Month: June 2018

Upper Lode Lock

My short trip on Goliath opened up a new area for me to explore and answered one question that has been bugging me for quite some time.  To really understand this a bit more you need to look at a map (which I just happen to have handy)

The white arrow on the left hand of this image is where I was today and it is called the Upper Lode Lock. and it is a part of the Severn Waterway. The white arrow on the right in the image is the Avon Lock and I dealt with that one in my “Going through the locks” post in June 2015. Up until my trip on Goliath I was unaware that there was another set of locks close to Tewkesbury, although I was always curious about a sign that I read advertising the “Lower Lode Ferry”. 

I decided that I would approach the locks from the opposite bank of the Severn, crossing at the Mythe Bridge and heading towards Bushley but turning left instead of right. After some hairy cycling I came around a corner and a fox stood in the middle of the road. Unfortunately I was not able to get my camera ready and Reynard cocked a snook at me and disappeared into the undergrowth. This was the 3rd fox I have seen in the UK since I arrived in 2013 and I love encountering them. A bit further on and I was at the lock, and a fascinating place it was.

This landing is where boats would moor until there were enough of them to share the lock transit. Make no mistake, this is a large lock.  I am going to wind forward a bit because on my way back I watched a narrow boat transit the lock system. 

The gates are open and the narrow boat is on its way though them, I am looking towards the lock gates you can see in the image above.  The gates are made of wood and are electrically operated.

Boat is in the lock, gates are closing

If I turn 180 degrees my view would be of the large basin inside the lock. 

My guess would be that it was used as a temporary mooring place for a lot of boats and barges so as to maximise the usage of the lock and it does make sense to have something like this. Unfortunately the amount of traffic using the lock is quite small compared to when the Severn was used to move goods up and downstream. The difference in levels before the lock and after the lock was 4 feet on this day. It can vary considerably depending on the season, tides, rainfall and flooding. With the water in the lock the same as outside the other gate is opened and the boat can complete her transit. It took 13 minutes for the narrow boat to transit, even though she had to wait for 2 paddle boarders before the gate could be closed.

Now that was fun, so let us return to the beginning and carry on with my entering the lock system and onwards.

My walk was taking me in the direction of Gloucester, Diglis Lock is in Worcester, and is about a kilometre from Worcester Cathedral. Gloucester is “downriver” while Worcester is “upriver”

There was a path of sorts that headed off into the distance and and I headed off on it, hoping to find the Lower Lode Inn and ferry. 

A bit further on and I could see the area where the river split comes together, with a weir on one side and the lock on the other. 

Make no mistake, you do not want to try avoid using the lock because the weir will probably kill you.  In the distance I could make out buildings and vehicles and I headed towards it. I had found the Lower Lode Inn! 

But first I had to investigate that classic 1964 Kombie on the right. 

Words really fail me when I try to describe that Kombie and the teardrop caravan parked alongside; it was literally a steampunk dream on 2 wheels.

It really shows what you can do when you have passion (and money). The owner was such a nice guy and I can only compliment him on his creation. It was gorgeous.

This is the Lower Lode Inn in all it’s glory. It is touted as a 15th century riverside inn, and it certainly looks the part. However, it appeared as if I was too early again as it seemed to be closed (or they saw me coming…) 

As for the ferry?

This may be it! I saw him twice on the river and at one point he was approaching the landing stage of the inn, but I cannot confirm or deny that it is the ferry or not.

On the opposite bank is the Cheltenham College boat house.

I now need to investigate this area from the opposite bank of the river.  Out of curiosity, I was not able to walk along the bank of the river but walked on what I assume may have been the towpath, there are little walkways down to the bank every few metres, but they were steep and I was not willing to venture down them and end up in the ‘oggin.  There were a number of fishermen on the river too, and apparently they were catching Bream. 

Lower Lode Inn from the other bank (05/08/2018)

In September 2018 I walked down the path that I would take to get to the Medieval Festival in search of the ferry. It was quite a nice day although I should have brought my bicycle.

I was hoping to find the battlefield trail along this road too, but did not really want to do that yet as I wanted to try for an official tour instead.  After what felt like years I eventually reach the end of the road and the bank of the Severn.

Of the ferry there was no sign, although there was a sign pointing to where you caught the ferry. The boat house would be on my left at this point. 

Looking downstream

And looking upstream in the direction of the Lower Lode Lock area.

And the Lower Lode Inn itself

That more or less concludes my exploration of the Lower Lode Inn and ferry. I can safely mark this is being “in the bag” 

(1500 x 436)

(1500 x 451)

Out of curiosity, the next lock downstream is this one that is at the entrance to Gloucester harbour

It is very beautiful out there and the dominant colour is green, coupled with sunshine and pleasant temperatures it was a lovely day.

Some random images…

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 24/06/2018, added images from opposite bank 05/08/2018


Inscription of Birkenhead Memorial plaque

The Story of HMS Birkenhead, the ‘Birkenhead Drill’
and the origins of ‘women and children first’.

On 7 January 1852, HMS Birkenhead, under the command of Captain Robert Salmond, began a fateful voyage to South Africa. The ship, built at John Laird Shipbuilders in Birkenhead , and launched in 1845, was transporting troops.

In total there were 638 people on board, including 476 British soldiers and 20 women and children. In the early hours of the morning of 26 February, the ship hit rocks, just off Danger Point, between Cape Hangklip and Cape Agulhas.

The ship’s iron hull was ripped open and more than 100 soldiers drowned as they lay sleeping. The rest of the troops rushed on deck and were ordered to man the pumps and free the lifeboats. The lifeboats had rarely, if ever been used,  meaning only three were operational. The women and children were placed into these lifeboats.

The soldier’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Seton, drew his sword and ordered his men to stand firm – to rush the lifeboats might mean the women and children aboard the boats would be swamped and perish. He had no need to use his sword – each soldier remained in their ranks. The soldiers did not budge even as the ship split in two and the main mast crashed on to the deck.

Of the 638 on board, 445 men died but every woman and child was saved. The sinking of this ship was the first occasion in which women and children were taken to safely first, a procedure which became known as the ‘Birkenhead Drill’.

The phrase became famous, capturing an attitude of British-ness and the British Empire. It featured in the Rudyard Kipling poem:

‘Soldier an’ Sailor Too’
“To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,
Is nothing so bad when you’ve cover to ‘and, an’ leave an’ likin’ to shout;
But to stand an’ be still to the Birken’ead drill is a damn tough bullet to chew”

HMS Birkenhead was the world’s most famous ship disaster until the RMS Titanic sank in 1912. The Titanic, famously used the ‘Birkenhead Drill ‘-  women and children first’ to disembark the passengers into the lifeboats.

The pebbles around this memorial plaque are from the beach where the survivors came ashore in Gansbaai, Western Cape, and represent a joining of the area and South Africa with Merseyside and Great Britain in remembrance of this tragedy.

The HMS Birkenhead and Lifeboat Drill Memorial was the idea of Andy Liston, a RN & RNLI volunteer based at New Brighton. The project was sponsored by Wirral Council. It was designed by Jemma Twigg, a Birkenhead Sixth Form College student and constructed by Cammell Laird Apprentices.

The memorial was unveiled by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside Dame Lorna Muirhead DBE on 5 March 2014.


Loving Liverpool (11) The Final Say?

The final say?

This is the final post in my “Loving Liverpool” series that covers my recent trip. And what a ride it has been. I returned from the city with over 2000 images and even when I look at them now I realise how many images I neglected to take, especially in St John’s Garden and at the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals.

The highlight of the trip was probably Museum of the Moon and St James Garden, they were breathtaking and photographs do not do them justice.

Museum of the Moon

Liverpool as a maritime city is a mere shade of its former self, no longer do mighty transatlantic liners berth in the Mersey nor cargo ships ply their trade backwards and forwards. Mighty steam engines no longer wait at Lime Street Station to take their trains to London or north to Scotland. The end result has been much cleaner air! But a loss of the heritage that made this place what it is. 

Liverpool was built around the slave trade, and it made many people very rich and inflicted misery on countless others. There is no way to really reverse that situation, and I am afraid that it is yet another blot on our “civilisation”. However, it is crucial that it does not get swept under the carpet and relegated to the pages of dusty old tomes. The Maritime Museum had an exhibition on Slavery, but I did not see too much of it because of the crowds. The museum also has the obligatory Titanic exhibition which was surprisingly interesting, especially since the builders model was present, or was it the builders model of the Olympic disguised as the Titanic?

Cunard’s Campania

For me though Liverpool will stand out for its many beautiful buildings, and there are a lot of them! The one strange gem was Roscoe Gardens and the Grand Central Hotel with its quirky décor, steelwork and pipe organ. It was truly a wonderful space, and I could easily do a post all about that building alone. 

There were two churches outside of the cathedrals that I saw, in particular the Liverpool Parish Church is a real beauty, and it had a welcoming atmosphere too. The nautical feel of the church does it credit, and of course finding woodwork from the Aquitania was an added bonus.  

But, like the other “bombed out church” it does tell a story about the Liverpool Blitz.

The presence of Western Approaches Command Museum really just highlighted the importance of the city to the conduct of the Battle of the Atlantic,  and I am sure that if I visited the city cemeteries at Anfield and Toxteth Park I would possibly find some of the many innocents killed in the bombing buried within them.

Talking of cemeteries, contrary to my usual plans I did not visit the city cemeteries, although St James Garden was really a bonus. It was a really wonderful place to visit. The Cathedrals were equally amazing, and a revisit to them both is really on the cards for a return visit.

One of the more surprising finds was the Hall of Remembrance inside the City Hall. The building itself was stunning, and the staff were incredibly helpful too. The Hall was outstanding, a really beautiful room but I am sure not too many people are even aware of its existence.

The pier head was enjoyable, but it really was sad that there were all these acres of dock space and nothing in them, it is the reality in many of the former ports in the UK. The faithful ferry does help alleviate the shortage of shipping, but I fear that even at some point she may become redundant unless a way can be found to revitalise the service. Birkenhead across the water is also worthy of exploration, as is Bootle and possibly further afield to a point when I can see the expanse of water known as the Irish Sea.

The Irish Sea in the distance (1500 x 422)

On my way to Liverpool I was lucky enough to get some pics of the large bridge at Runcorn spanning the Mersey. It really deserves better photographs than those I managed from the moving train.

Crewe Railway Heritage Centre was also worth a visit but was not open during my time in Liverpool. It was a pity though as there appeared to be quite a lot to see.

Some of those wonderful old buildings.

Municipal Offices

Exchange Station

Former Royal Infirmary

County Sessions House

Hargreaves Building

Wellington Rooms

Playhouse

Liverpool, London & Globe Bldg

There were a number of other weird and wonderful things that I saw, and these are some of them.

Paifang, Nelson Street

Like many cities Liverpool has a large ethnic Chinese community centred around Chinatown. Many of the inhabitants are descendants of Chinese seaman who served in the merchant ships that called in the city.  The paifang on Nelson Street is the largest, multiple-span arch of its kind outside China.

The Liverpool Sailor’s Home Gateway was originally outside the main entrance to the Sailor’s Home  which stood where the current John Lewis is. It was removed from the home in 1951 and presented to the successors of the Henry Pooley and Son’s Albion Foundy in Liverpool; the original makes of the gate.

Liverpool sailor’s home gateway

It was returned to this space in 2011 and is dedicated as a memorial to all the sailors who have passed through Liverpool during its long history as an international seaport.

This wonderful footbridge I spotted in Princes Dock. It reminded me of a whale carcass.

The Queensway Tunnel was opened in July 1934 and it connects Liverpool with Birkenhead. 

Queensway tunnel

There are a number of ventilation shafts visible from the river, with one shaft being part of  George’s Dock Ventilation and Control Station building. This magnificent art-deco building should really be the 4 grace. In the image below it is the square building in the foreground. 

I was hoping that the Library (situated in St George’s Quarter), would be a magnificent space, but sadly it wasn’t. However. if you look upwards…

Quite a few “modern” buildings are worthy of consideration too, and the city has a surprisingly modern skyline.

(1500 x 479)

Liverpool Museum

Mann Island Buildings

The Gym. Strand Street

Echo Wheel & Echo Arena

There is a lot of excellent public art and statues in the city and it is impossible to see it all and catalogue it. 

‘A Case History’ was created by John King. Installed in 1998 on Hope Street

Heaven and Earth by Andy Plant

The Great Escape. Herbert Cronshaw

These 10 pages are not the only one spawned as a result of my visit, a number of pages were created at allatsea too, and so far these are:

Overall though I really enjoyed Liverpool, it was one of those experiences that I was very fortunate to have. I tend to view cities as a newcomer and can see them with a different light to what the average person who lives in the city has. Would I live in Liverpool? I cannot answer that because I really only saw the touristy bits and not the nitty gritty of life in its tougher neighbourhoods.

I only dabbled briefly in the underground railway and only experienced 3 stations and my 4 days of weather were all different, and of course I was not there to experience winter in all its discontent. Yet I found the people incredibly friendly and I must single out the commissionaire at one of the “3 Graces”, the guide at the Musical Britain display and the lady manning the front desk of Grand Central Hotel,  as well as the staff at The Lord Nelson Hotel. What a pleasure to deal with you all.

Lord Nelson Hotel

Its time to lapse back into my torpor of inactivity, although I still have quite a lot more odds and ends that I will use in other blogposts, for starters my forthcoming “Crime and punishment” post has been put on hold and now needs a rethink.

And that was Liverpool…

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 15/06/2018