Happy New Year
Is it going to be the coldest Winter for some time? By the time you read this we might have a rough measure of this. We hope you will have had a super Christmas, so keep warm in the coming months.
Following the expenses associated with the works at Cairns Road, your Committee have reluctantly decided to raise the subscriptions by a small amount to £7.50.
Lyme Regis Exhibition
Chris Buck and Peter Lamb went to the opening of an electrical exhibition in the Old Mill at Lyme Regis. The exhibition was sponsored by WPD and Chris and Peter were pleased to meet Tracy Carr there from WPD Corporate Communications. The exhibition celebrates the restoration of the Old Mill and charts the involvement of hydro-electricity at the site since 1908. We have lent them half a dozen small old appliances to add to the exhibition. We were also pleased to provide some of the history, but a great deal more was unearthed by the Director of the Mill Trust, Martin Roundell Green, who also wrote the supplement to the last newsletter.Newsletter index
Lyme Regis exhibition with Adrian Shepherd,
WPD local manager right & Martin behind
Programme 2004 Errata
With the last notice, you will have all received the programme for 2004. There are two mistakes. The Bakelite Museum visit should read Sat 22nd May. The weekend in Cornwall should read 8th – 10th October. Also added is a Members’ Open Day on Saturday 30th October to celebrate 10th Anniversary of the Society’s foundation.Newsletter index
Glyn England, SWEB’s and CEGB’s past Chairman has agreed to address our 2004 Annual Luncheon at Torquay.Newsletter index
These are proving very popular with the membership. Many of you have been to the Peak District this Autumn with 40 attending (see Review elsewhere) and are signing up shortly for the Weekend in Cornwall in 2004, for a programme which appears exceedingly interesting. Many of you pressed the Committee into going for a holiday weekend every year, which is how the Cornwall W/E came about. But it is proving difficult for the Committee with no-one at this stage prepared to organise it in 2005. Every two years sounds a better option? Also we are stuck with deciding where to go, York, South Coast (Brighton to Chichester), Potteries or South Wales? We are running out of old industrial territory.Newsletter index
Our premises at Cairns Road have been rewired and new fluorescent fittings installed at WPD’s expense, for which we are most grateful. What a difference it makes to the place, it’s now bright and cheerful. John Gale and Roger Hughes have been beavering away touching up the walls and ceiling following this work and in the New Year it is proposed to install a cord carpet in the meeting room and repair the blue/chrome chairs inherited from the old Avonbank building. We will have a reasonable place for members to visit and hold meetings.Newsletter index
To that end it has been decided to have a Members Open Day on the 30th October 2004. Please put the date in your diary. The day will take the form of a tour of the Museum and Archives in the morning followed by a talk in the afternoon, obviously with a lunch squeezed in between at a local hostelry.
Electricity Association Demise
After the jubilation of the EA joining the Society, we were very sad to learn that the Electricity Association was closing down with only two month’s notice to staff. Our contact person Karen Carden, Librarian, was in contact immediately offering us any books we wanted to take away. Roger Hughes and John Gale, in great haste, went up to Millbank and brought back a car-full. The most useful reference books acquired were the Electricity Supply Handbooks and Electricity Supply Statistics.Newsletter index
Peak District Weekend Review
On the first Friday evening in October forty-five members and guests assembled at the Buckingham Hotel in Buxton for dinner at the start of the fourth weekend away trip for the Society. Thirty-one of the party had already got one day under their belts exploring the area on their own, as they had arrived the previous evening. Saturday dawned a little chilly but bright and, following breakfast, we were quickly on our way by coach to the National Tramway Museum at Crich.Newsletter index
On arrival everyone dispersed to do their own thing, but half an hour later the message came through that the museum guides were expecting to give us an introductory tour. We managed to collect everyone together again surprisingly quickly and got started on the tour. This proved to be quite entertaining, as well as very informative. Our guides gave us the background to how that particular location came to be chosen to establish the museum and to point out some of the giant jigsaw exercises that had been undertaken. These involved buildings and facades of architectural interest built originally at other locations around the country. With permission, they had been demolished, brought to site and re-erected stone by stone in their original form. The tour included a look at and background information on some of the over fifty trams currently preserved on site and ended with look around a re-creation of a circa 1900 Tram Trade Exhibition – such exhibitions being the forerunner of the present-day motor shows. A buffet lunch had been arranged in a function room above the Red Lion pub, following which everyone continued their own tours of the museum exhibits and final rides on the working tramway system.
By mid afternoon our party departed for a short stop at Matlock Bath. On route we passed Arkwright’s Mill at Cromford, one of the buildings featured in the recent TV series titled ‘Restoration’. This former cotton mill has the distinction of being considered as the first factory of the industrial revolution. In Matlock Bath we were free to wander the riverside former spa town, take tea and, for the more adventurous, ascend the Abraham heights by cable car. Our journey back to Buxton took us along the A6 through Matlock and Bakewell. As we disembarked from the coach a big black cloud loomed and it starting raining – thankfully it had held off throughout the day.
Following the evening meal, John Coneybeare entertained us with a quiz, for which we worked in teams to maximise brain-power, the only problem being that for some a large meal accompanied with wine had already started to create a counter-productive soporific effect.
Next day, Sunday, also dawned bright and we were soon on our way to Chatsworth, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and one of the gems of famous country houses. Our coach driver thoughtfully took us by the approach route than gave us the traditional view of the three-arched bridge and house nestling in a dip against the backdrop of the wooded hillside. On arrival our party was split into three groups, with each being accompanied by a guide for a tour of the many garden water features.
These are all run by a gravity-fed water system from storage lakes higher up the hillside. At the time of our visit Chatsworth was experiencing severe water shortages due to the long hot and dry summer and, in consequence, the water features were only being operated for two half-hour periods each day. We were fortunate, since these coincided with our visit times, and we were at the right place at the right time to see the Emperor fountain turned on to provide a water spout of around eighty feet in height – rather more than your average garden fountain!
Our private tour included a visit to the turbine house, where it is possible for electricity to be generated by a water turbine driven generator (375 kVA) for the needs of the house. Because of the water shortage this was not running but, thankfully, the national grid were providing the supply. This only goes to show that when the crunch comes, one cannot be too dependent on renewable sources. Following our organised tour everyone was free to grab a bite to eat and embark upon a tour of the house. There are thirty rooms open to the public and much to see.
All too soon we were back to our coach and off again for a short stopover at Bakewell en route back to Buxton. Bakewell is the largest town in the Peak District National Park, dominated by its parish church with octagonal tower and graceful spire. Our stop gave everyone a chance to find out about and, for some, to sample the famous Bakewell pudding. The story goes that a kitchen maid at the Rutland Arms Hotel misunderstood instructions while making a strawberry jam tart and created the first Bakewell pudding, which is reputed to have a mystery ingredient.
Back at our hotel and following dinner we settled down to an electrical history quiz organised by Colin Hill. This had a SW England flavour in the questions asked but still did not make it any easier in trying to get the right answers! Colin had also brought along a selection of electric fires, which we had to date to the appropriate decade – 1890 onwards!
All too soon Monday morning arrived and, after breakfast, we were settling our bar bills, saying our farewells and making tracks for home. Many were taking the opportunity to include further visits en route home. Arrangements are now progressing well for a weekend visit to Cornwall in 2004 and the committee will soon be giving thought as to where to go in 2005.
(Very many thanks are due to Chris and the other organisers for such a splendid weekend).
GWR – World Heritage?
It is reported that GWR Railway is being put up for recognition as a World Heritage site. We are talking about Paddington and Temple Meads Stations and the railway line between, involving Swindon Works, tunnels and bridges all designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel between 1836 and 1841. English Heritage and Bath University have joined forces to revamp the 1998 bid for world recognition of “God’s Wonderful Railway”. If adopted, it would make the GWR 116 mile Line the third railway to be granted world heritage status.Newsletter index
Commiserations to member and our honorary solicitor Gareth Dodds, who has lost his father Dennis in the Summer. Dennis Dodds was well-known in higher electricity circles having been Chairman of Manweb and naturally knew Bryan Weston, whose death was reported in the last issue.
The Patent Office has declared that the South West places more patents of inventions than any other region! Anyone know of any of these inventors?
Sidmouth Sunday Lunch
A wet Saturday - the last for many months - did not deter 15 or so members from turning up at Sidmouth on the following day (27th July) for an excellent lunch at the Belmont Hotel. The meal was further enhanced by not having to choose from the menu in advance.Newsletter index
Exeter Meeting Review
Joff Bullen entertained us with his interesting talk on the “Redruth & Chacewater Railway etc”, at the Isca Centre, Exeter at the end of September. When you hear such a talk, you realise the amount of research that has been carried out to acquire the information, which is typical of the work done by the Trevithick Society, of which Joff was once Vice-Chairman. We were amused to learn of the way by which he acquired his first name after the well-known French General Marshall Joff. Again the attendance was very low at 18, so we need to be more diligent in choosing the subject matter in Devon, which is a shame because the buffet food provided at the Isca Centre was and is excellent. Newsletter index
The site of Bristol’s first generating station at Temple Back has been under threat of redevelopment for years after being sold to a developer in the 1980’s. The front façade is protected by a preservation order, due to its decorative design and the wording inscribed on it -“Central Electric Lighting Station”. The preservation order has inhibited any design of a suitable block of waterfront flats and various schemes have been thrown out. It appears that development is now underway. We are told that Westmark Development intends to build two office blocks and an adjoining 22 flats there.Newsletter index
The previous developer intended to call the new development “Edison House”. Your Secretary complained that no American engineering had been involved and has advised the new developers that it ought to be called “Faraday House”. We will have to wait and see whether the message has got through!!
“Every Home Should Have One”
In the last edition we reported the TV series involving Cairns Road appliances from 15th July. The series got a slating in the papers. The Mail-on-Sunday described it as the “most irritating programme of the week”. Mainly they were irritated by the presenter, Garry Lavin, talking down to their audience, anticipating they all had a mental age of three! I am afraid many programmes are like that nowadays.Newsletter index
SWEB Energy Ltd.
The EDF company, owners of the SWEB title, is moving out of the Sowton offices, Exeter, which will leave a big empty space there – interesting?Newsletter index
Web Site Latest
The www.swehs.co.uk website has been undergoing some radical changes over the past few months. I trust that these changes have occurred relatively unnoticeably as they are very much to do with the site management rather than the actual presentation. It is the first major reorganisation of the site since May 2000 when it all started - a long time ago in Computing Circles!
Why do it? Well the site has grown in size and has gradually developed new types of presentation - it has to supply the oldest browsers (programs not people) and the newest broadband. Photos have always been available on site in relatively large sizes. Perseverance in waiting for them to appear has always been assumed to a higher extent in browsers, (people not programs), who actually investigate the site.
I keep a running check on the types and version of browsers and operating systems visiting the site. Internet Explorer is by far the most common browser followed by Netscape and Opera. Netscape appears to be loosing to Opera since it was taken over by AOL. Each type of browser reads the pages on site differently and produces a differing image of it. Before a new page is published on the net I verify that a sensible representation of it is reproduced for different browsers. Sometimes different versions of the page are required for the different browsers.
Surprisingly there are still plenty of Windows 95 visitors to the site though Windows 98 is the most common one followed by Windows XP and 2000. Linux visitors are fewer than Apple.Mac. I make no special provisions for the different operating systems.
These are the main changes now introduced :-
Finally any members experiencing difficulties on site, let me know where & which page - and your browser version.
- Any repetitive items on pages have been removed.
- A footer has been added to each page with a simple page menu.
- The presentation of photos in the photo album has been updated - The size is still based for photos presented in 2000 or 2001 on a resolution of 640x480 pixels, whilst those in 2002 & 2003 are for a resolution of 800x600.
- All actual email addresses have been removed from the site. These addresses have been the target of "spider" programs scanning the web. The owners of these programs sell the addresses on to "Spam" advertisers that clog up mail-boxes.
Marcus Palmen – Web MasterNewsletter index
Keeping The Peace
Over the last year your chairman, through his work with the Institution of Electrical Engineers’ (IEE) Courses Unit, has been involved with the provision of electrical installation and safety training for United Nations (UN) personnel. This has provided a few interesting experiences, as well as some further career development in an unexpected direction! It all started with an enquiry in the early summer of 2002 to the IEE Courses Unit, located at Stevenage in Hertfordshire, concerning the possibility of training being undertaken for UN field staff involved in electrical work.Newsletter index
By way of background, although the work of the UN is sometimes featured on our TV screens, what is not generally appreciated is the important peace-keeping role that it often has following the cessation of hostilities in a particular theatre of war. In recent times there have been, and are continuing, many conflicts around the world. The UN peace-keeping role is a large one with some 35 missions worldwide. The recent bombing of the UN mission in Iraq is one example that springs readily to mind.
Arrangements were agreed to run two three-day courses in Brindisi in the autumn of 2002. Brindisi is a port town located on the Adriatic coast in the heel of southern Italy. The UN site forms part of a large Italian Army complex and is the main engineering logistics base for the UN. Sufficient plant and vehicles are stored here to enable a medium-sized peace-keeping mission to be quickly established at any time required. Representatives from a total of twenty missions attended the two courses, travelling from many former and current hot spots around the world, such as Kosovo, Bosnia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Eritrea.
One might ask why the IEE was approached to undertake this training. Basically, because UK electrical installation practice and, in particular BS 7671 (more familiarly known as the IEE Wiring Regulations) are held in surprisingly high regard. It was also found that the non-prescriptive nature of the UK Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 provided a sound structure for covering the principles of electrical safety.
Having successfully completed the two Brindisi courses, an email came through from UN HQ in New York early in 2003 enquiring about the possibility of running a follow up more advanced course, but this time in Eritrea. The first reaction was to get out the atlas to find out exactly where Eritrea was, not being a country that had been covered in school geography in times past. In fact Eritrea is in east Africa, bordering the Red Sea, Sudan and Ethiopia. Some may recall the problems of famine and strife in Ethiopia in recent times. In part this situation had arisen because of a long-running border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea. An uneasy peace was reached between the two countries only in the late 90s and hence the current UN presence. A large UN peace-keeping force (mainly Indian army) is now policing the very long border between the two countries. The main base for this UN mission is in the capital, Asmara, the location for the planned one-week training course. Fortunately, Asmara is a long way from the border, which, even now, is a no-go area for most people.
For Africa, Asmara has a reasonably agreeable climate. It is not excessively hot because of its high altitude – around 7,500 feet above sea level. Asmara is probably about the size of Bath, but not as attractive, although in certain respects it once was. The past ravages of war and an apparent general failure to look after the fabric have left things looking somewhat forlorn. There seemed to be a fairly reliable public electricity supply system – at least the supply did not fail during the training visit. The HV network is overhead, the conductors being supported on metal tubular or lattice poles, even in the centre of town. There was evidence that some of these poles had at some time previously had arguments with the adjacent road traffic. The policy seemed to be that provided the pole remained standing and the line was still supported, then the pole did not need to be replaced – thus there were some interesting pole distortions. A similarly laid-back approach appeared to be adopted concerning ground reinstatement. There were unprotected open joint holes, which, with the evidence of the accrued debris, had been abandoned a long time ago. Excavations in the tarmac roads and pavements had been backfilled but not permanently reinstated.
The substation providing the supply to the UN site was an interesting site to behold for a safety engineer and certainly did not meet the safety standards required by UK legislation. Supply had been afforded from an HV line crossing the site, with a cable down the pole to a ground-mounted HV/LV transformer. Although the transformer had been enclosed with a chain-link perimeter fence, it was still possible to gain access to the exposed live HV and LV transformer cable connections. The LV switchgear was housed in a ramshackle plywood shack. The standard LV supply in Eritrea is at a slightly lower voltage to that in the UK, being a 380/220 V 3-phase 4-wire system.
In many locations supplies for UN sites cannot be provided from a mains network, simply because one doesn’t exist. In such cases, generators are used, a common arrangement being two 105 kVA diesel generator sets mounted back-to-back in an open-ended container which can be craned as a complete unit on to a flat bed lorry for transit. Much use is made of portakabin-type buildings. For example, the training room had been formed from four such units bolted together. Each was pre-wired with its own consumer unit, lighting and power circuits. Interestingly, the consumer units had been ceiling mounted and were inter-connected by external cables via 16A industrial-type plug/socket cable connectors.
Many of the course participants had sobering stories to relate regarding the working conditions back at their missions. The need to keep one’s head down took on a real meaning in relation to the need to keep out of the way of stray bullets!
Sequel To Bizarre S/S Attendant
Member Steve Marshall tells us how he crossed the path of Arthur Caddick, the so called Cornish PoetNewsletter index
The first time was when I had to visit the (former) substation at Nancledra, as it had become the subject of a Parliamentary reference over who was entitled to buy the siteand building once it was no longer required for operational purposes. The late Stan Weir and I went up to the site and whilst I was checking the situation on the ground with the plan on the deeds, Arthur came out to see what we were up to – by this time of course, he was no longer a substation attendant, but still took a keen interest in visitors to “his” substation. We managed to satisfy him that our visit was benign. This would have been in the early 1960’s.
In 1973 when I was appearing as the Board’s advocate at a Public Enquiry into a proposal to build a 132kV line from Hayle to Penzance, Arthur was one of the objectors and delivered his views in verse at some length. His poem was printed in full in the next day’s Daily Telegraph. This may have something to do with the fact that the shorthand writer at the Inquiry was, I believe, also the Cornwall correspondent for that newspaper.
Ken Edwards and his wife went on a cruise in 2002 through the Panama Canal and thought we would be interested in some of the details. A précised version is given below.
What started it all was the offer of half price tickets. A thousand Brits took up the offer, who were flown into different ports of embarkation. We all ended up at our port of embarkation Fort Lauderdale and set sail on a beautiful afternoon on April 26th 2002.
The Ship was the G.T.S. INFINITY of the Celebrity Line and was the largest ship to transit the canal, weighing 91,000 tonnes and carrying around 2,090 passengers. Her crew to passenger ratio is around two to one, so the service provided is first class. She has a cruising speed of 25 knots, pretty fast (I was in the Royal Navy on a battle class destroyer and her turn of speed was only 30 Knots). I sent an e-mail to the family which summed it up by writing "Ship Superb - Food Fabulous - Weather Wonderful".
Our first port of call was Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba, a small picturesque Dutch island of the coast of Venezuela. There are windmills, exotic cactus jungles, blue water bays and as always the outdoor markets. We took a mini bus tour with a local guide who kept us amused with his jokes and description of the places we passed and the local inhabitants
The Spanish first muted the construction of a canal in 1513, when the conquistador Bal Boa blazed a trail through the Panamanian jungle to the Pacific. It would take over 400 years before the Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesep, fresh from his success in building the Suez Canal, started construction work on the Panama Canal, after reaching a treaty with the Columbian Government for a 99 year lease.
The talks given by Dr Wolfe, who had joined the ship as an expert lecturer on the history of the Canal, were most interesting. I have tried to recall as much detail as I can. For those of you who would like more information, there are excellent TV programmes showing the construction of the Canal and some of its history.
The following day we sailed through the Canal. It was a great experience. You will see by the photographs, that we were very close to the edge, with only inches to spare. The ship is guided through with the help of six Mules, (a name for the diesel locomotives specially designed and built for the purpose), hitched onto the ship, which gently pushes and pulls us through the three locks at the Atlantic side of the Canal. By this time the ship has been raised 85ft. You then sail into the Gatun Lake, along 9 miles of the Gailard Cut and into the locks that then lower the ship by 85ft to the sea level of the Pacific.
Each ship must pay a toll to go through the Canal. The annual income from this is over $300 million. We were the largest ship to transit the Canal, at a cost of over £120,000. It is calculated by a complex formula (value of cargo, tonnage of ship etc). The alterative is an eight to ten week cruise around Cape Horn an additional 10,000 miles, so well worth paying the toll. A man who swam the canal in 1928 paid the smallest charge recorded of 36 cents, again based on his weight.
G.T.S. Infinity inching through the lock
Ken and his wife went on to cruise the Pacific, calling at Puntarenas in Costa Rica, and concluding their cruise experience at Acapulco in Mexico.
An American, Willis Carrier, is reputed to have invented air conditioning in 1902. Will was a heating engineer in New York and was contacted by a printing firm, whose works were so hot and torrid that the paper became distorted and the pictures misprinted in the extreme heat of the Summer. Will was asked to do something about it. He invented a system for extracting moisture from the air, which also happened to make the air cooler. The term “air conditioning” was coined in 1906.Newsletter index
The talk by Peter Goodchild on “Frys Chocolate” at Somerdale near Keynsham on 29th November proved very popular with over 40 members and friends attending. Maybe many were expecting to get some free samples. Peter’s talk was fascinating with some pretty impressive old pictures of the Fry’s original factory in the heart of Bristol and he kept our attention for over an hour with some entertaining stories. We were unexpectedly rewarded with a goodies bag each at the end!!
Threats of black-outs seem to be in every paper these days, whether it’s through the cascade tripping situation that happened in the USA and Canada in late Summer, when 61,800 megawatts, was lost and 24 million homes were affected from New York State to Toronto embracing Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Connecticut. What a vast territory! Then there was the black-out in London recently, which shutdown major parts of the underground system and South-West London. Now we are told that the British networks are short of generation, due to emergency repairs on Nuclear Power Stations at Sizewell “B” and Heysham. Powergen is closing High Marnham and Drakelow “C” and I believe Ironbridge has already been closed.
British Energy’s problems are causing concern across the wider electricity industry because the UK’s margin of available capacity is at an all-time low. The National Grid could come under pressure this Winter despite generating companies bringing plant out of mothballs. The UK’s generating capacity is running at 15% less than it was two years ago, so the Times reported in November. The Shadow Cabinet have criticised the Government for not ensuring adequate capacity, and many voices have been raised to ask for a new nuclear station to be built, not only to give additional capacity, but also to enable the Country to keep its expertise in the that field, but current Government Policy has excluded any nuclear option.
With all the problems looming about generating capacity on both sides of the Atlantic, you wouldn’t expect British interests to be wanting to get involved in the American business? But Scottish Power is bigger in America than in the UK. They bought PacifiCorp and the energy marketing company PPM over 4 years ago and therefore 2/3 of its sales are generated across the Atlantic in California!!
Roger HughesNewsletter index
Roger has had a three week tour in China, including a boat trip going up the Yanksee River, which travelled through the massive newly created lake and dam.
Bill is a member of a local history group dedicated to maintain a redundant church at Lavernock, Penarth as a Museum, from where Marconi transmitted his first wireless signals across the River Severn to Flat Holm.
Peter’s daughter, Vicky got married recently and lifted off from the church in a red helicopter. Many thought it was a WPD heli, but, no, Peter had not had a hand in it!
Recipe For A Happy Marriage?
Twice a week, we go out to a restaurant and have some good food, wine and companionship. She goes on Tuesdays and I go on Fridays!Newsletter index
We also sleep in separate beds, hers is in Devon and mine is in Bristol!
I haven’t spoken to my wife for weeks, I don’t like to interrupt her!
Copenhagen railway authorities undertook an experiment of a two day campaign of high volume broadcasts of Bach’s bombastic organ music and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. This had the effect of clearing the entrances to the capital’s main railway station of alcoholics and drug addicts!!
SWEHS Is The Tops
Some love electricity history,
While others just like to meet pals,
Everyone enjoys the visits,
Having good ‘Noshups’ appeals,
So may our Society prosper,
It really fulfils several aims,
The credit must go to our founder,
That he dreamt it all up in his brains!