musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Collections and Museums

James Hall Museum Of Transport

One of the better museums in Johannesburg is the James Hall  Museum of Transport in La Rochelle in Southern Johannesburg. It is the sort of place that is always worth visiting even if you have been there many times before. The museum was founded in 1964 by the late James “Jimmie” Hall and in conjunction with the Johannesburg City Council. The oldest motorcar on display is a 1900 Clement Panhard, but there are other items that are much older.

I have spent many hours there, meandering through the exhibits and I really enjoy seeing so many vehicles from my past. However, it is very difficult to present a balanced view of the museum because it has so many exhibits, and they are really a feast for the eyes. The museum consists of a number of exhibition spaces. Entry is at the doorway on the image above. This part of the museum does not really interest me because it is really about the days when the petrol engine was but a dream.

From this hall you move into the open courtyard area where many of the vehicles are stored or displayed. This is also where the majority of the traction engines are housed behind a fence. Many exhibits move around within the museum so some of my images show the exhibit where it was at the time and it may no longer be in that position at the time of writing or reading.

This is supposedly the largest collection of traction engine and steam powered vehicles in the country. However, I do not know how many of them can actually run. Many of the exhibits are related to transport in Johannesburg, so you will find the Christmas Bus, travelling Library and a number of ex-council vehicles in this space 

This is also where you can find the toilets and a small refreshment concession. The entrance to the next hall can be found in this courtyard and it leads into the hall where the majority of the exhibits are fire engines. 

This space leads into the blue tinted hall that houses the classic cars and motor cycles from many eras. It is a fascinating space and I remember many of those vehicles from my own childhood.

The door to the outside shed is to the right in this hall, and to the bus hall in the corner on the left of this image. The outside shed is where the agricultural machinery and steam engines are stored. I photographed the steam engines many years ago and their history may be found at old Steam Locomotives in South Africa (4 pages)

You get to the last exhibition space through the motor vehicle space and this hall is used to exhibit buses from various places in three lines. It also has the last tram that ran in Johannesburg. Unfortunately, the nature of the hall precludes effective photography because it is a very narrow space.

The exit to the museum is through this hall (image below)

 

That is the museum in a nutshell.  Do not take my word for it though, it is an awesome museum and well worth a visit. The museum does not charge for entry but a donation is always helpful, and always check the opening times so that you are not disappointed.

Many years ago the Transvaal Branch of the World Ship Society was given an area to exhibit nauticalia in when they held an open day. There are almost no aircraft or ship related exhibits. All the images in this post were taken at the museum over 4 different visits. 

© DRW 2017. 03/04/2017

Updated: 11/04/2017 — 06:56

The Science Museum

The Science Museum in South Kensington is probably one of the most innovative and interesting museums that I have ever visited. It is the sort of place that has something for everybody, and it is probably one of the best places to take children to when they need to explore.  I have visited it twice (2016 and 2017) and would visit it again if ever I get the chance. It is that sort of place! 

The Science Museum

The Science Museum

To cover everything in this blogpost would be impossible, there is just so much to see. Founded in 1857 from the collection of the Royal Society of Arts and surplus items from the Great Exhibition as well as a collection of machinery that originated from contents of the Patent Office Museum. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_Museum,_London). There are over 300000 objects in the collection, many of which are very rare and of historical importance.

Over 450 000 children visit the museum every year, which ranks it very highly in museum popularity. 

My first visit in 2016 was a short one, I literally ran out of time and I had really wanted to return at some point but my finances precluded a day trip just to see the museum, unless I was in London for another reason.  

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

Again there was just too much to see and I did not see a third of it. But, there were a lot of exhibits that tied into my interests. (I will be adding many more images to this gallery below at a later date)

 science1314  
   

Now who says Science is not fun? Oh, and by the way, the basement has a really interesting exhibition in it called “The Secret Life of the Home”, and it was amazing.

My 2017 trip was really to see the flight gallery. I had missed it in 2016, and from what I had read it held a number of interesting aviation artefacts.

   
   
   

Unfortunately the flight exhibition is in a very dark environment so pics were almost impossible to get, I was disappointed in that, but it just means a revisit is required.

From there I explored another area that I had missed, and it was really about communications and computing. 

At some point I will caption the images above, I do not have all of my Science Museum information with me so it will happen when I return to the UK. In the meantime I shall leave you with this image.

© DRW 2016-2017 Created 24/03/2017

Updated: 06/04/2017 — 06:21

Photo Essay: Tanks in the wild

When I got my new camera last year I needed to test drive (test fire?) it, and I grabbed some of my tank collection and headed out into the wild. Some of the results were really great. 

World War One battlefields were incredibly muddy and the early rhomboid shaped tanks battled with the terrain. They were more psychological weapons than anything else.

The real live example I photographed in Bovington Tank Museum in 2013. This is called a “Heavy Tank Mk V “Male””. It had a crew of 8 with a top speed of 7.4 kph. This particular vehicle took part in the battle of Amiens in August 1918, and was about as good as this particular style of tank was. It was armed with 2×6 pound (57mm) guns and 2 MG’s. 

I do have a soft spot for the M3 Stuart (aka “Honey”) this little one got somewhat off the beaten track and is waiting for nightfall so that it can move out. It did not want to meet up with the Tiger that  was hiding in the garden. This green Tiger one I picked up in Hong Kong in 2011. It is motorised in spite of it’s small size. 

and this Matilda was also en route to somewhere, although it really was more in use in the Western Desert as opposed to the local mud patch next to the river.

It may not have been the greatest tank around but they were good looking.  They even have one at Bovington.

You have to be very careful on some days that you do not bump into a T55 MBT hiding in the undergrowth. If this one looks familiar it is because it is. This model features the T55 that was in the James Bond movie: Golden Eye.

or even a T34 for that matter, although she may be quite handy against that Tiger I mentioned a bit earlier.

Of course some tracked vehicles try to outdo others, and this PzH 2000 (Panzerhaubitze 2000) 155mm self-propelled howitzer  would probably have a field day shelling Cheltenham or maybe Gloucester.

Fortunately it did not have any ammunition, and at that small scale the shell would have stung quite badly.

Since I took these pics in February last year, my tank collection has grown considerably, and at some point I will take them outside again, I now have 3 Tigers and that could prove to be quite an uneven battle for the Honey. Unfortunately since taking these images I have not been able to find my T55 so I expect it has gone to the big tank graveyard in the sky. On the other hand, I was able to take some more pics of more of my tank collection.

That M4A3 Sherman was just itching to slug it out with a Tiger, and I am going to put my money on the Tiger.

My M2 Grant MK1 also got an airing today, although it tried to avoid bumping into anything larger that it was.

What they didn’t know was that there were 3 Tigers heading in their direction.

The grey Tiger is radio controlled and it even has a recoil action when you “fire” the gun. When things dry out a bit I am going to take it out and try it on this muddy terrain.

This Leopard 1 also got an airing. But there was trouble looming behind it. I seem to think it is a T55, but it is unfortunately not marked.

Until next time when battle will recommence.

Update 04/04/2017:

Cats seem to understand tanks, especially homemade ones.

© DRW 2017. Created 05/02/2017 

Updated: 04/04/2017 — 07:18

Photo Essay: Bubble Cars and Micro Cars

The definition of a “Bubble Car” is quite a difficult one because it is really about what makes a car a bubble car (did you understand that? I certainly didn’t). Realistically it is about a small car that was cheap to run, cheap to buy and small in size, often with three wheels. The most prevalent bubble cars were made in Germany, and strangely enough by companies more associated with building aircraft. They certainly turn heads when the pass, although they are becoming increasingly rare.

This essay will feature a few groupings of bubble cars and small cars (micro cars). The first being the James Hall Museum of Transport in Johannesburg. The images I took at the museum are not great because it is not an easy place to photograph and at times my camera’s were not exactly state of the art.

BMW Isetta

BMW Isetta

BMW Isetta

Messerschmitt

Messerschmitt (exploded view)

I often wonder whether BMW ever regret producing the BMW Isetta? Available as a 3 wheel and a 4 wheeled version it is probably the best known of the bubble cars and its shape really defines what a bubble car is. 

They also have two other micro cars on display:

Fuldamobile

Still trying to identify this one., It is not however a BMW with personalised plates. Odds are it is a variation of the Vespa 400 but I cannot be sure.

When I visited the museum in March 2017 I was hoping to get new images of the two vehicles above, but both were no longer there. 

One afternoon, on my way home with friends were drew level with two cars with trailers on which there was a Messerschmitt and an Isetta. I was a passenger in our car which is why I was able to take pics.

Messerschmitt

BMW Isetta

BMW Isetta

From these images you can gauge how big (or small) these vehicles are in relation to the tow cars. It was a really odd thing to see on our roads and I never did work out where they are going to or coming from.

At the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival I encountered two example of the Heinkel Trojan which gave me a opportunity to photograph this oddity.

Heinkel Trojan 1963

Heinkel Trojan

BMW Isetta (1959)

BMW Isetta (1959)

Of course there is another “honorable mention” that I need to make which is also at James Hall, and it is more of an “orangemobile”. I believe these were built from a Mini chassis and were used to promote the Outspan citrus board. Six of these were originally  commissioned by Outspan from a company Brian Waite Enterprise Ltd. based at Bodium in East Sussex, and they were built between 1972 and 1974, and were used on advertising campaigns both in the UK and Europe. (http://www.thisbrighton.co.uk/culture-hcvs-outspan.htm)

There is one really unique vehicle to the UK that I want to include here because they are really very quirky. South Africans probably saw their first one in the “Mr Bean” TV series, and I saw my first one in Southampton in 2013. To be frank: I was amused. I am only familiar with the Reliant Regal, Reliant Robin and the Reliant Rialto, and I have not quite figured out how to identify them apart unless I can read a name off the back. I could not do that with the red one I am afraid although I believe it too is a Rialto.

Reliant Regal

Reliant Rialto SE

The Italians were responsible for a number of interesting small cars, Fiat in particular had a very iconic vehicle in the Fiat 500. My red example is in a casino in Fourways in South Africa and has a lot of parking tickets!

Fiat 500 at Montecasino

Fiat 500 at Montecasino

 and the white vehicle I spotted in Lymington.

I somehow do not think I am finished with bubble cars and micro cars yet, the attraction of a small car for town and short distance driving is strong, and an effective small electric car would really change the face of our overcrowded cities.

I saw this little one in London and  given how hard it is to find parking in London I am surprised I never saw more.  

And of course James Hall Transport Museum has this small electric vehicle on display that never seemed to enter production.  

Unfortunately there will always be the big ego types who really like their oversized 4×4’s and they just never get the fact that fossil fuels are bad news in the long run, and scaling down really does make sense. But then I have never understood the whole big car thing myself; after all you are talking about somebody who fell in love with the Mini when he was a boy and that was what he wanted when he grew up, although I kind of like the bubble cars, they have a charm all of their own.

That concludes my brief photo essay. Hopefully one day I will be able to expand it just a bit more, after all, you never know what may come driving down the road.

© DRW 2016-2017 Created 27/08/2016. Some images taken at the James Hall Museum of Transport. Two new images added 29/03/2017

Updated: 30/03/2017 — 05:16

Welland Steam and Country Rally (Odds and Sods)

Having come this far you are probably asking yourself “Isn’t it enough already?”

I have bad news. There is even more. In this section I am going to add some of those odd objects and uncategorised vehicles that I saw that caught my eye. Some are not even vehicles!

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Enuff said! Bring on the images!

Yes it is steam powered

Yes it is steam powered

The part that goes "Parp"

The part that goes “Parp”

 
   
   
   
   

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© DRW 2016-2017. Created 31/07/2016

Updated: 14/12/2016 — 20:06

Welland Steam and Country Rally (Traction Engines)

 [ First Page ] [ Military Vehicles ] [ Cars and Trucks ] [ Traction Engines ] [ Odds and Sods ]

For me the drawcard of a steam rally are items that use steam as a means of propulsion or to do stuff with. Diesel just does not have that same pulling ability that steam does, and a perfect example was the steam shovel. Close by was a similar diesel powered shovel and more people were watching the steam powered version even though they were both doing the same thing. 

I am fortunate that I do have the catalogue so may be able to Identify some of the machines in my pics, however the pics taken in the arena are quite dark because of the heavy cloud cover that was developing. 

The highlight of the traction engines was definitely the Showman’s Engines. I was amazed at how big they were, most that I had seen previously had all been miniatures. This was the first time I had seen full sized versions.

Most of these machines were already blinding to the eyes, but the shining continued all the time.

The dynamo/generator/alternator is mounted on a shroud protruding over the smokebox door, and even that was spotless.

The agricultural sector was also well represented with ploughing engines in action, these too are huge machines, and even they are spotlessly clean as can be seen by this Fowler ploughing engine. 

There were a number of traction engine cranes at the fair, and I find them fascinating because of their sheer size and the ability to lift things. I have however not seem one of them in action (much to my dismay).

The steam powered trucks and lorries have also always been a favourite of mine, there is something about that transition between traction engine and truck that I find fascinating. There were quite a few on display too, so choosing pics is difficult.

What I did find quite impressive was this Burrell Road Locomotive trundling along with it’s load consisting of a boiler. You did not want to stand in it’s way.

Overall though there were a lot of engines, and trying to show each one is impossible, because there were potentially 72 full sized machines, 34 miniatures as well as 22 showmen’s engines, and I doubt whether I saw half of them.

And when all was said and done,

and they had lined up,

one by one.

With a mighty roar,

and spray of steam,

their whistles farewell did scream.

Final line up (1500x636)

Final line up (1500×636)

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McLaren 6" showmans engine "Goliath"

McLaren 6″ showmans engine “Goliath”

Fowler "Lord Doverdale" (1917)

Fowler “Lord Doverdale” (1917)

Ruston Proctor 6" scale

Ruston Proctor 6″ scale

Marshall No 28922.  “Alderman”

   
Wm Foster & Co. "Pride of Freystrop"

Wm Foster & Co.

“Pride of Freystrop”

Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies. "Velfrey Queen"

Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies.

“Velfrey Queen”

The Burrell "Herbert's Galloping Horses on tour"

The Burrell “Herbert’s Galloping Horses on tour”

Garrett No 34085

“Baroness”

   
McLaren 1332 "Gigantic"

McLaren 1332 “Gigantic”

Garrett 4" model "Muriel"

Garrett 4″ model “Muriel”

   
Burrell Road Locomotive "Duke of Kent"

Burrell Road Locomotive

“Duke of Kent”

Aveling & Porter 10072 "Achilles"

Aveling & Porter 10072

“Achilles”

Burrell 3" "Gladwys"

Burrell 3″ “Gladwys”

Garrett 6" "Claire"

Garrett 6″ “Claire”

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 31/07/2016. Bad poetry by DR Walker.

Updated: 14/12/2016 — 20:07

Welland Steam and Country Rally (Cars and Trucks)

 [ First Page ] [ Military Vehicles ] [ Cars and Trucks ] [ Traction Engines ] [ Odds and Sods

In this section I will deal mainly with Vintage cars and trucks. There were a lot of both and it never ceases to amaze me how many vintage vehicles there are on the roads in the UK, and how many used to be quite common on the roads in South Africa.  It is difficult to decide which to include and which to exclude though because they are all really a record of the past and their owners do lavish a lot of time and effort on them. I am relying heavily on the programme to ID most of these vehicles. Vintage commercial vehicles may be found after the car images.

Vintage and Classic Cars.

Citroen DS29 saloon

Citroen DS29 saloon

Vanden Plas Princess 1300

Vanden Plas Princess 1300 (1970)

A pair of Zodiacs

A pair of Zodiacs

Steam powered Lykamobile

Steam powered Lykamobile

1931 Jowett Shooting Brake

1931 Jowett Shooting Brake

Austin 7 Ruby Saloon (1935)

Austin 7 Ruby Saloon (1935)

De Dion Bouton Type AM open drive (1906)

De Dion Bouton Type AM (1906)

Morgan 3 wheeler Aero (1927)

Morgan 3 wheeler Aero (1927)

Berkeley T60 3 wheeler (1960)

Berkeley T60 3 wheeler (1960)

BMW Isetta (1959)

BMW Isetta (1959)

Vauxhall Viva (1966)

Vauxhall Viva (1966)

Riley 1 RME Saloon (1952)

Riley 1½ litre RME Saloon (1952)

Ford Zodiac

Ford Zodiac (1964)

Ford Capri 3000 (1971)

Ford Capri 3000 (1971)

Ford Escort 1200 (1974)

Ford Escort 1200 (1974)

Morris Minor 100 Traveller 1968

Morris Minor 100 Traveller (1968)

Austin 7 Special Sports. (1936)

Austin 7 Special Sports. (1936)

Chev Nomad Estate (1957)

Chev Nomad Estate (1957)

VW Beetle (1973)

VW Beetle (1973)

Ford Cortina 1500 (1966)

Ford Cortina 1500 (1966)

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Vintage and Classic Commercial Vehicles.

Bedford Dormobile 1958

Bedford Dormobile 1958

Ford Thames Trader (1964)

Ford Thames Trader (1964)

Austin FGK 100 Dropside van 1966

Austin FGK 100 Dropside van (1966)

Bedford TK Flatbed truck (1976)

Bedford TK Flatbed truck (1976)

Austin A35 Van (1967)

Austin A35 Van (1967)

Ford Transit Dropside Van (1970)

Ford Transit Dropside Van (1970)

Bullnose Bedford (1955)

Bullnose Bedford (1955)

Ford F1 Pickup Truck (1951)

Ford F1 Pickup Truck (1951)

Volvo Plaxton Supreme Coach (1979)

Volvo Plaxton Supreme Coach (1979)

Bedford CA Van (1969)

Bedford CA Van (1969)

Bedford O Type Tipper (1947)

Bedford O Type Tipper (1947)

ERF Flatbed Truck (1971)

ERF Flatbed Truck (1971)

ERF Showman's Box Van (1945)

ERF Showman’s Box Van (1945)

Scammell Ballast Box Tractor (1962)

Scammell Ballast Box Tractor (1962)

Foden DG6/15 Flatbed Truck (1946)

Foden DG6/15 Flatbed Truck (1946)

Scammell Explorer Recovery Truck (1955)

Scammell Explorer Recovery Truck (1955)

Scammell Mechanical Horse Artic (1936)

Scammell Mechanical Horse Artic (1936)

Commer Karrier Dustcart (1974)

Commer Karrier Dustcart (1974)

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 31/07/2016

Updated: 14/12/2016 — 20:07

Welland Steam and Country Rally (Military Vehicles)

[ First page ] [ Military Vehicles ] [ Cars and Trucks ] [ Traction Engines ] [ Odds and Sods

The Military Vehicles really interested me because of my own time in the military and of course a general interest in things military. As mentioned, most of the equipment on display was of American origin, with a smattering of other nationals equipment.

The tracked vehicles really stole the show, and one vehicle in particular was really impressive. I had never seen (or heard of) a M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer before, but be rest assured I know about them now! 

This vehicle would show its paces in the arena a bit later and it was astounding! Capable of 80 km/h they could probably run rings around most tanks on level ground. The 76mm was not the perfect weapon, but in the hands of a skilled crew could cause havoc. 

Tank number 2 was not American, but rather a PzKpfw 38(t) from 1943, originally built by Skoda of Czechoslovakia. This vehicle is currently under preservation and this was probably the first time it has been under it’s own power in 60 years.  

She was not much to see in the arena though, and I suspect the Hellcat would have run rings around it.

The next tracked vehicle of interest was what I think is an LVT (Landing Vehicle tracked), also known as an “Amtrak”. She too was fast, and really churned up the grass behind her.

The other interesting tracked vehicle my guide identifies as an Alvis 432, and it is a British Army AFV

Of course there were two American half tracks on the move and they too were quick on their feet, wheels and tracks…  My personal favourite was there too, with its quad 50 cal Brownings.

I had seen this beauty before at the GWR military themed day in April

On display was a Daimler Dingo Armoured Scout Car. Surprisingly small it was incredibly agile and an extremely popular vehicle.

It is however quite strange in that the transmission included a preselector gearbox and that gave five speeds in both directions, it was also fitted with a four-wheel steering system and had a tight turning circle of 7.0 m. Personally I find it confusing as to which end is the front (the image above shows the rear of the vehicle).

The closest equivalent at the fair was probably the ubiquitous Jeep of which there were many variants on display. My personal favourite mounted a 50 cal Browning, but then you can cure many things with a 50 cal. 

Standing out amongst the drab was an SAS Land Rover long range desert patrol vehicle from 1968. Known as “Pinkies” for their Mountbatten Pink camo, this particular vehicle saw service in Oman in with the SAS from 1969-1974.

Now compare that to this overloaded mountain of kit on wheels.

I missed the information sheet for this one, but the entry number lists it as Land Rover Dinkie from 1986.  Judging by the amount of kit it is festooned with it is probably a modern equivalent of the Pinkie. Somewhere in there is the driver and passenger.

There was another nice vehicle on display that I really liked, but unfortunately I am unable to identify it as I cannot see it’s entrant number 

Number 96 was an Austin Tourer from 1929, and I suspect this must have been used as a military runabout inside a base. I can’t quite picture it in the heat of battle. It is however a wonderful little vehicle.

As mentioned before, there were a lot of Jeeps on display, and this fitted in very well with my interest in trains. 

The vehicle carrying the drain pipe originated in Sweden and is a Volvo TGB IIII, and the drainpipe with its elevating mechanism is seen in the stowed position, there is even a cutout for the weapon in the windscreen.

The weapon is a 90mm recoilless rifle, although I doubt whether this is the the real thing and is probably a replica.  I hope the whole package was more reliable than the 106mm recoilless rifles we had in the SADF that were mounted on Jeeps. 

Number 97 is a GMC 353, also known as a “Deuce and a half”.

There are many variations of this truck, and a number were on display at the fair. Workhorses like these are what kept the Allies supplied in the Second World War, and many would be very useful in the post war economies of Europe and America. 

The oldie below with the twin Bren mount is a Humber 1 ton cargo pickup, and was originally an ex RME signals repair truck.  

In the background is a flatnose Bedford which I also encountered in the South African Defence Force in 1 SAI in Bloemfontein.

That more or less covers the more memorable vehicles in the military equipment line up, although I am going to add many more into the Random Pics gallery below. Where I can identify a vehicle I will add in the description.  According to the programme there were theoretically 113 military vehicles there. No wonder I came away with so many pics.

[ First page ] [ Military Vehicles ] [ Cars and Trucks ] [ Traction Engines ] [ Odds and Sods ]

Random Images.

Bullnose Bedford RL (1966)

Dodge WC38 (1940)

Dodge WC38 (1940)

 
VW Kubelwagen

VW TYP82 (1943)

 
Dodge WC52 (1942)

Dodge WC52 (1942)

 
Norton Combination 1939

Norton Combination 1939

 
Thorneycroft Nubian 1944

Thorneycroft Nubian 1944

   
 
Auto Union Munga (1964)

Auto Union Munga (1964)

 
Half-track

Half-track

 
Chevrolet G506 Tipper

Chevrolet G506 Tipper

 
Scammell Explorer (1953)

Scammell Explorer (1953)

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 31/07/2016

Updated: 14/12/2016 — 20:08

London 2016 (the first half)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow (8 June 2016)

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

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

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

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

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

as well as Kensal Green (All Souls) Cemetery

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

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

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

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

 

Admiral of the Fleet John Rushworth Jellicoe,

Admiral of the Fleet John Jellicoe

Admiral of the Fleet David Richard Beatty

Admiral of the Fleet David Beatty

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

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

Cleopatra’s Needle

Embankment Station

Embankment Station

Zimbabwe House

Zimbabwe House

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

Please note that the opinions in this update are strictly my own.
Trust me, the interior of the cathedral is truly magnificent, photographs will not go anywhere near doing it justice. It is huge, the amount of artwork and sculptures in it is staggering, and the lofty heights of the dome seem to reach into the stars. It is a stunning building, however, I did not find it a friendly building, if anything I felt as if I was intruding on some much greater work and was not really worthy of being in there (possibly that was the intention?). The crypt was out of this world, but it felt cold and clinical, almost too perfect. This seemed more like a space where you crept silently along clutching your hat with eyes downcast. The tombs inside it are awe inspiring, but I found it hard to reconcile some of the words I read on some of the tombs with the history of those buried there.
 
 
It was really the sort of building where you could spend a whole day and come away feeling drained and I do not want to know how you would feel if you attended a service there. I did find the staff somewhat abrupt, especially the woman in the whispering gallery and again I felt as if I was intruding in a personal empire of the staff. I did not stick around very long, although it started bucketing down shortly after I went inside.
 
I have visited quite a few cathedrals since I first saw St Paul’s, and they felt just that much more comfortable and accessible. I did not feel the same way in St Paul’s. Sir Christopher Wren created a fantastic building, and I wonder what he would have said had he seen it today. Make no mistake, it is probably the most stunning cathedral I have ever seen, but it will never be my favourite.
 
Having seen St Paul’s I now headed towards the Thames, trying to come out somewhere near London Bridge,  naturally I ended up at Bank tube station again, and promptly got lost! I do not know why I always get lost in that area.
 
But I eventually I reached where I wanted to be to take my last pics of the RMS. 
 
 
It was time to go back to the hotel via Tower Hill and have a shower and a rest. I was bushed. My jeans had dried out but my shoes were still kind of squelchy from the morning in Kensal Green
 
 
© DRW 2016-2017. Created 10/06/2016 
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:13

London 2016 (the second half)

Continued where we left off in the first half.

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow (09/06/2016)

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

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

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

The Albert Memorial

The Albert Memorial

The Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall

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

Royal Geographic Society

Royal Geographic Society

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

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

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

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

Even I had to admit that I was impressed.

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

But first…

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

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

The Science Museum

The Science Museum

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

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

 science1314  

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

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

Reality time had come once again.

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 10/06/2016

Updated: 25/03/2017 — 07:28
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