musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Collections and Museums

Connections: It’s a record!

As I said in a post awhile ago, “connections” is all about how things connect to form a link between one action and a result. It can be fascinating to work your way through a series and to tie it all together. I have been looking for a nice set of connections and today I found one. I call it “It’s a Record” and it is about gramophones, records and popular music.

This morning I was discussing something with the one manager and somehow we ended up talking about gramophones,  and he mentioned that he had a record from 1908 that he can play on his vintage gramophone but was not too sure about what it was about,  but he could make out something about “bells bells bells”. When I returned to my desk my brain would not let this go because in my music collection there is also a song about bells. Could it be a newer iteration of an old theme? Unfortunately the track I was after is not on my MP3 player but I know enough to be able to tie this into that most famous of poets Edgar Allan Poe.

I have read some Poe, and always found it somewhat dark and dreary to ponder this long forgotten pile of ancient lore, but I also have on my MP3 player an LP by one of my favourite groups: The Alan Parsons Project. The Project released a studio album in 1976 entitled “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”. To quoth the blurb at Wikipedia “The lyrical and musical themes of the album, are retellings of horror stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe.  The title of the album is taken from the title of a collection of Poe’s macabre stories of the same name, Tales of Mystery & Imagination, first published in 1908″.  This date is important, keep it in mind.

Now I have been listening to Parsons since 1981 after I was introduced to the music by some of the guys in our infantry company and I was hooked, and over the years bought the LP’s as they came out. But then the CD came into being and the record stopped being the dominant way to own music, and the CD took centre stage. I never liked how they foisted the CD onto us so I stopped buying music, instead I would listen to my old LP’s on my hifi until that was stolen in a series of burglaries in 1999.

I rediscovered The Alan Parsons Project in 2004 and found out that they had a whole wodge of stuff I had never heard before and I gradually acquired it all on MP3 and occasionally CD. Something however was missing from the official releases that I knew about and here my information is a bit uncertain. One of the original members of APP was Eric Woolfson,  who was executive producer, pianist, and co-creator of the Project. He was an accomplished musician in his own right, and somewhere along the line I heard about a project that he was involved in called “Poe: More Tales of Mystery and Imagination“. I heard snippets of it and started to hunt down a copy, but alas trying to find something as obscure in South Africa was incredibly difficult due to monopolies in the retail music trade, the exchange rate and the lack of suppliers. I eventually managed to pick up one track at a time from various sources, and some were totally amazing (“Tiny Star”, “Immortal” and “Wings of Eagles” comes to mind almost immediately), others were strictly of the “listen to once, never again” class of music. One of the tracks on this LP that did not exist was called “The Bells” (see where we are going yet?).

When I heard those words this morning I thought of this piece of music, it is not one of my favourites because it is so strange, however, the LP is about the works of Edgar Allan Poe, could this be the same one? A quick Google and voila! The mystery is solved. 

It turns out that our 1908 recording of “The Bells” is a reading of the poem by Canon Fleming of London, who seems to have been quite a regular performer of poetry readings that ended up on those new fangled gramophone records like the original 1908 record in the image below.  It is very possible that this was released to tie in with the first publication of Tales of Mystery & Imagination in 1908!  

Unfortunately we do not have a handy gramophone at work, but a quick look found renditions of it available on Youtube. And, I rate it on the same scale of strangeness as hearing “Be British” sung by by Stanley Kirkby in 1912 following the sinking of the Titanic. These are really voices from the past of people long gone and an era that is very different from the one that we live in now.

Canon Fleming died in 1908, but his voice still exists on that round disk with a hole in the centre, and while his rendition of “The Bells” is somewhat melodramatic it really has to be taken in the context of the media that it was on. Families owned gramophones and would spend an evening listening to music or poetry readings on the gramophones (while their Fox Terriers listened at the bell end). I am currently reading Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, penned by the war poet Siegfried Sassoon and in it he describes how they used to listen to the gramophone in their dugout, and how they had a stash of records that were played over and over. We did a similar thing when I was doing my national service, only our gramophone was now a tape recorder or a portable radio. We certainly did have much more variety than those who rode out their time underground in the bunkers of WW1, and of course modern soldiers probably carry MP3 players or their music on their cellphones. The enjoyment of recorded media is common to us all. 

So, where did this all tie in together? It was really the remembering of that obscure piece on “More Takes of Mystery and Imagination” that rang the bells in my head, and of course had I not read Poe I would not have made the connection to the Alan Parsons Project, which I started to explore while in the army, listening to music to break the monotony, much like soldiers did in the trenches of battle. There you have it, another nice set of connections. 

As an aside  I really want to explore the portable music theme by finally posting images of two of the record players I have spotted locally in the one charity shop where I live. 

These are standalone record players that were used without a hifi or an amplifier. They usually had their own speaker attached, and most of the time that was in the detachable lid. 

The humble gramophone is a very nice collectable, and having a selection of records to go with it, whether they are tinplate, shellac or vinyl makes it a wonderful conversation piece, because most of us can relate to it from our past. Those odd crackly clicks and hisses from the speaker or horn gave those records an additional richness that is lacking in the digital reproductions of today. I know amongst my MP3 collection I had an MP3 that had been created from an audio recording of a vinyl record, complete with the attendant snaps and crackles from the original. There is something about that first touch of a stylus on a record that is missing from the MP3’s of today, not to mention that short burst of static that was a precursor to the actual music.  

Canon Fleming is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London which ties into my own visits to the cemetery in 2013 and 2016, although I was unaware of him at the time (writes note to self to find grave next time). As for “Be British”; many years back when I was still interested in the Titanic I bought a set of items from the UK (and it was one heck of a rigmarole to do), and part of it was an audio tape that had some of the period tie ins to the disaster. “Be British” really stood out because it personified the arrogance of those who decided that a ship was unsinkable, and would only carry enough boats for its size and not for the amount of people it carried. 

And that more or less concludes this post about connections. I hope to find more in the future because they are always around us if we only just stop and join the dots. 

© DRW 2017. Created 30/10/2017

Updated: 12/11/2017 — 16:21

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival 2017 (3)

This page is for everything else! The problem is that there were so many great vehicles on show that I kept on finding more favourites. This is where some of them have ended up. Where I can ID a vehicle I will. Everything else is pot luck.

 

Austin 7 Chummy

 

1904 Mors 24/32 HP

   
 

1923 Amilcar C4

 

“Herbie” branded VW Beetle

 

Fiat 500

 

Singer Gazelle

 

VW 1600

 

Bristol 2 litre

 

Citroen 2CV6 Special

 

1929 Ford Model A

   

1976 William Fourgonette

 

Lomax 3 wheeler

 

Ford

 

Dune buggy

 

Auto Union DKW

 

Willys Jeep

1942 Willys Jeep

 

1932 Lagonda 2 litre

 

Morgan 3 Wheeler

 

1934 British Salmson

 

1957 Rover Sports Tourer

 

Morris Van

 

1963 Heinkel Trojan

 

Bugatti

Bugatti

   
   

There was also a display of motor cycles, but not too many of them were classics.

Wow, some of these may have been seen in South Africa, especially the pickups (bakkies). I will continue with more from the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival, on the next page (page not completed yet)

forwardbut

© DRW 2017. Created 22/08/2017. All vehicles were on public display. Special thanks to their owners for keeping them on the road for everybody to admire. 

Updated: 22/08/2017 — 12:30

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival 2017 (2)

Continuing with the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival.

Of course the event was dominated by British cars of all shapes and colours, and many of them were seen in South Africa long before the emergence of the German and Japanese manufacturers. There was also a smattering of French and Italian cars, but they were definitely in the minority. That is also true in the case of the festival.  

As usual my identification skills are bad, but will do my best, In answer to the question: “why are they all facing in the same direction?” I tried to photograph with the sun behind my back so most of the images ended up facing in the same direction. 

MG TF1500

 

Austin Seven

Anglia

Ford Corsair

Morris “Woody”

Ford Escort 1600

Triumph

Austin A40

Jaguar

Ford XR3i

1956 Ford Anglia Deluxe

 

Lotus Esprit 2.2 Turbo

 

“E” Type Jaguar

 

1952 Alvis TB21 D/H Coupe

 

Austin Cambridge

 

Ford Zephyr

 

1958 Simca Aronde

 

Ford Capri

 

Austin Apache

 

Rolls Royce

As you can see the dominant player seemed to be Ford, and of course heaps of Austins. However, it may only be true of this particular show and not indicative of the state of motoring in the United Kingdom. A number of models that I had seen last year were not here this year, and of course there were so many cars I probably missed seeing quite a few.

The next batch are really odds and ends that caught my fancy and which were found in the UK in years gone by. Once again identification is not my strong point. 

VW Camper (Kombi)

Bedford HA Van

Morris “Police” car

1985 Ford Granada MKII

1927 Morgan Aero

VW Kombi (Fleetline/)

Vauxhall Cresta

Austin A35

Ford Escort 1300

Riley One Point Five

Rover 3500

Austin Healey

MG

Dellow MK2A

Alvis

Austin 7

 

forwardbut

© DRW 2017. Created 20/08/2017. All vehicles were on public display. Special thanks to their owners for keeping them on the road for everybody to admire. 

Updated: 22/08/2017 — 19:12

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival 2017 (1)

This morning I headed down to attend the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival, and I came back with 590 images. Regular readers will know that I also attended the event in 2016 and came back with an equally large amount of images. The problem is that many of the images are interchangeable between this year and last, and the self imposed limitations of the blog are that I can only really have roughly 40 images to a page. Its also important that I try show other aspects of the event, not just heaps of pics of Mini’s and nothing else (naturally we will need a whole page dedicated to the Mini).

 

Let us make one thing straight, I am not a car buff. I don’t know much about them, do not worship them and really see them as a means of transport and nothing else. However, I am a fan of nostalgia and many of these vehicles were around when I was young, and while the models may be differently named they are almost interchangeable between what was available in South Africa with what was available in the United Kingdom. 

At this juncture I would like to extend my thanks to the organisers and the many people who were there with their cars, they were really wonderful to see. Thank you!

Where to start? 

I think just for a change I will start with what I know as “Yank Tanks”. The large American cars that we very rarely saw in South Africa. I am not a boffin so can’t really Identify many of them, although I tried to get a pic of a makers badge or name wherever possible. The one car that I was quite surprised see was an Edsel, the only one I have ever seen (as far as I can remember).

The strange metal rods protruding from the front bumper in the first image was supposedly to warn when you were riding up the pavement! They were not connected to any sensors or warning lights so they are really quite useless if you think about it. 

The next vehicle is really a car from my past. My paternal grandfather had a Studebaker, but I do not know if this was the model that he had. Personally I really think they had the body the wrong way around.  This model is a Studebaker Commander.

   
   

And then there was this long monster of a car… It is a 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and only has two doors (although they are larger than my last car was) and is 5,72 m long

That is a big car!  Go check out the webpage of the people who run her, they have some seriously large cars on it. 

And a Hudson Commodore

Other interesting oddities I saw were:

An Oldsmobile

A Packard.

 

Chevrolet

Chevrolet

 

Ford Falcon

Cadillac Coupe de Ville

 

Cadillac

 

1956 Plymouth Belvedere

 

Chevrolet Caprice Classic

 

Corvette Stingray

 

Buick Eight

 

Chevy Bel Air

 

Ford Mustang

 

Ford Mustang

 

Ford F100

 

A long and low limo…

 

Ford Galaxie XL

 

Chevrolet C10

 

Chevrolet 3100

 

GMC Apache 10

Wow, some of these may have been seen in South Africa, especially the pickups (bakkies). I will continue with more from the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival, on the next page

forwardbut

© DRW 2017. Created 20/08/2017. All vehicles were on public display. Special thanks to their owners for keeping them on the road for everybody to admire. 

Updated: 22/08/2017 — 12:31

HM Prison Gloucester

It was time to go to jail; although in this case I am innocent I tell you! I was framed! call my lawyer! 

HM Prison Gloucester had recently unlocked it’s doors to the public and was accepting visitors to the disused facility. It was then added to my bucket list and it was one of the reasons I was in Gloucester yesterday.

The prison lies on the east bank of the Severn and was built on the site of a 12th century castle. The keep was demolished in 1787 and a prison was built in it’s place in 1879 while a debtors prison was added in 1826. A new wing was added in 1884 and the governors house was built 1850’s, although it is outside the walls.  

Once past the front door of the prison there was a labyrinth of passages to navigate, fortunately one of them led to the toilet! The first area I explored was where “closed visits” were conducted. There were 3 cubicles where the prisoner was able to talk to his visitor without having physical access to them. 

This is a holding cell, and it would be where arriving prisoners could be kept while they were booked in or until such time as they were allocated a cell, or if there was a shortage of space. It is a temporary solution though, and ideally overcrowding in this space would be avoided as much as possible. 

Once I had cleared the admin block I entered into what was known as a “sterile area” which was really a fenced in area behind the block with gates leading to an exercise yard.

Make no mistake, you will not be able to scale that fence easily because it may look flimsy but it is not. I expect the sterile area is used to cordon off the gate house from the rest of the the prison. There is a vehicle entrance in this sterile area and I suspect it was from here that prisoners were removed from vehicles for processing. 

For some reason prisoners always walked in an anti-clockwise direction in the exercise yards. There were three yards in total and this one leads into B wing. However I did not go into B wing immediately but went to the debtors prison instead. This was originally built to house people who could not pay their bills although this area has changed a lot since the Georgian era when it was built. In fact there was not all that much to see.

Entrance to the Debtors Prison

It was now in use as the healthcare centre, so was in a reasonable condition and the only real way you would know it was part of a prison would be the many lockable doors and barred windows.

Opposite the old debtors prison was the A&B wing which is probably the most spectacular part of the prison. Photography in there was difficult because of the varying light conditions and small cells, but I have to admit some of the images I took were stunning. Let us go inside before the screws find us….

To the left is the “A” Wing, and to the right is “B” wing. 

“A” Wing.

“A” Wing is probably where the general population were housed. The cells that I went into had a double bunk and a washbasin and toilet in them. These facilities were only installed into the cells in 1995/96. Prior to this prisoners would have to “slop out” at the start of the day. 

The cells are small, even with such a narrow bed frame in it. The toilet is out of frame but is on the other side of the washbasin in the left hand photograph. Imagine being locked in here for a long time, staring at the same walls day after day.

The wing has 3 levels to it and there is access to “C” block via an overhead walkway on the 2nd floor of this wing. The 3rd level was roped off so I could not investigate it.

There is one curiosity that is not immediately obvious and I did not take too much notice of it at the time. Outside each cell is a coiled serpent and they represent evil. Above them are lion claws which represent justice bearing down on evil. It seems to be just the sort of symbolism that the Victorians would have used. 

Returning to the central entrance I went into “B” Wing/Segregation. Two levels of this wing housed remand prisoners, and one housed “VP” prisoners and the segregation unit. 

Unfortunately I could not go into the chapel as the access to it was closed off. Instead I crossed over into “C” Wing and explored there for awhile. It was built in the 1970’s, and in the 1990’s was a “young offenders” unit until it was closed in 2013. It does not have the heaviness that I felt in the other block, although I am sure it must have been a rough place when occupied.

Having had a look at the interiors it was time to look at the exteriors. The only view you have of the outside is the sky; a very high wall surrounds the prison and there was no getting over it too easily.

It kind of reminded me of the garden walls in South Africa. 

The execution shed is long gone, but it was built at the end of “A” Wing, the Governor able to watch it from the luxury of his home. The last hanging in this prison took place in 1939. It is thought that there are over 100 prisoners buried in unmarked graves under the prison.  

And then it was time to leave. I have to admit the prison is an interesting place to visit, and they offer guided tours too. Personally I prefer doing my own thing and having a post mortem afterwards. 

Make no mistake, this place is not a holiday camp, it is a grim cold building that must have been noisy, crowded and violent. It is the nature of the inmates that they tend to be amongst the worst of the human race. 

I have visited two other prisons: the first is the “Women’s Jail” as well as the old “Number 4” Jail in Johannesburg, but it appears as if I never did blogposts for them (since retrospectively rectified). 

Random Images. 

¢ DRW 2017. Created 04/07/2016.

Updated: 21/08/2017 — 12:22

Moving the Dak

This is another retrospective post that I am doing based on images that I have in my collection. The exif data of the images says that this event happened on 05/04/2009, but, it may be incorrect due to my frequent file movements.

Anyway, one fine Sunday in 2009 I headed off to the South African Museum of Military History aka “The War Museum” in Saxonwold. I vaguely recall the reason for it, but somebody forgot to tell me that they were holding a military themed fair on that day. I hopped onto the M1 North, intending to bail out in the vicinity of St Andrews or Oxford streets, Unfortunately, the universe was not playing fair and as I approached the turn off I realised that I would not be turning off at that point because there was a thumping great Dakota blocking the exit! Now Daks are not the sort of thing you expect to find on a highway, they tend to congregate around airports, airborne invasions and occasionally rusting away in backwaters of the world. Some still insist on flying, and you know what they say “you cannot keep a good Dak down”.

This unfortunate Goony Bird was being towed tail first towards her destination (which was probably the same as mine), her wings had been shed but her engine housings were still intact. However, there was no way I could fit past her and given the fact that this was a highway meant I could not stop for a quick squizz, I had to get back into my lane really quickly and find the next off ramp. I do not know that part of town so well and there was a good chance I would end up taking one heck of a detour as a result. 

Eventually I managed to orientate myself and was in the correct area with the War Museum in front of me, although the place was buzzing with cars and people. I was very tempted to up the hook and head off for home instead.  I have just checked my images to see why I was at the War Museum and the reason was that I wanted to get pics of Nancy, the Springbok Mascot.

I forked up vast amounts of dosh to go into the War Museum, and it was packed, however, I first had to get my image and headed to the display where she was. Images taken, I went outside to look at the exhibits and displays. There was a small contingent of re-enactors  in military uniform and some of them were really amazing to see. The people responsible were Battle Group South. 

Special thanks to the guys that I photographed, especially the sinister looking guy in black. I have blanked his face to protect his privacy. 

There were the usual purveyors of militaria at the show and I wandered around, occasionally examining items or drifting back to the museum exhibits. I did not take too many pics that day for some reason. It could be that the crowds distracted me and I left after doing the rounds. However, there was a surprise in the parking lot!

That Dak and I were destined to meet again! 

The question is: what is the history of this aircraft? fortunately the history could be found at the Dakota Association of South Africa website. In a nutshell:

C/N 27099, Delivered to the USAAF on 11 January 1945.

Transferred to the RAF on lend-lease at RAF Nassau on 18 January 1945 as KN231.

Arrived in South Africa in May 1975 for the South African Air Force as 6850 (2) delivered August 1975.  Was to be donated to the Dakota Association of South Africa but was sold to private concern and displayed inside Caesar’s Palace Casino near Johannesburg International Airport in April 2000.

Sold once again to private concern and donated to the SA National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold Johannesburg in 2009, arrived Sunday 5 April 2009.

It was obvious that she would be a new exhibit, although I do question her arriving at one of the busier days at the museum. It was awhile before I was at the museum again, and the first place I went to was the only area large enough to house a Dakota. 

I must admit I did a lot of looking at this old lady because they are really becoming quite rare birds. 

Random Dakota Images

Who knows, maybe one day somebody will come along and buy her and she may fly again, at any rate, considering this old lady is now 72 years old she is a tribute to her builders and has a special place in the heart of all aircraft buffs. 

There is another Dak at Swartkops AFB that I grabbed 2 pics of… 

You can view more images of the SAAF Museum at Swartkops on allatsea.

What other aircraft does the War Museum have? 

The museum has a number of interesting aircraft, but they are not very easy to photograph in some areas (it is even harder now because of the no photography policy they unilaterally brought in).

Other Museum Aircraft.

My aircraft identification skills are not fantastic, but I can generally tell what they are but not what version they may be. I will slowly add data as I work towards finishing this post. Apart from the Dak there is a….

Hawker-Siddeley Buccaneer S.50 ‘422’

Dassault Mirage IIICZ

Aermacchi/Atlas Impala Mk II

 

Supermarine Spitfire F VIII

Hawker Hurricane IIc ‘5285’

De Havilland DH98, PR IX LR 480 “Lucky Lady”

Messerschmitt Bf109E3

Focke-Wulf Fw190A-6/R6

Messerschmitt Me262B-1a/U1 VH519

Messerschmitt Bf109F-2/Trop ‘31010

Hawker Hartebees Royal Aircraft factory SE5a

Aircraft Manufacturing Company DeH9

 

© DRW 2009-2017. Retrospectively created 23/05/2017.

Updated: 26/11/2017 — 17:42

James Hall Museum Of Transport

One of the better museums in Johannesburg is the James Hall  Museum of Transport in La Rochelle in Southern Johannesburg. It is the sort of place that is always worth visiting even if you have been there many times before. The museum was founded in 1964 by the late James “Jimmie” Hall and in conjunction with the Johannesburg City Council. The oldest motorcar on display is a 1900 Clement Panhard, but there are other items that are much older.

I have spent many hours there, meandering through the exhibits and I really enjoy seeing so many vehicles from my past. However, it is very difficult to present a balanced view of the museum because it has so many exhibits, and they are really a feast for the eyes. The museum consists of a number of exhibition spaces. Entry is at the doorway on the image above. This part of the museum does not really interest me because it is really about the days when the petrol engine was but a dream.

From this hall you move into the open courtyard area where many of the vehicles are stored or displayed. This is also where the majority of the traction engines are housed behind a fence. Many exhibits move around within the museum so some of my images show the exhibit where it was at the time and it may no longer be in that position at the time of writing or reading.

This is supposedly the largest collection of traction engine and steam powered vehicles in the country. However, I do not know how many of them can actually run. Many of the exhibits are related to transport in Johannesburg, so you will find the Christmas Bus, travelling Library and a number of ex-council vehicles in this space 

This is also where you can find the toilets and a small refreshment concession. The entrance to the next hall can be found in this courtyard and it leads into the hall where the majority of the exhibits are fire engines. 

This space leads into the blue tinted hall that houses the classic cars and motor cycles from many eras. It is a fascinating space and I remember many of those vehicles from my own childhood.

The door to the outside shed is to the right in this hall, and to the bus hall in the corner on the left of this image. The outside shed is where the agricultural machinery and steam engines are stored. I photographed the steam engines many years ago and their history may be found at old Steam Locomotives in South Africa (4 pages)

You get to the last exhibition space through the motor vehicle space and this hall is used to exhibit buses from various places in three lines. It also has the last tram that ran in Johannesburg. Unfortunately, the nature of the hall precludes effective photography because it is a very narrow space.

The exit to the museum is through this hall (image below)

 

That is the museum in a nutshell.  Do not take my word for it though, it is an awesome museum and well worth a visit. The museum does not charge for entry but a donation is always helpful, and always check the opening times so that you are not disappointed.

Many years ago the Transvaal Branch of the World Ship Society was given an area to exhibit nauticalia in when they held an open day. There are almost no aircraft or ship related exhibits. All the images in this post were taken at the museum over 4 different visits. 

© DRW 2017. 03/04/2017

Updated: 11/04/2017 — 06:56

The Science Museum

The Science Museum in South Kensington is probably one of the most innovative and interesting museums that I have ever visited. It is the sort of place that has something for everybody, and it is probably one of the best places to take children to when they need to explore.  I have visited it twice (2016 and 2017) and would visit it again if ever I get the chance. It is that sort of place! 

The Science Museum

The Science Museum

To cover everything in this blogpost would be impossible, there is just so much to see. Founded in 1857 from the collection of the Royal Society of Arts and surplus items from the Great Exhibition as well as a collection of machinery that originated from contents of the Patent Office Museum. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_Museum,_London). There are over 300000 objects in the collection, many of which are very rare and of historical importance.

Over 450 000 children visit the museum every year, which ranks it very highly in museum popularity. 

My first visit in 2016 was a short one, I literally ran out of time and I had really wanted to return at some point but my finances precluded a day trip just to see the museum, unless I was in London for another reason.  

I had heard great things about this museum too. and they are all true; it is an amazing place, although I did find the Munchkins crowded me out. However, they were having a blast and I hope that someday they will become great scientists instead of bankers and accountants or “something in the city.” 

Again there was just too much to see and I did not see a third of it. But, there were a lot of exhibits that tied into my interests. (I will be adding many more images to this gallery below at a later date)

 science1314  
   

Now who says Science is not fun? Oh, and by the way, the basement has a really interesting exhibition in it called “The Secret Life of the Home”, and it was amazing.

My 2017 trip was really to see the flight gallery. I had missed it in 2016, and from what I had read it held a number of interesting aviation artefacts.

   
   
   

Unfortunately the flight exhibition is in a very dark environment so pics were almost impossible to get, I was disappointed in that, but it just means a revisit is required.

From there I explored another area that I had missed, and it was really about communications and computing. 

At some point I will caption the images above, I do not have all of my Science Museum information with me so it will happen when I return to the UK. In the meantime I shall leave you with this image.

© DRW 2016-2017 Created 24/03/2017

Updated: 06/04/2017 — 06:21

Photo Essay: Tanks in the wild

When I got my new camera last year I needed to test drive (test fire?) it, and I grabbed some of my tank collection and headed out into the wild. Some of the results were really great. 

World War One battlefields were incredibly muddy and the early rhomboid shaped tanks battled with the terrain. They were more psychological weapons than anything else.

The real live example I photographed in Bovington Tank Museum in 2013. This is called a “Heavy Tank Mk V “Male””. It had a crew of 8 with a top speed of 7.4 kph. This particular vehicle took part in the battle of Amiens in August 1918, and was about as good as this particular style of tank was. It was armed with 2×6 pound (57mm) guns and 2 MG’s. 

I do have a soft spot for the M3 Stuart (aka “Honey”) this little one got somewhat off the beaten track and is waiting for nightfall so that it can move out. It did not want to meet up with the Tiger that  was hiding in the garden. This green Tiger one I picked up in Hong Kong in 2011. It is motorised in spite of it’s small size. 

and this Matilda was also en route to somewhere, although it really was more in use in the Western Desert as opposed to the local mud patch next to the river.

It may not have been the greatest tank around but they were good looking.  They even have one at Bovington.

You have to be very careful on some days that you do not bump into a T55 MBT hiding in the undergrowth. If this one looks familiar it is because it is. This model features the T55 that was in the James Bond movie: Golden Eye.

or even a T34 for that matter, although she may be quite handy against that Tiger I mentioned a bit earlier.

Of course some tracked vehicles try to outdo others, and this PzH 2000 (Panzerhaubitze 2000) 155mm self-propelled howitzer  would probably have a field day shelling Cheltenham or maybe Gloucester.

Fortunately it did not have any ammunition, and at that small scale the shell would have stung quite badly.

Since I took these pics in February last year, my tank collection has grown considerably, and at some point I will take them outside again, I now have 3 Tigers and that could prove to be quite an uneven battle for the Honey. Unfortunately since taking these images I have not been able to find my T55 so I expect it has gone to the big tank graveyard in the sky. On the other hand, I was able to take some more pics of more of my tank collection.

That M4A3 Sherman was just itching to slug it out with a Tiger, and I am going to put my money on the Tiger.

My M2 Grant MK1 also got an airing today, although it tried to avoid bumping into anything larger that it was.

What they didn’t know was that there were 3 Tigers heading in their direction.

The grey Tiger is radio controlled and it even has a recoil action when you “fire” the gun. When things dry out a bit I am going to take it out and try it on this muddy terrain.

This Leopard 1 also got an airing. But there was trouble looming behind it. I seem to think it is a T55, but it is unfortunately not marked.

Until next time when battle will recommence.

Update 04/04/2017:

Cats seem to understand tanks, especially homemade ones.

© DRW 2017. Created 05/02/2017 

Updated: 04/04/2017 — 07:18

Photo Essay: Bubble Cars and Micro Cars

The definition of a “Bubble Car” is quite a difficult one because it is really about what makes a car a bubble car (did you understand that? I certainly didn’t). Realistically it is about a small car that was cheap to run, cheap to buy and small in size, often with three wheels. The most prevalent bubble cars were made in Germany, and strangely enough by companies more associated with building aircraft. They certainly turn heads when the pass, although they are becoming increasingly rare.

This essay will feature a few groupings of bubble cars and small cars (micro cars). The first being the James Hall Museum of Transport in Johannesburg. The images I took at the museum are not great because it is not an easy place to photograph and at times my camera’s were not exactly state of the art.

BMW Isetta

BMW Isetta

BMW Isetta

Messerschmitt

Messerschmitt (exploded view)

I often wonder whether BMW ever regret producing the BMW Isetta? Available as a 3 wheel and a 4 wheeled version it is probably the best known of the bubble cars and its shape really defines what a bubble car is. 

They also have two other micro cars on display:

Fuldamobile

Still trying to identify this one., It is not however a BMW with personalised plates. Odds are it is a variation of the Vespa 400 but I cannot be sure.

When I visited the museum in March 2017 I was hoping to get new images of the two vehicles above, but both were no longer there. 

One afternoon, on my way home with friends we drew level with two cars with trailers on which there was a Messerschmitt and an Isetta. I was a passenger in our car which is why I was able to take pics.

Messerschmitt

BMW Isetta

BMW Isetta

From these images you can gauge how big (or small) these vehicles are in relation to the tow cars. It was a really odd thing to see on our roads and I never did work out where they are going to or coming from.

At the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival I encountered two example of the Heinkel Trojan which gave me a opportunity to photograph this oddity.

Heinkel Trojan 1963

Heinkel Trojan

BMW Isetta (1959)

BMW Isetta (1959)

Of course there is another “honorable mention” that I need to make which is also at James Hall, and it is more of an “orangemobile”. I believe these were built from a Mini chassis and were used to promote the Outspan citrus board. Six of these were originally  commissioned by Outspan from a company Brian Waite Enterprise Ltd. based at Bodium in East Sussex, and they were built between 1972 and 1974, and were used on advertising campaigns both in the UK and Europe. (http://www.thisbrighton.co.uk/culture-hcvs-outspan.htm)

There is one really unique vehicle to the UK that I want to include here because they are really very quirky. South Africans probably saw their first one in the “Mr Bean” TV series, and I saw my first one in Southampton in 2013. To be frank: I was amused. I am only familiar with the Reliant Regal, Reliant Robin and the Reliant Rialto, and I have not quite figured out how to identify them apart unless I can read a name off the back. I could not do that with the red one I am afraid although I believe it too is a Rialto.

Reliant Regal

Reliant Rialto SE

The Italians were responsible for a number of interesting small cars, Fiat in particular had a very iconic vehicle in the Fiat 500. My red example is in a casino in Fourways in South Africa and has a lot of parking tickets!

Fiat 500 at Montecasino

Fiat 500 at Montecasino

 and the white vehicle I spotted in Lymington.

And I spotted this blue one at the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival in 2017

Another odd micro car caught my attention at the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival in 2017, and frankly the first thing I thought of when I saw it was “Postman Pat”

1976 William Fourgonette

You see what I mean? The info sheet on the widdscreen stated that the car was a 1976 William Fourgonette, and they were powered by a  125cc or 175cc Lambretta scooter motor. It had a 4 speed manual gearbox and a top speed of 45 mph. More information on the vehicle may be found at https://www.lanemotormuseum.org/

 

I somehow do not think I am finished with bubble cars and micro cars yet, the attraction of a small car for town and short distance driving is strong, and an effective small electric car would really change the face of our overcrowded cities.

I saw this little one in London and  given how hard it is to find parking in London I am surprised I never saw more.  

And of course James Hall Transport Museum has this small Enfield electric vehicle on display that never seemed to enter production.  

Unfortunately there will always be the big ego types who really like their oversized 4×4’s and they just never get the fact that fossil fuels are bad news in the long run, and scaling down really does make sense. But then I have never understood the whole big car thing myself; after all you are talking about somebody who fell in love with the Mini when he was a boy and that was what he wanted when he grew up, although I kind of like the bubble cars, they have a charm all of their own.

Probably one of my dream cars is the Morgan 3 Wheelers. I have seen quite a few of them in the UK and I find them fascinating. The first one I saw was in the movie “The Party” starring Peter Sellers. They are very quirky vehicles, and some of the earlier ones were very minimalistic.

1927 Morgan Aero

The Morgan Aero above had 1000 cc side valve engine, a two speed chain drive, reverse, no front wheel brakes, the starting handle was inserted into the gearbox at the rear and it cost £100 when new. These cars are still in production, albeit upgraded for modern motoring, and they are very collectable. 

Other 3 Wheelers that I saw at the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival in 2017 and 2016 are below

Morgan 3 Wheeler (2017)

DRK 3 Wheeler (2016)

Lomax 3 Wheeler (2016)

Polaris Slingshot 3 wheel motorcycle

Polaris Slingshot 3 wheel motorcycle 

3 x 3 wheelers

3 x 3 wheelers (2016)

Berkeley 3 Wheeler

Berkeley 3 Wheeler (2016)

 

Lomax 3 wheeler (2017)

 

That concludes my brief photo essay. Hopefully one day I will be able to expand it just a bit more, after all, you never know what may come driving down the road.

© DRW 2016-2017 Created 27/08/2016. Some images taken at the James Hall Museum of Transport. Two new images added 29/03/2017

Updated: 23/08/2017 — 12:43
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