Building in visual concrete
Sir: We would not dream of questioning Dennis Sharp's right to criticise our publication, Building in visual concrete (DESIGN 274/87), as acidly as he has; but I must take this earliest opportunity of rebutting his wholly incorrect assertion that the book is "clearly an advertising venture". The Blue Circle Group and the Cement & Concrete Association did indeed extend to us much courtesy and editorial help in identifying the correct English equivalents of German technical words and phrases; but I can assure you, sir, that every penny of the editorial production and advertising bills in respect of this book have been and will be, paid by this company. The "outrageous" price of £5.25 we ask is entirely unsubsidised and is in fact probably too low in view of the impact of today's costs on an inevitably small print order.
As for the "unsigned preface probably written by a committee" it was in fact written by myself. I have reread it in the light of Mr Sharp's animadversions, and I still cannot see in what way it differs from a normal publisher's attempt to explain what his book is about, who it is for, who wrote it, and who helped. But what really stings is Mr Sharp's accusation that we have published a subsidised book without open acknowledgment of the subsidy. It is totally untrue, and very damaging to the name of The Technical Press - in that it openly implies that we are willing to publish under our imprint "water coming from a tainted well".
Paul Stobart chairman, The Technical Press, 112 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5RY.
Sir: London Transport has looked into the suggestion, made in your Comment paragraph "Crossed Paths" (DESIGN 270/22) that the entrance and exit signs for one of the platforms at the foot of the escalators in Paddington Underground station should be changed over to reduce conflicting passenger flows at that point.
Unfortunately, such an alteration though superficially attractive would not improve the situation. If the passenger flows and signs to and from one of the Bakerloo Line platforms were to be transposed, passengers going to that platform would be directed to take a slightly longer route. In our experience, many passengers going to trains insist on taking the shortest route and make for the nearest opening onto the platform, ignoring notices. They would be likely to do so equally in this case and the situation would, as a result, be worsened rather than improved.
However, additional notices are to be put up to clarify the existing arrangements, particularly for passengers leaving the platforms.
F E Wilkins, Chief public relations officer, London Transport 55 Broadway, London SW1
What, no feet and inches?
Sir: I have scoured London for a pocket measure marked in metric and in feet and inches. Although there is a wide variety of new patterns on the market by British and foreign manufacturers none of them are made in this way. For some extraordinary reason they all assume that feet are no longer used; so they mark them in centimetres and inches only. It was bad enough before decimilisation when some shops discarded pounds and used shillings only but this is the end! I wonder who will be the first to see their chance - the Japanese perhaps?
Leslie K Watson, Watson & Coates, 3 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn, London WC1