Friday, December 31, 2010

another year over

It's time to get those new calendars out and put them on the wall.  We're hoping 2011 will see people spending money on books again, ours in particular, but the Rugby World Cup to be held in NZ this year should at least boost the economy somewhat with rugby supporters pouring in.

To all our customers and readers :-

Happy New Year
Glückliches Neues Jahr
Gott nytt år
Gelukkig nieuw jaar
Bonne Année
Felice anno nuovo
Szczęśliwego nowego roku

cars on rails in the bush

A couple of post-WW2 British cars as they looked when seen at Mamaku near Rotorua in 1966. This was the last major bush tramway to close in New Zealand in 1974. We assume these cars were used as passenger transport rather than for haulage (which would have been very limited!), and don't know whether they were bought new - our expert on bush trams is out of contact until late January.

old days in Swinemünde

The town on the Swine river mouth with the Baltic Sea (or Ostsee = East Sea) called Swinemünde found itself in Poland after Stalin's redrawing of East European maps in 1945, but only just: the neighbouring nearby town on the coast of Ahlbeck is still in Germany. It has now been transliterated as Swinoujscie.

The pre-war population was put at 30,000, but the town was hard hit by a US Air Force bombing raid in 1945 which killed 23,000 and badly damaged the town although the landmark lighthouse survived, which at 68 metres high is still the tallest on the Baltic Sea.

The town is still split across the Swine river which is used by ships to and from the port of Stettin (Szczecin) to the south and that factor seems to have prevented the building of a bridge, but plans exist for the building of a tunnel. During summer months ferries run from the railway terminal in the eastern half of the town to Ystad in Sweden as well as Rønne and Copenhagen in Denmark. The pre-war railway connections that the western half of the town had with Ahlbeck and Anklam were severed in 1945, but a proposal has been made recently to re-establish the former.  

Thursday, December 30, 2010

ships in Naples Harbour, Italy, 1890s

the effect of telephoto or zoom lens distortion

We mentioned this in the Minneapolis post, so here is an example which demonstrates the effect even more plainly. The Torlesse Mountains in the background of this scene of the TranzAlpine passenger train at Springfield are nowhere near as dramatically huge at this location as they seem here. Those who have our books On the TransAlpine Trail and The Midland Line will have true versions of this scene.

cars at the outings, Hawkes Bay, 1946

Two photos from the book Historic Hawkes Bay and East Cape published recently, showing mostly American pre-WW2 cars, although a Morris 8 (yes, again!) is detected in the centre background of the second photo. The book is available in our shop.

recalling the blitz

The History Channel screened a 2-hour program yesterday on the Luftwaffe's bombing raid on London of 29 December 1940, 70 years ago, which destroyed a square mile of London, mostly around St Paul's Cathedral, but miraculously didn't touch the cathedral itself. The program, which features commentary and reconstructions of those involved on the ground, vividly demonstrates the horror of the experience.

Although a major raid, it was only one of a series that lasted from September 1940 to May 1941, and after that V1 and V2 rockets were fired at England until near the end of the war in 1945. This Daily Mail webpage has more pictures.

John Deere farm machinery yesterday and today

An illustrated history of the products of internationally renown John Deere which has its origins with the Illinois blacksmith.  It was in 1837 that he struck upon the idea of using a broken steel saw blade to make a plow, and that launched the company.

This is a nicely produced colour coffee-table style book of the tractors and other machinery that the company has produced over the years since with plenty of photos including ephemera and memorabila. 192 pages in oversize format, hardcover with jacket.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

RENFE Spanish railway posters from the early 1960s

Passenger trains hauled by ALCO (USA) diesels from 1955.

A poster for use in France - a 318 class ALCO diesel from 1958 featured.
595 class diesel multiple unit - "Tren Automotor Fiat".

down at the station - Wellington, 1950

An impressive amount of luggage seems to be awaiting loading onto a train at Wellington's long distance platform 9 in 1950. But of course in those days a lot of people travelled by train.

We're not sure what the boxcar is doing on the other track at platform 8, maybe a van for express parcels or supplementary luggage carrying.

the early Polynesian migrants - the Vikings of the Pacific

TVNZ News today focussed on new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA to the effect that the 'great migration' as it is termed, occured much later than originally thought: Maori first settled in New Zealand between 1210 and 1385 AD, rather than 4 or 5 centuries earlier. Apart from academics, one could be forgiven for wondering "so what?", however, what can not be disputed is that the Polynesians were very accomplished seafarers, and can be compared only with the Vikings in the area of ocean that they managed to cover. Our book Nga Waka Maori: Maori Canoes (1998) looked at the design and construction of some of the early Polynesian craft, as well as those later built by Maori from large native trees.

The area known as Polynesia covers a large triangle in the Pacific Ocean stretching from Hawaii in the north to New Zealand (Aotearoa) in the southwest and Easter Island (Rapanui) in the southeast.

Nga Waka Maori is now unavailable in New Zealand and Australia, but a few copies are available from our US Distributor.

London when horsepower was exactly that

London Bridge, the 1831 version: 283 metres long, 15 metres wide. It was sold to Missourian oil magnate Robert P. McCulloch in 1968 for $US 2,460,000 who took it apart, shipped it to America, and reconstructed it at Lake Havasu City, Arizona; it was re-dedicated there on 10 October 1971. A new London Bridge was opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth.
Law Courts (Royal Courts of Justice), Strand near Fleet Street.
Hyde Park Corner.
Lambeth Palace with a paddle steamer on the Thames.
Cheapside. Apart from St Mary le Bow (tower in the background) this street was obliterated in WW2 and rebuilt.
Holborn Viaduct (the corner with Snow Hill?)
Piccadilly Circus, looking towards Coventry Street, Shaftsbury Avenue on the left. The building in the centre is now home to Ripley's Believe it or Not, among other things.

Paris Metro font

We mentioned this font created by Paris architect Hector Guimard last month, so here is what it looks like in more detail as used at the Porte Dauphine Metro station street entrance. The Guimard font is available on several websites as payware but Paris Metro which is almost the same is freeware (although other than creating your own signs using the same shade of green, we can't imagine many good uses for it).

And another Metro street entrance by Hector Guimard in his art nouveau style - the two 'flower bulb' lights look more like something out of War of the Worlds!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Littlehampton Pier then and now

A view taken in the late 1890s of a tug pulling a reasonable sized Danish-flagged sailing ship out to sea from the harbour, as viewed from the East Pier at Littlehampton on England's south coast, contrasted with a similar position shot taken recently.

The lighthouse was replaced with the current one (which isn't so cute!) in 1948, and the windmill just seems to have been removed.

General Electric ships more 'PowerHaul' locomotives to the UK

General Electric or GE has dispatched 5 more locomotives from its plant at Erie, Pennsylvania, to the UK. Commissioned in November 2007 by the British freight operator Freightliner Group, the first two locomotives - numbers 70001 and 70002 - arrived in Britain on 8 November 2009 and given the name 'PowerHaul' at Leeds later that month. On 11 December 2009, 70001 made its first run on a freight train, hauling 30 wagons with 60 ISO containers. The current batch makes a total of 12 sent to the UK so far. Eventually the class will consist of 30 units. They are the first locomotives that GE has built for the UK.

PowerHaul diesel-electrics are noted for their energy performance: 9% less fuel used compared to the competition, and 9% less emissions, but remain powerful with their 129 ton weight and prime mover output of 2,750 kW (3700 hp). The secret of energy efficiency relies on the use of 'Trip Optimization' technology, which optimizes the speed according to the zone of travel, and employment of the latest 16-cylinder engine with high efficiency. The latter was presented at InnoTrans 2008 in Germany, the biggest railway event in the world.

These locomotives have a casual resemblance to KiwiRail's new DL locomotives which may lead some to speculate that it isn't coincidence - after all, British practices are still highly influential among NZ officialdom.

While on the subject of GE, here is a kind of advert/game/history lesson on its website.

new AVE high speed railway line opens in Spain

King Juan Carlos of Spain was on board the train that inaugurated the country’s newest AVE high speed line (AVE is an acronym for Alta Velocidad Española) linking Madrid with the Mediterranean port city of Valencia. The service, operated by state-owned Renfe, opened to the public on 19 December.

The €3.1 billion project connects Madrid to the country’s third largest city and an AVE set can complete the 391 km trip in 95 minutes. The latest line high speed to be opened - Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia Motilla del Palancar, along with the branch Albacete Motilla del Palancar, adds 438 km to the existing AVE network (Madrid-Valencia: 391 km and Motilla-Albacete: 47 km). Spain now has a 2,230 km high speed rail network that links Madrid to seven major cities, this length is now more than in the pioneers in high speed trains, Japan and France, and is just behind China.

In May 2009 U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood visited Spain to assess its high speed rail network as a model for the United States where terrain and climate are similar.

From 19 December Renfe has operated up to 15 services a day each way between Madrid and Valencia. As well as Alvia services operated with gauge-changing Class 130 trainsets from Madrid to Castellón and Alicante, a new Toledo–Albacete service is to be introduced, reversing at Madrid Atocha.

Tracklaying on the 69 km of high speed infrastructure between La Encina and Alicante is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2011. A tracklaying base has been built on a 6 ha site at Monforte del Cid at a cost of €13.7 million, which will also handle materials for the 65 km between Monforte and Murcia.

By 2015 Spain hopes to have 5,500 km of high-speed tracks laid linking the country from northwestern La Coruna to southeastern Murcia and from Seville to northeastern Bilbao and San Sebastian. Eventually the high-speed system is expected to connect Portugal to Spain and France.

along the Snowdon mountain railway


The Snowdon Mountain Railway in Wales - 'Rheilffordd yr Wyddfa–Croeso' to give its name in Welsh - is the UK's only rack and pinion railway, an 800 mm gauge line which runs for 7.6 km up the side of the mountain from its starting point at Llanberis, at 108 metres altitude, to the Summit at an altitude of 1,065 metres using the Abt system of traction.

The line, opened in 1896, at about which time the early photos date from, is a popular tourist attraction, particularly when the 0-4-2T type steam locomotives, built by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Zürich are used. Website

Chaytor Street, Karori, 1929

One of the photos that was considered for but not used in our book Wellington Transport Memories from last year (we used a photo taken on the other side instead), this shows the site of what would later become Appleton Park. A pickup truck is parked where Birdwood Street turns off to the left, while a car is on the new formation leading to the Northland Tunnel, still in the process of construction, although the tram tracks are in place. A double saloon type tram makes its way towards the city in the distance. The widened space in the roadway is one of the places where spoil from the tunnel boring was dumped.