Saturday, 18 January 2020

Crossing the canal in Kidsgrove

I like videos were the railway crosses the canal, here a Northern train crosses over the Trent & Mersey in Kidsgrove.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Mel and the LGP-30 drum memory

A famous piece of computer folklore is the story of Mel, a "real programmer" who was able to perform amazing feats on an old computer by taking advantage of an obscure hardware feature to create self-modifying code. Mel Kaye was in fact a real person as were the computers mentioned in the story, the RPC-4000 and the LGP-30.

The computers were developed in the 1950s as joint ventures between Librascope / General Precision Equipment and the Royal McBee Corporation (under whose name the computers were sold). The Royal McBee LGP-30 is pretty much forgotton these days but in it's day was a rather notable small (by the standards of the day) computer mainly used for scientific purposes. It was the size of a desk and included a console typewriter (no screens though you could add a printer). The computer pre-dated the microchip era of course, instead it used vacuum tubes and diodes. It also had a magnetic drum for memory (a hardware quirk of which Mel famously took advantage of). The drum gave the LGP-30 4K of 32-bit words of memory. The LGP-30 did not have RAM like a modern computer and only ran at 120kHz (kilohertz not megahertz) however it was fast enough to perform up to four hundred calculations per second.

The LGP-30 had a number of notable users, including the metrologist Edward Lorenz who used it to model weather patterns. His work on the computer, howing how small differences in data could lead to large differences in forecast led him to develop the butterfly effect and chaos theory.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

BGLR : Track plans

The planned main board extension will be a 30 x 90cm board which will host stabling in the backscene. Although it may turn out slightly different in reality a track plan created in Railmodeller indicates it may be possible to have up to four sidings which, with a couple of isolation section, could hold up to six locomotives.

One problem is the bookcase which it is intended to support the board is slightly too high. It is almost the same height as the main board which is fine until you take into account the thickness of the wood. However it may be possible to use thin wood or board. Work will take place on the extension later in the year hopefully.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Churches (47) : St Lawrence, Long Buckby

The church of St Lawrence is the parish church of Long Buckby in Northamptonshire. The church has existed since medieval times, possibly since 1280s when the current market place was laid down. The church has a West tower, a nave, chancel and aisles (North and South). The church is made from coursed ironstone rubble and ashlar.

The church was restored in the nineteenth century with the aisles being gothicised.


Monday, 13 January 2020

Staffordshire Places (2) : Fazeley

Fazeley is a small town on the Southern edge of Staffordshire and border with Warwickshire. The town is on the outskirts of Tamworth. The first mention of Fazeley dates from the twelfth century and the name may have Saxon origins. The town is situated on the Roman road Watling Street.

Originally Fazeley was part of the manor of Drayton, once the home of Sir Robert Peel. The manor has now gone but the name lives on as Drayton Manor theme park! Fazeley later became a parish of Tamworth, after 1894 having it's own parish council. Fazeley became a town in 1975.

Fazeley gives it's name to the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal which joins the Coventry Canal in Fazeley. The nearby railway station of Wilnecote was known as Wilnecote & Fazeley until 1904.