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Designing Pan Am

We are now a couple of weeks away from my graduation ceremony at the Sheldonian and the end of one amazing journey to an M.St in the History of Design. My dissertation was on Pan Am in the 1930s and more specifically on the Boeing B-314 flying boat, a stupendous aircraft that initiated passenger flight over the Atlantic, and the way that Pan Am could be considered as a Modernist creation.
The result is 15,000 words and images and a big pile of books and papers - the final submission can be found here -  The System of the Flying Clippers - Designing Pan Am. A lot of people have helped with this, especially Barry O'Keefe at the Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum and the good people at The Pan Am Historical Foundation.
The next adventure is something very different and so has this new blog.


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Going Nuclear

One of the many novel engineering feats John Laing was involved in was the birth of commercial nuclear power in Britain. The company worked on the Windscale reactors and were part of the AEI consortium that built Berkeley Power Station, the first commercial power station. The John Laing Collection has a series of fascinating images showing how very low tech the initial construction phase was and the human side of work - from tea wagons to the local postman taking an interest.
Nuclear Power Station, Berkeley, First day of arrivals to the site, 8th Jan 1957
© Historic England 2018 - The John Laing Collection No. 48773
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The Mystery L

Clapham Wind Tunnel One area where being able to talk to the people who worked for John Laing is really helpful is unravelling the odd mystery.  I have noticed that in a number of photographs from the 1950s there is one or two individuals who had a large L on their jacket. I speculated on what this might be and thought that most likely it was to designate the leader of a team of workers.  I was able to put a short piece in John Laing's Retired Employees' News asking for any information on the mystery L and several people kindly wrote to explain the mystery - which was no real mystery at all.  The L simply stood for Laing but only new employees would be given a jacket with the logotype and so this took a long time to permeate through the organisation. A case of applying Occam's razor and not overthinking things for me.