National Archives 2012-02-14

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Arrived at National Archives about 12.35 PM (had fairly late start from Oxford).

MT 45/17

This file deals with appointment of Chief Engineer, DREs, Assistant Director, etc. but so far as I can tell, concerns DREs only. A prime concern is whether DREs are supposed to be enrolled as "establishment" staff, i.e. with entitlement to a civil service pension, even though the most experienced and qualified engineers (to be chosen from among the county and county borough surveyors) are aged over 50. The qualifications and ages of likely candidates for DRE appointments are discussed. This file is probably of greatest interest for biographical details of some future Chief Engineers, including AJ Lyddon (apparently aged 38 at the time these issues were being considered).

Probably does not need to be photographed.

MT 39/502

Fairly important post-war planning file, with not a lot of overlap with MT 39/556. Deals with road transport issues--a lot of the correspondence appears to date from around 1941, when the issue of whether to build motorways was being framed as part of the larger issue whether to develop the road system primarily as a mechanism for reducing transport costs or as a supplement to the railways. Photographable in entirety. About a third photographed before camera ran out of juice. That is all the photography that will be possible on this visit.

RAIL 418/104

This is a bound collection of LMS board papers. About 25 in all are included. Of perhaps the greatest interest (from standpoint of road-rail competition) are papers 3 (dealing with LMS board's response to Royal Commission on Transport final report) and 7 (dealing with LMS' road transport interests). Paper 21 supplements paper 7. There is a fascinating but not strictly relevant paper (14) dealing with a visit to the Italian state railways to investigate electrification progress and issues.

RAIL 418/105

This is a bound collection of LMS board papers, including a number which are very valuable for assessing road/rail competition. Paper 1 deals with LMS road transport holdings but has two appendices, one dealing with passenger transport, and the other dealing with merchandise transport, which tackle the road/rail issue directly. First appendix (passenger transport) deals with success and otherwise of LMS' objections to bus services, including a situation in which restriction of bus transport in the road corridors competing with an electrified line in the vicinity of Manchester resulted in month-on-month revenue decrease being turned into month-on-month revenue increase. Second appendix (goods transport) is a careful analysis of how the road hauliers' operating costs and equipment changes translate into operating radii which grow steadily for various types of goods. It also examines working conditions in the road transport industry as well as the nature and effect of "combative measures" by the railways. Paper 3 includes a memorandum by the railway industry to the Minister of Transport on the issue of road/rail competition. Paper 9 supplements previous reports of LMS' road transport interests. There are a further two appendices dealing with road passenger and road goods transport. Solid gold: paper 13 is the Salter conference report plus a cover note!

MT 95/135

File description: "Design and lay-out of roads. Road standards (widths, etc.). Memorandum 653 (including amendments and additions to memoranda 575 and 577). Technical meetings of Headquarters, DRE, PRI, and County SUrveyors' Society." Covering dates 1949-1961. This file more or less does what it says on the tin, except that "widths" here appears to mean lane count rather than unit lane width. There is discussion here of traffic forecasts, which standards of traffic count per lane to adopt for design, etc. The file is photographable but thick and has a plans envelope (not examined) as well as difficult-to-negotiate tags.

MT 95/133

This file deals with miscellaneous issues of road and junction design (including treatment of cycle tracks), and includes what appears to be a typescript draft of Memorandum 575. There is an extended sequence of correspondence dealing with design speed, relation of curvature to superelevation, etc. which includes some letters from outside which appear to be trying to sell allegedly simplified curve calculation methods. There is also a paper from 1968, apparently out of date range for the rest of this file, which calls itself a "manual" but is a typescript document explaining traffic forecasting and estimation--multipliers to apply to various types of traffic estimate to get values which can be accepted for design, the importance of "August" figures, etc. This file is photographable but cannot reasonably be considered high priority. It is being returned, as is MT 95/135.

T 228/219

This Treasury file with covering dates in the late 1940's/early 1950's deals primarily with Treasury involvement with the Motorways Bill (which eventually became the Special Roads Act 1949), including grant of authorization to Parliamentary Counsel for drafting. Sir Bernard Gilbert coordinated this. There are papers addressing proposals for using drops in railway revenue as excuses for delaying motorways, against which Alfred Barnes (then Minister of Transport) directed a rather eloquent memorandum (marked as a Cabinet paper) which is in this file. Original departmental file code is TI 40/137/03 and it is related to TI 40/137/01 ("Postwar Highway Policy: Motorways") and TI 40/160/01 (probably T 228/424 now). This file is photographable.

T 228/397

The main burden of this file is the Ministry's response to an economy drive staged by the Treasury in 1949-50. There is a memorandum in the front of the file (cited by Scott) which indicates that the Ministry was forced, reluctantly, by the Chancellor to acquiesce in funding maintenance at 70% of prewar levels. The file, however, is preoccupied with issues of short-term budgeting which have little value in and of themselves except as an indication of what activities the Ministry was then involved in. Predictably, the Treasury civil servants propose areas where expenditure can be cut, and the Ministry attempts to rebut these one by one, in many cases by pointing out that the spending is mandated by legislation and cannot be suspended unless the relevant legislation is revoked. There is mention of an Investment Programmes Committee somewhere in the government (maybe the Treasury or Cabinet?) which was apparently responsible for coordinating capital investment across different government departments. Treasury file reference for this file is TI 414/128/05; a related file TI 40/05 ("Roads investment programme") is cited on the inside of the jacket. This file is a low priority for photographing.

T 228/497

Not very long file dealing with Ministry of Transport proposals to accelerate the road programme in the late 1950's, including the proviso that the year-to-year spending peak would rise from the initially planned £41 million to £64 million. A letter from Harold Watkinson to Harold Macmillan describes the political motivation for this proposal, and there is material on the Ministry's master-planning effort of the late 1950's (dealt with elsewhere in Ministry master-planning files, q.v.). This file is worth photographing.

MT 95/161

Worth photographing. This is a motorways design and construction file, whose main burden is proposals to send two separate circulars to DREs and consulting engineers in 1952 and 1953 to summarize motorway design standards. It covers a number of issues connected with motorway design, including the "flowing line" philosophy, inclusion of Post Office infrastructure within the motorway reservation, transitions and superelevation, with of the central reservation, other features of the typical cross-section, etc. A series of minutes toward the end explain the origin of flush hard shoulders as well as the failed experiment with stabilized vegetated hard shoulders. Apparently flush hard shoulders were introduced in order to encourage full utilization of the traveled way, which the engineers believed was discouraged in the case of all-purpose trunk roads with the traditional edge treatment of kerbs or turf wedges.

MT 95/262

This file deals with the Highways Engineering Model Room. It is worth photographing, but only in part. There are two lists of models which the Ministry had available for display. The final minute in the file is a proposal that certain of the models be disposed of because they were obsolete. The file does not include photographs or drawings of the models themselves. A fair amount of the total content is correspondence about a 'conversazione' [sic] to be held at the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1958 at which the display of some of these models was requested. Other correspondence deals with requests for model display from other organizations. (Photos and drawings of the models appear to be filed elsewhere, notably in the MT 39 files dealing with motorways.)

MT 95/160

This is a "motorways costs" file and appears to incorporate material from several distinct policy discussions, all of which had to do in some way with motorway costs. A fair amount of correspondence at the front of the file deals with a "butter spreading" (so-called!) approach to stage construction and the possible economies that might be realized from it. This conversation occurred in 1966, at a time when all new motorways were being planned with D3M cross-sections because this was judged necessary to accommodate the minimum 33,000 VPD they would all be carrying by 1976. Other material (also from 1966), much of it in connection with the Lofthouse Working Party (whose formal name, I think, was Working Party of the Economic Development Committee for the Civil Engineering Industry on Costs and Productivity in Road Construction), addresses the possibility of making savings by reducing or deleting certain cross-sectional elements. The Ministry opined that provision in Britain was already in line with continental and US practice and that any reductions would have adverse effect. A lengthy and informative paper to the EDC addresses the Ministry's attempt to build a construction cost index. The Ministry claims there are no good productivity measures in the UK road construction sector. An appendix shows UK construction costs broadly in line with German and US costs on a per-mile basis in rural areas, though UK roads have more frequent junctions and higher headroom at bridges. UK motorways are more expensive per mile in urban areas. The outlier in Europe (rural motorways only) appears to be Italy, which builds narrow, thin, and therefore cheap. A memorandum to the Prime Minister (1965) also deals with road construction costs and has information on previous investigations into road prices--"contractors' investigation," "accountants' investigation" (in relation to contracts alleged to be unprofitable), possibilities of collusion and price rings, etc. The Ministry opines that there is no fallow capacity in the road construction industry at that time. Apparently the Prime Minister was moved to post a question on this issue in December 1964 by "rising cost of the road programme." An interesting minute (doc. 24, May 1963) gives the motivation for the preceding ream focusing on unit costs and price indexation: a rather large increase in unit prices of about 40% between 1960 and 1962. More than half of the increase amount (26%, taking 1960 prices as base) was attributed to "tighter specification," which partly explains the Ministry's determination not to pare down standards. This is a fascinating file, but is large, with a strong need to identify and sort out duplicative drafts. Since it is primarily concerned with the "micro" financial aspect of the highway program, it is not a prime candidate for photographing.

MT 95/482

File title: "Design and layout of roads. Motor road design." This file can be rejected out of hand. With the exception of some correspondence about the possibility of setting up scenic viewpoints, e.g. on the M50 Ross spur, the bulk of this file is concerned with a scheme advanced by a Cypriot Greek (identifying himself as Odysseus Tsangarides, "British subject" or even "British subject: Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies") to get around difficulties with urban motorway construction by using two-level tunnels of large bore diameter (dismissive pencilled note on the cross-sectional drawing for this tunnel type in the plan folder: "No shields this large"), apparently running through buildings and so on (an early precursor to Matthews' schemes but without the deep boring). The file includes his British and Swiss patent applications for this idea, the British one being quite detailed (even down to special treatment for historical monuments) and running to more than 20 pages.

MT 95/494

File has the rather grand-sounding title of "Motorways. General network. Post-war development plan," but covering dates are actually late fifties/early sixties. It contains papers arising out of the late-fifties master-planning effort, which we can now reasonably suspect was instigated by Watkinson. It includes the full Engineering Appreciation for the Trunk Road No. 3 (London-Great Yarmouth Road) Master Plan, a typescript document of more than 10 pages. A similar document is included for Trunk Road No. 33 (London-Tilbury). There are also tables indicating progress on motorway development at various dates, including lists of contract lengths sorted by status (in design, under construction, completed, etc.). Final part of the file concerns a 1:625,000 map by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (in draft) showing major infrastructure built postwar. This file does not need to be photographed, except possibly for the map and one of the trunk road appreciations as a sample.

MT 95/284

This is a very thick file consisting primarily of correspondence and secondarily of drafts. File title is "Design and layout of roads: Committees: Technical committee on traffic engineering." This committee, with apparent joint representation from the Ministry and outside organizations, ultimately decided on the preparation of a traffic engineering memorandum, or a memorandum on traffic engineering techniques (the title evolved), with primary emphasis on urban areas. It is unclear whether this memorandum was in fact published. A quick overview shows numerous notes and minutes on relatively minor points of contention, such as clear sight distance on a motorway with a 60 MPH design speed, the proclivity or otherwise of drivers to choose the shortest route (as tested by RRL research at Oxford), etc. There is a plans folder, but none of the contents is of the slightest interest, so it can safely be ignored.

RAIL 418/103

This is another bound volume of LMS board papers. First interesting paper is no. 17, dealing with railways' response to evidence submitted by two chamber-of-commerce organizations to the Royal Commission on Transport. Paper no. 25 deals with LMS efforts toward rail/road coordination. Paper no. 29 deals with containerization development (but is more in the nature of a periodic report rather than a full retrospective). By far the longest paper, no. 29, is a retrospective of an observation visit to Canada and the USA, taking in Pennsylvania Station among other places.

RAIL 418/102

Paper no. 2: details of through services the LMS provided by road for merchandise transport, using powers newly acquired in 1928, through the Railways (Road Transport) Act. Paper no. 5 is a survey of the road/rail competition problem, including the possible impact of containers (being trialled by LMS at this point). Road motor transport undertaking reports are not usually described in detail in these notes, but paper no. 17, dealing with Pickford and Company, is of interest (Pickford being one of the largest road hauliers). Paper no. 20 is a major update of the situation with regard to road competition.