thumbnail of The shadow of the lion; Motor Car Mania
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The shadow of the lawyer. Emerging from the memorable immovable past. Britain today faces the formidable task of defining the future. And this is our story the story of the tree from the longer stands can tell the lion of this scepter he said it is but an apparition of Cupid's yesterdays. His profile. Listen. To me. The tempo of transition. Heard in London's Carnaby Street in Coventry in Oxford and. Rhythm.
Off a new revolution in the in Britain. Programme to motor car maybe. From an Indiana University Radio documented essay about contemporary Britain. We present the shadow of the lion with William Kinzer as your net writer. There is a story about an English school who had a mania for more glorious staring sight moment the poetry of motion. The real way to travel and the way to travel here today and next week
tomorrow. And then just skip towns and cities jump. Somebody else's horizon. Oh mother you might just think I never knew to lose wasted years that money behind me. I never knew you never even dreamed it now but now that I know now as I fully realize what a floury trap life spread before me and spoke thus clocks will spring up behind me as I speed on my reckless way. Was. A man. Mr Toad of told Hall remember from Kenneth Graham's The Wind In The Willows and toads obsession with the motor car is not unlike the enveloping interest for ownership that today operates nearly 12 and a half
million automobiles within the boundaries of Britain. One cannot have that number of increase of Motor Vehicles in a tight little country without its effects being very strongly felt. And of course the effects are being felt particularly in towns and I think more so in our towns than in most American cities because our towns are built on a typical med.. Street pattern like most are European. Generally a spider's web. And with all the roads main roads coming down to a focus in the middle and the streets tend to be narrow and twisting and few facilities for parking and no where to load and unload goods. That was Professor Cullen Buchanan. He was with the ministry of transport between one thousand thirty five ended one thousand thirty nine and later between the years lame thousand forty six and sixty one. He was with the Ministry of Town and
Country Planning. So you see he was able in the intervening years to gain considerable insight into both the cause and the effect of Britain's transport problems. He soon became Britain's leading authority on traffic and of the automobile. He published many articles including one titled mixed blessing the motor car in Britain. In 1961 when he was asked to join the ministry of transport as an urban planning adviser the result a startling report on the possible effect of the automobile on British life and in particular its impact on urban centers. Stephen SWINGLER a joint parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport refers to the report as he points out the limited space to accommodate the increasing number of motor cars in Britain. We think and I could but estimate that we may have doubled that number in about 10 years time. We may move the duration can have 20 million.
Now when you look at the map of this country and you look at the State of the towns and cities you can see for yourself that just ain't going to be enough road space to allow completely unrestrained use of the personal vehicle. We want people to have these personal vehicles. This is a great improvement of standard living of the nation but it means that there must be some social self discipline in regard to the use of the private vehicles and that also means that all profess to be kind and pointed out in his famous report on traffic get down to the corroborate is that the minister of transport plans to provide more efficient. And more attractive means of public transport so that people leave their personal vehicles at home when they make the journey to work because there are efficient trains and buses to take them where they want to go.
It's it's really Motor Vehicles that one has to consider. It's the it's a motor vehicle as a whole and this consists partly of a private car but it consists also of a great deal of commercial industrial traffic. Professor Buchanan reminds you of the widely accepted convenience of motor transport. Ever since it arrived on the scene at the roundabout the beginning of the century it's set itself on knowing a way into the structure of this stablish transport system which was thrown away as and it's gone on ever since. It's gradually brought the railways almost to a state of bankruptcy and this has happened in North America in exactly the same way. And when you ask what the reason for this is I think the reason is perfectly simple that the motor vehicle has proved itself and extremely ingenious and versatile means of transport. I don't think. Anything like this has been invented before and it looks to me as though it's going to go on
for a long time. It can do what no railway can do and that is to say it can transport a person or goods literally from one door to another and the intervening distance may be a matter of two or three hundred yards or it may be two or three hundred miles. It's all the same to motivic in 1963. Cullen Buchanan became Professor of transport at the University of London's Imperial College. In 1964 he was on the new year's honors list to receive from the queen a CBE commander of the British Empire. Now you were sitting in his office at Imperial College. He's telling you of the tremendous influence the motorcar is having on Britain. The social The physical changes that is occurring. I mentioned a little while ago that the motor vehicle was really. Loosening up urban structure and was tending all the time the way it seems to work is towards sprawl and spread of development. I think this is the big
lesson from from North America. The motivator isn't it only part of the cause of it it's also due to the sheer rise of population. A lot more people to be accommodated and towns are itching to spread and the motor vehicle enables them to spread in a big way. And I think this is a terrifying prospect for Britain particular for the south of Britain that if the motivator was really given its head I think we could get the whole place covered in a sprawl and spread of development. The motor car menu in Britain. Is not only an overt sign of affluence but it also symbolizes a newfound freedom as bracket of the Royal Automobile Club point so many people now take holidays instead of the traditional week or two weeks at a seaside resort. Going to a boarding house staying in one place for a full night they
now take motoring holidays and possibly even more important certainly has economic implications. Many many more people got broke for a holiday and the magic hours means of transforming the cross-channel ferries the majority of them using the shares of the airlines about 1 6 1/2 hours. And. After they go on a motoring Harley on the continent and so it is that British tastes and experiences have been flavored by Continental contacts and the shops of Sheffield diplomats or Leicester where evidence of gay foreign influence she could talian shoes French fashions coffee machines juke boxes delicatessens even quite ordinary Britons can now afford to tour the tropic isles of Spain or
the Austrian material and they bring back more than souvenirs the most new ideas are gradually eroding the traditional patterns of British living and at home. Well the motor car not only effects but reflects the sociological makeup of Britain. Listen. The density of car ownership in the south is greater than in the north. But the motor car use point and in the south from the north the motor car in the south is out in America a means of transportation. And if you go along to any big British building site you will see the thing as you see in the state that your workers drive up in their motor cars every morning get out and. Book and then at the end of the day get that you're listening to Ronald Breck. He's an economics consultant in Britain. He's written a number of books including the Unilever forecast Nineteen Eighty-Four. Now in the north of England the northern half of England the motor car still a thing truly a joy ride
a means of going out on Saturdays and Sundays and occasionally during the week it is not merely a means of transport during the week. Some mothers will use it as a school family or use it for shopping but most of their cars time during the week is spent in the gap. The British motorist like his American counterpart displays various passions attitudes and abilities on the open route. Some drive with conservative care as might be expected of any reserved Englishman. But there are mad Englishman too who reached out of the midday sun at 90 per caught up in the reckless urge of contemporary haste. Now you know frankly there's no such thing as the motorist any different from the citizen. We are well on the way to democratising the motor car and the motorists as a community are now genuinely a cross-section of the community. I now have all the good habits and all the bad habits that the community has and you
would agree with Mr SWINGLER there are good and bad drivers everywhere. Professor Buchanan has made a number of trips to the United States compares driving habits. You have a maturity driving behavior. Which I don't think we begin to match in this in this country yet. And this I imagine has been painfully acquired in North America and I imagine that we will have to acquire it painfully here. And David Greig of the edible peel Association adds a lot of inexperienced drivers on the road and it's because of this that you see I thought them out a rather wishy washy driving and I think it's due to inexperience a great deal of it bad and in some cases some of the older drivers who grew up in a different generation when traffic was a very different proposition anyway and they haven't quite caught up with things. Driving Schools are flourishing in Britain and wherever you go you're likely to see the big red learner plates required on all
vehicles driven by beginners who venture forth into open traffic. Of course I think it's important to start a very early age I know in the in the in the States but you start teaching children of school or teenage driving instruction in a school that's something we're just starting over here. The lack of lane discipline Professor Buchanan feels is the most common fault among drivers in Britain overtaking is one of the great hazards on the kind of roads we have and what kind of roads are out there. Highways of history many of the roads of course one could do a lot of medieval times. You can still see quite clearly the inheritance from Rome of the Roman roads. These narrow winding roads snaked their way over the British countryside flanked by open field or Hawthorn hit and almost all are paved. Many are curved. Most in excellent condition. And where do they lead.
Into a fantasy world of quaint yesterdays past landscapes picturesque and peaceful. Meandering among movie set villages tutor and timbered houses out over borders and across Heather top use by mirrored lakes and lusty sea. In view of castles and churches cathedral and poachers past places travel posters have immortalised. Britain is a wondrous place for the touring visitors. And it's true you know all of these picture book patterns of life. They really do exist but too frequently today progress has added a footnote to my style show. And there are signs of a coming age. The motorway for instance. We were operating starting a program of what we call motorway the motorway
was first introduced to an English motorist in November 1959 a 70 mile stretch of the M1 Britain's first six lane freeway was declared open by the then minister of transport. EARNEST Marples well English drivers are contained by narrow and complicated roads up until now gleefully took this as an opportunity to let out their small but powerful cars and away they went. Transport trucks and passenger vehicles alike roared down the highway jockeying for position at high speeds. Needless to say upon returning to London mobiles had but one observation I was frightened he said. Britain today is leased by motorway proposals that fan out in all directions from London with two main arteries running parallel courses from south to
north. The entire length of the British Isles but only about a third has been completed and opened to traffic. We aim to have a. I was in my old motorway in the 1970s. Anybody is entitle to say that that's not enough. Since as I have said the number of vehicles is going to increase much more rapidly and may be double in the next 10 years. Stephen swindler joint parliamentary secretary representing the views of the transport ministry in London. Much Pressure has been applied to the ministry and to parliament for more and better roads in Great Britain. You ask David Gregg the highway and traffic manager of the Automobile Association exactly why Britain is behind in the road building programme. He pauses a moment then says well I suppose it's because. Parliament still hasn't realized the importance of the roads within the scheme of the event of course with so many competing claims
schools housing and so forth. Hospitals and it's just a matter of allocation of the funds available. Economic priorities of course those who would argue the case for higher road appropriations in Britain however emphasise the fact that there is false economy in not providing an excellent highway system. Moreover they point to the amount of money collected by taxation on motor vehicles. There is no connection whatsoever between the amount collected from the motoring public in taxation and the amount which is spent on roads is a very big one. Any big gap out of such taxation has come to European affection for small cars. According to Professor Buchanan taxation measures of encourage the growth of small cars and petrol economy and heavy very heavy taxation on what you call gasoline and gasoline tax is staggering compared with yours and this tends to make for small engine cars. Britain trails only the US and Canada as a consumer of gasoline
or petrol. Although it may be praised as high as 80 cents a gallon but it's part of the changing scene for in Britain today the petrol station has become as familiar as the corner pub. And. As you travel in Britain you will see along the road at intervals blue or yellow telephone call boxes. These have been provided by Britain's two leading motoring organisations. They are received at the age. Any member can make an emergency call from the news and is provided with a key that will fit either the receipt box which is blue or the box which is yellow and the frequency of these countryside kiosks serves to illustrate the universal presence and the significant role of these organisations. Are a seat at the Royal Automobile Club received its title in 1907 but
traces its beginnings to the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland founded in 1897. 88. The Automobile Association and U.S.A. did in 1905 when a band of motoring enthusiasm met in a London West End restaurant to formulate an organisation. Both groups grounded in the hearty spirit of motoring heritage and effort to promote automotive interests to protect the rights and privileges of drivers. And whenever possible to provide essential services. Perhaps it's lobbying for new laws distributing vital information or operating emergency road patrols the functions of the AG and the RACC have expanded greatly in the post-war years and membership has more than tripled.
The American driver in Britain. Please note these pointers. You find it useful to be at least an associate member of either the AA or the IRA C to receive helpful maps and touring information. Items are rarely provided by the British service station. You can find also that a big car is a handicap that it's difficult to maneuver in narrow streets and that it's costly to operate. You find some things quite strange driving on the left for instance. It requires concentration especially as you approach a traffic circle or what the British call a roundabout. The zebra crossings and these are striped cross walks where the pedestrian has total sanctity. A privilege that is used. Nevertheless with discretion and of course the language of the road. In Britain for instance a detour is a diversion. A curve a bend a divided highway
is a dual carriageway a bypass is a ring road a stop is halt and a plead for extreme caution is usually admonished by the words dead slow as a stranger you may find the directions signs on certain roads in adequate or antiquated or even confusing film directed of the RACC explains. I don't think we've lag behind on warning signs one way street. Whole major overhead that type of thing where time place and system has been open to some criticism has been the fact that direction signs are not whole ways what they might be and for example you as an American tourist might be heading for Stratford on Avon following signs which saved Stratford on Avon suddenly struck down by even disappears and you find you're following the sound of Birmingham and you don't know where the devil been there and then a few miles further on you
find the Stratford on Avon has suddenly mysteriously re-appear significant change on the British steam has been the introduction of continental road signs. These are warning signs with silhouettes and symbols. No word if the new signs are designed to him. We get continuity between all European countries so the migrants go from one country to another will find the signs the same and there can be no doubt as to better interpretation. In recent years road safety has become very important in Britain. But Professor Buchanan would remind you that the rate of accidents has not increased in the same ratio as the number of vehicles we had in fact one of the worst years for accidents was in there in the middle 1930 is when there were no i think 2 million vehicles on the roads. Now we've got six times that number on the roads but the accidents
that there are certainly more accidents now. But the actual increase in numbers is comparatively small. Something like eight thousand people are killed each year on British rules somewhat less than most countries in Europe. Slightly more than the United States or Canada. But these are statistics. It's the human drama of injury and death that really impresses people because of that fog shrouded November night from 1865. It was on the M6 motorway and it began with a simple motorway breakdown them someone rammed into the stalled car. The. Other papers. A bus. A truck or two piled into the mangled wreckage. Dozens were killed or injured. It was clear drastic measures had to be taken. Police blamed
excessive speed so transport minister Thomas Fraser imposed a 70 mile an hour speed limit on all of the nation's roads. I'll do experimental. The measure met immediate and stormy opposition. A thousand motorists assembled on the M1 to protest drivers voiced their disapproval and their dismay at Frazier's actions. But in a cabinet reshuffle a month later Tom Fraser was removed as head of the ministry of transport. His replacement a red haired vivacious firebrand of the party's left wing Barbara Castle. Mrs. Castle moved into the ministry with a disarming smile and a feminine innocence that was to say the least deceptive. She reviewed the thankless task of tackling Britain's perennial transport problem with diplomatic candor. Should the experimental speed limit stay on Stephen SWINGLER admits it's difficult to please everyone but at the moment we are so concerned
about the number of accidents. The principal quarter which was obviously excessive speed by about somebody that we feel we must make a psychological impact upon the driving community in the curious sometimes confusing the struggle to establish the motorcar status in British society. There exists an even evitable conflict between the ministry and the motorist interpretations a public good teacher between active control and ultimate freedom. There is also a tendency in official circles talk always in terms of restriction rather than positive action. Everyone says well let's ban cars from the city centers let's charge motorists more for going to citizen for driving on country roads. Now this is all negative stuff. One thing is certain the motor vehicle especially the
private car has done more to change the face and future of Britain than any one single factor it has created social incentives that have reshaped the pattern of British life it has created concerns that have effected many areas of influence from town planning to personal safety. It has provided a new freedom and flexibility that has bridged timing and tradition. It has become both a necessity and a member service. It is indeed a mixed blessing. And as the motor car meaning increases Britain looks to the United States for evidence of her future. You are probably 25 years ahead of this country in there in the use of motor vehicles. You've had much more experience all of the problems that are arising. And so North America related to us has a tremendous working the bar of it.
The shadow of the lion
Motor Car Mania
Producing Organization
Indiana University
WFIU (Radio station : Bloomington, Ind.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-319s5g7q).
Series Description
For series info, see Item 3300. This prog.: Motor Car Mania. Factors surrounding the phenomenal increase of automobiles in Britain: economy, safety, planning, customs; also, the characteristics of British motoring habits and highways.
Social Issues
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: Indiana University
Producing Organization: WFIU (Radio station : Bloomington, Ind.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-14-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:16
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The shadow of the lion; Motor Car Mania,” 1968-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 27, 2023,
MLA: “The shadow of the lion; Motor Car Mania.” 1968-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 27, 2023. <>.
APA: The shadow of the lion; Motor Car Mania. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from