As I drove back from Greenwich after eleven o’clock last night having picked
up a neighbour marooned by the floods and Southeastern’s rubbish train service I
felt more than a little dejected at the news on the radio. Nigel Farage had
conceded defeat in the referendum and my own personal bet had been that LEAVE would win by 6%.
An hour or so later lying in bed with only Twitter and the radio for company a glimmer of hope emerged. Maybe we were not for ever more going to be trapped in the stranglehold of an organization intent on sucking us into a black hole after all.
In the event, Bexley was the only OUTer in South London (is Sutton South London?) whilst the country as a whole voted OUT. 128,570 Bexley votes and 80,886 for LEAVE. Turnout 75·3%.
While awaiting that result I began to think of a possibly silly analogy for what lies ahead.
During the 1940s my father was working alongside Frank Whittle in Leicester on primitive jet engines. By the 1950s he was in Farnborough working on better engines which could just about push a plane through the sound barrier. There were shock waves as it was approached and much buffeting as the threshold was crossed and several aeroplanes fell out of the sky but by the end of that decade he was working on the power units for a Mach 3 bomber.
Duncan Sandys, the defence minister, cancelled that project but the design was not wasted. A decade later those engines were powering Concorde into the record books.
Has Britain built anything world beating since?
Just as it was in the early 1950s there will be difficult times and more risks to be taken but maybe Britain will once again go supersonic. Perhaps Bexley Council will recognise what happens to politicians who disappoint and lose touch with their electorate.
Photos from the family album.
Because it is the accepted wisdom I have said the engine developments took place in Farnborough, Hampshire. In fact the work was done in relative secrecy, hidden by extensive forestry in a hamlet not too far away called Pyestock.