The Anonymous Widower

The Edmonton Incinerator

Although it is officially known these days as the Edmonton EcoPark, as a North Londoner, I will always know it as the Edmonton Incinerator.

I took these pictures with my drone.

These are a few facts from Wikipedia about the waste-to-energy plant.

  • It was commissioned by the Greater London Council in 1971.
  • It burns waste from the seven North-East London boroughs.
  • It generates 55 MW of electricity.

It certainly dominates the landscape alongside the North Circular Road.


It is probably not amongst the greenest of incinerators.

It is probably very much a design of the 1960s.

It is approaching fifty years old.

But it appears that things could be improving.

  • There is a large composting and recycling facility being built on the site on the site.
  • Plans exist to bring in the rubbish by barge.

This Google Map shows the site.


  1. The North Circular Road runs across the bottom of the map.
  2. All of the roads obliterated the famous Cooks Ferry Inn, where I saw the Animals play in the 1960s.
  3. The River Lee Navigation runs past the incinerator.
  4. Pymme’s Brook runs on the other side.

It looks from the map, that another reservoir is being built to the East of the canal.

The Guy Who Built The Edmonton Incinerator

I used to work with the guy, who was one of those in charge of the building of the incinerator, who when I met him, was head of the Greater London Council’s Construction Branch, who were using my project management software.

I can’t remember Mr. Samuels first name, even if I ever knew it.

  • He was an Austrian Jew, who had trained as an engineer, who arrived in the UK sometime in the 1930s.
  • He taught himself English in six weeks and got a job at Lucas.
  • At the start of World War II, he volunteered and joined the Royal Engineers.
  • He spent the whole war in bomb disposal.
  • After the war he became an observer at the Nuremberg Trials.

After all he’d been through, he told me, the worst time of his life, was those years in the early seventies when I knew him, as his wife was dying of cancer.

But he taught me a lot about project management and the real horror of war.

He never told me, how many of his relatives survived the Nazis.

What Will Happen To The Edmonton Incinerator?

This year it will be fifty years since the Edmonton Incinerator was commissioned. It must be coming to the end of its life.

I can’t find any plans, but endless groups, who want it closed rather than rebuilt.

This article in the Hackney Gazette, which is entitled Campaigners Urge North London Incinerator Bidders To Pull Out, is typical.

I am very pro recycling, but then others aren’t as these pictures show.

So if some won’t recycle properly, it will all have to go to landfill.

An Odd Tale About Recycling

I applied to be a member of the Independent Monitoring Board of a prison near, where I used to live.

I had a very interesting tour of the prison, where I met several of the inmates.

One thing surprised me.

The prison had a very comprehensive internal recycling system, whereby everything was fully sorted.

One course of training, that was offered to prisoners was how to sort and process all of the rubbish. According to the guy running the course, it was one of the most popular in the prison.

Possibly, because I was told, it prepared prisoners for a job, where there were lots of vacancies.

I wonder if the new £100million recycling centre at Edmonton will use labour trained in the Prison Service?


April 14, 2021 Posted by | Energy, World | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tips For American Servicemen In Britain During The Second World War

The title of this post, is the same as this page on the Imperial War Museum web site.

These are the first two introductory paragraphs.

In 1942, the first of over 1.5 million American servicemen arrived on British shores in preparation for the Allied offensives against Germany during the Second World War.

That year, the United States’ War Department published Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain to help soldiers, sailors and airmen – many of whom had never travelled abroad before – adjust to life in a new country.

The whole area of the web site is well-worth exploring.

The book, which is entitled Instructions For American Servicemen In Britain 1942 can be purchased from the museum.

January 16, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

Will There Be A Sports And Arts Bounceback As There Was After World War II?

This may be optimism, but after World War II, all sports had massive attendances, and I wonder if the same thing will happen, when we get a 100 % reliable vaccine against the covids?

There was even a great desire for fun during the war, as this news item on British Pathe, which is entitled Wartime Derby at Newmarket 1941 shows.

There are several horse racing videos of this period on YouTube.

Perhaps, the proximity of Newmarket to the major fighter base at Duxford, meant that the Luftwaffe didn’t feel safe to attack Newmarket in daylight? Or their intelligent was bad.

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Health, Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Schoolgirl Who Helped To Win A War

The title of this post, is the same as a programme to be shown on the BBC News Channel, this weekend.

Seeing the trailers on the BBC this morning, I am reminded of my mother, who was my mathematical parent. The girl in the story is Hazel Hill, who was the daughter of Captain Frederick William Hill, who worked on armaments research.

My mother would be a few years older than Hazel and won a scholarship to one of the best girls schools in London at the time; Dame Alice Owen’s, which  was then in Islington.

I get the impression, that contrary to perceived opinion, that in the 1920s and 1930s, girls with aptitude were well-schooled in practical mathematics.

I’d be very interested to know, where Hazel Hill went to school.

I shall watch the programme.

July 10, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is There A Connection Between The Rise Of Knife Crime And Brexit?

This may seem an outrageous suggestion to make!

However, serious knife crime seemed to increase around or just after the Brexit referendum.

But the Brexit Referendum on the 23 June 201, does seem to have brought out the worst in some people.

  • Jo Cox was murdered just seven days earlier.
  • Since then there has been the rise of the far-right.
  • MPs of all colours have received terrible abuse on social media.
  • Racist chants seem to have reappeared at some football matches.
  • The Labour Party has had a row on anti-semitism.

I’m no psychologist, but it’s almost as if the Brexit result has said it’s alright to go against established norms.

I wonder if crime rose in the Phoney War in 1940.

This page on History Extra is entitled 10 Facts About Crime On The Home Front iI The Second World War.

Read it and see what you think!


April 2, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Do I Hoard Too Much Beer?

I have been buying the Marks and Spencer 0.5% Southwold Pale Ale.

With my body, the beer seems to be gluten-free and also the alcohol level is low enough to not affect my INR.

But am I buying to much, as the most I drink in a day is two?

I am only guarding against future shortages!

This behaviour seems to run in the family.

My mother used to tell this tale.

At the start of the Second World War, she asked her Dalstonian mother, if she was prepared for the inevitable rationing.

Her mother replied, that she’s been caught out in the Great War, so this time she’d already got a hundredweight of jam in the cellar and she had another hundredweight of sugar ready to make some more!

I doubt, there was a jam shortage in the Millbank household during the Second World War!

Perhaps, my prudence over beer shortages comes from my Dalstonian grandmother?

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , | 1 Comment

Memorials On The Liverpool Pier Head

Liverpool is proud of its maritime heritage and the Pier Head on the Mersey is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City.

When Celia and I met in Liverpool in the 1960s, it was a simpler place, where we would walk to take the ferry across the Mersey.

These pictures show the Pier Head today.

I’d never realised that the road across the Pier Head, had been named Canada Boulevard in honour of Canadians, who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic or the war against German U-boats.

Shown in the pictures is the memorial to Captain Johnnie Walker, one of the leading British commanders in the battle.

The scale of the battle is shown by the fact that according to Wikipedia the Allies lost over 70,000 sailors, 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships, whereas the Germans lost 30,000 sailors and 783 submarines.

One thing that wasn’t there in the 1960s is the canal that links the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the Stanley Dock, so narrow-boats can visit the city centre.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Don’t Fight Wars Like That Anymore!

There is an obituary in The Times today of John Campbell, who won a Military Cross and Bar, whilst serving in Popski’s Private Army, which was officially the No 1 Demolition Squadron and a unit of British Special Forces in World War II.

I grew up just after the Second World War and just as newspapers today, use the actions of C-list celebrities, in those days, Sunday papers like the Express and Dispatch, were full of tales of derring-do, as the Nazis and the Japanese were eventually defeated.

As my next door neighbour, a sometime Colonel in the Engineers, once said, there’s only one rule in the British Army – In case of War, ignore the rule books.

Vladimir Peniakoff or Popski wrote them.

We probably can’t do what he did these days, when we’re trying to curb the atrocities of groups like Islamic State, but I’m sure he’d have had an innovative solution.

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for the PPA is informative.

PPA was unusual in that all officer recruits reverted to lieutenant on joining, and other ranks reverted to private. The unit was run quite informally: there was no saluting and no drill, officers and men messed together, every man was expected to know what to do and get on with it, and there was only one punishment for failure of any kind: immediate Return To Unit. It was also efficient, having an unusually small headquarters.

Isn’t that how you’d run a company to develop new technology?

August 18, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

The Bombing Of Dresden

I could not leave Dresden without commenting on the Bombing of Dresden by the Allies in World War II.

Some feel it was a war crime and many say it was justified. This is the first paragraph in the Wikipedia section describing the background to the bombing.

Early in 1945, after the German offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge had been exhausted — including the disastrous attack by the Luftwaffe on New Year’s Day involving elements of eleven combat wings of the Luftwaffe’s day fighter force — and after the Red Army had launched their Silesian Offensives into pre-war German territory, theGerman army was retreating on all fronts, but still resisting strongly. On 8 February 1945, the Red Army crossed the Oder River, with positions just 70 km from Berlin. As theEastern and Western Fronts were getting closer, the Western Allies started to consider how they might aid the Soviets with the use of the strategic bomber force. They planned to bomb Berlin and several other eastern cities in conjunction with the Soviet advance—to cause confusion among German troops and refugees, and hamper German reinforcement from the west.

It is a sensible argument, but I feel that decisions earlier in the War meant that to cause the required confusion, they had no alternative.

Churchill and others were also worried about what the Russians would do with the territory they captured. And he was right, as their colonisation and subjugation of Eastern Europe happened and it was something of which no-one can be proud.

In some ways it’s a pity that the German leaders in 1944, didn’t know how close we were to perfecting the atom bomb. But if they had,would the likes of Hitler ever surrendered? I doubt it! When you’re dealing with the really mad, all logic goes out of the window.

So could there have been an alternative to the bombing of Dresden and Leipzig?

What my father had been involved with in the war, I know not! But he was a passionate believer in the abilities of the de Havilland Mosquito. My father was well-connected in some way to John Grimston, who later became the 6th Earl of Veralem. In the 1950s and 1960s, Grimston’s company, Enfield Rolling Mills, was my father’s biggest customer. I know he was well-connected because when I needed a vacation job, my father rang the Earl and called in a favour, which got me three months extremely useful work in the Electronics Laboratory. My father did move in some unusual circles before and during the war. At one time, he was even working at the League of Nations in Geneva.

I have just read the section in Wikipedia about the Inception of the Mosquito. To say it was a struggle to get de Havilland’s wooden design accepted and then built would be an understatement. My father and others have said that there was scepticism in the Air Ministry about sending out crews to bomb Germany in a bomber with no defensive armament, which was built out of ply and balsa wood and stuck together with glue.

You have to remember that together the RAF and the USAAF lost hundreds of thousands of crew bombing Germany with four-engine heavy bombers. So was it the right policy?

One of my late friends, was a Mosquito pilot, who flew the aircraft in the RAF in the late 1940s. Several times we discussed the bombing of Germany in the 1970s. He had flown many types of aircraft, but in his view nothing compared with the amazing Mossie. The only flying problem, was an engine failure on take-off, which as a pilot with several hundred hours on a Cessna 340A, I know is a serious problem on any piston-engined twin. Luckily it never happened to either of us!

It is useful to compare the performance of a Mosquito to a B-17 Flying Fortress.

The following words are taken from the Bomber section in Wikipedia for the Mosquito.

In April 1943 it was decided to convert a B Mk IV to carry a 4,000 lb (1,812 kg), thin-cased high explosive bomb (nicknamed “Cookie”). The conversion, including modified bomb bay suspension arrangements, bulged bomb bay doors and fairings, was relatively straightforward, and 54 B.IVs were subsequently modified and distributed to squadrons of RAF Bomber Command’s Light Night Striking Force. 27 B Mk IVs were later converted for special operations with the Highball anti-shipping weapon, and were used by 618 Squadron, formed in April 1943 specifically to use this weapon. A B Mk IV, DK290 was initially used as a trials aircraft for the bomb, followed byDZ471,530 and 533.[108] The B Mk IV had a maximum speed of 380 mph (610 km/h), a cruising speed of 265 mph (426 km/h), ceiling of 34,000 ft (10,000 m), a range of 2,040 nmi (3,780 km), and a climb rate of 2,500 ft per minute (762 m)

And the Flying Fortress had a maximum speed of 287 mph, a cruise speed of 182 mph and a range of 1,738 miles with a 6,000 bomb load. In addition it needed a crew of ten, as against the Mosquito’s crew of just two.

I have seen statistics that Mosquito bombers could sometimes do two trips to Germany in one night with different crews and that they had the highest safe return rate of any Allied bombers.

So why did we not use Mosquitos to bomb Germany?

The statistics and according to my friend, the crews, were in favour, it’s just that those that made the decisions weren’t!

If we had been using a substantial number of Mosquitos, then a totally different strategy would have evolved, as the Allied Air Forces wouldn’t have lost so many experienced crew and the number of bombing raids would have increased and would have been of a much higher accuracy.

A serious mathematical analysis may or may not have been done since the war, but if it has been, it could have given surprising results.

This strategy could have meant that the destruction of Dresden and Leipzig might not have happened. If nothing else Mosquitos could almost have reached the German lines on the Eastern Front to support the Russians, from bases in South Eastern England.

As an aside here, after having visited Dresden, I have seen how the historic centre is all along the River Elbe, with the railway, which surely was an important target to disrupt traffic and cause confusion behind German lines, slightly further away from the river. As any pilot, who has flown at night by the light of the moon as I have, will tell you, rivers stand out like nothing else and it would have been very easy to find the historic centre of the city to drop bombs.

So I feel strongly, that the crude, misplaced philosophy of four-engined heavy bombers contributed to the destruction of Dresden. There were raids for which these bombers were ideal, like the destruction of dams, U-boat pens and V-missile sites, but carpet-bombing cities was not one of them!

To sum up, I have also heard arguments from former Mosquito pilots like my friend, and others, that properly used Mosquitos could have shortened the war by several months.

June 15, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Valletta – A Fortified City

Valletta is a city of fortifications.

I took these pictures as I walked in a loop from the bus station, past St. John’s Co Cathedral past Fort St. Elmo and then back along the road overlooking the Grand Harbour. I trhen took a lift to the Upper Barrakka Gardens for views of the Grand Harbour

Sadly the National War Museum in Fort St. Elmo is closed at the present time.

I will return to Valletta again.

January 28, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment