The Anonymous Widower

An American View Of The Harrier

In The Times today there is the obituary of Ralph Hooper.

This is the sub-heading.

Aeronautical engineer who designed the revolutionary Harrier jump jet and the versatile Hawk used by the Red Arrows.

I have two tales that must be told.

An Artemis Users Conference In Denver

The project management software I wrote; Artemis, was used by both British Aerospace and McDonnell Douglas to build Harriers.

One day, soon after the end of the Falklands War, I was at an Artemis Users Conference in Denver and got chatting to three users.

  • The Project Manager for the US Harrier.
  • A Senior Project Manager for Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
  • A banker from a famous New York Bank.

Because of the times and two project managers working on military projects, the conversation naturally turned to the recent war.

The banker, then said something like. “What you need is a big flat-top with a squadron of Tomcats, to blow the Argies out of the sky.”

Tomcats were top-of-the-range US naval fighter jets.

Whereupon, the McDonnell Douglas guy said. “We’re getting the weather reports! There’s no other aircraft, that can take-off and land in the terrible conditions!”

An A-10 Pilot’s View Of The Harrier

In the 1970s, I used to drink in the Clopton Crown pub. Sometimes, I got drinking with one of the USAF A10 Thunderbolt II pilots from Bentwaters.

As I was a pilot myself at the time, we had quite a few chats about flying.

One night he told how two A10s would fly as a pair, at a fairly low altitude.

To protect themselves from MiGs, one would break away and do a steep turn through a complete circle, scanning the horizon for any threat.

Then the other would do the movement the other way.

He felt that in hostile combat, that they would give any opposition fighter a real kicking, as the attacker would have to keep out of the way of two GAU-8 Avenger 30 mm Gatling-style autocannons, firing large numbers of heavy shells.

He also told me, that he had flown A-10s up against other aircraft on a simulator. He just said, he found AV-8As, as the US called Harriers, very difficult to beat.

 

 

 

 

January 24, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hackney Central Before Levelling Up

This press release from Hackney Council is entitled £19m Funding Boost For Town Centre At Hackney’s ‘Beating Heart’.

This summary is in the first two paragraphs.

A greener, safer and more welcoming Hackney Central is one step closer after Hackney Council’s successful application for £19m in Levelling Up funding.

The award will see five acres of public space transformed, bringing new green space, trees and seating along Amhurst Road, investment in Hackney Central Library, a much-needed redesign of Pembury Circus junction, new creative workspace and a rejuvenated Hackney Town Hall Square.

This is the summary from the Government’s levelling-up document.

£19 million for renovating public spaces in Hackney Central, such as the iconic Town Hall Square, as well as new creative workspace and upgrades to the Hackney Central Library.

So. this afternoon I went for a walk around Hackney Central and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The roundel is missing outside the Graham Road entrance to Hackney Central station.
  2. Hackney Town Hall is a Grade II Listed Building, dating from the 1930s.
  3. I wrote abut the Hackney Picturehouse in The Film That Changed My Life!.
  4. The Hackney Empire is a Grade II* Listed Building.
  5. The Pizza Express is new, swanky and spacious, and not what I’d expected. I had a late lunch there.
  6. The bridge carrying the Overground over Mare Street needs improvement.
  7. I wrote about the Hackney Marks and Spencer in Levelling Up – The Marks & Spencer Way.
  8. St. Augustine’s Tower is the oldest building in Hackney.
  9. The main building of Hackney Central station is now a bar and music venue.

In words that could be attributed to legendary estate agent; Roy Brooks, it is an area with potential.

These are some thoughts.

The Town Hall Square

What puzzles me about the garden in front of the Town Hall, is the two trees, which I would associate with warmer climes.

Even today, when it was rather cold, there were still flowers in front of the Town Hall.

The Overground

I argue that the coming of the London Overground raised the standard of Dalston, Hackney, Whitechapel and other parts of East and South London to that of their more desired and affluent neighbours.

We can’t really attribute the the creation of the London Overground to any one politician, as it has been an aspiration of several politicians and rail professionals since the 1990s. This History section in the Wikipedia entry for the Overground lists all the false starts and hopes.

But one man; Peter Hendy has been there most of the time and has worked with all three of London’s Mayors and several Transport Ministers.

I do wonder how much the Overground benefited from a sane, quiet hand from someone like Lord Hendy.

The Overground has certainly done its best for Hackney and we need more of its common sense approach to levelling-up all over the country.

Marks And Spencer

When I moved back to London, Hackney had a terrible Marks and Spencer.

As one of their biggest London stores, is just three stops away on the Overground, it might have been financially prudent to close the store at Hackney Central.

But Marks did the opposite and converted it into an upmarket food store, which is much more Knightsbridge than East End.

It’s certainly convenient for me, as I can get a bus there and a bus back, with only a hundred metre level walk at both ends.

The Graham Road Entrance To Hackney Central Station

This makes it easier to travel around Hackney and to get to the Town Hall, Theatre, Cinema and Library area.

How many extra entrances to railway stations will improve journeys and attract more passengers?

The Continuous Development Of The Hackney Central And Hackney Downs Complex

Since I moved to Hackney three projects have been completed on the station complex.

  • A walkway has been built between the two stations to ease interchange.
  • Lifts have been added to the footbridge at Hackney Central.
  • The Graham Road entrance has been opened.

Two other projects have been proposed, but nothing has been actioned.

  • A replacement entrance to Hackney Central station on the North side of the station.
  • Step-free access to Hackney Downs station.

Will either of these projects be covered by the levelling up funding?

Pizza Express

This opened in December and I hadn’t seen it before, but you won’t notice it, unless you walk or ride on a bus up Mare Street, which I rarely do these days, since Hackney Wick station has been rebuilt.

So I was surprised to see it and like the Marks and Spencer it is more upmarket than other pizzadromes in East London.

  • There is a lot of space.
  • It has a proper wheel-chair entrance, that no-one could fault.
  • Seating is upmarket, with several tables having a good view of the street outside. Ideal for someone eating alone, as I do regularly.

The restaurant still has a few rough edges, but it has the potential to be a pizzadrome to visit.

I do wonder, if the upmarket Marks and Spencer and Pizza Express are in a way an endorsement of Hackney’s plans for the future, by two market leaders of the High Street.

Buses

There are a lot of bus routes going through the area, which is a good thing.

But the information could also be improved.

Clapton Bus Garage

This map shows the location of Clapton bus garage.

Clapton bus garage is the large building in the North-East corner of the map, red buses with white roofs outside.

This document on the Hackney Council web site is entitled Draft Hackney Central And Surrounds Masterplan, where this is said.

Relocate Clapton Bus Garage to an alternative site, to develop the site for mixed use, commercial/
residential development, and create a new route from St John-at-Hackney Churchyard Gardens to
Bohemia Place and beyond.

This sounds like a good idea, as part of the congestion in the area is caused by buses having to fight their way into the garage, when the roads are busy.

If they built, the right flats there I might be interested, as the site has good transport connections and an excellent Marks and Spencer.

Ashurst Road And Pembury Circus

This paragraph is in Hackney’s press release.

The award will see five acres of public space transformed, bringing new green space, trees and seating along Amhurst Road, investment in Hackney Central Library, a much-needed redesign of Pembury Circus junction, new creative workspace and a rejuvenated Hackney Town Hall Square.

Cut out what I have already covered and you get.

The award will see public space transformed, bringing new green space, trees and seating along Amhurst Road and a much-needed redesign of Pembury Circus junction.

This map shows Amhurst Road and Pembury Circus.

Note.

  1. Amhurst Road runs NW-SE across map.
  2. Hackney Central station is at the bottom of the map on the North London Line, which runs East-West.
  3. Hackney Downs station is the other station in the middle of the map.
  4. Pembury Circus is to the East of where Amhurst Road runs under the railway, at the top of the map.
  5. Dalston Lane runs between Pembury Circus Hackney Downs station.

I know the area around Hackney Downs station well.

  • I regularly take a train to Hackney Downs station and get a 30 or 56 bus to my home from a bus stop on Dalston Lane.
  • It can be a very unfriendly and cold place to catch a bus late at night.

But saying that, I’ve never had any trouble.

Improvements in that area, would certainly make my journey easier.

I would like to see the bus stops at Hackney Downs station moved to under the railway bridge to both improve shelter and cut the walking distance.

Conclusion

This could be £19 million very well spent and all residents of Hackney, myself included, could benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nucor Introduces Elcyon(TM), First Sustainable Steel Product Engineered Specifically For Offshore Wind Energy Applications

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Nucor Corporation.

This is the first paragraph.

Nucor today introduced Elcyon™, the Company’s new sustainable heavy gauge steel plate product made specifically to meet the growing demands of America’s offshore wind energy producers building the green economy and its necessary infrastructure. Nucor will manufacture Elcyon at the company’s new, $1.7 billion state-of-the-art Nucor Brandenburg steel mill in Kentucky , which produced its first steel plate at the end of December 2022.

It sounds impressive, but it should be if $1.7 billion has been spent.

This paragraph, says more about the process.

Elcyon is a clean, advanced steel product made using Nucor’s recycled scrap-based electric arc furnace manufacturing process. Nucor’s circular steelmaking route has a greenhouse gas emissions intensity that is one fifth the global blast furnace extractive steelmaking average, based on Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Utilizing Thermo-Mechanical Controlled Processing (TMCP) at the new mill, Elcyon, the only steel of its kind in the United States was created specifically to meet the rigorous quality standards of offshore wind energy designers, manufacturers and fabricators. Along with meeting Euronorm specs, Elcyon is characterized by larger plate dimensions, improved weldability and excellent fracture toughness, as compared to competing products.

What more can a steelmaker want?

  • It uses steel scrap to make new steel.
  • The process could be powered by green electricity.
  • The process cuts emissions to twenty per cent.
  • The steel is what customers want.
  • The steel has better properties  than competing products.

These two paragraphs talk about the prospects for Elcyon.

Nucor Steel Brandenburg is the first steel plant in the world to pursue certification under LEED v4 from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest standard for sustainable building design, construction, and operation. The new mill is located in the middle of the largest steel plate-consuming region in the country and will be able to produce 97% of plate products consumed domestically, with a potential output of 1.2 million tons of steel annually.

Elcyon and the Brandenburg mill both draw upon Nucor’s 50 years of industry leadership in sustainable steel production. From last year’s launch of Econiq™, the world’s first net-zero steel available at scale, to recently becoming the first major industrial company to join the United Nations 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy Global Compact, Nucor has consistently worked to meet the needs of its customers and other stakeholders while protecting the well-being of our planet.

Nucor have certainly done their market research and appear to be very scientifically green.

In the About Nucor section of the press release, this is the last sentence.

Nucor is North America’s largest recycler.

This is some statement to make, if it weren’t true! Wikipedia says this about the company.

Nucor operates 23 scrap-based steel production mills. In 2019, the company produced and sold approximately 18.6 million tons of steel and recycled 17.8 million tons of scrap.

The home page of the Nucor web site also makes this claim.

North America’s Most Sustainable Steel And Steel Products Company

Perhaps, the UK government needs to ask Nucor to build one or more of their scrap-based steel production mills in the country to produce all the steel plate we will need for our growing offshore wind industry.

We certainly have the GW to power the arc furnaces.

Conclusion

Nucor is a big beast to watch!

 

January 19, 2023 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Landmark Levelling Up Fund To Spark Transformational Change Across The UK

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from the UK Government.

These are the four bullet points.

  • More than 100 projects awarded share of £2.1 billion from Round 2 of government’s flagship Levelling Up Fund.
  • Projects will benefit millions of people across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and create jobs and boost economic growth.
  • £672 million to develop better transport links, £821 million to kick-start community regeneration and £594 million to restore local heritage sites.
  • Successful bids include Eden Project North in Morecambe, a new AI campus in Blackpool, regeneration in Gateshead, and rail improvements in Cornwall

The press release expands the last bullet point.

Projects awarded Levelling Up Fund money today include:

Eden Project North

Eden Project North will receive £50 million to transform a derelict site on Morecambe’s seafront into a world class visitor attraction. It will also kick-start regeneration more widely in Morecambe, creating jobs, supporting tourism and encouraging investment in the seaside town.

Note.

  1. Because of its closeness to the West Coast Main Line, it will have excellent rail connections to all over the North of England and Central and Southern Scotland, through Lancaster, which will only be a shuttle train away.
  2. One of High Speed Two’s direct destinations will be Lancaster, which will be served by High Speed Two by hourly trains to Birmingham, Carlisle, Crewe, London, Preston, Warrington and Wigan and by two-hourly trains to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lockerbie and Motherwell.
  3. London and Lancaster will be a journey of just two hours and three minutes.

I believe that this high quality rail access will ensure the success of the Eden Project North.

Cardiff Crossrail

Cardiff Crossrail has been allocated £50 million from the fund to improve the journey to and from the city and raise the economic performance of the wider region.

The Cardiff Crossrail is obviously a good project from the little that I’ve read about it. But it does need a web site to explain the reasoning behind it.

Blackpool Multiversity

Blackpool Council and Wyre Council will receive £40 million to deliver a new Multiversity, a carbon-neutral, education campus in Blackpool’s Talbot Gateway Central Business District. This historic funding allows Blackpool and The Fylde College to replace their ageing out-of-town centre facilities with world-class state-of-the-art ones in the heart of the town centre. The Multiversity will promote higher-level skills, including automation and artificial intelligence, helping young people secure jobs of the future.

Blackpool certainly needs something.

My suggestion in Blackpool Needs A Diamond, was to build a second Diamond Light Source in the North to complement the successful facility at Harwell.

I don’t think the two proposals are incompatible.

Fair Isle Ferry

Nearly £27 million has been guaranteed for a new roll-on, roll-off ferry for Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands. The service is a lifeline for the island, supporting its residents, visitors and supply chains, and without its replacement the community will become further isolated.

Note.

  1. Will it be a British-built ferry?
  2. Will it be hydrogen-powered?  After all by the time it is built, the Northern Scottish islands will be providing enough of the gas to power a quarter of Germany.
  3. Surely, a hydrogen-powered roll-on, roll-off ferry will be a tourist attraction in its own right.

I hope the Government and the islanders have a good ship-yard lined up

Gateshead Quays And The Sage

A total of £20 million is going towards the regeneration of Gateshead Quays and the Sage, which will include a new arena, exhibition centre, hotels, and other hospitality. The development will attract nearly 800,000 visitors a year and will create more than 1,150 new jobs.

I don’t know much about the Sage, but this project seems very reasonable.

Mid-Cornwall Metro

A £50 million grant will help create a new direct train service, linking 4 of Cornwall’s largest urban areas: Newquay, St Austell, Truro, and Falmouth/Penryn. This will level up access to jobs, skills, education, and amenities in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in the UK.

I wrote about this scheme in The Proposed Mid-Cornwall Metro, where I came to this conclusion.

I believe that a small fleet of Hitachi Regional Battery Trains could create an iconic Metro for Cornwall, that would appeal to both visitors and tourists alike.

Judging by the recent success of reopening the Dartmoor Railway to Okehampton in Devon, I think this scheme could be a big success. But it must be zero-carbon!

Female Changing Rooms For Northern Ireland Rugby

There is £5.1 million to build new female changing rooms in 20 rugby clubs across Northern Ireland.

Given the popularity of the female version of the sport in England, Scotland and Wales, perhaps this is a sensible way to level it up in Northern Ireland. As rugby is an all-Ireland sport, perhaps the Irish have already sorted the South?

January 19, 2023 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Solution To Single Use Plastic Cutlery

The Government has announced that single use plastic cutlery will be banned.

I am 75 and like to start my day with a Full English breakfast, that comes in a cardboard pot from a well-known takeaway chain.

I found the solution in the cutlery drawer in my kitchen.

On Monday night, when Radio 5 was discussing single use plastic cutlery my solution was read out.

I now carry an iconic set of 1960s Sheffield-made cutlery in my brief-case for takeaways, which were wedding presents, my late wife and myself bought for ourselves. They have smooth stainless steel implements and black engineering plastic handles. A good cat’s lick and a wipe with a serviette and they’re ready for next time. Quality always wins, even with plastic.

Colin Murray, who was the presenter, was very complimentary.

These pictures show the spoon in use in Leon, this morning.

The design is called Sheba and the spoon was made by Butler in Sheffield, who are now owned by Arthur Price.

The handles are in an engineering plastic called Delrin from Dupont.

The spoon that I used this morning must be fifty years old and for much of that time, it’s been washed at least once a week in a dishwasher.

 

 

January 10, 2023 Posted by | Design, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is This The Television Program Of The Year?

I’m just watching The Mayfair Hotel Megabuild in BBC2.

It’s fascinating and a must watch, as builders and miners expand Claridge’s Hotel up and down!

  • More rooms and a penthouse on top.
  • A spa and two swimming pools in the basement.
  • A large number of rooms are also being refurbished.

And all while the hotel is nearly fully occupied.

I suspect that a lot of the techniques shown in the documentary have been used on the construction of the Elizabeth Line and the execution of the Bank Station Upgrade.

January 2, 2023 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Concretene Cements Its Future With £8m Funding

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This is a precis. which explains what Concretene have done.

Concretene combines graphene with concrete to form a “stronger, more sustainable and more cost-effective alternative” to the world’s most-used building material.

The eight million funding is mainly to be used for more tests.

Is Concrete The New Wonder Material?

I once lived in a concrete apartment and although it is now fifty years old, it still looks the same, as it did the day it was built.

Cromwell Tower

Cromwell Tower in The Barbican may have been built to a high specification, but we don’t hear cancer, cladding, damp, fire or mould problems about the City of London’s flagship housing estate.

In the last few years, concrete has been able to be 3D-printed, so it can now be produced in different shapes.

All these wall and roof panels on the Elizabeth Line were made by 3D-printing of concrete.

The technique also seems to be being used on High Speed Two.

These innovative uses of concrete have led to research into the manufacture and use of concrete.

These posts are must-reads.

  1. Carbon-Neutral Concrete Prototype Wins €100k Architecture Prize For UK Scientists
  2. UK Cleantech Consortium Awarded Funding For Energy Storage Technology Integrated With Floating Wind
  3. New HS2 Pilot Project Swaps Steel For Retired Wind Turbine Blades To Reinforce Concrete
  4. Earth Friendly Concrete
  5. HS2 Utilising UK-First Pioneering 3D Concrete Printing On Project
  6. Carbon Capture From Cement Manufacturing Nears Market Readiness
  7. Mineral Carbonation International Win COP26 Clean Energy Pitch Battle

The number of these posts show how much research is going into cutting the massive amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the concrete industry.

I also feel that some could work together.

Earth Friendly Concrete is a replacement for normal concrete, so perhaps it could be enhanced with graphene, to create an Earth Friendly Concretene.

 

 

December 29, 2022 Posted by | Design, World | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ruby Wax, Melanie Brown and Emily Atack Climb Pikes Peak

I have just watched these three ladies climb Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Around the age of 18, I used to regularly read the American car magazine; Road & Track and was fascinated to read about the annual hill climb, that took place on the 14,000 foot Pikes Peak.

I am surprised that the hill climb up Pikes Peak was not mentioned in the program.

I have only driven at anywhere near that height once, although, I flew my Cessna 340 at 24,000 ft several times.

When C and I had a memorable holiday in Ecuador, we took a small Chevrolet Metro, up to about 12,000 feet in the Andes.

Cars cough badly at that altitude!

December 24, 2022 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Where Have All The Party Poppers Gone?

Every Christmas, about ten of us get together for Christmas lunch.

I usually provide a bag of small useful things for everyone.

Each bag usually contains a few party poppers like these.

But this year there weren’t any to be found.

Eventually, my son bought some from mumdadandbaby.co.uk.

December 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized, World | | Leave a comment

KPF Unveils Plans For Old Street Skyscraper

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Architects’ Journal.

This is the sub-heading.

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) has unveiled early plans for a 160m office tower by Old Street roundabout in East London

These three paragraphs describe the development.

The site at 99 City Road is currently occupied by a 10-storey postmodern office block developed in the late 1980s as headquarters for satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat. However, Inmarsat relocated last year and developer Endurance Land bought the site in spring for £150 million.

The new owner now wants to demolish 37 per cent of the existing building, before vertically extending it to create an approximately 37-storey tower providing an additional 45,000m2 of office space, according to early plans published for consultation.

The tower scheme would feature improved public realm around the building, as well as active frontages, café space and 510m2 of flexible community space – including a triple-height ‘great room’, which could hold markets, exhibitions, and performances.

I took these pictures these morning as I passed the site at the front of the top-deck of a 21 bus.

Note.

  1. I showed the approach to the station, to show the number of high rises in the area.
  2. The Inmarsat Headquarters at 99 City Road is on the South-East corner of the roundabout, with a new station entrance alongside.
  3. Unusually it has Inmarsat shown vertically on the front.
  4. The double-fronted curved building is the Bezier Apartments, which made the short-list for the Carbuncle Cup in 2010.
  5. The building on the South-West corner is the White Collar Factory.

The construction of the new Old Street station seems as slow as ever.

I have some thoughts.

Will The Building Fit In?

The architects’ Journal article says this.

Consultation documents said the tower’s design is ‘rooted in the distinct history of the local areas’, its appearance ‘tak[ing] inspiration from the Victorian buildings in the neighbouring conservation areas of Bunhill Fields, Finsbury Square and South Shoreditch’.

I can see some arguments as at 37 stories, it’s two higher than the Barbican towers.

Will Access Between The New Building And Old Street Station Be Good?

This map from Transport for London shows the future layout of Old Street Roundabout.

Note.

  1. The Inmarsat Headquarters is in the South-East corner of the roundabout.
  2. There is a new entrance to the station between the building and the Bezier apartments.
  3. The new main entrance to the station in the middle of the roundabout.
  4. Original plans showed a lift to the main station entrance from the surface, but two may have been built.

There appears to be a subway and two light-controlled pedestrian crossings between the new development and the station.

This Google Map shows the current state of Old Street Roundabout and the front of the Inmarsat Headquarters.

It can’t be long before developers build on the other two sides of the roundabout.

Who Will Be The Tenants?

This article on the Hackney Gazette, is entitled New 36-Storey Office Tower Proposed For Old Street.

It says this about the tenants.

The new site would contain approximately 4,000 sqm of new affordable workspaces that would be accessible to local businesses and organisations.

I suspect that these offices will be much better than some of the dumps Metier worked out of in the 1970s and 1980s.

Just promising to show the view could get a few visitors and some possible sales

Will The Building Have An Observation Platform?

At 160 metres tall, this building will be 150 metres shorter than The Shard, but it will be 27 metres than the Barbican towers.

So why not have an observation platform?

I suspect that from there, you will be able to see Hackney Mashes, as there are few buildings in between.

December 21, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment