musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Month: June 2016

Tewkesbury Mini-steam Weekend 2016

This morning I headed off to the Tewkesbury Mini-steam weekend held at the Tewkesbury Rugby Club grounds. This is the 2nd time I have attended this event, and I cannot believe that I have been in this town now for over a year. The event is held by the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society and showcases some of the smaller versions of the steam traction engines that are so popular around the country.

Last year was great, and while I did not do a blogpost I did showcase some of the images in my gallery. Unfortunately today the weather was not great and the sky changed colour quite a few times during my visit, and at one point it was even drizzling. But, steam is steam! let the steaming begin.

2017 can be found on it’s own page.

I arrived early (as usual) and did the rounds, looking for interesting steamers worthy of a second look. There was a really nice collection of vintage vehicles on show, and in my book the Ford Zephyr was tops until the Morris dropside van came along.

I was however not here for the cars. I was here for the steamers!

ministeam 024

So many distractions!

As I was saying, the accent in this event is not on full size traction engines, but on smaller half/quartersixth sized ones. Do not be mistaken by the size though, those small machines are working replicas of the real things, and they are not made of plastic. 

This early in the morning steam was being raised and brasses polished and bunkers were being filled. 

And of course the gubbins had to be adjusted too, now if only we knew where the gubbins actually was.

And as the morning wore on more steamers were waking up and steaming across the grass, smoking from the long extensions in their chimneys, while some just stood around smoking!

The steam wagons are interesting vehicles, and they do present a different set of challenges to the operator. 

 

Unlike last year when there was some sort of grand parade, I did not see one advertised this year, or not for the period that I had scheduled for my visit. Like it or not, I was not keen to hang around here the whole day, especially with drizzles coming and going. You can bet though, the moment I was out of earshot the grand parade commenced. 

I was also very impressed by the way the whole family gets roped into the occasion, and even the dog has a go.

Now remember, one bark means left, two barks means right! 

These machines were never built for speed though, they belong to a very different age, and of course age group. But it is good to see many youngsters and women participating in driving and keeping the machine in peak condition. 

These machines do not come cheap, and many have been in the family for a long time, They are more of an investment as opposed to a toy.

I have to admit Maud (image beneath) was a stunning machine with a fair turn of speed too. She is based on a JH McLaren machine. 

While the beauty beneath is based on a Wm Allchin Ltd Machine

To me though the best machine had to be the 15 Ton crane, 

There is definitely something dignified about these machines, whether is it the almost silent running of the machine in neutral, or the slow almost waddling gait as they pass by.

These are the machines that make small children point and get excited over, and which older men like me look at wistfully. Like their cousins that run on rails, they are machines from a different era, but they still have the ability to turn heads. Such are the machines of legend.

Random images from the cutting room floor.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 25/06/2015

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:08

Modelling the Union-Castle Line (1)

The Union-Castle Line had some beautiful ships, but for some reason or other they never received the attention of plastic model manufacturers like Airfix or Revell. If you wanted UC you built  from scratch. I did try scratch building many years ago, and while it is possible, without the plans you are going to be sucking on air. Sadly, Triang never dabbled in them either, but as my Minic Ship collection grew so I became more aware that there were some very nice 1/1250 ships out there if you were willing to fork out large amounts of money, and there were UC ships amongst them!.  

Unfortunately during the course of adding to my collection this page has fallen out of synch so I am now hopefully going to set the record straight (or straighter).

Page 2 may be found here

Capetown and Dunnottar Castles.  

Ebay has taught me a lot, and  I found a supplier for resin cast vessels who was offering a number of Union-Castle vessels, including some of the cargo ships. For the record it is Convoy Models, and I recommend them for not only UC but other resin cast models from the Len Jordan and Hein Muck range

My first acquisition was the Capetown Castle and Dunnottar Castle.

Capetown Castle

Capetown Castle

Dunnottar Castle

The biggest question of course is: “what colour is the hull?”

The hull colour has been described as many things and it is really a difficult subject because the colour is not available off the shelf. The closest (in my opinion) that there is Humbrol 42 (Violet Matt). On my original Union-Castle webpage I used to use  A77B96 and that came from a Union-Castle document that I scanned and matched using the colour dropper. I have also heard the colour described as “Mountbatten Pink”.  I have stuck with this colour for all of my UC ships because I can get it off the shelf. Mixing paint can be difficult, especially when you need to touch up. 

Humbrol 42 Violet Matt


 

Web colours A77B96


 

The Capetown Castle model is not a very good likeness to the real vessel, but it is close enough. She was not a difficult ship to paint but I did make a mistake with the deck colours and subsequently ruined the model. But it was an interesting experience painting her, especially given my tendency to not see too well. 

John Bowen’s book, ‘More Miniature Merchant Ships’: has the following colour scheme for the Capetown Castle:  

“Union-Castle lavender grey to the level of the top of the bulwark to the opening in the ship’s side forward in way of the Upper (C) Deck, white above, with narrow teak colour dividing line between; red below waterline (the nearest shade to this hull colour being obtained by mixing 10 parts Humbrol No 147 Light Grey, 1 part Humbrol No 174 Signal Red, and 2 parts Humbrol No 104 Blue).

Superstructure: white, inside bulwarks white. Masts, derrick posts, derricks: as built, masts were reddish-brown, derrick posts and derricks white. After the war the masts were changed to white. Ventilators: white, inside cowls red. Lifeboats, davits: white, boat covers light grey. Windlass, winches: mid-grey. Bollards, fairleads: black. Hatches: grey. Funnel: vermilion (orange red), black top, Decks: wood planked, bare steel decks mid-grey.”

The first mistake I made was using too dark a brown for the decks, and that would come back to haunt me in the future.

Capetown Castle

Capetown Castle

I used to work on both ships over the weekends, and soon had them shipshape although I was not happy with the decks. The colour on the tin was a light brown but this was way too dark. I would have to rethink the deck colour. The masts were pins and the derricks were bristles from my carpet brush. They worked well and I was happy to find a ready source of derrick material. Now if only I could find out where my brush went to. 

Dunnottar Castle

Update 11/10/2016

This month I acquired a 1/1250 scale of Victoria.  Built as Dunnottar Castle was one of the older ships still afloat and spent most of her life as a cruise ship. She was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, and launched on 25 January 1936. She was primarily used on the London (Tilbury) – round Africa service until the outbreak of WW2, when she was converted to an armed merchant cruiser, and later to a troop transport. In 1949 she resumed her London – round Africa service. In 1958 she was sold to Incres SS Co, who renamed her Victoria and substantially rebuilt her in Rotterdam. She entered service in 1960 on New York-West Indies cruises. In 1964 she changed hands once again, this time to Victoria SS Co, a subsidiary of Swedish company Clipper A/B, she retained her name, and Incres Line as agents. Chandris Cruises bought her in 1964, and she resumed sailings as The Victoria in June of 1976. She cruised in Europe and the Caribbean until 1993, when she was sold to Louis Cruise Lines and renamed Princessa Victoria for use on cruises from Cyprus. In 2002 it was reported that she was to be taken up for service as a hotel ship in London. This sadly never came to pass and the Princessa was laid up and in 2004 sold for scrap. She arrived at the breakers at Alang on 25 May 2004.

Victoria

Victoria

Reina Del Mar and Llandaff Castle

The next two ships I bought were the Reina Del Mar (under UC ownership) and the Llandaff Castle. The latter may also double as the Llandovery Castle, but I decided to go with Llandaff instead. These models were from the same supplier, but the Reina Model was outstanding. 

Llandaf Castle and Reina Del Mar before painting

The one irritation with the Reina was the lack of roof for the cinema but I managed to fabricate that using spare plastic I had left over from my container ship experiment. Unfortunately there is no model shop where I live and the local art supplier has a limited stock of paint, and I agonised over those tinlets for ages, hoping to find a suitable deck colour before settling on Humbrol Matt 121 (Pale Stone). I was surprised with the results and decided to overpaint the decks of the other two ships. That was not successful. 

Reina Del Mar

Reina Del Mar

Llandaff Castle

Llandaff Castle

At the time of writing the basics of both ships have been painted and I need to touch up the mistakes and fill in some of the spots I missed as well as paint the cargo gear. However, just before I reached this point I was able to pick up a Pretoria Castle off ebay and when she arrived I got quite a suprise because her hull is the same colour as mine as are her decks!

Pretoria Castle

The model was released by Albatros and she is 1/1250 scale.

Pretoria Castle

Pretoria Castle

By now my fleet of Union-Castle ships had grown. and as I got more confident my painting skills  improved slightly. I also invested in “Trimline” which is great for lines on funnels, waterlines, straight lines, in fact anywhere a line is needed 

My next addition was:

Athlone Castle

She too is a resin cast and a better detailed model than the Capetown Castle is. Unfortunately she does have a mistake in her superstructure that could be corrected by somebody more skilled than me

Hull, superstructure and decks partly painted.

06/08/2016

Basic painting is completed and most masts are fitted although no booms are in place yet. I also used the opportunity to touch up some areas on the other fleet members. 

Booms fitted. I was amazed at how many had to be fitted to the Athlone which does give an indication of how much cargo space these vessels really had. I have to sort out the sheer line on the Athlone though as it is wobbly and paint the booms and touch up more areas that I may have missed. The ships are more or less complete though. 

Durban Castle

Pendennis Castle

I looked round at other commercially made Union-Castle vessels that were available as I really wanted a Pendennis (IMHO the most beautiful of them all). Unfortunately they do not come cheap but I finally got one from L Wiedling in Germany

She is made by CM and is  1/125 scale and she is a beauty, just like the real thing. There appears to be two versions of the ship though, one with painted decks and one with white decks. I have the latter.  Her hull colour is also lighter than the colour I am using for my hulls. 

Pendennis Castle

When I eventually finished the Athlone and Durban Castles I had (counts on fingers…) 8 UC ships in total.  And here they are.

(L-r) Capetown, Athlone, Pendennis, Edinburgh, Reina Del Mar, Durban, Dunnottar and Llandaff Castles.

Bucket list? Naturally I have a bucket list, but the ships in that bucket are pricey and possibly out of my league. I would really like a Windsor, Carnarvon, Arundel and Edinburgh. Till then I shall leave this blog post as completed for now and when the new ships arrive will start a “page 2”.

Page 2 may be found here

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 23/06/2016. Excerpt from John Bowen’s Book is courtesy of Glynn Price.  Page rearranged 04/04/2018

Updated: 20/01/2019 — 13:02

Photo Essay: The Navigators

In 2008 when I was in London one of the places I passed through was Hays Galleria, a re-imagined development that is on the site of the former Hay’s Wharf. 

It is not the sort of place that interests me, being filled with coffee shops and trendy boutiques and barrows selling souvenirs of London.

However, it is also home to a statue entitled “The Navigators” by David Kemp, that was erected in 1987. 

It is really reminiscent of something out of Monty Python and a steampunk vision of an early steamship. That is what draws me to Hays Galleria.

 

“Aah, it’s all very well, but what does it do?” I hear you ask.

Like most art it doesn’t do much, it just hangs around and looks decorative. Although it does actually move and spray water and is quite impressive when seen “under sail”.

It is wonderful quirky piece that appears to have been cleaned up since i saw it in 2013, although I do think it would have been even more impressive if it had “a part that goes “Parp” going “Parp” (Thanks Terry Pratchett). 

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 17/06/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:09

Photo Essay: Paddington Bear

During my trip to London via Paddington Station, I was hoping to see Paddington Bear. Much to my surprise I actually I saw 3 of them.

The first is on Paddington Station: 

Paddington Bear

Paddington Bear

The information plaque reads: 

“The statue was designed by Marcus Cornish and is based on the illustrations of Paddington Bear by Peggy Fortnum. It acknowledges the enourmous pleasure which Michael Bond’s creation has given to millions of children and adults throughout the world since his first book was published in 1958.”

"Please look after this bear"

“Please look after this bear”

Judging by the shine on his nose he is a very well loved bear too.

On my last day in London I discovered two more Paddingtons, and they formed part of the Paddington Trail  that was was launched From 4 November until 30 December 2014. Fifty Paddington statues were placed around London close to museums, parks, shops and key landmarks to publicise the release of the CGI Paddington movie in 2014. Unfortunately I only saw two of them.

Paddington Station

This one was on Paddington Station

While this one I spotted in Norfolk Square Gardens close to the station.

I would have loved to have found more, but then I would have ended up running around like a mad person again. The last time I hunted down this sort of campaign was in 2013 in Southampton when they had the Rhino Campaign.

In 2017, while en route to South Africa I found the following on Paddington Station. I do not recall seeing it in 2017, so it may be a new addition.

Somewhere amongst my stuff I have a Paddington Plush that I bought in London in 2008, but at this moment in time he is probably out visiting, or scoffing marmalade under a tree. 

Found him…

And, in 2017 I found that there was a Padding Bear themed shop on Paddington Station, and inside it they had a very nice collection box too.

And, I had forgotten about the kiddy ride I saw in Weymouth in 2013.

I grew up reading the Paddington Bear books and I never thought that one day I would be standing in the very same station photographing a statue of a bear from Peru. 

Postscript.

Sadly Micheal Bond, creator of Paddington Bear, passed away in 2017. I was fortunate enough to photograph two more of the Paddington Statues in 2019.

DRW © 2016-2018. Created 12/06/2016. Added new pic 26/02/2017, 25/03/2017, updated 08/03/2019

Updated: 08/03/2019 — 16:51

London 2016 (the first half)

This post is really a general post about the short trip I made to London between 07 and 09 June 2016. It is somewhat disjointed because the trip was also somewhat disjointed. However this page will also serve as an index to the separate blogposts I made.

Enough waffling, lets grab our GWR train at Cheltenham Spa and get underway.

Roll the clock forward to just after 10.30 and by the magic of the internet we are at London Paddington Station.

Everybody knows Paddington Station, after all wasn’t that where a famous Bear comes into our lives?

It is also where the Great Western Railway commemorates the 3312 members of staff who lost their lives serving their country.

However, do not tarry too long here as you are liable to be walked over by a cellphone clutching maniac who has no idea of anybody around him. The loo is close to here, only 30p for a pee.

Exiting the station we come into Praed Street. This imposing building is the London Hilton Paddington, or, as it was known: The Great Western Royal Hotel and it was opened in 1854. 

And this oldie is the famous St Mary’s Hospital. It was founded in 1845 and it was the site of many discoveries, including that of Penicillin in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming. It has also seen the birth of many notables and Royals

I also found it a handy landmark to my hotel which was in Norfolk Place. 

Paddington station also serves the Circle, Bakerloo, District,  and the  Hammersmith and City lines, although the trains on the Bakerloo side were not stopping at the station. Having offloaded my luggage I headed for Moorgate on the circle Line which was which was where I was to start my exploration.   

My first destination was the cemetery known as Bunhill Fields, and rather than bore you with details you can go read about it yourself  (You can also click on the pic)

When I finished at Bunhill I hopped the Northern Line tube once again, ending up at Bank/Monument tube station. Personally I have never been able to understand this station (that one and Liverpool Street), but popped out somewhere and wanted to head down towards Tower Bridge.

Logically London Bridge Station would have been a better choice, but I wanted to enquire as to when the RMS St Helena was due. 

By some strange quirk I ended up outside the London Centre for Spirituality, originally known as St Edmund, King and Martyr, and I just had to take a look.

The interior of the building is magnificent, I have seen many beautiful churches but this one really stood out. They have two interesting wall memorials, one of which is dedicated to Charles Melville Hays who was president of the Grand Trunk Railway and who would lose his life in the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912.  I have a separate post about the church that I have created. 

Having left the church I headed to the Thames and Tower Bridge. It was looking decidedly gloomy outside and the weather forecast was for rain. But, I had a ship to photograph, rain or not! The staff at the bridge confirmed bridge opening was scheduled for 16H45, so things were looking up.

There were even fenders along HMS Belfast so the visit was happening.  Now if only I could find a way to occupy myself for 2 hours. The Imperial War Museum  was not too far away so I headed to London Bridge Station to grab a tube to Elephant and Castle.

My visit to the museum in 2015 had not been a very good one, and I was hoping to rectify that in the 90 minutes that I had.  My primary objective was to photograph the 5.5″ gun that Jack Cornwell had manned during the Battle of Jutland when he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

It is a large weapon and trying to photograph it all in one shot is impossible. I also wanted to see the Lord Ashcroft VC Gallery, and it was a strange place because those medals are really just tokens of extreme heroism, and I had photographed some of the graves associated with the medal and the man. Yet, it is strange to make the connection when you have read about the deed that the medal was awarded for. I can’t quite explain it though, just take my word for it. 

The rest of the museum was as I remembered it from 2015, and I was still as disappointed as I had been last time. But I felt better for the experience. Unfortunately on my walk from the station the rain had started and it was drizzling by the time I came out. Fortunately I did have my trusty raincoat with so could stay slightly dry on my way back to Tower Bridge.

While I was pondering what to do till 16H45 the bridge started to open, but it was not the ship I was waiting for. 

Instead a small sailing barge came through, and it turns out that this is the Lady Daphne,  a 1923 built sailing barge under private ownership and available for a variety of charters and day trips. 

I moved up to the Tower of London side of the bridge and parked myself there to wait out the St Helena, and that blogpost may be accessed by clicking the link or the image below 

When all was said and done I headed to Tower Bridge Station to await my train back to the hotel. Naturally I stopped at the Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial while I was there…..

and then I was on my way home for a shower, and to put my feet up and rest. I was bushed, and I still had tomorrow to consider.

Tomorrow (8 June 2016)

On this fine day I had planned to go gravehunting to two places I had been before. To get there I needed to catch the Bakerloo line at Edgeware Road and travel to Queen’s Park before changing trains for Kensal Green (the stop after Queen’s Park)

That is Edgeware Road tube station above, and there are actually two separate stations, one dealing only with Bakerloo Line and the other with everything else.

And here we are at Kensal Green. Isn’t the train marvellous? 

Actually the tube is reasonably easy to use as long as you “mind the gap” and know how to read a tube map. Unfortunately though it is not always easy to know in which direction a train is going, or where it’s end destination is. But, you are not alone, there are probably plenty of people down there who have been lost for years and who travel up and down looking for their stop. 

My mission at Kensal Green was to revisit St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery

as well as Kensal Green (All Souls) Cemetery

You may use either the link or the image to access the relevant blogpost. 

Once I had completed my cemetery visits it was time to head back towards the Thames, although I wanted to make one stop before then. The tube passes through one station that any Sir Conan Doyle buff will appreciate:

and you can bet I heard Jerry Rafferty playing in my head as we went past.

At this point in time I headed towards Trafalgar Square as there were two statues that I wanted pics of that tied into my Battle of Jutland interest

 

Admiral of the Fleet John Rushworth Jellicoe,

Admiral of the Fleet John Jellicoe

Admiral of the Fleet David Richard Beatty

Admiral of the Fleet David Beatty

Trafalgar Square is somewhat of a frenetic place with gazillions of tourists, red buses and people on cellphones or taking selfies.

And,  having photographed my statues it was time to head to the embankment for lunch at my favourite Japanese takeaway. I intended to walk to the Millennium Bridge and then cut upwards to St Paul’s.

Cleopatra’s Needle

Embankment Station

Embankment Station

Zimbabwe House

Zimbabwe House

I had originally been to see St Paul’s in 2013, in fact I had even stood in the ticket line, but had turned away at the last minute as I did not really feel comfortable with the heavy atmosphere at the time. I had always regretted that decision because it was really a place heavy with history and tradition and well worth seeing. One of the things that had put me off was the “No photography” ruling, and as a result of that I do not have any interior images to share. 

Please note that the opinions in this update are strictly my own.
Trust me, the interior of the cathedral is truly magnificent, photographs will not go anywhere near doing it justice. It is huge, the amount of artwork and sculptures in it is staggering, and the lofty heights of the dome seem to reach into the stars. It is a stunning building, however, I did not find it a friendly building, if anything I felt as if I was intruding on some much greater work and was not really worthy of being in there (possibly that was the intention?). The crypt was out of this world, but it felt cold and clinical, almost too perfect. This seemed more like a space where you crept silently along clutching your hat with eyes downcast. The tombs inside it are awe inspiring, but I found it hard to reconcile some of the words I read on some of the tombs with the history of those buried there.
 
 
It was really the sort of building where you could spend a whole day and come away feeling drained and I do not want to know how you would feel if you attended a service there. I did find the staff somewhat abrupt, especially the woman in the whispering gallery and again I felt as if I was intruding in a personal empire of the staff. I did not stick around very long, although it started bucketing down shortly after I went inside.
 
I have visited quite a few cathedrals since I first saw St Paul’s, and they felt just that much more comfortable and accessible. I did not feel the same way in St Paul’s. Sir Christopher Wren created a fantastic building, and I wonder what he would have said had he seen it today. Make no mistake, it is probably the most stunning cathedral I have ever seen, but it will never be my favourite.
 
Having seen St Paul’s I now headed towards the Thames, trying to come out somewhere near London Bridge,  naturally I ended up at Bank tube station again, and promptly got lost! I do not know why I always get lost in that area.
 
But I eventually I reached where I wanted to be to take my last pics of the RMS. 
 
 
It was time to go back to the hotel via Tower Hill and have a shower and a rest. I was bushed. My jeans had dried out but my shoes were still kind of squelchy from the morning in Kensal Green
 
 
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 10/06/2016 
Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:10

London 2016 (the second half)

Continued where we left off in the first half.

I had arrived back at my hotel and had a shower and rest before embarking on a walk to “Little Venice” in Paddington. The Paddington Basin is now surrounded by yuppie pads and no longer by warehouses or working areas. It has literally become a trendy neighbourhood. 

Don’t get me wrong, it is quite a pretty area if you ignore the chrome and glass, the banker clones and PYT’s as well as the swish of cyclists hurtling past you.  Narrow boats abound, and some are real oldies too.

A handy map shows whether the Grand Union Canal Paddington Arm meets up with Regent’s Canal. 

Paddington Station is on the doorstep so it was a perfect place to move materials to and from trains and canal boats. Today trucks do that job and the barges are now replaced by the leisure boating trade instead. 

My exploration completed it was time to head home to prepare for my next day’s adventures.

Tomorrow (09/06/2016)

I was not going down to the Thames today but wanted to take in some culture for a change and headed towards Kensington Gardens where I was hoping to find the Pet Cemetery that had evaded me in 2013. I had probably not found it because I was looking in Hyde Park whereas it is really in Kensington Gardens.  Some quick questioning and I had my goal. The Cemetery is situated in the back garden of the lodge and is only viewable by appointment. Trying to take pics through the hedge was a waste of time, but at least now I know where it is if ever I am here again.

Kensington Gardens is quite large and I entered through the Marlborough Gate by the Italian Gardens.

I headed South towards the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall and onwards to the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the Science Museum.

The Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial

The Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall

This area has some amazing buildings in it, and one I found quite modest in comparison to the rest. The Royal Geographic Society building was quite interesting because of the influence that this society had on exploration, especially in the days of “for Queen and  Empire”.

Royal Geographic Society

Royal Geographic Society

The Victoria and Albert Museum is situated a bit further down from the Science Museum and it was here that I started my culture jag. The building is huge, and trying to photograph it all is impossible. To make matters worse, there  is more than one building associated with the museum.  

This building is only part of it, the rest is still to come.

This is the entrance on Cromwell Street, and it opened at 10am. Which gave me just enough time to rally my strength to tackle this formidable place. 

I will be honest, from the moment I walked into it I was dumbstruck. Words do not do the museum justice, and frankly it made the much vaunted British Museum look like nothing. I cannot even begin to describe what I saw, and my pics could never do it justice. There is a lot to see, and the 90 minutes I had allocated came nowhere even close to being enough time to see everything. 

Even I had to admit that I was impressed.

Then it was time to hit the Science Museum. My time was short though and I was really afraid that Munchkins would abound at the museum, and my fears were indeed confirmed when I got there. 

But first…

I believe this is the Natural History Museum. although whether this is the front or back I cannot say.

And of course there was one of those uniquely London moments when time stands still and cars give way. 

The Science Museum

The Science Museum

I had heard great things about this museum too. and they are all true; it is an amazing place, although I did find the Munchkins crowded me out. However, they were having a blast and I hope that someday they will become great scientists instead of bankers and accountants or “something in the city.” 

Again there was just too much to see and I did not see a third of it. But, there were a lot of exhibits that tied into my interests.

 science1314  

Now who says Science is not fun? Oh, and by the way, the basement has a really interesting exhibition in it called “The Secret Life of the Home”, and that is reason enough for me to put this Science Museum on my list if ever I am in London again.

It was time to head back to the station and catch my train. I was exhausted and still had a long train trip as well as at least 1 bus ride and a long walk back to my flat. I had aches in pains in places I had forgotten I had. There were over 1400 images in my camera, and who knows how many blog posts still to do. My mini vacation had ended much too soon, and next week would be back to the old grindstone. But, I had lots of pics to keep me amused for a very long time, who knows, just maybe more images will appear in these blogs, for now though I was done. Paddington here I come!

Reality time had come once again.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 10/06/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:11

Photo Essay: The Albert Memorial in London

In 2013 I saw the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens in London, or rather I saw the scaffolding around the Albert Memorial. 

It was not a pretty sight. 

In June 2016 I had to cross Kensington Gardens en route to the V&A Museum and the scaffolding was gone and I finally had a chance to have a look. 

The Memorial was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her husband, Prince Albert who died in 1861. The cost of the Memorial (£120,000) was met by public subscription and it was opened in July 1872.

Prince Albert took his seat in 1875.

It is an impressive structure, with marble tableaux representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America at each corner of the memorial, while higher up are further figures representing manufacture, commerce, agriculture and engineering. These tableaux could fill a blogpost all on their own.

Asia

Asia

Africa

Africa

Europe

Europe

America

America

manufactures

manufactures

Commerce

Commerce

All around the base of the memorial the Parnassus frieze depicts celebrated painters, poets sculptors, musicians and architects, reflecting Albert’s enthusiasm for the arts. There are 187 exquisitely carved figures in the frieze.

It is an incredibly ornate memorial, and in the context of its era it must have really been a firm favourite amongst those who had the leisure time to stroll around Kensington gardens. However, it is doubtful whether the average Londoner living in the East End would have ever been to see it. Their lives were much more precarious, although it is interesting to note that Prince Albert died of Typhoid, a disease that was spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

The memorial is a very popular tourist site in London and there were crowds around it in the afternoon when I returned from the Science Museum. 

What is the attraction? 

I asked myself the same question, but then I find beauty in cemeteries and derelict places, so my tastes are slightly skewed. I am not in favour of memorials glorifying people, however, endowing a country with a museum like the Victoria and Albert is a much better legacy than a structure built to remember a Prince.  But, having said that, it is an impressive structure and a monument to the legacy of Queen Victoria who is still remembered all around England, and in many other parts of the globe.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 26/06/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:11

Photo Essay: The Colonnades at Kensal Green

The Colonnades at Kensal Green are fascinating; a seemingly derelict structure with no apparent reason for having been made originally. 

A bit of reading on the Kensal Green Website reveals the following: the structure was designed by Sir John D Paul, Chairman of the General Cemetery Company and John Griffith in 1833, and it is a listed Grade II building. It was originally used to display tablets and monuments with a brick-vaulted catacomb beneath it, the base and stairs now hidden by the undergrowth.

The colonnade is made of Portland stone with  the roof being constructed of metal beams which are fixed into the boundary wall and are supported by the columns. The underside is infilled with roofing tiles and concrete to form semi-circular vaulting. The rear wall is divided into bays and each bay would have contained memorial tablets, although most of these have fallen off or been damaged over the years.

Most are blacked (possibly by pollution?) and some have been vandalised.

The catacomb was originally entered from the western side and has steps which are partly hidden by undergrowth. Coffins were lowered into the catacomb via a central shaft, now infilled with concrete. The catacomb extends in front of the colonnade to form a terrace. 

My images from 2013 reveal more of the front of the structure, but I just do not know where the entrance is.  I do recall that the colonnades were marked as being unsafe back then, but I saw no similar signage this time around. 

It is very difficult to understand how this structure may have looked or the size of the catacombs beneath it, and whether those who scratch obscene messages describing their genitalia have any idea as to what is beneath their overpriced designer trainer shod feet. Certainly tenants of the building behind the colonnades seems to accept that throwing their litter out of the window is an acceptable way to dispose of it.  

This faded and crumbling structure is fascinating, and I must try to find some sort of period imagery of it. I know that I would love to see what lies beneath, but would be very concerned as to the safety thereof. Technically there should be at least 8 feet of soil above the roof of the catacombs to allow for the burials above it, but maybe I am overthinking that part. It is really difficult to know given how overgrown the area in front is, especially when I saw it in 2016. 

There is a book in the British Library called “Illustrated guide to Kensal Green Cemetery. By W. J. Published in 1861 that advises that the catacombs under the colonnades were already full at the time of print. (The book is available on the Google Play Store for free). Sadly, it did not provide an illustration of the structure.   

And so a mystery it shall remain. 

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 13/06/2016. Some text taken from the Kensal Green website.  

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:11

Return to Kensal Green

Number 2 on my agenda on this fine morning in June 2016 was a visit to Kensal Green (all Souls) Cemetery, although St Mary’s next door was my real priority.  I had managed to snag most of the Victoria Cross graves in 2013, so this was a visit to see whether I could photograph the others that I am missing, and update any images that I had. The weather on my original trip had been grey and cloudy and while it was grey and cloudy on this day it did seem just a bit nicer and brighter.

However, the moment I walked down that path I was shocked. In places the grass was so high I could not see into the 3rd row of graves!  It reminded me that the weather can affect the vegetation and it is a never ending task to keep a cemetery free of undergrowth, and that is true of South Africa as well as Britain.

I really just followed the path, heading towards the chapel, photographing as I walked; at least the weather was a wee bit lighter but I was scared that it would rain so I had to make sure there was a place to shelter. In the back of my mind was a grave I really wanted to find as I had not really done a decent job of it last time around, and it really intrigued me. The only clue I really had was that the gasometer was visible in the background so at least I knew which side of the path it was on. 

The cemetery has a lot of mausoleums and statues. Some are in a derelict condition, some are not, and some are listed buildings and are to be restored. Most are sealed against the weather and intruders, and some are so tangled into the undergrowth they have almost disappeared. 

The chapel is really more like a huge crumbling art gallery that is in dire need of restoration, and there is no real way to photograph the whole building in one image, it is just too wide. On the end bay of each wing are statues but the plaster in the bays is crumbling in places and the floors no longer seem all that certain. What did this building look like when it was built? It must have really been an impressive structure. Today it looked like it was about ready to give up.

I continued past the chapel, really looking for one mausoleum in particular….

This is the Andrew Ducrow Mausoleum, and it is really an exercise in Egyptian and Greek mythology. It must have been quite a spectacle way back when it was erected, because that is certainly true of it today.

Random images.

It was VC hunting time, and I headed towards the areas where my map indicated. But, in all of the locations that I visited I was unable to find the graves (which were mostly flat slabs) due to the excessive grass and undergrowth. The one exception being when I stopped to look around and looked down to find I was standing next to a VC grave! 

I headed towards the “colonnades” which are situated along the one boundary of the cemetery. A block of flats backed onto the structure and a box came flying out of one of the windows to fall close to the top of the structure.

I still cannot quite fathom what this structure was for, and the Kensall Green website does provide an explanation: “… Along part of the northern boundary-wall a series of catacombs extends, which are at present calculated to contain about 2000 coffins. The line of these vaults is indicated, above ground, by a colonnade of Greek architecture, designed for the preservation of tablets and other monuments in memory of the persons whose bodies are deposited underneath”. (http://www.kensalgreencemetery.com/history/index1.html)”   Where was the entrance to these catacombs?  apparently there was a door on the west side, now hidden by undergrowth.  However the colonnades are crumbling and most of the wall memorials are now blackened remnants, and in some case they have fallen off already and their remains scatter the floor. It is however a fascinating structure and makes for interesting photography. I did a photo essay on the structure with more images of the memorials in it. 

With my VC search abandoned I now decided it was time to find my missing grave. In 2013 I had photographed a statue of a small girl leaning on a cross, but had not managed to photograph the inscription, and I wanted that inscription. However, she was intent on not being found and I waded through waist high wet grass looking for a small statue to no avail. I had more or less given up completely when my meanderings took me back to the area where the skeletons of the gasometers stand. It was almost as if this child was teasing me because I knew she was around, but did not know where. Then I spotted her out of the corner of my eye and was able to finally put a name to a statue. 

Her name was Winnie Smith, and she died on 20 March 1904 and she was almost 6 years old when she passed on. She has stood her lonely vigil for over 100 years, and the odds are there is nobody alive from her immediate family that even remembers who she was. But, I had remembered and was glad that I could finally put a name to that small statue. Curiously it is very possible that this is a representation of what she looked like in real life as this is not an off the shelf statue.

Kensall Green does have a lot of angels in various states of repair, and I saw quite a few that I had missed in 2013.

The CWGC records that there are 536 burials in the cemetery although I did not see too many scattered graves. In 2013 I had not had the chance to photograph the small plot of graves close to the exit as it was undergoing restoration at the time. This time around I was fortunate enough to be able to visit it and photograph the graves of which 3 were of South Africans. 

I also visited the Screen Wall where more casualties are listed as having graves that could no longer be individually marked.

And having completed that area it was time to head for home and the Thames to take my last images of the RMS St Helena. Kensal Green is an impressive cemetery that is best experienced twice. It is big, it can be very overgrown in parts, it can be overwhelming in others. There are areas where recent burials have occurred and you may end up bumping into grave diggers along the way (I did). It is hard to know what it looked like when it was founded, or how it looked over the years. However, there is one sobering memorial that must be shown.  

My time was up, and I will leave you with more random images. 

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 10/06/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:12

Return to St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery

I had last been in Kensal Green in March 2013, and had never been too happy with the pics I had taken. To exacerbate matters, when I went “next door” to St Mary’s I had been caught in a snow storm and had had to abandon my expedition without finding the VC graves I was looking for originally. Kensal Green is an impressive place, and it is the sort of cemetery that you need a lot of time in because there is just so much to see. 

Getting there is not too difficult. You grab the Bakerloo Line, change trains at Queens Park, then travel one station to Kensal Green. The cemeteries are both not even 200 metres away. Because St Mary’s Roman Catholic cemetery was more of a priority I headed there first. There were 3 Victoria Cross graves that I needed to find; these were the graves I had not found in 2013, and now I was armed with a description of each grave on top of the map I had gotten from Kevin Brazier in 2013.

The cemetery is a Roman Catholic one and it can be quite overpowering with the many mausoleums and statues. It is however quite large, but I did not venture too far from the main gate and chapel area.

The road from the entrance leads to this split, the building on the right is the chapel and one of the mausoleums is next to the pole. The Belgian War Memorial is on the path leading left.

The Chapel

The Chapel

There are enough mausoleums to fill a blog post, and some of them it is possible see inside because of clear or broken windows. Some are really beautiful inside, but I often wonder how many people actually go into them so many years after they were erected.  Some are in a poor condition, but generally they seem to be in a sound condition.

 

Looking at my images now it is difficult to imagine a Victorian era funeral taking place here. It was established in 1858 so the funerals were not only a time of mourning but often a social event.

My personal favourite has to be this one. 

My VC grave search went well and I was able to find all three graves in short order, although I kept on being distracted by statues and small details on graves. I cannot help it, that is how I am.

 

I have to admit she is beautiful, but I do wish I had photographed up into her face.

There are 318 CWGC casualties buried in the cemetery, although I did not go deliberately hunting them down as the cemetery has already been photographed;  naturally now I regret not doing it. But, it is always a reason for returning one day.

 

The weather, which had been warm with slightly blue skies was changing, and I decided that I really needed to get next door and see what was going on there. So I made tracks for the exit, and will leave you with some random images.

Random Images

 
 

And then it was time to head next door to Kensal Green (All Souls) Cemetery. I bade my farewells and walked down the lane, I felt much better now that I had had a chance to explore a bit of this place, unlike last time when I was more interested in keeping snow off my lens than anything else. Who knows, maybe one day I will return.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 10/06/2016.   

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:12
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