15 July 2010

HZ Fourgon

Introduced in 1947, the H van was produced right through to 1981. It was designed single-handedly by Pierre Franchiset, and is famed both for its corrugated steel panels (inspired by the WWII Junkers bomber and providing great strength with minimal weight - there is no separate chassis), and the first use of the 'Yoda' pinless hinge.

Power came originally from the cast iron 1.9 litre Traction Avant petrol engine, introduced in 1934. The block, with an alloy head from 1963, was used right through to the H's demise, which reputedly makes it the longest-used automotive component ever. In 1958 the H was replaced by the HY. A Perkins diesel option was introduced in 1961. Built that year and dry-stored since 1989, 718 DX 61 boasts this virtually indestructible powerplant.

Citro├źn turned out 478,743 H vans, most with a three speed box, in France and Belgium. A further 10,016 were built in Holland, and can be distinguished by their front-hinged doors. The standard vans are denominated as HYs, those of lower load capacity as HZs, and those of greater load capacity as HXs. Some were sold as the Model 1600, referring, confusingly, to the 1,600 kilogram carrying ability, not to the engine size. The level rear floor and the flexible three piece tailgate made the H an ideal delivery vehicle.

11 July 2010

Restoration Man & Woman

Natalie and Karl Bass open Christ Church in Welshpool as part of the local council's 'Be a Local Tourist' week. Living accommodation is being constructed at second floor level, extending what would have been the gallery. Once ready, the family will move into this from the 'hut' - a temporary structure in the nave.

It is inspiring to learn that everything is being done in-house. Amongst other things, Karl has erected the steels and built the studwork, and Natalie has done the lime plastering. The view out over the nave, which is being restored to provide community facilities, is superb. This was the first church in Wales to use terracotta (likely to be from Ruabon) for structural purposes, and the intended bedrooms have a great prospect of this.

(Photograph by Natalie Bass)

Llynclys - Steam Under Collars

Shades of The Life of Brian's People's Front of Judea, Judean People's Front, Judean Popular People's Front, and Campaign for a Free Galilee. The Cambrian Railways Society was formed in 1972 but signally failed to make progress with bringing back to life the line between Gobowen and Blodwel. The rival Cambrian Railways Trust, formed in 1998, set about being more business-like, and accordingly secured funds to acquire the trackbed between Llynclys and Pant.

The Trust carried its first passengers in 2005, and built a replica of Llynclys South station. The feuding societies eventually combined in 2009 as Cambrian Heritage Railways. In the yard is a diesel locomotive, a shunter, and a variety of interesting architectural pieces. One of these is a roof vent from the Cambrian Institute, built in 1909 as a social club for Oswestry's railway workers, but unfortunately demolished 98 years later. Close by is Llynclys Cottage, which boasts a fine circular window, made by the previous owner.

07 July 2010

What, When & Ware VI

Always go around the corner, take the road with which one is unfamiliar. Across a little footbridge over the River Lea, built by Tubewrights of Newport - these footbridges are quite common over railway lines - is the green of the Ware Bowling Club. Around this are a number of topiary conceits. That of two heads is particularly fine.