Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated August 2011

Letters to the Editor

From Laura Schneider

Nevil Shute's Seattle 2011 Conference is coming soon ! It's hard to believe 18 September is 7 weeks away. There are a few rooms left with our special conference rate at the Red Lion on 5th Avenue. Our rate is guaranteed for a couple more weeks. After that, if there are rooms still available, our rate isn't guaranteed. If you have any questions, please contact me at All participants will receive Lunch and Banquet menus before 1st September. The Red Lion Chef has some wonderful menus planned and is taking full advantage all the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

I encourage you to check out the Speakers and their topics at You may wish to reread some of the books being discussed. It is a very rewarding pre-conference task" !

Reading Nevil Shute

Fom Alsion Jenner

I am looking for volunteers to read one of their favourite passages on Friday afternoon at the conference in Seattle. Shutists attending may want to let me know by 1st September please, as there is usually space for about 10 readings. At previous conferences this has been a very popular feature and the extracts chosen have ranged from the comical to the poignant. As usual, readers will be decided by first come, first served.

In a new tradition, Laura has arranged for the readings to take place at the wonderful Seattle Public Library (architect Rem Koolhas). I have visited a number of famous libraries but this one looks very special.

Those who have been thinking of coming but who have not yet registered: it's okay to let me know now that you will want to read but don't miss the deadline - 15 August - for early enrolments ! Go to to confirm your registration. Reserve your reading slot by email to

From Keith De La Rue

I have updated the section of my "On the Beach" page relating to Philip Davey's book about the 1959 filming of the movie version in Australia. Philip's excellent book "When Hollywood came to Melbourne" is now out of print, but an updated print-ready version is now available on CD. See all of the details of this and some related activities - including a summary of the story of the filming - on my web site

From John Anderson

Parallel Motion

This is in reply to Charles D's letter in last month's Newsletter. The title, "Parallel Motion", of my book does indeed refer to a piece of drafting equipment, the wire and pulley system that keeps the ruler parallel as it is moved up and down a drawing board. Photographs of the Airspeed Aeronautical College, that Shute started, show drawing boards of just this type. So Shute would have been just a familiar with this as he was with a slide rule - the title of his own autobiography.

As an engineering student in the late sixties all the drawing boards were of this type. They had the advantage that they could be used equally well by left-handers as by right-handers. I came to appreciate this later when I shared an office, and a drawing board, with a colleague who was right handed. The board had a pantograph movement which held scale rulers and the whole thing was clearly designed for the right-handed and awkward to use if you were left handed like me. Later on, when I had my own office, I asked if I could get a parallel motion drawing board but was told they were now obsolete !

From John Forester

Parallel motion is the name given to the linkage by which James Watt connected the piston rod of his double-acting steam engine to the tip of the rocking beam. Earlier engines had only pulled down; the new engine both pulled down and pushed up. The earlier engines used chain or such running over an arched surface on the end of the beam curved as part of a circle with radius equal to the length of the beam from its pivot , as is seen to this day used for oil well deep pumps ("nodding donkeys"). The new double-acting engine needed a linkage that would both pull, as did the chain, and push, as the chain could not. The linkage was built of several arms with pivot joints at the ends, acting as a deformable parallelogram. The modern device for this use uses straight bearing surfaces, guides, between which the head of the piston rod, the crosshead, is constrained to slide. When Watt made his invention, such straight guides could not be made; planing machines did not exist, and the screw lathe had only just been invented.

From Julian Stargardt

I'd like to set the record straight about the British Royal family and the allegations that it is a drain on the public purse. This is a theme that occurs in "Slide Rule", and in much public speculation including an ill-informed Editorial in the "Economist" magazine some years ago.

The situation is different from what is widely reported and discussed in the media. Looked at objectively and with reference to the facts the Monarchy and Royal Family make a very important and positive contribution to the British economy. Briefly:

  1. Tourist Revenue Revenue from UK and international tourists who visit Royal homes like Hampton Court, Windsor Castle, Holyrood Palace etc and come to see the changing of the guard and buy mementoes and souvenirs connected with or inspired by the monarchy is vast, but difficult to gauge accurately because no specific statistics exist for specifically royal connected visits, purchases etc. However, tourism from abroad to the UK in the year ending April 2011 increased by 3% to 30.3 million (source National Statistics Office Online see link below), it is surmised that a good part of that foreign tourism came to the UK partly or wholly because of Britain's continuing monarchy. NSO Link:
  2. Crown Estate
    1. In 1760 in return for what today we call the "Civil List" George III handed over management of the Crown Estates, some of which date back to Anglo-Saxon times, to Parliament.
    2. Today, the Crown Estate's income is in excess of GBP6.6billion / over US$10.6billion
    3. By contrast the Civil List is about GBP200million or about US$322million and the Royal Family pays tax on its Civil List income
    4. In short the Royal Family is entitled to an income of well over US$10.6 billion but settles for an amount that is just about 3% of the income they are entitled to. The remaining 97% goes to the UK Treasury.
    5. One could argue from the view point of constitutional law that if the Royal Family has to pay tax on its Civil List then the income, management and control of the Crown Estate should be returned to them and they should pay tax on that. The nation's income from tax revenue on the Crown Estate would be considerably less than the US$10.3billion it currently receives.
    The Crown Estate's own account of itself is available at the link below. When reading it bear in mind that this is a government department writing about itself and thus it has a pro-government bias as opposed to a pro-royalist bias.
  3. Individual Royal Contributions to National Income Certain individual members of the Royal family make a significant contribution to national income in various ways. I will limit my overview of this to just 3 topics, though there are very many more:
    1. Promoting British products and British trade and industry internationally - there is nothing quite like a meeting with a senior member of the Royal family to clinch a deal, Prince Michael of Kent performed this role and Prince Andrew continues to do so.
    2. The Prince's Trust - provides wide reaching development and poverty alleviation in the UK and abroad, it does marvelous work much of which is out of the public eye.
    3. Duchy brand products - The Prince of Wales in his capacity as Duke of Cornwall has developed a wide range of products using the brand name Duchy to reflect his title as Duke of Cornwall, these products tend to be high quality, preserve heritage industries and traditional techniques but also encourage innovation and new developments, they contribute positively to the national income of the British Isles and they raise the prestige of British products.


Britain's Gross Domestic Product benefits greatly from the contributions made to it by the monarchy. The economic benefit to the British economy far outweighs any "cost" to the public purse

From Graham Fricke

There is an interesting article about Nevil (and another author called Ambler, another engineer) in the latest copy of The Spectator 30 July 2011, p 16, columns 2 and 3, by Peter Hitchens, "The Thrills of Summers Past" which can be found


From Holland where we had lost of rain the last couple of weeks, but where it seems that summer is finally coming, see you all next month.