My family took a picnic to Rudyard Lake last Friday. Today (Sunday) I took coffee in Costa in the next village to home and read the Sunday Times article Battle for Internet TV hots up. It occurred to me that even though I am on broadband it takes a long time to download big files such as any of Steve Jobs's Keynotes that might take 45 minutes (ok I am at the limit of copper from exchange). So why Rudyard?
The story of Rudyard really began in 1797 when an Act of Parliament authorised the construction of a two and a half mile long reservoir just north of Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Its purpose was to feed the ever growing system of canals that were vital arteries of the Industrial Revolution in the Midlands.
Then, in 1829, the North Staffordshire Railway Company laid a track skirting the lake, part of a line linking Manchester with Uttoxeter, and built two stations at each end of the lake. Before long it became a weekend mecca for day trippers, with a constant stream of excursion trains from Manchester and the Potteries disgorging thousands attracted by the beautiful surroundings and the many activities laid on for their pleasure. Awaiting them was a fleet of rowing boats, a funfair, brass band concerts and dozens of tearooms.
Among the numerous courting couples who walked the tranquil banks of the lake in 1863 were a certain John Lockwood Kipling and Alice Macdonald. Their love blossomed, they married, and their first-born was named after the lake. He became one of Britain's greatest writers.
Rudyard Lake's peak of popularity was towards the end of the 1800s, when in one day as many as 20,000 excursionists would buy cheap train tickets. There were plenty of celebrities to entertain them too. The world's greatest trapeze artist, Blondin, fresh from his feat of crossing Niagara Falls on the high wire, came to Rudyard to repeat his achievement. And Captain Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel, delighted the crowds lining the line with a demonstration of his prowess.
[ link to original photo]
So, Even though the lake was there it was not until the communications infrastructure was built that the content could be shared with so many people. Eventually the car took over as the communication medium, people went to other sites and the railway died. It was turned into a path to stroll by the lake for the (comparatively) few that come today. There is also a local narrow gauge railway- see top of blog- to remind us of the excitment people felt as they arrived from the Potteries, Manchester, etc. to have a day out.
So, if we turn our attention to the status of internet TV we get two sorts of headlines:
BBC iPlayer wreaking havoc on ISPs
The BBC iPlayer is supposedly seen as 30 times as bandwidth heavy compared to other video players like YouTube. These ISPs might not realize what's in store for the internet as even more services and larger content moves online, they might have to buckle sooner rather than later and spend the $2 billion necessary to upgrade networks before things really get out of control.