Tribute to Charles Collett

English engineer Charles Benjamin Collett was born 10 September 1871. He was chief mechanical engineer of the Great Western Railway from 1922 to 1941 and designed (amongst others) the GWR’s 4-6-0 Castle and King Class express passenger locomotives. Collett’s predecessor, George Jackson Churchward had delivered to the GWR from Swindon a series of class leading and innovative locomotives, and arguably by the early 1920s the Great Western‘s 2-cylinder and 4-cylinder 4-6-0 designs were substantially superior to the locomotives of the other railway groupings.

In 1922 Churchward retired, and Charles Benjamin Collett inherited a legacy of excellent standardised designs. But, with costs rising and revenues falling, there was a need to rationalise the number of pre-grouping designs and to develop more powerful locomotives. Collett was a practical development engineer and he took Churchward’s designs and developed them – the Hall from the Saint class, and the Castle from the Star. He was also responsible for more humble locomotives, such as many of the pannier tank classes. He has received criticism by contemporary engineers and later railway historians for undertaking very little innovation in his designs, instead sticking with Churchward’s style in every case. Arguably this meant that by the time Collett retired the superiority of Great Western locomotives was lost to more modern designs, particularly those of William Stanier, who worked at Swindon before moving to the LMS in 1932, and took Churchward’s style with him but developed it in line with the progression in steam technology.
In 1926, something bigger than the Castle class was required to haul heavy expresses at an average speed of 60 mph. Great Western’s General Manager Sir Felix Pole told Collett to proceed with the design and construction of a “Super-Castle”. The result was the King class 4-6-0 design which emerged from Swindon works in June 1927. This had dimensions never previously seen, and represented the ultimate development of Churchward’s four cylinder concept. It was the heaviest (136 tons), and had the highest tractive effort (40,300 lbs.) of any 4-6-0 locomotive ever to run in the United Kingdom. Because of its weight, the King class was restricted to a limited number of the major GWR routes.

The Festival of the Flame & the Olympic/Paralympic Parade

Olympic/Paralympic Parade

To celebrate the achievements of the athletes of Team GB during the Summer, An Olympic/Paralympic Parade to celebrate the XXX Olympiad  took place on Monday 10th September through the streets of London . Hosted by Huw Edwards, Gabby Yorath, Sir Steve Redgrave, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Matthew Pinsett  The Procession Started towards the East, went past St Pauls Cathedral, up Ludgate Hill, along Fleet Street, Past the Royal Law Courts, past Trafalgar Square, Through Admiralty Arch and Along the Mall up to the Queen Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace .  The Parade consisted of twenty-one floats which were led along the route by The Kinetica Dancing Lion and the Kinetica Marching Band.

The Band of the Royal Marines and The Band of the Coldstream Guards were also playing. The Procession was watched by  HRH Princess Royal Princess Anne, Sebastian Coe the Lord Mayor of London Sir David Wootton, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the Prime Minister David Cameron among many others and was interspersed with interviews with some of the athletes, including Zara Phillips, Mo Farah, David Wier, Oscar Pistorius, Tom Daley, Rebecca Addlington, Jessica Ennis, Ellie Simmonds, Victoria Pendleton Sir Chris Hoy, Sarah Storey …among many others.

Once they reached the Queen Victoria memorial they were met by the First Battalion of the Irish Guards for the Finale, which Including an Impressive Flypast over Buckingham Palace containing The Gold British Airways aeroplane which brought the Olympic Flame to Britain, two Lynx, a Puma and Sea King Helicopters, followed by Two Hawker Typhoons and a Boeing E3 Sentry and finally The Red Arrows.

whilst the Team GB and Paralympics Athletes mmade their way on to the stage there were performances by Amy Macdonald,and the Pet Shop Boys, who sang Winner, West end Girls and Go West, which were interspersed by interviews conducted by Helen Skelton and Ben Shepherd with some of the Athletes. To round off the event there were speeches by the Prime Minister David Cameron, HRH Princess Royal Princess Anne and London Mayor Boris Johnson and Katherine Jenkins sang the National Anthem towards the end of the event.

Festival of Flame

The Olympic Stadium was ablaze with fire during the spectacular Festival of Flame which took place in the Olympic Stadium on Sunday 9th September and brought 12 days of thrilling Paralympic competition to an end and also signalled the end to a spectacular summer of sport. The Extravaganza was split into four sections designed to reflect the cycle of life and passing seasons and started with the Earl of Wessex who lapped the track in a custom-made vintage car which drove through an arch of 54 military drummers before he made a speech.  Hundreds of performers then carried torches into the Olympic Stadium to mark the beginning of the Paralympic Closing Ceremony and The spectacle got underway when hundreds of Mad Max-style characters burst into the arena driving a procession of wierd and wonderful fantasy vehicles including A giant metallic skeleton of a fish surrounded by flame-waving dancers, A remarkable vehicle which represented a fantasy battle scene between good and evil, A vehicle representing ‘Clocks’ which glistened gold as it circled the arena, a mechanical horse rode by a knight in shining armour and A large grasshopper which appeared to be a converted Volkswagen Beetle.

The event was attended by 4,200 Parlympians  from 164 nations who overcame the most unlikely odds to compete in the Paralympics, including David Weir and Sarah Storey, who also carried the Union flag at the closing ceremony, War hero Captain Luke Sinnott, who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan, also climbed the flagpole to unfurl Union Flag, British athletes Ellie Simmonds(Who won gold in the 400m S6 Freestyle and the 200m S6 Individual Medley), and Jonnie Peacock (who won the T44 100m) extinguished the Olympic flame, and both lit torches from the dying flame in the Paralympic cauldron, symbolically marking the end of the 2012 Games.

Coldplay Rihanna and Jay Z provided the soundtrack to the Paralympic Closing Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium whn they performed a 15-track set list, including “Yellow”,”Speed of Sound”,”Clocks”,”Paradise” “Up in Flames” and the duet ‘Princess of China” with Rihanna (Who was flat).

Hopefully the Talent and determination shown by the Paralympians during the Paralympics will transform the way so-called disabled people, are regarded by society in the most fundamental way. The question is, of course, whether the euphoria and the enlightened attitude towards disabled people it has instilled will survive and develop beyond the Paralympics. Some say that there is every cause for optimism and that Eighty per cent of somebody’s disability is in the able-bodied person’s eye, who then put up barriers that aren’t actually there.

To finish this vibrant, uplifting tribute,  a Stunning Fireworks display lit up the night sky above the Olympic Stadium and The London organisers passed the responsibility of holding the Olympics on to Brazil in time for the Rio Games of 2016.

Elysium – Pet Shop Boys

I have been a fan of the Pet Shop Boys ever Since they released their first single “West End Girls back in the mid 1980’s. Since then they have become one of the most commercially and critically acclaimed British groups ever. They have achieved eight platinum, two gold and four silver albums in the UK alone. Their career has spanned 25 years and is now in its third decade.

They are still as popular as ever, busily touring and headlining festivals around the world and September 10th 2012 sees the release of the their latest Album “Elysium”, which is a collection of twenty four songs spanning Two Disc.

Disc: 1
1. Leaving
2. Invisible
3. Winner
4. Your Early Stuff
5. A Face Like That
6. Breathing space
7. Ego Music
8. Hold On
9. Give It a Go
10. Memory of the Future
11. Everything Means Something
12. Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin
Disc: 2
1. Leaving Instrumental
2. Invisible Instrumental
3. Winner Instrumental
4. Your Early Stuff Instrumental
5. A Face Like That Instrumental
6. Breathing Space Instrumental
7. Ego Music Instrumental
8. Hold On Instrumental
9. Give It a Go Instrumental
10. Memory of the Future Instrumental
11. Everything Means Something Instrumental
12. Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin Instrumental