LSE Library Archives 2003-02-12

From ArchiveWiki

Have returned to the RJ papers after a hiatus of 1½ weeks, caused by illness (cold for nearly all of last week plus stomach flu early part of this week). Had a relatively normal trip in to London this morning; managed to avoid getting on the Bristol TM train like I have the last couple of times, nursed my Amt Espresso cappuccino all the way to Paddington so I didn’t get a painful stomach/heart palpitations, and was nearly punctual at Paddington even though the train seemed to stop or slow down radically all the time for signals until it got to the newish stretch E of Slough. Made some disquieting observations about the NB computer, though. Upper part containing the LCD screen is insufficiently rigid and screen is nearly flush with the rim, so when the NB is subject to pressure, the keys on the NB keyboard chafe against the surface of the screen. Over time this chafing has been bad enough to leave regular marks on the screen which are noticeable when light is allowed to reflect off it (though they can’t be seen when screen is on and ambient light is angled so that specular reflections don’t happen). Also, lack of rigidity places additional strain on the L hinge and this has resulted in the portion of the laptop cover around the L hinge cracking. Bottom line: this thing is basically falling apart. It’s free, so I ought not to be worried overmuch, but it does have a TFT screen, and laptops with TFT screen still aren’t much under £1000, so some additional maintenance measures are in order: (1) some ammonia to wipe KB; (2) some LCD screen cleaner to clean screen; (3) new habit of placing a hankie between screen and KB whenever closing the NB (starting with departure today); and (4) timed exercise of the laptop battery to extend its life (it’s being deep-cycle discharged right now).

25/21 (left over from last time)

Interesting extract re. Transport costs:

Saturday March 2. Morning packing. Oh, this packing! Tea at 7. Breakfast 8.15. Talk with Secretary. Pay my Bill. Leave at 11. Call en route to see Odham (out, leave note) and at Chemist to buy a bottle of Vichy and fruiterer to buy pineapple, mango, and plums. This difficulty to get fruit in Africa is extraordinary. A few miles out of Nairobi fruit is rotting on the trees. In Nairobi you pay London prices. Pineapple 1/- and 1/6. Plums work out about 1 d. each. Mango 1/3. I was told that the prices offered to growers did not pay cost of carriage. Artichokes price ¾ d. sold at 2 d. and so on.

Another extract of interest:

Friday, march 1, contd.

I decided to plant the seed of an effective Road Organization for Kenya in other minds, not being satisfied that Mr. Lawson was the man to carry through the suggestion I had made. Mr. Rutley seemed the most hopeful. He was new to the country and the Shell people are in a position to take larger views than the small trader. I accordingly wrote the following letter and sent it to him by hand—

Roads Improvement Association 180 Clapham Road London, SW 9

Written at Nairobi on 1st March 1929

Dear Mr. Rutley,

I should have liked another chat with you, but I understand that you are leaving today at four o’clock.

The more I think over it, the more I am convinced that the time is ripe for the Road and Road Transport interests to join together and set up some sort of organization with a competent man at its head to protect the interests of road and road traffic against the highly organized Railway interests.

In the E.A. Standard of Monday the 25th February it sets out a scheme for the extension of the Railway to Nanyuki with a Capital of £82,000, with an annual burden on the Colony of £5,000. I have a very strong suspicion that the cost of a first-class, all-weather road sealed with Asphalt and constructed to carry lorry traffic would be infinitely cheaper than the present scheme. I am told that this Railway will only carry one train a day and therefore there will be a wasteful railway and a bad road. The alternative policy of an Asphalt road has never been tried out. What is required is a road organization with a competent man at the top who can prepare alternative road schemes and work out their comparative economic and financial results.

I suggest that—

1. The Local motor traders. 2. The oil and asphalt and Motor Spirit interests. 3. The Tyre interests. 4. The Road Transport interests

To put up £3,000 a year between them and get a good man that could do much.

Perhaps you could talk this over with Mr. Wilson Jones at Mombasa, and possibly later with Mr. Cartwright of Cape Town, and the people at home. If any useful purpose might be served by my discussing it in London with Mr. Killick, let me know.

With kindest regards, yous sincerely, WRJ

PS I have also put this proposal both to Mr. Carr and Mr. Lawson. They advise me among other things that a good tarred or asphalt macadamised road would give the English car and lorry a much better chance than the present rough road which favours the American vehicle.

Aide-memoire: Write to NMSHTD (or the Big I project managers) and find out what happened to the Big I model—can it still be viewed, etc. And make up a search list for UNM materials/figure out whether ILL possible/do the same or similar for signing-related materials such as Lunenfeld & Alexander, the Highway Sign Symbology conference, etc.

Article by RJ in Times, 14/10/1929, based on his SA experiences:

Road and rail in Africa

Troubles of the Union

Racial reactions

Africa is confronted with two problems of prime importance—the problems of race and transport. The racial questions are the more difficult. British, Dutch, Portuguese, Belgian, French—can they cooperate or will they work always on different and often conflicting lines? How shall the “white” Administrations deal with the “native” and with the “coloured”? The major question of race enters into the minor one of transport. Africa produces raw materials, minerals, and foodstuffs. Her industrial need is cheap and efficient transport in order to place her products cheaply and quickly in the competitive markets of the world. In the course of a journey from the Cape to Cairo I investigated these interrelated problems and heard them discussed from many angles.

In the Union of South Africa the question of Rad v. Rail is acute—more acute even than in this country. Human nature everywhere prefers the freedom of the open road to the restrictions and limitations of the rail even when, as in South Africa, the “rail” is comparatively good and the “road” comparatively bad. The mobility and speed of the motor-car entice travellers to leave the railway to travel by the rutty, dusty, unmade roads and through unbridged streams whenever it is practicable. Railway receipts are affected. The railways in the Union of South Africa are State-owned. The Minister in charge of them is a member of the Cabinet. The question is therefore from the outset a political one. The Government’s concern is to protect the capital invested in the railways, and next to obtain an annual return thereon. While I was in Cape Town the Government appointed a Commission to investigate and report upon:

The whole problem of road motor competition and its bearing upon the road motor and railway services of the South African railways administration, having regard (a) to the fact that the main transport system of the country is State-owned, in which vast sums of public money are invsted, and (b) to the country’s need for economic development.

With such terms of reference it is not difficult to forecast the general lines of the Report of a Commission containing two railway officials and no representative of the road authorities or of road transport interests.

Railway investment

Over 130 millions have been invested in the railways of the Union of South Africa. The “Railway Policy of South Africa,” by professor H. Frankel, of Witwatersrand University, recently published, discusses the administration critically from the railway standpoint. From his study it would appear that the railway provisions of the South Africa Act, 1909, designed to remedy the evils of disunion and of political railway management, have been consistently contravened and disregarded. The hope that the south African railways would be managed on commercial principles and not as a mere State Department on bureaucratic lines has not been fulfilled.

The present Government of South Africa has caused the railways to give employment to many thousands of poor whites, i.e., Dutch. Coloured and native labour has been displaced. The racial question enters, then, into transport. The employment of the poor whit ehas increased greatly the cost of railway administration and, it is alleged, seriously impaired its efficiency. The wisdom of helping this class of the community by employing them on the railway has been debated vigorously. There is much to be said for and against the present policy. From the purely transport standpoint, “poor white” labour at high rates means increased railway costs. Its employment has encouraged the transfer of rail traffic to roads. This result in turn has brought a demand from the railway administration for security against road competition.

The roads in South Africa, unlike the railways, are not the direct responsibility of the Central Government. Their administration rests with provincial Governments and the municipalities. There are four provinces and administrative authority is vested in Administrators (appointed by the Government) assisted by provincial councils.

Road development has not kept pace with railway development. Such capital as South Africa has been prepared to spend on transport during the past 50 years has been spent mainly on building news railways. At present South Africa is burdened with many hundreds of miles of branch railway lines which have never paid, do not pay, and never can be expected to pay. I investigated several. There is the line, 35 miles long, from Outdtshoorn to Calitzdorp. It supports six trains per week—three in each direction. The train traveller from Calitzdorp may have an enforced stay of two nights at Oudtshoorn. The traveller by road can get there in an hour and a half before breakfast, do his business, and return before lunch. Running side by side are a railway line that does not pay and a road, poorly constructed, dusty, and ill maintained. The existence of the one is an excuse for not spending money on the other. Both are inefficient. Here in concrete form is the problem of the road versus rail.

State of the roads

Circling the Cape Peninsula itself there is a hundred miles of road well designed and soundly engineered, constituting the finest marine drive in the world. The combination of land and sea views ia magnificient. Not all of this mileage has been tarred or treated with bituminous material. The up-country roads, particularly the main roads north-west from the Cape to Worcester and west to Swellendam, are badly corrugated and honeycombed with pot-holes as a result of the increasing lorry traffic.

The Paarl Divisional Council (controlling the area immediately north of the Cape Peninsula) has entered into a contract at a total cost of £60,000 for the reconstruction of about 20 miles of main road out of Cape Town. Work was begun in August, 1928. It was expected to complete it this month. When finished it will be the longst continuous stretch of high-type road construction so far carried out in South Africa. The work includes the reshaping of the existing road, the laying of a kerbing, and the construction of a 4 in. standard bituminous grouted surface course 18ft in width, together with the necessary drainage and making up. The bitumen used is Spramex.

The absence of bridges closes many roads to motorists during the wet season. There is considerable risk and uncertainty whether a car will succeed in getting through an unbridged river. When motoring from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth by the cost road via George, which reveals some of the finest scenery in South Africa, I was fortunate to get through. A sudden storm in the Zitzikamma Forest caused a following car to break its back axle on one of the boulders in the stream hidden by the rising water. The attempt to bridge these rivers and drifts by means of iron and steel high-level bridges presents a financial problem that is insoluble. The authorities ar enow building concrete causeways, or low-level bridges, which give a smooth surface for the car and are well above the flood level on most days of the year. On three or four days per annum the causeway or low-level bridge may be submerged, but the water rushing over them does no damage and quickly subsides. A dozen of these causeways can be built for the cost of one steel bridge.

So far the rough roads and the river crossings have favoured cars of American construction. The English-made car, with its low petrol consumption and efficient transmission, gains most in countries with good roads. The saving of money in petrol costs weighs nothing in the mind of a south African against the advantage of a reserve of power which enables him to climb a sharply rising river-bank or force his way through roads inches deep in mud. The cylinder of small diameter which has been forced upon the British designer and manufacturer by the British system of taxation has militated against the development of cars suitable for Colonial markets. Under present conditions it is difficult to sell British cars in South Africa against the American production. A general improvement in the roads of South Africa and the building of causeways across the rivers and drifts will assist the sale of the British product.

Unorganized interests

Road interests in South Africa are unorganised. The railway bureaucracy is very strong with a Cabinet Minister at its head. The total amount of capital funds which Africa can spend on transport is necessarily limited. In the division of those funds the railway organization has the pull. The railway administration is itself being educated by circumstances. It recognizes, like railway directors at home, that under present conditions profit is to be made by providing the public with facilities for road transport. The natives in South Africa, as in India, like travel. On Sundays it is interesting to see them crowding every lorry of which they can get possession for the purpose of joy-rides. The railways have in recent years been developing road services. The official timetables contain a 66-page supplement showing 220 of these services.

The railway administration has no responsibility for the roads and these road services are started on roads quite unfitted to support them. It is not long before the asset in the road is destroyed. The question who shall pay for the reconstruction of the road, the provincial authorities or the railway, inevitably arises. No satisfactory arrangement has been reached. The question is further complicated by the fact that the railway-owned cars and their parts, fuel and oil, are exempt from the Customs duties which private owners and companies are called upon to pay.

Notwithdstanding many difficulties, I am convinced that the transport problems of South Africa can be solved. The country can be given a co-ordinated system of road and rail transport without placing an undue financial burden upon the present generation. There is, however, no single or royal road to this achievement. There are many things that need to be done, and done in the right way and in their due proportions. The railway main lines require development and the speed and efficiency of the services improved. Non-paying branch lines need to be closed and the money spent on maintaining them devoted to the improvement of the roads that serve the area. Rivers need to be bridged or concrete causeways constructed. Roads must be laid out by trained men. Earth roads demand proper draining, grading, shaping, and continuous maintenance. This means the organization of an experienced body of road engineers, road chemists, and road foremen. The provincial and municipal authorities are unlikely to face the financial burden of such an organization (although the expenditure will be reproductive) without the assistance of the Union Government. There is expectation that the Union Treasurer out of surplus revenue may provide £1,000,000 for road grants to the Provinces. If this hope is realized there may be a progressive improvement of South African roads, which will react beneficially upon the home motor industry.

RJ article in Times, 15/10/1929.

Road and rail in Africa.

II—New demand and new policies.

British v. Latin.

The future administration of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika has been the subject of a Report of a Royal Commission and the purpose of a special journey by a Permanent Under-Secretary of State to East Africa. Whatever further measure of unity may be introduced into the government of these three countries, it is important that their transport systems shall be envisaged as a whole so that the funds, necessarily limited, available for transport development shall be spent wisely and economically.

The roads in Kenya and Tanganyika are few and bad. In Uganda they are numerous and good. There is no good road inland from Dar-es-Salaam, the port of Tanganyika, or from Mombasa, the port of Kenya. The communication between the port and the country is by rail.

Railway policy dominates the transport situation of Kenya and Tanganyika. Nairobi started as a railway centre. It has developed into a capital town, which is unfortunate, as its situation is by no means ideal. The railway in Kenya is the instrument of fiscal policy and of taxation. For example, traffic “up” is made to pay the cost of the traffic “down.” Coal, petrol, whisky, and other imported goods going up from Mombasa to Nairobi and the interior beyond are charged far more than the economic rate in order that maize and other products of the country can be conveyed to the port at rates below the cost. Maize, coffee, and other produce of the country had to be placed in the world’s markets at competitive prices. To enable this to be done, the railway rate has to be low. The constitution does not allow that special rate to be made good out of general taxation. Therefore the difference has to be met by the other users of the railway.

The effect of this policy is to make the cost of living in Kenya and Uganda very high. In this as in other matters the interests of Uganda and of Kenya are not identical. So far, in Kenya very little money has been spent upon roads. Tracks have been made by pioneers. Others have followed in their tracks—a rough road is developed. As time goes on public money is spent upon it. The unfortunate feature of this kind of development is that the original track taken by the pioneer is never the one which an engineer would have adopted if he had been called in to design the road in the first place. A road engineer, Mr. R.S. Moore, with Australian experience has been recently appointed whose activities, it is hoped, will lead to some improvement in the lay-out and maintenance of the roads.

Lack of balance.

It is difficult to see how it is possible in a country like Kenya to maintain the proper balance between railway and road administration. The railways represent the most powerful unified financial interest in the Colony and command the services of very able officials. Even the Governor, as Commissioner of Transport, draws £1,000 of his income from railway funds. On the other side, there exists no organization of those interested in building, maintaining, or using the roads which may plead the cause, or state the case, for road development with the same authority. While I was in Nairobi a decision was taken to spend £82,000 on a short railway extension to Nanyuki. The wisdom of the expenditure was questioned from many quarters. Only two or three trains weekly will be needed and the State is required to contribute £5,000 per annum to the loss.

The pressure from home is also in the direction of railway construction. For every £100,000 spent on railways, orders for steel rails, locomotives, and rolling stock are placed in Great Britain. The return to Great Britain from the expenditure on roads is not so immediate and is more widely distributed. The locomotives may be British, but the motor-cars are American, namely 88 per cent.—British being 7 ½ per cent. And Continental 4 ½ per cent. American lorries and trucks were 92 ½ per cent. And British 6 per cent. Of the total. This result is due mainly to road conditions. Bad roads favour the Ameican vehicle. The local agents and motor dealers in Kenya are practically all British and would prefer to import the British article.

Uganda is the only country in Southern and Eastern Africa which has a good road system. The result is that bicycles—ordinary push bicycles—are used everywhere by the natives and they are all of British construction. Recently it has been decided to link up the Uganda road system with that of the Belgian Congo. At the present time there is no railway to Kampala, the commercial, or Entebbe, the administrative, capital. The railway stops at Jinja, but its extension to Kampala is under construction.

Destroyed bridges

From Entebbe it is possible to travel by good roads for 600 miles through Uganda and the Southern Sudan to Rejaf on the Nile, the terminal port of the Sudan Government boat service. This road was in good condition throughout its entire length during the month of March when I passed over it. A month later it would be no longer usable as the rains beginning in April flood the low-lying portions, wash away some of the bridges, and render it useless for through traffic for the following seven months.

I was informed the expenditure of a few thousand pounds on concrete causeways such as those described and illustrated in the article on South Africa would make this an all-weather road. It appears, however, there are objections on the part of the Administration to provide these funds as this road competes with the official route via Namagasali, Masindi, Butiaba, and Lake Albert to Nimule. Nimule is to be connected with Rejaf (the Nile port) by an all-weather road. This road, 100 miles in length, will cost about £34,000, and is in course of construction by the Sudan Government. The Government are also building a new Nile port at Juba, eight miles down the river, to replace Rejaf. This official route, however, involves frequent changes. The train has to be left for the steamer on two sections. The steamboats run only about once a week. A few thousand pounds spent on making the road from Mongalla—the capital of southern Sudan—to Nairobi an all-weather road would provide a route on which travellers could start at any hour of the day or night on their own vehicles and be independent of the infrequent train and steamer services. At a push the journey by road from Mongalla to Nairobi can be made in four days. There was general agreement that this great north and south road should be reconstructed and improved south from Nairobi through Tanganyika to Livingstone in Rhodesia.

The only existing all-weather road in the Sudan is one from Rejaf to Aba in the Belgian Congo, about 130 miles. Traffic flows along this road from the rich territories in the north-east Belgian Congo to Rejaf and thence down the Nile to Europe. The river boat on which I travelled was carrying gold mined at Moto and Kilo. This road transport is in the hands of an enterprising company known as Société du Haut Uélé et du Nil. I inspected their large fleet of Lancia lorries. An all-weather road into Abyssinia was spoken of as highly desirable.

Transport in the Sudan is mainly by river or rail. The railways belong to the Government. So do the steamboats. From Rejaf it is 1,000 miles to Khartoum by boat. The journey takes 10 days. There is one boat weekly in the season (about four months) and one fortnightly during the remainder of the year. The Government willnot entertain building roads which it can be alleged will compete with their railways. Some of the business interests in Khartoum would like to see a rod from Port Sudan to Khartoum. They would then be able to get their goods much quicker and cheaper than by rail.

Broadly speaking, the territories under British influence in Africa have during the 20th century developed railways and neglected roads. All the British Administrations (including the Governments in Pretoria and Cairo) are concerned to protect their railway asset against road competition. Railway engineers have been sought and liberally rewarded. The road engineer has not had a look in. The Latin countries are following a different policy. The French, Belgian, and Portuguese employ competent road engineers to build good all-weather roads. They also maintain in an indirect form the compulsory service system which prevailed under native chiefs before the advent of the European. Public works and notably all-weather roads are constructed and maintained at a comparatively small cost. Incidentally, aviation, which demands roads and a good ground organization, is developing much more rapidly in Latin than in British Africa.

There enters into the problem of transport the question of forced labour and the attitude of the white man to the native, which involves many complex issues. Engoush has been said to show that the transport problems of the Governments holding sway in those parts of Africa usually coloured red on the map require reconsideration in the light of Imperial as well as African interests.

25/21 finished, other material possibly worth transcribing—including the memo a female SA friend wrote to RJ regarding the frequency of gates across rural main roads (often 1 to the mile).


Not much in this file—mostly correspondence and one memorandum (ca 4 pp) dealing with the general subject of Registration Books, an ancestor to the modern V1 form. RJ originally proposed this idea but later asked to have it done away with because of the risk that it could become a de facto title, the administrative delays associated with getting a registration book returned from the licensing authorities (a big problem for the motor trade), and fears that it would not, in fact, prevent a traffic in stolen cars. Correspondence dates from late 1920/early 1921 but issues still very much alive today, cf. reformed V1 in 1999.


This file deals with general issues of taxation and registration for vehicles. Not strictly thesis-relevant, can be gone through at a later date.


This is simply a copy of the Ministry of Transport’s circular letter on “Standardisation of Road Direction Posts and Warning Signs,” dated 28/2/1921, denominated Form No. 39 (Roads) and making reference to an earlier circular letter from the LGB (SR&O, 1904, no. 315) dated 10/3/1904 which “gave details as to the size, shape, and colour of certain symbols for road signs, which had been jointly recommended for adoption by the County Councils Association and the Association of Municipal Corporations.” Ought to look up this Circular Letter—not sure if it specifies fonts or an alphabet (this copy of the Circular Letter does not, but it may be incomplete, as I suspect the Bod’s copy does include letter drawings).


This very thick file is largely concerned (judging from a study of papers in the top third—haven’t had time to go through the rest) with the particularities of changes, made circa 1920, to the regulations governing the British equivalent of “dealer plates.” Apparently rules had been modified so as not to allow transport of a new car to its owner on dealer plates once payment had been received, and other inconvenient restrictions had been imposed. There is evidence of a split between RJ and Maybury, partly as a result of what Maybury perceived as double-dealing by RJ’s MLC friend Hacking in his involvement in prosecutions over illegal use of dealer plates (“GIM plates,” apparently, though “GIM” not spelled out that I can see).

Much of this not strictly thesis-relevant.