Some cool rolling papers free shipping images:
Dramway to Railway
Image by brizzle born and bred
As Our first local ‘railway’, the historic Dramway certainly deserves room in the history books. Its construction straddled that period between horse-drawn transport, such as carts and canal barges, and the newly invented steam engine.
Although there is no recognised origin of the word ‘dramway’, it is used locally to describe a narrow railway connected with, and used by the coal industry. Whilst not identified as such in a dictionary, the word ’dram’ appears to be a South Gloucestershire colloquialism or sobriquet for the coal carrying truck, but may just be the local mispronunciation of the word ‘tram’, which is used to describe the same type of vehicle in other parts of the Country. Locally, the dramway was constructed to convey coal from the coalfields at Coalpit Heath to the River Avon at Keynsham, having on its route connected up with other mines at Westerleigh, Mangotsfield, Syston, North Common and Oldland Common.
Problems with coal transportation
In this day and age of modern roads, it is perhaps surprising that Mine Owners should have contemplated, not only the need, but were also prepared to meet the cost of , constructing such a railed track over so many miles, just to get their coal as far as the river, and for it then to have to be transferred to barges, before the coal could arrive in the market place of either Bristol or Bath.
However, the state of the roads at the end of the eighteenth century, and into the beginning of the nineteenth century, was so bad that the mine owners had little choice. The owners were, after all, business men with a constant eye for profit, and it was soon realised that the construction of such a circuitous route would not only ease the carriage of coal, it would also lower the cost of transportation.
from the coalfields to the customer
As the nineteenth century developed, the demand for coal grew at an ever increasing rate, and many ideas were put forward to bring the product from the coalfields to the customer more quickly and, importantly, at less cost. In 1803, a proposal was put forward by the Wilts & Berks Canal Co. to build a railroad from Pucklechurch and Coalpit Heath to the Avon near Keynsham. Although this proposal was supported by the Kennet & Avon Canal Company, nothing seems to have come from it. Some 9 years later, a John Blackwell surveyed a route from Coalpit Heath to the River Avon, but was unable to recommend that a railway line should be built, on the grounds that the proposed route was too hilly, and it would mean that the line would have to be very crooked.
A further 15 years were to pass before the matter of getting the coal to the river was resurrected, and with the increasing need to bring the coal to the customer, there was perhaps a greater urgency to get things done. After a number of frustrating delays, an Act of Parliament to build the line received the Royal assent on the 19th June 1828.
From Coalpit Heath to River Avon
As Coalpit Heath is some 400ft. above the level of the River Avon at Keynsham, the railroad was carefully graded so that full trucks could "free-wheel" from the mine to either Londonderry Wharf at Willsbridge, for onward shipment to Bristol or, to Town Wharf for onward shipment to Bath and onto London.
The practice of the day was to collect a number of trucks together to form a train which would travel at around a walking pace. (ie 3-4 miles per hour) Each truck was about 9ft.long, and built on a railway standard gauge wheel base of 4’8" wide. It could carry 4 tons of coal in its wooden body which had sloping ends for ease of tipping, and ran on four – 30" diameter iron flanged wheels. The only motive power ever used on the line was that provided by the horse who pulled the trucks whilst walking between the rails, with the driver walking beside the wagons in order to operate the brake.
For the journey to the river, the hardest job for both man and horse was to prevent the wagons from over-running the downward gradient. On at least one occasion, a driver failed to apply the spragg (ie the long handle), to the brake lever on the wagon quickly enough, which caused the loaded vehicles to gather speed, pushing the horse in front of them. Before the driver was able to recover the position, the speed and force of the train was such that the poor unfortunate horse was tripped to the ground and killed as the wagons crashed into it. Almost certainly other instances of a similar nature took place but, this would appear to be the only time that the horse was killed whilst still on the track.
More often than not, the horse carried out its work unattended, although, with the majority of the route consisting of a single track, there must have been some form of control/signalling, so that the down loaded wagons could pass with safety, the up empties.
Each mine would have its own trucks, which under the conditions of the Act, had to have the mine owners name shown in 2" high letters on each side. In addition, the trucks had to display its relevant wagon number, and its weight. Almost certainly, a group of trucks from the same mine would, as they had left the mine together, stay together whilst traversing the dramway, but nevertheless it would have been an important part of the working day to ensure that each empty truck was correctly returned to the right mine.
Avon & Gloucestershire Railway
Although starting at Coalpit Heath, the dramway entered the north eastern boundary of the parish near Shortwood, passing the site of the first Mangotsfield Railway Station, where it officially became known as "the Avon & Gloucestershire Railway", branching off the main route (The Bristol & Gloucestershire Railway), which ran on through to Bristol, terminating at Cuckold’s Pill (now known as Avon Street Wharf), on the Floating Harbour.
Once beyond the Mangotsfield station, the dramway entered a narrow brick-lined tunnel under the road embankment, curving off to the right on its way to the Clay Pit and Syston Hill Colliery. During the construction, in 1869, of the Midland Railways’ branch line to Bath, the dramway was diverted into the railway cutting so as to avoid crossing the main line twice on the level. As the original curve of the dramway turned right, it passed a building originally used as a horse gin and, just beyond, the route was joined by the branch line from the lower Soundwell Pit.
This pit, which was situated at or near the junction of Chiphouse Road and Station Road, joined the main trackway by means of a small incline (still clearly visible today). The incline is therefore one of the very few stretches of track on the whole dramway system which would have required the loaded trucks to have been hauled uphill.
Having passed the old pump house, the dramway continued over the common on a sizeable embankment before being joined by a small spur from Syston Hill Colliery. Once past this colliery, the track crossed the road by means of a small bridge, (unfortunately no longer in existence) as the road level has been brought up to meet the trackbed. Continuing across the common, the track then ran under the bridge carrying Norman Road, passing on the left a brick and tile works which was later to have a short spur connecting it with the system. Beyond this point, the next obstacle met by the dramway was the London Road at Warmley which it crossed on the level, just down from the level·crossing to be built by the Midland Railway Company. In this section, the dramway was connected with Crown Pit Colliery, one of the largest mines in the area.
Continuing south, the dramway ran through a cutting, and passed under a bridge near St. Barnabas Church, before entering an old sandstone quarry and on to yet another embankment. Passing under Poplar Road and Victoria Road, the track continued across North Common, meeting the High Street, Oldland Common almost opposite Weston Court. Crossing the turnpike the track entered a brick lined tunnel, beneath a house, and then went through part of Redfield Farm, where there was a branch which curved back, under High Street and over the Midland Railway, on a stone bridge, for a quarter of a mile to Bull Hall Colliery. There was also to be built at this point, a small spur to connect Hole (sometime referred to as Haul Lane Pit). Almost certainly the track bed at this point was well below the natural ground-level, as upon leaving the farm area, it passed under Redfield Hill, along the backs of the houses facing the High Street, (probably in a cutting)passing the bottom of Castle Road to a short tunnel which took the dramway under Barry Road. It then continued, in a cutting just south of School Lane, which was becoming progressively deeper, before bearing left to enter a 73 yard long tunnel to take it under the Midland Railway line and Cherry Gardens Lane. It is said that most of this tunnel was bored out of solid rock which meant that the rails could be pinned straight onto the rock floor, without the need for using the customary stone sleepers. Having passed through the relatively short rock cutting found immediately south of this tunnel, the track emerged on a high embankment overlooking a steeply sided, picturesque valley some 30-40 feet above the meandering stream.
Sweeping around to the right, the dramway was in later years to meet at this point the track from California Pit, to become known as Tramway Junction. To get the coal from the California Pit by rail, meant that there would have to be built an incline to bring the colliery wagons down to meet the lower dramway, as well as bridging the Warmley Brook. Having done so, the engineers then had to ensure that any rogue trucks in the system which might run away down the incline, would cause the least amount of damage possible. Accordingly, the track was laid so that having descended the incline, the rails turned to the left, running along side the dramway for a short length, before using a trailing point to connect with the "main line". By taking this course of action, any run away wagon from the incline would, (provided it remained on the track) be made to run uphill and thus slow it’s speed to a stop, rather than turn straight into the descent, and cause all sorts of havoc in either the tunnel or over the un-manned level crossing or, at Willsbridge wharf.
Having passed what was to become, some 50 years later, Tramway Junction, the line curved left, and entered yet another stone-line cutting, although this one was at around 50ft. deeper than the others. Through this cutting, the track was then swallowed up by one of the most difficult engineering projects on the whole line, the 150 yard Willsbridge Tunnel. Beyond the tunnel, the track ran through a grass-lined cutting, complete with a passing loop, before crossing the Bath Road at an unguarded level crossing. South of the crossing, the track divided into wagon sidings for use as storage and, for the purpose of collating of owners wagons, and was fully equipped with its own weighbridge. The main track continued passed this storage area, and just before reaching the lane which led down to Clack Mill Farm, the track entered a further small tunnel (just 65ft long) to take it under the Keynsham Road and on across the fields in a cutting to Back or Avon Wharf.
Towards the end of 1830, and after a number of inspection trips had taken place, the Committee was told at its November meeting, that the Willsbridge tunnel had a mistake in its level which would involve the need to deepen it, and that two bridges had not been built to plan. It was also highly recommended at that meeting that, for safety reasons, and also to minimise future maintenance costs, that a maximum speed limit of 6 mph, should be laid down, and rigorously enforced, with offenders liable to instant dismissal.
1830, the first train of 6 loaded wagons left Hole Lane Colliery
By December, the Committee were informed that rails were shortly to be laid at the Backs (Avon Wharf`), whilst the crane to be used there was already in situ. Work proceeded so well that on the 30 December 1830, the first train of 6 loaded wagons left Hole Lane Colliery and travelled through to Avon Wharf, despite the fact that Hole Lane did not have, at that time, a rail connection with the dramway, and thus to make the journey, the loaded wagons had first to be dragged across the road, and then rolled on to the lines.
By the middle of January 1831, the dramway was usable for more than 12 miles from the river, and although Hole Lane stopped sending down any coal for the time being, Syston Hill Pit was properly connected, and able to send coal through. Thus, for the first time ever, coal from that pit, inquantity, was able to reach the river in less than an hour from leaving the pit-head.
The winter of 1831 was quite severe, with heavy rain and deep frosts causing the newly formed cuttings, and embankments to move and slide. Work however continued on the northern section, and repairs were carried out to the damage caused by winter weather so that by the first week of May 1831, Hole Lane was able to send through 60 tons of coal in 15 wagons, despite the problems of the previous weeks when, damage had been caused to a number of its wagons, after vandals had released the trucks and sent them rolling down the dramway.
The cold wet winter was followed by a hot dry summer, which, when combined with the pounding of the loaded wagons, brought just the right recipe for further, and more alarming settlement of the earthworks. Concern was expressed about the movement of the embankment at Warmley and stout timbers had to be used to restrict further movement. However, the Oldland embankment overlooking the Southwood Valley was found to be so unsafe, that it was necessary to build a massive stone retaining wall to keep the earthworks in position.
maintaining the dramway
Throughout 1831 work continued, to improve and maintain the dramway, including, at the cost of £80.37 for materials, the construction of the branch line to Hole Lane. When completed, that colliery was able to fully use the line, and loaded wagons were dispatched to the wharfs on at least 5 days per week. By November 1832, the line was fully operational, and around 3,000 tons of coal per month in around 750 wagon trips, was being shipped out of just Avon Wharf. This involved considerable logistic problems in ensuring that the empty wagons did not foul the running line and cause delay in the loaded wagons arriving at the wharf whilst, at the same time, ensuring that the empty trucks were at the correct pit-head ready to receive the coal, as and when required. Such was the effect of the dramway in easing the transportation of coal to the market place, that the price fell by 3/- to 4/- (l5p—20p) per ton.
new branch-line added
Partly to ease the traffic, and partly to avoid the cost of using the Keynsham lock, it was decided to construct a branch to a new wharf, to be built on the river at Londonderry Farm and locally known as Jacky Whites. Work on the branch started in December 1832, and the wharf became operational in October 1833, with two berths, one for large and one for small coal.
The amount of coal shipped out over the dramway had probably reached its peak by March 1836, but a substantial decline started later that year, and continued over the next, 14 years, so that by 1850, only around 204 tons of coal per week were being taken over the route. A year later, the owners of the Avon & Gloucestershire Railway – The Kennet & Avon Canal Company, were taken over by the Great Western Railway, but by then there was very little traffic using the line, particularly from the northern section, with pits having been worked out, flooded, or abandoned. By 1865, the GWR had obtained powers under the GWR (Additional Powers) Act to abandon the whole or part of the dramway, and during January 1867 Hole Lane Pit sent through the last revenue earning load of coal to the river.
For the next 10 years or more, the dramway remained unused
For the next 10 years or more, the dramway remained unused, whilst nature continued to reclaim that which was hers. However, with the re-opening in 1876 of California Colliery, plans were made to lay a connecting branch with the dramway in order that coal could be taken out in bulk. To do so would involve the need to construct an incline, and the building of a bridge across the Warmley Brook. Eventually in 1881, the line from Oldland was repaired, and coal was taken to Londonderry Wharf.
By then a wharf had been built at Willsbridge for coal to be taken away by road, whilst the sidings had been considerably enlarged. During 1892 it was recorded that over 100 tons of coal was being shipped out through the three wharfs per day.
As was the pattern of the local coalfields, success was not to last, and within 14 years the California Coal Company was in financial difficulties. The amount of coal dispatched over the dramway in October 1903, had fallen to 1,164 tons, or less than 40 tons per day, and it was becoming less and less economical to send coal out in this way, especially as the maintenance of the infrastructure was increasing all of the time. Matters came to a sudden and dramatic end in March 1904. when a considerable amount of water burst in from old workings and, totally closed down the production of coal. According to an entry in the wharfage book, the last load of coal to-be sent through to Willsbridge wharf, occurred on the 30 January 1904, when 66 tons left the pit-head.
Whilst it is possible that coal was sent through to the river wharfage during February, there is a suspicion that, due to the financial difficulties being experienced by the owners, the production of coal, and the maintenance of the coal face, was neglected during February, and that very few, if any, miners worked underground after the last week of January 1904.
all traffic on the Avon Tramway has now ceased
On the 9 July 1906, the Traffic Committee of the Great Western Railway, were informed by it’s General Manager that, "all traffic on the Avon Tramway has now ceased" Thus for the second time in its relatively short existence, the line lay abandoned, whilst nature again tried to reclaim that which was hers.
Although the track in the colliery yard and along to the incline was sold as an asset of the California Coal Company, the bulk of the track on the dramway remained until it was removed as salvage during the First World War. However, some of the rails ended up locally as fence rails and some can still be seen at Londonderry Farm.
Midland Railway Company
In 1845 the Midland Railway Company took over the broad gauged Bristol & Gloucester Railway, and in May of the following year gave notice that it intended applying to Parliament for an Act to enable a line to be constructed from Mangotsfield to Bath. Had their first proposal not been withdrawn at the time of the second reading, then it is quite probable that Oldland would never have been on the railway map, as the original intention was to build a branch line north of Wick, through Freezing Hill, before descending into Bath via the Swainswick Valley, and onto a terminus to have been built at Bathwick.
Whilst the Act was dead and buried, the idea was not, although it was to lay dormant for a number of years. It was not until 1862 that the idea re-surfaced, when serious consideration was given to the report of a survey which took the new 9 mile long proposed route through to Bridgeyate, Upton Cheyney, Kelston and on into Bath, to terminate at Queens Parade. However, this proposal did not suit everyone, particularly wealthy landowners at Kelston and at Bath. Many influential objections were raised, resulting in the plan being subsequently abandoned in October 1863.
At this time the Midland Railway were even more determined to get to Bath, and a new route was chosen to take the line along the now familiar route through Warmley and Bitton. With less objection, this new plan was presented to Parliament, and on the 21 July 1864 the "Mangotsfield and Bath Act received its Royal Assent. By May 1866, well over 600 men were employed on the construction of the route, which continued for the next three years, the line being officially opened on the 3 August 1867, even though the Bath terminus was at that time not complete and the trains had to stop just short of the river, the eventual terminus being built on just the other side.
During 1874, the Somerset & Dorset Railway Company their extension to Bath thereby connecting with the Midland Railway at their Bath Green Park Station. This meant that instead of the branch being no more than a long spur culminating in a dead-end, trains from the north could now continue on to the south coast and the holiday town of Bournemouth.
Throughout most of its existence, the work of running the branch line was mostly mundane, probably reaching its peak during the the 1930’s and l940’s. A station at Oldland Common was opened in 1935, whilst another station, the one at Kelston was closed in 1949.
Following the infamous Beeching Report the writing was on the wall with regard to the well-being of this line, and in 1953 the Bristol terminus at St. Philips was permanently closed, with trains now starting and finishing at Temple Meads. In the same year the station at Weston (Bath) was closed to passengers. The end came quite quickly, with the closure in 1965, of the goods yards of Warmley, Bitton and Weston plus the closure of the Bitton signal box. Just four passenger trains per day were left to keep the line open, but on the 7 March 1966 these trains succumbed to the pressures of the railway hierarchy, and Warmley, Oldland Common, and Bitton, together-with the other stations on the line, closed completely.
All that remained was a daily service of coal being taken to Bath Gas Works. However, with the introduction of North Sea Gas, the need to produce town gas from coal became unnecessary, and in July 1971, gas production at Bath ceased, and so did the need for the line.
This should have been the end of line and, for most of it, that is precisely what happened.
However, part of the line, and in particular that part which runs through the area covered by the-village and the parish was resurrected. More of this later, but first a general description of the local route.
When built, Warmley station gave the appearance of being a temporary structure with the platform buildings being constructed of wood, although the Station Master’s house was, and still is, a solid stone construction. A goods yard was set out, and contained three roads, plus a large goods shed built of brick and stone. In 1899, a timber foot-bridge was built at the London Road end of the station, which not only enabled passengers to cross the tracks but, also enabled pedestrians to continue with their journey when the level-crossing gates were set for the movement of the trains.
This bridge was eventually replaced by one built of plate girder around 1929. From Warmley, the line descends towards Oldland Common, but the village had to wait until the 2 December 1935 before its name was added to the Railway Gazetteer, with the opening of its own station. Although by all standards, the station was a very poor example of those built on the branch, it was the only one on the line to be connected to the mains electricity, and thus, had the sleeper built platforms and the modest waiting rooms lit by this power. The decision to build a station at Oldland proved popular, and generally the trains picked up more passengers here than at Bitton.
Although parcels could be collected and left at Oldland, the station, being in a cutting, had no sidings and, thus, there were no facilities for goods traffic. With the run-down of the branch, the station was no longer manned after 7 December 1964.
After leaving Oldland station the route continued through a series of cuttings for a mile before reaching Bitton station. Here the main building on the down platform was built of local stone whilst, opposite there stood a shelter also built of local stone. Just north of the station, there was built a four road goods yard, one of which ran through a substantial goods shed, where up to six or so wagons could be unloaded under cover.
The goods yard was well patronised, and handled a variety of materials ranging from chemicals to locally dug moulding sand (from a quarry in Ryedown Lane), raw and finished materials re the Bitton Paper Mill plus, sheet steel, coal, machinery and farm implements and, animal hides. Within the yard there existed a fixed crane with a lifting capacity of 4 tons. Flowers, fruit and vegetables from nearby garden nurseries were dispatched by passenger train, with some of these products going as far afield as Scotland. To deal with this traffic, there was, at the turn of the century, a station master plus, 4 porters; 2 clerks and, 2 signalmen, employed at Bitton station.
The End from rail to road
As already stated, having built up the traffic and importance of this line by the 1930/40’s, there then occurred a decline in the use of railways, with both passengers and goods being switched to the roads. This manifested itself when the line was closed to passengers in 1966 and, to goods in 1971. By then the branch line had, during 1969, been reduced to single track working and was basically treated by the railway authorities as being nothing more than a long siding which stretched all of the way from Yate to Bath.
1958 Edsel: Lousy Car But Great Planter.
Image by bill barber
Here’s a link to how this same Edsel looked in 1959. I took this picture with my Brownie Hawkeye when I was thirteen.
A bit busy today and tomorrow, but will try to visit everyone’s stream. Thanks for your patience
When my stepfather first met my mother in 1959, he was driving a brand new 1958 Ford Edsel. At that time it was touted as being far ahead of its time. The big feature was the ability of the driver to shift gears by pushing buttons on a touch pad in the centre of the steering wheel.
After a few years the Edsel was abandoned. It had become an embarrassment to Ford. The button shift did not live up to its potential, and was notorious for losing its timing. It sometimes took up to five seconds from the time you pushed a button until the time the transmission shifted, usually with a jolting ‘thunk’. Further, the Edsel was an overly heavy car, even in an age of heavy cars.
I did drive it a fair bit over a ten year period, and it could be scary at times.
Over the years I wondered what happened to it. I couldn’t remember it being traded in. Then, several years ago, I spotted it in the farm yard at my brother, Steve’s, place. it was pretty badly smacked up, and had been used for .22 practice. I always meant to photograph it, but didn’t get a chance until yesterday. It had been towed about fifty feet from where I originally saw it, and the tow had not been kind.
From my set entitled “Steve and Marg’s Farm”
In my collection entitled “Places”
In my photostream
The Story of the Edsel
(taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The Edsel was a marquee division of Ford Motor Company during the 1958, 1959 and 1960 model years.
In the early 1950s, the Ford Motor Co. became a publicly traded corporation that was no longer entirely owned by members of the Ford family. They were then able to sell cars according to then-current market trends following the sellers’ market of the postwar years. The new management compared the roster of Ford makes with that of General Motors, and noted that Lincoln competed not with Cadillac, but with Oldsmobile. Since Ford had an excess of money on hand from the success of the Ford Thunderbird the plan was developed to move Lincoln upmarket with the Continental at the top, and to add another make to the intermediate slot vacated by Lincoln. Research and development had begun in 1955 under the name "E-car," which stood for "Experimental car." This represented a new division of the firm alongside that of Ford itself and the Lincoln-Mercury division, whose cars at the time shared the same body.
The Edsel was introduced amidst considerable publicity on "E Day"—September 4, 1957. It was promoted by a top-rated television special, The Edsel Show on October 13, but it was not enough to counter the adverse public reaction to the car’s styling and conventional build. For months Ford had been circulating rumours that led consumers to expect an entirely new kind of car when in reality the Edsel shared its bodywork with other Ford models.
The Edsel was to be sold through a new Ford division. It existed from November 1956 until January 1958, after which Edsels were made by the Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln division (referred to as M-E-L). Edsel was sold through a new network of 1,500 dealers. This briefly brought total dealers of all Ford products to 10,000. Ford saw this as a way to come closer to parity with the other two companies of the Big Three: Chrysler had 10,000 dealers and General Motors had 16,000. As soon as it became apparent that the Edsels were not selling, many of these dealers added Lincoln-Mercury, English Ford and/or Taunus dealerships to their lines with the encouragement of Ford Motor Company. Some dealers, however, closed.
For the 1958 model year, Edsel produced four models, including the larger Mercury-based Citation and Corsair, and the smaller Ford-based Pacer and Ranger. The Citation came in two-door and four-door hardtops and two-door convertible versions. The Corsair came in two-door and four-door hardtop versions. The Pacer came in two-door and four-door hardtops, four-door sedan, and two-door convertible. The Ranger came in two-door and four-door hardtop or sedan versions. The four-door Bermuda and Villager wagons and the two-door Roundup wagon were based on the 116" wheelbase Ford station wagon platform and shared the trim and features of the Ranger and Pacer models. It included several innovative features, among which were its "rolling dome" speedometer and its Teletouch transmission shifting system in the center of the steering wheel. Other design innovations included an ergonomically designed controls for the driver, and self-adjusting brakes (often claimed as a first for the industry, although Studebaker had pioneered them earlier in the decade).
In the first year, 63,110 Edsels were sold in the U.S. with another 4,935 sold in Canada. Though below expectations, it was still the second largest car launch for any brand to date, second only to the Plymouth introduction in 1928.
For the 1959 model year, there were only two Edsels: the Ranger and the Corsair. The two larger cars were not produced. The new Corsair came in two-door and four-door hardtops, four-door sedan, and two-door convertible. The Ranger came in two-door and four-door hardtops, two-door and four-door sedans, and the Villager station wagon. In the 1959 model year, 44,891 cars were sold in the U.S., with an additional 2,505 sales in Canada.
For the 1960 model year, Edsel’s last, only the Ranger and Villager were produced. The 1960 Edsel, in its final model year, emerged as a Ford. Its grill, hood, and four taillights, along with its side sweep spears, were the only real differences separating the Edsel from the Ford.
Ford announced the end of the Edsel program on Thursday, November 19, 1959. However, cars continued being produced until late in November, with the final tally at 2,846 1960 models. Total sales were approximately 84,000, less than half McNamara’s projected break-even point. The company lost 0 million on the venture .
On Friday, November 20, United Press International’s (UPI) wire service reported that book values for used Edsels had decreased by as much as 0 [approximately 00 in 2006 dollars] (based on condition and age) immediately following the Ford press release. In some newspaper markets, dealers scrambled to renegotiate newspaper advertising contracts involving the 1960 Edsel models, while others dropped the name from their dealership’s advertising "slugs." Ford issued a statement that it would distribute coupons to consumers who purchased 1960 models (and carryover 1959 models) prior to the announcement, valued at 0 to 0 towards the purchase of new Ford products to offset the decreased values. The company also issued credits to dealers for stock unsold or received, following the announcement.
There is no single reason why the Edsel failed, and failed so spectacularly. Popular culture often faults the car’s styling. Consumer Reports cited poor workmanship. Marketing experts hold the Edsel up as a supreme example of corporate America’s failure to understand the nature of the American consumer. Business analysts cite the weak internal support for the product inside Ford’s executive offices. According to author and Edsel scholar Jan Deutsch, the Edsel was "the wrong car at the wrong time."
One popular misconception was that the Edsel was an engineering failure, or a lemon, although it shared the same general reliability of its sister Mercury and Ford models that were built in the same factories. The Edsel is most famous for being a marketing disaster. Indeed, the name Edsel came to be synonymous with commercial failure, and similar ill-fated products have often been colloquially referred to as Edsels. Since it was such a debacle, it provided a case study for marketers on how not to market a product. The main reason the Edsel’s failure is so famous was that it flopped despite Ford’s investment of 0,000,000 in its development.
The prerelease advertising campaign touted the car as having "…more YOU ideas," and the teaser advertisements in magazines only revealed glimpses of the car through a highly blurred lens or wrapped in paper or under tarps. Edsels were shipped to the dealerships undercover and remained wrapped on the dealer lots.
But the public also had a hard time understanding what the Edsel was, mostly because Ford made the mistake of pricing the Edsel within Mercury’s market price segment. Theoretically, the Edsel was conceived to fit into Ford’s marketing plans as the brand slotted in between Ford and Mercury. However, when the car arrived in 1958, its least expensive model—the Ranger—was priced within of the most expensive and best-trimmed Ford sedan and less than Mercury’s base Medalist model. In its midrange pricing, Edsel’s Pacer and Corsair models were more expensive than their Mercury counterparts. Edsel’s top-of-the-line Citation four door hardtop model was the only model priced to correctly compete with Mercury’s mid-range Montclair Turnpike Cruiser model.
Not only was the Edsel competing against its own sister divisions, but model for model, consumers did not understand what the car was supposed to be—a step up or a step below the Mercury.
After its introduction to the public, the Edsel did not live up to its overblown hype, even though it did have many new features, such as self-adjusting rear brakes and automatic lubrication. While consumer focus groups had said these and other features would make the "E" car attractive to them as car buyers, the cost of the cars outstripped what the public was willing to pay. When many potential buyers saw the base price tag, they simply left the dealership, and others were frightened by the price for a fully loaded, top of the line model.
One of the external forces working against the Edsel that Ford had no control over was the onset of the recession in late 1957.
When the Edsel was in its planning stages in the early and mid-1950s, the American economy was robust and growing. However, in the years that spanned the planning to its introduction, an economic recession hit, and American consumers not only shifted their idea of what an ideal car should be; in prior economic downturns, buyers flocked to the lower price marques like Plymouth, Chevrolet, and Ford. But in 1958, even these cars were perceived by some as unnecessarily large, and while the compact Rambler saw itself shoot to the third best selling make, none of the Big Three had anything compact to sell except their European cars built for Vauxhall, Simca, and Opel. The compacts introduced by the Big Three in 1960 were the direct result of the recession of 1958.
Compounding Edsel’s problems was that the car had to appeal to buyers of other well established nameplates from the Big Three, such as Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, DeSoto, and even its internal sister division, Mercury — itself never a stellar sales success.
Even if the 1958 recession hadn’t hit when it did, the Edsel was entering into a shrinking marketplace. While Ernest Breech convinced Ford management that this market segment offered great untapped opportunity in the early 1950s, when the "E" car was in its earliest stages, by 1957, independent manufacturers in the mid-price field were drifting towards insolvency. Hoping to turn around their losses, Packard acquired Studebaker, yet the venerable Packard was no longer produced after 1958. On the other hand, American Motors changed its focus to the compact Rambler models, while their pre-merger brands (Nash and Hudson) were discontinued after the 1957 model year. Even Chrysler saw sales of its DeSoto marque drop dramatically from its 1957 high by over 50% in 1958. Following a disastrous 1959 model year, plans were made in Highland Park to discontinue DeSoto during its 1961 model year run.
Thus, the large, expensive Edsel that was planned to be all things to all people suddenly stood for excess, not progress.
The name of the car, Edsel, is also often cited as a further reason for its unpopularity. Naming the vehicle after Edsel Ford was proposed early in its development. However, the Ford family strongly opposed its use, Henry Ford II stating that he didn’t want his father’s good name spinning around on thousands of hubcaps. Ford also ran internal studies to decide on a name and even dispatched employees to stand outside movie theaters to poll audiences as to what their feelings were on several ideas. They reached no conclusions.
Ford hired the advertising firm Foote, Cone and Belding to come up with a name. However, when the advertising agency issued its report, citing over 6,000 possibilities, Ford’s Ernest Breech commented that they had been hired to develop a name, not 6,000. Early favorites for the name brand included Citation, Corsair, Pacer, and Ranger, which were ultimately chosen for the vehicle’s series names.
David Wallace, Manager of Marketing Research, and coworker Bob Young unofficially invited poet Marianne Moore for input and suggestions. Moore’s unorthodox contributions (among them "Utopian Turtletop," "Pastelogram," and "Mongoose Civique") were meant to stir creative thought and were not officially authorized or contractual in nature. History has greatly exaggerated her relationship to the project.
At the behest of Ernest Breech, who was chairing a meeting in the absence of Henry Ford II, the car was finally called "Edsel" in honor of Edsel Ford, former company president and son of Henry Ford. Marketing surveys later found the name was thought to sound like the name of a tractor (Edson) and therefore was unpopular with the public.
Moreover, several consumer studies showed that people associated the name "Edsel" with "weasel" and "dead cell" (dead battery), drawing further unattractive comparisons.
Perhaps the most important factor in the Edsel’s failure, however, was that when the car was introduced, the U.S. was entering a period of recession. Sales for all car manufacturers, even those not introducing new models, were down; consumers entered a period of preferring less expensive, more fuel-efficient automobiles.
Edsels were fast, but required premium gas and did not have the fuel economy desired during a recession. Mechanics disliked the bigger engine because of its unique design. The cylinder head had no combustion chamber and was perfectly flat, with the head set at an angle and "roof" pistons forming both a squish zone on one side and a combustion chamber on the other, meaning that the combustion took place entirely within the cylinder bore. This design reduced the cost of manufacture and possibly carbon buildup, but appeared strange to mechanics.
There were also reports of mechanical flaws in the models originating in the factory, due to lack of quality control and confusion of parts with other Ford models. Edsels in their first (1958) model year were made in both Mercury and Ford factories; the longer wheelbase models, Citation and Corsair, were produced alongside the Mercury products, and the shorter wheelbase models, Pacer and Ranger, were produced alongside the Ford products. There was never a stand-alone Edsel factory devoted solely to Edsel model production; workers making Fords and Mercurys literally had to change parts bins and tools to assemble extra Edsels once their hourly quota of regular Fords and Mercurys was achieved. As such, the desired quality control of the different Edsel models was difficult to attain for the new make of car. Many Edsels left the line unfinished, with the extra parts having been put into the trunks, with assembly instructions for the mechanics at the dealerships.
The Edsel is best remembered for its trademark "horsecollar" grille, which made it stand out from other cars of the period. A widely circulated wisecrack at the time was that "It looked like an Oldsmobile sucking on a lemon." Men often referred to the horsecollar grille as being akin to a woman’s genitalia. In fact, Robin Jones, a Ford designer at the time, later recalled that someone in the design studio – presumably as a cruel joke – actually taped hair to the inside of the grille area on one of the clay models produced during the design process; the end result, according to Jones, "looked like a hormonally-disturbed cow after giving birth."
Jokes aside, the front of the original Edsel turned out nothing like what was originally intended. Roy Brown, the original chief designer on the project, wanted a slender, almost delicate opening in the center; engineers, fearing engine cooling problems, vetoed the intended design, which led to the "horsecollar." The vertical grille theme, while improved for the 1959 models, was discontinued for the 1960 models, which were almost indistinguishable from Ford models of the same year, although the new front-end design bore no small resemblance to that of the 1959 Pontiac.
Many drivers disliked having the automatic transmission as pushbuttons (above) mounted on the steering wheel hub: this was the traditional location of the horn, and drivers ended up shifting gears instead of honking the horn. While the Edsel was fast, the location of the transmission pushbuttons was not conducive to street racing. There were jokes about stoplight dragsters and the buttons: D for Drag, L for Leap, and R for Race (instead of Drive, Low and Reverse).
There were also complaints about the taillights on 1958-model Edsel station wagons, which were boomerang-shaped and placed in a reverse fashion; at a distance, they appeared as arrows pointed in the opposite direction of the turn being made. While the left turn signal blinked, its arrow shape pointed right, and vice versa. However, there was little that could be done to give the Ford-based station wagons a unique appearance from the rear; corporate management insisted that no sheetmetal could be changed. Only the taillights and trim could be touched.
While the car and Ford’s planning of the car are the most often cited reasons for its failure, internal politics within the executive offices at Ford are as much to blame for the failure of the Edsel. Following World War II, Henry Ford II brought on Robert McNamara as one of the "whiz kids" to help turn Ford around. McNamara’s cost cutting and cost containment skills helped Ford emerge from its near collapse after the war. As such, McNamara eventually assumed a great deal of power at Ford. In many ways, McNamara was very much like Henry Ford: both men were committed to Ford above all other things and had little use for Continental, Lincoln, Mercury, and Edsel brand cars made by the company.
McNamara was against the formation of the separate divisions for Continental, Lincoln, Mercury, and Edsel cars, and moved to consolidate Lincoln, Mercury, and Edsel into the M-E-L division. McNamara saw to it that the Continental program was canceled and that the model was merged into the Lincoln range for 1958. He next set his sights on Edsel by maneuvering for elimination of the dual wheelbases and separate body used in 1958; instead, the Edsel would share the Ford platform and use Ford’s inner body structure for 1959. In 1960, the Edsel emerged as a Ford with different trim. McNamara also moved to reduce Edsel’s advertising budget for 1959, and for 1960, he virtually eliminated it. The final blow came in the fall of 1959, when McNamara convinced Henry Ford II and the management structure that the Edsel was doomed and that it was time to end production before the Edsel bled the company dry. (Note: McNamara also attempted to end the Lincoln nameplate; however, that effort ended with Elwood Engel’s now classic redesign of 1961.) McNamara left Ford when he was named Secretary of Defense by President John F. Kennedy.
During the 1964 presidential election, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater blamed McNamara, then Secretary of Defense, for the Edsel’s failure. Eventually, Ford’s former executive vice president and financial contributor to Goldwater’s campaign Ernest R. Breech wrote the Senator’s campaign explaining that "Mr. McNamara … had nothing to do with the plans for the Edsel car or any part of the program." However, the charge continued to be leveled against McNamara for years. During his time as head of the World Bank he instructed his public affairs officer to distribute copies of Breech’s letter to the press whenever the accusation was made.
The scheduled 1960 Edsel Comet compact car was hastily rebranded the Comet and assigned to Mercury dealerships. The Comet was an instant success, selling more cars in its first year than all models of Edsel produced during its three-year run. Styling touches seen in the Comets sold to the public that allude to being part of the Edsel family of models included the instrument cluster, rear tailfins (though canted diagonally), and the taillight shape (the lens is visually similar to that used on the 1960 Edsel, and even retained the embossed "E" code). The Comet’s keys were even shaped like Edsel keys, with the center bar removed from the "E" to form a "C." For 1962, Ford officially assigned the Comet to the Mercury brand.
As the Edsel was a large commercial failure, the name became a popular joke in various media. A backronym, "Every Day Something Else Leaks", was inspired by the car’s failure. Television programs, cartoons, video games, and films have all used the Edsel as humor, usually as a quick joke or as a sight gag.
In May 1958, then Vice President Richard Nixon was on a trip to Peru, riding in an Edsel convertible, when he was pelted with eggs and tomatoes by demonstrators. Nixon later joked: "They were throwing eggs at the car, not me."
Fifty years after its spectacular failure, Edsel has become a highly collectible item amongst vintage car hobbyists. Fewer than 6,000 Edsels survive and are considered collectors’ items. A mint 1958 Citation convertible sometimes sells for over 0,000, while rare models, like the 1960 convertible, may price up to 0,000. While the design was considered "ugly" fifty years ago, many other car manufacturers, such as Pontiac and Alfa Romeo, have employed similar vertical grille successfully on their car designs.
Many of the Edsel’s features, such as transmission lock on ignition, adjustable brakes, gear selection as steering wheel buttons etc, which were considered "too impractical" in the late 1950s, are today standard features of sports cars.
Topaz Add-On: Vibrance (HDR)
PhotoShop Elements 5: posterization, rough pastel, accented edges, ink outlines
Stained Glass III
Image by Cjames Fotografia
St. Michael’s and All Angels Church
Stage 1 of a private project, to make and install stained glass windows in the historic church of St Michael and All Angels in Sandakan, Borneo (Sabah) has been completed. The world class, heritage windows are a memorial to Australian and British prisoners of war who died in Sabah – at Sandakan, Ranau or on the death marches – during 1942-1945, and a thanksgiving to the local people who risked, and gave, their lives to help them. A total of 2428 POWs (of whom 1787 were Australian) died at Sandakan or on one of the infamous death marches to Ranau, the bulk of them in 1945, sixty years ago. Only six Australians who escaped, survived. All 641 British POWs perished. This is the first time Australians from all states have had the opportunity to participate in such a project or to show their gratitude to the people of Sabah, many of whom were tortured or imprisoned for trying to help the prisoners. Eight were executed by firing squad. How many others died is impossible to assess.
Many of the prisoners, who were transferred from Singapore by ship, spent the night in the church before marching to the Sandakan compound, 12 kilometres away. Built in the late 1890s from local stone, in the style of a cathedral, St Michael’s is one of only four buildings to survive World War II. All, interestingly, were places of worship – two small Chinese temples, and the town mosque.
The idea to create a memorial window was conceived in 2003, during a trip to Sandakan, where I conduct an Anzac Day service with a small group of POW relatives each year. I approached the Rector to discuss my idea and, as a result, the church authorities made available the entire, tri-panelled west window. Over five metres in height, it dominates the main entrance. Response to the project from relatives of the prisoners and other caring people was so great (over 0,000 donated) that it was possible to commission the west window, and three more below, and to create a beautiful POW Chapel in the church.
Philip Handel, a well-known Sydney artisan who has spent a life-time designing and making stained glass windows for gothic-style churches, came out of retirement to undertake the project. He used only hand-blown, antique French glass of the highest quality, and which he had not seen in Australia for twenty years. Using this exquisite glass as his basis, he then began creating his masterpiece. Coincidentally, the main window consists of 2,500 pieces – one piece for each POW. Each piece of glass, after Handel had added the detail he required to create his design, was fired in a special kiln, up to three times, depending on the depth of detail required.
The design of all four windows is integrated. The main window is spread across the three panels, or lights. Various shades of blue on the outer border represent the oceans which link the three nations. The subject for the upper, or memorial section, is from the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 12, depicting a shining angel backed by ruby-coloured, spiralling shapes suggesting movement, and enclosed by a rainbow-hued circle – a symbol of peace and hope for the future.
Below, in a prison cell, sits St Peter, who is under sentence of death. He is amazed at the awesome sight and incredulous at the miraculous loosening of his chains, and his subsequent deliverance which the Roman guards are unable to prevent. This scene is a reminder of the Almighty’s power to free the spirit of mankind from evil and oppression. The text, ‘By the strength of your arm, preserve those condemned to die’, reinforces this message.
Above the angel, at the top of the central arch, sprays of wattle surround the floral emblems of the Australian states from which the men enlisted. The orange and yellow hues in the centre represent the colours of the outback and the setting sun; the purple tones, the mountain ranges.
The lower section of the window features the well-known parable, The Good Samaritan. This story, which teaches compassion between strangers, typifies the spirit of mateship which sustained the prisoners until the end, and exemplifies the compassion of local people towards strangers in need of help and comfort during many dark days. Included in this setting is a representation of The Big Tree – a mengarris and a prominent landmark at the infamous Sandakan POW Camp. Another coloured spectrum, echoing the rainbow theme, frames the figures and the whole picture is encompassed with the flowers of Australia, Britain and Sabah, united by their wartime experience. The focus words Endurance, Honour, Compassion, Courage and Sacrifice, describe the triumph of the spirit and will over flesh – the purpose of the memorial.
Below the main window are a large arched window over the west door, featuring a brilliantly coloured Christian cross, and two much smaller windows to either side – an angel representing Peace and another representing Eternity. The centre piece of the chapel, directly below the main window and incorporating the small angel windows, is a finely crafted, altar-like Table of Honour, with polished granite top, on which are inscribed the words ‘For there are deeds that should not pass away, And names that must not be forgotten.’ Over the granite is a glass case, containing the Roll of Honour, inscribed with the names of all our POWs, and local people who died or helped, and the Book of Special Remembrance, containing the names of all donors, along with the names of people they are jointly or individually honouring, and any special inscription. The books, hand-bound in burgundy, Moroccan leather and hand tooled in gold, are composed of archival parchment guaranteed to last 500 years. Each week, a new page will be turned. Resting on the blank left-hand page of each book, as a paper-weight, is a life-size pewter gum leaf, with a cluster of gum nuts. Around the walls of the chapel are regimental plaques, donated by associations and individuals and a hand-made pulpit banner, donated by the family of Padre McLiver, an Australian army officer, who used it at his services, following the liberation of Borneo in 1945, and which we had framed.
The breathtakingly beautiful windows and the chapel were dedicated at 4 pm on Anzac Eve. The 130 Australians and four British present, along with 50 family members of local people being honoured, knew they were about to witness something very special when the opening notes of the Trumpet Voluntary heralded a grand procession of a forty-voice choir dressed in brand-new robes, colour parties carrying the flags of Australia, Britain, Sabah and Malaysia (the Australian flag escorted by an Australian soldier whose grandfather had died at Sandakan) and senior Anglican clergy, headed by the Archbishop of South-East Asia Province, Datuk Yong Ping Chung, all clad in gorgeous cream, gold and red regalia.
The four windows, draped in burgundy silk shot with gold, were unveiled and dedicated, one by one, with various people from the POW families, and local people, assisting the Archbishop. With the afternoon sun lighting up the three lower windows in spectacular fashion, the strains of the Hallelujah Chorus filled the church and the final curtain rose slowly, to reveal a window of such stunning and awesome magnificence that every person present, some 300 all told, stopped clapping and stood in rapt silence, absolutely transfixed. Tears poured down almost every cheek, including those of cameramen and journalists. I have never experienced anything like it. The Windows of Remembrance must surely be Philip Handel’s finest work.
The following day, at 4 pm, there was an ‘official opening’ by the Deputy Chief Minister and Sabah’s Minister for Tourism, at a most joyous and moving celebration, a wonderful community event at which children danced and balloons were released. The Minister, along with representatives of the Australian and British High Commissions and other dignitaries, entered the church, where they gazed in wonderment as the Windows were revealed one at a time, as on the previous day.
However, it was not until later, at the reception attended by the VIPs and our donors, that I realised how much our windows meant to the wider community. There was total silence and a good many more tears when a tiny Chinese lady presented me with a beautiful oil painting of Mt Kinabalu, where local legend says the spirits of the dead ascend, to express her gratitude for honouring the local people in the Windows of Remembrance. Aged 82, she had travelled by public bus with her son, as her interpreter, all the way from Kota Kinabalu – a journey of seven hours – to meet me.
The many people who have expressed their disappointment at having missed out on Stage 1 are now invited to participate in Stage 2 – to install stained glass in the two remaining major windows, over the north and south doors.
Our prisoners left us a wonderful legacy – goodwill and friendship between nations, forged by our prisoners with the people of Sabah in a time of great adversity. We will endorse this legacy by having friendship and love for our fellow man as our focus for Stage 2.
Here is your chance to be part of something very special. If you would like to ensure that the precious legacy of our POWs is passed to successive generations; if you would like to transform the tragedy and grief of Sandakan into something beautiful and uplifting, a testimony to the triumph of good over evil and a source of wonder, awe and a joy for hundreds of years to come, please contact me. Any excess funds will be used to set up a maintenance fund for all the stained glass and to support the Sandakan Memorial Scholarship Scheme.
Scripted by author – Lynette Ramsey Silver, Australia