history, Uncategorized

A Trip to the Gasworks

Back then we didn’t have natural gas.  Instead we made our own gas by chucking coal into a retort and cooking it.  The stuff which came off was deadly poisonous.  But we weren’t there to sniff it.  It powered our gas cookers.  No-one had gas central heating. It was all solid fuel.  At the beginning of every winter, grimy faced men would come round and deliver a ton of coal into the shed in our back garden.

There were no gas bills. It was all pre-pay.  When the money ran out so did the gas.  That was until  Mum  pushed half a crown into the gas-meter and re-lit the stove. A half crown was equivalent to 25 pence in new money.  It was enough to buy 20 cigarettes or half a gallon of petrol and keep the gas running for the next couple of days. People were also different. 

They were slimmer than most people are today.  There were no pot bellies. Because we walked everywhere.  Yes-we might take a bus or train if they were not on strike.  And they were always on strike.

One day I took a tour of our local gas works which was situated behind a big yellow wall fronting Southend Seafront.  Across the road and extending about 200 yards into the Thames Estuary was a short pier.  At the end of it were two small white steam-cranes.  We peered inside the one which was working, as it lifted coal from a barge and loaded it onto a wagon.  The driver said it was oil-fired.  The second crane, which sat silent, was coke fired.  We walked back along the pier and into the gasworks building.

Through the sweltering orange half-light, we saw bare-chested men shovelling coal in to the retorts.  Coal dust hung in the air.

Next was the pump house, where a massive rumbling steam engine drove gas along the network of pipes into our homes.

Within a year, the gasworks had closed. It was 1967.  The men were laid off.  Natural gas had arrived.  Other men came to our homes and converted our gas cookers to the new fuel.  Even then it all seemed to me too good to be true.  Cheap gas from the sea? What would happen when it all ran- out?  As it must run out at some time?  Would we then have to build new gasworks and go back to making town gas?  It’s the big unanswered question.  Within a couple of years the buildings themselves were demolished and all that remained were a couple of large gasometers and the remains of the pier.

If you would like to know more about our industrial heritage and the way we lived, please take a look at, ‘British Imperial and U.S.  Customary Units Explained’.  See the enclosed link. Thank you/

business, Law, property, real estate

Fire Safety Law

My book, ‘Fire Safety Law’, which is published through Taylor and Francis, is about to go to print.  It will go live at the end of this month when it will be available for pre-order, and I will be able to provide you with a link and discount-code.  In the meantime, I am pleased to enclose a cover-pick.

The challenge in writing this book was to produce something which is sufficiently up to date, even when new legal developments come on stream almost on a daily basis.  Even during the final sub-editing and proofreading stages, new developments, such as the Fire Safety Regulations 2022 were being published.  In the end we got there: even though the fire safety law itself is still a work-in-progress, and will be so for many years to come, as the new law settles in.

The idea came out of the Part 1 Grenfell inquiry recommendations, which has since translated into legislation.

If you would like to be kept up to date with the publication timetable and discount-code for this book as well as information about future legal developments relating to fire safety, could you please complete the enclosed sign-up form.  As I’m still feeling my way with e-mail marketing, your sign-up, will also help me to know if the system is working.  And you can of course unsubscribe at any time.  Thank you.

V. Charles Ward

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New Weights and Measures Book

Photo by Erik Scheel on Pexels.com

As a ‘remainer’ and as someone who attended the ‘people’s vote’ march in London’s Hyde Park on Saturday 20 October 2018, I am an unlikely person to be writing a book about imperial weights and measures. 

Whilst I welcomed the freedom of movement across international boundaries that Britain’s former membership of the EU offered, I was never so enthused about the mandating away of our traditional system of weights and measures.  For me, it seemed so unnecessary.  There is nothing ‘anti-Europe’ about feet and inches.  Our historic system of weights and measures is just as much part of our heritage as the many languages, accents, dialects, and cultures which each of us encounters on a daily basis and which give colour to our lives.  So why should its use be criminalised?

I also admit to being one of that small handful of people who actually welcome the government’s current consultation on allowing traditional measurements in the sale of loose goods.  What is there to be frightened of?  The proposal is harmless.  No one is going to be forced to buy their petrol in gallons instead of litres.  If you’ve heard of imperial measurements but have never been educated in their use, my book, ‘British Imperial and U.S. Customary Measurements Explained’, will tell you everything you need to know.  Please see the enclosed link and check it out.  It’s a tiny book at an even tinier price.  It does not bang any drum.  It is purely informative.  And topical.  And entertaining. And it’s packed with amazing facts and figures.  Like the connection between a medieval King and how you buy your shoes today.  So far as I’m aware, there is nothing else on the market quite like it. Enjoy! V. Charles ward. 


Law, protest, society

If You Think You’ve Been Scammed

If you think you’ve been scammed. If you have received debt letters from a mobile phone company you’ve never even heard of. Don’t spend hours of your time breaking your head trying to convince someone in an off-shore call centre. They are not equipped to deal with it. Its off-script. Forget about e-mail. Instead write a FORMAL LETTER to their complaints department and post it recorded delivery. Yes-I know it’s a pain, standing in line in a post office with only one person serving. But is the only way to prove delivery. If you don’t get a reply or can’t find the complaints address, write a personal letter to their chief executive. Make it their problem. It’s all about creating a paper-trail. About covering yourself. About creating the evidence you need to take your complaint to the financial ombudsman if you can’t get a satisfactory response. They can’t ignore that. Just one other thing. Buy a copy of my book, ‘Get Paid’. It contains essential information for anyone being hassled by an unfair claim. It’ll show you what creditors can – and can’t do. Here is the link.