Thursday, June 30, 2011

another effective book cover

The cover of Robert Ballard's book on the discovery and exploration of the passenger liner Lusitania, sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915 with the loss of 1,195 lives, is quite effective, with the title in large gold blocked and embossed letters, above a large murky green pic of the wreck being explored by a remote operated submarine and a sepia toned strip photo accompanying the author's name at the top.

Just as much thought has gone into the internal pages of the book with a mix of mostly colour illustrations of all sizes in about the right proportions, as well as nice fonts and decorative elements.  The sinking of the ship has always been highly controversial with the suspicions about whether munitions were being secretly carried being effectively examined and answered in this book, as well as a full presentation of the ship and the experience of sailing on her.  The book has 237 pages in A4 portrait, softcover with flaps.

"I'm coming!" and "We're coming!"

Two pre-WW2 German postcards, presumably intended to delight the recipients.

a 'sick lit' book doesn't get stocked this time

As mentioned in the 12 June post, normally a book about anybody and anything controversial - the more in the news the better - gets snapped up by the chain bookstores like hot cakes.  The book above by Ian Wishhart about the fatal abuse of two young Maori twins, however, isn't going to be stocked by The Warehouse and Paper Plus, because of a threatened boycott by a group of 38,000 who signed up to a Facebook page to protest it.

The Warehouse in the past has cited "family values" as an excuse for not stocking something when all they really mean is that they think it won't sell as many copies as the latest book about some celebrity scandal.  But in this case they are clearly worried about the effect of protesters outside their stores, even if these have promised to be silent and unobstructive.

Are these protestors going too far?  We think so.  The author and his motivation should be scrutinised and questioned in the civilised way; retailers should be left alone.  No, we aren't stocking it either, simply because we stock upmarket books and not chain bookstore fodder.

American publicity pic for the 1959 Jaguar Mark II

With a 1957 Chevy behind it. See also the post from 9 January. Note that in America, Jaguar is pronounced more like it is in French and not as the English pronounce it.

old days at Invercargill railway station


Three scenes of yesteryear at Invercargill Railway Station.  The first by Muir & Moodie from 1905 shows the yard and a passenger train arriving at the platform, headed by what looks like a Baldwin built Q class 'Pacific'.

The second by Percy Godber from about 1925 shows the platform and an array of signage; among other things for Radium polishers,Wolfe's schnapps, Fry's chocolates, Dunlop tyres and the Luggage Room where you can also get bicycle and dog tickets.

The third by Steffano Webb, also from the mid-1920s, shows the forecourt on the street where a truck is outside the Burn Linton Coal Company which was based in the station.

The station was replaced in the 1970s and until 2002 was the southernmost passenger station in the world.  For details on NZ's railways, see our books.

electric cart and caravan

For older people who still like the great outdoors?

1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan publicity artwork

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

transport etymology 3 - cockpit

A book on our shelves, recommended for those into aircraft history
A pit into which male fowls were placed to fight each other (hopefully it is a thing of the past) - what has that got to do with the control centre for flying an aircraft or driving a racing car?

The word goes back centuries and in addition to its literal meaning, the term gained a connotation of any scene of grisly combat, such as European battlefields. By the end of the 16th century, it was being used to describe sunken pits or cramped, confined spaces. In particular, the word cockpit was used to describe the pit around the stage in a theatre containing the lowest level of seats, as illustrated by this passage from William Shakespeare's Henry V.

Can this Cock-Pit hold
The vastie fields of France? 
Or may we cramme
Within this Woodden O, the very Caskes
That did affright the Ayre at Agincourt?  

Shakespeare may have been trying to draw an analogy between the spectacle of a cockfight or battle and that of a theatrical performance. An entire London theatre even became known as The Cockpit in 1635, as did the English Treasury and Privy Council government buildings that were built on the same ground later in the 17th century.

However, the more direct linkage to the modern usage comes from its reference to a compartment below decks on a British naval vessel, beginning around 1700. The often cramped and confined compartment was placed below the waterline and served as quarters for junior officers as well as for treating the wounded during battle. Although the purpose of this compartment evolved over time, its name did not. Even today, a room on the lower deck of a yacht or motor boat where the crew quarters are located is often called a cockpit. In addition, the rudder control space from which a vessel is steered is sometimes called a cockpit since a watchman in the highest position is called a cock, and a cavity in any vessel is called a pit. This sense of the word, as an often confined space used for control purposes, was first applied to an aircraft around 1914 by pilots during WW1. In keeping with this same meaning, the tightly confined control space of a racing automobile also became known as a cockpit by about 1935.

Other European languages use the English term (the Académie Francaise may prefer Poste de Pilotage, though).

NAC Vickers Viscount

A photo taken over Canterbury. This was an important aircraft in the National Airways Corporation or NAC fleet for several years.  For info and details, see the book The Aircraft of Air New Zealand and affiliates since 1940.

another State Highway 1 big truck crash

How did this truck-trailer manage to roll over in a 50 km/h area?  Was it simply going far too fast? photo and report:

Motorists heading south on State Highway 1 this morning faced long delays after a trailer unit on a truck flipped near Plimmerton. The accident happened about 6.30 am at the roundabout 100 metres north of St Theresa's Catholic Church.
The police spokesman said it was a 20-tonne trailer with a container on it.
A large crane arrived at the scene about 8 am and took about an hour to lift the trailer back on its wheels.

high speed rail line Beijing to Shanghai opens tomorrow

A high-speed train leaves the Beijing South Station for Shanghai during a test run on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway in Beijing on 27 June 2011. (China Railway High Speed photo)
Begun in April 2008 and stretching an impressive 1,318 km (819 miles), the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway, or shortened as the Jinghu High-Speed Railway, is due to open tomorrow, 30 June.

The railway line was the first one designed for 380 km/h commercial running. The non-stop train from Beijing South to Shanghai Hongqiao was expected to finish the 1,305 km journey in just short of 4 hours, averaging 329 km/h, making it the fastest scheduled train in the world, compared to 9 hours, 49 minutes by the fastest trains running on the parallel old railway. However, in the wake of the dismissal of Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun last February, it was announced that the railway would be slowed down to 300 km/h. At this speed, it will take 4 hours, 48 minutes for the journey, with one stop in Nanjing South.

will Greece trigger a triple dip recession?

In April last year the Greek debt rating was decreased to the first levels of 'junk' status by Standard & Poor's and fears of default by the Greek government have increased since then; yields on Greek government bonds have risen to around 30%.  Standard & Poor's estimates that in the event of default investors would lose 30–50% of their money and that includes large amounts owed to French and German banks. Hopefully it will not be the experience of late 2007, caused by dodgy practices in the US - particularly bank executive bonuses - repeated with the collapse of Lehman Bros, again!

People are watching the Greek parliament's decisions on austerity anxiously. Greek public, i.e. Government, debt is at least 143% of its GDP.  In contrast, NZ's stands at 26% and Australia's at 23%, below the world average of 59% (both countries have high levels of private debt, though).

The Greek parliament has now passed the austerity measures by a handful of votes and financial markets have breathed a sigh of relief.  The country's problems are far from over, however; Greeks are not noted for paying their taxes and don't take kindly to the government withdrawing their generous benefits.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the Hokitika to Kanieri horse tram

World famous on the West Coast, well in Hokitika anyway: the one time horse tram up the river bank to Kanieri (now spelt Kaniere).  There was no reverse gear and no turntable or Y, so how did the tram go in the opposite direction?  A clue is in the photo below. For more details of this operation, see the book The Era of the Bush Tram in New Zealand.

Timaru Breakwater, early 20th century

Two postcards, a colored one from about 1907, and a sepia from about 1912 showing the end of the Breakwater in rather "inclement" conditions.

maritime activity in old Wellington

For those who appreciated our books Wellington: a Capital century and Wellington Transport Memories, here is a wallpaper sized version of an A.H. Fullwood painting used as a 1900s postcard of the old Wellington General Post Office and maritime activity near Queens Wharf (also see earlier posts on this blog).

the Willem Ruys / Achille Lauro - an eventful career

A painting as the Willem Ruys by Victor Trip (1913-1975)
This postcard also shows the route of the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd line
As the Achille Lauro in Fremantle, 1991
Wars, collisions, hijacking by pirates, catching fire and sinking off Somalia...

Ordered in 1938 to replace the aging ships on the Dutch East Indies route, her keel was laid in 1939 at De Schelde shipyard in Vlissingen, Netherlands, for Rotterdamsche Lloyd (now Nedlloyd). Interrupted by World War II and two bombing raids, the ship was not launched until July 1946 as the Willem Ruys, named after the grandson of the founder of the Rotterdamsche Lloyd who was taken hostage and shot during the war. Willem Ruys was completed in late 1947. At that time, the Rotterdamsche Lloyd had been granted a royal prefix in honor of its services during the war. Willem Ruys was 192 metres (630 ft) in length, 25 metres (82 ft) in beam, had a draught of 8.9 metres (29.2 ft), and measured 21,119 gross register tons. Eight Sulzer engines drove two propellers. She could accommodate 900 passengers. She featured a superstructure very different to other liners of that era: Willem Ruys pioneered low-slung aluminium lifeboats, within the upper-works’ flanks. The next ship to adopt this unique arrangement was the SS Canberra in 1961. Today, all cruise ships follow this layout.
The Oranje
On 6 January 1953 Willem Ruys collided in the Red Sea with running mate MS Oranje, heading in the opposite direction. At that time, it was common that passenger ships pass each other at close range (1 to 1.5 nautical miles) to entertain their passengers. During the (later heavily criticized) abrupt and fast approach of Oranje, Willem Ruys made an unexpected swing to the left, resulting in a collision. It was a near-miss disaster. Oranje badly damaged her bows. Due to the possibility she would be impounded for safety reasons, she was unable to call at Colombo as scheduled, and went directly to Jakarta. Willem Ruys suffered less damage. There was no loss of life involved. Later, it was determined that miscommunication on both ships had caused the collision.

In 1964 she was sold to the Flotta Lauro Line, or Star Lauro, (now MSC Cruises) and renamed the Achille Lauro (after the company owner). Extensively rebuilt and modernized after an August 1965 onboard explosion, the Achille Lauro entered service in 1966 carrying passengers to Sydney, Australia. The ship played a role in evacuating the families of British servicemen caught up in the Six Day War, arriving in Cairo on 1 June 1967.

The Achille Lauro was converted to a cruise ship in early 1972, during which time she suffered a disastrous fire. A 1975 collision with the cargo ship Youseff resulted in the sinking of the latter, and another onboard fire in 1981 took her out of service for a time. She was laid up in Tenerife when the Lauro Lines went bankrupt in 1982. The Chandris Line took possession of her in 1985, shortly before the hijacking.

On 7 October 1985, four men representing the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) took control of the liner off Egypt as she was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said. The hijackers were surprised by a crew member and acted prematurely. Holding the passengers and crew hostage, they directed the vessel to sail to Tartus, Syria, and demanded the release of 50 Palestinians then in Israeli prisons. After being refused permission to dock at Tartus, the hijackers killed disabled Jewish-American passenger Leon Klinghoffer and then threw his body overboard. The ship headed back towards Port Said, and after two days of negotiations, the hijackers agreed to abandon the liner in exchange for safe conduct and were flown towards Tunisia aboard an Egyptian commercial airliner.
US President Ronald Reagan ordered that the plane be intercepted by F-14 Tomcats from the VF-74 "BeDevilers" and the VF-103 "Sluggers" of Carrier Air Wing 17, based on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, on 10 October and directed to land at Naval Air Station Sigonella, a NATO base in Sicily, where the hijackers were arrested by the Italians after a disagreement between American and Italian authorities. The other passengers on the plane (including the hijackers' leader, Abu Abbas) were allowed to continue on to their destination, despite protests by the United States. Egypt demanded an apology from the US for forcing the airplane off course.

The ship continued in service; she was reflagged in 1987 when the Lauro Line was taken over by the Mediterranean Shipping Company to become StarLauro. On 30 November 1994, she caught fire off the coast of Somalia while enroute to South Africa. At that time, the cause of the fire was suggested by Italian officials to be a discarded cigarette. The crew attempted to battle the fire for several hours but were unsuccessful. Abandoned, the vessel sank on 2 December.

(Info from wikipedia.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

the Marlborough - a migrant ship that disappeared between Lyttelton and London

The Marlborough was a three-masted clipper ship built in Glasgow and launched in 1876. With a crew of 29, the ship was commanded by Captain Anderson from 1876–1883 when she made voyages to Lyttelton NZ and to Dunedin, also making some very fast passages home to the UK, on one occasion, in 1880, travelling from Lyttelton to the Lizard in Cornwall in 71 days.

Marlborough made 14 successful voyages with immigrants from London to New Zealand up to 1890, most often returning with cargoes of wool and frozen meat. She had been converted to refrigeration as soon as the success of the venture was proven by her sister ship Dunedin, and carried her first shipment in 1882. In 1884 Captain Herd took over command and was aboard her at the time of her voyage from Lyttleton to London in 1890, when she disappeared without trace.

Some specifications
Displacement:  1,124 long tons (1,142 tonnes)
Length: 228 feet (69 metres)
Beam: 35 feet (11 metres) over paddle boxes
Draught: 21 feet 7 inches (6.58 metres)

the leaning tower of Frankenstein

Since 1945 with Stalin's map redrawing, Frankenstein in Silesia (Germany) has been Ząbkowice Śląskie in Poland. This webpage looks at the question most people will have - is there any connection between the town and the monster in the Mary Shelley novel and the movies?

a basic form of transport

...and one you won't see nowadays as it would probably result in derision: the Sedan Chair.  No wheels, the Boss got carried everywhere by the two flunkies; hopefully they were well paid.

Elizabeth Taylor Graphics winds up

Although they were a competitor to a small extent, it is a little sad to see the demise of Paraparaumu-based Elizabeth Taylor Graphics last week with the loss of 12 jobs.  According to the local newspaper, it had been "a miserable three years for the business".  This is the case for the local publishing industry generally and since Bill English's ill-considered hike in GST last year which has seen food prices rise by 20%, it has got worse, as people spend less on "non-essentials".  The announcement on their website

German steam at Cochem, 1968

A nice atmospheric photo by Stu Hammond taken at Cochem on the Mosel in 1968.  Steam still had 9 years to go in West Germany.

London trolleybus no. 1 at the end

From Wellington trolleybus no. 1 to London trolleybus  no. 1 on the Last Day Run of 8 May 1962.

"Diddlers" (the unofficial term) were the first trolleybuses in London and the only ones with a half cab. They were originally built for London United and were used on the South West London services plying Kingston, Teddington, Surbiton and Wimbledon. Introduced in 1931, the 'A' class began service between Twickenham and Teddington and lasted until 1952 when they were replaced by 'Q' class trolleybuses.

Diddler No.1 was preserved on retirement but ran again on 8 May 1962, the last day of trolleybus operation and is now to be found in the London Transport Museum Depot at Acton Town.

This photo of Diddler No. 1's last run in Teddington High Street in South-West London is by David Bradley, one of several on this webpage

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wellington trolleybus No. 1

A scene taken in Oriental Bay by William Hall Raine of Wellington trolleybus No.1 in Oriental Bay.  This wasn't the city's first trolley bus as such (see the earlier post about the "trackless tram") but the first of the post-WW2 fleet which continues to this day.

For details, see the book Wellington Transport Memories.

1967 Brush Electrical locomotive advert, Rhodesia

Brush Electrical are best known for supplying the 22 NZR EF class electric locomotives in the 1980s (for details on them, see our books).  The company still exists, website

This is an advert featuring a diesel class supplied to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1967.

for great books on aviation where do you go?

To transpress nz of course!

replica of the Endeavour

The most important ship in the history of New Zealand and Australia is Captain James Cook's 106 ft (32 metres) long barque Endeavour.  While the original is long gone, scuttled in a blockade of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, USA, in 1778, a replica was built by the Australian National Maritime museum in the 1990s and now sails on regular passenger carrying voyages around both countries (note that if you're a tall person, you may not find the 18th century interior very comfortable!).  Details of the activities of the replica are on this website.

More details of Captain Cook's voyages are in this budget priced book, among others, available in our shop.

1969 Oldmobile Delta 88 Royale

This was the seventh generation of the Oldsmobile 88 (see earlier post).  The body styles offered were: 2-door hardtop; 2-door convertible; 4-door hardtop and 4-door sedan.  The Royale trim appeared on a top-line Holiday coupe and came standard with a more luxurious interior featuring a notchback vinyl upholstered bench seat with armrest or Strato bucket seats with optional center console.

The standard engine was a 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8 with a 455 cu in (7.5 L) V8 option. Transmission was 3-speed automatic.

The "bold and the beautiful" headline in this ad was later used for the title of a Los Angeles TV Soap Opera which began in March 1987 and is still being produced, in fact the only such soap still in production in the US.

road detour signs are there for a reason!

This happened on the Kalgoorlie to Perth Road, Western Australia. A culvert was being installed across the road with a detour gravel road graded around the whole area.

The trucker just blew clean on through the detour signs and punted straight into the trench.

He was lucky to survive with minor injuries!

Thanks to Bert for sending this in.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

stamps with NZR steam locomotives

A stamp issue from the NZ Post Office in 1973 featuring four different classes from the 1880s to the 1950s.  From memory, 3 cents was the cost of a standard letter within NZ, 4c an airmail letter; adjusted for inflation, in today's prices this is only 35 cents and 46 cents respectively, so in real terms the Post Office has put the prices up a lot since then - any wonder they are losing business!

For information about the locomotive classes featured, see our books.

transport etymology 2 - chauffeur

In English a chauffeur is usually a posh professional driver of a car that conveys important passengers. 

But the term has railway origins:  in French it literally means a person who heats something up, and that was originally the boiler of a steam locomotive via the firebox. In German the direct translation was Heizer, but Heater in English evidently didn't sound so good, as the words Fireman or Stoker were used for a person in this role.  For the person who does the driving of a locomotive, the French use mécanicien, otherwise a chauffeur is the general word for a driver.

the steamer City of Grand Rapids

The steamer City of Grand Rapids which voyaged between Chicago and St Joseph, Michigan. Like most other ports along Lake Michigan, St Joseph saw a huge drop in traffic during the early years of the twentieth century, worsened by the 1930s Depression. The route between Chicago and St. Joseph survived until the 1950s.

From the original G&M Line vacation brochure: "The steamship City of Grand Rapids, the latest ship acquired by this Company, is a most excellent example of modern marine architecture. A propeller, having a monstrous triple expansion engine developing 4,500 horsepower and a speed of 20 miles per hour, is 310 feet [94.5 metres] in length and 48 feet [14.6 metres] in breadth, built entirely of steel, and having two freight decks and three passenger cabin decks. The hull is divided into seven water tight compartments, any one of which is large enough to float the ship. The freight decks are covered with an asphalt composition which has a tendency to lessen the sound of trucks when handling the freight, while the social hall and toilet rooms are covered with asbestos and the cabins are all laid with the finest of carpets so that the sleeping passenger is not awakened by any ordinary movement around the steamer. This ship has 210 staterooms and 26 parlours, fitted with electric lights, call bells, running water, hair mattresses and woven wire springs, giving sleeping accommodation for 650 people, the largest capacity of any ship sailing from Chicago crossing Lake Michigan. A magnificent mahogany finished dining room with seating capacity for 100 people, as well as two private dining compartments, are located in the forward end of the main cabin, where one seated at a table can enjoy the cool breezes off the lake through the large windows. This wonderful ship, together with the sister ship, Puritan, which is equally well fitted with modern equipment, will make two trips daily between Chicago, Grand Rapids, Holland, Macatawa Park, Ottawa Beach and Saugatuck."

more fun with European road signs

old transport in Nieuport

Aerial view of the steam tram.
The steam tram, 1923
A steam tram stop?
Electric trams have arrived
Circa 1960 with a Jaguar, Peugot 203 and a Citroën 2CV
Nieuport station before "la grande guerre"
...and Nieuport station après la guerre
Nieuport Bains/Nieuwpoot-Bad is the beachside suburb of Nieuport in Belgium, in the previous post. A few of the old postcards on this website.

Friday, June 24, 2011

another odd postcard

No date is attached to this postcard of Nieuport (Nieuwpoort) in Belgium, but its age and "débris of a locomotive" in English suggests it is at the end of WW1 - perhaps a postcard for the troops to send home?  "Hi all. Well, locomotives here now all look like this one, too bad."