musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Gloucestershire

Victoria Gardens and the flood aftermath

This morning there were balloons in the air and I missed it!  The best I could do was this solitary balloon about to be attacked by a large bird. 

Later I went for a walk, hoping to find a suitable spot to launch my Pretoria Castle from, and did some looking to see whether the flood waters had subsided. This is the view from King John Bridge towards the Avon Locks and the Healings Mill in the background on the right.

and downstream on Shakespear’s Avon Way

Last weekend while photographing the flood it struck me that I had never done a photo essay about the Victoria Gardens. I was unable to do so at the time because of the flood waters, but this morning went walkies in that area to see whether the water had resided and how things looked in the area.

By today the water level had dropped dramatically and the gardens and mill were once more accessible. It was also possible to cross the river at the bridge by the mill. This is what it looks like from the bridge looking across to the mill.

and upstream towards town.

and downstream from the bridge. This high pond is really a sluice gate and somewhere I have an information sheet about it and seem to recall it is called a “Fish Belly Sluice”. Naturally I cannot find it at this moment to confirm what I remember. The garden is the tree-ed area on the left.

There are three entrances to the gardens, the one being from the area at the mill as in the first image, and the other two are in Gloucester Road. 

The Victoria Pleasure Gardens were created by public subscription to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. They were popular with the Edwardians and in 1910 a bandstand was installed which was in regular use till the 1950’s. The gardens were badly affected by the 2007 floods in the town and as can be seen winter flooding can inundate it. The garden is now taken care of as a result of collaboration between local councils and a volunteer group, “Friends of the Victoria Pleasure Gardens”.  The arches in Gloucester Road are signposted as having been erected to celebrate the diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2012 as well as Queen Victoria in 1897.

And to think that a week ago all of this was under water. 

On my way home I popped into the very famous Abbey Tea Rooms in Church Street. I have been wanting to go in there in ages but have never done so. It is a riot of nostalgia and all things eclectic and to be honest I think you would spend hours just looking around and still never seeing everything. .

My mother would have blown a blood vessel had she seen all of that, and then would have thrown it all away in a frenzy of cleaning. Fortunately the people there are much more far sighted than she is.

I can also recommend the food, and I may have to return because I have so much more to look at, but there is so little time and space.

And that was my day. Tewkesbury is busy hanging out the banners for the upcoming Medieval Festival in July, so soon I shall be posting some of those. But till then this sneak peak will have to suffice.

DRW © 2019. Created 22/06/2019

Updated: 24/06/2019 — 19:08

Not the Steam Festival we were looking for

Today (22 June) was supposed to be the Model Steam Rally held by the  – Model Steam Road Vehicle Society (MSRVS). Unfortunately a group of “travellers” descended on the town and were flooded out of their camp site. They then moved to higher ground and the area where the rally was to take place was vandalised, forcing the cancellation of the rally. I missed the rally last year as I was elsewhere, and was really looking forward to it this year. 

However, I decided to hold my own photo essay based on images that I took in 2016 and 2017, after all I do not get too many opportunities to see live steam in action.  The steamer are not full size replicas, but half, quarter and smaller replicas and have all the charm of the real thing but without the need for heavy workshop and a crane. 

There are not too many cars on display at the event, but they are fun to see, and I have to admit I have my favourites.​

That blue Zephyr is really a blast from my past.

There is also a nice variety of bric-a-brac for sale at the sale tables, and of course a chance to acquire a handy new hammer (or two). I always used to argue with one of my work colleagues about how hammers are so important that there are at least 2 songs about them!

I am not sure whether there is a song about scales though.

One of the exhibitors had a really complicated small town on display along with the associated vehicles and people. It was really fascinating because there was so much small detail.  

This is only a small part of the exhibit though. It was very difficult to photograph because of the angles and compactness of the display.  Small replica steam engines and trains are really amazing pieces of engineering in their own right, and a number of them were on display.​

However, we were probably all here to see the steam engines, and this is a collection of images from the three events that I attended. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed seeing them. Maybe next year we will be luckier.

Special thanks to all those who put in so much effort into keeping this hobby alive.

 

DRW © 2019. Images are from 2015.2016 and 2017. Created 22/06/2019

Updated: 22/06/2019 — 07:17

Not floodey likely

This has been an odd week weatherwise. One of those nasty storms has hit the UK bringing widespread rain and floods. Unfortunately Tewkesbury has a reputation for floods and frankly I was concerned. On Thursday a flood warning was issued for the town:

I live right on top of the Carrant Brook and it tends to rise and fall dependent on a number of factors, and when I moved into my current flat in 2015 the brook flooded and consequently flooded the field outside. 

The flood warnings were pretty grim, especially for what is known as “the Severn Ham” aka “Tewkesbury Ham” aka “The Ham”, and the area between the Mill Avon and the Severn. You can see that area in the image below between the two rivers on the left.

However, if the Avon floods it tends to back up the Carrant brook which then floods the area where I stay and in 2007 my flat was under a metre of water. Consequently I was concerned because the rain that was falling in Wales would eventually make its way downstream and that would affect the Avon/Severn and possibly me. The long and the short of it is that I stayed at home on Friday, my bag packed and my eye on the field outside. Fortunately it never came to an evacuation situation, although next week more rain is forecast. 

This morning has been cold and overcast/sunny/windy and everything inbetween and I decided to head down to the Ham and have a look at the levels in this area. 

I took the following image on Friday morning looking towards the Avon lock. Normally it looks like this:

But on Friday it looked like this:

The cream building on the right hand side of the image is interesting because it has a high water mark on it from the floods in 2007.

The sign is also quite interesting:

This morning I crossed the bridge over the Mill Avon and took the following two images:

Looking downsteam towards the Abbey

Upstream towards the locks. The derelict Healings Mill is on the left

Healings Mill in 2008 when the rivers were flooding

I then walked along the pathway towards the Ham. There was standing water in a large portion of it and the lower bridge at the other mill was impassable.

The Ham looking towards the waterworks (1500 x 679)

There are two mills on this stretch of water. Healings Mill is derelict and abandoned but cannot be demolished because it is a listed building. That closed in 2006 and is now home to thousands of pigeons and other birds. I suspect they are hoping it will fall down on its own although I believe there are plans to convert it into yuppie pads.

Downstream from Healings is the old Abbey Mill which closed in 1921, it is now apartments and that was where I was heading. I have explored around this area when the water level was lower.

Just next to the building is the Victoria Gardens  and it too is under water:

I was not able to photograph the other side of the mill as I left my wellis at home but these images below were taken in April 2016 from the Victoria Gardens.

Actually the area around the mill is very pretty and I should really go explore around there when the water subsides and we get some summer again. Hopefully normality will creep into our weather and the levels will drop so that I can rest easy again. Unfortunately I get antsy when it rains and when you consider how quickly a town can be inundated you can see why. Things at the moment are not as bad as they were in 2007 and I have seen the field behind where I live much deeper under water than it is now, but it doesn’t take much to tip that balance. Maybe its time to invest in that boat I have always wanted. 

Random images.

DRW © 2019. Created 16/06/2019

Updated: 16/06/2019 — 13:24

Scalex Pretoria Castle

It is about time I posted about my newest toy boat. I mentioned her briefly on my other toy boat post some months ago,  and in between then and now I have acquired another one, albeit in a poor condition too.  The images below are of my first boat.

The new boat is missing a funnel, masts and some of the lifeboats. The forward bulwark is also broken and that has damaged the foredeck. However, I suspect this ship may be a newer iteration because it does not suffer as much from the warping of the superstructure like the first one does. The funnel and deck in the foreground come from the 2nd boat and it is badly warped so I will remove the deck area and replace it.  The new funnel has been glued but needs more coats of paint.  

So, I have 2 ships that are in need of work, and sailing, although at the moment our weather is as such that there is a lot of water but no way to access it (that may change as flood warnings are in force for Tewkesbury as of today).

This is the clockwork motor (prop shaft leads off to the right), and is wound though the shaft in the centre of the image which comes up into the funnel. 

You can see a slight colour difference in the 2 ships below, which really supports my theory that the one may be much older. 

I may just repaint one of them in UC colours and leave the other in an assembled stated but unpainted. It’s a lot of hull to paint and I do not feel up to doing it. So, at this moment this is where I am at. Once I get some sun I will take more pics. but till then I will continue to work on them both. I will be honest, I really like this pair, they may be somewhat out of scale and warped and generally quite tatty, but they are wonderfully quirky models and I would have loved to have had one as a child. I believe that they were available in SA, but apart from that information know nothing further. 

Alongside a 1/1250 Albatros model of the Pretoria Castle

The real ship looked like this:

The big flood never happened thankfully, although I did get to try out my new ship in the flooded field where I live. Unfortunately the water was full of grass clippings and they kept jamming the prop. It was also very difficult trying to juggle the ship, camera, string and myself so I gave up quite quickly.

And there you have it, a pair of interesting models from a different era. The real Pretoria Castle was acquired by Safmarine and entered service as SA Oranje in 1966 and she went to the breakers in 1975. The models date from either the 1950’s or mid 1960’s. They are almost as old as I am. 

Pretoria Castle box art

DRW © 2019. Created 13/06/2019

Updated: 22/06/2019 — 05:59

No milk today

When I was young (last century some time ago) fresh milk or orange juice was delivered in bottles to our houses.  You left your empty bottle on the gatepost or at your door with coupons inside it and voilà, a milk float or truck would come along and exchange it for a new bottle. The milk would have a layer of cream on it it and the juice was not made with apples! Our local dairy was NCD (National Co-Operative Dairies?) and their HQ was somewhere near where we lived. 

Like everything else the prices kept on rising’ forcing people to buy less milk which meant less profits which meant higher prices ad nauseum. At some point milk deliveries stopped and we then started to buy our milk at the supermarket, although when we lived in one area there used to be a depot where you could buy milk too. 

When I arrived in the UK in 2013 I was surprised to see that you could get milk delivered in bottles to where you lived, although it does not seem to be in all cities. Which is what brings me to the real object of this post which is: milk floats. These strange electric vehicles are quite rare nowadays but you do see them occasionally, and of course being electric you do not hear them coming although the rattle of milk bottles is a dead give-away. 

Where I live is a dairy, and they operated milk floats for a number of years, and in 2018 they had two of them on display at the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival.

I have never seen the bottom one around town so I don’t know whether it is in service or not, after all, like so many others I get my milk at the local supermarket, although it must have been quite a surprise to have something like the bike below on the milk run.

Unfortunately the milk float is quite a rare beastie, and they were probably amongst the more common electric vehicles around way back then, although the float probably carried its own weight in batteries and I doubt whether the mileage was very high, but given the stop-start nature of its service they probably made more sense than a conventional petrol or diesel engined vehicle.

Where did they all go to? there is a scrap one up the road from where I stay, and it has never been in a position where I could get a decent pic of it, until recently.



I cannot put a date to when this float was in service, but you can bet it was a long time ago. I hope that they restore this oldie and put it in a museum; after all these are almost extinct, just like the glass milk bottle and the fresh orange juice of my childhood.

DRW © 2019. Created 22/05/2019

Updated: 08/06/2019 — 20:52

Armour in the Abbey

The “Armour” referred to in this post is not of the tracked vehicle type, but rather it is about men with swords, helmets and armour, (not too be confused with the Knights who say Ni!). This is the first time I have heard of the event but it is possible that it was held on previous years but I never went to it. At any rate, more information may be had at http://www.tewkesburymedievaltown.uk/tewkesbury-armour-in-the-abbey/index.htm.

I went on the first day of the event (Sunday) but it is also open tomorrow on the bank holiday and I expect it will be much busier then. Every year Tewkesbury holds a Medieval Festival so I have seen some of this stuff before, but it is always nice to go out and see the people who really put so much into events like this. Unfortunately there was not much to see, but it was interesting nevertheless.  The event was held in the Abbey Garden, and entrance was through the original Medieval Gate.  

The image above dates from 2015 and it was one of the rare instances of being able to photograph the gate without stacks of cars parked in front of it. I did visit the interior of the building some time in 2018 but did not post the images of it. The weather was not as sunny on this day, it was overcast and not too warm either. 

Inside the area were a few tents set up and a small roped off arena and lots of people in shining armour. There was also a canon….  I had seen this beauty at the festival in 2017, and the gun is called “Belle” and was being operated by “the Kynges Ordynaunce”.

Apparently the wheels of the carriage are the really the hardest to manufacture and not the gun (which was made in Holland). 

I looked around a bit more, hoping for some definitive shots that could convey what some of the items looked like. It is however quite strange to see the mingling of re-enactors in costume talking to people in 2019 civvies, or to spot a knight making a call on his cellphone.  There were period tents set up around a roped off space and this was where some of the action was going to happen.

(1500 x 573)

I believe this was the King’s tent, but I didn’t ask just in case he roped me in on his side. I am strictly neutral in these matters and don’t take sides. This year will see the 548th Anniversary of the Battle of Tewkesbury which will be celebrated on Monday (while we are all at work!)

There was also a very impressive horse having a snack to one side. He was also here to be made used to the loud bangs that the canon would make; very important if he is to be used in a makeshift battle.

Off to one side was another roped off arena where they were having a demonstration on the famous Longbow that the English archers were so effective with.

I believe a well trained archer could fire off 7 arrows a minute, whereas a combatant armed with a primitive firearm could take as long as a minute to reload his muzzle loading weapon. 

I am sure the combatants that had to wear the armour were glad that it was not a terribly hot day, or that the sun was warming the metal hot enough to fry eggs off.

The canon was trundled across to where the archers were and set up. One of the red coated gun crew then explained a bit about the weapon and the advantages and disadvantages of the early canon. This particular weapon is a muzzle loader, and the well drilled team soon had it ready to fire. I do have video of the gun firing and will upload it to my Youtube channel at some point. 

It is quite loud though and there were a few spooked children walking around with their hands over their ears.  

Then it was back to the other roped off area where there was a melee between two armoured men. 

The dude in blue won that one.

And then there was a four way melee, one of the occupants being “The King” (accompanied by shouts of “The YORK”). This one was quite quite hectic and the King bore the brunt of the attacks. 

It was all in good fun though, but was evidently hard work as the combatants were drenched by the time all was done and dusted. 

It was time for me to make tracks as I didn’t have much more to see. The more interesting events would be happening tomorrow much to my dismay. The Medieval Festival for 2019 happens on the 13th and 14 of July, and that could be worth attending. Until then here are some random images. Special thanks must go to those who took the time and effort to put on this small glimpse into the past.

DRW © 2019. Created 05/05/2019

Updated: 06/05/2019 — 16:25

Spring has sprung

Yep, it’s true, Spring has arrived, or should I say sunny days arrived for this Easter weekend; which made a nice change from the often overcast and gloomy weather that we seemed to have had since I got back from South Africa. My weather app says it is 22 degrees outside and will it remain like that till Tuesday.  However, it better not turn ugly again because I have plans for Saturday! Anyway, I digress because this post is just one of those springy thingys that came about because I went for a walk this morning. I have not been very active this past month because I was battling sinus, but finally feel much better. Enjoy the pics, they were taken with my celery phone so quality could be variable.

Miss Emily also made a rare appearance in her all new ice cream dress, hat and sandals. She does look snazzy too. Although I did remind her that soon it will be Back to School….

And that was/is Spring for now. Unfortunately my 4 day holiday turned out to be only 2 days long because of work. The extra money will come in handy but it wont be used to buy ice cream with.

DRW © 2019. Created 21/04/2019

Updated: 21/04/2019 — 13:24

By the time you read this

I am technically back in South Africa for a quick visit. My journey really started early on the morning of the 22nd, travelling from Ashchurch to Cheltenham and then onwards to Paddington Station and finally Heathrow for my overnight flight.

My mother took a bad turn last December and I decided then that I needed to go down to see her, although having enough leave and being able to get a slot to take it was difficult. I was also tied in by the date for Brexit, and will rather be back in the UK before it happens. Ideally I wanted to do this trip in March or April but beggars cannot be choosers.

So, if things get quieter for 2 weeks you will know why. I will catch up when I get back after the 7th.

Hang in there, keep calm and don’t panic!

Updated: 24/03/2019 — 13:58

Now that was quick snow

This past week has been like a giant countdown to the end of the world, or heavy snow depending on what you read. I was working the afternoon shift and Tuesday’s weather forecast was for heavy snow on Thursday evening. I don’t ride my bicycle when it snows or freezes so I could foresee somewhat of a problem with getting home after midnight. Fortunately the forecast was adjusted to light snow for our area, although other parts of the UK were hit by heavy snowfalls. 

This morning it was white outside again, although not as white as it had been in March last year, and because of the times I was working I more or less missed it. These are some of the pics I managed to take on my way to work. It was relatively dark and I used my phone to take them. 

While I was resizing the image above I could not help being struck by how much that looks like a trench during Winter. All that was missing was barbed wire and gunfire.

 

By home time this afternoon there was no sign of snow. Miss Emily is not amused!

DRW © 2019. Created 01/02/2019

Updated: 17/02/2019 — 08:21

Ancient lights and ancient alleys

Tewkesbury is a very old and somewhat quirky place, and I have spotted quite a few things that have left me rooting around for answers. This post is really about a sign that I saw on the back of a building over an alley…..​

My first thoughts were “What a cool name for a building.” However, there is more to this than meets the eye, and I discovered that by accident while reading a post on Atlasobscura

In short the “Right to light is a form of easement in English law that gives a long-standing owner of a building with windows a right to maintain the level of illumination. It is based on the Ancient Lights law..

In effect, the owner of a building with windows that have received natural daylight for 20 years or more is entitled to forbid any construction or other obstruction that would deprive him or her of that illumination. Neighbours cannot build anything that would block the light without permission. The owner may build more or larger windows but cannot enlarge their new windows before the new period of 20 years has expired.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_light)

The area above straddles what is known as Eagle’s Alley; one of the many alleys and courts that exist in the town. From the front the entrance may be seen between Parsons and The Card Rack but whether the two buildings are connected by that short length of brickwork and a passage  I cannot say. 

Now that I have shed some light on Ancient Lights and alleys I may as well cover a few other places while I am about it.  Unfortunately there is not a lot to see in the alleys and courts and they do not make for interesting photography.

The High Street entrance to Warder’s Alley has a large map on it that shows the many courts and alleys that are in the town, but it is awkward to photograph. It was created by E. Guilding in 2017.

Wall’s Court

Lilley’s Alley

Clark’s Alley

Old Baptist Chapel Court

This is where the old Baptist Chapel Graveyard is.

Wall’s Court

Ancilles Court

Fletcher’s Alley

I will probably add more to this post as I find more of the pics I have taken of these passages, some are really fascinating, but cataloguing them is a different kettle of fish. In fact, I think I will leave this notice for now because who knows what else I will uncover as I start hunting them down.

DRW © 2019. Created 27/01/2019, added nore images 03/02/2019

Updated: 17/02/2019 — 08:21
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