Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

April Newsletter

2007-04/April, 2007


Gadepalli Subrahmanyam from India writes:

I read some of Shute's books over and over again.
What simplicity, what narration, in fact, we identify ourselves with many of the characters, and if all the persons that inhabit the earth have even an iota of the humaneness of these characters, it would be a better place to live.
In 1990 or 1991 there was a seminar on land irrigation at Visakhapatnam, India, under the aegis of the Andhra University, department of Civil Engineering.
I submitted a paper on a possible system for dams across rivers every few kilometres. The inspiration for this was A Town Like Alice, where Nevil Shute informs us that 'England could not have been so green except that there are little dams every mile or so on each river, though the rainfall there was much lower than the location of the novel'.
He continues, that by building dams across the river there, quite an amount of rain water could be stored within the river itself. The paper, which acknowledged the source of inspiration as Nevil Shute, was accepted. Interestingly, some of the listeners asked me about the author, more than the subject of the paper.


Brian Wickland writes:

With respect to the workplace of Mike Butterfield's dad, who worked with NSN during the war, I believe that the name of the firm was Basset-Lowe [or Lowes], reknown for its stamped metal trains and cars. There are probably a number of books that have been published over the past ten or twenty years about this firm and its products, owing to the considerable number of us model and 'toy' collectors. Thank you for including info regarding David Glen's fantastic model of the Mk I Spit. If he has a public e-mail address, perhaps you could share it so that some of the modellers amongst your readership might contact him directly to convey their congrats. My colleagues here in the office marvelled at the fantastic detail, especially of the interior [which I showed them first], causing them to think that this was the actual aircraft!

Editor's Comment:
Strangely I can't find an email address for David Glenn.


John Anderson has written to Mike Butterfield and included a copy to me which I share with you all. John writes to Mike:

I noticed your item in this month's Nevil Shute Newsletter about your father working on the Swallow Glider project during World War 2.
The name Butterfield rang a bell.
In 2004 I met and chatted to Bert Judge who worked for International Model Aircraft during the war and was also involved with the Swallow glider project.
As part of my research on Nevil Shute's work at the DMWD I had obtained copies of various project histories from the National Archives at Kew.
On the Swallow Glider there were several photographs of the glider when it was undergoing tests on the Beaulieu River in Hampshire. Bert thought that the man in one of these was Les Butterfield. Attached is a copy of that photograph and the man identified is making adjustments at the hatch at back of the main wing of the glider. Is this your father?
The photograph would have been taken in about February 1944 just prior to testing of the glider which is mounted on a ramp on a landing craft.
I have a paper on my research on Shute and the DMWD and will send you a PDF copy by e mail if you would like one. It has more photographs of the Swallow glider.
Bert Judge was a model maker and was involved at I.M.A. during the war on all sorts of work from aircraft identification models to target gliders and the Swallow.
He would no doubt have had a great deal in common with your father who worked at Basset Lowke (who made fabulous models of locomotives) and Lines Bros who created the Tri-ang models.

Editor's Comment:
I am waiting to hear if the man in the photo was Mike's father. If it is, he can ultimately thank Nevil Shute for unearthing it.
John sent me a copy of the photo which will hopefully end up on our website.


Andy Burgess of The UK writes:

On a recent trip to Ellesmere Port I visited their Canal Boat Museum.
One of the displays showed a scene of a boatyard describing it as 'Barlows'.
Could this be the prototype for the Ruined City shipyard?
Further investigation showed that this boatyard was far from the sea on the Grand Union Canal at Braunston, Northamptonshire and built narrow boats for the canals.
Furthermore at the time Shute wrote Ruined City it was called Nursers Boatyard.
Barlows were a company operating canal boats, mainly carrying coal and did so in particular to industries in and around Oxford. They were a large operation with almost 70 boats by 1930. It seems likely that Shute would have seen these craft around Oxford while he was there. Did he consciously or unconsciously use the name Barlows from these boats? If so he was indeed prophetic, because Barlows bought our Nursers boatyard in 1941 and so it is known as Barlows boatyard. However he was wrong in that there were not seven Barlows narrow boats at the Battle of Jutland (at least I don't think so).

Editor's Comment:
You can read about The Battle of Jutland at the following sites:


Barbara Niven of Australia writes:

The "There is Still Time" banner scenes in the 1959 film of On the Beach were filmed in front of the State Library of Victoria's imposing facade in Swanston Street, just along from the Queen Victoria Hospital (now demolished) which also featured (distribution of the pills).
The sculptures of soldiers seen in the film were still outside the library at that time - I think they have since been moved to the Shrine.

Patrick van Cleef who originally asked about the There is Still Time Brother scene location writes:

On The Beach is one of my favourite movies, there is so much in it. I read the book a few years after seeing the movie and was amazed at how well the movie stayed with the book. The final scenes, starting with the newspaper blowing down the street to the strains of Waltzing Mathilda are some of the most iconic in film and of course ending up with There is Still Time Brother.
Writers like Nevil Shute tend to be forgotten once their initial fame has gone from the best sellers list to celluloid but it must be remembered that Shute wrote several other popular masterpieces, A Town like Alice and No Highway to name two, and as I'm sure you know, picking up a Nevil Shute novel today will be just as good a read now as it was 50 years ago.


Andy Burgess writes:

Nevil Shute was working on a Seal Major IC engine based on an Edgar T Westbury design at the time of his death.
Hemingway kits have drawings of this model and on their website show pictures of it along with a quotation from a letter by Shute.
You can see it at


Laura Schneider writes:

The response for Nevil Shute's Legacy has been wonderful. We're going to have a memorable conference. There is still time to join us. Please contact me at or chigirlnnj for more information and details.


Ken Deacon of The UK writes:

On the weekend of the 8th & 9th September 2007 the town of Howden is having two Heritage open days. The theme of show will be transport in all forms.
I have been tasked to collect as much material as possible on the town's involvement with air transport in the past and present to be displayed in the Shirehall.
Of course this will be mainly concerned with the airships of the first world war and the design and build of the R.100.
We are having a display from the Barnes Wallis Trust featuring Barnes Wallis involvement but of course as Nevil Shute Norway played such a big part in the R.100 design, flying trials and living in the town for a couple of years I wondered if you would like to participate?
Nevil Shute is seen as an important part of Howden's history and even though he did slate the women who worked on the R.100 in Slide Rule, no grudges are held.

Editor's Comment:
Anyone who can assist Ken Deacon with display items is invited to do so.
Howden is a lovely place and a visit to their Heritage Day can be combined with a trip to the golf course, which now covers the R100 airship station.
Although remains of the R100 hangar are obliterated by the newer golf course, you can clearly see remaining foundations of 2 other hangars from the golf course.
Anyone going should contact me first and I will email you hand drawn maps of the R100 hangars so you can stand "inside" the shed and close your eyes and talk to Nevil Shute and Barnes Wallis.
Just remember to open your eyes if you hear someone shout "Fore!!!" or you may get to actually meet Shute and Barnes Wallis a little earlier than you had planned to do so.


Gary Seale writes:

My wife and I recently rented a video of A Town Like Alice, a five-hour tape of the series made for television in the eighties.
We've been Shute readers, fans and admirers for many years, and have copies of all but two or three of the novels.
Watching "Alice" prompted me to have a look at what there was online about Shute, and I was surprised to see how much there is.
It was most enjoyable to be able to read comments from people all over who share in the enjoyment of these books.
The day after we finished watching Alice, I dragged out the book (our copy is the version titled The Legacy ), and started in to re-read it.
Compelling stuff, and one of my favorite Shutes.
Others are Trustee From The Toolroom and The Rainbow And The Rose.
Oddly enough, when I'd read everything else I could find of Shute, I delayed taking on his best known - On The Beach - and I'm not sure why.
And I didn't think it was as good as most of the others, just happened to be more topical perhaps, and a potential for doom and gloom.
Anyway, glad that Shute's stories live on, as do his fans. I'll be checking the newsletter online regularly.


Susan Batross writes:

Well, this is the last time you will have to hear this announcement. As I said last month, and the month before, I will be leaving to attend Alice Legacy in Alice Springs, Australia on April 22, 2007.
As a consequence, I will not be here in South Dakota to send out materials from the US Library from April 7th until May 12th, 2007.
Anyone who thinks they may want to borrow anything from the Library, please let me know in time to send it out before I go.
My time away will not affect returns. Anyone with borrowed items can return them at any time, and my Post Office will take good care of them until I get home.
Since taking on the duties of Librarian in January I have had the pleasure of corresponding with many other Nevil Shute fans and sending out the materials they request.
I want to thank everyone who has used the Library.
When I return, the Library will resume normal operation and I look forward to meeting other Nevil Shute fans.

Susan, US Librarian


I am sure that those who can attend the Alice 2007 conference will have a fun and fascinating time and that those who can't attend will be there in spirit.
At this time of the year when the Spring / Autumn weather gives almost everyone in the world similar weather and temperatures and the equinox gives everyone the same day length, I feel more than usually connected with all our readers.
Sydney is moving into Autumn / Fall.
Although I cope with Sydney's Summer humidity very well I do look forward to the dry cool Autumn nights that are just great for sleeping.
I hope this finds all of you well and I wish you all the best for this wonderful time of the year.

Richard Michalak


Write in if you want your name listed and would like to get together with other Shutists in your vicinity.


Jim Wells lives in Lindfield, Sydney
Richard Michalak lives in Paddington, Sydney
Ruth Pearson lives in Adelaide
Neil Wynes Morse lives in Canberra


Julian Stargardt


Bruce A Clarke lives in Bangkok


Jim & Kristi Woodward live in Broken Arrow (east of Tulsa), Oklahoma, USA.
Priscilla Pruitt lives near Bellingham, Washington State
Bill McCandless lives in Joliet near Chicago.
Joy Hogg, Harrietta Michigan (northern lower Michigan, near Traverse City and Cadillac)
David B. Horvath, dhorvath in the domain, near Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA.
Al Benkelman Warrenton, Virginia