Friday, 4 December 2009

More on the Specials

I knew that I would finally find some relevant pictures of my special-building family and though it took my Mum's recent death, I'm sure she'll be pleased to know that amongst her old pictures and photos were these two old Box brownie shots.

The above one is my Dad, in his de-mob suit, standing proudly by his first special. Alas no pictures exist of the later two, but it was great to even get a Reg. no. in the view.
The louvred side valance was a very de luxe feature for a Special!
And this one is of me at about 10 months old, cranking my Dad's other A7 or it could be my Grandad's car, which Dad always drove as my Grandad didn't pass his test until I was in my late childhood!

All this driving down memory lane has got me back "into" specials and I have joined the Bristol Austin 7 Club and my local old-car club and have already got a line on some parts to begin the project. I've decided to build a Cambridge style special, using as many period style bits and pieces as I can find. The search alone should be fun.
I will leave the bodywork in unpainted aluminium, with Cambridge blue cycle wings, which I will attempt to make myself, using for skills what little I can pick up from books and watching old craftsmen at work.

Here's a Cambridge from which I'm making scale drawings as it's a nice square side view.
I'm sure with enough browsing through all the kinds of books and club magazines I used to have I can re-aquaint myself with my favourite old car. Fortunately there are so many knowledgeable types out there who remember every part number, design change date and type number there is and they're always so friendly in the Austin 7 world. Few cars of such humble origins can have crossed the divide between the luxury car (Rolls-Royce, etc), the true enthusiast (Vintage Sports Car Club) and the ordinary impecunious fan the Austin Seven.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Whatever floats your boat....

Usually, people who are into scale models have a fairly narrow band of interests. Probably because they can only give their time to a limited number of projects.
Those of us with unavoidably wider tastes or the good fortune to have (or, it must be said, organise,) more time, often find ourselves being fascinated by more than one topic.

I can't help it, I'm just intrigued by many aspects of what's old and consequently, like to make models of them. Also, of course, when one let's it be known that a modelmaking service is available it becomes likely that potential customers will ask for a wide variety of subjects to be considered.

As it happened, my first truly professional commission was indeed for a boat, a small ship in fact, called the MV Peterna, a coastal sand carrier. I recieved the commission when I was just 18, had not the first idea how to set about it, but finished for a derisorilly low quotation and delivered it to it's owner, by chance on the last day of its legal service in British waters. My friend and I struggled with the model in its heavy 1/4" plate glass case on the train from mid Devon to the Essex coast and onto the vessel itself via the ship's dinghy.

We unveiled it proudly in the skipper's cabin over a warming mug of hot chocolate. The owner's wife immediately burst into tears. She hadn't seen the old girl look so good since they bought her and started their business and their married life aboard the 1915 carrier.

Strangely, it was to be many years more before I took such an interest in ships again, at least actively, by making models of them. By then I'd become a real fan of classic speedboats and record breakers. I wanted to make models of them for sale and that wish came about by my old chum in Florida e-mailing me with a potential customer in Washington DC.He wanted a model of Miss America X and Baby Horace III for permanent display in Arty's restaurant in the city, which was being refurbished with a record boat theme.
And so I built the two boats, in 1/8th scale, which is big. So big, the MA X model had to be built on the dining table because it wouldn't fit in my shed!
Now, MA X has four Packard aero engines in it, geared together as two pairs. Each engine has two superchargers, each supercharger has two carburettors. There are two plug leads per cylinder, each 2500M power unit having twelve cylinders. An exhaust stack emerges elegantly from each pair of cylinders. The steering is by a chain drive, all on view. The hull and deck is mahogany planked. It scaled out at 5ft.-3ins. long!

At the very last minute I left marks on the freshly painted seats which I couldn't remove, so I quickly carved the two toy teddy bears that its driver, Gar Wood, always carried with him for luck and covered the marks with them.Flown west by FedEx, it was safely delivered and installed in its place in a booth at the diner, where, I assume, it still is along with its much humbler brother Baby Horace. The family could eat again!

I also made some Rive Aquarama Special speedboats because I had the plans and found a real one, the last imported before Riva stopped producing them, to measure and photograph. As ever, it turned out that the works drawings were wrong, so I used my own taken from the actual boat near Southampton. My own choice of scale is always 1/12th. One inch to one foot. Beautifully Imperial. The models all had detailed engines under hinged decks, working cocktail cabinets with hand made Morano glasses and one of them even had working steering, involving a hand made worm steering box with two universal joints. Over 150 seperate parts were made in brass and nickel plated. The cloth used for the floor covering was miniaturists' canvas, hand painted. The wood, as with MA X and Baby Horace was steamed Pearwood to look just like mahogany in scale.

But I found that it seemed people were keener to throw their money at the hole in the water represented by their real boat than the mark on the mantleshelf represented by one of my models. I made a 1/6thscale model of an aluminium Albatross speedboat for a collector, which I enjoyed, but nothing further came of it. Promised articles in national magazines never materialised.

And so I gave it one last go with an all aluminium model of Miss Britain III, the salt water World Record Holder. It had a completely detailed Napier Lion W 12 engine and was impressed with nearly 10,000 screw heads with a special tool.
It sold at auction for a measly £2800, of which the thieving auctioneer took another £500 for commission and a whole raft of other "costs" of which I was never forewarned, but which I had no option to pay if I wanted my pathetic remainder, which I recieved after 6 months!

My chum in Florida also had to come to the same conclusion...there ain't no money in model boats, unless you happen to just "fit in".

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Something Special

After the War, Britain was in a pretty parlous state and life's luxuries were just not to be found by the average guy who wanted a bit of colour and excitement out of the drab scene of Labour's New Utopia, which as we all now know, was such a miserable pipedream.

With so little money floating about, the natural "make-do & mend" mentality of the rations-battered British came to the fore.
At that time, pre-MoT test, there were thousands of old pre-War cars on the road, still giving sterling service. Mainly Austin Sevens and Ford 8s and 10s.
These could be had for a few pounds and pressed into life fairly easily again. Then with a few bits of steel tube and some aluminium sheet a really smart new creation could be in your driveway in just a few weekends. A sports car, indeed.
These used a more race-orientated pre-War name of "specials", but post-War the Special became the be all and end all of British motoring enthusiasm. Before the War a special had been a racing or hillclimb conversion of something, usually with a bigger engine, meant for sprints and short course competition and so the name stuck after the conflict for anything that a reasonably able mechanic could cobble up in his back yard or shed.
My own father was just such a man and with a £5 Austin 7 from a breakers' yard he built a little 2 seater very much in the style of the Cambridge, one of the best looking of the A7 specials, but in the pre-War tourer mould.

My Mum still has happy memories of that little car. Previously all Dad had was a Coventry Eagle motorbike which would only go up steeper hills if my Mum got off the pillion seat!
He later built two more specials, refining the previous ones and getting a little sportier. Unfortunately no photos have survived of those.

Later, my Uncle also got the specials bug and I helped him build his very low, light, modern Austin 7-based special. He tried to get it to look a bit like a Maserati 250F at the front and it had the typical special-builder's short back.
I remember many trips in it at 70 or more MPH, which was good for any car then, let alone something which started life in 1937 and had only 747cc.
One night, during one of the last real "pea-souper fogs" we were travelling home on a 30 mile journey which would normally take about 35 minutes, but which, with me feeling the kerbside through the side-curtains, took 3 hours. The battery came loose and burned a hole in the aluminium back end! But, frozen almost stiff and dog tired the old girl got us home.

Pretty soon, the aluminium sheet jobs started to give way to the new post-War material, fibreglass and all manner of wierd and wonderful creations were popping out of tiny units up and down the country from recently de-mobbed servicemen looking for a new direction in life. Some, like the Falcon were really quite professional looking and some were just appalling to look at, but the public took them and a new industry was born, with several companies specialising only in the bits and pieces that would make your special go better as well as look unique.

I had thought most if not all these old fifties creations had disappeared, but, true to British form, many have surfaced again and been lovingly restored by a completely new generation who weren't even born when the cars were originally made for a hard-up motoring public.
Americans had hot-rods, mainly because their cars had all had thumping big engines to cover the mileages in that country and they hadn't had rationing of fuel and just about everything else to hold them back. But here we had to watch the pennies and a home-built special was the only answer. New cars had to be exported to try and get some money back into Britain's War -emptied coffers, so we built cheap and cheerful specials.
I'd love one, but they seem to be fetching as much, if not more than, the cars from which they were built. Not so long ago an Austin Seven Special was an affordable entry level classic car, but no longer.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Twas only a bird in a gilded 'Cage.

Many years ago now I was looking to find a suitable subject for an "on-spec" model and I found, quite locally, a company who had in at that time no less than three Tipo 61 Maseratis, otherwise known as Birdcages, because of their astonishingly complex multi-tubular spaceframe chassis.
I couldn't resist the challenge, so I photographed and measured the one that seemed to me most "unrestored", though I soon discovered there ain't no such thing as unrestored where old racing cars are concerned. This one was the ex-Moss and Gurney winner of the Nurburgring 500.

Measuring such a car, even when the bodywork is conveniently off it is no easy task. I decided to split the chassis up into imaginary "bays" and drew each one on the back of a business card (I had plenty!). Then I sketched all the difficult bits from different angles and, of course, photographed every little detail.

When I got home I started the drawings, but found that due to the number of diagonal members of the frame I had to resort to drawing them in colour to explain the different planes in which frame members went through space.

It was much later that I discovered such a system is used when computerised draughtsmen do complex drawings on CATIA, etc. for car body design and the associated engineering.
The model was to be made in my favourite for large models of 1/12th scale, or one inch to the foot, a splendid scale which is on everyone's steel rule.
Surprisingly, though a presumably metric car, I found it to have a great many dimensions that were spot-on Imperial including some of the many tube sizes.

I made the model from various scale sizes of nickel silver rod, because nickel is so much stronger than brass. All bracketry and platework that was part of the chassis was done in brass as I had some the right thickness. The removable panels were made in thin aluminium as are the real ones. These all fixed to tiny brackets soldered to the framework.

I had to make special jigs for the front suspension mountings as they sit in mid air at strange relationships to any pieces around them. The most difficult assembly of tiny bits was the front suspension tower, being many small pieces of thin sheet. The tiniest parts were the 1mm diameter steel ball joints in the throttle mechanism. I had intended having the model carburettors working as far as external mechanism was concerned, so turned the tiny ball joints in the lathe with a special tool and then "popped" them into undercut receptacles which then allowed a fully jointed mechanism all the way from accelerator pedal to engine.

Also the gear selector was made to work, so that you had to depress the gear lever to engage first and reverse and flip a little detent over to get reverse, too.

The jigs for the front suspension can be seen on the left of the above picture and the gear selector and gate on the lower right.

The steering worked with a real rack and pinion operation, which would have used correct steering arms, but the model was bought by an eager French gentleman before I got any further!
The steering wheel was made just as the real car, with 24 seperate pieces of wood, twelve either side of the aluminium rim, in four layers, with the grain running in the correct direction, like the rim of a cart wheel. The steering column had three fully working universal joints, a la Maserati, just 3mm in diameter.
I regret not fully finishing the model, but my unexpected French customer was insistent that he take it as it was, so who am I to have argued?

But I have some nice pictures of the work to remember it by.

Now you see it.......

When I was painting my canal scenes and engines I found a grubby little picture as frontispiece for a small book on Clyde Puffers, one of my favourite little ships.
It struck me that it would lend itself to a silhouette painting, something I'd never tried.
I found it to be a challenging and intriguing form.

The Puffer above was my first.

Then I tried a Fowler road locomotive working hard up a hill.

And finally, perhaps my favourite, Concorde on its last flight home from America, to be grounded for ever all because the French don't know how to handle a sweeper when bits fall off Boeings at their airports. As scurrulously political a "decision" as ever was forced upon a nation. And as good a reason as you'll ever need for not voting when the underhanded wastrels come a-knocking.

To make the impression as stark as a good silhouette should be I used Indian Ink that I normally used for technical linework. This is really black. Then on the Concorde picture I experimented with a faint lightening of the hue to suggest just a little detail.

Sunday, 4 October 2009


What?...a penny-farthing bicycle?
No, an Ordinary is what they were really called, as distinct from the Safety cycle.
And as distinct from BBC or CNN or BSkyB is news from the home land... the everyday, the ordinary stuff of which life is composed for most of us.

By special request of some friends in far off lands whose backgrounds, real or distant, genealogically keep them tied, however tenuously, to a feeling of belonging to Dear Old Blighty, Perfidious Albion, das Mutterland, I bring them tales of the everyday. A Lake Wobegone of the Odd's County.

Well, principally, to the weather. It's been dry down here in East Anglia for weeks.
The ground is so hard that some playing fields have had matches banned for fear of the poor dears hurting themselves when they take a dive in the penalty box. And that, friends, is all I know and more than I care about football.
Over here in the Flatlands we suffer wind. Eggs and pickled onions will do, no, really, we are scoured by an almost constant strong breeze which sometimes feels like there is nothing between us and the Russian Steppes.
Consequently, there are no trees to speak of round here and it's not because the landscape is largely manmade in the last 200 years from marsh and wetland, it's the wind.

We live our simple, uncluttered life in a small caravan in the corner of our daughter's garden whilst ostensibly restoring our boat and when that wind comes up it rocks us. The aluminium panels on the sides "oil can". They pop in and out making a noise like Rolf Harris on Acid as the pressure waxes and wains.
Trying to keep a picture on the digi-box with the aerial mast wanging about is a constant battle.

We have our TV aerial mounted on a pole which is tied to a washing line post with criss-cross ropes. In turn, it is stabilised from turning by having two furniture clamps fixed to it at the bottom, one each way with rope tied to each and tensioned back to the farmer's fence. So, you might see how getting a new position and tuning means standing in the howling wind, untying each rope and repositioning the clamps, retying and retuning the digi-box in the usually vain hope that it will bring in Stephen Fry's QI on the channel curiously called Dave or an hour later on Dave Ja Vue (oh, ha-ha).

On Saturday and Sunday evenings there is nothing on the telly at all. Really, it is dire, so Chris and I sit and listen to Bob Harris on Saturday on Radio 2 and the very excellent Guy Garvey on BBC Radio 6 Music, on Sunday, being seriously hip dudes, man, both digitally, via the telly. We usually listen to the last half hour of each in bed, it helps us nod off against the oil-canning walls, rattling sky light and howling canine chorus at the kennels down the lane. Don't get much hipper, dude, eh? (Juts chin and knocks ash of imaginary spliff).

As far as a wider Britain is concerned...the cheese rolling was held again at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire. A look at the website will show just how much organisation and preparation is involved in such a quick and inane event.
But eventually it is just a matter of a Master of Ceremonies throwing a (presumably Gloucester) cheese down a steep hill and inviting a hundred or more of the Cotswold's finest mentally retarded to hurl themselves after it in bumpy pursuit until, legs akimbo and heads too I shouldn't wonder, some cove alights upon the cheese and claims victory and, no doubt, in days of yore, the tupping rights of every virgin from Bourton-on-the-Water to Chipping Sodbury.

Far less dangerous over all is the annual period fest that is the Goodwood Revival Weekend.
This is truly a most astonishing event. I was lucky enough to be there two years ago at somebody else's expense and I loved it. I would probably have loved it almost as much if I'd have paid for it myself too. Yes, it really is that good!

Goodwood racetrack (the tarmac one, not the tedious nag run) was closed due to burgeoning beaurocracy in 1966, but, unable to resist, Lord March opened it again a few years back, but decided it will not have changed. And so, it is still the case that no car built after that year will compete or even take a position inside the environs of the track. And the crowds are positively encouraged to dress in the styles of the years before the cut-off date.

In the paddock, everybody has to dress in period or they simply don't get in. Ladies and their beaus, press and even mechanics must wear suitable gear. The mechanics wear a white overall and a flat cap in tweed. I augmented mine with a fob watch and chain which my wife bought me for use on the back of the boat.
It really is a remarkable sight. It shows how far we have all gone down the path to slobbery since those stylish days. Though I think '66 was a wee bit early for the micro-skirts worn by some of the models and public, but who's complaining, eh, what? Haw, haw. Ding, dong.

Proof that it could only happen in England is that there are so many foriegners come over to drive, look, party, buy or just join in and take pictures. I don't think anywhere near so many go to any other motoring dos than to Goodwood's Revival and the earlier in the year Festival of Speed up the hill to Charlie March's Big House. If they changed the Formula One schedule to clash, there wouldn't be many struggling for pole at Monaco, that's for sure.

When one attains a certain age in Britain, one gets a flu jab. I think it's probably pension age, 65 or thereabouts, but if you fit some other group you also have the right to one, free, of course, my overseas chums, quite free.
Fitting one of those other groups for the first time this year, I was able to just call for an appointment and toddle off to the local health clinic. There I was met, on a Saturday morning to boot(!) by a very pretty young nurse, guaranteed to get the blood circulating ready with a good vein and was sat down immediately by an efficient practice sister who asked me if I was affected by eggs. I answered only in the windy vernacular, but that otherwise, only if taken with pickled onions (sic.)
The next thing I knew she was throwing a tiny complete syringe away (such a waste to the modelmaking mentality) and it was all over. I had felt nothing. Not a scratch. I didn't even feel a little prick,............... but that's another story.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Hawking the brat about

The thing I always found most difficult when modelmaking full time was getting known in a wider sphere. I was well known enough as a brass patternmaker, a builder of masters, but I wanted to be asked by rich people to build models of their cars, boats, houses, etc..

The only way I could think of to convince any likely big spender that I was their man was to build models "on spec."
So I knocked up the odd item from time to time when things were a little slow in the master world.

One such was the McLaren M8F Can-Am car, which I found at Scott Racing in Brandon, Suffolk. Near enough to my house to be an easy trip for measuring and photographing.

Trevor, Scott's proprietor and his son were helpfulness personified and I had a great couple of days measuring and sketching every detail of the car.
The gearbox and clutch housing of the 1/12th scale M8F model with the suspension bracket made in brass. The engine and gearbox are made in plastic strip and sheet and will be moulded in resin for strength.

My chum Chas has a fotki photo site and he insisted I do a step-by-step album of the build, so here's the URL for that. There are pictures of every stage of the construction up until I moved aboard my boat. Much later I continued to work on it and will finish it sometime.

Find the build at

Unfortunately the price Bonham's suggested I put on it as a reserve would not these days be attained, or anywhere near. I've also discovered how auction houses rip a one man band off with all their extra charges which they either don't explain when you trust them with your work or don't quantify before they sell it. I once sold another "on spec" model of Miss Britain III via them and I got £2100, six MONTHS after the auction at which the new owner bid £2850, on which he would have paid buyers commission as well!!

Is it any wonder e-bay has stormed the world?

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

All that glisters........

A great part of my modelmaking life has been the production of "masters" or master patterns for the casting and moulding industry. Initially white metal and more recently, resins.

For the whitemetal industry it is almost exclusively the case that the patterns be made in brass. My first brass master was made for a very new company then, called Grand Prix Models. I'd suggested they made some kits and they agreed and asked me to make a master of a Trojan Chummy, that strange little pram like thing with solid tyres, much beloved of vicars and district nurses.

And so, away we all went on a mad rush to bring out better and more esoteric white metal models of cars in 1/43rd and 1/24th scale. Over the years I have made over 500 brass masters, but have photos of very few and examples of even fewer.
But here are some:-

This is a 1/76th scale model of a Fairline 50, the company's one-time flagship. It is all in brass, with a little epoxy putty for the "water". The deck removes and inside are seperate cabins with all furniture, all also done in brass, right down to the turned-down corners of the bedspreads.

A 1/48th scale Jeep with trailer and, unseen, its cannon. Bits of its suspension and equipment can be seen in component form waiting for the caster's mysterious art.

The biggest scale I've worked to on a master...1/5th. This B.S.A. DBD 34 "Gold Star" engine and gearbox is the master for a complex kit in white metal for a range of stand-alone model engines for collectors. This is the only one I ever photographed, but I did a J.A.P. V Twin and a Matchless G29 Twin in the same series. Each fin is a seperate casting, all assembled round a length of 15mm gas pipe. Even the nuts and bolts had to be made for these models.

And one of the smallest, but not quite. A master for an Alfa Romeo Spider to a "fit-the-box" scale, for a giftware company. I believe they were used for a motoring version of Monopoly. There was also a Damon Hill F1 car and this:-

A Rolls Royce Silver Ghost at an even smaller scale, being a bigger car, to fit the same box! The artillery spoked wheels were one of the most taxing jobs I've done on a brass master.

A complete 1/43rd scale brass master of a Berkeley T60 3-wheeler. It was one of the last complete masters I did before going to live afloat, where such things were not possible.

This selection barely scratches the surface of all the masters I have done. Not all were in brass. The Aston Martins at the top were carved from a resin toolmakers' material and given brass wheels and tyres with correct tyre tread pattern. They were then used by a silversmithing company to make silver copies to be sold under Aston Martin's giftware label for around £1000 each.

The patterns were rather more expensive....

Monday, 28 September 2009

Distant friends

There seem to be two aspects of internet socialising, not apparently complimentary. I have done poorly from the first, groups and forums, but very well from the second...Internet friends.

Years ago, when I first got on the worldly web I chanced upon two gentlemen through websites with whom I have corresponded regularly since.

They have been the mainstay of my internet friendships. Chas in California, is a classic and racing car fan and a modelmaker of constantly improving standard.
A brace of Lotus Elite's in 1/24th scale by Chas and Dale. Chas's is the racing B.R.P. one in what he describes as "bilious".

Urbane, witty and constantly keen to learn from his researches and experiences.

Such good friends have we become that Chas and his wife, Ursula (Uk) spent some time with us a few years ago when undertaking a "European tour" and delightful company they were, too.

And then, a couple of years ago when spannering for my son's boss at Goodwood, I was able to grab a couple of coffees with Chas and his friend. naturally they were quickly grabbed opportunities for they wanted to see and watch everything at that unique event.
Chas with a hanger-on he happened to meet at Goodwood!!

My other chum from the States is Rich from Florida. Equally well educated and liberal in outlook, but chalk to Chas's cheese. An old biker, ex Coast guard, digger driver, professional photographer and modelmaker of railway and speedboat subjects extraordinaire. A man whose philosophy is difficult to keep up with, so densely experienced is it. I have rarely met one so well-read. His signature changes for yet another witty and wise quotation every few days. His mails are charged with stream-of-conciousness writing that requires re-reading constantly.
This magnificent 1/8th scale model of a Liberty aero engine as used in an American speedboat was made entirely by hand in WOOD!, by Rich Redfern "plus some pens and a parrot toy" says Rich, with typical modesty.

The point I want to make is that it is possible to make really GOOD friends without necessarily ever actually meeting them, or meeting them once or twice only. I am as fussy as they come about friendship. I have only ever had a handful of really good friends, but a fair proportion of them are at a distance, which, now I have no passport, or any desire to go through the impertinent interrogation necessary to obtain one in England these days, I will be unable to traverse.

When I was unconnected from the Internet whilst cruising on our boat, these gentlemen typed e-mails to me, dated and then printed them out after a month or so and posted them to wherever I was reachable. And so having begun the friendship, we continued it with no real help from the ether at all. And, no doubt we shall do so again, when my wife and I continue our travels.
A beautiful Cooper 500 F3 car in 1/12th scale by Dale King, entirely hand made.

Of course, through first friends, others will come, Dale, a friend of Chas's in America, Frank and Tom in Canada, Ken in London, Dave and Anne Marie in Holbeach, Graham in Walsall, Dave in the Isle of Man. All through modelmaking mainly, but all through a general outlook that transcends the pettiness of forums and special interest groups, where my natural intolerance causes me problems.

To all my internet friends who have tolerated me over the years, I raise a glass and thank you for your unswerving loyalty.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Pin back your lugholes...

My favourite author is Tom Rolt as he's most widely known. Lionel Thomas Caswall Rolt was a writer, philosopher and visionary.
He was responsible for the Railway Preservation movement with the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, the Vintage Sports Car Club and the Inland Waterways Association. The second and third of these ensured the purity of genuine vintage motoring and the saving of the canals for the widespread liesure use they now enjoy respectively.
He found Prescott Hill for the VSCC, which is now run by the Bugatti Owners' Club, who have a museum in his name at the hillclimb course in Gloucestershire.
Prescott has grown in stature to become the premier hill for all vintage and classic motoring events.
Tom's Alvis 12/50 Duck's Back. He never owned a more modern car all his life and was completely at home driving this across country on the minor roads of England as he was making a new part or repairing an existing one. He, quite rightly, proved that an inexorable march , blindy, toward modernism is neither inevitable or necessary. When he became a family man he simply moved seats to a 4 seater Alvis 12/70 Tourer of similar vintage, belonging to his father.
His seminal work, "Narrow Boat", which has been in print continuously since 1946 is rightly credited with saving our canals as places of leisure AND work, where they might have been all filled in if Tom hadn't have led a number of crusading journeys and rallies to save them.
Tom's boat, "Cressy" at the War-time mooring at Tardebigge where he and his first wife, Angela, befriended the March ladies on their boat "Heather Bell", the boat now owned by my wife and I. It was here that Tom formed the notion of an Association of interested parties who would keep the canals going after the War.

Starting the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society and running it almost single-handedly in its early years showed many others worldwide that such was possible.

I have spoken with people who were fortunate enough to have met him or who knew him and it is probably true to say that he was not, perhaps, the easiest man to know. Men of strong, unbendable principles rarely are, but the world is poorer for the woeful dearth of such people in this modern age.
It is also immeasurably the poorer for the lack of writers of his ability. Those for whom writing was a constant struggle, but whose style was born of an earlier, gentler age where the English language was to be revelled in; those who were uncowed by any considerations of political correctness. It is far more enjoyable to read what a person really thinks when it is not only unfettered by such things, but done with elegance and honesty.
Tom, riding an Irish train during his sojourn in the Emerald Isle, for his volume, "Green and Silver". I am homoured to posess a first edition of this fine book.
It was during a period of introspection and, perhaps, depression that I picked up his "Landscape with Canals". I read it from cover to cover in nearly one sitting and when I came out the other end I was fine. I had to read the rest of this astonishing man's work. I knew of "Narrow Boat" but had never read it. I did so and found the same euphoria. It was very easy to see how this one book, more than any other, had started the movement to save the precious resource of our canals and navigable waterways.
I continued with the other two books in his "Landscape Trilogy", "Landscape with Machines" and "Landscape with Figures". These three books form his autobiography and through his self examination help to explain how he, to some extent at least, came to terms with the dychotemy of his apparent hatred of the way the modern world was heading and his love of engineering. All was revealed to him one night at Llanthony Abbey in South Wales. Having been there, I can well understand how his epiphany came about. Reading these books made me want to read his philosophical works. I was to wait some years until I could both find and afford them, for here we enter the realms of rare books and their collectors, for Tom had become a collectable writer.