musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Collections and Museums

Edging back to Evesham

While waiting for my new temp job to start I decided to do a morning trip back to Evesham to have a look at the Almonry Museum which had so far been closed each time I visited the Town. 

I caught the bus just after 8.30 in Tewkesbury which left me about 30 minutes to kill in Evesham before the museum opened and I planned to pay a visit to Bengeworth Cemetery which is not too far from the museum. It opened in 1857 and there are 6 CWGC graves in it, 3 from WW1 and 3 from WW2. The weather was nice and sunny but you can feel the slight bite of winter in the air already, best get it done now while I could. 

Crossing the Avon at the Workman Bridge I headed east along Port Street which then becomes Broadway Road after the roundabout. Before the roundabout was the Parish Church of St Peter which was really a typical church found in any number of towns in the UK. The churchyard is now a garden and unfortunately the church was closed. It was quite a difficult church to photograph though because of the big tree in the way.

And not too far away was the cemetery  (52.089526°,  -1.934438°), fronted by a small building which may have doubled as a chapel, office or store. 

There was an interesting relic in the building which may have been used in the moving of coffins.

The cemetery is not a large one, and was not really a cemetery to die over, but somewhere in there were the graves I was after. 

Of course the standard CWGC headstone is easy to spot, but three of the graves were private headstones so they needed a bit more legwork, however, all were found and after a few contextual shots I headed back the way I came. 

Evesham is an old town and you can see it in the street leading up to the bridge. Lots of small shops with flats above them, no longer prime real estate and in a busy street that has limited parking.

I do like the town though, it has all the amenities and a good public transport system, but I have not explored it all yet.

Finally the museum.

This 14th Century building was once home to the Almoner of the Benedictine Abbey that was founded at Evesham in the 8th Century. An almoner is a chaplain or church officer who originally was in charge of distributing money to the deserving poor. Following the closure of the Abbey by Henry VIII, the Almonry became the personal home of the last Abbot, Philip Ballard, whilst the rest of the Abbey buildings were sold to Sir Philip Hoby who arranged for the quarrying of the stone.

The Almonry has had a varied career: ale house, offices, tea rooms, private home, until it was finally purchased by Evesham Borough Council in 1929, opening as a heritage centre in 1957. Today, the Almonry is still owned and funded by Evesham Town Council (http://www.almonryevesham.org/about-us/)

Inside it was a veritable treasure house of goodies laid out in the small pokey rooms with their creaking floorboards and low doorways. Its the sort of place that gives you a glimpse into a totally different way of life, but without the usual glitz and gadgetry of a modern museum.

The main display I was after was model of the former Abbey, I had seen pics of it and really wanted to see it up close and personal. I was not disappointed.

It is interesting to see how the two parish churches and existing bell tower fit into the abbey complex, and in the bottom left you can see the Almonry building that I was about to explore. I will add more images of the model to my post about the Abbey.

As you can see it is an eclectic mix of items, some themed to a particular trade or occupation. The metal object with all the holes in the right hand corner is a prisoners bed from Evesham Jail. I believe the jail was housed at the almonry at one point, and there was a bigger jail in town. 

Outside the garden is on display with an interesting collection of odds and ends that originate from all ages. A close look at the buildings reveals that there are very few straight edges and parts of it lean at an odd angle; but then I would lean at an odd angle if I was that old too.

It is a very pretty spot, but somehow I got the feeling that it could be a very creepy spot too. Back inside I went into the World War 1 display which also had a section on the Battle of Evesham, and of course the effect of the war on the town and its people.

The display case above has a information about the two Victoria Cross holders with ties to the town:- Guardsman William Edgar Holmes VC. and Private William Jones VC. 

There was also a mock up class room, complete with apples on desks (the fruit, not the gadget). 

The wooden boxlike gadget in the upper right hand corner is a “Pedoscope“, also known as a shoe-fitting fluoroscope. 

These have long been legislated out of use, but back in their day they were considered high tech devices. 

A last glimpse into somebodies window… and I was finished for the day.

The museum is a gem, there is a lot to see and digest, and the World War 1 display had a lot of personal items relating to one of the casualties and to the Abbey Manor Auxilliary Hospital from 1914-1918. I need to process those and decide how I want to present what I saw.

I am glad I made the trip to see the museum, and would return there readily. I do recommend it as a place to experience, even if it is just to see what a 14th century building looks like.  I spent an hour looking around town, popping into the Magpie Jewellers to look around again. It too is a wonderous place to behold.

On my way home we passed through those little villages again and I am still going to do a day to each of them when I can. Logistically it will be difficult because of the bus times, but I think it can be done. I have spotted three war memorials from the bus, although photographing them has been almost impossible. I am going to visit these villages soon, so have started on a blogpost to deal with what I see. I have done the navigation, but have not been able to get it done due to other commitments. But, that’s for another day, for now the Almonry Museum is in the bag!

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DRW © 2018. Created 13/09/2019

Updated: 09/10/2018 — 19:47

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival 2018

 [ TCVF2016 ] [ TCVF 2017 ]

The Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival is held around this time of the year pretty much longer than I have lived here. I missed the 2015 event as it was cancelled because of heavy rain, but this year, 2018, is probably the last time I will be attending the event. It is fascinating to walk through because so many of the vehicles are cars from my past, and my parents past too. It did not seem that there were as many vehicles on display this year, and of course the weather was grey and cloudy some of the time. But, it was still packed and cars were still arriving by the time I left just after 12 (and the sun was making token appearances too). 

How to not repeat what I have posted before? duplication will creep in, and many of the cars on show were here in the previous years too, so unlike last time when i posted 4 pages, this time I am going to try to keep it at 1. I am really going to try post the odds and ends that interest me in this post instead of the usual vehicles.

There were 2 speed merchants to see this year, and it’s kind of hard to picture them hurtling along because they will just be blurs in the lens. The first was the Bloodhound SSC,a British supersonic vehicle currently in development. Its goal is to match or exceed 1,000 miles per hour (1,609 km/h), and achieving a new world land speed record. The pencil-shaped car  is designed to reach 1,050 miles per hour (1,690 km/h).

The vehicle was supposed to be tested on the Hakskeen Pan in the Mier area of the Northern Cape, but it appears that the record attempt has been put off till 2019. Maybe one day we will hear that it happened, but this glimpse at the needle nosed speed merchant was a unique one,

Speed merchant number two was a dragster, and its the first one I have ever seen in real life before. Its an impressive beastie but seems almost fragile. I know nothing about these vehicles but the fastest competitors can reach speeds of up to 530 km/h and can cover the 1,000 foot (305 m) run in anything between 3.6 and 4 seconds (on a good day?).  

Fortunately I prefer a more sedate drive and one of the many oldies I saw was a fabric bodied Austin 7 from 1928.

The British weather played havoc with the vehicles and I don’t think there are too many survivors around. The fabric used was called Rexine’, a cloth coated with a mixture of cellulose paint and castor oil and formerly used in the manufacturing of WW1 aircraft wings. I was quite fortunate to see this old lady and hear about the unique body. Truly a rare gem of a vehicle.

Two other oddities that tickled my fancy were a pair of milk floats in the Cotteswold Dairy livery. I cycle past the Dairy every morning and it never occurred to me that they would have operated floats too. 

How many of us used to collect Matchbox cars as children? and how many were thrown away by our mothers? quite a lot of them end up in boxes like this one…

Spot the blue Mini… I almost had to have a dual with a munchkin over the contents of that box, and we both left satisfied and clutching our 50p toys in sweaty hands. Phew, these muchkins can play dirty though. On the subject of Mini’s, yes there were quite a few there, and I have probably seen most of the ones on display, naturally some caught my eye, although the pink one was kind of jarring. It was for sale too, but I had spent my last 50p so was skint.

The other Mini that hurt my eyes was this orange 1970 Mini Clubman Estate (the turquoise one was quite nice too), I will post the new Mini’s in my famous Mini Minor with two flat tyres gallery at some point.

Another interesting find was this Ford Escort that did not come from the factory like this. It is a four seater, 3 sleeper motor caravan based on the Ford Escort 8 cwt deluxe van. 

The odd love of camper vans was also evident from the many VW’s Kombi’s around in various states of quirkiness.  I believe the windows in the roof were for viewing mountains with. 

Next to this old lady was a Beetle Cabriolet from the 1970’s. I was not too keen on the bubble gum colour, but she was a nice vehicle and her own was justifiably proud of her.

And you can always enjoy your travels on 2 wheels if the need takes you, and there were some interesting bikes on display too. The show stopper however was this beaut. It was a seriously large bike, but I have no idea how the rider manages with it.

There were a few other vintage machines, the first one in this trio is a 1914 Triumph Roadster.

although I kind of liked this Lambretta step through scooter in spite of the colour.

Chrome was evident in many of the vehicles though, and that reminds me, have you seen my Figureheads and Hood Ornaments post yet? I started it way back in 2017 and was finally able to complete it in 2018. 

Dream car? besides a Mini? there are a few that really make me ooh and aah, and right at the top of the list is the Morgan and this red example is perfect. Sadly I did not see any 3 wheel Morgans around this year.

There were not too many small commercial truck and van variants around, but there were two that made me smile.

I could probably waffle the whole day about the 400 images that I took, but I wont. Suffice to say I enjoyed this blast from the past. What I did find quite odd though was that there were a number of vehicles that are still in production on show (Golf’s and Mercs and Beemers), and I cannot quite class them as vintage or even classic. But if you look at it rationally, the VW Golf has been in production since 1974, and those 1974 models are now over 40 years old and technically are classics. What I do find hard to think about is that in 50 years time car enthusiasts may be looking at some of the plastic rubbish on our roads and discussing the merits of the internal combustion engine and a pre 2000 VW Golf, or the merits of a three wheel vehicle over a hoverspeeder.

And as usual I shall leave you with some random cars. In no particular order and with no favouritism anywhere. 

 

 

And that was it for the Classic Vehicle Festival of 2018. It was fantastic and special thanks to all those who keep these oldies running and in such a great condition. I probably wont see you next year, but I have many memories to carry me forward of the event that I have seen this year and in 2016 and 2017.

 [ TCVF2016 ] [ TCVF 2017 ]

DRW © 2018. Created 19/08/2018

Updated: 09/10/2018 — 19:48

Figureheads and Hood Ornaments

The one item that seems to have disappeared from motor vehicles is the Figurehead aka “Hood Ornament”. In South Africa a hood is a bonnet and a trunk is a boot. Sound confusing enough? The age of plastic has left us somewhat poorer as can be seen by the examples that I photographed at the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Event. Somehow a badge just doesn’t cut it as much a a chrome bird or symbolic creature. I don’t know of too many modern vehicles that sport these anymore,  I know Rolls Royce still sports the “Spirit of Ecstacy” and Mercedes Benz still have their gunsight up front. These images are purely for enjoyment, no captions are needed.

I never published this post way back in 2017 when I started it because there was more I wanted to add in but never did, this year around at the Classic Vehicle Festival (2018) I went looking for more of these but the odds are I saw the same ones. Anyway, I am going to post this in 2018 come hell or high water!

   
   
   
   
   
   

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicles 2018

DRW © 2017 – 2018. Created 21/08/2017. Finally completed 19/08/2018

Updated: 19/08/2018 — 15:14

Back to Bristol (2)

I was now in the area around the cathedral, and while there was no sculpture to photograph there were a few other places of interest. The building below is labelled “Central Library”, with the former Abbott’s Gatehouse tacked onto the left hand side. The statue with it’s back to us is of Rajah Rammohun Roy, who died  of meningitis  on 27 September 1833 in Bristol.

I first encountered his name when I visited Arnos Vale way back in 2014, as his original tomb is still in the cemetery, although he is no longer buried there. From what I have read he was an enlightened scholar and philosopher and greatly respected. The statue was unveiled in 1997 and sculpted by Niranjan Pradhan

The choir school is also close to the cathedral and it is a fine building in it’s own right although I did not manage to get a decent photograph of it due to the sun position. I did however get a nice image of the cathedral which I was not able to get last time due to the closures of this area.

My next destination was Millennium Square. I had only picked up one sculpture last time (Oceans 1: Deep Blue) but there were 2 others in the area. The first I must have stood next to and missed, but it is more likely because the area was so crowded. 

(21) A Grand Tribute. Designed by Nick Park (Millennium Square)

A fellow hunter also showed me where to find the next one too…

(20) The Wallace Collection. Painted by Rachel Bennett (Anchor Road)

I had completed this area now and decided to head back to where the Cenotaph was and see what I could find there, I was not confident of much success as that area was densely populated with buildings and shops so it would have been quite difficult to find anything. Still, I did have one destination in mind for there so off I went.

Actually my first real discovery was not a sculpture, but the facade of doorway worthy of any Victorian cemetery. It was simply magnificent.

There were some very beautiful buildings around me, but the streets were narrow and I got distracted again. It was not the smell of pizza though, but the alleyway that had been created by construction.

Lo and behold.. I found a church close to it, hemmed in on all sides, with a tiny garden/possible former churchyard. Unfortunately it was closed, but by the looks of it was still an active church. Called St Stephens, it was just one of the many churches that are in the city, and it looks like it has been here for a very long time.

The smell around here was bad though so I headed towards a collectables market, pausing to grab another sculpture.

(16) Fangs McGraw. Painted by Ruth Broadway (Stanfords, Corn Str)

The market was fascinating, and there were a few items that make me ooh and aaah, but I did not buy anything and was frankly at somewhat of a loss as to where to head next. I went into another doorway which was one large market and it really reminded me a lot of South Africa. In fact there was even a South African shop! and I came out of a random doorway and found myself in a area that seemed familiar.

I had been here before…. but from the other side, and it was close to Castle Park which I wanted to explore too. I had a new destination! Full steam ahead.

While doing my reading following last months trip I had wanted to investigate the spire that seemingly hid behind a derelict building. Indeed the buildings were derelict but I had to walk all around them to find what was left of the church, and there was almost nothing. You could not even see the spire for all the trees.

The ruins were meaningless without being able to connect them to that ancient building, and I was not going to learn much new at all.

I turned my bows towards the other ruin in what is known as Castle Park. St Peter’s Church was a victim of the bombing in 24–25 November 1940 and was left as a memorial to those who perished in the bombing of the city. 

It is strange to see these gardens surrounded by the skeletal remains of these churches, they do make for very effective memorials, but unfortunately this one was also closed off.  A proper memorial is affixed to the wall of the church. I will cover the memorial properly at allatsea.  

The park is a large one and one end of it had some very interesting structures so I headed in that direction because there were some more sculptures on my map close by. 

Castle Park got its name because once a there was a castle here. The first record of it was from 1088, and it was probably a “motte and bailey” design.

The castle structures were mostly demolished in the 1650’s and redeveloped more in line with what a city of the time looked like. Houses sprung up and associated industry flourished, but the Blitz flattened this area too. Castle Park was developed during the 1970’s and there may still be foundations dating back to the castle underneath the grass. It is a pretty space, but an awkward one too.

Just past the park was a large shopping precinct which is not my favourite place to be in. I was starting to tire though and I needed to consider getting home. I could not find the one sculpture so headed for a grouping of three in that dreaded mass of shoppers and browsers. The first was found easily.

(37) Fromage McGraw. Designed by Peter Lord. (Quakers Friars)

I bumped into another group of hunters, and believe me there were a lot of people out there hunting these sculptures down, not to mention hordes trying to photograph themselves/their kids with them. The hunters told me where there were 3 more, and off I went. The first was at the House of Fraser, which I found by following the paw prints. It is probably one of my favourites too.

(40) Tropi-Canis. Designed by Maria Burns (House of Fraser)

And the next one was in the movie house foyer.

(39) Boss. Designed by Wes Anderson (Showcase Cinema de Lux)

That was as far as I was prepared to go. If I left immediately i could get the 12.47 train, and given my reduced speed I would just make it if I left now! I knew more or less which direction to go in, so headed back the way I came, pausing to pick up the last sculpture that I would get. It was also in a Marriott Hotel (which I had not found initially) and had a Minion theme.

(41) One in a minion. Designed by Illumination (Bristol Marriott City Centre)

I kind of liked that one, definitely shows promise  😉 

And then I was off…. 

It was not too far to the station, but there were many distractions along the way. Including:

Another church (Pip N Jay Church)

This odd lookout tower and friendly lampost ( have no idea…)

And some awesome street art

I was now at the Avon again, and needed to cross it but do not know yet which bridge this was. But the view of the ruins of St Peter’s  was a good one. I had to crop the image tightly though because of the structure on the left which was very close to the church and which I did not want to include.

Had I followed the footpath at this point I would have come out at the Temple Bridge, but because I was on a tight schedule I was not prepared to risk possible detours or clocked off paths.

This huge building below fascinated me, the only markings I could see on it read:  “Courage  Accounting Centre”. Some kind of temple to bean counters? Actually it turns out that the building was once the Tramway Generating Station, built in the late 1890’s by William Curtis Green, the station delivered power for the Bristol trams until the bridge was bombed in April 1940 and the power cables cut. This proved to be the end of Bristol trams and the building was later taken over by the Courage Brewery. It is a grade II listed building and is part of the development going on around this area. 

I recognised a spire in the distance and I just had to go confirm what I had read at the time “The other peculiarity about the building is that the tower leans by roughly 1,6 metres from the vertical, and the top was built so as to correct the lean, but it ended up looking somewhat odd as the lean increased. “

The station was close, although the same roadworks that had bedevilled my trip last month were still in full swing and I battled to cross the street, fortunately I made it to the station in time, arriving as my train did, although it was at a totally different platform that I had used before. But I didn’t care. I was just glad to be on my way home because I was flat. 

It had been a very interesting morning, and I enjoyed “the hunt” and seeing more of this city. Bristol is big, and there is a lot to see in it, although the odds of ever seeing it all are nil. The context of a lot of the places has changed from when they were first in use, and of course demographics alter everything. The once grubby harbour area is now prime real estate, and the glorious buildings in the city centre have become supermarkets or banks. Listed status does mean that many buildings are stuck in time with nobody able to do anything to them. Urban decay is real, and Bristol is not immune, but it has retained a lot of history, and frankly that’s the part I enjoy.

When will I see Bristol again? I was planning for December, but those plans are now in the balance. I will have to wait till October before I can decide.

DRW © 2018. Created 05/08/2018 

Updated: 26/08/2018 — 16:48

Back to Bristol (1)

Since getting back from Bristol last month my mind was flooded with thoughts of places that I had not seen. And of course there were all of those Wallace and Gromit sculptures just waiting for my camera. I was also running out of time till the weather changes and the days get shorter, and some other bad news that I won’t dwell upon yet. I decided that today was suitable seeing as it seemed like a nice day to hit the town. I downloaded a map of where the sculptures were (amazing to see how many I had probably walked past) and plotted a rough course that would take in the Quaker Burial Ground, the harbour, Queen’s Square, College Green, The cenotaph area, and anything that caught my fancy along the way. A revisit to Bristol Cathedral was a must too, and I was hoping to get some decent pics of the building and the parts I had not been able to access on my last visit.

Right.. off we go! 

Aschurch for Tewkesbury was gloomy and grey and when I arrived in Bristol it was gloomy and grey too, but it looked like it was going to clear. At Temple Meads I espied another of those thumping great Class 800 electro diesels and I was hoping to get a pic of either end or the middle bit. But as luck would have it, the one end was in a no go area of the platform while the middle bit was blocked off by a whole wodge of people having a conflab. Best I could do was…

I did not feel like walking to the opposite end of the train so decided to head off onto my destination instead, stocking up with a bacon buttie along the way.  My first destination would take me past St Mary Redcliffe, and as usual I tried for a better photograph of the church, this time I may have gotten it right too! Unfortunately that white pole ruins the pics… 

It is a beautiful building and worthy of being a cathedral. But it is awkward to photograph because of the 89 metre spire, which makes it the tallest building in Bristol. I visited the church way back in September 2015, and again last month and I always find something interesting in it. 

The reason I was here was to photograph the Old Quaker Burial Ground close by. It was purchased by the Quakers in 165 and was used for burials until 1923 and was donated to the city of Bristol in 1950. It is also known as “Recliffe Pit” and enclosed within the site is a hermit’s cave which was established here in 1346 by Thomas Lord Berkeley. 

The cave is really the only thing to see in the burial ground, 

I get the impression that this is really somewhat of an awkward space, but I believe it is quite popular with residents in the area, but I deplore the way those headstone are stacked behind the gate.

My first objective completed I headed for the harbour to see how many of the sculptures I could get. I had been this way before so it was not all new territory. But it is a harbour, and that is enough for me, even though there are no real ships worth seeing in it. There are however a number of interesting bridges…

I was aiming for the opposite side of the harbour and crossed the Redcliffe Bridge. and walked along the quayside which is now a mooring place for pleasure craft as commercial activity ceased in Bristol Docks many years ago. I really wanted to cross to the other side at the Prince Street Swing Bridge which would take me to the Museum area where I wanted to be. But, I spotted a certain dog perched on the bow of one of the ferries. 

And then I was at the bridge with the museum in sight, but it was closed, as it was only 8.30 in the morning! As to to be expected I was running very early, and the harbour was blissfully peaceful compared to the chaos of last month. 

I had a look at the Mayflower, which is supposedly the world’s oldest steam tug and the oldest ship afloat in the harbour. She was built in 1861 and worked all her life on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. I have however yet to see her move. Outboard of her is the firefloat Pyronaut. 

and there goes Gromit on his way to the Great Britain side of the harbour. It is possible to ride the ferry from the harbour entrance all the way to Temple Meads Station, and one day I am going to do it!

I had already photographed the one Gromit in the “M Shed Museum” so wasn’t concerned about the museum being closed (Gromitronic). My map however listed three in the immediate area of the the museum, and I found one of them next to the museum.

(29) Alex the Lion. Designed by DreamWorks

And, a short hop across the road and I had Space Oddi-tea in the bag too, although it was probably a tea bag.

(30) Space Oddi-tea. Designed by Cary’s Ink. (Wapping Wharf)

I was also pleased to see the small Avonside tank engine being prepped for the days run. If things went well maybe I could go for a trip on her.

It was time to move on and cross back to the other side of the harbour, although I really wanted a pic across the water of the Lloyds Amphitheatre. The people in front are upright paddle boarders, and it looks waaaay to unsteady for me (and slow..)

Back the way I came, and there were two reminders that people may overlook in the harbour. The first is a proper dockyard crane. These are becoming increasingly rare, and I am glad that some have survived in the harbour.

The second is probably missed by many people, but it is a reminder that the city of Bristol had a part to play in the slave trade.

The last time I had seen Prince Street Swing Bridge had been in October 2015 and it was in the process of renovation. It is such an important bridge that a temporary structure had to be fabricated to carry the load while renovations were happening.

You can see how the sky is starting to lighten up too. That was a good sign, although it would also mean that it was going to be a hot and sticky day. I had to turn left after I crossed the bridge to where my next sculpture was. I am not sure how I missed him last month though, considering I was standing almost next to it. The bronze is of the Venetian Navigator John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto; (1450 – 1500), who sailed with his ship Matthew to America in 1497.

(24) Honeydew. Designed by the Yogscast (Narrow Quay)

John Cabot Giovanni Caboto; (1450 – c. 1500)

Having visited this pair I now had to make a slight detour to Queens Square which was not too far away (fortunately), and where I would find (25) Bristol’s Own

(25) Bristol’s Own. Designed by Susan Webber (Queens Square)

Actually I enjoyed this slight detour because I was able to photograph some really interesting buildings. The pink building below is called the Merchant Venturers Almshouses, and it was built around 1696 by the Society of Merchant Venturers for convalescent and old sailors to see out their days, Today it is private accommodation

The building below is marked “Bristol Free Library” and it is now a Chinese Restaurant. The building dates from 1738–40.

And then there is the Bristol Old Vic, unfortunately it was undergoing some sort of construction or renovation so I could not get a better image of it.

Back on the trail I crossed Pero’s Bridge, it is the one with all the padlocks; where is my bolt cutter?? The bridge is named after  Pero Jones, who lived from around 1753 to 1798, having arrived in Bristol probably from the Caribbean in 1783, as the slave of the merchant John Pinney. 

There were two sculptures in the vicinity that I was after, and I managed to snag both, although one was in a window and was not really easy to photograph., and I have no idea how I managed to miss the other the previous time I was here.

(23) Feathertron 3000 Designed by JamFactory X Jimmy 2 Eggs (Bristol Energy Hub)

(17). Long John Wallace. Cascade Steps, Painted by Elaine Carr

Time was marching and I was now heading towards the College Green where the cathedral was. I really wanted to relook the cathedral as I had missed part of it last month, and I wanted to try for a better photograph of it. I am happy to report I succeeded in that endeavour.

I am not adding in images of the Cathedral here but will add them into the original Cathedral visit post.

My map said that there was another sculpture at the Mariott Royal Hotel, but I could not find it. A chance encounter with another hunter explained that the sculpture was inside the hotel and not outside. Now the hotel is really an outstanding building, situated on that fork in the road.

What I did not know at the time was that the building above is a later addition to the hotel, and the  original hotel below celebrated its 150th anniversary in April 2018.

Built between 1863 – 1868,  By WH Hawtin, it opened on 23 March 1868 and was named the Royal Hotel and it is a grade II listed building.  The Sculpture is found by following a set of paw prints…. and what a find it was.

(18) Prima Featherina. Painted by Ruth Broadway. (Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel)

Feathers McGraw never looked this good.. or bad… The sculpture is on a turntable so it was quite an interesting one to view. 

That really concludes this portion of the blogpost. Part 2 will carry on in the cathedral area before heading back towards Cabot Circus and Castle Park. 

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DRW © 2018. Created 04/08/2018

Updated: 24/08/2018 — 05:36

Shipshape and Bristol Fashion (3) The Harbour

The Harbour Festival at Bristol was the clincher when I was making plans for a visit, although I had done quite a bit of sniffing around in it before.  My agenda had two points in it: I wanted to get images of the Great Britain from opposite where she was berthed, and I wanted to go as far as I could towards the exit channel. I entered the harbour from behind the cathedral and that put me in Millennium Square. It was very crowded and noisy and I was not really interested in much that was going on there, although the huge silver ball was kind of fascinating..

However, as they say in the classics.. “It’s all very well, but what does it do?” I do not know, but it does seem to have an exit from the building it is attached to. Parts of the square were fenced off so I headed to the water, having to make a large detour to get there. When I got there I discovered that they had blocked off the waterside path too, which was extremely irritating because they had also cut off access to the bridge that crosses the harbour. I thought that Balmoral was berthed near the bridge which is why I wanted to go there, but it turns out she was not, and was berthed opposite the Great Britain. With access cut off to the bridge I decided to try for my Great Britain shots so headed towards Balmoral in the distance.

Great Britain on the left, Balmoral on the right

The right bank was relatively quiet, but I could not find the spot to catch the ferry that runs from behind Temple Meads station to the opposite end of the harbour. I was prepared to grab that ferry and to travel with it to my destination but could not find a berth to do it from. The one area had a lot of small craft in it, including some lovely steam pinnaces.

I would have loved to have gone on one, but as a solo traveller you really end up filling in odd spaces, and besides no matter how hard I looked nowhere was there a sign that said where they were going or how often they ran.

I continued my walk… and spotted the John King approaching.  She is a steel hulled tug built in 1935 by Charles Hill & Sons Ltd. of Bristol for Kings Tugs Ltd. She was purchased in 1995 by the Bristol Industrial Museum and is kept in working condition and will continue to be part of the new Museum of Bristol.  She is a handsome old lady, and it was nice to see her still running up and down.

I finally reached Balmoral, I had last visited her in 2015, and was hoping to get onboard to have a look at the wheelhouse that I had been unable to see then because it was so crowded and it appears as if it was still crowded! 

However, the little old lady at the gangplank was doing her best to not let me see the wheelhouse, insisting that I needed to go with the guide (who was leaning on the opposite rail studiously ignoring us). Nothing I said could persuade her to let me go have a look so I left very disappointed and without reaching that goal. This has really ended my interest in this vessel, and as much as they are looking for funds frankly it is no way to treat somebody that would be a potential future passenger. 

Berthed in front of the Balmoral was “Bee”, which is  a 1970’s built supply tender, and between the two ships I could see the Great Britain in her drydock. I had achieved my one aim, everything from here on was a bonus.

I was starting to get peckish though and fortunately I spotted a nearby crepe seller. I had had my first crepe in Bristol and was chuffed that I could have my second in the same harbour. 

Bee and Balmoral

Suitably supplied I continued my walk, but was still not sure of how far away the bridge over the harbour was. I spotted a ferry stop and decided to catch it and see where it goes. The boat was crowded and lots of space was taken up by one guy who was sitting on the bench with his legs taking up 3 seats while he took selfies and filmed randomly. I was at least able to catch up on my crepe while we continued towards the bridge over the harbour. Behind us the Matthew was rapidly approaching in that sneaky way that sailing ships seem to have. She is a reconstruction of John Cabot’s ship.

And while we turned Matthew continued her voyage and you can see the bridge across the harbour in front of her. That was the spot I was aiming for originally. 

I decided to bail out at the Great Britain as the area in front of it was a large boatyard and I would have had to make another detour around it to access the Great Britain. I had visited her before, in fact I even used to have a ticket that allowed me free visits for a year, but it expired a long time ago. I really just wanted that bow shot of her which I now had.

I walked around the shop before heading back to the other bridge across the harbour. This place got more crowded as I got closer, and somewhere in that mass of humanity was a steam engine with wagons and a brake van. 

I had heard the engine while on the opposite bank so was curious to see what was providing motive power.

As I approached the Fairbairn Steam Crane there was no sight of the train, but sooner or later though I would be bound to see her. Unfortunately the crane was not in steam and I did not get to have a look around her interior. The sailing ship is Pelican of London, a reasonably new vessel built in 1948 in France as a double-beam Arctic fishing trawler. She was rebuilt as a main mast barquentine, and as of 2012, operated as a sail training vessel by the charity Adventure Under Sail

Close to the crane was a modern vessel: Graham Robertson,  a multi-role Damen Shoalbuster 2308S tug. She is quite an adaptable ship, as she was modified to undertake a multifunctional role that includes towing, pilotage, plough dredging and survey duties.

And then, over the cacophony of noise I heard a steam whistle.. I had to make a decision quickly. Would I watch John King coming alongside? or would I see what the steam engine was? John King temporarily won.

but it was a close won race

The loco turned out to be an Avonside 0-6-0ST, of 1917, works number 1764. Operating as S3 “Portbury”

It was quite an experience seeing this train safely pass through the throngs, although she was helped by men with flags and high vis vests! Given that many people are much too busy on their phones this can be a decidedly difficult operation. 

By the time I had finished with the museum the “Carboard Boat Race” was in full swing, and this part of the harbour was jammed packed. There were 3 small naval craft berthed up close to the bridge and I threaded my way towards them. The more modern ships were HMS Ranger (outboard) and HMS Smiter (inboard). Both are Archer Class patrol ships, and are used to provide sea training to members of  University Royal Naval Units.

Astern of them was “Pride of Bristol”, the former Royal Naval Tender RMAS Loyal Supporter (A107). She is operated by the Pride of Bristol Trust, and was built in 1982 by Richard Dunston Ltd. Yard T1370. 

I was fortunate enough to get on board her but she is reasonably cramped and one person could really cause a spanner in the works by standing in the wrong spot. I did manage to get in her wheelhouse!

From her decks I could see the other ships berthed across from us, and there were two sailing ships amongst them. The ship below is the Etoile Molene, a 1954 built vessel that was initially used to fish for tuna in the Bay of Biscay and then for trawling in Ireland. 

Astern of her was Iris, a 1916 traditional Dutch herring-lugger.

Unfortunately I did not take specific images of her, but as you can see the sky was clouding up and I was starting to consider raising anchor and heading home. I really just want to look at one more oddity I saw in 2015.

She was still where I saw her last, although I do not know whether she had deteriorated since then or not, or even whether she was in use.

Some digging provided me with more info: she is the former John Sebastian “Light Vessel 55” (LV55) and was purchased by the Cabot Cruising Club in 1954. She was built in 1885  by Charles Hill & Sons, Albion Yard, Bristol, for Trinity House and has a double skinned iron hull with wooden beams. She 31.39 metres long, 7.37 metres wide and has a draft of 3.66 metres.  She would have been manned by a crew of 11 men (master and six ratings on board and a master and three ratings ashore). The lantern is not the original one though, it is just a facsimile, although it does work.

The building in the background is the former General Hospital which is now yuppie pads by the looks of it. 

That more or less concluded my Bristol expedition of 2018, I returned via St Mary Redcliffe, and popped in for a visit.

On my way back I paused at the original Brunel station, it was being used as a car park at the time, but I believe there are plans for this space.

I then went to have a look at the bridge where the ferry starts from. It is quite a quirky bridge and one day I may walk to the other side and see what lies there.

At the station I saw one of the new smarmy Class 800 electro-diesel intercity trains that were being  built by Hitachi, but could not investigate further as my own train arrived at the same time.

My day was done. I have 700 images to process and it has taken me longer to do these 3 blog posts that it took to do the trip! I may have to relook that. 

I will probably revisit Bristol again, there is a lot that I would like to relook, in December CWGC will be unveiling replacement headstones for the men buried in Soldier’s Corner in Arnos Vale, so may go down for that although the days are way too short for an extended trip. I will see how it goes. 

There are a number of drawcards for a return trip, I would really like to photograph more of the Wallace and Gromit statues and visit the Quaker Burial Ground which is opposite St Mary Redcliffe. I would also like to try look around the area where the cenotaph is, and of course the Wills Tower is a drawcard, it is just a pity there is that hill….  

DRW © 2018. Created 22/07/2018

Updated: 04/08/2018 — 14:47

Loving Liverpool (8) Western Approaches Command

As I was saying…

The war at sea was a brutal one, lasting from the first day of the war right through till the last. To make matters worse any person serving on board ship faced an even worse enemy than the Axis forces, and that was the medium which they sailed in. The convoys that plodded along between the United Kingdom and the United States were shepherded by escort vessels of all shapes and sizes, and overseeing the area of ocean between the two continents was Western Approaches Command.

The Western Approaches Command may be found at the Liverpool War Museum at 1-3 Rumford St, Liverpool. Do not expect this to be one of your normal museums geared towards children, it is mostly undergrond in the former bunker that used to serve as the operational nerve centre of the Western Approaches. I knew more or less where it was situated but came from a different direction so ended up making a wrong turning and that proved to be quite beneficial to me as I discovered two more War memorials in the process.

There is an open square behind the City Hall that is bounded by a large building that seems to have been called “Exchange Flags” but is now called Horton House and Walker House; recognise those names? 

The first memorial was dedicated to “the Men of the Liverpool Exchange Newsroom”

While the other is dedicated to “Men from the Liverpool Cotton Association”

There is a third monument in the centre of the square and it is known as the Nelson Monument. 

Nelson Monument

However, I am not going to cover these in this blog but covered them at allatsea. My main interest here is the Western Approaches facility underneath this vast space. 

Walker House (formerly known as Derby House), was adapted during its construction to include a reinforced bunker that housed the Western Approaches Command Headquarters.  Construction of the main building was completed in 1939 but the construction of Walker House was interrupted by the war. The inclusion of the re-enforced bunker to house the command centre for the Battle of the Atlantic meant that Walker House wasn’t finished until 1941. The bunker was closed on 15 August 1945 after the end of WW2 but was re-opened as the Western Approaches Museum. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exchange_Flags) The museum entrance is almost unassuming, but beneath it is another world in another era.

Please show your pass to the guard at the door (he has stepped out for a moment). 

This is not some glitz and glass museum, you really need to remember it in the context of what it was like between 1941 and 1945, it is one of those places that is stuck in time. 

I am following the file numbering of my images so hopefully they will be in some sort of order as I passed through the museum, although I did backtrack on a few occasions. I am not in a position to explain the Battle of the Atlantic as it it really did not consist of a single event but rather a whole sequence of events, milestones, disasters and victories.  The men who bore the brunt of it were the men from the Merchant Navy who manned ships that were often one step away from disaster without the enemy even being close. They faced submarines, aircraft, weather and public and official indifference just to keep the lifelines of commerce open. 

Those who served on the escorts initially faced an uphill battle to keep the convoys safe but slowly a combination of factors turned the tables on the U-boats of the Axis. Even Churchill feared the submarine menace but at the end the battle was won and Western Approaches Command  had a vast role to play in that victory.

Communication in this labyrinth was via wireless, telex, telephone and messenger. 

Radio Room

These were often manned (womaned?) by a staff of naval ratings and WRENS who often had to deal with the emotional trauma of knowing that a convoy was sailing towards a disaster and being unable to do anything about it. They had a job to do and they did it with excellence. 

The operations room was the nerve centre of the command, a large plotting wall was used to keep tabs of the situation at sea and of course track the convoys and known enemy forces. Information coming in through all means of communication available. 

The Plotting Wall

Those involved had to really keep tabs of the big picture as well as a localised view of the situation on the ground. The course of a convoy’s often painfully slow progress was tracked by means of  colour coded elastics that followed its track across the Atlantic. 

The needs of the job sometimes meant that staff slept over at the bunker and limited sleeping accommodation was available. Even back then your bed had to be square.

The reality was that it was a totally enclosed bunker with limited ventilation and considerable stress; smoking was also common back then and the air quality must have been terrible. A four watch system was in place 7 days a week with only two 15 minutes rest periods during a watch. It was a not a very pleasant place to work, but then the men on board ship probably would not have swapped with them if they were given the chance.

The “Hot Line” to the War Office in London was able to connect directly to 10 favoured lines. It was housed in a sound proof booth and it is possible that Winston Churchill was heard in it a few times. It was a standard telephone but was modified especially for this purpose. There are only 2 of these instruments known to survive.   

The man in charge of the Western Approaches Command was Admiral Max Kennedy Horton, GCB, DSO & Two Bars, SGM (29 November 1883 – 30 July 1951). A former decorated submariner,  he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches Command on 17 November 1942.

As a successful former submariner he was able to understand the limitations of submarine warfare and instituted a number of tactical changes in the way the escort ships were to be used. 

Staff often saw him appear at the window overlooking the operations room clad in his pyjamas. As a keen golfer who may have had golf balls on his desk or clubs nearby. Given how much stress he was under golf this was his favourite way of unwinding.

He died in 1951 and there is a memorial to him in Liverpool Cathedral. 

He was one of the major reasons that the tide was turned in the Battle of the Atlantic, and of course his staff contributed to the success of this little known nerve centre. One of the stranger things to see was a film projector that was used to screen footage of the war. Originally the Gaumont Kalee Dragon projector was up in in London.  It is a fascinating piece of machinery. 

I trained as an apprentice in the telecommunications industry and quite a lot of the equipment on display was telecommunications related so it really interested me. This room housed the switchboard and probably part of the telex equipment.

Have you shown your pass?

 Below it was naval telex station

And switchboard

As well as the cipher station.

And then it was time to head upwards to sunlight.

There was a mockup street on display too, and it was really quite poignant because the reality was that once staff emerged from their bunker they would often end up finding a city that had been bombed. Liverpool was the second most bombed city outside London, the first raid taking place on 28 August 1940. Roughly 80 raids were conducted between August 1940 and January 1942, and over 75000 people were left homeless as a result of the bombing which mostly targeted the docks and warehouses on the Mersey. 

And then it was over. (my visit and the war). 

It was an extremely interesting place and it had an “otherness” about it, definitely a latent aura was present. It is very difficult to comprehend what it was like during the war, and the euphoria when it was all done and almost everybody got to go home. Sadly too many never did see that victory so this is really a part of commemoration. The men and women who worked here have all passed into history, they will however be remembered for the part they played, they were unsung heroes. 

It is a tangible link to World War 2, and one of those rare surviving places that we can see and experience. My only gripe was….  none really. I know that there is so much more that can go in here that is relevant, and I believe they are working towards it. It was well worth the visit and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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I shall leave you with my usual odds and ends pics.

DRW © 2018. Created 09/06/2018

Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10

Loving Liverpool (5) Birkenhead

Continuing where we left off… 

It was now day two of my Liverpool trip and outside all was grey and gloomy and I was at a momentary loss as to what to do with myself. While researching my navigation I discovered that Liverpool was also home to “U-534“,  a Type IXC/40 U-boat from World War II. She had been raised on 23 August 1993 by the Dutch salvage company Smit Tak  after being undiscovered for nearly 41 years. She now formed the nucleus of the U-Boat Story museum at the Woodside Ferry Terminal in Birkenhead, which, was a short train journey underneath the Mersey. You can see the dismembered U-Boat in the image below.

Woodside ferry terminal

I actually did not use my brains when I decided to hop the train across the river, for starters I was at least 2 hours too early, and secondly I could visit the museum free if I bought a ticket for the river cruise on the ferry.  With the clouds hanging over my head I picked up the underground at Lime Street and headed to Hamilton Square Station in Birkenhead.

Hamilton Square Station

It was chilly too, and I regretted not bringing my jacket with.  I also regretted missing the lift and hoofing up an infinite number of stairs to get out of the station. 

The promenade, U-Boat Story and Waterside Ferry Terminal were about a block away. A quick walk and I was there, but everything was closed and not a soul was in sight. It was only 8.15, why was everything closed? It was very depressing indeed. The only item that looked reasonably interesting was a replica of the Victorian submarine “Resurgam

The original ill fated vessel met its end in Liverpool Bay off Rhyl on 25 February 1880 while en route for Portsmouth. How successful it may have been as a functioning submarine is not noted. However, the information plaque records that she did sail and submerge successfully. 

At the waters edge I discovered that not only was the tide out, but there was actually a ship alongside at the ferry landing on my side of the river! Huzzah! let’s go have a look!

She was busy loading and there was no way of knowing when she would sail and of course I was on the wrong side of the river to get a proper look at her (for the record she was the Stena Mersey).  And, to my amazement a movement on my right revealed a tanker running light outbound.

I idled along checking my watch. The first ferry to Woodside was destined to arrive at 10H30 and  the museum only opened at 10H30 and it was only 8.20! I had a decision to make because nothing was happening here. Looming next to the terminal were the segments of U-534 and I peered at them through the fence with interest. 

I really wanted to see this exhibition so I either had to hang around till opening time, or head back to the other river bank and come across with the ferry after 10H30. 

There were a few other surprises on this short stretch of river bank. 

The Birkenhead Monument.

The HMS Birkenhead is one of those definitive shipwrecks that litter the pages of history, and especially early South African History, as she foundered after colliding with an uncharted rock near Danger Point (today near Gansbaai, Western Cape) on  26 February 1852. The sinking of the Birkenhead is the earliest maritime disaster evacuation during which the concept of “women and children first” is known to have been applied. There were of the approximately 643 people on board the ill fated vessel of which only 193 were saved. 

The memorial was unveiled on 5 March 2014

The HMS Thetis Memorial.

A bit further along the promenade I found a memorial to the men lost in the sinking of HMS Thetis on 1 June 1939. I recall reading the story of the disaster and unsuccessful attempts to rescue the men trapped inside her, and it was really one of those disasters that could have been prevented.

Ninety-nine lives were lost in the incident: 51 crew members, 26 Cammell Laird employees, 8 other naval officers, 7 Admiralty overseeing officers, 4 Vickers-Armstrong employees, 2 caterers and a Mersey pilot.

Thetis was successfully salvaged and repaired, being commissioned in 1940 as HMS Thunderbolt but was sunk by depth charges by the Italian corvette Cicogna on 14 March 1943 off Sicily.  All hands were lost and Thunderbolt settled to the bottom in 1,350 m of water.

She is listed on the Submarine Memorial at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.

It was time for me to head back to the other bank of the river. The ferry was currently running 10 minutes trips across the Mersey between the terminal in Liverpool and Seacombe/Wallasy and if I arrived too early I would ride her up and down until I got tired. The round trip on the “River Explorer Cruise” runs from Pier Head Ferry Terminal to Seacombe Ferry Terminal, Wirral and then to Woodside Ferry Terminal, Wirral where the U-boat Story was and then back to the pier head. It was a 50 minute hop off and hop on trip and I intended to climb off at Woodside, check the exhibition and then reboard at 11H30 to return to the starting place.

However, I am going to skip the ferry trip in this post as I really want to do a post about the ferry separately so this one will deal with my visit to U-534. (the ferry is dealt with in Loving Liverpool (6) Having bought a River Explorer ticket I was entitled to free entry to the exhibition and I had allocated enough time to grab the ferry back at 11H30, although I was equally prepared to catch the next one at 12H30 too, although it would be much more crowded on that trip. There were not too many of us at the museum at that awful time, and I headed directly for the vessel instead of pausing at the exhibits in the hall. The submarine had been sawn into 4 parts, with the conning tower balanced between two of them. Each sawn end had been “sealed” with a transparent bulkhead that allowed you to see inside it.

I am however ambivalent about what was done because they really sliced up an intact (albeit rusty) U-Boat, but it did allow for a limited view of the interior of a U-Boat. The limitations of what they did were several: the biggest being that you could only really see a jumble of badly rusted machinery but nothing that lay beyond roughly 2 metres away. The state of the transparent bulkheads did leave much to be desired because they were badly smeared and I would have thought that they would been cleaned every morning before the exhibition opened. In some sections the machinery was also covered in pigeon crap! and if a pigeon can get in then so can the rain.     

But, those slices were fascinating to see, and while there were cross section explanations that marked certain components it was not always easy to understand what you were seeing. The vessel was full of water for over 40 years so the interiors are badly rusted, and the few wooden parts that I saw were rotten and there was a certain eeriness about that interior. I recall reading a book called “The Night Boat” by Robert R McCammon many years ago, and it was about a submarine full of zombies, and what I was seeing looked very much liked what I imagined that literary submarine looked like (although without the zombies and pigeons). I am not going to even try explain the images because it is beyond me.

It was fascinating to say the least. What really amazed me was how they squeezed so much machinery into such a small area and routed pipework and cables through the hull. The vertically orientated image shows the inside of the saddle tanks, with the curvature of the pressure hull on the right hand side. I never thought to check the underside of the saddle tanks because technically they were free flooding.

On 5 May 1945 she was underway heading north towards Norway, when she was attacked by a Liberator aircraft from RAF 547 Squadron which dropped depth charges. the submarine took heavy damage and began to sink by the stern. Forty nine of the fifty two crew members survived, including four who escaped via a torpedo hatch.

Inside the main building is an exhibition of items that were found inside the submarine, and these were very poignant, and obviously from long ago. 

For me it was a rare glimpse at the inside of a ship that could have ended the war if affective countermeasures were not found, and at times it was a close run thing. U-534 never sank a ship but did shoot down two British aircraft. Her end came right at the end of the war, and today we are able to catch a tiny glimpse into a vessel that descended from primitive hand powered machines that were considered an ungentlemanly weapon. We have come a long way since U-534 was built way back in 1942, and today the nuclear powered submarine is a true submarine and even deadlier than before.

It was time to catch the ferry on the next part of my journey, so I headed outwards, slightly miffed because the shop did not have prices on their ferry models.

My next post will deal with the ferry and my 2 trips on board the ferry Snowdrop.

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DRW © 2018. Created 03/05/2018

Updated: 19/06/2018 — 12:54

Loving Liverpool (2) Pier Head

In which we continue our exploration of Liverpool.

I finished up the previous post in the waterfront area and was heading into the Albert Dock Area. However, the view across the Mersey looks something like this…  (images are 1500 wide)

(1500 x 291)

There was a lot to see around here, and I have to admit that a lot of it did not interest me, although some stuff made me scratch my head. For instance, take the Superlambanana….  

(This is a different one from the one on the last page). What amuses me is that no matter how many signs are pasted on it prohibiting people from climbing on it, there will always be kids hell bent on getting into the saddle. The sculpture is really an ironic comment on the dangers of genetic engineering, but it also acknowledges the many bananas and lambs that passed through Liverpool’s bustling docks. Personally I thought it was quirky, and I like quirky. 

The dock area where I was now is reasonably simple, although distances can be long. Each is connected to each other via large gates and that helped when ships were sailing into the river, bearing in mind that during low tide the docks were a self contained system that would carry on working even when there was no access to the outside. It has now become the preserve of yuppies and private boats, and ships are a distant memory.

Quite a number of items and buildings have survived the many changes wrought over the years, and of course the bombing campaign during The Blitz did not help either, although I am sure it sparked a bit of a redesign shortly after the war ended.

Most of the docks were closed in the 1970’s, while others were “repurposed”,  but the days of cargo ships coming and going from this area had come to a close. The passenger liner business also collapsed as the jet aircraft became more popular and plummeting profits sent many well founded ships prematurely to the breakers. Southampton is probably the biggest cruise ship destination in the UK, but Liverpool is slowly picking up its own share of arrivals. There was only one arrival during my days in Liverpool and I will deal with her separately. 

There were 2 drydocks in the Canning Dock area that interested me and both we occupied. The first by the MV Edmund Gardner, a former pilot cutter that was launched in 1953. I was hoping to look around her but she was fenced off and painted in dazzle camouflage. 

The other dock was occupied by De Wadden, a three-masted auxiliary schooner built in the Netherlands in 1917.

One poignant item in this area is one of the propellers from the ill fated Lusitania. 

On the right hand side of the image is the steam tug/tender Daniel Adamson, Built as the Ralph Brocklebank in 1903, she was renamed in 1936. and served with the  Manchester Ship Canal Company. She was restored by the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society and entered passenger-carrying service under steam on 22 April 2017.

If you stood on board the Daniel Adamson and looked across the dock the view would be something like this..

The tall chimney belongs to the pump house and the buildings on the right house the Maritime Museum which was my next destination. There was also a very strange cat/rat combo that drew a lot of attention. I had no idea what the significance of it was, but apparently it was created from around 1,000 reclaimed milk containers, cut up by hand by the artist and then stitched on to chicken wire. There were supposedly similar rat statues but I never saw them. The artist was Faith Bebbington.After a quick bite I went to the Maritime Museum. It was on multiple levels and much to my dismay one level dealt with the Titanic! Fortunately they also dealt with the Merchant Navy so I didn’t have to read all that rehashed material. To be honest I really preferred the Museum here to the one in Southampton. This one had more ship models for starters! Lusitania is probably more relevant to Liverpool, Titanic may have been registered in Liverpool but never called there, whereas the Lusitania and Mauretania would have used this as their home port.  

Suitably satiated it is time for some of my famous random images in and around the docks

There were a number of statues in the area too, and two of them caught my eye. The first I thought was Elvis, but it turns out that it was Billy Fury (17 April 1940 – 28 January 1983).

Billy Fury

The other is called “The Crossing” and it is a very poignant one.  It shows a young family migrating from Liverpool to the new world. 

The plaque reads:

In commemoration of an estimated 85 000
Latter-Day Saints, who sailed from Eurpoe to
America, from 1851 to 1900

We thank this city for cradling our ancestors.
Donated by the 2001 Sea Trek Foundation
and James Moses Jex Family

The sculptor is Mark DeGraffenried and it shows the one child stepping forward at the front, symbolising migration to the unknown world whilst the child at the back is playing with a crab and symbolises a deep association with the sea. 

The Crossing

It was time for me to head back to the hotel to check in and have a shower and plan the balance of my day.   So far it had been a very enjoyable day, I had almost done the ferry trip but it was only running at 4 pm and I did not really want to wait that long so decided that tomorrow was another day.  I strolled back to my hotel, but detoured at James Street Station and caught the underground to Lime Street. It is a short hop, but it saved me a longish walk. 

I can chalk one more up to my list of experiences as a result.

After the break… 

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Finding Abercromby Park, and the Anglican Cathedral

DRW © 2018. Created 02/05/2018

Updated: 14/06/2018 — 07:59

Loving Liverpool (1)

There are many places in the UK that are famous for their maritime history, and Liverpool is no exception. This was where Cunard sailed from and where the Lusitania and Mauretania were based. The Titanic was registered in the city, and of course Liverpool was home to the escorts that shepherded convoys across the Atlantic during the 2nd World War. And, like so many ports in the UK it became bereft of ships as the passenger traffic died away and containerisation replaced the conventional cargo ships that used to call this place their home port. 

Recently I have been mulling over making another short trip somewhere, similar to the one I made to London in 2016 and Liverpool ended up on the top of the list. The logistics of getting there are not huge: catch a train from Cheltenham, bail out at Birmingham, catch a different train to Liverpool Lime Street Station and voila! there you were. The biggest snag was timing though. My original plan had been to head out on the last weekend of May, but the Monday was a bank holiday and rates and ticket prices tended to be higher over a weekend, so I ended up planning for 29 May till 01 June instead. I found a hotel easily enough, booked my train tickets, paid my deposit and started the countdown. 

Early on the morning of the 29th I was at Cheltenham Spa Station. I had tweaked my train booking so that I had roughly half an hour to change trains at Birmingham, but the train was late arriving at Cheltenham and that cut my changing time down to 20 minutes. I was curious about what Birmingham New Street Station looked like now that it was finally completed as I had last passed through it in mid June 2015 and it was a real mess. Hopefully things were better now. 

Upon arrival I dashed upstairs into the concourse and out the main entrance to the station (I may be incorrect about it being the main entrance). I got very disorientated when I saw that they had added a giant alien eyeball onto the front of the station!

While inside resembled something out of a cheesy science fiction show.  

Still, it is a major improvement, and the platforms are much lighter now than they were before but it is still a horrible crowded and frenetic place.

The train to Liverpool from Birmingham stopped at: Smethwick Gatton Bridge, Woolverhampton, Penkridge, Stafford, Crewe, Winsford Hartsford (Cheshire), Acton Bridge, Runcorn, Liverpool South Parkway and finally Liverpoool Lime Street. It was roughly a 2 hour train journey excluding train changes. 

When I was doing my navigation I had marked a number of places that I wanted to see, and I had planned to do them over the 3 days that I had. The big unknown was the weather though, it was overcast in Cheltenham when I left, although Liverpool appeared to be clear which was forecast to change. I would really have to play the weather by ear. My goals were: The waterfront with associated War Memorials and statues, the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals, a ferry ride, the Cenotaph, museums, and anything else that caught my wandering eye.

I arrived at midday, and the sun was shining!

Liverpool Lime Street Station was yet another of those glorious cathedrals of glass but in total disarray as they were renovating it (and is going to be closed completely for 2 months).

The cuttings leading to the station from Edge Hill were amazing, at least 3-4 stories deep, they are covered in vegetation and moss with bricked areas and bare rock all on display. It was quite a view but getting pics was impossible because of angles and reflections. It was one of those sights that leaves you with admiration for those who built the early railways. They laid bricks by the millions and gangs of men created these artificial caverns in the city with picks and shovels. Lime Street (what a great name) is probably the most well known station in Liverpool, although there are a number of stations in the city because it also has an underground rail network. 

Imagine this space in the days of steam…. 

My hotel was literally a quick walk “around the corner*, and I believe it is the 2nd oldest hotel in Liverpool. It was a nice hotel, although I did battle with hot water and the bed. The staff however were awesome, and the rate was a good one. I would stay there again if ever I came this way in the future.

I dropped off my bag and headed down the road to my first goal: 

St George’s Quarter.

The map below gives a rough outline of some of the structures in what is known as “St George’s Quarter”, although I am not dealing with all of them in these posts.

1 – St George’s Hall, 2 – St John’s Garden, 3 – World Museum, 4 – Central Library, 5 – Walker Art Gallery, 6 – Empire Theatre, 16 – Lime Street Station, 18 – Queensway Tunnel approach

Liverpool’s War Memorial was unveiled in 1930, it was designed by Lionel B. Budden, an associate professor from the university of Liverpool.  It is was placed on the plateau below St George’s Hall and is a long low rectangular structure with two long friezes. There is a  more detailed post on the memorial on allatsea/

St George’s Hall (# 1 on the map) was somewhat of a puzzle because it was a huge building that seemingly had no visible purpose although it had quite a number of secrets in it. The whole area around it had a number of bronze statues, and was very impressive. It was probably even more impressive when it was built, but the traffic in front and size of the building really makes it look like a large tomb. My first goal was accomplished and it was now time to find the waterfront. Behind the building is a very pretty park known as St John’s Garden (# 2 on the map), and in it there is a Memorial to the Liverpool Regiment that lists men who died during the Anglo Boer War, Afghanistan and Burma.

To the right of the park there were three very old and visually impressive buildings (3 – World Museum, 4 – Central Library, 5 – Walker Art Gallery,)

Walker Art Gallery

World Museum and Central Library

I visited the museum on my 3rd day and it was absolute chaos with all the crowds of people. I was very glad to get out of there! 

There are two other structures to mention while we are in the area, the first is: the former North Western Hotel building which stands almost attached to the station complex (# 16 in the map). Originally opened as a railway hotel in 1871 it was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and had 330 rooms. The hotel closed in 1933, and at the moment it appears to be student accommodation. 

and next to is the Empire Theatre dating from 1925, (i# 6 on the map)

My hotel was in Lord Nelson Street that was sandwiched between these two buildings. 

It was time to find the waterfront! I had spotted the Liver Birds at some point so really just headed in the general direction where they were because the waterfront is a large area and I was bound to hit it sooner or later. I detoured to a number of buildings along the way but eventually reached my destination, and it was not to disappoint. I entered the area through Water Street, with the famous Royal Liver Building on my right, and the equally beautiful Cunard Building on my left. 

The former is famous because it is really a unique landmark on the waterfront and it is topped by a pair of “Liver Birds”.  Legend has it that while one giant bird looks out over the city to protect its people, the other bird looks out to sea at the new sailors coming in to port.  It is said that, if one of the birds were to fly away the city of Liverpool would cease to exist, thus adding to the mystery of the birds. The are  eighteen feet high, ten feet long and carry a cast sprig of seaweed in their beaks. They are officially cormorants but will always be known as the Liver Birds.

Royal Liver Building

The three buildings along this spot of waterfront are collectively known as the “Three Graces” (Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building), and all three are spectacular.

Cunard Building

Port of Liverpool Building

I was able to get into the foyers of the Cunard and Port of Liverpool buildings, and I was stunned. The  building dates from 1917 although Cunard left the building in the 1960’s.  In fact the Cunard Shipping Company of today is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines and based in America. 

I would have loved to have seen this space back in the heady days of the Cunarders that used Liverpool as their base, but I would have ended up booking my passage in a very different looking room. The room in the images above is the 1st Class Booking Hall.

The Roll of Honour was placed in nearby Liverpool Parish Church in 1990

The Port of Liverpool Building was equally unbelievable. It was completed in 1907, and is a Grade II* listed building. The central area under the dome is where the passages lead off, and it reminded me a lot of a panopticon. But, unlike those it is much more beautiful.  

And seeing as I was at the pierhead I could check out the ships…  but unfortunately the only ship in sight was the Mersey Ferry “Snowdrop” and she was running cruises between the banks of the river spaced an hour apart.

Snowdrop

The queue was horribly long so I shelved that plan and went and hunted down some of the other items on my list. 

The Titanic Memorial with Royal Liver Building in the background

Captain Frederic John Walker RN. Memorial

The statue of Captain Frederic John Walker RN ties into the Merchant Navy Memorial in the two images below.  The escort groups he led sank more U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic than any other British or Allied commander, and he was instrumental in the Allied victory of the Battle of the Atlantic,  The statue, by Liverpool sculptor Tom Murphy  was unveiled in 1998 and shows him  in a typical pose on board his ship. Sadly he died of a cerebral haemorrhage in July 1944.

Many ships and men owed their survival to Captain Walker and the escorts of the Western Approaches Command. Their contribution to the war effort is often neglected, but these unsung heroes will always have a special place in my heart.  Most have no other grave but the sea. 

The Liverpool Naval Memorial is also close to these Memorials, but it proved to be a very difficult memorial to photograph.

Liverpool Naval Memorial

I also passed this statue of these 4 guys.. but they don’t interest me.

And having reached the point on the pierhead we shall turn the page to reveal more about my trip to Liverpool.  I shall however leave you with this Superlambanana to keep you company. Or you can just bite the bullet and turn the page

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