musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Hobbies and Interests

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

Retrospectively Wading through Weymouth

This is another retrospective blogpost that I should have done way back in 2013, on returning from Weymouth for a job interview. The exif data puts the images at 19 June 2013.

Weymouth is a seaside town in Dorset, and I was hoping to really see what the Brits were like when they were on their summer hols.  I on the other hand was burdened with a tie and my usual interview gear so could not get dirty or sweat stained, and I would have to make sure that I was on time for the interview. I even left my bucket and spade at home!

91500×498) I do like to be beside the seaside…

I also could not dally too long either as I had a train to catch back to Southampton.

The station was close to the beach, but I do recall stopping at a taxi service to get a business card just in case I needed to get a taxi in a hurry.  Because it is a seaside town most of what I saw was centered around the beachfront, although I did make an excursion into the industrial area. Naturally war memorials were priorities to photograph, and any big ships too although Weymouth Harbour is really geared towards the fishing, pleasure craft and tourism industry. 

It was not too crowded either, although that could be because I had arrived while everybody was having breakfast. ​I hoped that the much loved seaside landlady trope had not been perpetuated into our new century and I am sure many of the beachside “boarding houses” had been where so many of the typical seaside holiday stories had been written. 

   

There were three War Memorials of note along this stretch of beachfront. The first was an ANZAC memorial for the First World War, I covered this memorial in allatsea

In the image above you can see the town War Memorial with a poppy field between them.  It commemorated “The Citizens of the Borough who made the Supreme Sacrifice during the Second World War”. It also lists those lost during World War 1.  (allatsea link)

Weymouth, being a port city was also defended by Fort Nothe which is situated at the end of the Nothe Peninsula on at the entrance to the harbour. I would have liked to have had a close look at it but did not have the time to do so.

 

This side of the harbour mouth was the home of one of those strange towers with a rotating doughnut on it, although it was not in operation by the looks of it. There was construction work going on in that area so I could not really see what I wanted to. You can see the tower sticking out in the image below.

King George III was a frequent visitor to the town and he has a statue in it.

The king used to take a dip there because he had been advised to bathe in seawater to help with his Porphyria.  Unlike today one did not just leap into the sea, and the much talked about “bathing machine” was taken out into the water, whereupon the person could have his paddle in private.  Huzzah! they even have a bathing machine on display.

Staying with our beach theme, my experience of going to the seaside as a child was probably very different to that of a child in England, and there were some activities that we did not seem to have in common during my era. The first being the Punch ‘n Judy show:

Although I suspect Mr Punch has been sanitised and made more politically correct, and of course the seaside donkey ride. 

Donkeys at the seaside in Weymouth

It was quite a strange feeling walking along this beachfront because so many odd memories kept on popping up and I had to resist the temptation to roll up me trouser legs, tied a knotted handkerchief around my head and go for a paddle in the sea.  I now headed for the harbour as time was marching and the harbour was a good place to navigate from. A lifting bascule bridge joins the two sides of the harbour and allows access to the inner harbour.

I stopped at the church that you can see on the left and came away with one very poignant image. It is quite odd to think that he really lives on in this church while his “schoolfellows and friends” have all been lost to memory.

Shortly after my harbour visit I headed off to my interview in the industrial area. It was not a long walk, but it was becoming quite a hot day and I longed to dispose of that tie. I did not get the job though, and I suspect I was much too under qualified anyway. On my way back I paused at the local cemetery and church before arriving back in town.  I had time to kill so headed off along the Esplanade. There was a church in the distance that I wanted to have a look at.

(1500×503) A church in the distance…

The esplanade is composed of converted Georgian terraces that serve as flats, shops, hotels and guest houses. Many were built between 1770 and 1855 and they  form a long, continuous arc of buildings which face Weymouth Bay.

This iteration of the Royal Hotel hotel was opened in 1899 and is a Grade II listed building. During World War 2 it was requisitioned for use as the local headquarters of the United States military.

The Memorial in front of the building serves as a reminder of the part Weymouth played in the invasion of Normandie.

 The inscription reads:

IN MEMORY OF AMERICAN SERVICEMEN 1939-1945. 1944-1945. 

THE MAJOR PART OF THE AMERICAN ASSAULT FORCE WHICH

 LANDED ON THE SHORES OF FRANCE 6 JUNE 1944 WAS LAUNCHED

FROM WEYMOUTH AND PORTLAND HARBORS. FROM 6 JUNE 1944 TO 7 MAY 1945, 517,816 TROOPS AND 144,093 VEHICLES EMBARKED 

FROM THE HARBORS. MANY OF THE TROOPS LEFT FROM WEYMOUTH PIER. THE REMAINDER OF THE TROOPS AND ALL THE VEHICLES PASSED THROUGH/ WEYMOUTH EN ROUTE TO PORTLAND POINTS OF EMBARKATION.

PRESENTED BY THE 14TH MAJOR PORT, U.S. ARMY. (Added JUNE 1999:) 

There is also an a reminder of the tragedy that befell man who were being trained for the assault at Lyme Bay:

28 APRIL 1944
LYME BAY
749 DIED DURING D-DAY 
TRAINING EXERCISE ‘TIGER’
WHEN A CONVOY OF LSTS WAS ATTACKED BY E-BOATS
OFF PORTLAND
24 DECEMBER 1944.

The other landmark in this area is the Jubilee Clock Tower, built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 50 years of reign in 1887. 

My destination was in sight, although still quite a walk away. If only I had my bicycle back then. 

I suppose I could have caught “the train”

Or hired a boat

Make no mistake, the sea was flat calm out there, and you would be able to wade out quite far too. In the bay was a sailing ship and I was able to zoom into her and later identified her as the 1971 built  TS Royalist.

and then finally I was approaching St John’s Church.

The church stands out for me as it had what was probably the scariest angel I have ever seen on a church building.

And then it was time to turn around and head for the station. 

The exif data says the image below was taken at 17H39, but that could be when I uploaded them. At any rate, my train is here, its time to go.

My trip to Weymouth would not be complete without random images…

(1500×423)

DRW 2013-2018. Retrospectively created 11/08/2018

Updated: 24/08/2018 — 05:35

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. 

forwardbut

DRW © 2018. Created 04/08/2018

Updated: 24/08/2018 — 05:36

Wallace and Gromit in Bristol

From July 2nd until September 2nd, 67 sculptures of Nick Park’s Academy Award®-winning characters Wallace, Gromit and Feathers McGraw were scheduled to hit the streets of Bristol and the surrounding area to raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital. (The images are in the order that I found them)

Once again I ended up making detours to grab pics of the large statues that were often festooned with fans of the Aardman characters. The giant sculptures are designed by high-profile artists, designers, innovators and local talent. Unfortunately I will never get to photograph them all, but its worth showing what I did get (10 out of 67).

(5) Stellar. Designed by Laura Hallett (Park Street)

(6) Feathers McGraw. Painted by Emily Ketteringham (Wills Memorial Building)

(15) Wallace. Painted by Emily Ketteringham. (The Cenotaph in Magpie Park)

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

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

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

(19) Gnome Sweet Gnome. Painted by Katie Wallis (College Green)

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

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

(22) Oceans 1: Deep Blue. Designed by the Faculty of Engineering at University of Bristol (We the Curious)

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

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

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

(26) Bristol in Bloom. Designed by Ella Masters. (St Mary Redcliffe)

(28) Gromitronic. Designed by Renishaw (M Shed)

(29) Alex the Lion. Designed by DreamWorks (Museum Square, M Shed)

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

(31) Wallambard. Designed by Tim Miness. (SS Great Britain)

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

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

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

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

(43) Gromit , designed by Nick Park. Location: Temple Quay

(44) Game of Cones. Painted by Rachel Bennett (Bristol Temple Meads Station)

There were two more sculptures that were mobile and more difficult to see, one was on a bus and the other on one of the ferries which I was fortunate enough to photograph when I arrived.

In 2015, while visiting the Clifton Suspension Bridge, I spotted some Shaun The Sheep statues, and they too were on the fund raising trail for the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity. There were 120 of these statues and they were auctioned off for the charity. 

A Sheep’s Eye View. Clifton Observatory

Isambaard (Clifton Suspension Bridge)

Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep are the work of Nick Park and Aardman Animation. 

DRW © 2018. Created 23/07/2018. More images added 04/08/2018

Updated: 05/08/2018 — 06:41

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

Shipshape and Bristol Fashion (1)

For quite some time I have been mulling over a return trip to Bristol, I wanted to go already in 2017 but the weather was just not amiable to a day trip so I kept on putting it off. However, by the time I was planning Liverpool I was already looking at Bristol once again. In 2015 I had been fortunate enough to be there for the Heritage Festival, so ideally I wanted to do the same once again. The closest window being the weekend of 21 and 22 of July 2018. And, just for once I was not going via Arnos Vale Cemetery but was going to strike out North West to find the Cenotaph. I had never really ventured into Bristol so had no real idea of what was out there, but it is an old city so you can bet there were some wonderful old buildings to see. 

The original Bristol Temple Meades Station

I arrived at Bristol Temple Meades station bright and early. It had been touch and go though because the weather forecast had been for clouds and possible rain and I was not feeling very energetic when I woke up at some ungodly hour to get to Ashchurch for Tewkesbury Station. I will skip all that malarky and continue from where I am in Bristol.

There is one of those horrible traffic circles that I needed to navigate across, hoping to find the one branch that is Victoria Street. Unfortunately they were building a road in the middle of the street which threw my navigation off. A similar thing had happened to me when I visited Birmingham in 2015 and I suspect they are still digging and excavating there. 

The correct road selected and I was off… and then had to stop and go have a look at a church. Now I am a sucker for churches and old buildings, and I do love a good set of ruins. This one fitted all the criteria in one space. The space is called Temple Church and Gardens, and the church is really just a shell, and like the church I saw in Liverpool it too was damaged by bombing during the Second World War. After the war they excavated the shell of the building and discovered that the church was originally round. The round church was originally called Holy Cross and it was part of a monastary built here in the 1100’s by the Order of the Knights Templar. Their church was designed to look like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It was enlarged between 1300 and 1450 and lost its original round shape, and became the church that is there today, or should I say the ruins of the church?  

 

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. Unfortunately I never knew about this and the image I took of the tower does show the lean, but it is somewhat corrected by the camera lens. 

The church and a large portion of medieval Bristol was destroyed by a raid that occurred on 24 September 1940. This area was known as “Temple” and in the medieval period it was where cloth workers lived and worked. The Guild of Weavers even had their own chapel at the church.

The churchyard around the church still has graves in it, although their legibility is very poor.  The area is now a well placed leisure space and I doubt whether anybody really knows that they may be strolling through a former churchyard. 

Following this discovery it was time to continue on my way, still in Victoria Street and heading towards The Bristol Bridge across the Avon. 

Looking West (downstream)

Looking East (upstream)

There was another ruined church on the east side of the bridge but I decided to give it a miss on this occasion. If I stopped and detoured all the time I would never get to where I was going.  The green area just after the bridge is called Castle Park, and the next landmark is… a giant pineapple?

Actually the tower sticking out behind the building is the remains of St Mary-le-Port Church which was also destroyed during the bombing of 24 November 1940. The buildings around it were built for Norwich Union (facing the camera) and the Bank of England. Both buildings are apparently empty and have been the subject of a number of contested plans for redevelopment.   I cannot however comment on the pineapple, but it appears to be the work of Duncan McKellar.  

On the left side of the street is St Nicholas Church, and I had to get the shot very quickly because a large mobile crane was coming down the road and it was guaranteed to ruin any further images of the church. Maybe it was going to collect the pineapple?

I was now in High Street heading into Broad Street, and there were a number of places that caught my eye.

Broad Street was surprisingly narrow, and the Grand Hotel was really too big to even get a halfway decent pic of. 

As I descended further I felt almost hemmed in but at the end of the street was an archway that seemingly marked the end of this area. Actually, looking at it from Google Earth (centred around  51.454577°,  -2.594112°) there is a lot to see, and I suspect this is quite an old area too. Definitely worth a return trip one of these days.

Exiting out of the gate I had to turn left into Nelson Street and after a short walk could see the Cenotaph in the distance. This area had an incomplete feel about it and from what I gather had been redone not too long ago. The Cenotaph may be found at  51.454987°,  -2.596391°.

Sadly mankind has not learnt how to live in peace. I have covere the Cenotaph in more detail on allatsea.

The Fourteenth Army 1942-1945. Known as “The Forgotten Army”, they defeated the Japanese Invasion of India in 1944 and liberated Burma in 1945.

I was now moving South West through this paved area, it was very pretty but the fountains were not working which made it look bad.  Even Neptune was looking kind of parched. The day had turned out nice and sunny and it got hotter all the time.

I was now heading South towards a junction on the A38 which was more or less where I needed to be to find my next destination. In the middle of this junction stood the Marriott Hotel, and it was quite an impressive building.

The building on the left was really part of the harbour structure. I could have entered the harbour at that point but my destination was really to the right of the Marriott, so I turned to starboard. 

Queen Victoria was not amused because I needed to go to the right of her into Park Street. Behind her was the triangular shaped “College Green”, with Bristol Cathedral on the left and the City Hall to the right. I covered the Cathedral in a different post, but will mention that it was almost impossible to get the whole building in a pic because of the trees and length of the building and the sun position. The City Hall is quite an impressive structure though and it reminded me of the Royal Crescent in Bath. It too was way too big to get into a  single image.

I had to pass to the right of the building into Park Street and when I emerged I almost died when I saw what a steep hill I was facing.  What is it about Bristol and all these hills anyway?


The tower in the distance is the University of Bristol Wills Memorial Building and construction was started on it in 1915 and it was completed in 1925. The tower is 65,5 metres high, and it is a really beautiful structure and is the 3rd tallest building in Bristol.  Next to the building is the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Having arrived at this point I started to look around in dismay, my memorial was nowhere in sight! I consulted my main map and found that I had made a mistake on the small map I was using, and my memorial was still 3 blocks away! 

And there he is…

“In Memory of the Officers, Non Commissioned Officers
and Men  of the Gloucestershire Regiment,
Who gave their lives for their Sovereign,
and Country in the South African War
1899-1902″

Behind the memorial was another ornate building with a statue of King Edward VII and it was known as “CHOMBEC”, or, Centre for the History of Music in Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth.

While the building below is the  Royal West of England Academy of Art

It was time to turn around and head back down the hill to the Cathedral which was the next stop on my journey. I had achieved all my goals so far with a few bonus discoveries along the way. It was fortunately downhill from here…

I made one detour on my way down, and that was to a building I had seen on the way up. I could not investigate it too closely but it is St George’s Bristol, it was once a church but is now a concert hall.

Had I continued with the road I was on I would have come to the park on Brandon Hill where the Cabot Tower is.

I will add that to my bucket list for a return trip as their is one more Anglo Boer War Memorial I need to research. I photographed the tower at a distance in 2014, although I cannot work out where I took the photograph from. With my luck the tower would be closed on the day I visit.

I was once again at the College Green and the Cathedral was my next stop.  forwardbut

DRW © 2018. Created 21/07/2018

Updated: 26/07/2018 — 19:54

Ye Olde Medieval Festivale 2018

It is difficult to comprehend that a small town like Tewkesbury played such a pivotal role in the history of England so many years ago, and we are reminded of it because we hold the famous Medieval Festival around about this time of year. I do not really enjoy it because it is crowded and slightly crazy and there is a lot to see, but nothing to see. Its that kind of festival. I have attended all of them since I arrived in Tewkesbury in 2015 but did not hang round for the much vaunted “Battle”.  Last  year’s may be view on the relevant page:  2017 Medieval Festival

The build up started a few weeks back when the banners started to appear in Town, and then the posters and finally on a gloriously hot summers day it all came together and the population of Tewkesbury tripled. Make no mistake, this festival is famous amongst re-enactors, history buffs, curious onlookers, young and old. People come from far and wide to trade, drink, fight and wear cool clothing.  Part of the attraction for me has always been people watching although I do not do crowds too well.

I will not even attempt to explain the battle in this post as it’s beyond my stock of knowledge, but the whole shebang takes place in areas where the actual battle occurred. There may even be long forgotten burials in the area where we were today, but I won’t put my head on a block and say that there are.  I have tried to create some sort of semi-coherent account of the battle in another post

Where to begin?

The site is divided into 3 areas, and the image above is where the stores are set up and the playpark and food and concession vendors are laid out. It can get chaotic but there is a wide variety of bits and bobs available so it is very popular. Although at times it is strange to bump into a knight or ye ladye browsing the edged weapons or waffling away on their cellphone.  Actually the best time to explore this area is when the battle is occurring. It is much quieter. 

It is also a popular time when many alternative lifestylers come out of the woodwork and don their finest, and there were a number of really amazing costumes out there. 

This is just a small selection, and everyone of those who I photographed were amazing. Thank you. Incidentally, “The Green Man” is a regular at these events and seems to have an aura all of his own.

This is the same area at roughly 16H45 and the battle was raging in the field close by.

The field where the battle was happening is literally just over Upper Lode Lane (which connects to the Lower Lode Inn and Upper Lode Locks)

The battlefield is a large space surrounded on 3 sides by the Living History display, which is where you can see “how the other half lived” I could be wrong but many of the re-enactors were camped out in this area with their attendant followers and baggage. It is a fascinating glimpse into the past, and most of those camped here were in period clothing and lived it rough (no broadband?).  

I will say one thing about the people who were living in those tents, they made an excellent job of portraying what a campsite may have looked like, and they put their heart into creating the ambience for the event. This is part of what makes the festival so popular. 

According to my information the battle was due to start at 3pm, but as usual that was incorrect, and while the soldiers suited up there was a demonstration of falconry. It is however not really the sort of thing that works well in a large space because from where I was standing you could barely see the stage although I did manage one image of these amazing birds.

And while the falconry was going on the crowd just got larger and the seating area around the arena got steadily more packed with people in various states of undress. It was a scorcher of a day and the sun was not being merciful at all. I did not envy those who were going to participate in the fighting because that steel armour was going to get very very hot (especially if left outside in the sun).  I fear the knight below melted, leaving his armour behind.

Then there was movement as small squads of knights and followers started to head to the opposite end of the field. They were a ragtag mob, and I suspect many would already be wishing they were at home with a cold one watching the telly.

Do not make the assumption that all of these armour clad foot soldiers were men either. There were a number of girls and women in those squads, and they were not in the traditional camp follower role either.  We were also visited by the two snake oil salesmen with their cart of body parts and assorted bottles of green stuff. They too are regulars and bring some light relief to the waiting crowd. Their cry of “bring out yer dead!” causing many a smile and scared small children from near and far. 

Things were reaching a climax on the other side of the arena too as more men gathered while Sir Gallop-around-alot tried to impress the crowd with his equestrian prowess. Actually he was “scouting”, but the reality is that he was probably showing off. Archers were gathering on both sides too…

And then the archers let fly… the longbow used by the English was a fearsome weapon by all counts, and storms of arrows would reign down on combatants from rows of men especially trained in the use of the bow. Unfortunately if your opponent had similar trained men the advantage was moot. 

Then the armies arrived after a long march, and the Lancastrian forces of Queen Margaret of Anjou  passed within earshot of the audience.  

Things were hotting up as the two parties got together to parley. You can see Queen Margaret in her veil and the King facing the armoured man with the feathers in his helmet. The guy ruining the shot is not checking his email, he is busy reading the instructions on how to use his “gonne” 

(1500×487)

By all accounts the parley did not go well, she slapped him and stomped off, the die had been cast and battle would commence. Firearms were in use by then, although by all accounts they were relatively simple weapons, more liable to explode and kill the user than to kill the opposition. The Yorkists certainly had more guns than their enemies, and they were apparently better served.

Ye loude bange!!

Then battle did commence…

(1500×607)

(1500×550)

It was also time for me to leave the festival. It was obvious that while the fighting was ebbing and flowing in the area I could not see very much. I was also tired and hot and bothered and really ready to call it a day. The real Lancastrians and Yorkists way back in May 1471 were probably equally tired and some were probably wounded and hoping to find sanctuary in the church and town.  

And that was The Medieval Festival.  I am glad I saw part of the Battle, it probably raged long after I had left, and I am sure much quaffing of ale was done afterwards. On Sunday the parade will wobble erratically down the High Street, I covered the parade last year, so all that is left are those random images that I enjoy so much. 

Acknowledgements:

Everybody!! especially those who were involved in the battles and in the supporting role, and of course the organisers and those who manned the stalls and gates and made sure it all went well.  

See ye nexte time.

DRW © 2018. Created 15/07/2018.

Updated: 25/07/2018 — 05:38

Upper Lode Lock

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

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

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

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

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

Boat is in the lock, gates are closing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for the ferry?

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

On the opposite bank is the Cheltenham College boat house.

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

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

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

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

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

Looking downstream

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

And the Lower Lode Inn itself

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

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(1500 x 451)

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

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

Some random images…

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

Updated: 05/09/2018 — 13:41

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.

forwardbut

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

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Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10
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