversing and taking the ship sideways. Some big ships like The Queens have their own pilots. Other ships cannot switch off the propeller and the engine is coupled to it so it has to be stopped. Restarting requires compressed air which on occasions is not available from the compressors which have not been recharged properly.
When a pilot assumes control he has to satisfy himself that all systems are in order and know all the controls and other equipment on board. However ultimately it is the captain who is in charge and finally responsible for any mishap. Geoff told of times when having stopped the engine there was no way of either of restarting it due to lack of compressed air or of holding the ship from hitting the quay other than the lines from the tugs. This is a difficult task due to the huge weight of the main vessel and the power of the tug. Unless carefully handled the line will snap.
Accidents can happen due to bad loading and shifting cargos or poor ballast. Jeff talked about incidents in Dubai and Southampton graphically demonstrating how once a ship starts to lean the cumulative effect of all other movable objects contribute to the momentum leading to a ship overbalancing. He gave a lurid tale of a Norweigian ferry hitting a container vessel because the captain froze. Today container ships are vast with many thousands of containers. Some come adrift and are a major hazard to yachts since they float just under the surface. In answering comment on contraband Jeff explained how cranes can monitor weights to identify problems and also there is a whole range of Xray systems.
Later in his career Geoff spent 5 years with the Maritime Coastguard Agency, but he felt himself not to be a natural civil servant. Being a pilot there was a job to do and when it was finished he could leave and was responsible for anything he did himself. He loved that challenge. He also commented on pollution where regulations on dumping and cleaning vessels at sea had been substantially reduced due to EEC regulations. He explained how operational control centres in ports such as Southampton monitor all shipping, schedule it in and send out pilots to board at a certain distance to guide the vessel to the right berth. A vessel that is in the wrong position is quickly identified so that the pilot can bring it back on the right course. Pilots need to keep up with all the new technology being introduced on to ships and the use of the joystick in place of the wheel
Trevor Gaught in passing the Vote of Thanks for an entertaining tale expressed his admiration for pilots who can successfully jump from a moving platform.
Meeting Report June 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
The club met at Elmers Court Hotel and enjoyed a highly amusing presentation of the work of Canine Partners Charity from their speaker, Malcolm Well MBE. He concentrated largely on the work and training of dogs to become help-mates for disabled people to enable them to live as normal a life as possible and not to be totally reliant on carers. The routine jobs we all find so easy have become very problematical for a person in a wheel chair who has lost the use of limbs. The dogs are trained to pick things up, carry them, open and close doors, retrieve items such as post, help with dressing, shopping, the phone, operating the wheel chair, loading washing machines, pressing lift buttons, bringing food bowls, opening cupboards, pushing switches, helping in and out of bed. There are many other small services such as fetching towels in the shower, unpacking shopping, opening curtains, even handing a bus pass to the driver. They transform lives with emotional support and improve dramatically the quality of the life of their partners.
Malcolm said any disabled person can apply and 28 soldiers had been given dogs under Help for Heroes. The cost for training etc. is £500 and this charity is there to raise money; it has 16 regional centres around the country. A purpose built unit has been set up in Lyndhurst for £460,000 to provide training kennels and accommodation for recipients to be housed while becoming accepted by the dog and trained in the procedures for signalling various helping actions. Malcolm’s talk was highly demonstrative of the methods used to achieve this using repetition, a clacker, rewards and copying other dogs. The type of dog is important as they need to be of a type used to training and work. Gundogs were good and size also was a key factor, around 26 inches high. To be chosen a dog, or bitch, had to be 14 months old, with some obedience training. The pass rate was around 82%; the rejects were found good homes.
The training of the dogs is undertaken by canine partners with a specialist two-year training programme, which begins from selection at seven to eight weeks old. They spend 12 to 14 months in puppy training with a volunteer, followed by four months’ advanced training at one of their centres. At all stages training is fun and reward-based. The puppies need to have essential qualities such as a gentle nature, curiosity and friendliness. The charity works predominantly with Labradors, Golden Retrievers or crosses of these breeds; they also train some Poodle crosses for people who may have allergies.
As soon as the puppies have been selected they are placed with carefully chosen volunteer puppy parents. They care for them full-time – under the supervision of the charity’s trainers – taking them to puppy classes, and continuing the training at home. These volunteers teach the pups basic obedience, social skills and the core tasks of touching, tugging and retrieving which are essential before they move on to advanced training.
At the end of the advanced training, the applicant is invited to a two-week residential course at one of their centres with the chosen canine partner under the guidance of the dog’s trainer. The applicant learns how to work with their dog and continue its training, as well as what motivates their particular dog and how to take care of their canine friend. It is during this busy two weeks that the special bond between dog and partner begins.
Aftercare and retirement
The charity offers ongoing care and guidance through regular aftercare visits and telephone support, which allows them to ensure the success of the partnerships and well-being of all dogs throughout their entire working lives until their well-deserved retirement. If a dog is ill it is immediately looked at by a volunteer vet; there are 50 around the country.
There is a fledgling breeding programme with 5 producing bitches, but it cannot guarantee to produce a suitable dog, so selection from outside breeders is essential. There is a major programme of speakers under an education officers. They visit any organisation interested in learning about this programme; many schools and youth groups receive detailed talks. The charity publishes magazines with case studies on how lives have been changed. Their website caninepartners.org.uk is full of helpful information on volunteering and fund-raising.
Malcolm emphasised the importance of a good rapport between the disabled client and his dog; such that it is the dog who chooses his master in the first instance and not the other way round. There is a waiting list of 14 months during which money is raised for the training and support. By law these dogs are allowed to go with their partners anywhere so they can leave as normal a life as possible.David Jones in passing the Vote of Thanks not only praised the quality of the talk, but also remarked how little seemed to be known of this marvellous service.
Meeting Report May 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
The club met at Elmers Court Hotel and received a talk on Chaos in the Solar System by Michael Minton who highlighted a number of recent press announcements that are baffling the establishment. There is the turmoil on the outermost planet Pluto, hitherto considered to be a cold sterile rock billions of miles away from the heat of the Sun; planets spinning the wrong way; another ice-giant planet discovered hovering at the edge of the solar system; the nature of dark matter; a star 360 times the mass of our sun; and a black hole 16 billion times the size of the Sun. Most astronomers claim gravity is the main power driving the cosmos despite it being so weak that it needs to build up in massive black holes to have the effects seen by the Hubble telescope. Even so gravity can only account for 5% of the power required and there has to be another 20% of dark matter and 75% of dark energy. Dark means there is no positive proof of its existence or explanation of what it can be.
As a member for many years of The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, Michael has supported the alternative view of the universe as driven by massive electrical currents and huge magnetic fields which produce a force which, if gravity were the size of an atom, in comparison would be the size of the galaxy. Michael’s talk related to the evidence for major changes in the solar system in particular in the last 6000 years and the effect it had on the peoples and shape of the earth.
The Society had been founded initially to consider the work of an American/Russian Jewish émigré, Immanuel Velikovsky, a colleague of Einstein, a leading psycho-analyst, and Hebrew/classical scholar who claimed in books published in the 50.s that the earth was originally a satellite of Saturn, a red dwarf star which entered the solar system, followed by Jupiter which caused it to explode in a nova. The Earth became a satellite of the Sun, was flooded with the water expelled by Saturn, and then had close encounters with first Venus and then Mars, until all the planets settled into their current orbits with little evidence of the previous chaos. His arguments were widely based on books and manuscripts from ancient sources, the Bible and recent discoveries in archaeology.
This had led him to challenge nearly all the experts of academia in science, astronomy, history, geology and technology. He particularly argued against Einstein’s theory and claimed that neither gravity, nor the speed of light were constant, which destroyed the basis of much of the assumptions about the cosmos. The outcry was overwhelming. So who was right? Could planets round their orbits quickly; why would they not collide and destroy each other; how could humanity survive such traumas?
Michael showed some of the evidence now coming from studies of space and the increasing detail of space telescopes. He highlighted issues around the new understanding arising from plasma technology and nano-science. 99.9% of the universe is plasma which consists of separate atoms mainly of hydrogen and helium where there are free electrons with a negative charge, and electron deficient atoms with a positive charge called ions. This gas is capable of carrying huge electrical currents which in turn generate electro-magnetic fields which are the main force driving events in the cosmos. Astronomers acknowledge the existence of these fields, but have no explanation for them, even when they create such turmoil on our Sun.
Hubble has produced photos of many events in our galaxy where planets enter star systems, create huge electrical disturbances and send out distress signals with massive lighting effects. It has also revealed the vast number of hitherto undetected red dwarf stars and huge free planets wandering the Milky Way. This would increase the estimate of the total number of stars by a factor of three. The concept of these bodies entering our solar system is not unlikely. A Nasa probe had shown that Jupiter could not have formed where it is and had wandered there sometime in the past; the report comments that it would have knocked all the other planets around like billiard balls. Another probe has found a huge red ring millions of miles out from Saturn which provided evidence of its past as a red dwarf.
The Bible Old Testament is a history of the major catastrophes that the earth experienced. Starting with the real meaning of the opening chapters of Genesis, Michael talked about some of these and the identity of the planets that caused them. He suggested various ways members could look for themselves and ask how what we see now could have occurred. An example is the shoreline of Turkey around Ephesus where the coast is now 12 kilometres out from the city the Greeks settled around 600 BC. Archaeology continues to show many levels where cities have been destroyed and rebuilt.
There is speculation that our ancestors knew that rain water was ionised so that it started seeds growing. Stone circles and hill forts, Silbury Hill and pyramids were energy collectors for the magnetic forces circling the Earth and transferred that through water courses to fertilise the lands around. This electrical activity was much higher in the past due to instabilities in the Solar System. He finished his talk by some thoughts on the evidence for the worship of the planets, the arbiters of life on Earth, and the identity of the seven archangels as the 7 bodies clearly seen moving in the sky. The ancient world worshipped these and in turn changed their allegiance depending on which was the most active and influential at the time. Many cities either have 7 gates, or 7 pillars, or, as in Rome, 7 hills dedicated to them with their temples on top. St Peter’s in Rome is on the Capitol which was dedicated to Jupiter. Venus left some of its carbon clouds, the shadow of death, on Earth after the Exodus which became a dew of manna, the bread of heaven the Greeks called ambrosia, which we still eat at the Eucharist table.
Meeting Report April 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
The club held its AGM at Elmers Court Hotel when David Jones handed over the chain of office to Nigel Laing. David commented on how quickly the year had flown by during which we welcomed 4 new members and enjoyed a great fellowship together with excellent speakers and a full social calendar. Nigel in response said he would focus on building up good relationships with all other Probus groups in the area and seek to encourage new members to bring our average age down below 80 which it had now achieved. The secretary had noted the club membership stood at 65 including 4 honorary members and one non-attendee. The funds were still strong although it as often difficult to balance the cost of individual outings due to the need to book coaches of various fixed sizes.
Two members gave short addresses:
First Denis Peters who had been a beekeeper for 50 years and began his interest in the late 60s when a friend introduced him to his own hives. He has been learning more every year. In a very informative and professional talk on both bees and the techniques of beekeeping he used as an aid a tea-towel with the life journey of a bee. There are three main types, stingless, bumble and honey; he kept the latter. Some varieties can be bad-tempered such as the African, others like the European and Dutch are easy to handle and only the workers have stings. New born bees look after and feed the grubs and do housekeeping before getting to know the area around the hive and collect nectar. There is a special bee dance which they use to communicate the source of the nectar. Protective clothing and gloves are advisable though after the first and second sting one builds up immunity so there is then little pain. Bees do not want to sting due to the barb’s potential to stay in and kill the bee. Left alone they twist it out. The poison is injected through a central tube, but it is largely a defensive mechanism. It is important to leave enough honey to nurture the hive over the winter.
Smoke is used to calm the hive as bees react as to a forest fire by sheltering and filling their stomachs for flight. This is why swarms are easy because their stomachs are full. Wet and rain is bad for them. They have two outlets to their stomachs so they can regurgitate nectar which is mixed with an enzyme and passed to other bees to put into storage for ripening in the comb. The water content must be under 18% and many bees are employed around the hive flapping wings to ventilate the air.
Denis then showed a variety of hives from very early ones using straw and brambles, to double walled wooden structures aimed at keeping hives warm in winter, and modern with two chambers; the queen and the grubs in the lower one with a narrow entrance to the upper to keep the queen from entering where the honey is stored. The queen’s task is to produce 2000 cells a day which become grubs within 24 hours that grow rapidly sealing the cells until they emerge as bright white young bees. They keep the hive clean of debris, larvae and surplus food. They progress to guard the hive and then to collect. Drones are only produced when needed and thrown out quickly to preserve food supplies.
Each bee will gather just one fifth of a drop of nectar so hundreds of flights are needed to make one pound of honey. Bees do not go in straight bee-lines, but circle and take a stagger path. The wax for the honey comb which is made up of many perfect hexagons is extruded from their abdomens. When collecting honey it is important not to scrape it out as this damages the comb which bees have to repair. Today the honey is extracted by a spinning machine; each frame can produce 70 pounds. Swarms take off in May and June when the hive gets over-crowded. Scouts go out first to find another suitable location. Many hang from branches of trees which can be cut to lower into a box. At a new hive the bees climb up and go in once the queen has entered.
The bee-keeper has to be continually on the alert and monitor the hive for pests, ensuring there are enough frames, closing the entrance and extracting the honey which is at its maximum production in June/July. The main problems are the varroa mite which sucks the bodily fluid from the bee, sacbrood which destroys the larvae and the lesser wax moth which destroys them with its pupae. Denis showed different types of honey from UK and Europe and talked about the labeling regulations. Comb honey contains a lot of pollen so should be taken carefully by those susceptible to it.
Second Peter Huntley gave an amusing talk on mistakes, innuendo and laughable stories from excerpts in press cuttings from around the world. He had been a PR man for Alfred Dunhill and his job was to organize and support events to get the company’s name mentioned as often as possible especially in press reports. This had put him in contact with many famous commentators from the press corps. He was particularly involved in yacht racing and the America’s Cup which had recently been upstaged as the oldest race by one in Poole in 1849. His quips were sometimes risqué and often double entendre. This gave the members a very enjoyable twenty minutes of laughs and surprises.
Meeting Report March 2016 by Peter Huntley - Acting Press Liaison Officer
Although not everyone is a motor car enthusiast, John Ellis was invited back for the third time to speak on the “History Of The Motor Car”. There was so much to enjoy from this lecture which, this time, featured the maturity and complexity of product systems and the product itself.
The most significant models, over the years, used unitory construction in that the engine is positioned over the drive wheels, examples include the Ford Model T, Citroen TA and 2CV, VW and Mini.
Earlier car construction techniques were restricted by machining capability and the thinking was that to go faster you must build bigger. Everything changed with the introduction of the Boxer, invented by Dr. Ferdinand Porche in the late 1930's. This car used an air cooled engine (robust, hoseless, no water pump, compact, no drive belts) and led to a trend that produced the VW power unit that had the great advantage of little maintenance and low cost.
The post war years saw all manner of innovations and engine system types, such as the MGB GT and the Vauxhal Ecotec both being extreemly lightweight. At this time Colin Chapman of Lotus fame was quoted as saying that the goal of engine design is “to enhance performance, just add a little lightness”
In the 1950's the strange story of the Rover Jet 1 car, which reached speeds of 155mph on a test track. The Rover engine was based on that used in Gloster Meteor aircraft. There was a belief that the rotary engine was the more natural method of propulsion and in 1963 & 1965 a version was built to compete at Le Mans. Not a great success, por fuel consumption, power lag, huge heat transfer and rev, problems
For the purpose of this report we cannot go into fine technical detail, other than to point to other significant examples of engine design. Formula 1 racing has contributed hugely to the development of the road car. Some examples the speaker quoted were direct fuel injection, single and twin turbo charging , auto and semi-auto gear boxes. Of outstanding importance was the development of disc brakes and from that, ABS braking which is said to have saved countless lives on the road.
In the latter part of John Ellis's talk he dealt with the complexities of modern auto constuction. Almost all modern car manufacturers draw from a huge international variety of component suppliers. The audience were shown an illustration of a standard motor car's components which numbers some 4,500 items.
One of the most up to date manufacturing plants is the BMW site near Munich, this facility is completely computer operated. For instance, the paint shop is in a electro-statically controlled location serviced entirely by robots. It was amazing to see not only paint application but assembley lines without a single human being in sight.
Where does all this lead us? - autonomous motoring, new drive train systems.
A final thought, coping with the difficulty of ever complex design and manufacturing operations and the degree of management required, there is a requirement to avoid,at all costs, the kind of disaster that led to the VW emissions row.
After questions, Colin Jolly our Speaker Secretary gave a Vote of Thanks. John Ellis's talk had been high on technical detail, however, he was able to make the whole talk clearly understandable even to the laymen amongst us.
Meeting Report February 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
Richard Tennant presented, with photos of his various ships and commands, a vivid description of the career of his father-in-law, Captain John Treasure Jones, the last Master of the Queen Mary. His memoires, entitled ‘Tramp to Queen’ related progress over 45 years from small steamers to the largest liners; many with strange names and vintages; names such a Grelgrant, Grelhand, Laurentic, Machones 2, Rhesiomax, Sunflower, Brittanic, Glorious, and Hood. Born into a family with a history of ship’s captains of sailing vessels John Treasure Jones began life in 1905 on Cuckoo Hill Farm close to Haverford West in Pembrokeshire. Richard described the rather primitive conditions in those days, but with the exception of the luxury of a bathroom on the second floor of the cottage. His father had some arable land on the 48 acres, but specialized in horses, supplying them to the army in WW1. There were smaller ones for traps and governors carts, heavy ones for the plough and 17 hands hunters for the 2 hunts held in the county. The highlight for social intercourse was the cattle market in Haverford West.
However John’s dream was to go to sea and become a master mariner like his uncles and grandfather. So in his mid teens he enrolled as an apprentice midshipman on a tramp steamer in Cardiff. Many of these old coal fired vessels plied the world with coal from the valleys returning with grain from the US, Canada and the Middle East. The young apprentices had to clean away the coal to load the grain and keep it fresh and then vice-versa; no easy task and very hard labour. The loading and unloading was equally strenuous in foreign ports such as Port Said, since cargoes had to be shifted by lighters and carried on board by children as young as 10. These ships were around 4,000 tons, did a maximum of 7.5 knots in good weather and had little comfort on board. However John saw Norfolk, Maine and Virginia in the states and ports in the Red Sea. Here they passed the pride of the Liners, Po Kisar Hind, (The Empress of India), which fired his ambition to become Master of a passenger liner someday.
The young man was given strict talks about problems consorting with local women, but witnessed seniors in Buenos Aires being friendly in the holds with some ladies who cleaned them, but were desperate for soap. John became a probationary Midshipman RNR in 1923 on the princely annual sum of £40. By 1925 his employer’s company folded and he joined Hall Bros of Newcastle and then the White Star Line in 1929. Their ships had open bridges which exposed officers to the brunt of the weather. There followed difficult years with a world recession and in 1930 without a ship John returned to his farm and in 1933 married his Belle. By 1934 he was with the Blue Funnel Line and then joined Cunard in 1937, the year after the company had launched the Queen Mary with government financial support. As a lieutenant he sailed on the MV Brittanic, the largest motor vessel of that time. He became Bo’son RNR on HMS Hood which gleamed with polished brass and enamel fittings; a ship of 41,200 tons with a board room to match.
He saw service with the Mediterranean fleet and witnessed the loss of aircraft off HMS Glorious which had flown into fog; only 5 landed on the ship, 17 on land, the other 5 in the sea. In 1938 as a Lieutenant Commander he trained to join the RN as a support officer and patrolled the North Sea in a merchant cruiser armed with a forward WW1 gun. He just missed an encounter with two German battleships which retired back to port having sunk another Cruiser once their presence was radioed. In bad weather navigating back to Liverpool he ran his ship on to rocks; luckily with no real damage and by refloating on the tide he avoided an enquiry. Torpedoed in 1940 and surviving hours in the sea, his next command was HMS Sunflower, an escort Corvette with 61 on board who had to share bunks between three of them in 8 hour shifts. Newly launched with a largely novice crew who required a lot of training his role with others was to escort convoys of 43 across the Atlantic with one F Class destroyer in overall command. This was sunk by a U boat leaving John in command. In 1945 as a full acting Captain he joined Mountbatten to bring home troops from Japan, return their prisoners and also bring back Dutch POWs. In 1949, foregoing a salary of £1875, he rejoined Cunard as a First officer on £576 and over the next 20 years including 3 on the Queen Elizabeth he worked his way up and in 1965 achieved his ambition to become Master of the Queen Mary after 44 years and 3 months. This service included finally taking RMS Mauretania to the scrap yard. A year before he was due to retire at 68 he took the Queen Mary into her last dock in California sailing around the Horn and only handed her over once it was confirmed by telephone the sum of $3m had been paid. Before that he had secured the Blue Ribbon by the fastest crossing from New York to UK. On retirement he was given an honorary doctorate by Cardiff University, but had to wait until 1978 to be made a Freeman of Haverford West. He died just 11 days before his wife Belle in 1993 who claimed ‘I won’ the bet of living the longest.Responding to questions Richard confirmed the arguments over the naming of the Queens especially the difficulty of not confirming to a BBC reporter that the new ship would be called QE2. The talk had been greatly assisted by notes John had used for a speaking tour of the US where his memory was still kept alive. The name ‘Treasure’ was to differentiate other Jones by including family connections. David Thompson in his Vote of Thanks said as a cricketer in Eastleigh they had played the crew of the Queen Mary and in his late years John had batted, but was given some advantage. Richard’s talk had been educational, witty and full of interest to all members.
Meeting Report January 2016 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
John Ellis gave the second talk on the Motor car: the Adolescence covered from WW1 to post WW2 and included the development of the body and chassis. He showed slides of these vehicles, people, mechanical designs and production techniques. Early cars started with a chassis to which a wooden body was fitted sometimes reinforced by steel. The chassis incorporated the engine at the front with transmission to the rear wheels. The body being separate was subject to large torsional stresses over rough roads and few survived long; many were replaced. Maintenance was high with a refurbish every 60,000 miles. In 1926 the universal joint was introduced
Key cars in this period were the Ford T, VW Beetle, Citroen DS and the Mini. John introduced the key personalities. The first two men were Edison Gowan Budd and Joseph Ledwinka. Budd set up a corporation in 1912 and started to use welded steel and plastic in the body. He worked on carriages for the railways and in liaison with George Pullman made luxury units including sleeping cars. Ledwinka developed gas welding. Next Henry and John Dodge who worked with Ford left the company, but agreed a single settlement of $25m. The brothers set up a factory and in 1914 asked Budd who had started to use pressed steel to make 500 cars for them. This rose to 15,000 in 1915 and 17,000 actually sold.
The key advantages to steel bodies were they could be painted and stove heated with a high gloss finish, faster and reduced store inventories; stronger as a box cage and safer; being lighter had enhanced performance and longer working life. The system used a monocoque and unitary construction and had licences in force around the world. Cars also had roofs for the first time and John showed models from Citroen and Dodge. Overheads were high initially due to the level of investment, but with volume production the profits became high. However the chassis was still used with the steel box on top.
The next step was to mount independent suspension onto the steel body. John illustrated the system on cars such as the Vauxhall 10 in 1939. There were three geniuses who changed the whole game; M. Andre LeFevre; Dr Ferdinand Porche and Andre Citroen. John concentrated on the latter’s early brilliance and first choice career in the Army Artillery Corps. He developed the Helical Gearing system and in WW1 became a major producer of armaments working with the French Government. After the Armistice with 12,000 employees to look after he set up a factory on a waste area close to Paris, the Quai de Javel.
His first mass produced model was the Citroen Model A in 1919. The Model 10 came in 1034 with TA and Kegrease, a half-track used mainly by the military. Andre developed a model for the ordinary mass market. He pioneered front wheel engine mounting and a drive system which minimized all transmission costs. He set up a dealer and spare parts network. LeFevre became the key designer and independent suspension plus semi-automatic gears were introduced. A new smaller car was needed. So was born the 2CV. A prototype using corrugated steel, lighter, cheaper, but as strong, was used with a canopy top and 1 headlight; there was a 2 cylinder engine air-cooled with a simplified chain driving system. It needed servicing only every 120,000 miles. Hidden from the Germans it went into production after the war selling 3.5 million cars.
John talked about spring suspension systems and anti-roll techniques so cars would not lean over on bends. There were new developments such as hydraulic suspension and ABS. John moved on to Dr Ferdinand Proche, who started producing cars in 1904 including an early hybrid. The company went bust, but Porche joined Daimler in Austria which then joined up with Benz. Porche left and set up his own design company and sold designs to around 4,000 car producers in Germany. Hitler came to power and wanted a car that young people could save up for. Porche came up with a design for an air-cooled 4 cylinder 1200 cc engine, rear mounted to hold the car down on the hills The factory set up in 1938 to produce this post-war was in the British sector of Berlin; in 1945 with the help of the British Army who ordered 12,000 vehicles, production started. By 1948 by streamlining production Beetles could be turned out in 100 hours and 21 million were sold.
Issigonis, a Greek born in Turkey, naturalized in UK, began making components for the railways. He was recognized as the Da Vinci of the car industry. He worked initially for Humber. John talked about and also illustrated cheap three wheel bubble type cars such as the Isetta. However Austin BMC wanted a proper baby car and Issigonis went to Longbridge. He designed a car with the engine turned 180 degrees and the Mini and the 1100 were born, selling 5 million. Answering questions John said the Helical gear was successful in avoiding backlash; the pedal arrangement came in with Cadillac; the DS suspension had problems due to losing pressure when they stood idle. The box body construction was much stronger and putting in a sliding roof weakened it –to get a bigger roof opening much heavier metal was needed in the cage.
John Corfe in his Vote of Thanks said for many this talk had taken members down memory lane and given them a sense of nostalgia thinking about all the cars they had owned. For him his grandfather and father had been heavily involved with Austins.
Meeting Report December 2015 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
On Monday 21st December 2015 Lymington & District Probus Club met at Elmer's Court Hotel & Country Club for its Christmas lunch and members were entertained by a talk from its vice chairman Nigel Lang. He had served in the RA as a lieutenant colonel who 40 years ago in an act of bravado took part in the single-handed yacht race called OSTAR 76 from Plymouth to Newport in Rhode Island. His experience of sailing was limited to trips to France with 6 years in the naval reserves, although his navigation had missed even the Cherbourg peninsular. He obtained leave from his commanding officer and spent weekends travelling from Zeebrugge to Dover to get his Contessa 26 called Galadriel ready for the race.
The history of this race was very interesting starting with a challenge to sail to New York in 1960 to Blondie Hasler in his Jester 26 and Francis Chichester in Gypsy Moth. The race to Newport started in 1964 with just 5 boats including Chichester and Hasler. An objective of 50 days was set in June 1976. The numbers increased rapidly and the size of boats grew enormously with the involvement of the French. In 1964 there were 15 starters, 35 in 1968 and 125 in 1976. There were many adverse conditions to overcome; the Gulf Stream ran between 2-4 knots against, the prevailing winds were Westerlies, there were major fog-banks around Newfoundland with icebergs coming south as well as fishing fleets and the crossing of major shipping lanes. Radar was in its infancy. This Great Circle route was 2810 miles, but the alternative going south around the Azores to avoid the hazards was 3500 miles.
Nigel showed slides of his small craft, its cramped accommodation and limited height even for him with his relatively small stature. Changing sails was a difficult task as they had to be lowered rolled and stored before the new one could fitted and hoisted. His first task was to take the boat down to Plymouth by March and take part in a 500 mile qualifying trial into the Irish Sea. This had to be completed between the 8th and 12th. This was his first effort single handed and he got very wet and cold. He also had to stay awake all the time. He ran into the French fishing fleet and narrowly missed one; he was tired and sick as a dog. His battery got wet and there was an escape of chlorine gas. His inexperience led to a mis-measurement with confusion between longitude and latitude so although he was 40 miles short of target, due to riding out a force 9 gale he got away with it. However his deck started leaking against the hull and urgent work had to be done to seal it.
His next challenge was to get and fit new rigging and decide on what stores to take; he had to provision for the return journey with another crew as his CO had not given him enough time to do this. Nigel went through a substantial list including food, water, equipment spares, navigational aids and radio. Being unsponsored as against many of the others money was tight, but nevertheless he over-provisioned and the boat was low in the water. A month before the race he learnt astro-navigation in one weekend in the Baltic and showed members the very basic sextant that he used.
Nigel’s next slides showed the level of opposition including Claire Francis and the enormous French yachts, one 9 times his at 236 feet, although the smallest was less at 22 feet. However many were highly sophisticated; one had 10 cockpit winches and others were catamarans one of which had HF radios being trialled on 5 yachts entered by the SAS to test Atlantic conditions. He gave graphic descriptions of his race experience: the highly contested and challenging start despite 3000 miles to travel; once the boats spread out his feeling of isolation alone on the Atlantic; becalmed the second day and the fatal decision to take the north route; the second week with approaching storm lows resulting in a series of major winds up to force 10 and huge seas that broached one yacht and broke up a catamaran. Photos showed the incredible maelstrom of some of these. The unprecedented severity of the storm caused one third of the entrants to retire, 5 skippers injured, 24 yachts seriously damaged and 3 sunk.
He got through, but will always remember the ferocity of the waves and the banshee howl of the winds. Nigel claimed he had a vision of the people supporting him which lifted his spirit and kept him going.
The saga continued with avoiding pilot whales and a further period when he was becalmed and going backwards. His boat was sailing so slowly weighed down by extra stores. He decided to lighten the boat and jettisoned some jerry cans of water without first checking his supplies; it left him very short. As he neared America the fog came down so he could not see down the length of his boat; he became increasingly anxious about running into fishing boats and logs travelling from the Hudson Seaway which had sunk another boat. Then there were the icebergs; two indicator warnings of a close approach were the drop in the water temperature and the noise of waves breaking against them. He heard this, but in the fog could not tell where it was and got his life raft ready; then gradually it faded away.
Having got through the fog on a clear day with excellent visibility he took the chance to sleep. Suddenly he heard and felt a crash on his bows and the yacht stopped dead; he had run head-on into a yacht coming the other way. Initially he thought it was empty, but a man came out on deck from below saying he thought he was safe to nap. Nigel’s bow and pulpit had been broken. The odds of this collision happening are incalculable. It was lucky not to be a Russian Trawler that had sunk another boat in the past. A US tuna fisherman gave him a live massive lobster and tuna fish.
Nigel’s first confirmation of his position was when he passed a marker buoy near the entrance to Newport. Of the 200 entrants and 125 starters, 78 had finished on time with 5 being late. 45 had retired and there had been 2 deaths. Galadriel was 69th in 48 days 3 hours and 10 minutes. For the return a National Guard Sergeant turned up in uniform complete with medals, but quickly disillusioned Nigel with his obvious lack of knowledge and experience. However he got a professional skipper involved. Members’ questions ranged from the use of radio which kept contact with his station in Germany; the smell of ozone with a close approach of an iceberg and what help was available for boats in distress. For the latter it seemed very little. As Nigel had pointed out at the start he went ‘where angels fear to tread’ and survived ‘by the skin of his teeth’.
Tony Brimble in passing the vote of thanks expressed the admiration of all members at the tale of a novice learning by experience. Nigel confirmed it was a challenge he would not repeat now.
Meeting Report November 2015 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
On Monday 16th November 2015 Lymington & District Probus Club met at Elmer's Court Hotel & Country Club for the first of four talks on the Motor car: the birth covered from the 1700s to WW1. John Ellis sold an engineering company designing and manufacturing machinery for the plastics industry which marketed to the automotive industry in Europe and USA. He retired to the New Forest and is a life member and volunteer at Beaulieu Motor Museum and works on the "Information Desk". Many of his slides were of the vintage cars in that collection.
John began by emphasizing the importance of the car both from the point of view of its social impact and fashion statement, but also the economic effect that has changed and enhanced the lives of many millions of people throughout the world. It all began on the continent of Europe. England was wedded to the steam engine and passed a law in 1895 which lasted until 1906 restricting vehicles to4 mph in the country and 2 mph in towns with a man with a red flag in front. This held back any investment and development. In France Nicholas Joseph Cugnot in 1765 made the Farmer and Vapour cart to transport heavy loads. It had no steering, or gears so did not develop. In UK Richard Trevithick produced a steam bus in 1803 with an engine bases on those used in the Cornish tin mines which relied on atmospheric pressure to drive the piston. This was very large and slow. Stevenson and Watt took the steam engine forward with an external furnace producing steam which was not practical for mobility. In 1862 Etienne Lenoir produced the first internal combustion engine using town gas and had a number of attempts using carts to carry this around.
Siemens in the late 1800s supported research by Sigfried Marcus who was also science teacher to the Hapsburgs in Vienna, to experiment with a magneto. This was used in the first real car in 1865, but there was no clutch. Three newer versions were made in 1875 only one of which is preserved. The Nazis were determined to destroy Jewish artefacts, but one car was bricked up in a museum in Cherbourg and rescued after the war by Americans, restored and put in the Vienna museum. The engine was a two stroke and unreliable. Nicholas Otto in 1885 produced a four stroke for Daimler and Maybach. He developed it in his shed over two years. John told an amusing tale of Otto’s wife who was determined to prove its worth, driving it for 60 miles and filling up with benzene which could only then be bought in chemist shops. John had a slide of the John Bentley model in Beaulieu to illustrate the major technical advances of spark plugs, mechanical valves, water cooling, and carburetor.
The next Carl Benz version from 1894 had two front wheels and two gears of which 65 were sold. The newer Velos model saw 600 sold which was more than the rest of the world altogether. Gottlieb Daimler produced a motor cycle and concentrated on engine development for water boats on the Thames. His first models relied on hot tube ignition which needed a match to light the two candles to get the engine going. To move forward it required an entrepreneur to develop the market for cars. Emil Jellneck, a rich man and an emissary, gave a cheque for two year’s development to make a car capable of speeds up to 75 mph. William Maybach produced the first Mercedes, named after his daughter. The 1903 model is in Beaulieu and could do75 mph. A simpler chain driven model was designed in 1908 by Ferdinand Porsche. Both the three pointed star logo, and a supercharger were introduced in 1928.
John showed slides of other cars such as the Renault De Dion Bouton of 1899 with the first front mounted engine and a differential on the rear wheels. It took an eccentric coffee merchant, Henry Hewitson, to ridicule the red flag man in this country, having his servant ride ahead and at the sight of a policemen produce a pencil with a red tip. The Act was repealed and registration numbers and licences introduced. An electric London taxi, the Bersey, came along in 1897 with a 30 mile range and Queen Alexandra rode around the Park. However being silent and the streets chaotic with horse-drawn vehicles, accidents kept happening, so it was withdrawn. John talked then about the Montagu Daimler of 1899 when Lord Montagu successfully challenged the prohibition of cars entering Westminster offering to take the Prince of Wales for a ride. A consortium of notables was established which led to the foundation of the RAC.
There followed information about the partnership of Rolls and Royce with a factory in Coventry. John had a slide of the Silver Ghost of 1909. The bodywork on cars was individually designed to be fitted to a chassis costing £999. This car had six cylinders and 12 spark plugs with two separate ignition systems. Henry Leland in the USA developed an improved gear system and founded Cadillac and Lincoln Motors. The Cadillac had the first self-starter. Then along came General Motors followed by Henry Ford. He was a tycoon who owned mines, steel plants and railways. His concept of vertical integration, where the raw ore went in one end and a finished motor car came out the other end, totally revolutionized the market and made cars available to the masses. The first Model T had to be high off the road and wide so that it could straddle the rutted roads in the countryside left by horse driven vehicles. It sold for £135 ready for the road as against the £999 for just a chassis from rival manufacturers. The production line used pre-engineered components. Even the main body work consisted of the packing case which was pre-drilled for the three foot pedals.
John took members through the highly complex procedure to start and drive this car. The foot pedals were for gearing. The accelerator and advance/retard on the engine firing were on the steering column. There was a lot of winding of the handle to charge the cylinders, adjustments to the advance lever, a quick spin of the starter handle and a rush around to once again balance the firing. If it did not work there was a wait of 20 minutes to allow the petrol vapour to disperse. However 1.5 million were sold. It seems front wheel brakes were not invented until the Austin 7 which was first produced in 1922. Only 4500 were made as against Ford’s 15 million by 1938.
Roads were in a terrible state and punctures were endemic. One ingenious approach to mending a puncture was to have a spare which clamped over the wheel to get the car home. Another idea was to have solid rubber wheels. The Trojan used these in 1924, but compensated with very soft springing. The next most successful car was the bull-nosed Morris Cowley produced in 1924. At a realistic price it cornered the market in the UK and made a fortune for Lord Nuffield.
Members asked why driving on the left became the vogue in the UK. John thought it had to do with the narrow London Bridge and difficulty in passing. In France there was concern about knowing where the ditches and trees were which encouraged a left hand drive position. The reason the only colour for Ford was black was because that particular enamel dried the quickest and there was no need for an oven treatment which was impossible with the wooden body.Eric Davison in passing the vote of thanks for such a fascinating talk said his interest in vintage cars came from the film Genevieve. The car had become the transport of choice, but now with congestion perhaps the pendulum was swinging back to allowing the train to take the strain. John’s educational talk had opened his eyes as to how the car had developed.
Meeting Report October 2015 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
On Monday 19th October 2015 Lymington & District Probus Club met at Elmer's Court Hotel & Country Club to be entertained by Ron Taylor with an illustrated talk on the Dorset Stour river from its source in Wiltshire to its mouth in Christchurch. It was a history lesson and full of interesting facts about the events and people who were associated with the many locations on its banks. There are 8 springs to the north of the A303 in Wiltshire, but the key one is close to Stourhead, the National Trust property, and is called St Peter's pump house with a structure taken from a bombed church in Bristol and housing a statue of Neptune. The house was built by the Hoare family who founded the Hoare Bank in the City of London which is the oldest in the country, still privately owned, whose directors are liable for any debts so are not beholden to the state. However to be a depositor you require at least £5m! Ron showed portraits of generations of the family starting in 1772 and three were Lord Mayors of the City of London. The bank was the first to issue cheques, and despite all the family being millionaires Sir Henry Hugh Arthur handed the property to the NT for the country to benefit.
Passing under the A303 Ron talked about Bourton and the derivation of the flag of Dorset from the white Cross of St Wite and the gold of the beaches. He linked his talk with a series of headings; this one was Millers and he described with photos the ancient mill mentioned in the Doomsday book which wove flax and canvas, during the war made mills bombs, and was closed in 1998 to be left derelict and open to any passerby despite obvious dangers due to its derelict state. Ron said it was a very eerie place to visit leaving shivers down your spine. He also claimed nearby was the site of the battle between King Alfred and the Danes which secured his throne. There are fields in Milton on Stour, our next stop, where many are buried that could be a bonanza for metal detectors as there had been no excavations.
The next heading Landscape Artists took us to Gillingham which was built as an accident due to the railway from Salisbury having to bypass Shaftesbury and its high hill. Here we met Archdeacon John Fisher whose picture hangs in the Fitzwilliam gallery in Cambridge and whose great friend John Constable painted two local pictures, Gillingham Bridge in 1820 and Parham Mill in 1825. The next three villages, East and West Stour with Stour Provost have excellent pubs. We then met the Author Thomas Hardy who had a mansion in Sturminster Newton and wrote a novel The Return of the Native which was considered too sexy in his day, but has now become a study book for GCSE. There is still a working mill there where flour and bread is on sale and a stand of trees of the endangered black poplar.
We heard about the closure of the Wareham to Bath railway, the Somerset & Dorset Railway, which was a casualty of Beeching who sent instructions to the surveyor to put nothing positive in his report to Parliament. It is now being actively considered by some enthusiasts to be reopened. A supermarket checkout would have to be bulldozed! There is a pub called The Smugglers and Fiddleforth Manor owned now by English Heritage, but free to the public with an historic barn in the grounds. This was used by Isaac Gulliver, the king of smugglers, who owned 15 boats and with 50 men regularly brought contraband over the Channel into a secret cove near Bournemouth, then through tunnels which still exist in a dangerous state, to the the Stour to be rowed upstream to Sturminster. It seems the man in charge was the local vicar!
Ron said there were 20 old bridges over the Stour and each has a plaque warning that anyone found damaging them would be deported for life. He showed one example at Burweston. Under the heading Brewers we entered Blandford Forum which was built on beer brewed in a brewery founded in 1730 by Hall & Woodhouse. The latter family still own it, but it was bequeathed to their forebears by a Hall whose name is to be preserved for ever. Their fortune was made when in anticipation of an invasion by Napoleon, troops were stationed in Weymouth and they had the contract to supply the beer. They were the first to can beer, but did not take out a patent!
The Bankes family was the next dynasty to be shown. They built Kingston Lacey and lived in Corfe Castle until as Royalists it was destroyed stone by stone by the Roundheads in the area. The family were close to William Pitt the younger and in the village parish of Shipwick there are two ancient mills, one for weaving, the other for milling wheat, where the first bridge over the Stour was built which is still open to traffic today. Kingston Lacey was given to the National Trust when it became too expensive to run and was the largest land gift at the time.
We moved on to Wimborne Minster on a tributary to the Stour and travelled over another ancient bridge. The Minster was dedicated to St Cuthburga, a saintly nun. For 1300 years there has been a monastery and nunnery there founded by a king Ethelred. Ron talked about his investigations into alumni of Canford School; Sir Henry Cecil was the leading horse trainer in the country with 55 winners including the Oaks, but whose career had a series of set-backs. Then there was Dr Stephen Ward of Profumo and Mandy Davies fame; an osteopath who treated famous people and became a friend of Lord Astor.
Ron is a keen golfer so knew the three courses particularly Canford Magna. Iford Bridge now has a new name, but the Stour is still the recipient of many a golf ball. There are water works reservoirs at Longham serving Bournemouth which are now nature reserves housing a family of Otters. Ron talked about a drowning incident in 1907 of two young teachers, Elsie and Sybil Green, when the only way to cross a point on the Stour was by punt. On a bad foggy evening they got disoriented and fell in. A memorial and service was held 100 years later with many attendees.
The Murderer section related to Dr Crippen and his lady love who owned The Crooked Beam restaurant at Iford Bridge. Despite trying to escape abroad with him Ethel le Neve was not prosecuted claiming innocence and lack of knowledge. Having lived to a good age she confessed on her deathbed to a full knowledge of events. So she lived free for many years. In the war there was a military Engineering Development facility close to Barrack Road where a Sir Donald Bailey invented the first Bailey bridge, so vital for D-day and now a technique used throughout the world. Ron showed a river access area where Asda has an agreement to develop which was the test area. A first prototype bridge still exists at Stanpit Marsh. This is now a nature reserve.
At Tuckton is a retirement home with a plaque recognising the importance of Russian emigres who published Tolstoy's novels banned in Russia. There was also a notorious female spy, Melita Norwood, who gave Russia all the important research on non-ferrous metals being developed for the atomic bomb. She escaped prosecution due to her age when she was discovered. She is the subject of a book titled ' The Spy who came out of the Co-op' because of her support for the only communist sympathetic store in her opinion.
Colin Jolly in passing the vote of thanks said he was now going to take a lot more interest in the hinterland in Dorset, having in the past just enjoyed the coast.
Meeting Report Septmeber 2015 by Michael Minton -Press Liaison Officer
On Monday 21st September 2015 Lymington & District Probus Club met at Elmer's Court Hotel & Country Club and for a history lesson given by David Templeman, chairman of the Friends of Sheffield Manor Lodge, a prison of Mary, Queen of Scots, whose patron is David Starkey. The subject was Mary’s niece, Lady Arbella Stuart, the Queen that never was. The talk was illustrated with slides of paintings of her as she grew up, the main participants in her sad history and the mansions she was held in as well as the Tower of London.
The issue was who should succeed Queen Elizabeth. Arbella was the daughter of Charles Stuart, born in England at Chatsworth in 1575. She was a granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick and Margaret, Countess of Lennox, whose mother was Henry V111’s eldest sister. So Arbella had a strong claim. When the King’s children died without issue the throne would pass by right to her and her descendants. Being English born was also a condition of inheritance which put her ahead of Mary’s son James.
David gave a vivid tale of intrique and duplicity by Bess and Margaret to advance the claim of Arbella, getting her into the Royal Court at the age of 12, sitting close to Elizabeth who had said she was the one who would be even as I am. Her aunt and Grandmother kept raising her profile. It was unfortunate that the young woman had been given every privilege of education and deference by all her servants which made her demand precedence over other courtier ladies; this caused friction at court and the Queen therefore sent her away for three years after her second visit. After a third visit she was not able to return until Elizabeth’s death 12 years later. There were plots and efforts by Catholics to support Arbella and the Queen did not want her around the court, especially as she was going after the queen’s favourite the Earl of Essex.
Arbella became a virtual prisoner of Bess at Hardwick and was watched continuously to ensure she would not leave. There were three bizarre attempts at releasing her; a marriage to one of Jayne Seymour’s brothers which was aborted, an escape with a troop of horses organised by Bess’ son which was thwarted by guards at the gates, and then going on hunger strike. This saw her eventually moved to Wrest Park under the supervision of the Earl of Kent after Elizabeth had died and James came to the throne. By then James had no worries about Arbella usurping his secured position, so she was taken out of the hands of Bess. She became James’ first lady of court, but with the stricture she should not marry. James did not want any other potential heirs to the throne. There were also continuing catholic intrigues trying to involve her.
Arbella got a dispensation to marry a loyal British subject of her choice. However any possible successor to the throne required the king’s permission to marry. It was unfortunate she chose a Seymour, a family that had a history of treason to the crown. Despite James forbidding the match they went ahead. William her husband was put into the Tower and Arbella kept under house arrest. This meant her leaving London to go to Durham and she realised she might never see William again.
David then told the saga of her attempted escape to France with William due to join her having slipped his guards in the Tower. Arbella, despite being weak from illness, dressed as a man and rode 13 miles on horseback followed by a boat rowing her to Liegh-on Sea, where a French ship was waiting. Meanwhile William slipped out a side gate with the help of a cart carrying firewood and rowed straight to Leigh. However due to various delays Arbella’s ship had sailed to catch the tide and William had to hire a collier boat which instead of going to Calais went to Ostend.
James discovered the escape and sent a fast ship after them. Arbella had delayed landing at Calais to await William, but he was still travelling along the coast. So the whole project foundered on a lack of a plan B. If she had landed and waited on-shore, history would have been different. Captured and returned to England, James committed her to the Tower with her aunt, Mary Talbot, who had funded the attempt. With no hope of a pardon from James, Arbella’s health faded, she went on a hunger strike and died a miserable death on 25th September 1615. This talk was to celebrate the 400th anniversary of that action. She was buried on top of Mary Queen of Scots in Westminster Abbey.
The Privy Council had favoured James over Arbella partly with the connivance of Robert Cecil and also because she was a woman and nobody wanted a third queen on the throne. However Arbella had no ambitions to become queen, but just sought a good marriage. Her husband William was pardoned and served three kings with distinction, James, Charles 1 and Charles 2. He married a daughter of the Earl of Essex and eventually became the Duke of Somerset. Arbella would have very much enjoyed this position had she lived. They called their daughter Arbella.
Roland Stott in passing the vote of thanks said it was such a fascinating story and a very interesting new slant on history which all his audience appreciated.
Meeting Report August 2015 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Officer
On Monday 17th August 2015 Lymington & District Probus Club met at Elmer's Court Hotel & Country Club and enjoyed a fourth talk by Colin van Geffen, a public speaker and artist with paintings of aircraft in a number of RAF establishments, whose presentation on Strange Planes made use of many slides of ways man has tried to get into the air and the various techniques he has experimented with. This has resulted in a huge range of very strange craft many of which did not have commercial, or even flying success. Many were experimental and test beds for future development. He began by explaining the basic principle of how a wing gives lift and commented that some of the craft did not even understand the basic laws of motion.
He showed a range of air balloons starting with Montgolfier in 1783 and a bomber used by Napoleon in the 1780s. These were developed into airships able of crossing the Atlantic by 1910 when both Hiddenburg and Zeppelin flew over England photographing military installations. In WWII Japan had launched 1000 balloons carrying bombs over North America and these have been found scattered throughout the USA and Canada. Colin moved on to the gliders and early designs mimicking bird and insect wings using the idea of flapping. However to fly they needed forward motion which had to be power-assisted in some way.
He showed the use of pedal power and pump handles. Flapping did not work, but a bicycle with various gears could spin a rotor as well as propel the vehicle along the runway. There were a number of aircraft using wide wings some called Gossamer and Albatross. Helicopters initially had lift and some forward motion, but the tail rotor was originally horizontal rather than vertical which is needed to give stability and manoeuvrability. They developed into enormous modern machines that have massive lifting power like the flying crane. There was also the use of jets on the end of rotors rather than a central engine. Even double-decker aircraft were produced in Russia with rotors at each end like a Chinook.
Gradually planes became enormous and seemingly impossible to be able to fly, like the Boeing 747/900E and a German plane called Gigante. A number of planes such as 747s were converted into carrying major equipment both for military and commercial purposes. The cargo area became bloated and also detachable like a pod under-neath the main frame. Boosters were introduced to give take-off lift using jet engines as auxiliaries. To achieve even higher speeds and altitude planes became parasitic, with a large plane carrying a smaller faster one to the necessary launch elevation. This led to the Space Shuttle.
Colin showed many weird looking craft such as the Flying Flea, Criquet and Pterodactyl. He moved on to Flying Wings and Stealth designs both from America and Russia. Then he showed VTOL craft using a variety of engine configurations even having 8 for lift and 2 for forward propulsion. Others had engines that swivelled. There was one that turned up to land on its tail like a rocket. Clearly the Harrier and the expected new American version are modern developments of hovering planes. The Flying Bedstead of the 1950s was experimental to test various technical solutions. The Avro Vulcan carried test Olympic engines and Lancasters tested laminate and metallic wings as well as the Berol jet engine. Colin had slides of many test projects with emphasis today on high altitude aircraft touching into space and mach4 speeds. He mentioned the solar wing plane with its flexible wings, NASAs Proteus and Richard Branson’s craft. He illustrated swing wing aircraft and some with oblique wings.
Even more strange were experimental craft looking like flying saucers with names like Vault Disc plane, Avrocar and Vault Flying Flapjack. There were craft flying over water and land using hover skirts like the Saunders Rowe SRNs 1 to 5. Then came a whole series of maritime craft, the Clothes Horse, The Canard, The Southern Cross Beachcomer leading to the Sea Dart and the use of skis and jet engines. He showed planes that scooped up water to douse fires and those that had retractable floats. Even cars that were convertible to flight with attachable wings. There are also flying submarines called Reid RFS, Ushakov LPL and DARPA research vehicle.
Colin ventured into the area of Stealth aircraft using new technologies and some vary strange looking designs. Then the development on in-flight refuelling starting with a tube with fuel pouring from one plane above another developing into highly sophisticated drone links to modern jets from super tankers. Planes now have new technologies to create flexible parts such as drop noses on the Concorde and wings that reshape as well as wingtips that move up and down. It seems that man’s ingenuity knows no bounds, some work, others do not. But Colin finished with photos of whole ranges of experimental craft in use by NASA. Clearly there are still secret ones, but in the end they are spotted by someone.
John Barty in passing the vote of thanks expressed the appreciation of all members for such a fascinating insight into this largely unknown world and what the future might hold.
Meeting Report June 2015 by Michael Minton - Press Liaison Offficer
On Monday 15th June 2015 Lymington & District Probus Club met at Elmer's Court Hotel & Country Club when Colin Jolly talked about airfield damage repair in times of conflict when time is of the essence in keeping air cover in operation. Colin has worked in the water industry and under the Sultan of Oman; he had University posts in Southampton and in the military at Shrivenham and specialised in the area of building construction. He has written a book on pre-concrete design. He shared with members his extensive knowledge of the use of varying mixtures of materials in the construction of a runway and the major issues arising when it is attacked by bombs and missiles.
In a series of slides he illustrated the types of damage caused in a number of recent conflicts starting with Stanley airfield in the Falklands. The objective of the enemy is to prevent aircraft from landing so there is an urgent need to have an effective repair, especially for fast fighter jets that land on the front wheel with great force. Bumps and ridges even as small as 32mm will cause planes to nosedive into the runway.
Colin was involved in developing methods to repair the damage very quickly yet creating a strong resilient surface which was still smooth and could be used within 1 hour. The repairs for cracks for civil airlines are usually done overnight and can be scheduled with all the quipment ordered in advance. This is not appropriate for operational military airfields which can be anywhere in the world with a huge variance in the temperature and weather conditions, rainfall and ice, to hot and dry, with many different soil conditions. Compacting of the subsoil is a major factor and water can be a key element in avoiding subsequent collapse.
The surface layer must have a certain tensile strength to be able to bend without cracking and must harden within an hour to the required specification. Normal reinforced or pre-stressed concrete takes up to a month to harden fully. As speed is essential, another factor is the removel of debris and assessment of how deep the damge is; sometimes the explosion has undermined the sub soil leaving a potential cavity under the surface which is not readily seen. The surrounding top surfaces may also be raised up so will require levelling. In the past the hole has been covered by rolling out mesh mats, but these do form a ridge. Other techniques use precast slabs which require the hole to be cut and shaped to take them and achieve a level surface.
Colin described the development of a technique which uses single sized stone for infill which gives the maximum compaction ability both quickly and permanently; this is overlaid with a special grout material which flows like double cream. It can be spread evenly to harden to a flat level surface that starts to harden within 10 minutes and is ready to use within an hour. The limiting factors to its successful use relate to the equipment available and it has to be mixed correctly on site. A number of specially designed vehicles have been produced to compact the stones by a piling hammer and behind this a pan mixer with hose pipe outlets to spread the grout. The most successful mix uses magnesium phosphate cement.
A number of contractors have put forward solutions and Colin described some of the abortive attempts to perfect the technique including gunite spray techniques which did not give an even surface result. It was also necessary to have the materials delivered in bags to provide the right mixes. As the grout hardens there is a vigorous chemical reaction which creates heat up to 95oC which also helps to seal any surrounding cracks due to expansion. However the costs are high and the MOD after experience in the Balkans, Afghan and Iraq decided it was too expensive. So currenlty runways are repaired by falling back on preformed slab technology, but by cutting cured concrete from the aprons, taxiways and even the end of runways.
Colin then showed examples of the giant circular saws now in use and wire saws. Answering questions he described new techniques for lifting heavy slabs, how the tensile strength was measured and achieved, and the requirement for different levels of mixes related to the temperature and climate. He pointed out the suppliers of premixed concrete already typically offer up to 20 different mixes which builders can currently specify. He confirmed that airfield runways are rated on the weight of wheels they can carry which will determine the type of aircraft that will be licensed to fly into them.Malcolm Ross in passing the vote of thanks commented on his experience in mixing the base for a garage floor and the firing of a base for a wood burner, so he could appreciate the complexities of the challenges that faced Colin.
If you would like to read reports of our earlier meetings, please choose from the list below.
I am afraid we only go back to June 2010. More recent ones first.
January 2015 "Your Army" Click Here
February 2015 "Traditional TIdal MIlls" Click Here
March 2015 "Sign of the Times" Click Here
April 2015 "AGM & Members Talk" Click Here
December 2014 "My experience of Australia" Click Here
November 2014 "Preventing Body Rust" Click Here
October 2014 "Jazz in England" Click Here
September 2014 "Hamlet and the Detectives" Click Here
August 2014 "DNA & What it can do for you" Click Here
July 2014 "Psychology and Neuroscience" Click Here
June 2014 "Corporate Responsibility" Click Here
April 2014 "AGM and Members Talk" Click Here
March 2014 "New Forest remembers -untold stories of WW2" Click Here
February 2014 "Fibre Optic Communications" Click Here
January 2014 "The English Language" Click Here
December 2013 "Members Talk", Click Here
November 2013 "History of Wine Making", Click Here
October 2013 "Flying Boats of Southampton", Click Here
September 2013 "Three Sacred Cities of India", Click Here
August 2013 "Economic Regulation of the Water Industry", Click Here
July 2013 "‘Windows, Nostrils and Nice Women: A Romp through the Garden of English’, Click Here
June 2013 "The History of Bucklers Hard", Click Here
May 2013 "Design & Expectations of Wind Power", Click Here
April 2013 "AGM", Click here
April 2013 "History of National Census", Click here
March 2013 "My Life as a Professional Violinist", Click here.
Feb 2013 "Oil Spill Response", Click here.
Jan 2013 "Freelance Comedy Writing" , Click here.
Dec 2012 "RAF Presentation Crime". Click here.
Nov 2012 "Doorstep Crime". Click here.
Oct 2012 "Marketing the Wight Link Ferry" Click here.
Sept 2012 "Effect of Climate Change on Sea Level" Click here.
Aug 2012 "Update on the New Forest National Park" Click here.
July 2012 "Our German Kings and Queens" Click here.
June 2012 "The History of the New Forest Show" Click here.
May 2012 "Tax Care and Toy Boys" Click here.
April 2012 AGM and " Hearing and Hearing Aids" Click here.
March 2012 "The Great American Song Book" Click here.
February 2012 Meeting report The British Economy" Click here.
January 2012 Meeting Report " Portsmouth Historic Dockyard" Click here.
December 2011 Meeting Report "Borneo in 1964" and Bronowskies Briquettes" Click here.
November 2011 Meeting Report "Parkstone on Sea, Salterns, Sandbanks and Flying Boats"
October 2011 Meeting Report "In the Wake of the Cockleshell Heroes" Click here.
September 2011 Meeting Report " A History of Wine Through the Ages" Click here
August 2011 Meeting Report. "The Dorset Tank Museum." Click here.
July 2011 Meeting Report. "Forgeries in British Currency" Click here.
June 2011 Meeting Report. "Incorrect Political Correctness" Click here.
May 2011 Meeting Report. "Coastal Walks" Click here.
April 2011 Meeting Report. AGM and "Proposed Changes to NHS" Click here'
March 2011 Meeting Report "Older Drivers Skills Scheme". Click here.
February 2011 Meeting Report "AB Port Southampton Developments" Click here.
January 2011 Meeting Report "Explosive Demolition" Click here.
December 2010 Meeting Report " The History of the New Community Centre, Milford on Sea" and "The Magistracy" Click here.
November 2010 Meeting Report
"The History of the RNLI and the Lymington Lifeboat Station" Click here
October 2010 Meeting Report "Medieval Southampton" Click here.
September 2010 Meeting Report "National Air Traffic Service (NATS)" Click here
August Meeting Report - Ordnance Survey From Revolution to Revolution Click here
July 2010 Meeting Report -From Lymington to Vladivostok by Train Click here
June 2010 meeting Report "The Most Stately of Stately Homes" Click here
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