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Author Topic: Cars, Trains, Guns and things  (Read 11079 times)

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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #55 on: August 15, 2018, 10:09:01 »
When I used to prowl the fields and hedgerows with dog and gun, I always carried a decent knife, usually my just-legal sheath knife that now is used to trim vegetables from the garden.

I kept a small tool kit that included a Swiss Army knife in my site survey bag as I found it too bulky to carry in a pocket, but an extremely useful miniature Leatherman multitool is always in my trouser pocket. It is especially useful for getting into parcels sealed with that extremely strong black tape favoured by a certain internet-based delivery organisation.
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline MartinR

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #54 on: August 14, 2018, 20:29:41 »
I was at school in Bath, Somerset.  Around 1971/2 I can remember walking off to go camping, rucksack on my back, sheath knife hanging from my belt to the right and hand axe hanging to the left.  We weren't even in scout uniform.  To be allowed to use or wear a knife or axe you had to have passed your "knife & axe" badge, which if memory serves me aright consisted of making a wooden tent peg by chopping and whittling.  I assume if you had all 10 fingers at the end you passed.

To be fair though, context can be important.  About 22 years ago I could be seen wandering around the shore at Lakeside wearing a 7" sheath knife on my leg and with a concealed 3" knife tucked up my left sleeve - but then I was in a wet suit wearing SCUBA gear and carrying a pair of fins.  Would that be allowed now?  Diving in weed without a knife has another name: suicide.

Offline conan

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #53 on: August 14, 2018, 19:37:44 »
Ahh,that brought back some memories of my own, slightly misspent, youth.

The bit about the motorcycle braking test reminded me of a chum of mine who was taking his test in Trowbridge when the examiner stepped out to conduct the emergency stop part he unfortunately stepped in front of the wrong bike and was run over, he told me he was heartily miffed as he had to take the test again due to the examiner being incapacitated.

Regarding the old button B phones, I to remember sometimes getting 4 pence out of them, but also being able to make free local calls by tapping the phone cradle with the number you wanted.
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #52 on: August 14, 2018, 14:26:17 »
And another thing….

I have been thinking about some of things that we were allowed, or even encouraged, to do in our past which are no longer available, or even illegal for the later generations. Even little things, like pressing button B every time we went past an old red telephone box, and sometimes you actually got someone’s 4d, so off to the sweet shop!

If reports are to be believed then there could be a reintroduction of the deposit on bottles. It certainly motivated many youngsters to collect them and get the deposits to be spent unwisely, usually in the sweet shop where the bottles had been taken. There were those who also mastered the art of collecting bottles from the rear of the shop then boldly marching round to the front to claim their reward.

In the Scouts we all carried at least a penknife. I still have a WW2 military one that I used to have hanging from the belt hook. However a sheath knife was far more desirable, and there is a photo of me at camp in Bedgebury, aged 11 with a such a knife on my belt.

Lock knives were encouraged as being safer than other folding knives, as they could not fold up without pressing some sort of release catch. They are still advocated as such in gardening circles, but walk out into the big wide world with one in your pocket and in law you have an offensive weapon, no excuses.

I use various axes (the joys of country living and foraging to feed a wood burner) and remember being taught in the Scouts how to carry and use both a hand and felling axe, then left to get on with it with just enough supervision from a more senior scout.

We had, and used, pea shooters and catapults. Most of my rural friends had an air rifle.

Obviously, talking weapons, my pistol shooting days are unrepeatable. I am pleased that I was able to teach both my sons to shoot, as I think that an appreciation of the weapon’s real life potential, rather than the screen portrayal is important. Luckily, in general, my generation has not had to learn this lesson the hard way from the wrong end of the barrel.

Back to the Scouts. The Bedgebury camp was on the private school part, and we went there and back in the back of a dropside lorry, sitting on our kitbags and tents. Seat belts? What seats!

I have always liked models that can do something to fire the imagination, even if it is only to float. I made a balsa wood boat at junior school, thin sheet over a frame to give a classic speedboat outline. This was painted once at home with a pale green gloss found in the garden shed.

After that, at school, I made a glider which successfully flew a couple of times but needed more push into the air. The plans showed two options, a catapult arrangement, or a Jetex motor. Give me a motor any day. A Jetex motor is a metal chamber less than half an inch diameter, with a spout end (like a single hole salt shaker) that unscrews. Mine took two pellets, again about half an inch long, and a piece of Jetex fuse was wound into a spiral, the end taken through a fine metal mesh which covered the pellets. The spout was screwed back on with the fuse protruding. The whole contraption clipped back into its holder on the glider, and the fuse lit, by an adult when at school. The chemical pellets burnt quickly but gave a short powerful push, all very jet-age in 1960.

A couple of landings soon showed up my flimsy workmanship and the glider was scrap.

However, at home I had an elastic band powered plane that didn’t go far. Jetex engine mounted to the top of the high winged monoplane, elastic wound up, fuse lit and it went like a bird. Tried it again to show parents, and the timing went awry, the elastic ran out a bit early and with the nose pointed down the Jetex cut in. The resulting spectacular crash was the undoing of that toy.

Mounted on the back of the speedboat the Jetex was amusing but difficult to deal with in a domestic bath!

The fuse burnt in a satisfying cartoon (think Road Runner) fashion, like a flexible miniature sparkler. It was put to many uses over the years, most involving explosions, some by fireworks, one or three by home made potions.

The fuse and pellets were easily bought at Beaney’s(?) model shop by the bottom of Ufton Lane in Sittingbourne. They probably came under the same regulations as the caps for our toy pistols, also bought from the same place.

Fireworks were eagerly anticipated and were only generally available just before November. My father was a huge fan and there was a ritual going to the shop to choose the display, which we held, every year, in the back garden. A Guy was always made with one of Dad’s old work boiler suits, stuffed gloves for hands, someone’s old shoes tied on and a brightly coloured papier mache mask from the shop over an old pillow case sewn up to form a head. An old hat finished him off.

The actual fireworks would look very tame to modern eyes, as there were no display quality offerings. However, we would have pockets stuffed with penny bangers (or even some 3d ones) and Jumping Jacks, which were usually set off behind either elderly neighbours or sisters.

Popping out from behind a tombstone with a torch pointing up under your face was a fairly common amusement at winter choir practice, but the added hiss of a lit banger, thrown by an accomplice, landing behind the victim was quite satisfying.

While I suspect that private model steam engine driving is still not a problem, I also suspect that the Safe and Elfty brigade would have kittens at the thought of a 12/13yr old spending hours hauling paying passengers as I did.

Three schoolfriends and I went on the Norfolk Broads for a week. We were only 18 and had a wonderful time. I can see why such bookings are now almost impossible.

The huge rate of attrition of young motorcyclists in the 1960s was quite understandable given the optional wearing of helmets, complete lack of formal tuition and a test procedure that I found at best comical. The tester told me to drive around the block (Bower Mount area of Maidstone) and on one of the roads he would step out with his clipboard held up, and I had to make an emergency stop as if a child had run out. I saw his feet under the parked cars, so when he appeared I had already slowed, and stopped so quickly, and so far from him, that he had to wave to me to come forward.

I had the pleasure, when recently punting around for car insurance renewal quotes, to be able to answer the nice young lady’s question of “how long have you held a full licence” with a simple “50years”. I checked, and the number of cars on the road has more than trebled in this time, which also goes a long way to explain the lack of parking. The convenience of pulling up outside the place that you wanted to go and being able to park there is long gone.

Even as a university student only a year or two after passing my test I had learned to parallel park with the best of them, as by then pressure on parking in Birmingham was starting to bite, even if Sittingbourne was a little behind.

I could stop off at my sister’s house near Northampton on my way to and from Birmingham and remember giving her and her three children (all then under 6) a lift back to Kent. The three of them sat on the back seat, gloriously unrestrained, shouting “faster Uncle John” as we came down the M1. My Morris 1000 was unable to comply.

Old cars have always held an attraction, and in the 1970s were mainly valued as usable and entertaining devices and not investments worth silly money. However many of the new vehicles of this period are now “classics”, even if their rarity is likely to be due their ability to rust into oblivion. Drive one now and rather than being transported (pun intended) back to those glorious days, many simply show how far we have come since then. Wipers that don’t lift off the screen at a modest speed, and effective washers rather than a hand held fairy liquid bottle out the open window for starters. Actually starters themselves. The clang of the inertia starter pinion hitting the ring gear on a Ford flywheel was quite distinctive!

Try a set of sealed beam headlamps instead of the halogen or LED ones now in use, they were dire. Of course these had replaced ordinary bulbed headlamps, and the 6volt versions were even worse. My father and grandfather both spoke in favour of the performance of pre-war acetylene lamps against the 1950s offerings.

Drum brakes, that would fade away when hot on a long descent. Servo assistance, well that would be along soon, but in the meantime your average family saloon did not stop well. The stopping distances in the Highway Code are quite long for today’s vehicles, but probably realistic back then. Although the Dunlop Maxaret aircraft anti lock braking system had been adapted for the Jensen Interceptor FF in the mid 60s, such was the cost and complexity that these systems remained out of reach to normal mortals for a couple of decades. When I went for a job interview at Girling in 1972 they were just getting into ABS research and development, obviously without major breakthrough as they were letting a bunch of freshly graduated engineers poke about and look all over their prototypes.

Every car now has power steering. Drive even a small car from the an earlier era and the weight of the steering is so high, normally coupled to an enormous thin rimmed steering wheel. The free play in the steering boxes meant that many wandered about, and were not so much steered, but aimed in a general direction. The early power steering units were often too light and direct giving no “feel” for what was happening to the front wheels. Hence our first year University project was to redesign the early XJ6 steering rack that was notoriously vague, and we were even helped and encouraged by its specialist manufacturers, Adwest.

At the time I really had no idea how lucky I had been in my education. I have previously mentioned that my first school was in the barracks huts of an old anti-aircraft battery at the top of Bettescombe Road Rainham. However they pushed me to high standards despite the rather basic surroundings.

The post war baby boom meant that more children needed to be accommodated into the education system, and to some extent this meant building new schools or extending existing ones, but also quite large class sizes. At least 40 per class throughout my junior school.

I found the 11+ relatively easy, and became one of the 52 pupils admitted to the two first year forms at Borden Grammar School. Whilst I do not wish to get into a political debate on schools, I can merely observe that I found it a system that generally suited me, and with boys from hugely diverse backgrounds.

As with many schools it would seem, there was a lack of useful careers advice. It mainly consisted of a room full of old university prospectuses, military careers booklets and a few “Janet and John” level pamphlets of what was needed for actual job descriptions.

Actual careers advice, rather than what and where to study next, from a teacher who had done nothing other than train then teach, was a little thin. Even the selection of subjects to study, first at O Level, then A Level was a bit hit and miss. Time tabling was the first hurdle, as the core subjects for obvious combinations needed to be available. This also meant that taking some subjects excluded others. You could not do Physics and Art I remember, and I was quite good at Art.

Although I wanted to be an engineer my science subjects curiously meant that I could not do Technical Drawing. Luckily my interest in model engineering had led me to learn how to read drawings, but did not prepare me for actually having to produce them at University. We were taught using free-standing drawing boards, that were angled up towards the rear. No parallel motion systems, just a Tee Square (I still have, and occasionally use, mine) and set squares. Knowing how to correctly sharpen the 2B pencils to get the proper line thickness was a black art. Computer aided design? – the computers were all housed in air-conditioned rooms and were the size of a range of kitchen units. Calculators were slide rules or log tables and a pencil and paper.

We went from using c.g.s. metric measurements where the base units were Centimetre, Gramme, Second, to m.k.s. which use Metre, Kilogramme, Second. Very confusing as certain important constants change magnitude between the two systems.

Just to finish me off, when I got to university it changed over to S.I. (Systeme International) units. Thereafter the metric system and I have had a fairly shaky relationship. I was probably not alone, a large picture of a be-wigged gentleman in a frock coat clutching a Thompson machine gun, posed as the famous photo of Churchill, was displayed in the Mechanical Engineering Students Common Room, captioned as “One Killer Newton”.

[Note - One Kilonewton (one thousand Newtons) is the SI unit of force equivalent to 224.81 pounds force, but you all knew that anyway…]

Housing was simpler for most. I joined a house share near Meopham, and when the leaseholder moved on for a job promotion I simply asked the agents if I could take it over from her. Having done so, as long as the rent was paid and the neighbours didn’t complain, we were left in peace. My sub-tenants came and went over the next four years without the agents having any knowledge of who they were. Now each occupant must be vetted (usually at a cost) before the agents will approve them, and then they will be added to the lease with equal rights and responsibilities as the original tenant.

However, of the two tenants of the house in Gillingham that my sisters and I inherited from our grandfather, one was a Controlled Tenant, the other a Regulated Tenant. In practice this legal protection meant that we received a pittance in rent, which in turn meant that we had no money to make improvements, and because we could apply to have a new rent if we did improve the property, the tenants were quite happy with the status quo.

Lastly, communications. If you have handwriting like mine, when at times even I don’t know what is written, then word processing is a dream. I have used various programs for work since 1984 and to be able to revise what has already been written would have altered my ability to provide legible history essays. This was a subject that fascinated me but because everything was driven by written essay style work I did not do well and lost interest in the subject at school.

I found myself saying “answers on a postcard” the other day. Since when has any programme asked for written replies? It is all now so immediate, go online or text, and vote now…

A photo dated 1924 shows my grandfather at the wheel of his Bull-nosed Morris Oxford. On the back is written “The good old days”. I suspect that the warm glow of nostalgia makes us all think that way from whichever point the perspective is taken.
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #51 on: March 02, 2018, 17:21:24 »
Another picture found, this is the range at Rochester Airport, taken from a pistol firing point. The upper target level and sand trap is for the 50m rifle range behind and above. The range is still clearly visible on Google satellite immediately behind the main hanger, and parallel to it.
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #50 on: March 02, 2018, 16:38:34 »
While "tidying" some old photos away, I found a few interesting ones, among which was this of my four pistols.

Clockwise from bottom left:

Unique model DES69 .22LR target pistol, with high grade commercial rimfire lead ammunition. The front of the barrel has an optional weight attached, this minimises the effect of recoil during the timed series of the U.I.T. Standard Pistol Competition for which this gun was designed. The adjustable palm rest enables you to almost lock the gun onto your hand, while ensuring a consistent grip every time.

Colt Gold Cup .45ACP, with reloaded jacketed round nosed ammunition. This is based on the standard military weapon, but is made to far tighter tolerances, better materials and with target sights and trigger.

Smith and Wesson Model 52, with reloaded .38Special wadcutter target ammunition. This is a dedicated target weapon, only firing the flat nosed wadcutter ammunition that is designed to give clear holes in cardboard targets.

Smith and Wesson Model 19 revolver, with reloaded .357 Magnum semi jacketed ammunition. A development of a Police weapon, but to better tolerances and with wide spur target hammer and trigger.

The last three all have rubber Pachmayr grips to replace the standard, slippery wooden ones for better control.
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #49 on: January 28, 2018, 09:26:16 »
Well thank you kind sir, but there is no chance of me writing a book, I found this hard enough.

There may be another instalment of all those things that I forgot to mention, but I have yet to remember them :)


Well put Sir. I also have the problem that many of those I should include are still very much alive and there could be trouble for some. Not legal but social trouble along the lines of the Navy Toast 'To our Wives and Girlfriends, may they never meet....'.

Sentinel S4.

A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline JohnWalker

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #48 on: January 27, 2018, 18:08:57 »
Thank you Filmer01.  I've thoroughly enjoyed your writings much of which I can identify with.

JW

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #47 on: January 27, 2018, 13:51:02 »
Well thank you kind sir, but there is no chance of me writing a book, I found this hard enough.

There may be another instalment of all those things that I forgot to mention, but I have yet to remember them :)
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Offline lordraglan

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #46 on: January 26, 2018, 23:25:37 »
Filmer01, Your style of writing is beautiful - Keep doing this and seriously consider writing a book about your adventures - I would buy it.

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #45 on: January 19, 2018, 17:45:11 »
Other Things

Music

I have a vague memory of an early music lesson (aged 6ish) where we had a large sheet of symbols on the wall in the Hall of the Camp School in Rainham, and the appropriate drum, cymbal, triangle or other noise making thing to bang or shake were meant to be hit at the moment indicated. I always got the triangle, but really, really, wanted the drum. I have great sympathy for Baldrick in the opening credits of Blackadder 4.

My mother was a competent pianist and there was always a piano in the house, only superseded by an electronic organ when she moved back to Rainham to a small bungalow. Although I never learned to play I knew the keys.

At Barrow Grove school I learnt to play the recorder, and although I only ever played the descant recorder, once we had progressed other pupils were playing ones with lower registers. My first introduction to playing in harmony. I learnt to read music – crudely, but I could get by.

I joined the Church Choir at Newington, and although not a particularly strong voice, I could sing quite well. I went to a couple of RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) day courses in Canterbury, then on a week long residential course at their then headquarters at Addington Palace in Croydon. This took place during the first week of January 1963, so leisure activities consisted mainly of digging our way out to the road and snowball fights.

I went to another in the summer, that I remember best for a group of us sight-reading (singing something without any practice) the Hallelujah Chorus, just for fun.

Weddings were a useful source of income. Half a crown a time, sometimes twice some Saturdays, was very welcome boost to my pocket money.

Fashions in church matters in the 60s were best demonstrated by the binding of the couples hands in the wedding service (as in Princess Margaret's service) and, of course, the dropping of the "obey" promise. At Christmas the service of carols and lessons from Kings College was on the radio, then TV and copied everywhere. Inevitably this meant the unaccompanied singing of the first verse of  "Once in Royal David's City" by a single voice, from the back of the church before the whole choir began singing, now with the organ, as they walked in procession slowly up the aisle to their places.

Lance did the solos, but on the day he had flu. I get really nervous and self conscious, so not me then. However there was nobody else that I could con into doing it, so after a rather faltering start it was, as they say, alright on the night.

I occasionally played the recorder both as part of the choir, and soloist.

Because our choir was regularly involved in courses we were invited to send two choristers to the RSCM Festival. This was held at St Paul's Cathedral, and as I was now Head Chorister, I went with Lance, my Second. It was very inspiring, and not a little daunting, but with nearly 300 voices it was impressive, especially the echo! I still have my Order of Service and all the music.

Shortly afterwards my voice began to break and my choristers career as a treble was over.

When I first joined the choir, the organ was located in the South Chapel, which meant that the organist could see the choir through a mirror and even then only through some tracery, very unsatisfactory. Shortly after that the organ was rebuilt, and this time the console was sited remotely between the pews and the choir. Much better as the organist could then see directly what was happening in the chancel and could conduct the choir better. I made a scale model of this part of the organ that did well in both the school model competition and one in Rainham.

While the organ was in bits across the pews we all tried blowing the large wooden bass pipes and generally being a nuisance. I cannot recall the company of organ builders, but they must have been asked to remove the Sheerness Dockyard Church organ, and the choir went to "help" by carrying pipes out to the van. To us it was just a day out with sandwiches and lemonade.

I kept in touch with the organist and choirmaster as he was the builder of the steam locos, and who was teaching me basic metalwork to maintain his and then start to build my own. After a dispute with the then Vicar, he had resigned from Newington and was now organist at St Bartholomew's at Herne Bay. The catch was there was no proper organ.

An old tracker action (purely mechanical) organ was dismantled and removed from Hollingbourne church by professional organ builders, we were simply the labourers. Although the bellows had long ago been fed from an electric blower, the wooden hand pump lever was still in situ and could be used. On the panelling next to it was a carefully carved image of a WW2 fighter.

The organ was taken to Herne Bay and its rebuilding was started into the organ loft above the chancel of this 20th Century church. The plan was to rebuild it as an electro-mechanical instrument. Every Saturday I picked Graham up in my Morris Minor and we went and spent the day working on the organ. Some pieces he could work on at home such as building pneumatic servos to operate the stops (ranks of pipes, each with a different sound). Some old wooden parts had paper gaskets between them with copperplate handwriting on it, recycling is not new!

There was now a basic organ that could be used. I was merrily sitting on top of the thing inserting pipes, wearing a boiler suit, hat, scarf and gloves because of the dust, when I glanced down the church. People! In response to my question as why they were there, Graham replied that there was a wedding at 3pm, but that was ages yet. No, his watch had stopped, it was five to three, so I took a bow off the top of the organ, and positioned myself next to the instrument. What we had not refitted were the servos for the stops, so I became them for the day. With an agreed code, I worked the few available stops (sliding boards that opened up that rank of pipes to air from the bellows if the key was pressed) while Graham played. It all seemed to go alright, he got paid, and I got a work out.

Tuning the beast was boring but very satisfying at the same time. The older pipes were tuned by expanding (belling out) their mouths to effectively shorten them, or closing them to make them longer. With soft lead alloy pipes this is relatively easy but also easy to crack the lead. Later pipes have sliding end pieces, much simpler. As the pipes had been moved, stored in the church, then moved up into the organ loft, atmospherics meant many were out of tune when first assembled. The first rank had been tuned from a single pipe, that was itself tuned to a tuning fork. Once that rank was stable it became easier. When two identical notes are not quite correctly tuned there will be beats (pulses of sound as the two frequencies clash), and tuning by ear is to remove these beats. Very time consuming.

I left him to it when I went off to University, I have not been back, I really must.

I continued singing in the school choir, some major works were attempted, but by far the most enjoyable (on many levels) were the Gilbert & Sullivan operas that we did with the nearby Girls school. The great attraction was that all the rehearsals and performances were at the Girls school. Rehearsals started in the autumn term, then soloists were chosen who did even more rehearsal. By mid way through the spring term we could sing it all, from memory. By Easter we were on stage and starting to get the theatrical bits sorted. Once exams were passed in the summer much time was spent just getting it right, again and again.

The sets were designed and painted by the girls art classes. A couple of all day run throughs during the summer holidays, then at the start of the autumn term it was performed. The costumes were hired, we did a full dress rehearsal. after a few minor checks, then performed to a paying audience for three or four nights. I did four productions. The Mikado (chorus), Ruddigore (Old Adam), Iolanthe (Lord Mount Ararat) and Pirates of Penzance (Sergeant of Police). The last one meant me missing a couple of days of the University Freshers Week to come back and perform.

I have not sung in public since.

Music is still important, but I listen when the fancy takes me, to what I fancy listening to at the time. This could be Bach Toccata and Fugue in d minor on an organ, or the Sky version. Glenn Miller, some serious opera or Rock Music and any and everything in between.

Odds and Sods (various memories)

Going to our neighbours to watch a flickering little TV set with a magnifying glass device over the screen, and having to draw the heavy curtains at my Grandparent's house so we could watch Bill and Ben. 

The joy when walking back home from school and realising that there was a TV aerial on the chimney of OUR house – 1957?

My Grandfather telling me about Trojan cars with solid tyres getting stuck in the tram lines – mind you he told me about quite a few things that Mr Google leads me to disbelieve!

Pre school age, sitting on the back doorstep with my mother sharing a pomegranate – as the daughter of a greengrocer she had eaten them as a special treat.

Waiting for "Listen with Mother" to come on the radio, with its distinctive "pinky-pong, pinky-pong" theme.

Watching the moon landing with my grandfather who was born 19years before the Wright Brothers hopped along in a biplane, and not expecting anything like that sort of advance in my lifetime, what else would we do?

The two most popular shows in the Students Union TV room (circa1970) – The Magic Roundabout, and Star Trek, the latter to various (mostly amusing) comments, especially to the line "lock onto his co-ordinates".

Working on my Morris Minor one sunny day and hearing the roar of aero engines, looked up to see many Spitfires and Hurricanes as the filming of The Battle of Britain went on overhead. Followed by going indoors to tell my mother, when the noise started again, "they're back" I cried, and a very solemn mother replied, "those aren't ours". A quick dash outside, and no they were not.

Later living near Headcorn we saw many historic aircraft, I think that we must have been under some flight path that they used. We were also treated to the annual visit by a WW2 fighter to display over the old Headcorn airfield (Egerton Forstal) in their tribute to the fallen. They would sometimes turn over us to return for another pass – that spine tingling engine noise...

I was frequently mocked for running out into the garden because of some aero engine noise, especially if I thought it was a Merlin. I rushed out because there was more than one and was rewarded by my only glimpse of a flying Mosquito, possibly my favourite aeroplane.

We went to Duxford as a family, I had my 35mm camera, and used a whole 36exposures, hoping to relive the visit with my sons once the pictures were developed. I had spent the whole day snapping away and the film had never engaged, not a single picture. I do love digital!

Watching the Lancaster from the Battle of Britain flight heave itself around at very (to me) low level over the field behind our house as it turned for another run at Headcorn was impressive, even to my eldest son who is not really a plane person.

I am not good at heights (or boats for that matter) but gladly followed as a chase vehicle while my wife and her friend went up in a small hot air balloon from Headcorn, following them over past Staplehurst, and watching in awe of his control while the pilot kept it just a few feet off the ground while they got the farmer's permission to land.

This was not a commercial flight, the two brothers (both very practical farmers) who owned the balloon were well known to Sally's friend and they liked to have three or four people with them as ballast. A few weeks later and late on a Saturday Sally had a phone call, did she want to go up again tomorrow? And would I go as well, as the friend was otherwise busy. With some bravado I said yes, then spent a sleepless night regretting it. 6am at Headcorn and we took off in the misty dawn. Very impressive and enjoyable, and home for a late breakfast. Our pilot had heavily annotated maps (where to avoid because of angry farmers, livestock and temporary hazards such as cranes, spring to mind) a GPS to confirm his position, radio to the chase car with trailer, and another to the aerodrome.

We often saw the larger balloons, some even landed in the field behind us, but I was never tempted again.
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline Mike S

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #44 on: December 29, 2017, 23:00:47 »
I can remember when I lived in Rochester 1956 -1961 seeing the Night Ferry passing through at approximately 7 am when I was doing my paper round. BB or WC piloted by an L1. Just loved to see this with the Wagon Lits Coaches. It was just so different to the normal Electric Suburban Units or the Steam  hauled Express trains.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #43 on: December 29, 2017, 22:43:50 »
The Night Ferry certainly had the Wagon Lit cars, also a big head board as well. I think the Arrow left Victoria at 10am for Dover, hence my question. If you saw the train in the morning it was probably the Night Ferry, almost always hauled by a Bullied in later years (even when the `Britannias' were on the Arrow). The Merchant Navy class did not often need a pilot (extra loco at the front) but they normally put an L or L1 on the front of a West Country/Battle of Britain class.

Very much enjoying your writing, and stopping on a down grade with slippery rail is certainly a black art. I am a regular Driver on a very private line (a little bigger than the 31/2" but not by a huge amount) and have got used to stopping with only the tender brakes. One of our locos has a six wheel tender the other a bogie tender. However a third loco that visits has a steam brake and oh the luxury of that. I believe that next season we should have the steam brake working on one of ours and the vacuum brake on the other. I know well the gut churning feeling when the brakes bite and the wheels pick up and slide....... We have a turntable and pit at the end of the line, ground level...... 'nuff said... For the last runs this year we were visited by a society and we managed to get the steam brake working for the day, makes one hell of a difference.

S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #42 on: December 29, 2017, 17:43:44 »
S4, I have had no contact with Bantam Cock's builder for over 40years. When I last knew him he was building a 5inch GWR 0-6-0 saddle tank to the Speedy design. I never saw it finished. There was a brake on the front bogie of the passenger truck, which had the driver's weight over it, but precious little effect! Stopping distances at Mote Park coming down the bank with a couple of loaded carriages, were a black art. Because of my age I only drove on quiet days, but on busy days there were many others leaving oil and water all over the track, just where you needed to stop.

I think that the Golden Arrow must have used the north line for a while, although possibly not daily, it was certainly kitted out with the insignia, and being on a high embankment only 150feet away, clearly visible. Unfortunately I cannot remember exactly when this was, but I would think early 1960s. Were there any major trackworks on the SER line then, there certainly had been on "our" line, that might have needed a reroute?

On the other hand the ageing brain may be confusing the occasional appearance of the Golden Arrow with the regular Night Ferry. Would that be hauling blue(?) "Wagon Lit" coaches?

Peterchall pedantic? Heaven forbid - merely a seeker of truth and accuracy  :)
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #41 on: December 27, 2017, 21:22:06 »
Very interesting Filmer01. What happened to Bantam Cock? Looks like it was a good loco, good fun stopping small stuff sans brakes, try it on the 9 inch gauge with a four cylinder King (almost my favourite) or a four cylinder Lord Nelson (my favourite) five cars on a down grade with only a tender hand brake... You soon learn loco handling and stopping distances. Would that have been the Night Ferry rather than the Arrow on the Up first thing? The Arrow was mainly routed via the former SER main through Ashford, whilst the Night Ferry was almost always routed over the former LCDR main, often the Bullied would be piloted by either an L or L1 4-4-0 (very occasionally a D1 or an E1 if Dover were short).

Damn, I'm becoming Peterchall! Sorry for being a bit pedantic, I have thoroughly enjoyed your writing so far.

Regards, S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

 

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