My new house is just round the corner from the infamous Balls Pond Road. When I found this picture, it brought back a lot of memories of thast iconic radio show, Round the Horne. They used to feature Radio Balls Pond Road.
In the late 1950s or early 1960s my father embarked on a major reconstruction of his prrinting works in Station Road, Wood Green. We ripped out large quantities of rubbish and covered the walls in corrugated asbestos sheets to hide the damp. It worked very well, but what would modern Health and Safety have said. At one point in our destruction we came across a cm. thick plank of wood, which someone had attempted to fix to a six by four beam with a six inch nail. As he didn’t have the strength to drive the nail home, this bodger had attempted to bend it flat. He’d failed. It was and probably still is, the worst bit of carpentry I’ve ever seen. I can remember that my fsther said it was probably done by a man called Boughton, who.d worked for the family firm some years previously. So to me whenever I see some really awful handiwork, I think of the unfortunate Boughton. Incidentally, I’ve never met anyone with that surname and I don’t know how I’ll react.
But perhaps one of his ancestors did this?
The doorstop is too small and whoever put it in cracked the tiles and did a lot of damage. It’s even more stupid as just round the corner in the Balls Pond Road is one of the best shops for door furniture in London.
I do have a thing about door stops, as I was mugged by one in Belarus.
I shall be visiting the hardware store!
I took this picture of the door plate on a Victoria Line train yesterday.
Note the date of 1967, which says that the train was built in that year.
Or it was originally intended to, although the plate on the other side of the carriage said 1972. In fact, on the train I took from King’s Cross to Highbury and Islington, there was a mixture of 1967s and 1972s. I doubt it matters, but I do like to see the age of my train!
It is rather sad, but all new trains now seem to be undated.
There are very few engineering projects in the world, that last a long time, as the technology gets replaced. To me some of the best in the UK are :-
The New River - Built in 1613 to supply London with fresh water, It is still used in part for that purpose nearly four centuries later. Will there be a celebration in 2013?
The Thames Embankments and Bazalgette‘s Sewers in London – These transformed the city and also laid down the basic quality control standards for large construction projects. I seem to remember reading that only one person died in the construction of the sewers, which was a major achievement for the ninteenth century.
The Forth Bridge – Probably the best known bridge in the world. Opened in 1890, it still carries nearly 200 trains a day.
St. Pancras Station – The head of SNCF described it as the finest station in the world. I’ll agree with him. It was originally opened in 1868 and a lot of the original design is still intact.
We may have structures that last for years but actual vehicles that last more than a four decades or so are rare indeed.
The Mersey Ferries have been around for centuries, but the current three boats are all over fifty years old. I remember them with affection from my days at Liverpool University in the mid-1960s.
The Victoria Line in London has two distinctions. It is the oldest fully-automated railway in the world and it still has some trains dating from 1967. I have travelled on some quite recently and they are still in good condition. at 43 years old.
And then there is the Inter-City 125 or High Speed Train. It may not be as venerable as the other three examples, but then they don’t travel at 200 km/hr or 125 mph over routes that measure hundreds rather than tens of miles. It was also designed as a stop-gap design after the failure of British Railways to get the tilting APT to work.
Now over thirty five years since the trains were introduced, they are being refurbished, re-engined and are still in front-line service all over the country.
On my trip north from Edinburgh to Inverness in the cab of HST, 43313, talked about some of the problems with the trains and added to my knowledge.
The old rather smoky diesel engines have now been replaced in many power cars with modern units.
The rather draughty and noisy doors in the cab have now been replaced to make the working environment second-to-none.
But the slam doors of the Mark 3 coaches with their rather quaint traditional windows are a worry.
But that is now being addressed by sound engineering according to Modern Railways.
Who’s to say when we’ll see the last of the HSTs. I wouldn’t be surprised if some are still running in 2030 or even 2040, as they are classic Darwinian train, that evolves to beat every attempt to kill it off.
In the same magazine, it was also announced that one of the HSTs had run from Plymouth to Paddington non-stop in just two hours forty minutes. That is an average speed of 84.375 mph. London to Paris by Eurostar is 307 miles and takes two hours fifteen minutes at an average speed of 136.444 mph.
So Eurostar is quicker, but it runs on a line virtually without curves and it isn’t thirty five years old.
As Modern Railways said, the Plymouth to Paddington run wasn’t bad for a thirty-five year old, British Rail-era diesel train dismissed as obselete by Labour transport ministers almost a decade ago!
I could talk about pots and kettles, but in a way isn’t the HST a superb two-fingered salute to the bunch of NuLabor morons, who almost bankrupted this country, by their idiotic policies?
The attack last night on Charles and Camilla is to be condemned. I do think though that it will increase his steeet cred with the general public.
It has been increasingly difficult to buy Genius bread in Suffolk lately. But there was plenty in the small gluten-free section at Waitrose at the Angel. So I brought one back for my breakfast.
Men living alone have curious habits. But two things they need are decent broadband for the Internet and football on the television.
As the new house is in a cable area, one of the reasons, I visited yesterday was to get the cable connected.
By twelve and ahead of schedule, they were both working, after installation by a competent and charming young lad, who didn’t seem to make any mistakes, except leave a cable in his van and go back to retrieve it.
I also got a speed of 54 Mbps, when I’m only paying for 20!
So virgins aren’t as expensive as they used to be!
Mark didn’t like this, as he didn’t want me to think he was to blame, so I photographed it.
Things like this grate with me, so hopefully Mark will be able to put right some of the faults of the original builders. But really it’s not his job.
In the previous post, I indicated that the new house has featured steel beams. The stair-case is also in steel and painted the same dark chocolate colour.
But look at this picture.
My father would have said that this was probably put together by a one-eyed Irishman in the dark, as some are round one way and others are the other. We may not blame others like we used to in the 1950s, but whoever put these in had no basic sense of design and order. I’d love to see the architect’s drawings, to see what they intended. Some bolts look to be a brass colour, so there might have been some instructions.
I will change them at some point, but whether I use brass, bronze, stainless steel or chrome, with or without cap nuts is a question that has to be decided.
Whatever I do though, I’ll put them in properly and in order.
My father was no mean wielder of a paintbrush, not in an artistic sense, but as a decorator. As he used to drive me to his print works in Wood Green, he’d sometimes tell how when they built the houses in Waterfall Road in Southgate in the 1930s, he had a contract to paint them for just a few pounds a house. He did teach me, but I’ve never been very good at it, although I used to be able to hang wallpaper. My hands probably aren’t good enough now!
My late father-in-law was also a professional painter and decorator in Barnet, working for a firm called Curtis. He would tell tales about how in the richer parts of the area, such as Hadley Wood, how sometimes he’d wallpaper the same house, as many as three times, because the lady of the house or the cat didn’t like the new colour scheme. C used to say he had endless patience, which was why he was in so much demand.
And then there was Terry. He used to do the decorating for us at Debach and when we moved to West Suffolk, we still continued to use him. He was neat and tidy, never smoked and sometimes you never even knew he was in the house. In one case, we’d asked him to paint a bedroom and C phoned him up to ask when he was coming. But he’d already done it!
Sadly Terry died of cancer a couple of years ago. The funeral was one of the best attended, I’ve ever seen, such was the respect he was held in the town of Ipswich.
So when I see good decorators I know what I’m looking at.
My new house was in a terrible state, as the previous owner had rented it to tenants. There were rather hideous constructions in some of the wardrobes, television wires everywhere and all sorts of damage. The builders had also not built some of the details properly either and the house had never been desnagged, as it should have been under its guarantee.
I arrived yesterday about nine and found that the decorator, one Mark from Harlow, had really cracked on and was doing a good job.
The picture shows the main living area of the house. The walls are being painted ivory and the original specification said that the steel beams were to be black. But the first thing Mark said was that the beams just needed a good clean and the original chocolate colour would be much better. How very Great Western, as it’s almost chocolate and cream!
By the way, notice the blinds in the photo, they may be rather broken, but that was because they’re the wrong size in the first place.
But to return to the colour scheme. I agreed with Mark on the colour of the beams and they will be left, at least for a few years.
Terry, my father and my father-in-law may be long gone, but it seems I’ve found another inteligent decorator.