Month: May 2018

Driving Goliath

Last year ’round about this time, Tewkesbury was holding what it calls “The Big Weekend” although last year it was probably more like “The Overcast Big Weekend”. What does happen is that quite a lot of activity centres around the bank of the Avon by the Tewkesbury Lock. It doesn’t really interest me though because it is really geared towards kids and families, and of course there are boats of all shapes and sizes. I am a ship enthusiast as opposed to a boat enthusiast, but I always have en eye open for something of interest. Last year my eye was drawn towards what looked like a telephone booth on a hull, but was actually a small tug that was berthed alongside and I did get pics but they really turned out poor because of the weather. This year it was a whole new ballgame because the weather was excellent.

The “vessel” in question was alongside again, her bow firmly shoved into the rear end of a barge/landing craft. 

I decided that when I got back from Evesham I would pop in and see whether I could get pics of her moving. 

Wind forward to 12H30 and I was back in town and headed down to the locks. By now things had woken up and the usual tables and rides had been set up. They did not interest me because I was after that tug. Unfortunately she was not where I had seen her that morning so I went and asked somebody at the Avon Navigation Trust (aka ANT) . She took me to a friendly fellow who said he would be happy to show me the tug and we could even go for a ride.

The tug was berthed on the opposite side of the bank and her barge from the morning was berthed nearby. And here she is:-

She is what is known as a  “Bantam Tug” and she is a pusher tug as opposed to one that tows. They were used extensively on inland waterways moving barges and small craft around. This particular vessel carries the name “City” on it and a bit of digging reveals that she was built in 1951 for the  Docks & Inland Waterways Executive in Watford and used on on the Thames at one point. Her builders were E C Jones & Son (Brentford) Ltd and she was number 17 out of 89 (number 13 and 15 did not exist). She was acquired by ANT in 1963. Her skipper proudly showed me her new engine which sits underneath the raised hatch area.

Apparently she was built with a 2 cylinder Lister engine and was not very manoeuvrable and took ages to go astern. She was rated at 30 BHP when built. The current engine is produced for IVECO and is a major improvement. 

Further looking would reveal her builders plate in the “wheelhouse”, and that ties into the information I did manage to pick up while researching her. 

Wheelhouse? its more like a telephone booth and was crowded with 2 of us in it, its actually crowded with 1 person in it. What I found interesting is that her helm drives the rudder through a chain system. No fancy hydraulics here I am afraid. If anything she is very minimalist and functional

And then we were letting go from alongside and the skipper took us out, handing her over to me. I will be honest, I did badly at making her go in a straight line because she steers very differently to a car and I was not too sure of how many spokes to give her to achieve a desired direction. And of course I wanted pics! I also learnt a bit more about this particular stretch of waterway that I did not understand before and really need to make a few changes in my pages to reflect what I now know. 

Here we are sailing up the River Severn toward the Mythe Bridge. The gin palace ahead of us crossed our bows as we were coming out of the Avon into the Severn and she threw up a large wake that made our little vessel rock ‘n roll. I think I prefer the tug to the gin palace. I really wanted to film this part of the trip but my camera steadfastly refused to work in video mode. The skipper also showed me what she was capable of speedwise when he opened the throttle and it was literally one of those thrown back into your seat moments.  ANT seems to be very satisfied with the performance of her new engine.

I am afraid that she does not have space for anything else down there except engine, no wardroom table, or heads or even a galley. She is literally a hull with an engine. 

And then we were coming alongside again, my short trip completed, and a smile on my dial.

There is a lot that can be done to “give her character” but these were not built for the tourist trade or leisure activities, they are purely working vessels, and function over form is the watchword. I asked what her name was and was told it was “Goliath” but I do not see a name board reflecting that name, maybe it is more of a description? At any rate her original name is still displayed on the wheelhouse.

I was chuffed and gave a donation and continued on my my rounds, satisfied that I could add her to my list of ships that I have experienced. 

On the Sunday I was down at the event again, to see if she was moving at all, and to my satisfaction she was. Apparently the reason the barge looks like a landing craft is because it was a landing craft and belonged to the Royal Marines who donated it. I believe that one of her sisters is at the Gloucester Inland Waterways Museum so I may go look her up if I get there again. I certainly do not recall seeing one when I visited originally 

And that concludes my short look at one the peculiarities that live in the water. I believe she lives at Wyre Piddle near to Pershore. I wonder what else they have there of interest? I have seen a dredger before. She goes by the name of Canopus.

And that was my day. What a score it was too. My special thanks to the gent who took me for a spin, and for ANT who look after the waterways. They are always looking for volunteers so if you are interested drop them a line via their webpage

Photographed in November 2019

Update: 16/11/2019

Another Bantam? I spotted another small craft berthed at this mooring in 2019, carrying the name “Eric” I could not find any confirmed info on her. 

The best source of information on the tugs was by Jim Shead

The list of Bantam tugs is available at the Canal Museum Website

DRW © 2018 – 2020. Created 21/05/2018, updated 16/11/2019


Evesham Eventually (2)

As I was saying… 

The bridge was erected in 1856 and as far as I can recall it is called the Workman Bridge (named after the mayor at the time).

That is the Avon stretching away into the distance. Evesham sits in a lobe of the Avon, and like Tewkesbury it probably suffers each time the Avon floods. The image below shows the Avon towards the bottom of the lobe and the bus came into the town over a bridge that is just beyond the bend.

Having crossed the Avon at the Workman Bridge I now had a longish walk along the banks till I reached the cemetery. It was a pleasant walk because the area was very beautiful, and of course the sun was shining like crazy. 

I was actually quite grateful for the shade. The bridge in the image above is the one I had just crossed and I was now in a public park called Worksman Gardens and there was one piece of public art that really struck me.

Called Whale Bone Arch, it features a carved Bowhead Whale (Greenland Right Whale) and it was based on a set of real whalebones that used to be on display in Evesham. The arch is the same size as that of a real whale, and it was created by Steven Cooper and the whale was carved by Tom Harvey. The original bones are at the Evesham Hotel. 

And in the distance was the bridge I had come across with the bus. In my original navigation I had considered walking down to this bridge and crossing back into town and walking back to the bus stop, but had scrapped the idea.

The cemetery was in sight! and there were 41 graves to find: 10 from WW1 and 30 from WW2 (and one that is maintained by CWGC). It is not a large amount, but somedays a single grave can keep you searching for hours.

The WW2 graves were mostly laid out in a small cluster of 23 graves, and they were mostly airmen and Canadians. 

The other graves were scattered throughout the smallish cemetery, but unfortunately I could not find the one private memorial from WW1, the graves are not marked and legibility was poor in the one area where I suspected the grave was.  Gravehunting over, it was time to head back to town and considering my bus back to Tewkesbury. 

I leisurely strolled back towards town, enjoying the day and pleasant weather. Evesham Methodist Church is situated on the one corner of the river bank next to Workman Bridge, and it is a very pretty building too.

There were a lot of people about though and it was heading towards 11 am. The bus was leaving at 11H48 with the next one scheduled for 12H48. I had just missed the one so would get the next one, leaving me enough time to find the Quaker Burial Ground. I had first seen one of these in Southampton way back in 2013 and it had been a very pretty place. We have a Society of Friends Burial Ground in Tewkesbury, but it was not recognisable as a graveyard. Personally I find them very interesting people of enormous faith and courage, so finding another burial ground was a good find. The history of the Quakers in Evesham may be found at their website

There were a number of ledger stones laid flush with the grass, the oldest one I saw was from the 1830’s, and there was a burial from the 2000’s in the “peace garden” too. Unfortunately I did encounter one person and I got the impression that it was time to leave as I was disturbing him. It is a pity because I really would have liked to have found out more about the burials.

I was back in town now and located the bus stop and visited that shop I mentioned in the first part of the blog, and it was a real treasure house of goodies. There are a number of things I need to explore further in Evesham, for starters there is Evesham Vale Light Railway, and of course tracking down the whale bones at the hotel and visiting the Almonry Museum and relooking the Abbey area. There are still a few reasons to return to Evesham, and possibly explore Stratford upon Avon as I saw buses tagged with that city in town. The £4 bus fare is well spent, and certainly cheaper than the bus to Cheltenham.  There is also a GWR train that runs from Great Malvern to London on an almost hourly basis and I have used that twice to get to Oxford. 

How does Evesham feature in the Domesday Book?

  • Hundred: Fishborough (‘No longer exists as a named location, but can be identified on the ground.’)
  • CountyWorcestershire
  • Total population: 27 households (quite large).
  • Total tax assessed: 3 exemption units (medium).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 3 exemption units. Payments of 1.0 rent.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £3. Value to lord in 1086 £5.5. Value to lord c. 1070 £4.
  • Households: 27 smallholders.
  • Ploughland: 3 lord’s plough teams. 4 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 20 acres. 1 mill, value 1.5.
  • Lord in 1066Evesham (St Mary), abbey of.
  • Lord in 1086Evesham (St Mary), abbey of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Evesham (St Mary), abbey of.
  • Phillimore reference: 10,1

(Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

On my 2nd visit I found the “Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Egwin”  as well as a statue of “Our Lady of Evesham”. I was finally able to get into the church in June 2019

And that was Evesham in a nutshell. I really enjoyed my visit and it was a very pretty place with wide pavements and interesting historical artefacts. And, as such  I will leave you with some random images of my visit. See you again Evesham.

 
   
   
   
   
   

DRW © 2018. Created 19/05/2018. More images added 01/01/2019. Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater . More images added 23/06/2018


Evesham Eventually (1)

I have been wanting to go to Evesham in Worcester (Google Earth 52.094446°  -1.946778° ) for quite some time but various factors have scuppered my plans. I even worked the navigation out some time ago but it got shelved along with some of my other schemes, crackpot ideas and evil machinations. The weather this past week has been excellent, and on Thursday I decided to head out to Evesham instead of hanging around in Tewkesbury for the “Big Weekend” that was happening on the same weekend.

Many years ago Evesham was reachable by rail from Ashchurch, but those days are long gone, although you can still follow the trackbed on Google Earth. It lies slightly north east of Tewkesbury and is roughly 16,5 km away as the crow flies. If the crow goes by bus he would need to catch a 540 Aston’s bus from Tewkesbury and it takes an hour to get there, passing through Bredon, Lower Westmancote, Kemerton, Overbury, Beckford, Little Beckford, Ashton Under Hill, Sedgeberrow, and finally Fairfield. It is a very scenic drive along and passing through these very picturesque villages; I would love to have stopped and done photography in each of them because of the beauty of some of the houses and churches. (I have been working towards this ideal and by 29/10/2018 I had 3 of them in the bag)

I headed out really early and by 8.30 was in Evesham. There is only one bus every hour so you really need to be aware of when you leave the town or you could get stranded there. My biggest concern was my hips though, two weeks ago I was in agony following a walk up to Aldi, I was not sure whether I would be facing the same today (or tomorrow). I started my day with a “traditional breakfast” at the local Wetherspoons which is called “The Olde Swanne Inne”, at least the breakfasts there are consistent throughout the group, although you may find it never arrives in Salisbury. 

My “itinerary” was based around the Town War Memorial, with a visit to the local churches and of course a visit to the cemetery if feasible. I was happy that the bus did not go as far as the railway station but only half way to it so my walking had been cut down quite a bit. I also wanted to see whether I could get to visit the Society of Friends Burial Ground which was close to the bus station. For the record, the bus arrives and departs from “stand B” and it costs £4 for a return from Tewkesbury. 

Suitably satiated I headed towards the spire in the distance.

The sun was on my left so it did limit what direction I took pics from.

Naturally I detoured a few times on my way to the building.

The town has a lot of charity shops, and they were all bedecked in wedding dresses and similar paraphernalia in celebration of the Royal Wedding.  I followed the passage and came out at the building I was originally aiming for, Strangely enough it is not a church but the town hall! 

The building has the date 1887 inscribed on the gable in front of the clock. There is a very unusual statue in the centre of the ring that was very very “different.”

Around the base is written:  “Whilst with the swine amongst the trees, I fell at once upon my knees, up above a great light, our blessed Virgin shining bright, Of what I saw amongst the leaf, becomes the legend of swineherd Eof”  It was created by renowned sculptor John McKenna, and was financed entirely by the local people, either by way of direct donation or fund raising.  It was unveiled on Sunday 15th June 2008.  The statue stands on a stone plinth made from stone from the original Abbey. (http://www.eveshamtowncouncil.gov.uk/about-evesham/places-to-visit/the-statue-of-eof.html)

There is an information board that provides an interpretation: 

When I was in Evesham the first time around I had missed seeing one aspect of the artwork and remedied that on my 2nd trip.

I had also missed seeing the ABW Memorial on the wall of the city hall. It would be interesting to see how many of these men survived the ABW.  

Leaving the town hall behind I continued heading South towards the tourist and visitors information centre. 

It is very fortunate that I only went into the building on the bottom right while on my way back to the bus stop, because it was a magical place of wonders!!! Toys, militaria, jewellery, bric-a-brac and a gazillion other goodies. It is on my bucket list for a return visit.

At last the visitors centre and Almonry was in hand, but I was 2 hours too early and it only opened at 10. And on my second visit it was closed for the day as there was no staff… Verily I say unto you, I was not amused!  I rectified the problem on 13 September 2018, and was pleasantly surprised.

I was very tempted to put my feet up and have a rest till it opened. Oddly enough this is the 4th set of stocks that I have seen so far, its really about time I did a page on stocks and pillories, and about time they brought those back. 

The visitors centre also houses the Almonry Museum so it will probably be on my bucket list for next time too. There is also a very handy board close by that sums up the interesting parts of Evesham’s history.

It was now time to find the war memorial and I turned my bows to the left and I headed towards a church that was within visual range. From Google Earth I could see two distinct churches as well as a clock/bell tower in the area that used to be the site of the former Evesham Abbey.  There is not a lot left of the Abbey apart from the clock tower, and of course foundations and parts of the walls. We really have to thank Henry VIII for the Dissolution of the Monastaries that robbed England of so much heritage and beauty

The one information board has a layout off what the area may have looked like.

Make no mistake, it is a very pretty area today with lush green lawns and gardens, but given where the building stood it would have been spectacular to see from the River Avon that would have flowed past it. The first church I went into was that of St Lawrence, and it was really beautiful inside and out. 

Naturally this is not the original church that was on this site, it was originally mentioned in 1195, and appears to have been rebuilt in 1295 and again in 1540. The dissolution really reduced the fortunes of the church and by 1718 it was in an advanced state of decay and totally unusable in winter. Repairs were carried out and it was thoroughly restored  in 1836/37. By the 1970’s the two churches (St Lawrence and All Saints) were united and the former was declared redundant. 

It is however, a very beautiful church, and I preferred it to All Saints next door, but it does not have the warmth and atmosphere of an active church. It is almost clinical in feel, but parts of it take your breath away. Unfortunately the limitations of my camera and my skill cannot do it justice. The south chapel was particularly stunning, ​ The church is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

 

Right next door is All Saint’s Church, and it too was open. Unfortunately given its position I could not get a nice image of the building because of the position of the sun. It is quite odd to find two churches so close together, and these had both been around when the Abbey was in existence too. 

It does make for interesting exploring though, at least you did not have far to walk to attend a service. I did not really like the interior as much as I did St Lawrence, but the atmosphere was very different to the redundant one next door.

Then it was time for me to move onwards to the Bell Tower as time was marching, albeit slowly. 

The tower was spared the destruction of the Abbey, although it looks almost lonely without it’s context, but we are fortunate that it survived because it is very beautiful. I have tilted the image slightly to correct the distortion from the camera. The tomb in the front is that of the remains of Simon De Montfort, Duke of Leicester, who was killed in the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265. The tower was built between 1529 and 1539 by Clement Lichfield, the last Abbott of Evesham. It is 33 metres high and was restored in 1951 with the original peal of 10 bells recast and increased to 12.  

The gateway led out into what was then the Monk’s Graveyard, and that now lies under Abbey Park. During the 19th century excavations unearthed some of the graves of the monks. They were wrapped in a shroud and placed on a wooden board with a simple wooden marker. Higher up in the hierarchy would entitled you to be buried within the Abbey along with your marks of office (rings, keys, chalices, lead seal, etc.). Some of these were recovered from the grave of Henry of Worcester who was the abbot of Evesham and who died in 1263.

Abbey Park

And, my War Memorial was finally in sight, my primary objective in this visit. Everything else was just for exploration sake. From the tower you are really looking at the back of the memorial as it overlooks the Avon below. My images are taken from the front.

It was made by J W Singer and Sons Ltd, and unveiled in 7th August 1921. My blogpost about the war memorial is on all@sea

The big challenge photographing it is that it is very wide and the embankment in front of it slopes steeply downwards so you cannot really get far enough back while maintaining the complete image. The solder has an almost “cocky” look about him, with his tin hat at a jaunty angle. 

It was now time to find a loo and cross the River Avon to the cemetery. Technically I could see the cemetery from where I was standing, but somebody had put a river in the way. Luckily the bridge was not too far from the loo and I could kill both birds with the same rock. 

I will get to the other side on page 2, use the arrow below to follow me to the other bank of the Avon

forwardbut

DRW © 2018. Created 19/05/2018, some images replaced and some added 23/06/2018