musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Going home

Early on Monday I will start my long journey to South Africa. So far it entails 4 train rides and an 11 hour flight. I am doing a direct flight this time around so won’t have that long layover in Dubai to deal with and two flight. Frankly I do not mind flying Emirates but really dislike that airport and I am struggling with my lower back and hip pain.

It is worth noting that my destination is no long what I will call “Home”. 

Why am I doing this? My mother is 87 and doing poorly. My original intention was to head down there next year, but I am sufficiently concerned to change my plans. I do not know what the outcome of this trip will be. Actually, if things do not go well in the future I will be flying back anyway. 

The chances are I won’t be posting many updates until I get back in April, so till then keep the powder dry, and boil the kettle!

And don’t forget to put the cat out, although I did not know he was on fire.

I left Tewkesbury early on Monday 20th from Ashchurch for Tewkesbury Station. It was a cold and gloomy day and from there I traveled to Cheltenham Spa and boarded the GWR train to London Paddington.  I had last been at Paddington in June 2016, so was more confident of what I could do or not do from the station. 

I was quite glad that the loco was one of the new green liveried class 43’s (43187) that had been branded as “The Welshman” as I had not seen too many in the new livery. My plan was to leave my luggage at Paddington and grab the tube to South Kensington and then go visit the Science Museum as well as photograph the interior of the Natural History Museum. I had allowed roughly 3 hours to do this before I had to get back to catch the train to Heathrow,

However, before I did anything I went to the War Memorial on the station that has really taken on a deeper meaning since I read the book (Letter to an Unknown Soldier) that is based on this famous statue.  

I then caught the Circle Line at Paddington, heading west towards South Kensington Station.

There is a subway that runs under the streets from the tube station to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, and that saved me a long walk through Kensington Gardens in what could have changed to wet weather.

Emerging from the subway I was at the Natural History Museum.  I had seen the building in 2016, but had not really taken much notice because I am not really interested in a museum like that, however, the building is magnificent.

The entrance where I emerged was closed, and at that point alarm bells started to ring in my head.

The museum was boarded off and my heart sank when I realised I was not going to be seeing the interior of the building. I had seen it briefly in the Paddington Movie and that is what really spurred my interest in seeing the interior. Unfortunately, this part of the museum was closed and I I had to make do with a few long shots and not much else.

Around the block I schleped… thoroughly browned off at this happening, a similar thing had happened when I first arrived in London in 2013 and went to visit the Imperial War Museum.

My walk around the block did reveal one interesting object worthy of photographing:

Known as the “Queen’s Tower” it is all that remains of the Imperial Institute, which was built to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. The unveiling stone was laid by Queen Victoria on 4 July 1881,

The Imperial Institute building was demolished between 1957 and 1967 and between 1967 and 1968 work was carried out to enable the tower to stand on its own and the lower portion of the tower was substantially bebuilt. (https://www.imperial.ac.uk/about/history/queens-tower/)

The London Science Museum

My first Science Museum visit in June 2016 was by necessity a short one. I had missed the entire flight exhibition and I really wanted to explore it further.

The London Science Museum

and I will deal with the Science Museum visit when I return home in April, This post is really a quickie to establish some sort of continuity, and as such we will jump forward to Paddington Station where I boarded the Heathrow Express  and headed off to the airport to board my onward flight to South Africa with Virgin Atlantic.

It cost me £22 for the one way trip, while the trip from OR Tambo airport to Marlboro Station in Johannesburg on the Gautrain set me back R150. It is an interesting comparison. (£1 = R15)

Check in was easy although I kept on dropping everything, and after a shortish wait I was on board the Boeing 787, with a row to myself. This particular aircraft is called “Birthday Girl” and it would be the first time I have flown in a “Dreamliner”. 

As far as flights go it was not too bad, the food was ok, the onboard video service was reasonably good, although I only watched 3 movies. What I did find poor was that that they did not come around with beverages often and luckily I had a small water bottle with me. Service wise Emirates wins hands down, but I was not as sore and tired after this flight as I would have been had I done the stopover in Dubai.  The interior of the aircraft changes colour which explains the pinks and purples, and the windows do not have blinds, instead they have a button that either lightens or darkens the window when needed. I was however concerned that there were not as many toilet facilities as on the other aircraft I have flown on. 

Because I had a row to myself I was able to indulge in some photography too as we headed south.

And then we were on final approach towards OR Tambo, and I saw Johannesburg in the distance. I had last been here just under 3 years ago, and considering how much I had read about the economic and political situation in the country I was not too sure what I would find.

Approaching ORT, with Johannesburg in the distance (1500×964)

Because it was “Human Rights Day” the airport was relatively quiet, and by 8.30 I was on my way to Marlboro where I was collected by my brother.

24/03/2017

My mother is doing very badly and drastic action has to be taken and tough decisions made and I do not any quick and ready answers. To be frank I was shocked, and at times I still cannot believe it. However, we can only do our best with what resources we have and then take it from there.

DRW 2017. Created 24/03/2017.

Updated: 25/03/2017 — 07:14

Return to Worcester

On 13 March I returned to Worcester as I had some free time. It was a spur of the moment thing though because the weather was wonderful and Spring is in the air. Unfortunately the trains were not. Somewhere something had broken and Ashchurch had one at the platform and one in the distance and none of ours in sight.

The train was delayed by 20 minutes and in an effort to make up the schedule was only going to Worcester Shrub Hill Station.  It is also a larger station than Foregate, but seems to take very little traffic compared to Foregate. Last time I was in Worcester I spotted the semaphores again and the set at Shrub Hill is much larger than the one I had seen previously

Here you can see the split in the rails (Shrub Hill sits on the vertical leg of the T junction, with Foregate on the line to the left and Birmingham to the right). I asked a conductor about them and he said that they are still in use and they do not know when they will be replaced. There is signal box located at the south end of platform 1, and two signal boxes at Henwick (west of Foregate Street), and Tunnel Junction to the north of Shrub Hill. 

Bailing out at Shrub Hill messed with my plans because I had planned to head off to St John’s Cemetery in Henwick, and then return via the cathedral. Now it made sense to go to the cathedral first, take my pics and then go to the cemetery. I could see the cathedral from the station so really just had to head in the general direction. 

Actually I am glad things did work out like that because I saw more of Worcester as I wobbled along. 

Presumably this was the local Great Western Hotel associated with the station. The station building is quite impressive and was designed by Edward Wilson and built in 1865. It is a Georgian-style building mainly of engineering brick with stone facings, but situated where it is you cannot get a decent image of it from the parking area beneath it.  

To the right of the hotel was what seems to be an “Industrial Park”, what it was before I do not know, but it is large and very impressive. 

It is really a large warehouse type structure, and at the far end is one of those wonderful clock towers that seem to pop up in the strangest places.

Then I crossed over what I suspect is the Worcester and Birmingham Canal that eventually comes out at a set of locks into the Severn River. If you follow the Severn there is a good chance you may end up in Tewkesbury.

Just look at that sky! I had not brought my parka with today and eventually had to remove my hoodie because I was getting decidedly overheated. 

I then threaded my way through the maze of streets towards my end destination.

Finally ending up at the Guildhall. 

And if you know where to look you will spot Cromwell above the door, with his ears nailed to the wall (theoretically).

While Edward Elgar looked towards the traffic and probably lamented the lack of Pomp and Circumstance.

At this point I went to the cathedral to photograph the “Woodbine Willie” plaque and window, and those will be covered in my “Connections: Woodbine Willie” post. Suffice to say I did take some new cathedral images and you can view my original Cathedral post on its own page.

After finishing the cathedral I then headed to the right of the image above into what is known as Deansway Street, passing the Ducal Palace 

Until I detoured to the remains of the Medieval Church of St Andrews. 

The structure is also known as “Glover’s Needle”. The plaque inside gives more information, unfortunately it is affixed to the far wall of the spire and not readable from the locked gate. Thank goodness for optical zoom. Click on the image to read the plaque. 

It is a very pretty spot and it overlooks the river close to the bridge. It must have been a fine looking church and today is a very easily recognisable landmark in the city. 

This is the road bridge over the Severn, while the railway bridge and viaduct is in the image below.

Once across the bridge I entered into Cripplegate Park.

And then through the park and onwards to my destination: St John’s Cemetery in Henwick. 

As far as cemeteries go, this one is reasonably uninteresting, there are 33 CWGC graves in the cemetery and I would photograph those that I saw, my final tally being 29. My real aim was to photograph this grave.

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, also known as “Woodbine Willie” would gain fame through his work on the Western Front during the First World War, and his devotion to the poor. He was an orator and a poet who drew crowds to hear him speak. He was also the vicar of St. Paul’s in Worcester (next on my bucket list).

This grave really closes a chapter for me, one that started in London in 2016, and which led me here in 2017. Read about the strange chain of events at “Connections: Woodbine Willie”

Then it was time to head back. I had 2 choices. I could increase speed and make the 13H03 train, or dawdle and make the 15H06 train. Given how wonky the trains were the former seemed like a better idea and I rang down for full ahead. 

Back along the path I had come, passing over the railway line with it’s signal cabin that was mentioned above,

Past St John’s Church,

Through Cripplegate Park with its really nice ornate non functional fountain,

Over the bridge, pausing to take a photograph,

Up Broad Street and past All Saint’s Worcester,

along Foregate Street, pausing to take an image of Lloyd’s Bank and the former church alongside. Now called “Slug and Lettuce”  it was the former St Nicholas Church that dated from the 18th Century. It is a Grade II listed building but is no longer an active church.

I snuck a peek inside and it was stunning. 

Leaving slugs and their lettuce I finally arrived at  the station with 6 minutes to spare.

That was not my train though, mine was the next one. And, while it left on time it tarried before Shrub Hill and did not rush to Ashchurch either. 

Worcester was in the bag, although there are enough reasons to return one day, It wont be anytime soon though because I have an even bigger trip ahead of me, but that is another story for another day. 

© DRW 2017. Created 13/03/2017. 

Updated: 24/03/2017 — 06:56

Drydocking the Fleet

The latest acquisition to my Triang Minic Ships collection is the M885 Floating Dock. I have been on the lookout for one for quite some time but have only just managed to find one that was complete and in a good condition. 

The problem though is that I do not have full hulled ships amongst my fleet of Triang ships (they were all waterline models).  What I do have are 3 Atlas Editions Battleships that are full hull models, albeit in 1/1250 scale. My latest is the legendary HMS Warspite

HMS Warspite

I am still not 100% sure whether she is 1/1250 as she looks awfully small alongside HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Hood that I have.

HMS Prince of Wales. 1/1250 scale (Atlas Editions)

HMS Hood. 1/1250 scale. (Atlas Editions)

After removing the base I found that Warspite would easily fit into my new floating dock, so I contacted the fleet and we duly drydocked Warspite!

I was suitably chuffed, although I really wanted to see whether the “POW” would fit too.

I may even try out HSM Hood, although she is really much longer than both of these ships. 

Naturally I hauled out more fleet members to make a cameo appearance; even HMS Vanguard dusted off her decks and came alongside.

The nice thing is that I was able to create a reasonable harbour scene with the limited harbour equipment that I have, and using a mix and match of ships could make a really nice diorama. 

Although my bedsheet tends to do duty as the local sea front, and it takes longer to erect the diorama than to take the pics. 

Now that bottoms have been scraped I can pack the ships away until next time! I am tempted to buy another Atlas Editions battleship and keep her as a permanent fixture in the floating dock.

Tomorrow? Will Hood fit?

I rest my case.

 

It will be interesting to have a passenger vessel in the dock, but as yet I do not have a full hull passenger ship. My QE2 was originally a full hull but she lost the battle with my saw and is now a waterline model. I have patience, someday my ship will come in.

I also was fortunate enough to acquire HMS Begonia, a Flower Class Corvette by Navis

And HMS Exeter from Atlas Editions. Both of these ships are 1/1250 scale, which really illustrates how small the corvettes really were.

Till next time…..

More of my fleet may be viewed at Triang Minic Ships, More Triang Minic, Fleet Manoeuvres, Navy Day, More Small ShipsModelling the Union-Castle Line (1) and Modelling the Union-Castle Line (2)

© DRW 2017. Created 11/03/2017.

Updated: 18/03/2017 — 12:21

Camberwell Cemeteries in Danger

When I first arrived in London in 2013, one of the first cemeteries I visited was Camberwell Old Cemetery and at the time I did not really take too much notice of it. It is an old cemetery and there is a small chance that I may have family buried there, but I cannot confirm it.

I visited the cemetery twice, and on both occasions the weather was grey and chilly and the remnants of snow may still be seen on some of my pics. I had no real reason to visit it though, and it was by sheer luck that I picked up one of the two Victoria Cross burials in the cemetery during my first visit (Albert McKenzie VC).

The cemetery was really divided in two, the first part being a normal maintained cemetery, while the other being a heavily wooded area, probably much older and reminiscent of Nunhead Cemetery. Given the weather I did not explore very long in this area because the mud and undergrowth really precluded doing very much. I was actually quite puzzled by the state of this area, but I did not know the history at the time. 

The cemetery is located on Forest Hill Road, and covers approximately 30 acres (0.12 km2).  The site was purchased in 1855 and it was originally meadow land.  The first interment took place in  July 1856 and over 30,000 burials took place in the subsequent 30 years. In 1874 the cemetery was further expanded by seven more acres and by 1984, there were 300,000 interments. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camberwell_Cemeteries)

Map courtesy of Kevin Brazier

There are 291 First World War burials, and war graves plot is in the north-east corner of the cemetery and contains two screen walls. One commemorates almost 160 casualties buried in the plot, the other bears the names of those buried in the remaining war graves scattered throughout the cemetery that could not be individually marked. Those remaining graves are much important than we realise in the light of what is happening at Camberwell Old Cemetery.

The war graves plot also contains a group of special memorials to the 14 casualties of the Second World War buried in the cemetery. 

   
   
   
   

So what is going on at Camberwell Old Cemetery?

From what  I can  read in short it is “Southwark Council is cutting down acres of inner city woods to mound over graves and next to dig up thousands of people’s remains to sell their graves as ‘new’ burial plots” (http://www.savesouthwarkwoods.org.uk/home/4593424362).  That will include the unknown burial plots of the war graves scattered that are throughout the cemetery that could not be individually marked. The cemetery is more than a mere burial place, it is a green lung in a busy city, it provides homes for woodland and small creatures, it is a valuable recreational space and it is a historic cemetery. It is difficult to know the whole story because there are two sides to each story, but my gut instinct says that what they want to do is fundamentally wrong, although the rational part of me says that come hell or high water they are going to do it irrespective.  The part that really gets to me is that “the Church of England has said the Commonwealth War Graves Commission do not need to mark the poor soldiers’ graves – to avoid making them seem special and for ‘practical purposes’, that is, to allow cemeteries to bury on top of them”. http://www.savesouthwarkwoods.org.uk/48-ww1-soldiers-graves/4593715253. It would be interesting to know why these graves have been “lost” in the first place and why they were not accorded a CWGC headstone at the time. I do suspect that there may be private memorials involved, and as such CWGC has no real jurisdiction over those graves.   

Camberwell New Cemetery

Before I made my second trip  I first visited Camberwell New Cemetery which is not too far away. It contains 198 Second World War burials, almost 80 of them forming a war graves and the rest are scattered throughout the cemetery. A screen wall commemorates almost 120 of these casualties (including those buried in the plot) whose graves could not be marked with individual headstones, together with a further 56 Second World War casualties whose remains were cremated in Camberwell (Honor Oak) Crematorium.  

I will be honest and say that the cemetery was not really memorable, in fact I took very few photographs of the place.

In 1926 the first part of the land was laid out as a cemetery and was consecrated by the Right Reverend William Woodcock Hough, Bishop of Woolwich, and the first interment took place on 23 May 1927. The Crematorium was built in 1939 to meet a growing demand for cremations and it is situated in the cemetery grounds, ten acres of which were landscaped as memorial gardens. 

What did interest me at this cemetery was the Civilian Casualties Memorial that was seemingly under restoration.

This was the first one that I had seen since arriving in London, and I have seen a number of others since then. 

I did not spend too long at this cemetery and set off for Camberwell Old Cemetery to photograph the grave of William Stanlake VC, and I recall at the time thinking that finding it in that mass of vegetation was going to be very difficult, but fortunately the plot was easily found.

Path to the grave of William Stanlake VC.

And then I headed off for home. I seem to recall visiting Motherwell and Brockley cemetery on this trip too. No wonder I was so tired all of the time. 

The destruction that is happening at these two cemeteries is very sad, and while I do not live in London I do have an interest in these happening because I have seen it so often before. I do not think that the destruction and re-use of these two cemeteries can be halted, but I do hope that the damage can be minimised or stopped before these two spaces are irreversibly changed.

It is worth visiting the  Friend of Camberwell Cemeteries website to read for yourself what is going on. Let us hope that sanity prevails. 

© DRW 2013-2017. Retrospectively created 11/03/2017

Updated: 11/03/2017 — 15:05

Four years later

Temporarily under construction. 

On the 1st of March 2013 I landed in United Kingdom. It is true, I have been here now for 4 years. This is the final year of my visa and literally “crunch year”. I posted the following on Facebook at the time

“Alrighty. I am back. I am in luverly London. Flights were long, trip was not too awful. I am now in Kennington in London. This will be my base for about a week. And, Imperial War Museum was closed when I went there!!! aaarrrghhh!!”

On the 2nd of March 2013 I posted

“a busy day, Walked from Kennington to past Tower bridge. Took 790 pics. The morning was overcast and cold but it turned into a wonderful day later on. So much to see.. watch my pics!”

 

That long walk was exhausting, and I really overdid it that day. So much so that I ended up with extremely sore and swollen shins that took a long time to heal. I did a photo essay on my visit to Tower Bridge especially for this occasion. 

I started out by living in Kennington, and it  was very nice, being close to the tube (Northern Line), bus, shops and everything else. It was really an ideal area to live in

Kennington Tube Station

Kennington Station was not the one closest to my destination, I emerged at Oval Station, and I would use that station frequently, but that first exit with my luggage will always stay with me. I dragged my luggage nearly a kilometre to where I was staying, fortunately it was not too awful a day. (There is a Photo Essay on the London Underground at allatsea). Initially I used the tube quite often but found the buses were handier and cheaper in the long run. 

Not too far away was Peckam, Lewisham, Brixton, Camberwell, Newington (Elephant and Castle) and Deptford. Yes, it is true, I ventured forth into Brixton on a number of times and survived to tell the tale! Lewisham was interesting because it was at the local hospital that my grandfather was treated for the wound that he suffered in Delville Wood. 

The weather was grey on many of the days, and once again I gave thanks for my NATO Parka, it is still the most effective cold weather jacket that I have and is still in regular use. 

I was fortunate that I was able to remain in my temporary “digs” in Kenington for an additional month, and during that month I covered a lot of ground while simultaneously job hunting. It was evident though that I would not find the technical work I was looking for and accommodation prices were steep. I really need to get out of London and go elsewhere. That was when I decided that the time had come to venture forth to Southampton which was where I really wanted to be, but which proved to be somewhat of a bad decision job-wise.  I pretty much covered 2013 in this blog though, so you can follow a lot of my meanderings from March 2013 in the list below. 

I have just recently added in a photo essay about the London Eye as I had not covered it before. I almost forgot I had those pics. 

I have lived in London, Southampton, Salisbury, Basingstoke, Burntwood and Tewkesbury (which is where I am now). I have worked as a baggage handler, a test technician, a recycler, and a workshop bench technician. I have seen churches and cathedrals and graves and towns and all manner in between. I have traveled in numerous trains, seen a number of preserved ships, taken over 70000 photographs, visited the “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries in London, I have seen many museums (including IWM), countless statues, and drowned myself in the weight of ages. I have been places and seen things and my bucket list has had a number of items crossed off it

I have learnt new habits and skills and forgotten old ones. I even had to relearn how to ride a bicycle. I have met people from all over the world, and from various parts of the UK, I was here when the Brexit Referendum occurred, and may still see the triggering of the negotiations to leave the EU.

Apart from the cities that I lived in I have also visited Romsey, Havant, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Lichfield, Bath, Bristol, Poole, Weymouth, Birmingham, Walsall, Portsmouth, Dudley, Chippenham, Reading, Winchcombe and Winchester. 

My health has not improved though, and I have started to feel my own age, having to rely on 3 pairs of glasses. I have also had to curtail my walking as it has become difficult at time.

The strange thing is that I am more aware of my environment, I look at flowers and trees with a new interest, I gasp at the beauty of an autumn day, and revel in those rare sun filled long days of summer, the chilly bite of winter is exhilarating and the feel of frost under your feet at midday still amazes me.  

I was last in South Africa for a short visit in May 2014, and frankly I do not miss it. I read in horror some of the events that occur daily in South Africa, and see how the economy is declining and political unrest becomes more of an issue. I may still end up back there if I cannot get my visa renewed, but that’s another story altogether. The strange thing is I struggle to remember a lot from South Africa, although that could be my brain that is full. 

The next 10 months will be filled with more of the same, and I look forward to returning to Bristol and Worcester as well as Gloucester.  If I have to go back to SA this blog will be my way of reminding myself of the time I spent here.

These are my memories, I have to make more.

© DRW 2017 Created 01/03/2017 

Updated: 05/03/2017 — 14:22

Connections: Woodbine Willie

Many years ago there was a programme on local TV called “Connections” and it dealt with how things connect to form a link between one action and a result. It was fascinating watching it and I have often tried to link things like that in my own life. Yesterday I found a perfect example. The connection between a ship and an Anglican priest and poet.

It starts off like this:

In March 1986 I went to see the QE2 in Durban for the first time.

I did not see her again until 1991. At that time there was a small ship called Avalon in Durban harbour. Formerly the RMS St Helena, she was now seeking a new career doing cruises to the Indian Ocean Islands.

We managed to wangle a short trip across Durban Harbour on board her as she vacated the berth where QE2 would be the next day.  

Both QE2 and the former St Helena were Falklands veterans. In 1992 I sailed on the Canberra, also a Falklands veteran, and when we arrived in Cape Town the new RMS St Helena was alongside and I photographed her from the Canberra.

I mentally set a goal to see whether it was possible to get a trip on board the St Helena, and I wrote away for a brochure. As luck would have it there was a voyage to Tristan da Cunha coming up in 1993 and I was fortunate enough to book a cruise on this mini mailship

Many years passed, and the RMS St Helena ploughed her lonely furrow between Cape Town and St Helena while they constructed an airport on the island. Once it was completed the announcement was made of the St Helena’s last voyage in June 2016. Of interest to me was her visit to the Pool of London, where she would berth alongside HMS Belfast. I decided to head down to London and watch her arrive and say my goodbye to her.

Upon arrival in London I went to see the RMS arrive on the 7th of June, and it was quite an emotional moment for me. 

On the 8th I revisited Kensal Green Cemetery, and afterwards headed into London once again to see the ship. I first visited St Pauls Cathedral, before heading towards the Thames. In the maze of streets I somehow ended up in Lombard Street, and saw one of the many churches in London, it was now the home of the London Spirituality Centre, or, as it was formerly known: St Edmund, King and Martyr.

During my visit the person manning the front desk showed me a number of wall memorials in the church, and she was very proud of a memorial to somebody called “Woodbine Willie”.

 

I had to admit that I had never heard of him before, but the nickname stuck in my mind because Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy was way too much for me to remember at once. Apparently he was the Rector of this particular church at one time. He got his nickname for his habit of handing out cigarettes to troops (Woodbines being a favoured brand).

I continued my walk down to the Thames to say my goodbyes to the RMS and the next day I returned to Tewkesbury to post my blog and recover from my short but exhausting London jaunt. 

Yesterday, I visited Worcester Cathedral, and after seeing the cathedral walked through Worcester, and while I was walking I discovered a number of small bronze statues in the area. I did not pay too much attention to them, just read the names and took the pic. At the one statue I did a double take because the one statue was of Woodbine Willie! 

I was even more amazed to discover that there is a memorial to him in Worcester Cathedral, 

as well as an engraved pane on the Window of the Millennium.

“Woodbine Willie takes the light of Christ to the Troops”

On the 13th of March I returned to Worcester to close the chapter a bit more, walking to St John’s Cemetery where I photographed his grave.

As strange as it seems, this sequence really revolves around how things connected to each other, from the QE2 in 1986 to a forgotten and reluctant war hero in 2017. The key to it is really the RMS St Helena, without seeing Avalon the chances are I would not have recognised the name on the statue. Had I taken a different route in London I would not have seen the church, had I not stopped to look at a statute I would not have read that it was Woodbine Willie. Come to think of it, it is all really the fault of the QE2.

 

There is a stained glass window dedicated to him in St Paul’s Church in Worcester, that will be the last step of this journey. 

Connections, they are all around us if we know how to tie them together.

© DRW 2017. Created 21/02/2017, updated 13/03/2017 

Updated: 13/03/2017 — 18:27

Remembering the Mendi 2017

Every year around this time I commemorate the lives lost in the sinking of the troopship Mendi on the 21st of February 1917. This year is no different and each year I know more about it.

Earlier this month I discovered a new Mendi Memorial in the churchyard of St John The Evangelist, Newtimber, Sussex. The memorial is to  “Chief Henry Bokleni Ndamase” who perished on the Mendi.

TQ2713 : Memorial to Chief Henry Bokleni Ndamase by Bob Parkes

Naturally I wanted to know more and took a good long look at my Roll of Honour and drew a blank. The big problem with the ROH is that it is really inaccurate, and there are a number of reasons for that. I consulted with the local co-ordinator of the South African War Graves Project and he replied as follows:

“This whole Mendi RoH is troubling, it seems to me that there were initial errors made in some of the names, errors crept in as a result of “tweaking” the facts and a general misunderstanding of the history of the casualties (probably due to the unavailability of any documentary evidence.) Many of these errors are now on memorials and plaques and seem to be copied from one to the next (or sourced from the internet) and how do we address that? We have forwarded copies of the documents at the SANDF Archive  that list the recruitment details of these chaps and I hope that these will eventually be filtered through the system and the graves/memorials amended. Lets see…

Typical documentation for SANLC

Henry Bokleni:   (7587)  His father was Bokleni and he was Henry. In keeping with the standard practice at the time, as he never had a surname, he was given his father’s name as a surname. It seems he was a Chief/Headman at the time.

Richard Ndamase:  (9389)  His father was Ndamase and he was Richard. In keeping with the standard practice at the time, as he never had a surname, he was given his father’s name as a surname. His Chief was Dumezweni so based on the info we have, it is unlikely he was a Chief.

Mxonywa Bangani:  (9379)  )  His father was Bangani and he was Mxonywa. In keeping with the standard practice at the time, as he never had a surname, he was given his father’s name as a surname. His Chief was Nongotwane so based on the info we have, it is unlikely he was a Chief.

Isaac Williams Wauchope : (3276) His father was Dyoba (also known as William Wauchope). Isaac was a learned man, holding the posts of a teacher and a clerk/interpreter to the magistrate and married his wife Mina as per Christian rites. He was a minister at a church in Blinkwater when he got sentenced to 3 years in Tokai Prison for forgery. He enlisted in 16 Oct 1916 as a clerk/interpreter and not as a chaplain (it is unlikely he would have got the chaplain post as he had a criminal record) The Chaplain job went to Koni Luhlongwana (9580), who also died on the ship.

 It does not seem that he used his father’s name as surname at all during his lifetime and so the use of “Dyoba” is incorrect. The reasoning behind the attempts to ‘africanise’ his name remain a mystery.

New Memorial to the Mendi :  There is also a problem with the 670 (it was 646, including the crew) who died. We have identified the home provinces of some of the casualties – Transvaal (287), Eastern Cape (139), Natal (87), Northern Cape (27), OFS (26), Basutoland (26), Bechuanaland (8), Western Cape (5), Rhodesia (1) and SWA (1) so not all were from the Eastern Cape.”

The reality is that the memorial contains incorrect information, and it is perpetuated as there is no real way to correct many of the errors. I am relooking my own RoH and correcting it to conform with the data that SAWGP has.  

However, in spite of the errors, the fact remains that people have not forgotten the Mendi, in fact we probably know more about it today than we did way back in 1917. 

This year, apart from the Services of Remembrance being held at Hollybrook and Milton Cemeteries in Hampshire, a South African Warship, SAS Amatola, (a Valour Class Frigate) will lay a wreath at the site of the disaster.  On board her will be some of the relatives of the soldiers who died on board that ill fated troopship.

The Mendi has not been forgotten, it is now prominent in the military history of South Africa, The men who lost their lives have not been forgotten, the sea has claimed them, but their spirit and courage still resonates 100 years after they died. However, we need to broaden our vision and recognise that all of the men of the battalions of the SANLC and NMC who volunteered to serve overseas are remembered too, because the non combatant role that they played was equally important to the ending of the “war to end all wars” 

© DRW 2017. Created 21/02/2017.  Image of Newtimber Memorial © Copyright Bob Parkes and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Updated: 21/02/2017 — 08:21

Worcester Cathedral

The reason behind my “Waddle Through Worcester” was really to see Worcester Cathedral, or, as it is properly known:  “The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester”. 

Like so many cathedrals it is large, beautiful and awe inspiring. It will be the eighth Cathedral/Abbey that I have seen and it is hard to know which is my favourite. It does not really matter though because each leaves me speechless and awed at the same time.

Unfortunately, getting the whole building into an image is very difficult because there is no real place where you can see it all in one shot. But, I do know where to try for next time. I returned to Worcester on Monday 13th and have replaced some of the exterior images in this post. 

 

The interior follows the same basic arrangement of most cathedrals and churches although parts of it were erected at different periods of time.

 

 

Information booklet available at http://www.worcestercathedral.co.uk/media/Cathedral_Brochure.pdf

The entrance was not quite where I expected it to be, but nevertheless it was very impressive with all those statues over the door. I do however wish that there had been more sunlight.

And, as usual, the moment I stepped inside it was as if I had entered a totally different world. I always like to think that having seen 8 of these churches I would be used to them, but each is unique, and I like to think that in the days of yore this place was held in awe by the people who came from far and wide and entered within. It certainly leaves me shell shocked. 

There are a lot of aspects to taking photographs in a cathedral. The light varies considerably and in many cases a flash is required and  I try to  avoid using a flash. There are always people moving in and out of view, and sometimes areas are just too big to photograph effectively. I do not carry a DSLR and make do with a reasonable hand held camera. Photographic permits are available from the shop at £3.

Overhead the vast expanse of vaulted ceilings is quite a dizzying sight, but nevertheless it is always worthwhile to lean back and appreciate the work of those who built this building.

Before the English Reformation the Cathedral was known as Worcester Priory. It was built between 1084 and 1504 and represents every style of English architecture from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic. 

There are some really beautiful wall memorials and effigies in the cathedral, and some are outstanding works of art rather than mere memorials.  I cannot help but marvel at the skill of those who created these works. 

   

Like so many churches there is a font and a pulpit,

and a quire,

An organ (or 3) 

and an Altar.

And the High Altar (image below).

In front of the High Altar and before the quire is the tomb of  King John.  Unfortunately I could not get a decent image of the tomb because of one person that was seemingly glued to the immediate space around it. 

Saint Wulfstan and Saint Oswald can be seen in miniature beside the head of John on his effigy.

It is not every day that you get to see the tomb of a King.

Underneath the Cathedral is the Crypt of St Wulfstan, and it is was open for viewing although the chapel was roped off.

It is a quiet and thoughtful place, a very appealing spot to wander around in. Many of the slabs on the floor are floor memorials. 

Returning to ground level I needed to find the loo (as usual), and that took me to the Cloister. It too is a pretty space, surrounding the central garden/graveyard/herb garden. I would have really liked to have walked around in that space but it was locked. 

I did find this area quite dark in spite of the many windows. 

But then it was still grey and gloomy outside anyway so that may have had something to do with the atmosphere.

My ablutions over, it was time to return to the building again and take another walk around. There is a dedicated Chapel of Remembrance where the Rolls of Honour are kept, and with its many memorials to the fallen.

I may do a separate blogpost about the memorials in this chapel and the windows in the Cloister.

On the 13th I was able to see inside the Chapter House, and it was magnificent, with amazing acoustics. My camera can’t really do justice to this structure.

 

Random Images

Space does not allow me to show all of my images, and I often cannot really describe what I saw which is why these images are here. They need no caption but just convey what I saw. They are places of great beauty and tranquillity.

   
   
   
   
   
 

The Cathedral from the bridge across the Severn

And that concluded my trip to Worcester Cathedral.  It is a beautiful building and so different but so similar to the others I have seen. Go back? of course, these structures have so much to see that each time is different. Besides, I hear there is another memorial to “Woodbine Willie” that I would like to see, I wish I had known about it at the time, or, maybe I did photograph it, I just have not seen it yet.

13/03/2017.

I did manage to photograph the memorial mentioned above, and will deal with it in my “Connections: Woodbine Willie”  post. 

© DRW 2017. Created 20/02/2017, edited and some images replaced 13/03/2017 

Updated: 13/03/2017 — 15:37

A waddle through Worcester

The last time I was in Worcester was in June 2015 when I came for a job interview in Tewkesbury. At the time I had a few minutes between trains so quickly walked up Foregate Street to see if I could spot the cathedral. I did however not go far enough before I turned around and went back to Foregate Street Station to catch my train. There are not a lot of trains between Aschurch for Tewkesbury and Worcester (or anywhere else for that matter) so any trip I made would be a short, there is a 3 hour window to sightsee in, and after that you are stuck for almost 2 hours waiting for the train.  I had not planned any cemetery visits for this trip, this was really about the cathedral.  The weather was grey and gloomy as my pics show, and definitely not photography weather, but one day hopefully I will return on a sunnier day.  

(I made a return visit on 13/03/2017 to photograph St John’s cemetery, you can read about it at “Return to Worcester”

Your first view of the cathedral was through the dirty window of the train as it pulls into Worcester Shrub Hill Station. The two stations are quite close together but Shrub Hill is on the line to Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol and eventually Weymouth. 

Worcester Foregate Street serves the line that goes from Great Malvern to Birmingham and this is the street I would use to get to the Cathedral. 

The town is a pretty one with a very nice array of old buildings and some really spectacular ones too. There was one building that I was really after and that was the Guildhall, but first…

This building is labelled “The Hop Market Hotel” and it is stunning. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the name is still clearly visible on the stone façade of the building, although it is no longer a hotel.  It is a Grade II listed building and the date 1836 may be seen above the one doorway. 

The next building on the right hand side of the image is/was a church, it is sadly now called “Slug and Lettuce” A bit of rooting around reveals that it is the former St Nicholas Church that dates from the 18th Century. It is a Grade II listed building but is no longer an active church (which is a shame).

Lloyds Bank is next door

and this beaut that I cannot name as yet.

The one place I did remember from my passing through in 2015 was the Guildhall, and it is really quite an ornate affair on the exterior with  statues, gilt, carvings and reliefs. it was built in  1721, and designed by Thomas White, a local architect. 

Unfortunately you cannot get far back to fit the building into a straight forward image.  I am particularly fond of the statues that adorn it, as well as the various faces that peer out from above the windows. The local tourism centre is housed in in one corner of the building and if you like decorative gimmicks I guess this is the place to see it. I believe there is an interesting war memorial in the building so it is listed as worth going to see again.

Charles I

Queen Anne

Charles II

I believe that the stone head above the door in this image is supposed to represent Oliver Cromwell, with his ears nailed the frame, although we do not know what Oliver Cromwell looked like in real life, so they could be having us on.

I was now close to my goal, and I spotted a statue of Edward Elgar who was a great believer in “Pomp and Circumstance.” The Cathedral was across the street. 

You can go to that page by clicking the image above, or using the convenient arrow below.

forwardbut

Like most of these buildings it is very difficult to take a photograph that encompasses the whole building. This is the best that I could do from this position. I believe that a better image can be taken from Fort Royal Hill

Pride of place in front of the Cathedral is the Memorial to the men from Worcestershire who lost their lives in the Boer War. 

At this point I entered the Cathedral and that part of this post will continue on another page. My return to the station continues below.

I exited the cathedral and headed to the embankment that overlooks the River Severn (which also flows past Tewkesbury). There is a rail bridge and a road bridge over the Severn and I was really curious about the rail bridge.

The bridge in the foreground is the road bridge. The cathedral was behind me at this point.

I walked a bit further until I found what looked like an exit from the cathedral close, and it came out at the Edgar Tower. 

At this point I had quite a lot of time to kill till before my projected train at 15.06 (or thereabout). I had seen something called the “Museum of Royal Worcester“, and I thought that it was related to the local regiment so headed off into that direction. However I was sadly disappointed to find that it was a porcelain museum! Royal Worcester is believed to be the oldest or second oldest remaining English porcelain brand still in existence today. 

What now? I was tempted to take a walk to one of the two cemeteries in the city, but neither was really within walking range given the train timings, so I decided to head in the direction of the station. 

Like Tewkesbury Worcester has a lot of old timber framed buildings that line its narrow streets, many are taken up by small business that cater for a specialised clientele. They are pretty buildings and some are probably very old, but they are very difficult to photograph.

By the way, the slightly furtive figure is a representation of Charles II fleeing Cromwell on 3 September 1651. “Worcester was the site of the Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651), when Charles II attempted to forcefully regain the crown, in the fields a little to the west and south of the city, near the village of Powick. However, Charles II was defeated and returned to his headquarters in what is now known as King Charles house in the Cornmarket, before fleeing in disguise to Boscobel House in Shropshire from where he eventually escaped to France. Worcester had supported the Parliamentary cause before the outbreak of war in 1642 but spent most of the war under Royalist occupation.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcester)

There are a number of these small bronzes in the area where I now was, and I was surprised to find a statue of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy aka “Woodbine Willie”. I had seen a wall memorial to him in London in 2016 and this was a nice feather in my cap.

Close to Woodbine Willie was a small church, actually it was the back of “St Martin in the Cornmarket”, although it should now be called “St Martin in the car park”. 

It was a pretty church on the inside, although not awe inspiring. Sadly the churchyard was a disgrace.

I discovered four of those small bronze statues in the area of the church and they were really charming. These are the other three. 

I was slowly heading in the direction of the station so really just decided to see about getting an earlier train to Tewkesbury, I had 35 minutes until a train left so had till then to decide what to do. 

The sign on this building reads: “The Worcester New Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd. 1888” 

I grabbed a quick bacon butty and decided that I would head towards the two bridges over the Severn, There were a number of interesting buildings in the street I was heading down, although it is doubtful whether many are still being used for what they were originally built as.

This building was fascinating, Now occupied by “Tramps Nightclub” it was formerly the East Side Congregational Church and is a Grade II listed building dating from 1858. Right next door to it what is now known as the Angel Centre.

It has a very interesting Memorial Stone that ties it into the former church next door.

As I walked I was able to glimpse portions of that railway bridge I saw from the cathedral, although time was starting to become an issue again.

It is a very impressive structure, and I was not even seeing all of it from where I stood. Sadly though it was time to leave and I turned around and headed back to the station, passing this oldie that stood on the side of a hill.

If only I knew the stories behind these old faded buildings that seemingly exist with our characterless modern architecture. 

At the station I spotted my first class 166 in the new GWR livery. It was heading to Paddington, I was not.

The strange thing about Foregate Street Station is even though it has two platforms you catch the train to Weymouth on the same platform as you would disembark from it.  

When last I was here I had photographed from the other platform and there was a tantalising glimpse of two churches which will be on my list for the next time I am in Worcester.

Now why wasn’t the weather like that on this trip? definitely a reason to return.

And, one final puzzle, why are there semaphore signals in this portion of the line?

And that concludes my trip to Worcester. I will be back one day I hope, there is a lot more to see that I did today, but then I was really there for the cathedral, and now that it has been seen I can make a plan to see the other sights that I know about now.  It is all about exploration and waddling through Worcester.

© DRW 2017. Created 20/02/2017  

Updated: 13/03/2017 — 17:22

3 Ships Month

It was brought to my attention that apart from the HMT Mendi and the SAS President Kruger there is one more naval loss that really made February a month of disasters at sea. 

HMSAS Southern Floe was one of the “little ships” that worked behind the scenes during both wars, often as minesweepers, convoy escorts, anti-submarine or any other number of crucial jobs that  did not require a specialist vessel  or a glamorous warship. In my meanderings I have encountered the memorial to HMSAS Parktown, and to be frank I had never really considered HMSAS Southern Floe until recently.

The ship was a  Southern Class whaler, one of four ships taken over by the Navy from Southern Whaling & Sealing Co. Ltd., Durban. The four ships were renamed  HMSAS Southern Maid, HMSAS Southern Sea, HMSAS Southern Isles and HMSAS Southern Floe.

 

HMSAS Southern Maid. (SA Museum of Military History)

Each was approximately 344 tons and were converted for Anti-Submarine operations,  armed with a 3 lb gun for’ard as well 20mm canon and machine-guns.  The four little ships, with their complement of 20-25 men.  “went up “north” in December 1940. In January 1941, Southern Floe and her sister ship Southern Sea arrived at Tobruk to take over patrol duties along the mine free swept channels and to escort any ships through them.

On 11 February 1941, HMSAS Southern Sea arrived at the rendezvous two miles east of Tobruk,  but there was no sign of Southern Floe; after all it was common for ships to be delayed by weather or mechanical difficulties or even enemy action. However, a passing destroyer notified the vessel that they had picked up a stoker from the vessel, clinging to some wreckage. The stoker, CJ Jones RNVR, was the sole survivor of the ship, and he explained that there had been a heavy explosion on board and he had barely escaped with his life. There had been other survivors but they had not been picked up and Stoker Jones had spent 14 hours in the water. Although never confirmed it is assumed that the vessel had struck a mine.  

Some months after her loss the ship’s badge was picked up in the desert, possibly by a German or Italian soldier and had been kept as a memento. The badge was donated to the South African Naval Museum in Simon’s Town.

After the war  Stoker Jones placed a memorial notice in the Cape Town newspapers. He continued to do this for many years until he also passed away 

Roll of Honour. HMSAS Southern Floe 

 ANDERS, John, Steward, 69637 (SANF), MPK
 BOWER, Robert, Stoker 1c, 69935 (SANF), MPK
 BRAND, Leslie A, Able Seaman, 69828 (SANF), MPK
 CAULFIELD, Patrick, Steward, 69802 (SANF), MPK
 CHANDLER, Charles R D, Cook (S), 69613 (SANF), MPK
 CHENOWETH, Richard, Stoker 1c, 67420 (SANF), MPK
 FAIRLEY, Alexander E, Sub Lieutenant SANF,  MPK
 FRIEDLANDER, Cecil A, Able Seaman, 114703 (SANF), MPK
 GARDINER, Elliott, Able Seaman, 67260 (SANF), MPK
 GREENACRE, John H, Leading Seaman, 69677 (SANF), MPK
 HEASMAN, Gratwicke E E, Engine Room Artificer 4c, 69784 (SANF), MPK
 HOGG, Roy S, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK
 INNES, Ian Mck, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK
 MARSH, Reginald H Y, Able Seaman, 69911 (SANF), MPK
 MITCHELL, William N, Able Seaman, 69787 (SANF), MPK
 NEL, Eloff R, Able Seaman, 69635 (SANF), MPK
 NICHOLSON, Douglas O, Able Seaman, 66833 (SANF), MPK
 PUGH, John R, Able Seaman, 66877 (SANF), MPK
 RYALL, David R, Able Seaman, 69999 (SANF), MPK
 SHIMMIN, William, Leading Stoker, 69661 (SANF), MPK
 SIENI, Joseph F, Able Seaman, 69788 (SANF), MPK
 SNELL, Harold W, Leading Telegraphist, 69827 (SANF), MPK
 STANLEY, Gordon J, Able Seaman, 66963 (SANF), MPK
 WALTON, Dudley N, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK

Sources:

http://www.saspresidentkruger.com/hmsas-southern-floe/

http://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas2540-SANF.htm

© DRW 2017. Created 18/02/2017

Updated: 18/02/2017 — 14:40
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