Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated April 2015

Letters to the Editor

FROM Alison Jenner

Bookings are coming in for the conference in Oxford. We have not yet reached the threshold we need to do to be sure of breaking even, so do please sign up if you are ready to do so. We're are also open to suggestions for new presentations. Go to the website

 The registration website is now live and you can access it from the conference website at

Once you have registered, you can pay by credit or debit card or (better for us) by direct funds transfer to the Foundation bank account. All the details are on the registration web site.

Anyone who wants to stay in single ensuite rooms on the Balliol campus, we have reserved rooms in the historic college setting and there will be quite a number of us there. You can email me directly or use the link from the top right hand corner of the website Or use the form below.

Once we have your details we will invoice you for your accommodation.

If you want to book a twin ensuite room in the Jowett Walk accommodation, 10 minutes from Balliol, please contact the college conference organiser Jacqueline Fossey at , with the dates you want to stay.

If you have decided to book at the Randolph or Hawkwell hotels there are conference rates available to our group members; or if you wish to stay at another hotel there are some suggestions on the conference website. Email me if you have any problems.

We can look forward to a really lovely setting for our meeting!

Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Oxford Conference 30th August - 4th September 2015

Booking form for Balliol College Rooms



 Please reserve the following SINGLE rooms in Balliol College:-

Dates room required:  ____ nights from ______ to _______

Accomodation:- Single ensuite room in Balliol College at £65 per room per night (inc VAT) Room charge includes breakfast Number of nights

NOTE:- Additional nights stay in the rooms before or after the Conference must be arranged directly with Jacqui Fossey at Balliol

NOTE Twin rooms in Balliol College's annexe in Jowett Walk MUST be booked through the College Conference Officer, Jacqueliene Fossey,

The accommodation will be invoiced to you by the Foundation and must be paid for in advance of the Conference. Details of payment methods will be included on the invoice.

FROM Alison Jenner (item 2)

The England chapter of the Nevil Shute book group met on Saturday 21 March at the Brooklands Museum, arranged by Tom Wenham. As well as touring the amazing exhibitions the group discussed 'Ruined City'. Members were also delighted to pore over Angie Groves' memorabilia from not only her father's motorcycling career, with some action shots taken for Motor Cycle News on the circuit at Brooklands, but also letters, photos and manuscripts of Alec's and Spiffy Menhinnick's wartime activities.

The next meeting will be on Saturday, 11 July, at a location to be fixed, probably in Southampton. Suggestions for a decent location - where we can get some lunch and base ourselves in the restaurant area - would be welcome. The book we intend to discuss is "What Happened to the Corbetts.

FROM Mike Berliner:

Does anyone have information as to why theres never been an official, properly produced DVD of the A Town Like Alice miniseries?  A DVD can be purchased (and maybe legally) from various sources (not including Amazon), but the video quality is pretty badas though someone copied it at his home from the official VHS tape.  Given that almost every movie and TV show from the beginning of time has shown up on DVD, its a mystery why Alice isnt available.  One can speculate that there are some legal/copyright issues involved, but Id appreciate anything more definitive.  This wonderful miniseries deserves better.

FROM Richard Kidd

Sad news from Australia:

FROM Kristin Hagelstein

As you know, we had to cancel the Shutist Gathering on February 28, due to weather concerns.  I'd like to try again on Saturday, April 25, 2015, with the same format:

The (re-scheduled) Hill Country Gathering of the Nevil Shute Foundation will take place on April 25, 2015.  It will be held at 12 noon at Friedhelm's Bavarian Inn, 905 West Main, Fredericksburg, Texas.  We will meet-and-greet at the restaurant and then individually order lunch from their menu.  After lunch, John Cooper will lead the discussion on the Nevil Shute novel "A Town Like Alice". 

After the discussion, those who wish to go on the tour of the Museum of the Pacific War will go to the museum lobby at the George Bush Gallery, corner of Austin and Lincoln, where tickets can be purchased for $8 per person.  Gregg Hagelstein will give a brief overview of the museum.  Also, you will receive a brochure that John Cooper has prepared for the group for a self-guided tour of the exhibits that have some connection with Nevil Shute's books.  After that, you can do a short tour of the exhibits pertaining to Shutists on your own or go on a complete tour of the  museum.  Your tickets will be good for 48 hours and you can use them for other parts of the museum complex.

Friedhelm's -      All roads to Fredericksburg go directly to Main Street or intersect with Main.  Go west on Main Street toward Mason, to the stoplight at the western edge of town.  The road splits here, left is Hwy 290, right is Hwy 87. Friedhelm's will be on the left so you will turn left immediately after the light.

Museum -           Leaving Friedhelm's, go east on Main St to Lincoln Street, turn left on Lincoln and go one block to Austin Street.  The museum will be on the right and straight ahead there is free parking at the Visitor Center. 

Please let me know if you plan to attend at this new date.  Non-members of the Foundation are welcome.

Thanks - I'm excited about the (re-scheduled) meeting and about getting to know each of you.

FROM Mike Blamey

 Page 78: Slide Rule: Nevil Shute

encastré arched rib [these were called 'built-in' when I studied them and their properties: the built-in 'end' of a beam (a cantilever is such) is different to pinned joints that can rotate.

Perhaps it is the time of year, or the time of our lives, but a re-reading of Slide Rule over the past few days has re-ignited my long-lost interest in mathematics. I write as someone who failed 'A' level mathematics the first time: yet thereafter whilst at Uni had the good fortune to have a personal tutor -the dear lady who this September will have been mine for 50 years! In retrospect failing that A level (UK version of College Leaving certificate, Arbitur, Baccalaureate) was the best thing I ever did as it meant that I could not take-up the place to read Physics at Bristol University (which I would probably have failed!) , did a student apprenticeship at an excellent firm, Woods of Colchester -re-took and passed Mathematics and realised that it was not Physics but Engineering

I really wished to study and practice. I would like to say that my first failure was because of poor teaching ('there are no bad students, only poor teachers?') but in essence, it was my 'approach' which needed alteration.

I realised, under my new tutor's expert guidance, as I believe our Master NSN did, that mathematics is not some black-art: intelligible to only the gifted: but simply another language, with its own symbols, signs, 'grammar', even spellin! [I was never very good at the proper kind either].

When allied to the practical application of Science, ie Engineering, mathematics becomes completely understandable and absolutely useful. I read and greatly enjoyed (and I believed understood!) NSN's description in Slide Rule of the calculations necessary to design the strength/load carrying members in R100; and recalled my initial difficulties at University with what are termed iterative solutions to equations. Done by slide-rule (we called these items at school and Uni 'sly-rules, because the ones used by teachers and lecturers always seemed to give a lower percentage mark than expected!) the effort must have been daunting. As an aside: there is a lovely book, written by Sir Stanley Hooker, who was on and off the Chief Engineer of Rolls Royce: and who did the original calculations of the turbo-charger for the Merlin. He, like NSN was first a mathematician, and you're 'Not much of an Engineer' was what the CEO of Rolls Royce said to him at his interview and which he used as the title of his autobiography.

Shute goes on: ...produced a satisfaction almost amounting to a religious experience....the very truth....those who built the great arches of cathedrals in medieval times...must have known something of our mathematics...have wondered if Freemasonry has anything to do with this.

I have never seen any reference in any writing or commentary to Shute and the Craft. Does any Shutist know if he was a Mason? The derivation of the word 'architect' is 'arch-technician' and creating stone structures/cathedrals to stand-up straight and withstand 800 years of life would have required a very special skill. The Great Architect of the Universe is the description of the supreme being at the very heart of Freemasonry. I am not one, but I did attend the Royal Masonic School, because my father was. The entry qualification to the School was simple. One's father had to have been a Mason and was dead! Shutists might recall previous posts describing the link between my father and NSN: and perhaps my father was the one who did point out the influences of freemasonry in technology (or should that be the other way round?) Shute, in 'Round the Bend' offers an outstanding comparison between technical excellence and the need for devout persons to pray frequently: offering the suggestion that self-discipline and prayer are so close as to be united.

FROM John Cooper

After further discussions with David Henshall, I would add:

Nevil wrote Marazan in 1925, just after he had left de Havilland in the Spring of 1924 and started work on the R100 airship. This was years before he had formed Airspeed and moved it to Hampshire. The Sopwith Baby, actually built by Fairey, was a British single-seat tractor seaplane used by the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) from 1915 <
SopwithBaby.jpg/300px-SopwithBaby.jpg>. The company was wound up in 1920 after its business collapsed. It most likely was not a factor in Shutes writing of Marazan. But the Fairey IIID may well have been a factor. Well over 4,000 DH-4s and their offsprings were built and many were still in use as civil aircraft on or before 1925; and known about by British readers in 1926. They would probable envision one of these de Havillands while reading the novel.

FROM David Henshall

Reference the excellent article in the February Newsletter from John Cooper, can I add the following. It might be dangerous to make too many assumptions that when writing, NSN's "go to" choice of aircraft would be from DeHavilland.

Even in the time since the meeting in Fareham, more evidence has emerged strengthening the links between NSN and both the Fairey and Sopwith families. Indeed, as we discussed last Spring, there is now ample evidence pointing to many of his aircraft in the books being from the Fairey stable.

One such example is the Chipmunk (as featured in Marazon).. There really was a seaplane entered into the Kings Cup, a Fairey FIII. Even the choice of engine (as reported in the book) is right...with there being evidence of a new powerplant 'falling off the shelf in the stores'.

I hope to be going into this in more detail at Oxford later this year.

Strange weather here in Holland today. Strong winds all day. At half past seven this morning it was snowing. The rest of the day was hail, rain and sunshine. Spring come please.

See you all next month.