LSE Library Archives 2003-01-23
Quiet day; main unusual feature was the episode of nearly uninterrupted sunshine over London and Oxford, lasting till about 3 PM in the afternoon. Train left on time but was late getting into London owing to frequent delays and having to stop for signals in the S/SN operating areas. I had not forgotten the yogurt for lunch, like I had done the last time, but I had forgotten the detachable keyboard; lack of it makes typing awkward. Decided not to make today a strenuous note-taking day, and ordered mostly journal files. Choices (mostly NZ, FR, IT travel diaries) initially seemed somewhat peripheral to my thesis, but there are tidbits of interesting information.
This is RJ's visit to New Zealand in 1931, continuing his trip to the USA (which was covered in a previous notetaking session). RJ sails from Honolulu, stops at Fiji, goes on to Auckland, spends most of his time in Auckland, Rotorua, and Wellington (in that general order), sails from Wellington to Panama, and then from Panama to London. Some interesting insights:
- NZ was engaged in a wasteful unemployment program at the time which paid the unemployed and the unemployable 14/- per day on makework jobs (RJ estimates actual economic value of their labor about 1/2 that). RJ sees gangs of the unemployed engaged on road projects. Country obviously gripped by depression--farmers leave the land to collect the unemployed stipend because they can't do better than 30/- per week farming, and agricultural labor is scarce. Low farm commodity prices mean that it costs more to shear sheep than the wool brings in, etc. Lots of wealthy farmers living on capital.
- RJ doesn't go to the South Island, I think. However, is advised that a higher proportion of roads on the North Island have sealed surfaces. South Island described by some as rich in mineral resources, while others say that there is no more gold in the SI than there is in the Thames. South Island has Alpine topography, but not necessarily Alpine weather. Descriptions of attractions in the North Island is a blend of typical tropical (ferns, flies, etc.) combined with typical Yellowstone (large lakes, boiling springs, mountains, hiking country etc.).
- NZ auto industry protectionist. RJ gets values of import duty (all ad valorem, apparently), does some computations, and concludes that British cars come in with 25% effective duty, Canadian 50%, American 75% (calculated on import invoice value plus 10%). British cars are doing phenomenally well in NZ because of this differential taxation, but RJ is told that the typical NZer regards British cars as underpowered and as soon as the depression is over and incomes rise, they will start demanding bigger and more powerful cars (ie American if they can get them).
- Too many taxis in major NZ cities because qualifications boards cap the number of people going into apprenticeships, so that taxi driving becomes one of the few occupations open to young NZers. Also, law allows employers to 'pro rate' salaries for the disabled/part-time workers only if unions agree and unions never do; so lots of people who would settle for half-time work are forced to go on the 14/- per day dole.
- In NZ, railways are state-controlled. RJ talks to several railway people and finds that they are not allowed to run their networks on an economic basis--line location and service settled by politicians. Hence, NZ has about £67m of capital invested in railway network, of which RJ calculates only £20-£30m would be realized if the railways were sold off or otherwise privatized. A couple of privatization bills going through the NZ Parliament at time RJ going through NZ, and he attempts to interfere, but doesn't get face time with the PM due to all-night sittings. At the end RJ sends a farewell message to NZ newspapers, several of which interviewed him and then published interviews while he was in NZ, saying that at least £30m invested in railways should be regarded as a dead loss, and written off.
- Not all principal highways in NZ at time RJ goes through are sealed-surface. Rotorua in particular said by RJ to be very dusty, afflicted with flies, with lackadaisical shopkeepers who show no interest in commercial enterprise. RJ encounters dust roads in some resort areas and going through several mountain passes. Also, RJ observes with concern that Wellington has only one road out of the harbor area, which means evacuation impossibility if an earthquake hits (Wellington built right on top of an EQ fault) and the one land escape route blocked.
- RJ talks with employees of the NZ Main Hwys Bd (MHB), including several district engineers and MHB members. Apparently roads in NZ are funded out of a hypothecated % of the petrol tax, which is then doled out by MHB to local authorities to build roads under administrative supervision of MHB personnel. Work appears to be chargeable to MHB at set percentages, with MHB engineers largely responsible for making sure that only the chargeable line items are in fact charged for. Hence conflict of priorities between MHB district employees and the LAs (mostly counties)--counties want minor roads to become SH's so they don't have to maintain them without reimbursement, MHB personnel want majority of resources to go to principal trunk routes, hence situation ripe for political logrolling. RJ doesn't go into details, but I suspect the system based on MHB review of PS&E.
Diary of Paris visit in Oct-Nov 1925. Haven't gone through it in detail, but suspect not much of interest. Concerns mostly RJ's art purchases.
Diary of Milan Congress visit, Aug-Sep 1926. Actually not all that much road-related material.
Diary of Continent visit in 1927, covering part of Germany. Includes a drive on the AVUS road on 10 July (very sketchy description). (There are apparently 2 copies of this in the folder.)
This holds miscellaneous personal papers--including RJ's passport from 1911, which is very old and traditional, consisting not of an annotated booklet like a modern passport, but rather a large sheet of paper (foolscap?) with the Foreign Office seals, Edward Grey's signature (as foreign secretary), and bearer's name, occupation, and age. It has a "6 pence" price stamp (this probably being the cost of issue of the passport), and RJ's signature is affixed on a tearaway strip which is glued to the paper and embossed with FO seals. It has 5-year validity and date of issue is 9/5/1911.
Other paperwork concerns purchase of a 16/24 Humber from Wolseley (23/8/1911). RJ paid £350. 16/24 is a reference to the engine capacity and HP, I think; cited in promotional lit as 16"/24. No, it's also described as a 16 HP car. Is this the RAC rating, and if so, does 24 mean actual HP somehow?
No time for thorough review, but the folder includes:
Diary of Italian visit of 1926. Reference to a meeting with Puricelli at which GP Blizard was present.
Diary of Paris visit in Oct 1931. Very little road-related; mostly art-concerned.
Diary of Paris visit in June 1932. 26/6 contains reference to Peripherique being built.
Diary of Paris visit in June-July 1936. Contains 'beaucoup' information on French motor roads, though not detailed technical specs. New construction includes portions of the Peripherique, and most importantly, a new Motor Road whose construction RJ inspects. It runs largely through Forest of Marly, with fork at Roquencourt--one spur connecting to RN 190 for Normandy coast towns and the other connecting to RN 10 for Chartres. 120m F, 40m spent at time of RJ's visit, remainder to be expended in following 2 years. Total 30 km of new construction. (Around 75F to the £1 at that time.) Pte Champerret to Le Bourget also sanctioned: 8 km, estimated cost 100m F. Pte d'Italie, 45 km new const., 250m F, sanctioned. Courbevoie for Rouen/Dieppe, Vincennes-Lagny, and total "outer circular route around Paris" 200 km in length--all proposed but not yet sanctioned. 600m F total for Courbevoie and the rest. This notice on 30/6. There is also more material on the Peripherique later on, but not much containing construction details. However, apparently in 1932 RJ was shown an actual grade separation structure being built in Paris.
No time for detailed review. However, holdings include 2 copies of Puricelli's paper on the Italian first-class road system, copies of and Puricelli's corrections to RJ's account of the first Autostrade, and misc correspondence. There is a gap between the autostrade material coming from Puricelli which says the autostrade (in 1926, first year of op) made Lit. 104k profit on about Lit. 90m investment, and RJ's own article, which cites Puricelli's estimate of Lit. 7m annual income to meet running costs and capital charges and says the income in first year was just Lit. 5.5m. Not sure if this gap indicates actual inconsistency in the computations.