Monday 12 December 2022

Being Built On What Was Filton (1)

But He Was Part Of The Story

And he was ...
... and a multi-tasking member of the lesser aristocracy. He was the first person to hold a licence to fly a powered aircraft in the UK.
He owned and raced an experimental boat.
The sails look like a propellor but they weren't. However, they could be angled to catch the best waft of the wind. The vessel, now restored is in the care of the Isle of Wight Boat Museum at Cowes.
He was also a very proficient golfer.

Oh, yes, and a Conservative Member of Parliament.

His flying qualifications fitted him for the chairmanship of a committee which unofficially took his name. The Brabazon Committee was charged with the task of building Britain's civil aircraft industry after World War 2.

The Committee came up with a variety of designs for civil aircraft but the priority was to develop, build and sell (worldwide) a superior luxury airliner. That plane was the Bristol Brabazon that we met in a short video yesterday.
It was ginormous! See the tiny people at the pointed end. To build it and the subsequent production line a suite of huge hangars was constructed.
The hangars still stand.
To get the behemoth off the ground the runway at Filton needed an extension built by Laing.
Parliament was assured that the demolition of 36 properties and the rehousing of their occupants was necessary.
Not only were the runway and the hangars a huge job; but the plane was something else!

It was planned to be a competitor for transatlantic liners, so the emphasis was on luxury, space and all necessary facilities.
It included cabins with beds! There were mini-lounges for the wealthy.
This huge plane was designed to carry less than 100 passengers.

The power was revolutionary but piston engined. Each of four propeller nacelles contained a huge gearbox coupled to TWO powerful engines.
The engines were set in a V configuration and the necessary gearboxes must have been very complex.

The test pilot, Bill Pegg, was enthusiastic about his steed. "You drive the cockpit," he announced, "and the plane simply follows on behind!".
So, what was the reaction to this expensive plane running from expensive hangars and an expensive runway?


Nobody wanted to buy it.

Turbo prop airliners (e.g. The Viscount) and even jets (The ill-fated Comet 1) were on the horizon. Airlines realised that opulent luxury was out, and "pack-em-in" high capacity was the commercial future.

The Brabazon project was cancelled and the single plane built was sold for scrap.

One slightly positive outcome (or maybe not?) was that the hangars and runway were suitable for another attempt at high-luxury high cost flying.
Concorde was a commercial failure and planes were eventually withdrawn. A horrific crash did not help but attempts to rebuild a viable business were unsuccessful.

But there is a future for the Brabazon Hangars.
They are due to become an "Arena" ...
It looks potentially spectacular ...
... inside and out.
Ahem? Whatever happened to the London Arena? The Sheffield Arena struggled.

Which brings us, at last, to what a new "Brabazon" will eventually become!

It will need lots of public transport and plans are in hand for bus and train!

 Advent Calendar Day 12 

Loss and Lamentation

Can we imagine this scenario? An invader (Vlad the Mad, perhaps) has entered our country without invitation, has destroyed most of the key infrastructure and has taken large numbers of refugees back to his home territory to use as forced labour.
Unimaginable. (Or is it?)

The Bible is very clear. God's chosen people, the Jewish race, had rejected Him in favour of pagan deities and practices, so God had simply withdrawn his support. Decline was inexorable and the Exile was seen as God's punishment for their rejection of Him.

Some may debate this conclusion, but it was widely held and widely prophesied. Jeremiah, known as a "Prophet of Doom" (perhaps justifiably?) was for ever exhorting the people to turn back to God - or else!

And when the inevitable was, well, inevitable, Jerry exhorted the people to accept their punishment, do their best to cope with exile and wait for God to welcome them back - IF they repented of their disobedience.
Boney M (remember them - you must be old!) are singing from the Bible Psalm 137. This song/poem was written in Exile and illustrates the heartache of, apparently, being rejected by God.

The Promised Land has gone, Jerusalem (Zion) is destroyed, The Temple, Gods House, has been vacated by its resident and the building destroyed.

Everything is lost - there is no hope ... unless ...

In fact the Jewish nation will not get its land back until 1947.

But a different hope begins to appear in the key prophetic writing.

That hope was CHRISTmas. 

It still is.

For the record, Psalm 137 is printed below.

 Next Brabazon blog : Tuesday 13th December 

By the rivers of Babylon we sat down;
    there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows near by
    we hung up our harps.
Those who captured us told us to sing;
    they told us to entertain them:
    “Sing us a song about Zion.”

How can we sing a song to the Lord
    in a foreign land?
May I never be able to play the harp again
    if I forget you, Jerusalem!
May I never be able to sing again
    if I do not remember you,
    if I do not think of you as my greatest joy!

Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
    the day Jerusalem was captured.
Remember how they kept saying,
    “Tear it down to the ground!”

Babylon, you will be destroyed.
Happy are those who pay you back
    for what you have done to us—
who take your babies
    and smash them against a rock.

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