musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Month: April 2015

We all sall to Walsall

Walsall, I had never heard of it until I moved to Staffordshire, and with some time on my hands, and a bus that goes there quite frequently, I decided it was time to go looking around. The bus travels through Burntwood, Chasetown, Brownhills and then to Walsall. It was a long journey, punctuated by frequent stops and a dustbin truck that kept on stopping in front of us. But, eventually….
The first thing I saw from the bus that made my eyes water was the “Council House”, it is a spectacular building, and impossible to photograph as a whole because of its size and because you cannot get far back enough from it. I believe it is known locally as “the Candle”
  
However, I did not start my exploration from there. My exploration really started at “The Crossing at St Paul’s” which is a former church that has been re-invented into a yuppie/trendy/coffee shop type place so beloved of yuppies and cellphone clutching fashionistas. I really intended coming back to this building as the day passed as I did not get decent exterior images. That never happened.
 
I did not know what to expect it would look like after its re-invention, but it is spectacular inside, and parts of the old church have been incorporated into the structure, and a small chapel still exists inside of it. It is really very pretty inside, but I just wonder how much was lost when they did it. You can bet the graveyard is now paved over.
  
My initial planning had centered around finding the Cenotaph in the city, and anything else after that was a bonus. One of the plaques in the church mentioned an “Alabaster First World War Memorial by Messrs R Bridgeman…” that had been relocated to the Council House, and that sounded like something to look into while I orientated myself in the city. I first stopped to have a look at the Library, which stands in the block next to the Council House. It too is a beautiful piece of work, and while I did not see a lot of the interior, I was really impressed by what I did see.
 
The statue outside is that of Ordinary Seaman: John Henry Carless VC, and he is one of three Victoria Cross Holders from the city. (John Henry Carless, James Thompson and Charles George Bonner)
 
There is also a strange statue of a Hippopotamus, and frankly I don’t know the connection. It is however the sort of statue kids would enjoy, although I do suspect there is an ambulance chaser lawyer watching with binoculars to see if anybody gets injured by falling over it.

I asked at the Council House about the alabaster memorial and one of the staff members took me to see it, and it is spectacular. In fact it is one of four war memorials in the building that I know of (and it turns out there are three VC plaques that I did not know about). 

 
A bit further from the memorial there is a large hall with a magnificent pipe organ with two large matching paintings by Frank O. Salisbury on either side of it it. They were commissioned by Joseph Leckie “to commemorate the never to be forgotten valour of the South Staffordshire Regiments in the Great War 1914 – 1918” and were completed in 1920. One shows “the First South Staffordshires attacking the Hohenzollern Redoubt”, the other “the 5th South Staffords storming the St. Quentin Canal at Bellingtise Sept 29th 1918”.
Images merged and tilted slightly

Images merged and tilted slightly


The walls of the hall are also festooned with 12 bronze name plaques of men from the borough of Walsall that died in both World Wars, and post war conflicts. 
 

It is a beautiful space, although the boxing ring was only temporary as it was going to be used for a function. I came away dazed at what I had just seen here, it is such a pity that spaces like this are probably never seen by the inhabitants of the city, and I am sure very few are even aware of the memorials that this building holds. 

I managed to attract the attention of an elderly borough warden and asked him about the cenotaph and any cemeteries nearby, and he told me that there was an old cemetery up in Queen Street, and it was more or less in the direction that I was going to be going if I wanted to see the cenotaph. 
 
The town was also having Market Day, although like many of the markets it has become a place to sell cellphone accessories, cheap and nasty clothing, e-cigarettes, ugly shoes and dodgy luggage. Oddly enough I have seen almost identical rubbish in markets in Salisbury, Basingstoke and Burntwood. They may even be the same people selling it! 
 
The market space had two statues that interested me, the first was kind of odd, and reminded me of an Afro hairdo gone mad.
  

and the other was a statue to Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison,

Fondly known as “Sister Dora”, it turns out she is somewhat of a legend in this city and the industries that surrounded it. Her death must have left the city just that much more poorer. More about Sister Dora may be found at Victorianweb

 
I got distracted by a church spire in the distance, so headed up in that direction, passing the Guildhall on the way. This building was in use from 1867 till 1907 when the Council House was built.
 
Unfortunately the sun was behind the church I was approaching so photography was not great. Called  St Matthews, it sits atop a hill overlooking the city below. The graveyard still exists, although it is probably much smaller than it used to be, and it is quite a large church. I won’t say when the church was built, only that a church has existed on this site for roughly 700 years. My image is taken from the West of the church and you can see the 1927 built Lychgate.
 
The inside of the church was very pretty, and had the two levels that I have been seeing in the Midlands since I arrived. It also had a magnificent ceiling and strangely enough no matter how hard I tried I could not get the camera to photograph the one end of the church. It could be the combination of the bright light from the windows that was fooling it, or the deep contrast just exasperated the camera.
 
Outside the church there is another War Memorial, and it is placed in a circular alcove on the steep stairs leading to the church. It was an odd place for a memorial, but it does make sense given how the church dominates the city below.
 
Now to find my Cenotaph. 
 
I headed in what was supposedly the right direction. I had one problem though;. I could find the cemetery and then possibly have to double back along the path I was heading, or I could try reach the cenotaph and from there go to the cemetery. Whichever route I took I was probably still going to have a long walk. I was however stuck along the road that I had chosen and headed towards the Cenotaph area (or where I thought it was), and that brought me to another church perched on a hill, it was called St Marys the Mount Roman Catholic Church, and the entrance was on the opposite side of where I was at that moment! 
 
Built in 1825, it seems somewhat of a featureless church, and frankly the graveyard was much nicer than the church was. The small arched object built into the wall is another war memorial for members of the parish who died during the war, and John Carless VC is mentioned on this memorial.
 
The nice thing about finding this church was that it put me on the right track for the cenotaph, and I was soon seeing what I was looking for in the distance. How did I miss seeing it?

 
Situated on a traffic island in the centre of a roundabout, it shares many similarities with Cenotaphs in London, Southampton, Hong Kong and Johannesburg and it was erected in 1921, Over 2000 men from Walsall were killed in fighting during the First World War. The Cenotaph is located on the site of a bomb which was dropped by Zeppelin ‘L 21’  killing the town’s mayoress, and two others on 31 January 1916.

 

Behind the cenotaph is another of those wonderful old buildings that I kept on bumping into. Unfortunately I just could not get a photograph of the building without a bus in front of it!

 
The building seems to be the Science and Art Institute,  but there is an inscription above that which reads: “This building was erected by public subscription in 1887, to commemorate the jubilee year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. in 1897 a sum of £2500 was raised by public subscription to a district nursing institution to provide free nurses for the poor in commemoration of Her Majestys  glorious reign of 60 years. William Smith. Mayor. 22 June 1897.” It is a very pretty building, but I have no idea what it is used for now. 

My cemetery was about to happen after this, and I located it reasonably easy. The problem was that it was a disappointment. I was hoping for more of a cemetery and less of a park, but I had to bear in mind that it was very possible that the place was full and there just weren’t too many headstones. Unfortunately the few headstones that there were just looked out of place, and many were in a very poor condition.

Sister Dora is buried in the cemetery, and has a reasonably plain headstone.
 
And while there is a plaque for James Thompson VC, I was unable to find a grave, and do not know whether there is one with a legible headstone. (On May 21st I made a trip to Ryecroft Cemetery which serves Walsall and it was a much better experience.) 

Suitable satisfied, I decided to pick up the canal that was next to the cemetery and follow it back to the town. The canal system still exists in the Midlands but so far I was not seeing any narrow boats. Unfortunately, with the rise of the truck the canals declined and are probably very little used now. 

 
The canal ends up in the centre of the yuppie pads that always seem to spring up in old buildings, or close to water features and the wharf where the canal terminated was no exception.
  
I was close to town now and time was marching.

I was beginning to tire, so headed to the bus station, which I could not find, although I did find the cenotaph and the market again.
 
I had really wanted to explore the Victorian Arcade if possible, but did not get that done.
 
But overall though this town had a lot of really nice architecture.

 
This building had the most exquisite carvings on it, and I just had to take a photograph of them. It is such a pity that often this artwork is high up and people don’t ever see it.
 
 

 
And then I was on my way home. When I had come here the bus had passed a large statue of a miner, possibly in Brownhills and I was hoping to get a better pic of it too.

 
That is probably the best I can do out of a moving bus. It is a sobering statue though, most of this area was coal country and while the coal mines have gone, the communities were built by the mines and those who worked in them. The legacy I saw this morning was partly attributable to the coal mines, and the work of Sister Dora was as a result of it too.
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Created 24/04/2015. Some images replaced 13/05/2015, all images migrated 30/04/2016. 
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 15:51

They are doing it again!

It is true, South Africa is in the midst of yet another xenophobic frenzy.  Periodically the locals get manipulated into thinking that some “foreigner” is “taking their jobs/women” (and a few other equally lame reasons) and are now out there murdering, assaulting, and looting and generally rampaging because somebody knew somebody else who heard a rumour from somebody else etc. 
 
The reasoning is frivolous, the excuses are lame, and the perpetrators are violent, uncaring and seemingly at ease with the terror that they inflict. They do not have sympathy, empathy or any compunction about setting fire to somebody because they may or may not come from Mozambique or Chad or even the wrong side of Alexandra. The looting frenzy has ensured that they now have plenty of whatever it is that they stole, and they are probably sitting at home gloating about what a great job they have done of ridding the country of the so called “kwerakwera”. 
 
This morning I read how they brutally attacked a Mozambican: Emmanuel Sithole, in Alexandra Township, and how he died in a hospital as a result of a doctor not being available. He reminds me of the Mozambican who was burnt alive in another wave of xenophobia in 2008:  Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave. His terrible death surrounded by a baying mob of barbarians was shocking, and guess what? nobody was ever prosecuted for his death, and it is unlikely that anybody will be accountable for the death of Emmanuel Sithole. (update: I believe that arrests were made, and it turns out that this was not so much xenophobia, but outright criminalism. Irrespective, it was barbaric and uncalled for, and I sincerely hope that the rubbish that did this never see the light of the sun ever again).
 
I keep on being troubled by the ordinariness of these events, I can almost displace myself into another world where the conversation would go something like this:
“So what did you do today?”
“I went drinking with some pals, then we played some pool, and after that attacked a Mozambican.”
“Oh, and how did that go?”
“Well we left him to bleed to death.”
“That’s nice, I am sure he deserved it. What was he accused of?”
“He was a Mozambican.”
“Oh yes, one of those foreigners, that’s ok then. Would you like some potatoes with your meat?”
 
It is frightening that there is a small chance that the people who do these things actually go home and have “normal” lives (or whatever passes as normal).  I keep on having flashbacks to the Nazis who ran the death camps, murdering a thousand Jews and then going home and playing with their children. Or of the man who arbitrarily decided to change the medium of instruction to Afrikaans in 1976, or the men who were the magistrates in the pass law courts. How do they sleep with themselves at night? how do they face their children after a hard days pillaging, looting and abusing?  
 
This time around I am hoping that the world will do something about the South African governments apathetic stance to this violence. And what I am reading at the moment is that some governments are looking  to see what punitive measures they can take against South Africa.  Already some of the foreigners are being repatriated back to their home countries, but it is a drop in the ocean compared to how many illegals there are in South Africa with its porous borders.
 
As a nation though we should hang our collective head in shame, we should be looking inside ourselves and asking why are we like this? or is xenophobia a national sport like crime, nepotism, corruption and  dishonesty? We should be hanging our head in shame because Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave did not see justice done, and neither will Emmanuel Sithole for that matter.
 
I am a foreigner living in England, and multiculturalism is the norm rather than the exception. I have met people from all over the world, and we are all pretty much the same when you look at it. Make no mistake though, this sort of thing can erupt here just as easily, but at this moment there are probably more important  things to do. 
 
I think that South Africa is going to become one of those pariah nations, very much the way it was when the National Party was calling the shots. And as investment leaves the shores the only ones who can be blamed are the South Africans who did this, and a government that is more interested in buying jet aircraft for the people in charge and renaming streets and buildings because they can. 
 
I never considered myself a South African, even though I have the passport, served in its army, and paid large amounts of tax to prop it up. The Afrikaners ensured that I would never be viewed as anything but a “donderse ingelsman wat ons vroue en kinders vermoor het.” I don’t hold any allegiance to the place, and frankly I could not give a damn for it. But I know one thing, for somebody who does not hold an allegiance to it, I do feel ashamed of what its people are capable of.
 
I worked with many South African Blacks, and I know that a lot of them are not bloodthirsty savages. They are ordinary people who struggle from day to day, they smile and laugh and have dreams and aspirations. Just like those who are now sitting in a place of refuge, their lives destroyed, their children traumatised, and their hopes and dreams dashed to the ground. 
 
I can only shake my head in sadness.

No Justice for the Burning Man
Kill Thy Neighbour      

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 15:53

Bundling off to Birmingham

This fine morning, sick of looking at the screen, I grabbed my goodies and on a whim headed off to Birmingham. There was one cemetery that I had my beady eye on as I had read about it, so it was probably my primary motivation for a day trip. But anything and everything in between was fair game. Hold onto your hat, we are at New Street Station!
  
The station is a mess, they seem to be doing something to it, but I have no idea what that may be. It does involve scaffolding though, and high-vis vest clad workers. But the station really has nothing interesting or exciting about it. The sooner I left it the better. 
 
My route would take me up to the Town Hall area, to the Hall of Memory, and then up towards my destination further on. It was probably 9.30 by the time I got there, so the city was quiet at the moment. In fact I was glad that it was quiet because I could then photograph the really magnificent Council House Building in Victoria Square
 
 
It is really a magnificent structure, and has to he seen to be believed. Even Queen Victoria looks impressed, although what she would think of this lady in the fountain I will not ask.
  
The large square colonnaded building below is the Town Hall, and this is the back of it. Naturally I did not realise that at the time.
  
The ornamental spire just to the left is a monument erected “in gratitude for public service given to this town by Joseph Chamberlain“. I was not impressed by that news because “…..he was the chief advocate and supervisor of the Anglo Boer War (1899–1902)”. 
 
Moving on, I headed towards the Hall of Memory, which only opened at 10H00. I was 15 minutes too early and would have to come back to it. 
  
The odd latticework on the building to the right of the image above is that of the Birmingham Library, with Baskerville House to the right of it in the second  image below.
 
It was now time to head on my way and I turned around here, walked past King Edward VII and turned left.
 
Only to discover that they were building a road in the middle of a street!  These were the sort of roadworks that never finish, that keep going until roadworks are acknowledged as the status quo for that particular road, and people become resigned to never getting anywhere and stop using it altogether. Fortunately, I was not in a vehicle and I continued on my merry way until I hit the road that I had to go up.
The mapbook that I had done my navigation from was a tad old, in fact it seemed to originate from the 1990’s and things seemed to have changed considerably since then (although the roadworks may have been ongoing since then)
 
I had to head up to a roundabout ahead and split off onto Newhall Hill, and then Frederick Street. But somewhere between when my map was created and today something had changed and I ended up taking the wrong road, which was not that big a disaster as it turns out because I still ended up where I had to be albeit slightly too far to the left!
 
The pretty building below really looked like a church to me, but it turns out that it is the Spring Hill Library. 
  
I turned right at this point and my destination was a 0.5 km further on. The cemetery is known as Warstone Lane Cemetery, and the reason that I was here was because I had read something about the catacombs that existed in the cemetery. It was also quite an old one, so the odds were there would be a lot of great headstones and statues.  There are 51 First World War burials and 13 Second World War burials in the cemetery. A screen wall with a Cross of Sacrifice is situated near the old lodge and it commemorates by name those whose graves are not marked by headstones.
  
The cemetery is in a poor condition, it is not fenced, there is a lot of litter and there has been a lot of vandalism in it judging by how many toppled headstones I saw. The catacombs had been cut into the side of a sand pit and were on two layers. A large chapel had above the catacombs, but it had been demolished a long time ago. The catacombs had been bricked close too, as they did have somewhat of a bad reputation. It was a pity though because this could become a very popular place.
  
It is also worthy of a blog post of its own,  and  I will also be returning back here as there is a VC grave that I am looking for. A bit further down the road is a similar cemetery called Key Hill which I visited in mid April and it did not disappoint.
 
My cemetery visit completed,  it was time to head off towards my next destination which was a large square of green on my map. The area where I was now was called “the Jewellery Quarter“, and I really did not have too much interest in it, although a very nice clock did catch my eye. Oddly enough it commemorates the visit by Joseph Chamberlain to South Africa. Presumably to see the havoc that the Boer War caused.
 
The green space on my map was occupied by St Paul’s Church, and it was a pretty one, dating back to 1779. Oddly enough it was more like the churches that I saw in Dudley than those I saw in Basingstoke, Salisbury and Southampton.
  
The church interior was very beautiful, but it was not as overly decorated as some that I had seen before. I did like the family pews though, it was the first time that I had seen them. There is a large graveyard and there is a crypt under the church although the organ now blocks the entrance to the crypt.
  
From St Pauls I headed towards the station area, passing one of the canals that run through the city. 
 
Next time I am out this way I am going to investigate these canals a bit more, and find where the narrow boats are hiding. 
 
The canal also heads under this railway archway which leads to Snow Hill Station,  which is now a terminus for the light rail that runs from Birmingham to Wolverhampton.
birminghama 010
 
St Chad has a cathedral here too, and I went to see whether it was open during my second visit to the city, but unfortunately it was not.  I did however get a pic through the door.
 
 Passing back under the railway arches a bit further one, I found an area that seemed to have a lot of the original tilework in place, as well as an interesting bit of history.
 
  
I also spotted  another piece of railway history still existing outside the station. Snow Hill was once the main station of the Great Western Railway in Birmingham, and this entrance in Livery Street still exists, although closed off.
  
My quest for New Street Station continued, and I saw a lot of really old and pretty buildings, surprisingly  most were in a good condition.
birmingham 389
 
 
The oldie above is the Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital, founded in 1823.  So far Birmingham had impressed me. It was clean, a bit confusing layoutwise, but there were those handy maps on a lot of the major intersections which really helped with my navigation. I was not using the phone because the Google Maps app is becoming increasingly more difficult to use with my small screen. Unfortunately a modern monolith detracts from the old magnificence around, but if it has an upper deck viewing area it would be really worthwhile visiting.
 
   
My next destination was Birmingham Cathedral, and to be honest I did not even think of it before, but my time was still adequate and I could easily spare a few minutes to look around.
 
.It is not as grand as Salisbury or Lichfield, but is a pretty building in its own right. 
  
 
The church was known as St Phillip when it was consecrated in 1715,  although at the time Birmingham was really a small provincial town as opposed to the second most populous city in the UK that it has become, and the church has become a cathedral as a result.  The cathedral does have a really big graveyard, although most of the headstones are long gone or ploughed under. It would be interesting to know just how many people are buried around this building, and, how many are buried beneath it.  I was now ready to return to the Hall of Memory, and I covered that in my allatsea blog. My time was drawing to a close here and I really needed to think about home. 
 
I had been very impressed by what little I had seen of the city, although I suspect in the height of the industrial age it was much dirtier and grimy, although possibly less crowded because it seems as if in the 3 hours that I had been on my travels everybody had come outside to enjoy the spring day. 
 
See you later Birmingham. 
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Created 10/04/2015, images migrated 30/04/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 15:57

Birmingham Cathedral

I was quite surprised to find out that the church I was now approaching was actually Birmingham Cathedral.  Or as it is known “The Cathedral Church of St Philip”, and the seat of the Bishop of Birmingham.
 
Situated in a nice open area it is not as grand as Salisbury or Lichfield, but is a pretty building in its own right. If anything it is really a large church.
 
The open space around it is popular with those with time on their hands, coffee drinker, email checker, social network junkie, selfie taker and the occasional mini market or busker. I am not sure if they are aware that they are doing all of this on a graveyard.  There are still graves in this space, and judging by what I saw there are even be a few vaults under the grass.
The statue outside the cathedral is of Charles Gore, the first Bishop of Birmingham, although I have to admit I really thought it looked a lot like Sean Connery. 
 

The church was known as St Phillip when it was consecrated in 1715, although at the time Birmingham was really a small provincial town as opposed to the second most populous city in the UK that it has become, and the church has become a cathedral as a result.

Inside was quite busy, and photography was difficult because of the people standing around seemingly lost without their cellphones.

The church does have the same features as a larger cathedral has, there will be a quire, and a font and an organ and all of the other spaces and objects that make up a church or cathedral.

 

In fact it is really a smaller version of something much grander and is actually a very pretty church inside.

The image above is looking towards the nave, and the magnificent window at that end of the church.

The High Altar is similarly overlooked by a grand window.

I had first seen the box pews in Staffordshire, and Birmingham Cathedral also has these on the level above the aisles.

 
And while I did not see any effigies, there were a number of wall memorials, as well as a memorial to the men of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment who lost their lives in the First World War.

.
There are even small chapels, although these are more like small spaces where an altar and an area to pray are.

The church was busy though and any further exploration was difficult as it seemed as if they were preparing for a service. Unfortunately the upper areas were roped off so trying to access the box pews was impossible. 

 

The sign above the door?

And then I was outside once again. It was frenetic outside compared to the stillness and hushed tones of the building I had just left. I did more exploring of the graveyard, looking for any more signs of what may be buried beneath.

I was rewarded by a door and some steps….

What lies beneath I cannot say. I was not able to tie a name into a vault. However, I did find a fascinating document on the archaeological work around the Cathedral that was conducted in 2000-2001 by Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit on behalf of Birmingham City Council and was directed by Chris Patrick. It is well worth reading the report.

 
And then I was on my way once again, and another cathedral beneath my belt. As mentioned before, it is not a grand building, but I suspect it reflects a lot of Birmingham in it. A small town that became a city, and which suffered the ravages of the bombing during the second world war, and having survived that I expect the cathedral will be with the city for a long time still to come.

© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 30/04/2016

 
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 15:58

Return to the National Memorial Arboretum

Today I grabbed my goodies and headed off to the National Memorial Arboretum again. This was as a result of the short visit we had made on the Friday the 3rd.  To be frank that first visit was frustrating, there was too much too see, and no time to see anything. However, it did pique my curiosity, so with the weather improving a return visit was made.
View towards the visitors centre from the Armed Forces Memorial

View towards the visitors centre from the Armed Forces Memorial

I had done a bit of homework to see what was in store. There are over 400 memorials here, ranging in size from a simple plaque to statues with multiple figures. I scribbled down some names and and the intention was to buy the map when I was there. I had a plan, it’s just that my plan was liable to change as I went along. The Arboretum opens at 09H00 and I was there by 08H45, and I was the first person through the gate. It was a nice warm day, with thin clouds and patches of blue sky, the sun was low so any pictures facing east would not work too well. 
 
My first destination was the Armed Forces Memorial, and I covered that in the previous post, I really wanted to look up two names on the wall, the one in particular was still in my mind because his death had happened when I was in Southampton in 2013. I was there today to pay my respects to Cpl Jamie Webb, and Drummer Lee Rigby, The latter was killed in an extremely callous fashion, and the reverberations are still being felt today.  
 
Rest in peace lads, your duty has been done.
  
My next destination was an area that seemed to have a predominance of naval and nautical memorials, although anything along the way was fair game. Realistically though, I am unable to post an image of every memorial that I saw (I took over 600 images), so this blog post is really about the best and most memorable of the memorials. 
The South Atlantic Campaign 1982.

The South Atlantic Campaign 1982.

Army Commandos Memorial

Army Commandos Memorial

The Fleet Air Arm Memorial (410) really caught my eye, although with an aircraft carrier on it I was bound to be interested.

Fleet Air Arm Memorial

Fleet Air Arm Memorial

The deeds of the Fleet Air Arm are legendary, especially during the 2nd World War. The paving surrounds have individual commemorations on them, and overall this is a really wonderful memorial, and was proof enough that I was in the right area for my naval memorials.

Merchant Navy Convoy Memorial

Merchant Navy Convoy Memorial

Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) Memorial

Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) Memorial

The wooded area behind these two memorials are dedicated to various men, ships and the Merchant Navy, and is appropriately named “Merchant Navy Wood”.  I think part of what makes the whole Arboretum special is not the short term usage, but the long term. in 50 years time the trees will be much bigger, and the horticulture will be properly established and matured, making this a very pretty place

Arctic Convoys Memorial

Arctic Convoys Memorial

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Memorial

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Memorial

I spent a lot of time in this area, photographing and trying to see what ships I recognised. I was pleased to see a Union-Castle Line Memorial, although I was disappointed that the memorial only covered the Second World War.

Union-Castle Line Memorial

I was about ready to wind up here now and head towards another area. Although I was really glad to see the the RNLI was represented here too. The bravery that their crewmen show is unbelievable, and very often unrecognised.

RNLI Volunteer Crew Memorial

I now headed towards the area which is East of where I was, heading in the general direction of the “Shot At Dawn” memorial. Unfortunately I had just had a call about work so I would have to curtail my plans somewhat as I needed to get home by 14H30. This brought me to the Royal British Legion Never Forget Memorial Garden (418a) I was about ready to wind up here now and head towards another area. 

Royal British Legion Never Forget Memorial

Royal British Legion Never Forget Memorial

It is a bit of an odd memorial, the red of the poppies almost out of place with the greens and browns and greys that I was seeing. Maybe that is what makes it so special?

One memorial that I had bookmarked was the Railway Industry Memorial (336), and it really commemorates the contribution of yet more unsung heroes who performed their job in very trying circumstances. It is probably long overdue too.

Railway Industry Memorial

Railway Industry Memorial

Although the argument could be raised that the men could have either served in the trenches or in the railways, but bear in mind that women were entering the industry and doing many of the jobs that men had done before. It was also the rail industry that moved equipment and soldiers around the country, and of course took soldiers to their homes when they were on leave. The heavy industry used by the railways was also able to adapt to wartime needs, and many of that equipment was served by women.

Royal Tank Regiment Memorial

Royal Tank Regiment Memorial

The Royal Tank Regiment Memorial (324) is a pretty one, although I do think a full sized tank would have been much better, but then I am biased. The British Army was the first to use tanks in battle, and it is fitting that the replica is of an early tank.

Parachute and Airborne Forces Memorial

Parachute and Airborne Forces Memorial

The Parachute and Airborne Forces Memorial (332) dominates the space where it is, and it is an interesting memorial. The mounted figure is that of Bellerophon on a winged horse, with a trooper beneath the statue pulling a pack up the ramp with a rope. The interpretation of this is best left to the imagination, but I tend to see it as the pack that dangles below the soldier as he drops on his chute, it usually hits the ground before he does. The parachute regiments are generally a formidable fighting force, and they have a history second to none.

I was now at my intended destination:  the Shot at Dawn Memorial (329), and apparently it  is one of the most visited memorials in the Arboretum.  It is an emotive piece, and conveys its message very effectively.

Shot at Dawn Memorial

Shot at Dawn Memorial

 

The subject is a difficult one to read up on, because of the controversy of so many of the hasty decisions made by those who endorsed the executions. It can be argued that in many cases the sentence delivered did not take account of the circumstances of each individual, and the age and maturity of so many of those who were executed.

It is true that there were executions for offences that were not related to cowardice or “lack of moral fibre”, some men were executed for murder. However, the fairness of the court martial process is often questioned, and those high ranking officers who sat on these tribunals were often seen as being totally out of touch with the reality of the situation of soldiers on the ground. It could also be argued that in many armies, the benefit of any sort of hearing did not exist, and the men were shot outright, often on the field of battle.
Certainly some commanders should have been put of trial for the way in which they flushed lives away in battles that they had no hope of winning, but we all know that would never happen.  
In 2006 the British Government agreed to posthumously pardon all those who were executed for military offences during the First World War, but that was too many years too late for the families of these victims of officialdom. The irony is that even though a pardon has been granted, the pardon “does not affect any conviction or sentence.”

It was time to turn around and head towards another large memorial with a grouping of statues, this is the Polish Forces War Memorial (327a), and it is a beaut. Unfortunately the front of the memorial faces west, and it was difficult to get an image of the front of the memorial. 

Polish Forces War Memorial

Polish Forces War Memorial

The history of the Polish forces is summarised on the panels around the memorial, and the four figures represent a soldier, sailor, airman and the underground movement. This is topped by a symbol of the Polish Eagle.

Polish Forces War Memorial

Polish Forces War Memorial

In the area behind this memorial were the Royal Army Medical Corps (328) and Royal Army Dental Corps (328) Memorials. These were relatively small memorials and they were situated in a grove of trees. The trees on either side of the grove had plaques that commemorated the many Victoria Cross holders from this branch of the forces.

My mind immediately went to Noel Chavasse, and I went looking for his plaque, which I am glad to say I found.

Having left this grove of the brave, I was ready to start heading towards the exit, I had seen a lot so far, and probably missed a lot too.

I also encountered the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps Memorial (327),  formerly known as Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, it was founded in 1902.

Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Memorial

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps Memorial

There was also a memorial to the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Navy Nursing Service  and Voluntary Detachment (417b) which was in the area where I found the naval memorials.

Queen Alexandra's Royal Navy Nursing Service  & Voluntary Detachment

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Navy Nursing Service & Voluntary Detachment

There is a lot of ground to cover at the Arboretum, and I still had some to go. On my list was the Hospital Ships memorial which seemed to be a new one as it was not listed in my guide book. I would have to ask at the office about it before I left.

Another memorial to men who seemed to have slipped from history is the memorial to The King’s African Rifles. (302). These man are a lost army of their own, and their stories have never been adequately told. I am sure that they would have encountered the South Africans during their service, and like the South Africans have really become a forgotten part of the world wars.

King's African Rifles Memorial

King’s African Rifles Memorial

Very close to this memorial is the Normandy Veterans Memorial (301). There are 5 stones dedicated to each of the landing beaches in Normandy (Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha).

UTAH

UTAH

The area where I was in now seemed slightly biased towards policemen, and police served in the military too, in my photography in South Africa I had often had police on my list of graves, and many fell in the line of duty. The same is true for the United Kingdom.

Police Memorial Garden

Police Memorial Garden

Representative of these memorials is the Police Memorial Garden (306). Strangely enough, I found a plaque to a British policeman who was killed in South Africa in a vehicle accident in October 2002. 

Technically I was finished for the day. Although I really wanted to investigate the area around the visitor centre. Upon enquiry my Hospital Ships Memorial was found behind the Fleet Air Arm Memorial.

Hospital Ships Memorial

Hospital Ships Memorial

Although once again I do not understand why they only mention ships lost during the Second World War.

I was ready to go, I do not have a tally of how many memorials I had seen, and looking back now I missed out on a number of them that I had not seen, Realistically though, there was an overkill of memorials. There are just so many that seeing them all would be a lot of hard slogging, and trying to see each marked tree would be even harder. However, if you are there for a specific memorial then the experience would be very different to mine.  The Arboretum is a fantastic place, and it is a meaningful space, and somebody should point this out to the powers that be who hijacked Freedom Park in South Africa.

I will probably add to this page as I go along, but at this point I shall point to some random images instead.

Royal Norwegian Navy (409)

Royal Norwegian Navy (409)

HMS Repulse & HMS Prince of Wales

Royal Naval Patrol Service (413a)

Royal Naval Patrol Service (413a)

Twin Towers Memorial (223)

Twin Towers Memorial (223)

Military Police (316)

Military Police (316)

Wall Memorial

Wall Memorial

Royal Corps of Signals (325a)

Royal Corps of Signals (325a)

Royal Artillery Garden 2018

Royal Artillery Garden 2018

Naval Service Memorial

Naval Service Memorial

SS City of Benares Plaque

SS City of Benares Plaque

HMT Lancastria Memorial

HMT Lancastria Memorial

Royal Auxiliary Air Force (343)

Royal Auxiliary Air Force (343)

Chindit Memorial (232a)

Chindit Memorial (232a)

Local Postman Memorial (213)

Local Postman Memorial (213)

Do not see this page as an all encompassing view of a much larger picture, it is a mere glimpse, the reality is a very different thing altogether. Looking at my guide book I see how many of the memorials I missed altogether, and I think that is what I do not like about this place. There are just so many, and it is really better to come here with a distinct purpose rather than an eye to see everything. 

© DRW 2015-2018 Created 08/04/2015. Images migrated 29/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:00

Statue bashing in South Africa

I have been following recent events in South Africa with amazement. The current mania for statue bashing seems to be the latest way to show your discontent, stupidity, ignorance, barbarism, disgust, disgrace and all of the above. It all seemed to have started when somebody flung a turd or 10 at the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at UCT. Now Rhodes is not one of the more popular characters in our history, in fact he probably comes across as one of the most disliked people amongst all race groups. It is a reputation that is well deserved because frankly he was not a very likeable person at all, he really epitomises everything bad that you can think of in an Imperialist . However, he did leave behind a legacy, and leaving a legacy is probably one way of trying to make amends for what you did wrong, although I suspect he may have had some sort of ulterior motive. 
 
Now flinging manure is all fine and well, but it is never a good idea to fling manure at the same institution where you are a student, because somebody may take notice and rap you over the head with a bucket and a brush and point you in the direction of your dirty work with an order to clean it up!  That does not seem to have happened. What has seemed to have happened is the usual frothing at the mouth and shouts of “racist” or “colonialist” depending on where you happen to be in the odd mess that is South Africa.
 
My biggest fear is that a whole wodge of pooh flinging and vandalism will be the end result, and somebody is going to get hurt.
 
It has happened as I expected. So far Paul Kruger and his sentries have gotten vandalised,
 
Queen Victoria in Port Elizabeth got vandalised,
 

The Anglo Boer War Memorial in Uitenhage was set fire to,

  
And finally the famous Horse Memorial in PE was seriously vandalised.
  
The real sad part is that the Horse Memorial in PE really commemorates the role of horses in the ABW, and not the people who fought and died in it. That memorial has been around now over 100 years and has nothing to do with race, colour, language, religion or political affiliation!
 
It seems as if somebody has been arrested for the Horse Memorial vandalism, and I hope that the book, and the whole library gets flung at them, along with a very stiff jail term. Unfortunately, what will probably happen is that the group that this individual belongs to will go on the rampage and foam at the mouth, shout slogans, wave berets and probably vandalise something else, because that is what they always do! 
 
The vandalism of statues is bad, because tomorrow it may be books, or it may be schools, or hospitals or people.  Once something like this starts it does not stop, and the only people laughing are those who will score the pieces of bronze that they will sell to the unscrupulous scrap metal dealer for R5. 
 
I always hope that sanity prevails, because sanity is really needed now.  I hear the magical word “dialogue” being brandished, and I am afraid that will not take us very far because there are just too many people with agenda and too many political brownie points to be gained.  We need the authorities to make a stand, and some sort of compromise to be reached. If that means we create a museum where statues and memorials can be sent to; then so be it. Make it so!
 
The one thing that they seem to do in the UK is embrace statues and memorials irrespective of  good or bad, because they do seem to realise that history is how you interpret it, and it is the past, you either embrace it or you forget it. However, sooner or later it will come back and bite you on the rear end!
 
From what I can see the government is silent on the matter, which is to be expected considering how they often end up putting their foot in it. The usual groups of radicals are having hissy fits, and people like me are looking at this and asking: “at what point will it all stop”? 
 
I started collecting pics of memorials a long time ago, and on my webpage I have a section devoted to what I call “Extinct Memorials“, I would hate to have to add to that list, but at this moment anything can happen. 
 
I would like to urge caution though, tit-for-tat statue bashing will achieve nothing. If anything it will just raise the stakes, and at some point somebody will end up getting killed as so often happens in South Africa, and then we are just that one step closer to anarchy.
 
The best thing I can say at this point is: Start taking photographs and keep them to show to the citizens of tomorrow, so that they can see where we all came from, warts and all.

Update: 13/04/2015.
Rhodes has been removed, The soldier watering his horse has been removed, and the usual self serving mob have chained themselves to Paul Kruger. However, the latest Casualty has been Louis Botha in Cape Town, and this morning I awoke to hear that Ghandi in Johannesburg had been painted.

I believe that somebody has been arrested in connection with this, although who knows what the outcome will be. As I said before, this is going to escalate, and I suspect that the Ghandi vandalism is a tit-for-tat thing, although given the lack of intelligence of some of those who are hell bent on destroying everything that offends their sensibilities it is possible that they did not know what Ghandi actually represented. All they saw was a statue.

Paul Kruger and JG Strydom in Krugersdorp  no longer seem as assured of their spot any longer. Although I have always thought that these two statues were long out of their original context.

Karl Von Brandis in Johannesburg was painted yellow over the weekend of 18/19 April.

And I believe the ABW memorial in East London also got painted at some point.

It was confirmed that a statue of Louis Botha had been vandalised too, although contrary to what I had read it was not the one at the Union Buildings.

Watch this space as they say…..

List of statues vandalised so far that I know about:

  • King George V Statue UKZN campus – 26 March 2015 (painted white)
  • Queen Victoria Statue Port Elizabeth –  31 March 2015 (protest) & 9 April 2015 (vandalised)
  • Horse Memorial Uitenhage – 2 April 2015 (set alight)
  • Paul Kruger Statue Pretoria – 5 April 2015 (painted green)
  • Louis Botha Statue Cape Town – 9 April 2015 (painted red)
  • General Jan Fick Ficksburg – 11 April 2015 (painted dark red)
  • Martinus Wessel Pretorius Pretoria – 11 April 2015 (painted dark red)
  • Gandhi Statue Johannesburg – 12 April 2015 (painted white)
  • Andrew Murray statue Wellington – 12 April 2015 (painted red)
  • Paul Kruger and JG Strijdom Statues Krugersdorp – 15 April 2015 (painted red)
  • Karl Von Brandis: Johannesbug 18 or 19 April 2015 (painted yellow)
  • ABW Memorial East London  
  • Louis Botha statue, Cape Town?. (paint and vegetables)

(List obtained from http://www.heritageportal.co.za/forum/there-statue-revolution-afoot (Link no longer valid))

© DRW 2015-2018. Created 06/04/2015. Updated 20/04/2015, images migrated 29/04/2016. Images of Uitenhage and PE courtesy of Ronnie Lovemore
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:00

National Tramway Museum at Crich

Yesterday we headed off to the National Tramway Museum, situated at Crich (aka Crich Tramway Village). Situated in Derbyshire, it was not too far away, but not really reachable by train from where I was.  The trams in Johannesburg were removed from service in August 1961 so I did not grow up with them, and the only experience I have had with trams has been in Hong Kong and Kimberley.  This was to be a new experience.
  
Unfortunately the weather was still gloomy and we had an intermittent drizzle for most of the afternoon. It did not make for good photography. The object on the hill in the photograph above is the Sherwood Forresters Memorial, unfortunately we did not get to that one, but maybe another day?
 
There were a number of trams running on that day, the track is quite a long one and has a number of passing loops and points in it. A token is used where trams have to use the single line. At any given time there are probably 3 trams somewhere moving in the system.
 
On the day we were there the following were seen in action:
Glasgow Corporation 812

Glasgow Corporation 812

Glasgow Corporation 1068

Glasgow Corporation 1068

Blackpool 167

Blackpool 167

Metropolitan Electric Tramways 331

Metropolitan Electric Tramways 331


The site has a number of very pretty buildings and artefacts that are museum pieces in themselves.
 
The Red Lion Pub was particularly impressive, as was this small building which may be associated with the trams, possibly a ticket office or a controller? 
  
There is also a quirky horse trough,
 
a period urinal,
 
and a traditional sweet shoppe.
And a Tardis

The tram shed houses a very large collection of trams from almost all eras, although the horse drawn vehicles are housed in an exhibition hall along with a large collection of other vehicles.

The Johannesburg vehicle is housed in the tramshed, and I missed seeing her originally. Unfortunately, given the nature of the space some trams you can only get poor images of. That was equally true at James Hall Museum of Transport where there are other Johannesburg trams on display. 

Exhibition hall

Exhibition hall

The vehicle is number 60 from 1905. And I believe she is still in a running condition.
The one machine that really caught my eye was the steeple cab locomotive, I have been wanting to see one of these for a long time, and this green example just made my day.

 

Technically she is not a tram, but a works vehicle, and there are quite a few odd overhead line maintenance vehicles housed in the shed.

The workshop was not open for visitors, but there is a viewing gallery where you can get a glimpse of the work performed by the volunteers to keep these machines running.

 

Like so many museums and heritage sites, the tramway is staffed by volunteers who keep the wheels turning and the public returning. It is a thankless task, but without them the trams and trains and planes will stop forever.

I traveled on two of the trams and they were comfortable rides too, not as bad as the bone jarring Brill tram I had been on in Kimberley. Tram technology kept apace with the times, but at the end of the day the diesel bus was the winner.  That is not to say that trams have died off completely, they are still used in a number of places, although they are more like “light rail” nowadays. 

One of the real gems at the village is the Bowes-Lyon Bridge. It is a very pretty structure, and while it does look old is surprisingly not that old. It is a good place to do some overhead photography from, but by the time I got to it the day was winding down, and my camera had died on me too.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed the outing, and of course any opportunity to dabble in this sort of history really has me standing right up front in the queue. The sad part is that when many cities decided to drop trams in favour of buses, large fleets were broken up, or ended up rotting away in some backwater. Occasionally the backwaters would yield a gem and these would be lovingly restored. Many of them are here at the Tramway Museum.
Random Images

There are just so many images that I can use here, but these are really a small selection.

And a great day was had by all. More images of the trams at the museum, as well as trams from Hong Kong and Johannesburg may be found at the gallery page of the Allatsea webpage.

© DRW 2015-2018. Created 04/05/2015. images migrated 29/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:01

The National Memorial Arboretum

This morning, while on our way to the Tramway Museum we paused briefly at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, near Lichfield. It was more of a reconnaissance as opposed to a dedicated visit, and I was forced to use my phone as my camera is now sans its full compliment of batteries (which I lost somewhere).   
It is a mighty space, housing a large number of memorials, and places to remember those who never came home. We only really explored what is known as the Armed Forces Memorial. 
 

It is probably the first place people gravitate too, and it is also the place that “….honours those members of the Armed Forces (Regular and Reserve) who were killed on duty while performing functions attributable to the special circumstances and requirements of the Armed Forces, or as a result of terrorist action, and those who died while deployed on designated operations“.

It is a large open space, with a circular wall full of the names.

 It is also a stark and powerful place, and tragically there is space for even more names.

Two statue groupings are found on either side of the central laurel wreath. These were created by Ian Rank-Broadley.

The grouping on the left features four men holding a stretcher aloft with a figure on it while on either side others seem to question and mourn the tableau.

The other sculpture has 5 figures in it, a male and female seemingly moving a nude male figure, with a male figure chiseling words on the wall in front of him. Another figure indicates an opening in the wall, which is inscribed “Through this space a shaft of sunlight falls at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of eleventh month”.

 

 

The sculptures represent Loss and Sacrifice, but each figure on its own could be interpreted differently depending on how they are viewed, I found them very powerful, and the one image that really struck me was the woman with the child. The images are graphic and strong, and somebody had left a red flower in the hand of the nude figure. The redness of the flower contrasting sharply with the stark bronze that held it, and the grey clouds overhead.

 

And with the Falklands Conflict anniversary at the moment, it is fitting to remember the many casualties that are inscribed on this wall. I wonder if there is something similar in Argentina?

Admittedly I was sceptical about the Arboretum, but having seen just this single memorial I now understand it better, but I am afraid that by its nature it is a solemn and sad place.

There are over 50000 trees here, on a 150 acre sight, with over 300 memorials, there is probably something for everybody here, and for families of  servicemen and women, it is a place of remembrance and healing.

My session only explored a small part of the whole, I am hoping to go back one day, although hopefully in better weather and armed with a full compliment of battery power.

Auxiliary Territorial Service Statue 1938-1949

Auxiliary Territorial Service Statue 1938-1949

Women’s Land Army, & Women’s Timber Corps

That brought my visit to an end, but I did not come away empty handed, these images are something to work at, to try to understand the emotions involved in those  bronzes, and to ponder the names on the walls.

 
I did return to the NMA and it was quite an experience. Read all about it here. 
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Created 03/05/2015, images migrated 29/04/2016.
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:02

Dropping in on Dudley

This fine morning I had an interview in Dudley, which is North West of Birmingham, and about 45 minutes away from Lichfield by train. This was also my first tentative step towards exploring the “Black Country”. To reach Dudley I had to catch a train to Birmingham New Street and then a different train to Wolverhampton, bailing out at Dudley Port. 
 
The Class 323 running from Lichfield is quite a comfortable, if somewhat noisy beastie, and oddly enough my train journey was quite mundane, although I was really hoping to pick up some interesting stuff at Birmingham New Street Station. 
 
The Dudley Canal runs alongside the station, and an aqueduct runs over the road close to where I had to catch my bus, called the Ryland Aqueduct, canal barges would have been a major way to transport goods in the period before the railway became dominant, and the truck dominated the railway. The first bridge in the picture is the railway bridge. 
 
The name Dudley Port emerged during the 19th century, due to the extensive number of warehouses and wharves emerging around the Birmingham Canal to serve industries in Dudley. Dudley city centre is not served by train courtesy of Dr Beeching and his axe. It is a bit of an odd situation though, but the future may seen things change.

During my navigation exercise, I spotted a castle on a hill; this is Dudley Castle, and I mentally added it to my list if I had time to spare. I had allowed two possible train arrivals which would either give me an hour to find my destination from the station, or 90 minutes. I had my camera in my bag “just in case”.

The bus dropped me off at the bus station, which was over the road from my destination, and next to the Church of St Edmund the King and Martyr which just happened to have a handy graveyard for me to explore.

 

Feeling much better after a bit of gravehunting, I paused at the statue of?  I was not able to read the inscription, so decided to rather look that one up when I got home.

It turns out that this is the statue of William Humble Ward, 11th Baron Ward of Birmingham, Viscount Ednam and Earl of Dudley. He died of pneumonia on the 7th of May 1885 at Dudley House in London. That could explain why I did not find him in the two graveyards I visited. I often wonder how relevant a statue like this is, especially in the light of the furor going on in South Africa about the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at Cape Town University. 

There are two churches in the area of the city where I was, St Edmunds is known as the “Bottom Church”, as opposed to St Thomas’s parish church in High Street which is known as “Top Church”.  Naturally I did not know this at the time. I was hoping to make the trek up the road to more or less where they would have placed a war memorial if there was one. With a bit more time on my hands I could afford myself the luxury of a bit of a look around. The hill where Dudley Castle was really dominated the area, and effectively it meant everything had to go around it. I could see part of the Castle on the hill, and managed to zoom into into.

It really did look intriguing, but at the moment there was an even more intriguing statue in the Market Square. I do not know if this was the war memorial or not because there was major construction going on in the area and parts of the statue/fountain were obviously being restored. It must have been very impressive though, whatever it was.

From here I could see the “Top Church” and time was still on my side so I headed in that direction.

Called “The Church of St Thomas“, the building is almost 200 years old, and the graveyard dates even further back than that. It is a very impressive building, and the graveyard was even more of a surprise.

 

 
I have not seen a such a small church graveyard with so many large headstones in ages, it was really a surprise. The presence of many large concrete slabs was puzzling though, and reading between the lines (and on the graves), the church has vaults underneath it. Unfortunately the information board of the church was almost illegible, but there was enough on it to be able to read about a Medieval crypt or chapel on the premises. The church was open too, although there were some people praying in it so I did not stay very long. It was very impressive inside.

Time was marching and I headed off down the road to my interview. It had been a productive day so far, and I was feeling smug that I had been able to see these two beauts.
Once my interview was over I headed across to the Castle, which is on the property of the Zoo (or is it the other way around/). Unfortunately, to see the former you needed to pay for the latter and frankly 15 pounds was not something I would pay to see the castle, especially when the zoo has no interest for me.  I decided to head for home instead.  I found this image on Wikipedia, and am going to use that in lieu of a personal visit.

Image I am using in this post is By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons) (Image size is 1280×529.
Dudley Castle Courtyard

Dudley Castle Courtyard

I could also see part of a tower sticking out over the hill, but there was no real way I was going to see this castle so I headed for the bus station. I still had two trains to catch and time was marching and weather was gathering. 
  
The only exciting thing I saw at Birmingham Station was a Virgin Trains Pendolino. I was hoping to spot one of these because it was on one of them that I had had my first experience of train travel in the UK when I was in Manchester on business in 2008.

The wheel had come a full circle since then and I have travelled on a number of different trains since I arrived here in 2013. 

When I got back to Lichfield we ended up making a detour at the village of Hammerwich to take a look at the Church of St John the Baptist. 

It was a very pretty building with a surprisingly large graveyard, the oldest headstones that were legible dated from the 1780’s.

And that was my day. It had been an excellent one from a gravehunting point of view, and I had managed to get to Birmingham, or at least gone through it. Weather and time permitting I do want to do a day trip to the city if possible, as it too is full of history. And I really like history. As for the interview? never heard from them again.

© DRW 2015-2018. Created 01/04/2015. Images migrated 29/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:04
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