Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hillman Avenger

The Hillman Avenger was a small family car built by Hillman, Chrysler and Talbot between 1970 and 1981. The car was designed by Rootes and released under its Hillman marque, though Rootes itself had been taken over by Chrysler in the late 1960s and the car was released in the USA as the Plymouth Cricket (the world of car marques was especially complicated in the 1970s!) The Avenger took its styling cues from the latest US car designs though was in many ways technically conservative (for example sticking with a four speed gearbox instead of moving to a five speed). The Avenger was well received by the press and public and considered superior to its rival the Morris Marina. It also competed with the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva.

After 1976 the Avenger became a Chrysler proper as the Hillman marque was retired but in 1979, following the sale of Chrysler Europe to PSA, the Avenger was rebadged again as a Talbot! Time was running out for the car however as production only continued until 1981 in the UK. The Avenger was also built abroad, even appearing with a Volkswagen badge in Argentina! The Avenger was a popular car with the public and three quarters of a million were sold. Technically and conceptually the car was perfect for the 1970s though suffered from poor build quality and corner cutting to save money, however the Avenger was not alone in suffering from these problems.

The Avenger below is preserved at Coventry Transport Museum where it helps to demonstrate the production lines which enabled mass production of motorcars.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Banbury is somewhere i always like visiting, and the county it resides in in general especially since i have traced one line of my ancestry back to 16th century Oxfordshire. I visited the fine town at the weekend and of course took some photos of the canal, railway and the town in general. Earlier in the month i wrote about Banbury Cross and the religious frictions in the town during the Reformation.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station

Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station was established in 1861 though a lifeboat had been supported in the town since 1843. In 1861 a branch of the RNLI was established and the first boat RNLB Evelyn Wood was launched for the first time. This was a ten oared self-righting lifeboat and was followed by seven other conventional all-weather lifeboats.

Since 1964 Aberystwyth has had inshore lifeboats only after the last conventional boat was withdrawn and indeed Aberystwyth was the first RNLI station to receive an inshore boat. These can travel in shallower water than conventional boats and thus are more useful in places where most call-outs might be to holidaymakers or boaters in trouble. The current lifeboat, which has been in service since 2008, is the Spirit of Friendship, an Atlantic 85. This has twin 115hp engines that gives it a top speed of 35 knots and carries a crew of 4, it is equipped with radar and direction finding VHF. The station also has a smaller Arancia A-78 rescue craft.

Aberystwyth can be a busy station, in 2014 the lifeboats were called out 41 times. Over the years the crews have been honoured for gallantry 13 times. The RNLI is a charity that could not exist without donations, please visit their website and support this vital service which has saved so many lives.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Coventry Canal

The Coventry Canal is a 38 mile long canal that stretches from Fradley Junction near Lichfield, where it is connected to the Trent & Mersey Canal, to Coventry.
The canal terminates at Coventry basin just North of the city centre though before that there are connections to the Lichfield (originally the Wyrley & Essington), Ashby, Birmingham & Fazeley and Oxford canals along the way. Work on the canal began in 1868 with Coventry Basin opened the following year. Construction was rapid though of a high standard and the canal reached Atherstone within a year. However financial troubles began to dog the project and the final connection to the Trent and Mersey was not completed until 1789.

One complication with the Coventry Canal is that while in reality it is a continuous stretch of waterway some maps treat it as two separate sections connected by part of the Birmingham & Fazeley canal. This confusion dates from the days of private ownership of the canals, but now the canals are all owned by British Waterways the canal should really be treated as it physically is.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Let the model making season begin

The 2015 model making season is up and running and the first project, number 61 is a Fouga CM170 Magister. As can be seen here the building phase is pretty much done and now the painting will begin. I must try and improve on the 2014 count of 9 completed projects of which only 4 were aircraft.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


After passing through Derby a couple of times recently i thought it was high time i visited this iconic hub of the railway network, and i was not disappointed. As Derby is home to the Network Rail fleet which monitors and records the state of the railway network i was of course hoping/expecting to see something and i did indeed see the track recording train. You can see my photos here.

I stayed mostly at the station but did venture out, including down to the river Derwent. It was all a bit cold to venture too far though, but i'll be back!