THE FLATLEY DRYER

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 04 Mar 2018, 11:30

Talking of explosions reminded me of this...
Mrs Tiz heard from her hairdresser about a 95-year-old lady who has lived all her life in our part of Taunton, the last 60 years in a council house a short walk from us. She's described as not very mobile but still bright as a button and had written a small booklet about her life. Mrs Tiz arranged with the lady's son for us to make a visit and we spent a couple of hours with them both, and they lent us the booklet (there's only the one copy). Mrs Tiz has joined the local history society and we're already delving deeply into Taunton's history. The lady, Betty, told us how in the war she went to Swindon and worked in `the Spitfire factory'. I've looked this up and found it was the Vickers Armstrong factory at South Marston.

Swindon didn't suffer much from bombing in the war and I asked her if she ever experienced bombing. She immediately said how a bomb once went straight past the windows and down the street and her gesticulation indicated it was moving horizontally. I might have put this down to imagination if it wasn't for having been reading the book `Somerset at War' recently. Spitfires were manufactured at Swindon only from 1943 and by that time the Luftwaffe had begun to carry out daring raids on specific targets using lone Fw190 fighter bombers carrying one 500lb or two smaller bombs. They were probably used on other areas in southern England but the book records a number of such events where railway junctions, factories and similar targets were attacked in this manner. The lone plane would fly in extremely low to avoid detection until the last moment and to drop the bomb accurately - and at great risk to the pilot - on the target. There are descriptions from witnesses of how sometimes the bombs bounced down the road, presumably because the plane was so low the bomb was still in horizontal motion. In once case such a bomb went through a row of terraced cottages and exploded in the end one. Perhaps Betty witnessed one of these attacks?

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 04 Mar 2018, 11:53

...Continuing the story, I've written a bit of history for Betty and will copy it here for general interest. When you get to the last paragraph keep in mind that Betty's husband was manager of a men's football club here in Taunton - pure coincidence, I assume!

Early in the Second World War, a Ministry of Aircraft Production shadow factory and airfield were built for Phillips & Powis Aircraft Ltd at South Marston, 3 miles from Swindon. Initially Miles Master training aircraft were built there and then Short Brothers Ltd also used another part of the airfield for final assembly and testing of locally-built Short Stirling bombers.

Demand for the new generation of Spitfires - the Mark 21 - became so great that South Marston turned all of its production facilities over to these most famous of fighters. Control of the factory duly passed from Phillips & Powis to Supermarine, with South Marston now becoming the shadow factory of the famous Castle Bromwich site in the Midlands and the original Supermarine factory in Southampton (which was extensively damaged by bombing in 1940) where RJ Mitchell designed and tested the original plane.

Much of the workforce received hasty retraining in metalwork as a result and, at first, the factory only carried out modifications on older Spitfires before the first South Marston-built Mark 21 was delivered to the RAF just before Christmas 1943.

South Marston's role in the Spitfire story, however, was short-lived. The new Spitfire was a high altitude fighter and - especially with D-Day on the horizon in the summer of 1944 - the situation had moved on. In the end, only 121 Mark 21s were built at South Marston, although another 50 modified Spitfires bound for naval action (Seafires) were also made there. Production of later versions of the Spitfire also continued after the war, before South Marston's last Spitfire (actually a Seafire) was completed in January 1949.

For many years, a preserved South Marston-built Spitfire was on display outside the Vickers factory. This was a Mark 21, LA226, which returned in 1968, shortly after it was used in the film `Battle of Britain’. It remained there until 1984 and is currently stored, dismantled, in the RAF Museum Store at Cosford.

The memory of the women who built Spitfires in Swindon lives on in the name of the `Swindon Spitfires’, one of the oldest Women's and Girls' Football Clubs in the country and the first in Wiltshire to receive the F.A Charter Standard.

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 05 Mar 2018, 03:51

Good local history Tiz and thanks for preserving it. The lone bombing raids sound very much like similar missions carried out by Mosquitos....
Talk of local aircraft factories reminds me that A V Roe had a manufacturing facility at Woodford, just south of Stockport and we got used to seeing bombers coming out of there during the war. Just after the war, about 1950 I think, I saw a four engined bomber, I have an idea it wasn't a Lancaster, and it sounded funny because it had at least one jet engine mounted on it. I think they were using it as a flying test bed for one of the new-fangled jets. That was the first jet engine I saw in real life.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 05 Mar 2018, 09:50

That would be the Avro Lancastrian, the civil aircraft version of the Lancaster, modified as a test bed with the two outer prop engines replaced with jet engines. There are photos of it here: LINK 1 and here : LINK 2 A Wellington was also used with one engine replaced. Incidentally, a Meteor jet was used as a test bed for turboprop engines: LINK 3

This Lancaster with a jet engine slung below the fuselage was a test bed used by the Swedish air force...

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 06 Mar 2018, 04:39

That'll be the one Tiz.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 07 Mar 2018, 05:16

Much ingenuity was exercised during the war to get round the dire shortage of petrol and diesel. The first evidence of this was the sight of vans with large floppy bags on the roof flapping in the wind.

Image

I found this image on Pinterest of cars in Birmingham in 1940. Good for about 20 miles they had a brief life because the constant flapping tended to wear holes in the fabric.

Image

A bit later we were treated to the sight of buses and some commercial vehicles towing these trailers which were gas producers fuelled by charcoal. The bus conductors found they had an additional job, stoking the producer every few miles. I don't remember them being about for long, I suspect they were more trouble than they were worth!
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 08 Mar 2018, 05:02

Image

Brew time at Barry's Whitegate Wood Yard at Sough just before it closed. Powered by a gas engine fuelled with producer gas made from sawdust. Underfloor shafting and a horizontal saw made for them by Johnny Pickles, it was an interesting place. A forgotten corner now as it is long gone.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 09 Mar 2018, 07:46

Looking at the current problems with road maintenance I remember the days when, at local level, we still had lengthmen on the rural roads and the Urban District Council had its own road mending gang. Today this is seen as hopelessly old fashioned and inefficient but the fact remains that our roads were tidy and well maintained particularly in extreme weather, the lengthmen knew where the drains overflowed on the roads, where the worst ice and drifts formed and which drains had to be attended to in heavy leaf fall. They were skilled men but regarded as 'labourers'. There is a shortage of jobs like that these days and it may be time to take a backward step and perhaps make a small improvement. (All right..... I'm a dinosaur but many men had the dignity of labour by that route whereas nowadays they are supplicants on benefits. I doubt if anyone in power takes account of that.)
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by chinatyke » 09 Mar 2018, 15:13

Stanley wrote:
09 Mar 2018, 07:46
There is a shortage of jobs like that these days and it may be time to take a backward step and perhaps make a small improvement. (All right..... I'm a dinosaur but many men had the dignity of labour by that route whereas nowadays they are supplicants on benefits. ...
Exactly as it is done in The People's Republic of China, communism has some good points. There are no benefits handed out for being unemployed, but jobs are created by the government, all work is regarded as dignified, and people are proud and happy to be employed. For example, street cleaners are sweeping the roads before 6 every morning using old fashioned switches, brooms made from twigs. I used to think many jobs were over-staffed and inefficient but I assume it is a strategy to spread the wealth and keep people out of poverty.
Instead of handing out 55 quid a week to the UK unemployed they should be given the chance to do work at 11 quid a day or do nothing and starve.

I've just realised how the word broom originated! Sometimes it takes longer for the penny to drop!

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 09 Mar 2018, 16:01

Don't tell that to Jeremy Corbyn or I might find myself and other pensioners put out on the street with a broom at 6am after the next General Election! :smile:

By the way, how do they fund old age in China? Do they have occupational and private pensions like in the West or is 100% state pension?

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by chinatyke » 10 Mar 2018, 01:39

Tizer wrote:
09 Mar 2018, 16:01
Don't tell that to Jeremy Corbyn or I might find myself and other pensioners put out on the street with a broom at 6am after the next General Election! :smile:

By the way, how do they fund old age in China? Do they have occupational and private pensions like in the West or is 100% state pension?
There is a retirement pension. Employees pay at their assigned work unit. Retirement age is 60 for men, 55 for female civil servants and 50 for other female workers. There are also private pensions available. In the past, many workers were on very low wages and couldn't afford to pay their full contributions so they deferred payment. My wife paid her arrears when I bought her. :extrawink: I don't know how the scheme works but it also gives them some entitlement to hospital health care.

There are some good statistics here:

https://tradingeconomics.com/china/retirement-age-women

Note the number of jobs available. There is a shortage of labour and at least twice a year each town will have recruitment fairs held in the town squares, usually during the Spring and Autumn Golden Holiday periods. Also note that a lot of the figures shown are in units of wan, one wan is 10,000.

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 10 Mar 2018, 04:07

A long acquaintanceship with motor vehicles meant that I gradually became a pretty good man at diagnosing faults just by listening to engines running. I still do it as a car passes me on the street! After the war my dad ran a pre-war Vauxhall 14hp for many years and was always troubled with it being prone to overheating. When I was going to school on the tram he used to drop me at the end of Heaton Moor Road on his way to work at GGA at Audenshaw and it wasn't until years later that I realised the hiss from the exhaust as he pulled away after dropping me off was a loose baffle in the silencer restricting the gas flow in the exhaust under load. That was his problem all those years but it only dawned on me long after the car had gone.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 11 Mar 2018, 05:06

Something that Tiz and I often agree on is that we both have very logical ways of thinking. I can't speak for Tiz but in my case I suspect that in other fields, like emotions, logic can overcame feelings but on the whole I don't think this is a terminal trait.
Both he and I have been conditioned by the fields we work in to observe the evidence, assess and collate our findings and come to conclusions based on where this leads us. Then we apply the result to the problem and in almost all cases find we have gone straight to the answer. I have had instances where friends have rung me with what seems an intractable mechanical mystery and I have solved it for them without moving out of my chair. This is seen at times as magic, psychic or simply a demonstration of a degree of genius but it is none of these. It's simply a logical process based on experience. Given a specific set of facts and symptoms, there is usually only one explanation no matter how far-fetched it may seem.
I don't know how you teach this but looking at the actions of many in the world around me I wish the skills were more common. We live in times where less and less jobs require the operator to think and diagnose and I wonder whether these skills are less common today than they were in my younger days. Perhaps we aren't giving people the opportunity to apply them. This even applies to the situation we all meet every day where you have to interact with someone who has been taught a script and cannot go beyond those bounds. The world is poorer and less human.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 11 Mar 2018, 10:02

In the 1980s Mrs Tiz taught at a secondary school were the headmistress introduced lessons in `Thinking Skills'. Children benefited but it didn't seem to catch on elsewhere. We still hear of it being tried out but I think it probably disappears under the weight of `essential' mainstream curriculum studies. On the other hand I was surprised to hear that Mrs Tiz's niece was sent a message from one of her daughter's teachers praising the girl for her performance in `ethics & philosophy'. The surprise was not because I thought the daughter wasn't capable but rather that she should be receiving lessons in those subjects when she's only in her first year at secondary level. Also surprised that the teacher signed herself off as Dr XYZ, Ethics & Philosophy Teacher.

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by PanBiker » 11 Mar 2018, 10:09

Critical Thinking was an A level course when I worked in Sixth Form College.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 11 Mar 2018, 10:48

Returning for a moment to explosions...we all know about using weedkiller to make an explosive mixture, and the usual chemical was sodium chlorate. But I hadn't heard this story before: Exploding trousers

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 12 Mar 2018, 04:27

I would have to look it up but I think the man who first identified nitroglycerine as an explosive did so after a laboratory coat he had hung up to dry near the stove after a spill of chemicals in an unrelated incident burst into flames and exploded.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 12 Mar 2018, 10:37

It reminds me of Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, working for Sandoz. He synthesised lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938 but it didn't have the pharmaceutical property he was searching for so he set it aside. He got it out again in 1943 to try it for something else and absorbed traces through his fingertip. When he got home he began to experience restlessness, intoxication and strange dreams. Realising these effects must be from the LSD he tried an experiment on himself a few days later and confirmed the discovery. As they say, the rest is history... :smile:

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 13 Mar 2018, 04:01

I love serendipity, it can be a very useful ally at times. I have noted this in a development in libraries that is very useful but I have appealed for the old methods to be retained. This is the substitution of computer indexes in place of the old card indexes. If you were searching a card index you almost always tripped over something you didn't know or had forgotten and this could be very useful. Unfortunately one of the main arguments for getting rid of the old cabinets is space and I have never managed to persuade anyone.....
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 14 Mar 2018, 06:34

With all the talk about a 5G mobile service which will further enable the 'Internet of Things' and to be quite honest it leaves me cold. I shall avoid having a kettle that talks to its masters as long as possible!
I am reminded of the time in the 1960s and 70s when it became the standard. Gone was the distinction between local, toll and trunk calls. I can remember when anything other than a local call had to be connected by dialling 'O' and speaking to the operator who connected you manually and supervised the call. I can also remember the change over at the same time from the analogue dial phones to the digital ones. In the interim I am told it was possible to dial long distance calls by tapping out the code on the receiver rest but couldn't possibly comment on that....
One advantage of the old phones with the 'A' and 'B' buttons was that I am told that a common practice was to stuff toilet paper into the returned change chute and after a suitable interval go back, take the paper out and collect the change that had been collected in the chute but again I couldn't possibly comment......
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 15 Mar 2018, 04:58

Can anyone else remember when the seats in buses and trams were slatted wood? I suppose on the grounds of hygiene. It wasn't until impervious plastic materials became common that we had a degree of comfort. The old railway carriages however had fully sprung uncut moquette covered upholstery and one can't help wondering what sort of wildlife inhabited them! Come to think, in those days three piece suites were very often uncut moquette as it wore so well.
Thinking about seating reminds me also of the moveable backs on the tram seats so that you could always sit facing the way the tram was going if you so desired. I saw a 'news item' the other day about a form in a public place that had the same feature and it was described as a new idea. I don't think so!
One more memory, we soon learned by painful experience that it wasn't a good idea to sit on the join between adjoining forms because they were liable to have a bit of sideways movement and you could get a nasty nip!
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 16 Mar 2018, 07:39

I've been thinking about sex again... (I know.....) I look on at the level of knowledge about sexual matters our young children have today and remember how ignorant I was at their age, I can remember a conversation in a school cloakroom when I was 12 years old about the age old question; 'Where do babies come from'. I was wrong, I forget now what I believed at the time but it was nonsense! There were many more areas where I was deficient as I found out much later but I'll keep that under my hat.
The thing that I am not clear about is whether we have it right now. Are we doing the best we can for our young children. I don't know. I hope we are. All I have to go on is that my ignorance didn't seem to do me any harm and somehow Vera and I managed to produce three daughters!
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Tizer » 16 Mar 2018, 16:59

I expect there must be a Haynes manual for it now...there's one for everything else! For example: LINK :smile:

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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 17 Mar 2018, 03:24

I like the link Tiz, exactly how the subject ought to be tackled. Being close to animals, Vera and I tackled the job in much the same way we would have reared a litter of pigs. The purists and naysayers will throw their hands up in horror but hold on a minute, it worked! Mind you we had the advantage of the family, two grandmas was a good reference manual.
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Re: THE FLATLEY DRYER

Post by Stanley » 18 Mar 2018, 04:55

I look at the flood of information from multiple sources that we have access to today and wonder what the effect would have been if the same level of information had been available during WW2. There is a school of thought which says information is power but that depends on the quality of what we are being fed. I get an impression that today's concern about 'false news' is a product of a deterioration in quality of much that is available through secondary sources. Of course we knew about censorship during the war but trusted the government to set this at the necessary level but that's the big difference I see today, we don't have that level of trust in government, indeed, we have good reason to mistrust many of the statements that are made. This being the case, my conclusion is that we were better off then! That's a sad commentary on the age.......
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