Monday, December 16, 2013

Travelators and the future

click photo to enlarge
I've commented elsewhere about how the twenty-first century future, as predicted in the forward-looking 1960s, hasn't worked out quite as forecast. We aren't yet eating our meals from toothpaste-like tubes, routinely travelling in our flying cars, wearing jump-suits (despite the passing fad of onesies) or holidaying in space. Of course, much that wasn't foreseen has come to pass in the form of ubiquitous hand-held computers, the world wide web, the resurgence of interest in crafts and hand-made objects etc.

However, every now and then I have felt that those seers of fifty years ago hit a few bulls-eyes. In fact, I experience it each time I use the travelator (a horizontal escalator) between the Jubilee and Northern Line platforms at Waterloo on the London Underground. During the 1960s my idea of what the future held tended to come from children's comics, films or TV programmes set in the future, or "Tommorrow's World", a weekly series looking at inventions, that began on the BBC in 1965. Travelators were frequently presented as the future of city centre transit. However, on my most recent visit to London, when we once again used the travelator, I didn't have that feeling of experiencing the future. Why? Because a few weeks ago I discovered that the only other travelator on the London Underground, at Bank tube station, began running in 1960 and had its fiftieth anniversary in 2010. In the 1960s, as far as Britain goes, travelators (then spelt travolator) in the 1960s were the cutting-edge present, not the future! What wasn't predicted at the time was that airports would be the place where travelators would find greatest use.

Today's photograph shows the converging lines of Waterloo's 140 metres (460 feet) moving walkway. It also shows a favourite game of parents and children when using the system - a race between the small child on the moving travelator and their parent walking along the non-moving central section.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f1.8
Shutter Speed: 1/30 sec
ISO: 320
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On