Wednesday / May 27, 2015
The dream of large-scale truck transport enterprises – early outsourcing experiments in the German Democratic Republic
Under state socialist economic policy, the concept of large-scale factories played an important role. The assumption was that large productivity gains would result from large-scale organisation and so large-scale concepts were also applied to the transport sector. Thirty years before Western management started outsourcing truck transportation from their factories, from 1957 state socialist traffic policy in the German Democratic Republic pulled truck fleets out of nationally owned enterprises, concentrating them into large and dedicated transport service enterprises. As this policy did not increase productivity, it was partly revised in the 1960s. The centralisation policy was unsuccessful because state-owned enterprises struggled against the state socialist transport department to keep the fleets they needed to conduct business. Conflicts between the state socialist ideology of centralisation and the operational needs of transportation within commerce, construction and industry took on many forms. For example the enterprises transferred only old trucks to the service companies. The paper shows that the theorem of the ‘economies of scale’ that was derived in the process industries does not apply in the transportation trade.
Railway excursion agents in Britain, 1840-1860
Using a range of contemporary press evidence, now searchable online, this article offers new perspectives on the British railway excursion agent in the period 1840–60. It argues that competing forces which were specific to localities shaped the potential for working-class leisure mobility offered by these agents, who might be regarded as social entrepreneurs. The role of Thomas Cook has been re-interpreted, using a case study of excursion agent Henry Marcus.
Michael John Law
Charabancs and social class in 1930s Britain
The renowned writer J. B. Priestley suggested in 1934 that the motor-coach had annihilated the old distinction between rich and poor passengers in Britain. This article considers how true this was by examining the relationship between charabancs, motor coaches and class. It shows that this important vehicle of inter-war working class mobility had a complicated relationship with class, identifying three distinct forms of this method of travel. It positions the charabanc alongside historical responses to unwelcome steamer and railway day-trippers, and examines how resorts provided separate class-based entertainment for these holidaymakers. Using the case study of a new charabancwelcoming pub, the Prospect Inn, it proposes that, in the late 1930s, some pubs were beginning to offer charabanc customers facilities that were almost the match of their middle class equivalent. Motor coaches and charabancs contributed to the process of social convergence in inter-war Britain.
The Trans-Siberian railway as a corridor of trade between Finland and Japan in the midst of world crises
The Trans-Siberian railway long played the role of a second alternative transportation route between Finland and Japan. Not until the early 1970s did the Trans-Siberian railway begin to be used on a larger scale for the purposes of Finnish-Japanese trade. This took place in the aftermath of containerization in trade traffic. Goods were, however, transported between the two countries via Siberia long before this, during the World Wars. Using mostly Finnish business and state archive records and publications, the article examines the significance of the Siberian traffic in Finnish-Japanese trade as well as collaboration by private and state interests and the place of a transit state in enabling this traffic.
Dreaming on a railway track: public works and the demise of New Zealand’s provinces
The demise of New Zealand’ s provinces in 1876 demands explanation. I argue that public works policy undermined the provinces and that railway development provided the impetus for abolition. The failure of the six original provinces to meet hinterland settler demands for public works led to the creation of new provinces in 1858, destabilising the system. Reckless investment in railways in the 1860s robbed the provinces of popular support and led to a prohibition on borrowing. This created a developmental vacuum until the central government acquired public works policy in 1870. The provinces thus lost their primary reason for existence. New Zealand’s provinces are a valuable case study in how railways and other forms of transportation can shape political systems.
Stakeholders and competition in the transportation of migrants: moving Greeks to Australia in the post-War era
This article examines the transportation of Greek emigrants to Australia during the first post-WWII decades, c. 1945–77. It considers the relative politics, the business of transportation, the lived experiences of the emigrants and the discrimination which they faced. It also examines the transportation means offered by the ICEM, and its role in the management of the emigration process. It further highlights the transition from sea to air transportation, the genesis of which can be found during the first decades of the post-war period. This article is supported by a rich archival base (the archives of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the archives of the ICEM Mission in Athens; the National Archives of Australia; the Greek and Australian Press; and personal interviews), which assisted this new angle of research.
François Caron, 1931-2014
Exhibitions and museums reviews
London Transport Museum’s wartime centennial tribute
The new Danish Maritime Museum at Kronborg
‘Ships, Clocks & Stars: the Quest for Longitude’
Jenifer Van Vleck, Empire of the Air: Aviation and the American Ascendancy (Erik Benson)
Edward J. Roach, The Wright Company: From Invention To Industry (Richard Byers)
Clifford Foust, John Frank Stevens, Civil Engineer (Albert J. Churella)
Jeri Quinzio, Food on the Rails: The Golden Era of Railroad Dining (Albert J. Churella)
Arijit Sen and Jennifer Johung (eds), Landscapes of Mobility: Culture, Politics and Placemaking (Sasha Disko)
Robert E. Jones. Bread upon the Waters. The St. Petersburg Grain Trade and the Russian Economy, 1703–1811 (David Goldfrank)
Duncan Redford (ed.), Maritime History and Identity: The Sea and Culture in the Modern World (John B. Hattendorf)
Nitin Sinha, Communication and Colonialism in Eastern India: Bihar, 1760s–1880s (John McAleer)
Michael Matthews, The Civilizing Machine: A Cultural History of Mexican Railroads, 1876–1910 (Samantha McDermott)
John A. Heitmann and Rebecca H. Morales, Stealing Cars: Technology and Society from the Model T to the Gran Torino (Peter Norton)
Joseph B. Raskin, The Routes Not Taken. A Trip through Ney York City’s Unbuilt Subway System (Dhan Zunino Singh)
Jamal J. Elias, On Wings of Diesel. Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Stefan Tetzlaff)
Simon Wenham, Pleasure Boating on the Thames: A History of Salter Bros 1858–Present Day (Richard Wheeler)