Barrie Skelcher

Slender Thread book image

By a Slender Thread

Looking for a good novel, one with a yarn about sailing, terrorists and plutonium? Then read "By A Slender Thread" by Barrie Skelcher. Published by Navigator, (ISBN 0 902830 46 5). Set in the fading years of the Cold War, the old Soviet hardliners devise a plot to deprive Britain of all its nuclear power stations and so make the Country dependant on the USSR for its fossil fuel supplies. The settings and the technology involved in stealing plutonium, producing a home made bomb and the problems of covering up the operation are frighteningly realistic. Indeed, one might reasonably think that some events since 1995, when the book was published, have now shown themselves. A few new copies of this book are still available and are signed by the Author at 7.50p inc p&p in UK mainland.

What others have said;
"It is a scientific novel...once you start reading it is difficult to put the book down....Anyone with an interest in the nuclear industry, for or against, would fine the book quite fascinating. Anyone with an interest in the nuclear industry and sailing is in for a bonanza..."  Nuclear Technology Publishing

"....a spy thriller by an author who draws heavily on his lifetime professional knowledge ...and his passion for small boat sailing in East Coast waters. Unlikely one might have said but there have been too many such impossible incidents in recent times ..."  

"Apart from being a nuclear physicist, Barrie is aslo a yachtsman and the yacht chase is fascinatingg in detail and excitement. Could it happen?  You must read to know." Suffolk & Norfolk Life

Vaseline and Uranium Glass

Mention the word radioactive  and most people will recoil in horror. Yet radioactivity has been with life on the world since it first began. Nothing is more natural than natural radioactivity. It is suprising just how common radioactivity is. Items we may handle in everyday life could be radioactive. Thorium, used on gas mantes is radioactive. Potasium is radioactive. I find it somewhat amusing when I see "low sodium salt" which has sodium chloride replaced with potassiun chloride. I wounder how many folk realise that they are substituting non-radioactive sodium with radioactive potassium in their diet. 

Uranium is another naturally occuring radioactive element and it has uses other than making nuclear weapons or as fuel in atomic power stations. It is an element that gives a beautiful colour to glass and has been used in the glass industry for about 200 years.  For nearly 20 years I have been researching the use of uranium in glass. Its use in modern times is not common, mailnly due to rules and regulations, but a few glass house still produce glass coloured with uranium. 

What is so special about this type of glass? It is sometimes known as Vaseline Glass for the oily greenish yellow colour of Vaseline can be reproduced by using uranium  in the glass melt. It also can produce other colours as well. To learn more about it read my two book on the subject. They not only contain details about the uranium in selected glass ware but also, glass densities, attributing glass, and dating glass. 

The density of glass is a most important aid to attributing a piece of glass. Every glasshouse tended to use its own basic mix from which it constructed glass of variuos colours. Thus the density of most of the items from any particular glasshouse will be the same. By establishing the characteristics of glasshouse densities the researcher has a good starting point from where to start the search.

Characteristic densities are quoted in both of Barrie Skelcher's books for a number of English, American and Continental glashouses. 

Big Book Vaseline Glass image

Big Book of Vaseline Glass

Big Book of Vaseline Glass, 2002, Schiffer ISBN 0-7643-1474-2. The book is the result of the author's study of glass coloured with uranium often known as Vaseline glass. It covers mainly English glass and includes data on density and uranium content of several hundred items.

Examples from 17 different British glasshouses are analysed in terms of density and uranium content. Examples of American and Continental glass are also included.

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Vaseline Glassware

Vaseline Glassware, 2007, Schiffer ISBN 978-0-7643-2699-8. Continues from where the Big Book of Vaseline Glass left off. Gives more examples and more data. Although there is some duplication for the convenience of the reader, it is strongly advised that both books should be read.

Examples from 21 British glasshouses are analysed in terms of density and uranium content in addition to others from America and the European continent.

Looking for a Speaker?  Glass,or a Trip Through the French Canals

Glass collecting is a fascinating hobby. Unlike collecting some other artifacts it is not indexed and written up in catalogues. The collector is very much on his or her own when it comes to answering the vital questions  ; "who made it?"; "when was it made?"; "how was it made?"
Why not find out more about the glass you discovered put away in "granny's" cupboard, or the items you have been using in everyday life. What is the significance of a "pump handle jug",  or a "broken pontil"?

Stuart Crystal imageGlass Dish imageBarrie Skelcher will give illustrated talks on:
English Glass 1800 - 1950
Uranium / Vaseline Glass for the Collector, or the lay person. Bring examples of glass items and hear his comments about them.

Givet Monument imageMeurse Canal imageEurope has a network of canals which are steeped in interesting history. Holland, Belgium, France and Germany are all blessed with inland waterways which can access as far as the Baltic and the Black Sea. Barrie Skelcher can offer you a talk about the Ardenne area and some of the other areas where two world wars were fought.
The Schlieffen Plan got replaced by the Manstein Plan and the German armour out flanked the Maginot Line to break through to Dunkirk. It all happened in the Ardennes so why not motor boat through this area with an illustrated talk from Barrie Skelcher.

Mirror 16 Sailing Dinghy

The Mirror 16 dinghy is the largest of the Mirror Fleet, originally sponsored by the Daily Mirror newspaper in the 1960's. It is built of plywood on the stitch and glue principle and is an exciting boat to sail. l6ft long, it is lighter and faster than a Wayfarer. It is spacious and can accommodate up to 5 crew. Designed by Jack Holt for either racing or dinghy cruising. Only about 600 of these boats were built. Plans were never drawn up and the boat was sold in kit form to be assembled by the amature or the professional. The kits were made from templates, unfortunately these have been lost. So it would seem that the Class is another endangered species. Not quite so, a few enthusiasts have got together, over the internet, to keep the Class alive. Some are even working on the task of making new termplates so that new boats could be built. The Mirror 16 may not appear in the RYA's Portsmouth Yardstick publication, but some are still racing in the UK and overseas. At the Slaughden Sailing Club the three Mirror 16s race with a Portsmouth Number of 1084

If you have a Mirror 16, or would like to know more about them, contact Barrie Skelcher. The M16 is not confined to the UK, there are some in Australia, the USA and Canada. If you have one of these dinghies please get in touch.

The pictures below show Mirror 16 "Puff" at the Slaughden Sailing Club. Puff, sailed by Ivor artin and Barrie Skelcher won the Mirror 16 National Championships three time in the 1970's. She was then sold only to be discovered rotting away some 27 years later. Now Barrie Skelcher has had her restored and is again racing her.  The left hand side puicture shows her as sher is now, the right hand side picture as she was in 1974.

Mirror 16's are often for sale on the Slaughden Sailing Club website.

Plaining Mirror 16 imageMirror 16 image

Contact Barrie Skelcher

If you are interested in any of the above items, please contact me by telephone on phone numberor by email. Thank you very much.
2007 Barrie Skelcher