The Anonymous Widower

Building A Station Like A Caisson

I was at the new CrossRail station at Canary Wharf today and took these pictures.

They show the enormous concrete block of a station and the walkway, that will connect it to the area of Canada Square and its offices.

Note how the main building looks almost like one of the giant caissons used for Mulberry Harbours, that were used in the Second World War to invade Normandy.

These giant Phoenix caissons, were actually built in these docks, after they had been drained and filled with sand. They were then floated out for the invasion. I’ve actually been in several of these amazing concrete structures in The Netherlands, where they were used to fill the last gap in the dykes after the North Sea Flood of 1953. They are now a museum, dedicated to the floods and those who perished.

It’s rather strange how history is repeating itself in a similar manner.  I suppose though, that the engineers know that the ground is strong enough to take the weight of the station.

It does look from this web page on the Crossrail web site, that Canary Wharf Crossrail station is going to be worth the wait until 2018, although it will be substantially complete by the end of this summer.

The highlight of spring and summer will be the tunnelling machines passing through on their way to Farringdon station.

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Does A Country, Company Or Organisation Need A Woman At The Top?

There has been a lot of news today about the release under the thirty-year-rule of secret documents concerning Margaret Thatcher and various subjects like the Falklands War, Jimmy Savile and her son, Mark.

Nothing is particularly contentious, except perhaps the fact that someone misjudged what was happening in Argentina and gave Mrs. Thatcher bad information. But then the Secret Intelligence Service, didn’t give Tony Blair the best information either.

On the other hand, when dealing with Mark lost in the desert, she seems to have acted to make sure that the state didn’t pay for her son’s folly.

If we go through the history of the United Kingdom, you’ll find that at various dark hours, women have been to the fore. You could start a list with Boudicca, Elizabeth the First, Victoria and Margaret Thatcher. You could argue that our current Queen has been a safe pair of hands for most of her life. She was also part of that vast army of women, who stepped in to fill the gaps in the factories, in transport and as support staff during the Second World War. Hitler didn’t mobilise the German women and he of course lost. Some historians say the mobilisation of women in the UK, was a major factor.

I would argue that you don’t need to have a woman at the top,but once you have, it changes a lot of the culture, even if it’s just other talented women believe they can get there.  And competition is always healthy, as it promotes the best!

Look at Margaret Thatcher’s effect on British politics. Before her stint as Prime Minister, there were few women at the top in British politics and there have been a lot more since she resigned.

Look at the basket cases of the Eurozone!  How many of them have had a woman Prime Minister or President.  Only Ireland and that is the one country in trouble, that is making progress towards sorting its finances.

December 28, 2012 Posted by | Business, Finance, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Checking For German Bombs

The web site called Bomb Sight has just been launched.

Now you can check where German bombs landed near you in the Blitz.

I often wondered if my house sat on a bomb site, but I checked the physical form of the atlas a few weeks ago in the excellent Hackney Records Office.  It wasn’t a bomb. If you’re anywhere near the CLR James Library by Dalston Junction station, it’s much quicker to look at the book, rather than try to find the area on the website.

December 7, 2012 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , | Leave a comment

An Amazing Tale

The remarkable story of the wartime exploits of Ken Gatward was flagged up in The Times today. This is his obituary from the Independent.

His raid on Paris was the classic idea to wind up the Nazis.

I am reminded of the Mosquitos that after bombing Germany used to go through the streets of Dutch cities at tree-top heights, whilst the Dutch threw their hats in the air and cheered. Whilst visiting Ballast Needham in Amstelveen, I got talking about it with one of their engineers.  He said his father had told him about the amazing sight and noise as they echoed through the houses.

So,etimes these days, we seem to have lost sight of the maxim told me by an old Colonel – In case of war, burn all rule books.

November 28, 2012 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Gangs And Young Girls

I was born in 1947, and at my primary school in North London, there were girls who hung around with Teddy Boys. Just look at John Borman’s film, Hope and Glory, which is a true reflection of children’s behaviour during the Second World War.

November 22, 2012 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Is This The Best Microwaveable Gluten-Free Sunday Lunch?

I wasn’t feeling too well this morning, as I probably got too hot in the sun at the Paralympics yesterday. It seemed to make my hand and arm go rather cold. So I picked up one of Marks & Spencer, roast pork loin with apple & cider sauce dinners from their Fuller Longer range, as I didn’t want the hassle of cooking properly.

Roast Pork Loin With Apple & Cider Sauce

It really is rather a nice meal for something that you just put in a microwave. I wonder whether when John Randall and Harry Boot, invented the cavity magnetron in 1940 at the University of Birmingham, ever visualised, nearly everybody having one in their homes.

September 9, 2012 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lancaster Over Docklands

Whilst waiting for the trip over the Emirates Air-Line, I saw the Lancaster flying up the River to the opening of the Bomber Command Memorial.

A Lancaster Over Docklands

It made an impressive sight as it passed the cable-car.

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

An Historical Snippet From Gyles Brandreth

Gyles Brandreth can always be relied upon to add something of note to a discussion. He has just said that the Duke of Edinburgh‘s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was at the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving of Queen Victoria.

She stayed in Athens during the Second World War, and this snippet, shows an insight into her character.

During the fighting in Athens, to the dismay of the British, she insisted on walking the streets distributing rations to policemen and children in contravention of the curfew order. When told that she might have been shot by a stray bullet, she replied “they tell me that you don’t hear the shot that kills you and in any case I am deaf. So, why worry about that?”

So did the Duke get his forthright character from his mother?

June 5, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Place for the Little Ships

In the Diamond Jubilee flotilla today, there are about forty or so of the Little Ships of Dunkirk.  If you look at the Wikipedia entry, you’ll see that some unusual boats took part in 1940.  What surprised me was that 39 Dutch coasters that had escaped the Germans also took part and rescued about seven percent of the total of the troops brought home.

June 3, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Big Spelling Mistake

I photographed this in a shop window in the Kingsland Road.

A Big Spelling Mistake

I thought spelling mistakes like this on products were a thing of the past.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment