Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Compensation week!....

Actually that's a period of a week, not a calendar week.
Last week I tried to get a bank account changed so that I was not paying a tenner a month for 4 preposterous insurances that nobody would want.  I had no idea they were there, but they had been since my Mum started the account. I then went joint on the account when she went down with dementure and took it on when she died. It's my only account, joint with my wife since the PO bank got closed.  I spent three days last week trying to achieve this and still it hasn't been rectified.  Their computer doesn't recognise a letter from our health centre to Chris at this address as proof of her ID. By Friday they'd paid up for the daft insurances and put a considerable sum in our bank account. Then the more I complained about their corporate hypocricy and shear incompetence the more they paid in as compensation!  Even another visit to the branch is forced upon us will attract a ten pound compensation.  Struth that pays for petrol AND a coffee in the CostaFortune corner shop!

As if that wasn't enough, I did a deal with a chap on my Facebook Vintage Model Boat page whereby he sent me the old iron in his newly acquired vintage boat and I sent him all the brushless crap I had acquired in a deal with a Frog 100 engine with a bent pushrod.  I never paid for that in the first place!

Now, I discover that this new motor is none other than a Bassett-Lowke Marine, possibly pre War!
A really fine addition to my cussedly beligerant collection of old electric motors.  And to top it all, whilst looking for evidence of the motor I came across pictures of a nice vertical single cylinder steam engine which had come as part of a swap deal with a Stuart Double 10 than I'd paid fifty quid for.  It turned out my new engine was an "Eclipse" by....guess who....yup, B-L!
Now, I have never been a huge fan of Mr. Bassett-Lowke, for yes that WAS his name.  Or rather, a fan of his company.  B-L made very little in life.  He amused himself buying companies that DID get their finger nails dirty, like Shipmodels Ltd., E.W.Twining and endless other small outfits who already coud make high end stuff to order.  Like George Brough and his over-blown motor bikes, W.J.Bassett-Lowke was a kite-flyer, a self-publicist who managed to get HIS name known for other people's work.  I wonder who really made my engine and motor.  I once met a man in a water-mill who seriously offered some woman (then owner of Bassett-Lowke) 50 pence for the name.  He was writing a book about it all.  He had been their workshop foreman for absolute years and knew the shenanigans intimately.
But, I suppose there is something about the name after all and I'm happy to have this to play with....when it arrives.
And the steam engine?
Identifiable, it seems, by the 3 pillars and the cast in, unsplit bearings.
Oh and the other engine?
This little beaut. runs on a breath of air and dates from 1888.


  1. Thank you for posting this Martin, the information about Mr B-L is fascinating, I wish that the works foreman had published that book. I delight in the history and fortunes of this period of model making in Britain. The recent BBC model trains program makes B-L out to be hero of quality who was trumped by Hornby's populist approach. Still, if I can watch programs on the Beeb about model steam I'll not complainin.

  2. Indeed, Miles. There are 2 volumes of an old book, called Britain's Wonderful Models, which show the work of Twining, Shipmodels and many other professional modelmaking companies. Alas they were lost in one of my many moves, but if you can ever get a look at them, you'll be amazed.

  3. There was what I thought was a fairly recent book on Twining, but I've just realised it was actually published in 2004 - how time flies. B-L was a fascinating personality in his own right and I would recommend a visit to Derngate

    Incidentally Martin,my father bought Donald Healey's collection of B-L models.

  4. I'd like to see that book, James!
    And I'd no idea Donald Healey was a toy collector!
    Bassett-Lowke might have been fascinating, but he never made a damned thing! I now discover the boats were mainly made by one of the Bing brothers who settled in England and the motors were first made by a company called Wetheringham, Norfolk. Look for the logo of a gearwheel with W N inside. i believe i read that he did set up a machine carving outfit somewhere for some of the boats, possibly the yachts he produced for Gamages.

    So did you end up with any B-L stuff?