Let’s face it, we are generally obsessed with speed. We’re fascinated with Usain Bolt’s recent world 100 metres record of 9.58 seconds. We are impressed by the latest fibre optic cable broadband that can download the average length film in less than 20 seconds or all the episodes of “Friends” in under 10 minutes.
We marvelled at the first Japanese high speed “bullet” train that travelled from Tokyo to Osaka at 130 m.p.h. and cut the journey time from 4hours to a little over 3 hours. We were proud when British Rail introduced the “125” trains in 1967 even though these trains travelled slightly slower than the famous Mallard which set the speed record for the fastest steam train in the world of 126 m.p.h. back in July 1938 which stands to this day. Continue reading →
One of the many legacies of the Industrial Revolution is the system of canals and waterways that runs through our towns and cities. Once they were home to warehouses and wharves with fleets of barges carrying colossal amounts of goods to and from ports and between destinations primarily in The North and Midlands.
In Holland today, 45% of the freight received into the port of Rotterdam is still transported onwards by canal. It’s the same for the port of Antwerp and from Amsterdam, over 45 million tons of cargo moves along its canals every year. In America, the New York State Canals have demonstrated that shipping freight by canal is more than 30% cheaper than moving it by truck and in addition there are huge environmental benefits: far less air and noise pollution and far less road congestion. Continue reading →
It’s wonderful to discover that it takes a Yorkshireman to invent a new way of making a great tasting cup of coffee. George Sowden was born in Leeds in 1942 and studied engineering before architecture. He was more likely to drink a strong brew of tea or a pint of bitter than a cappuccino but after living in Italy for more than forty years, he turned his attention to making a perfect full flavoured cup of coffee.
He had admired the English teapot which has been pretty much unchanged since the days of Josiah Wedgwood in the mid eighteenth century. The teapot is a wonderfully flexible piece of equipment that doesn’t need instructions on how to use it and makes a cup of tea just as you want it. As much as you like, as strong or as weak as you want and at the temperature that suits you. To George, it was bewildering that there wasn’t a comparable easy coffee maker. Continue reading →
Sixty-six years ago, you may well have been planning your visit to the Festival of Britain. If you fancied making the journey to London, you would have joined the 8.5 million visitors to the South Bank of the River Thames who encountered thirty pavilions showcasing various aspects of Britain’s life that had been constructed around the new Festival Hall.
The Festival of Britain was a celebration of Britain’s dominant position in the arts, science, technology and industry and provided visitors with the opportunity to be educated, bask in Britain’s culture and history and see the very best in modern industrial and decorative design. The government had allocated £14 million as a budget and the Deputy Prime Minister, Herbert Morrison, had appointed Gerald Barry to spearhead the project. He turned to Hugh Casson Continue reading →
In life, things are often not quite what they seem. Take, for example, the breakfast cereal “Grape Nuts.” It contains no grapes and no nuts but this still somehow manages not to confuse us. The same goes for Cream Crackers – they contain no cream and, incidentally, you don’t have to be crackers to buy them. Easter Eggs (and you can check this out if you still have one around the house) contain no egg. They are, of course, egg shaped but nobody calls them “chocolate egg shapes.” “Light” food products are no brighter than their full fat rivals and “Frosties” aren’t even cold let alone frozen. Similarly and most annoyingly, the “easy open” flaps on boxes of porridge are anything but easy to open. Continue reading →