Friday, 22 June 2018

Thursday, 21 June 2018

LV14 Lightship Sula

Lightships are basically mobile lighthouses. They are used in waters where it is impractical/impossible to build a permanent lighthouse. Lightships have been in use around British waters since 1734 and a number are still in use around the coast. These days lightships tend to be unmanned though previously were crewed.

A number of older lightships still survive as preserved boats and are dotted around British waters. One of them is Lightship Sula which once served at Spurn Head off the Humber estuary. Sula was decommissioned in 1985 and has had a varied life since in retirement including being the headquarters of a yacht club and an alternative therapies centre. Now it is moored at Gloucester Docks.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Churches (18) : St Christopher, Haslemere

The Church of St Christopher in Haslemere is an early twentieth century Anglican church built as the Surrey town expanded westwards following the arrival of the railway. The church was consecrated in 1903 though not finished until the following year. It was designed by Charles Spooner and built to the Free Late Gothic style.

The church was built mostly out of bargate stone and is a nearly perfect rectangle. The interior draws heavily on the Victorian Arts & Crafts movement (of which Spooner was a member of). A chapel was added to the North in 1935. Unusually the church was built by Haselmere Builders - owned by a Quaker who operated the company on a co-operative profit share basis.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Lapworth to Hatton

As the car was at the garage for it's MOT I was not at work today. Instead I went on a long canal walk along the Grand Union Canal between Lapworth and Hatton. A very nice walk it was too though maybe slightly further than I thought it would be. Southern Warwickshire is one of the most wonderful places in the world and walking a canal through countryside is one of the best ways to see it especially when you suddenly spot over a hedge a beautiful old farm house (see photo below). You can see my canal photos here. I also took some photos at Hatton station which are here.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Arriving at Kenilworth

A train arrives at the newly re-opened Kenilworth station.

Plotting my travels

I've decided to create a Google Map of all the places I have visited in the UK this year. I just thought it would be interesting to see where I visit a lot and where I need to go more often. Obviously there are time constraints in play if just going away for a day. I tend to avoid places more than two hours away by train and prefer no more than an hour if possible (longer distance trips are possible with overnight stays of course). Anyway you can see the map here. I shall endeavour to keep it up to date.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

History of the World in Apple Objects (12) : Macintosh IIci

The Macintosh IIci which was on sale between 1989 and 1993 was a more powerful version of the earlier IIcx and indeed was the most powerful Macintosh for some time. It had a 25Mhz 68030 CPU and at least 1MB of RAM. Now these do not sound much nowadays but back in the day it was a pretty good spec.

It came in a very nice compact case which remains one of my favourite Apple Computer cases. The top is easily removable so you can get at the innards and perform repairs or upgrades. A far cry from today's super locked down units. I'd love a modern Mac in such a case to be honest.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Dyke, High Wycombe

The Dyke in High Wycombe is an artificial lake created by the flooding of an old road within the former grounds of the Wycombe Abbey School. The Dyke and a wooded area next to it was donated to the Chepping Wycombe Corporation (later the council) by the Marquis of Lincolnshire in 1923. The Dyke is fed by streams and has a separate watercourse to the adjacent river Wye.

Now the Dyke is a haven for nature and also used by pleasure boaters and people enjoying a walk!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Little Kimble

Little Kimble is a delightful village in Buckinghamshire. It is close to the Prime Minister's official residence Chequers and you can understand why they chose this part of the world, the Chilterns is pretty wonderful. Today I travelled to Little Kimble and then walked back to Monks Risborough (another lovely village) before taking the train back to Princes Risborough.

A visit to three great places in Buckinghamshire then. You can see my photos here.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Chesterfield tram

Another video from the National Tramway Museum, a Chesterfield Corporation tram at work.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A legacy of spying

As well as Golden Age detective novels another literature love of mine is the spy novel, especially those by John LeCarré and Len Deighton. A few weeks ago I read the latest by the former, A Legacy of Spies. The story acts as a prequel to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold as well as a way of wrapping up the George Smiley saga which of course was at it's height with the peerless Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy.

The story involves old skool spying: dead letter drops, surveillance, micro dots, double agents. Set in Berlin just before and after the raising of the wall. It was a bleak time for Europe, so many human tragedies amid the brutality of the Cold War. The superpowers jockeying for position, endlessly testing each other's will and resolve. The threat of nuclear obliteration a very real one. My early years were spent under that spectre like so many people. Maybe that is one of the reasons I like these spy stories so much, a kind of nostalgia!

The book isn't perfect but is a fitting way to tie up so many threads, if you read it I highly recommend (re)reading The Spy... first though!
The fallen Berlin wall, scan from original photo I took

History of the World in Apple Objects (11) : PowerMac 7200

The PowerMac 7200 was one of the second generation PowerPC powered Macintoshes. It was introduced in 1995 with a PowerPC 601 CPU. The 7200 was a decent machine with CD-ROM, capable of running MacOS 7.5.2 up to 9.1 (though sometimes a bit slow on later OS releases). It came in the dull beige case common to Apple in the 1990s before the iMac and everything went colourful (for a bit anyway).

My 7200 was a work station at my first employer Tw2, used for producing web sites. Later it became a dedicated printer workstation. I rescued it when Tw2 went bankrupt.

Monday, 4 June 2018

IBM 2701 Data Adaptor Unit

Mainframes in the 1960s and 1970s such as the IBM 360 were huge complicated systems which filled large rooms. Some even had smaller (in relative terms - still large compared to the average machine now) computers to help them with the amount of information that was needed to be sent into them from a number of sources. These computers were known as Front End Processors or Communication Controllers and they handled data communications allowing the mainframe to concentrate on the jobs at hand [1].

The IBM 270x family, of which the 2701 Data Adaptor Unit was a member of, was an early example of communication controller and worked with the IBM 360 and 370. The 2701 "greatly expands the input/output capabilities of the IBM System/360" [2] by helping to interface to and control information flow from peripherals like the IBM 7701 Magnetic Tape Transmission Unit. The IBM 2701 was introduced in 1964 and replaced by the IBM 3704 in 1972.
Public domain image from SDASM Archives

[1] Barry Wilkinson & David Horrocks, Computer Peripherals (Edward Arnold, 1987) p. 281
[2] IBM 2701 Data Adaptor Unit Principles of Operation (IBM, 1965) p. 5

Sunday, 3 June 2018


Stamford is a delightful historic old town at the Southern tip of Lincolnshire and near to Oakham. The town is full of old stone buildings and alleyways, numerous churches, a rather nice Art Deco cinema and even the remnants of a castle. You can see my photos here.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Under angle

An interesting angle of a SWR train approaching Milford, taken from a footpath that runs parallel to the line.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

History of the World in Apple Objects (10) : A2M2002 Apple Joystick

Obviously if you played games on your Apple //e you needed a joystick! The A2M2002 Apple Joystick is in the same grubby beige as the Apple //e itself. We can safely say Apple hardware design has come a long way. The design itself isn't too bad, certainly superior to the Atari type joystick most people used. Though I've never actually used it on my Apple IIs it does feel like it would be quite sensitive. The two fire buttons are a nice touch.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Windows File Manager

The Windows File Manager was the file manager included with Microsoft Windows from version 3.0 until Windows 95 and NT where it was phased out in favour of Windows Explorer. The Windows File Manager was used to perform file management tasks and hence replaced the functionality of MS-DOS (earlier versions of Windows had a simple file manager called MS-DOS Executive).

Why are we talking about File Manager? Well an updated version has been released that will work on Windows 10! You can download it here if that kind of thing floats your boat.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Tutbury & Hatton

Yesterday I went to Tutbury & Hatton station which serves two villages. One village (Hatton) is in Derbyshire and the other (Tutbury) is in Staffordshire. The latter has Tutbury castle which is an interesting Norman castle ruin and a rather nice church.

Hatton has a Nestle factory. I assume the factory is responsible for the unusual and not unpleasant smell that seemed to surround both villages, at times smelling like roast potatoes. You can see my photos here.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Under the bridge

A Glasgow Corporation tram passes under a bridge at Crich Tramway Village.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

History of the World in Apple Objects (9) : M0001A Mac Plus

The Mac Plus was the third model of Macintosh computer after the 512K. The Mac Plus had a huge 1MB of RAM and could be expanded to a mind boggling (and especially wallet busting in 1986) 4MB! The Mac Plus also introduced the SCSI bus which became the main peripheral port for Macs until USB. Finally the Mac Plus was the first Mac in the Platinum colour which would become standard until the iMac (though earlier ones like mine were still in beige).

Otherwise the Mac Plus followed the same compact format as the two earlier Macs. Also later Macs like the SE and Macintosh II family eclipsed it it remained in production as the (relatively speaking) cheap low-end Mac until 1990. It had the longest production run of any Mac model and was supported until 1997, able to run Mac OS 7.

Monday, 21 May 2018

One hundred movie reviews up

At the start of the year I launched three new blogs. Two of them (on waterway and computer history) I expected would work out really well. The third, a blog of movie reviews, was more speculative and I honestly didn't know how if it was a good idea and how long it would survive. As it happens the two history blogs didn't work out and have been archived. The movie blog on the other hand is going from strength to strength and passed the hundred review milestone last week.

The movie blog has evolved very quickly. It started out just featuring reviews of films I had seen in the past, so a lot of 1980s and 1990s stuff (the blog is restricted to twentieth century movies). Then I discovered the wealth of older movies available on the likes of Amazon Prime and Youtube. Most reviews nowadays seem to be of 1930s crime dramas - which I am now most certainly a fan of. The blog continues and it will be interesting to see if it evolves again.
Public domain image of "The Air Mail" lobby card

Saturday, 19 May 2018

EVR Multiple Memories 2018

Multiple Memories, the yearly railcar gala on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, is another of my railway highlights of the year so it was nice to attend it just a couple of days after the SVR Diesel Gala.

The special guest this year was one I was really keen to see, a Waggon und Maschinenbau railbus. A small number were bought by British Railways in the late 1950s for evaluation, a couple surviving into preservation. What a delightful little machine it is too! You can see my photographs from the gala here.

Friday, 18 May 2018

SVR Diesel Gala 2018

The Diesel Gala on the Severn Valley Railway is one of the big events of the year railway wise which I always look forward to. I went along yesterday and had a good time as usual, there wasn't anything "new" this year (by which I mean types I hadn't seen before) but it was good all the same to see stuff like the Class 56, Class 37 and the 4-TC.

I spent some time in Kidderminster, Bewdley and Arley and took a lot of photographs of course and they can be seen here.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Lapworth canal walk

I do like Lapworth a lot, especially the station which I would rate in my top five, so today I returned to do some canal walking. While I've explored the Stratford Canal some way in both directions from Lapworth I haven't explored the Grand Union Canal yet so did so today in the direction of Dorridge. I had a nice walk as far as the rather sci-fi-esque pipe bridge North of Lapworth. I assume this is part of the same water mains which also crosses the Stratford Canal North of Lapworth.

A cooler day than it has been later so good for a walk through my beloved Warwickshire eh? You can see my photos here.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

History of the World in Apple Objects (8) : M1212 Apple Macintosh Color Display

Another set of Apple objects/junk (depending on your point of view) from my collection.

The Apple Macintosh Color Display M1212 is, as you might guess, a monitor. For Macintosh computers. Although a CRT display and thus obsolete these days it did have a Trintron display so had a reasonable display for the time though only had a resolution of 640x480. It had a standard DA-15 Apple connector so could be used with a range of Mac desktops. Whether mine still works is unknown.

I can't remember where the monitor came from. It appears to have a "Faculty of C.I.S." sticker on it so perhaps it came from a university. I may have bought it off Ebay along with one of the Macintosh IIs I have though we are talking around fifteen years now since I last bought any Apple hardware off there!