musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Photowalks

Onwards to Oxford (3)

After returning from Oxford in May I was well aware of how much I had missed seeing in those brief hours that I had spent in the city.  That’s the problem with a day trip, you usually end up with a list that requires a whole week to complete. The weather has not been too conducive to day trips either until today….

Bright eyed and bushy tailed I headed off to Evesham to catch the train. Well aware that the temperatures were expected to reach the 30 degree mark in some places. Beggars however cannot be choosers, and I have to make use of an opportunity wherever I can.

There is the train now, better grab it before it leaves without us.  

My plans were as follows: 

I wanted to take in the Cathedral, Castle/Prison, Radcliffe Camera, Bridge of Sighs, Holywell Cemetery and everything in between. It was not too strenuous assuming that all went well and I did not end up diverting from the route. I also took more or less the same route as last time because I knew my way around the town by now. The major diversion was Holywell Cemetery, and checking it out really was dependent on timing. I had planned for a later train which did leave me with an extra 2 hours to get lost in. 

Oxford Castle mound was first on my list. I was really keen on climbing the mound but it had been incorporated into the Castle and Prison tour, so I decided to waste some time there. I covered the tour in a separate post as there are quite a lot of images. However, the area looks like this:

It is quite an impressive building, and historically it goes back very far and has been in use for a long time. It is also a very popular tourist destination and there were queues to get onto the tour. I was fortunate enough to get an early tour but by the time I left it was reaching jam packed proportions. An hour later I was on my way to my next destination which was Christ Church Cathedral. Last time around I had not even gone close to where the entrance was, and I was hoping to get it done and dusted this time around. 

You need to turn right at the bus that is stuck in the intersection to get into St Aldates Str which is where a million buses seem to stop and which is more or less the main thoroughfare used to get to the Cathedral, although the entrance to the building is in a different place. You start getting a sense of the building though as you walk towards the path leading to it.

It gets more impressive when you reach the building that houses the entrance

And yet again my luck was out as the Cathedral was closed to the public due to an event being held there. The closest I saw was:

This meant my timing changed because I was looking at an hour at the Cathedral, but now had an hour to kill, which made the cemetery much more feasible. I did not return via St Aldate Str, but had decided to continue along a path that intercepted Merton Str and and then onwards to Magpie Lane. On one side of the path was a cricket pitch with a typical English Summer scene, although typically nothing was actually happening. I bet somewhere there was a punt on the river….

(1500 x 529)

The strange thing about Magpie Lane is that it is access controlled by means of a single person at a time gate affair. It took ages to get through because there were queues on either side of it to pass through.

Magpie Lane

The lane led out into High Street and that was where I wanted to be to see the Radcliffe Camera.  and it is a very beautiful building and it originally housed the Radcliffe Library. The 16-sided room on the ground floor is now a reading room for the Bodleian Library. There were a lot of people milling around all over and a TV crew filming some gesticulating  disaffected person. I did not stick around to see what that was about. 

Close by is the famous Bodleian Library, and i spent some time in the courtyard trying to make sense of a place that I had heard mentioned many times. A copy of every book published in Britain is deposited here, including some two million volumes and 40,000 manuscripts. Its not easy to even consider how to describe it, suffice to say that in terms of accumulated history and knowledge this place wins hands down.

There is however a real sense of the ages looking down on you. I am not too sure who this chap is, but he does seem quite popular. Some reading revealed that this is a statue of the Earl of Pembroke. It was erected in 1723. Actually I thought it was a statue of Shakespeare 🙂 

Next on my list was the very beautiful “Bridge of Sighs”  that joins two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane.

At this point I need to make a decision. Time was on my side for the cemetery trip so I decided to at least go have a look and if necessary return on another day. To reach the cemetery I needed to follow Holywell Street until it reached Longwall Street and then look for the entrance. By now I was getting hot under the collar too, as it was a real scorcher. Everywhere people seemed to be moving house too as there were trucks of furniture and people with wheelie bags all over the place. 

Holywell Str

On the intersection of Holywell and Longwall Streets there is a reminder that often things became violent back in the old days, especially when it came to religion. 

Surprisingly enough I found the cemetery entrance, and if I had not been aware that it existed I would probably have walked past it. 

The cemetery is a jungle, but very pretty, and I would hate to have to go grave hunting in it because finding anything in there would be a major mission. The only “famous grave” that I could find in the list was that of James Blish, but I did not hunt the grave down. 

It was an amazing cemetery to walk through and I did a separate blogpost about it.

It was time to consider going to the station. I had 45 minutes to get there and turned my bows towards Broad Street, although I had one more puzzle to hunt down. I paused at the Museum of The History of Science for a quick look around but it just did not work for me and I headed out there after a quick walk around. 

In my navigation of Oxford  I had battled to find the main war memorial in the city, and by the looks of it the closest I would get was a memorial that was sighted on the intersection of Banbury and Woodstock Roads. That was fed by Magdalen Str, and was “on my way” so I decided to try find it while I still had time.  The area around the Sheldonian Theatre was fascinating though, and there were some really lovely buildings in that part of Broad Street.

Back of the Sheldonian Theatre

Balliol College

Magadalen Street was where I found that nice overgrown churchyard last time and it has a much better kept continuation to it, although I did not photograph it. In the distance I could see the memorial I was after, it was just a case of running it down. 

It is really a  generic memorial as opposed to a specific one. 

Inscription

Then I finally turned my bows towards George Street en route for the station. I shot pics as I walked, although did not investigate this structure below. However, I have since found out that it is known as the Martyr’s Memorial and it commemorates the Bishop of Worcester Hugh Latimer and Bishop of London Nicholas Ridley, who were burned nearby on October 16, 1555 after having been convicted for heresy because of their Protestant beliefs after a quick trial. It also commemorates the former Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, who was similarly executed

The station is not too far away and I waited 10 minutes for my train. There was still a queue at the tourist information desk so I was still unable to buy the book I wanted there. It was hard going against the crowds though, everybody was out and about and I think I will always remember Oxford for the hordes of people in it. Its a very frenetic place. 

Oxford was sort of in the bag, I still needed to see the cathedral and I wanted to check out the structure above as well as have a closer look at some of the other buildings in it, but rationally it is only the cathedral that I am after now, and I can do it and Churchill’s grave on one trip. When that will be is anybody’s guess though. It always depends on weather and energy levels.  So, watch this space for part 4 (one day)!

Random Images

 DRW © 2019. Created 29/06/2019

Updated: 01/07/2019 — 05:55

Onwards to Oxford (2)

Continuing where we left off….

In the previous post I had just arrived in the area of what I hoped was the Radcliffe Camera. That structure is “sited to the south of the Old Bodleian, north of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, and between Brasenose College to the west and All Souls College to the east”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radcliffe_Camera).

Oxford Martin School

Clarendon Building

The Sheldonian Theatre

However, when I looked on Google Earth I discovered that this was not the Radcliffe Camera but the Sheldonian Theatre! So I have yet another reason for a return trip to Oxford (add the Bridge of Sighs to the list too). The building behind the theatre is the Bodleian Library, and had I investigated that area further would have found what I was looking for! 

I was now in Broad Street and this was where it was possible to find a tour guide assuming you wanted a guided tour. I had forgotten all about it, but at least now I know where it was. The building on the right is Balliol College (I think)

I continued walking down the street because I really needed to confirm where I was in relation to where the station was. I was hoping to find one of those handy street maps but so far hadn’t seen one for awhile.  I really needed a cross street to orientate myself. 

And this one would do nicely.

This is the corner of Cornmarket/Magadalen streets running left to right with George Street between the 2 buildings. On the right hand corner (Magdalen Street) was a small surprise for me. 

This is the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen Church, and I would have liked to do a quick walk around in it but could not find a gate. Besides, the overgrown churchyard did look very peaceful amidst the hustle and bustle around me. 

By my reckoning, following George Street would take me to the station.

George’s Street

There was not a lot to see down here, so I turned left into Cornmarket, hoping to find somewhere that sold batteries. The tower belongs to St Michael’s at the North Gate. 

Ship Street, what an excellent name for a street. The time had now come to head back to George Street and the station so I turned my bows around and off I went. Not too much to see down the street though, apart from one of those handy maps which told me what I already knew. 

The building below is the University of Oxford History Facility,

and this is a portion of the Oxford Canal. I have not worked out how the canal connects to the city, although a lock should be around here somewhere.

And this was where I came in, albeit on the other side of the square and going in the opposite direction. The station was up ahead.

I had 25 minutes to wait for my train though so I decided to stop at the tourist office at the station and buy a map and guide book, but alas the service was appallingly slow, with 2 assistants seemingly never finishing up with the same 2 customers. I left after waiting over 5 minutes because I would have missed my train had I stayed any longer.  

Remember I said there were thousands of cyclists? this is where the bicycles have their nest.

The station is a modern one with 4 platforms and a section where there were was Chiltern Railways stock. 

I had not seen any Chiltern Railways equipment since Birmingham in 2015, so this made a nice change. GWR and Cross Country are all I seem to see nowadays.

And not too long afterwards my own train arrived and I was soon on my way back to Evesham and finally back home by bus. It had been a long day, but quite a fruitful one. Oxford had been fascinating, and I will do a return visit one day.

Oxford is mentioned 13 times in the Domesday Book, and I am only including one entry for it.  

  • HundredHeadington
  • CountyBerkshire / Buckinghamshire / Oxfordshire
  • Total population: 18 households (medium).
  • Total tax assessed: 4 exemption units (medium).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 4 exemption units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £2. Value to lord in 1086 £2.
  • Households: 18 villagers.
  • Ploughland: 5 ploughlands (land for). 5 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 105 acres. Woodland 8 acres.
  • Lord in 1066: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.
  • Lord in 1086: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.

(Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

There is too much that I have not seen and I have subsequently discovered a cemetery and a memorial that I missed on top of the other odds and ends I have listed. It is probable I will find even more to see now that I know a bit about the place. Parts of the city are very beautiful, but I am not sure I would be able to afford to live there however  I too can boast that I have been to Oxford, but I won’t mention what it was for.

I returned to Oxford at the end of June and you can read about it here

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DRW  © 2019. Created 25/05/2019. (Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

Updated: 29/06/2019 — 19:25

Onwards to Oxford (1)

In years to come I will be able to boast that I went to Oxford, although not to be educated, but more to have a look around, I had the idea awhile ago, but the logistics were somewhat beyond me, however, once I started to explore Evesham it became obvious that there were other places within reach from the station there. It is an alternative way to get to London too, although the biggest downfall is that you can only travel by train after 9.00 am because the earliest bus only gets there at 8.35. You also have to make sure that you are on that last bus at 17.55 or you will end up spending the night! Like Tewkesbury the transport options are limiting factors for any day trip. The train originates in Hereford, passing through Worcester then onto Evesham so theoretically it is possible to get to Oxford from Worcester, but again getting to and from Worcester can be problematic. 

Anyway, I thought long and hard about this and with a long weekend in the offing and some semi decent weather I decided to do a day trip. I had 3 options: The tall ships at Gloucester, Evesham Vale Light Railway, or Oxford. I decided on Thursday evening to head to the last of the three and bought a ticket online and almost immediately started to chicken out! In order to get a bus back I really could expend roughly 3 hours in the city, which may not be enough considering how much there is to see there! Come Saturday morning and I was still not in the mood, but I had the tickets, the weather was reasonable, and it was now or never! Onwards to Oxford!

The limitations: 

Time was the most crucial, the weather ranged from overcast to semi cloudy to sunny. It changed all the time so image quality has suffered. Large buildings and no way to get far away enough from them. Vehicular and people traffic.

Evesham Station is 5 minutes walk from the bus stop, and is really quite an unimpressive station and I believe the passengers loads from here are falling. 

The line to London heads off to the left hand side and the train leaves from Platform 2. Talk of the devil and there it is now! The familiar HST’s  have been withdrawn from GWR service now and all we get are these smarmy class 800’s now. They are comfortable though, but they lack that “Made in England” originality  of the HST’s.

The route runs from Evesham, Honeybourne, Moreton-in-Marsh, Kingham, Shipton, Ascott-under-Wychwod, Charlbury, Finstock, Combe, Hanborough and finally Oxford and It takes just under an hour to get there.

Entrance to station

City Map of Oxford (1009×599)

I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go, although plans were liable to change at any point. I wanted to do a rough lozenge shaped walk starting at Park End Rd into New Rd, High Street and turning into Queen Street and taking in the Radcliffe Camera, Bridge of Sighs and anything inbetween, then continuing down Broad Street into Hythe Bridge Street and back to the station. I had marked off where the war memorial was as well as Christ Church Cathedral as possible detours. 

At this time of the morning (roughly 10H40) the area I was in was reasonably quiet, but do not be fooled because chaos was coming.

My plans were to really follow this road to the spire in the distance and I think this is Frideswide Square (38 on the map). My next point of reference was Castlemill Stream that crosses under the road that changes its name to New Road. This stream is a branch of the Thames.

My next landmark was what is known as “Oxford Castle Mound” and it is part of the remains of the former Oxford Castle.  This would have been where the keep and motte were. Behind this was St George’s Tower and chapel as well as the Oxford Prison. This area is in my list for a return visit.

Next to the mound was another building which I assumed was part of the castle, but it is actually the former County Hall dating from 1841. 

Turning around the view behind me was as follows:

The tower above is part of Nuffield College,  and the top of the spire is 49m above ground, making it the second tallest tower in Oxford. It houses a research library with attached reading rooms above the college entrance.

Continuing my walk I came to the war memorial, and it was disappointing. However this is not the main war memorial in the town as this commemorates men of the 2nd Battalion of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry who lost their lives between 15/08/1897 and 04/11/1898. It is known as the Tirah Memorial and is the first war memorial ever erected in Oxford. 

Continuing onwards into the High Street area it was becoming increasingly more crowded and difficult to navigate through the growing throng.

The structure below on the left is known as the Carfax Tower, It is all that remains of the 12th-century St Martin’s Church. Carfax is at the junction of St Aldate’s (south), Cornmarket Street (north), Queen Street (west) and the High Street (east) and it is considered to be the centre of the city.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carfax,_Oxford) . 

At this point I made a detour as I was in the vicinity of Christ Church Cathedral and headed into that direction. Unfortunately photography was incredibly difficult as the street was a bus thoroughfare and the pavements were packed.  

Central Oxford (Carfax area with Cathedral in lower left corner) 1024×977

I will be honest though, I did not see the cathedral, this large building is not it, although is part of it and I could not see much beyond the gate (which was not open to the public) due to the selfie squad. 

All I was able to see was this small glimpse across the centre of the space and I believe it belongs to the cathedral. I will have to investigate this area in the future though, but not on this day. 

In the image below I was standing at the Tom Tower looking across the Tom Quad. 

I turned around and headed back towards Carfax and High Street. 

Turning into High Street I continued walking and the view became increasing more elaborate and old, and I will be honest I probably cannot identify most of what I was seeing; neither could I fit most of it into my camera lens. The never ending stream of buses complicated matters considerably as they would stop and hordes of people would suddenly erupt out of them almost engulfing you. It was a major problem and I almost collided with a number of cellphone absorbed pedestrians on top of it. 

I believe the building above is Brasenose College. and in my original navigation I had intended turning left into Catte Street and onwards to the Radcliffe Camera, but ended up continuing past it. towards The Queens College. The spire below belongs to “The University Church of St Mary the Virgin University College” with All Soul’s College further along.

 

All Soul’s College

Magdalen College

I eventually made my left turn in Longwall Street, and it was literally a long wall on the right hand side of the street. There appears to be a deer park on the other side of the wall, but I could not see over it to check.  

This was quite a winding road too and I hoped there was a handy exit somewhere which would get me back on track. Time was marching and soon I would need to make a decision about my plans in the next 45 minutes.

This is Holywell Street and I headed down it. Fortunately no buses seemed to be allowed here so it was technically safe to walk in as long as you didn’t get run over by a cyclist (there are thousands of them in Oxford too).

For some reason or other I think this is part of “New College” but cannot confirm it as I did not photograph the sign. However, a helpful porter pointed me in the direction I needed to go in to get to the Radcliffe Camera and it was close by too.

At this point I am going to pause and start a new page as there is still quite a lot to see onwards and I need to add in some random images to this page. You can turn the page here.

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Random Images.

DRW © 2019. Created 25/05/2019

Updated: 09/07/2019 — 05:43

Retrospective: Newtown Municipal Compound

In 2011 I  did a number of photowalks in and around Newtown in Johannesburg and blogged about them, and as a result I started using the blog more and more as I found even more uses for it. The end result in 2019 is quite large but I never really utilised it as much back then, and during one of my periodic searches for images I rediscovered the images from the Newtown Municipal Compound and decided to do a retrospective of them. Once again I am not an expert in this field, and I really want to show what I saw back then because it is quite important to acknowledge our heritage (as horrible as it may be) if we want to understand more about the present and why we are where we are. I am afraid that things were very different back then and our sense of right and wrong really changed over the years as people began to recognise that even the lowliest needed consideration.

I recall walking though this complex and was horrified, however, had I been walking through here in 1950 what would my attitude have been? Sadly the African labourer employed in the mines and in industry where labouring was done on a large scale probably faced these sort of conditions as a matter of course, it was the norm rather than the exception.  Remember that back then pass laws were enforced too. No pass could result in arrest and a stay in Number 4 Jail.

The complex forms part of the area around Newtown that encompasses Sci-Bono, Museum Africa, the Market theatre and the former old market in Johannesburg. This area has been extensively redeveloped since 2011 and I did not recognise it when I passed through in 2016. 

Stitched image of rear of compound (1500x 393)

The image below was stitched from 2 separate images and shows the layout of the compound.  This image and subsequent key were on an information board at the compound. 

Compound layout (1500×527)

Key:

1. Domestic quarters

2. Compound manager’s house: the manager had to be available at all hours and was housed directly behind the compound. 

3. Sleeping quarters: the compound was designed to accommodate 330 workers. No mattresses or lockers were provided. Rooms would be strung from side to side by clothing, washing, and other possessions. Each room had a small coal stove for heating

4. White staff houses

5. Lock-up room: Used to lock up workers who broke the rules, they were often chained to the wall and the only toilet was a bucket.

6. Ablutions: the toilet room had 16 squat holes. No partitions or doors separated the toilets

7. Induna’s room: the Induna was the compound manager’s right hand man.

8. Showers: there was 1 cold shower for every 165 workers, and one latrine for every 55. Hot water was only available in buckets.

9. The courtyard: space provided where social interaction could happen

10. Gantry

11. The Tree: if the lock-up room was unavailable unruly workers could be chained to the tree.

12. Compound manager’s office: the compound manager kept control administration and law enforcement from this small office. He was assisted by the Induna, an admin clerk, and the municipal police.  

13, Veranda: There were no cooking or eating facilities in the compound. Workers could go eat at eateries catering for black workers or use the counters for food preparation. Sinks were provided for washing clothes and dishes. 

14. Stables and Kennels: over 750 draught horses were stabled here. The horses pulled the wagons used for refuse and sanitary waste removal. Cart drivers and animal keepers were also housed at the compound. The stables were demolished in the 1930’s. 

The interior is grim, and was probably much worse when it was occupied by men who came from all around the country, sleeping in dormitories, sharing communal ablution facilities and exposed to diseases such as TB. The record states that at one point there was 1 shower for every 165 workers and 1 latrine for 55. 

Communal showers (8 on layout image)

Urinal (6 on layout image)

I do not know what era the building represents, but it is probably quite close to what it may have looked like to those luckless migrant workers who ended up here.

A reproduction of a pamphlet issued in 1946 paints the following picture:

Extract from a pamphlet published by the Communist Party in 1946

The paragraph above is an extract of a speech presented by Hilda Watts at a meeting of the Johannesburg City Council in November 1946, reproduced in a  pamphlet published by the Communist Party.

Sleeping area

One of the sleeping area upper levels has a display of “luggage and possessions” which I thought spoke volumes about the men who lived here.

Naturally fights would break out and there was even a handy “lock up room” (marked 5 on the layout image above). How much abuse of power happened in that small room is unknown.

Just image a place like this after a long days work with primitive facilities and a lack of privacy. From what I read this particular compound was much better than some that were in use by the council.

We are fortunate that places like this still exist so as to give us a glimpse into a different era and an almost invisible group of workers who swept streets, emptied dustbins, collected night-soil and performed other menial but important work for a pittance, often supporting wives and children far away. They were the faceless and nameless that helped make Johannesburg what it is today. Inside the compound is a statue of an orange clad worker launching his spade up high with arms outstretched, almost reaching for the sky. It is quite a fitting tribute to those workers who eked out a  living in such a deplorable place.  I am glad I saw it, but am ashamed at what I saw.

DRW © 2011 – 2019. Created retrospectively 13/05/2019. Some information from the information board and displays at the compound. 

Updated: 15/05/2019 — 17:25

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

Retrospective: By train to Magaliesburg 12AR-1535

One of the more obscure centenary celebrations coming up is that of 12AR-1535 “Susan”. This steam engine is the only remaining member of the SAR Class 12AR in the world, as well as being Reefsteamers’ oldest operating locomotive and the second oldest operating main line locomotive in South Africa.  
She was built in 1919 by the North British Locomotive Works in Glasgow and joined her sisters in South Africa for service on the Germiston-Witbank line moving heavy trainloads of coal. She first entered traffic on 15 March 1920. The sisters were all reboilered at some point in their lives, and 1535 was reboilered in 1944, although her existing boiler was commissioned in 1955. 

Boiler plate of 1535

I first encountered her in 1985 when I was posted to the Germiston Telecommunications Depot. At the time she was the “station pilot” for Germiston Station, and she shone so much that she could blind you in the sun. She never really retired from service and was not restored from scrap or in a derelict condition. Fortunately her original service in Germiston means that she is really back home in the depot where she worked for so many years. I have a soft spot for her and enjoyed linesiding this small wheeled “4-8-2 Mountain” as she spent her retirement running heritage train for Reefsteamers. 
According to the EXIF data on the image below, Susan was brought back into steam on 28 March 2009 and I was present for a photography session with the people who had walked with her to that point.

(1500×1092). Back in steam. 28/03/2009

You can read more about her history on the relevant Reefsteamers page. Special thanks for Lee Gates for his work on that page and his continued posts on social media. 
 
It is not very often (especially in South Africa) that a steam working steam engine reaches her centenary, and with this in mind I am reposting the blogpost about the trip I did 10 years ago on 4 April 2019.  

By train to Magaliesburg. 12AR-1535

I got the opportunity to travel with Susan on 4 April 2009 from Maraisburg Station to Magaliesburg. The same consist as before was used and the schedule was almost identical to my previous trip with Elize. Some of the images used here were taken linesiding or when I intercepted other trips at Magaliesburg.


The two images above were taken on another trip that she made on 27 April 2009, I would definitely not stand here taking pics if I had been travelling on the train.
 
And then we were off,  eventually passing through Roodepoort Station where the plinthed 10BR slowly moulders away in the parking lot.

Through to Krugersdorp where we could pick up any passengers that had wanted to join there,

Past Millsite and the rows of derelicts that were not as fortunate as Susan was, and any goods wagons that were being shunted, 

and then past the disgrace that was Sanrasm.

And once that was past you could really relax and enjoy the ride for awhile and listen to the loco in front. At some point you would start the long climb towards the grain silos,

and then power along towards the end destination,
although the cutting really was the first sign that we had almost arrived.

This time around I had opted for lunch at the hotel, but I did not bail out there, but hung around at the station for awhile to watch them turn Susan. 

 

I then had to make a mad dash down the hill for my belated lunch at the hotel.
 
Arriving back suitably satiated, I discovered that Susan had been turned and was now on the opposite end of the train in readiness for our trip back.

And as usual, there was brightwork to be polished. These preserved loco’s are always turned out very well because they showcase our proud steam heritage. Susan, as station pilot in Germiston, was always in a supershine condition, there was a lot of pride in these machines, and that is still true today.

The sitters were empty as the passengers did their thing at the picnic area, quite a few were already tanked up before we arrived and they would sleep the return journey away. 
The passing of some Class 34’s really provided a photo opportunity, although I know which is the more handsome engine out of all those in Magaliesburg on that day.
Then the passengers were roused and the whistle blew and we were off, pausing at the hotel to collect a few more errant people before attempting the level crossing on our way out of the town. 
In 2011 I was in the area and stood at the level crossing watching this spirited departure which is available on Youtube, and it amazed me how even though the loco had started moving drivers still try to get across in front of her! You do not tackle a steam engine with a car because you will loose. 
Unfortunately though we literally crawled through the cutting and the hills, and I asked some of the guys why this had happened, and it turned out that the coal was of poor quality so she was really struggling. Susan is a freight loco with lots of power, but even poor coal can turn a steamer into a snail. I did take some video of the climb and pullaway, so all is not lost
 
And even today people wave at steam engines going past, because it is just something that is done. I feel sorry for those who have never experienced steam trains because they have lost a little bit of magic. Fortunately most people opted to relax on the trip home, and the kids stopped with the “pooop pooop” imitations and I was able to get some peace. I was not really in a mood to take too many pics, besides, everything you see here is very similar to what you saw in the other trip post. 
Even the desolate landscape that we passed just after Millsite was devoid of life, but then that area has been ravaged by mining and will take many years to rehabilitate, assuming that even happens in the first place.
And eventually we were home. The sun was low on the horizon and the people who climbed off were much more subdued than those that had climbed on this morning. Even Susan seemed tired, and she still had a long way to go before she could be bedded down for the night,
 
 
 More video: 
 
DRW © 2009-2019 Created 04/04/2009. images recreated 07/03/2016, edited and reposted as a retrospect on 04/04/2019
Updated: 07/04/2019 — 13:05

Passing time near Paddington

In 2016 I visited London and ended up exploring Little Venice and Paddington Station, and of course my trip to South Africa meant I would invariably end up in the area again. I had spent the morning of the 22nd at the Natural History Museum in London (most of it in the queue), and on my arrival back in London I had roughly 3 hours to kill depending on when I got back from Heathrow. I had more or less decided to spend that time looking around close to the station as it was not really feasible to head down to anywhere else. Paddington and Little Venice were my best options because I really wanted to see whether I could find any Paddington Bear statues in the area.

I left my very heavy luggage at the Station and armed with a map of “The Pawprint Trail” headed onwards. The weather was not really great, and I was not dressed warmly as I had not taken much warm clothing with me on the trip. I had two places I wanted to find and hopefully to photograph the Paddington Statues at those spots. I already had 3 of the statues mentioned on the map:

Paddington  statue in Norfolk Square Gardens

Paddington statue on Paddington Station

Statue on Paddington Station

 

The first Paddington I was after was near Sheldon Square and close to the one corner of Paddington Station. Unfortunately it was rush hour and very difficult to find the statue in the rush of people heading to and from the station.  Fortunately I found him, and he was feeling kind of blue by the looks of it.  Taking an image of him was also difficult as he was under a bridge with sunlight on one side and darkness on the other, and did I mention people walking past just as I hit the shutter button? 

The image to the left has been lightened a bit as his face was mostly in shadow. My pic taken I was about ready to head out looking for number 2, but I was also intrigued to see mention of a Michael Bond statue on the map I had been given at the Paddington Shop on the station. It was not too far away and involved crossing the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal where I was and heading towards Paddington Green. It did look do-able so I turned my bows into the general direction and off I went.  I had roughly 90 minutes to complete the job and I would also be able to have a look at the Church of St Mary on Paddington Green while I was in the area. 

The area around Paddington Station looks like this:

The basin was full of assorted narrow boats, and some where very nicely decorated too, and at this point the sun was trying its best to shine. It was a loosing battle though.

I headed towards a footbridge that theoretically came out close to where the Michael Bond statue was, this is the view looking back from where I had come. 

The bridge crossed under Westway but instead of heading to where the statue was I headed off on a tanget which lead me away from where I should be going. It was quite a pretty area though with many old buildings in it. 

Parking was at a premium and cars were stuck bumper to bumper as drivers tried to nab a spot that somebody was trying to vacate. The building above is part of “St Mary’s Mansions”

I continued walking along St Mary’s Terrace until I reached the Regents Canal. It was home to many narrow boats and quite difficult to get an image that encompassed the whole canal. 

Behind me was the very imposing Catholic Apostolic Church in Maida Avenue but I was unable to get anywhere close to it as the grounds were firmly locked. 

I could not quite work out how this area related to where I wanted to be so I decided to return the way I came and see whether I could find the statue again. Returning to the footbridge I walked in the opposite direction from which I had come and duly found the statue of Michael Bond and two others. Actually it was not a statue but a laser cut silhouette artwork and one of three artworks. It appears as if there are associated plaques at the artworks, but I did not look too closely.

(L-R) Michael Bond OBE, author and creator of Paddington Bear. Alan Turning OBE, FRS, 1912 – 1954, father of computer science and WWII code-breaker. Mary Seacole, 1805 – 1881, Crimean War nurse.

Close by was the Church of St Mary on Paddington Green and an associated hall that appeared to be a nursery school. The church was not a large one and it had an associated graveyard. Unfortunately it was not open so I could not go inside to warm up. It was becoming decidedly miserable by now and I was seriously considering returning to the station.

The church was built between 1788 and 1791 and burials ceased in the churchyards in 1857 when the space ran out.  There are two burials areas, the first being around the church and the original area next to the church grounds depicted below.

The church under my belt I headed back towards that station and the Paddington basin where the other Paddington statue was. It was not too long a walk, but a very chilly one.

The statue was shown as being on the left bank and close to the “Fan Bridge” which was in the down position. I could however not find the statue and had to ask for help from a yellow hi-vis vested person.

Instead of being outside the statue is actually inside a building which explains why I couldn’t see it.

Mission accomplished it was time to head off to catch my train, although I did have an hour to kill till it left and I spent that reading, pacing and looking at my watch, the departure boards and the passing crowds.  Once again the train was one of the new British Rail Class 800’s and I had travelled in one on my way to London on the 22nd. I was able to grab a pic of the old and the new on this occasion, and in 2016 when I was here only the Class 43’s were evident.

I finally boarded my train at 11.25 and at 11.36 the train started to move and I was on my way home. I still had 4 hours of travel ahead of me, but was getting closer all the time. I had originally considered staying in London overnight and only returning home on the 8th, but given the weather and my own state of tiredness it is a good thing I did not.

DRW © 2019. Created 08/03/2019

Updated: 24/03/2019 — 13:58

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

New additions (July 2019):

Chandler’s Court

Turner’s Court

Machine Court

Wilkes Alley

I found this one by accident, having never considered looking at the alleys from the other side of the buildings. It is quite interesting because the lane on Back of the Avon side does not co-inside with the exit on the Hight Street.

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 more images 03/02/2019, 10/07/2019

Updated: 14/07/2019 — 13:34

The villages en route to Evesham

My first trip to visit Evesham in May 2018 is the key to what has become of something of an obsession.  The bus goes through a number of typical English villages, namely Bredon, Lower Westmancote, Kemerton, Overbury, Beckford, Little Beckford, Ashton Under Hill, and finally Sedgeberrow. It is somewhat of a long trip but there is a lot to see and try to photograph (unsuccessfully I may add). By the process of elimination I have narrowed down the list of villages to visit to 4, namely Kemerton, Overbury, Ashton-Under-Hill and Sedgeberrow because they either have a church with CWGC graves in them, or a war memorial. 

I have been able to grab pics of the following through the bus window: 

Ashton Under Hill War Memorial. ( 52.039634°, -2.005106°)  

20/10/2018: Ashton-Under-Hill is “in the bag”. 

Kemerton War Memorial. ( 52.033202°,  -2.079959°)

20/10/2018. Kemerton is “In the bag”

Beckford. (Marker on an island, may not be a war memorial. 52.020002°,  -2.038073°)  

26/11/2018: Beckford is “In the bag”

Sedgebarrow War Memorial (52.045395°,  -1.965749°)

Sedgeberrow is in the bag

As far as churches go, there are two I have to check out:  St Faith’s Church in Overbury (52.03491, -2.0642) has 5 CWGC Burials in it  (20/10/2018. Overbury is “In the bag”),  while  St Barbara’s in Ashton-Under-Hill (52.03773 , -2.00571) has 2 CWGC Burials in it. (20/10/2018: Ashton-Under-Hill is “in the bag”. )

Ashton-Under-Hill

I intend village hopping, starting off at Kemerton, then moving onto Overbury, and Ashton-Under-Hill, then completing the trip to Evesham and doing Sedgeberrow on the way back as the bus takes a slightly different route when it returns from Evesham.  Because of the timetable spacing I am looking at an hour in each village, although the Overbury stop may be longer due to an oddity in the timetable. 

I had everything planned for the 4th of October, but shift changes at work changed my plans, so it will either happen when next I am on evenings or on a Saturday morning.   Watch this space as they say in the classics. 

**Update**

The grand tour commenced in the 20th of October. You can read about it from the start page (Kemerton and Overbury)

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DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 09/10/2018. Added links to the grand tour 21/10/2018

Updated: 28/05/2019 — 13:46

Swanning it in Swansea

Twas one of those last minute things, a friend had to drop off a wallet in Swansea, and I got to go along; sure sounds good to me, especially seeing as the rain was no longer on the plain. Where is Swansea? I had to look it up myself, Swansea is a coastal city and county in Wales and lies within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan and on the southwest coast. For the curious it is at Google Earth co-ordinates  51.621526°,  -3.942860°.  From Tewkesbury it is 131 km as the crow flies, although we would not be flying Crow Air Charters on this day. The weather had been rainy since the Saturday but it started to clear shortly before we got under way and by the time we hit the road the sun was coming out, although there was still a nip in the air.

I have no idea what the tunnel is called, but we reached the sign below about 6 minutes later. Out of curiosity, I discovered on our way back that Tewkesbury was 50 ft above sea level, So we were really heading downhill, but not by much. 

And then we arrived.

First priority was meeting the person who needed his wallet, and we eventually managed to co-ordinate things that we met him in town. Fortunately he was not far from where we were and once the wallet had changed hands it was time for lunch.

Having tended to lunch I branched off from my friends as I wanted to go have a look at the waterfront in the hope that there was something interesting afloat. I more or less knew which direction the sea was and headed that way, eventually arriving at my destination. It was outstanding! the last time I had seen a beach like this was in Weymouth way back in 2013

(1500 x 625)

Oh drat, I had left my knotted hankie and bucket ‘n spade in the car. The tide was out and the beach was vast. Theoretically I was facing more or less South East when I took these 2 images for the pano above. Looking South West the view was equally good. I was hoping to spot the Cenotaph from where I was standing but at full zoom I could not really make out much detail in the distance.

(1500 x 533)

On the image above you can see it sticking out to the left of the middle of the image… the small white object sticking up. When I had arrived at the water the question I asked myself was whether to try reach the Cenotaph or try for the ships?

(1500 x 710)

The Cenotaph was roughly 1,5 km away whereas the ships were much less so they were the obvious choice, so I turned left at this point and clambered down the stairs onto the virtually deserted beach and headed towards the basin where ships should have been. From what I could see on Google Earth there were 3 vessels moored inside the small craft basin. The commercial harbour was much further on and I was not going to walk to it because it was probable that access would be closed off anyway.

There is some very expensive real estate along this beach front, but what a view these pads must have.

It was time to cut inland to look for that basin and I waved goodbye to the beach and swapped my knotted hankie for my ship watchers hat.  

Actually I was a bit too far off in my reckoning and ended up at the wrong basin. 

The statue reminded me a lot of Captain Haddock of Tintin fame. It is actually called “Captain Cat” By Robert Thomas.

My ships were in sight at last! 

The 1954 built Canning is an oil-burning steam tug built by  Cochrane & Sons of Selby for the Alexandra Towing Company and was based at Liverpool until being transferred to Swansea in 1966.  She became the last steam tug to operate in the Bristol Channel, serving until 1974. She was retired to the Museum in 1975. (https://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/4/canning)

In front of her is berthed the former Lightship 91, known as ‘Helwick’. She was built for the Corporation of Trinity House by Philip and Son Ltd. of Dartmouth in 1937, and deployed on various stations, her first being the Humber from 1937 to 1942. She moved to her final station, the Helwick, off the Worm’s Head, for the last six years of her sea-service from 1971 to 1977. Swansea Museum acquired LV 91 in 1977.  (https://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/137/light-vessel-91-humber) Unfortunately I was unable to get all of her into one image as the pontoon was closed and it prevented me from getting far away enough to get an overall image of her. 

I felt happier now that I had seen ships, I just regret not being able to get a complete image of Helwick, she looks fascinating. I will do a complete page on both these ships at a later date.

It was time to head back towards town as there was a church I wanted to take a look at so I headed more or less in that direction, photographing as I walked.

Dylan Thomas Theatre

Dylan Thomas. 1914-1953
Sculptor: John Doubleday

The bell tower of St Mary, Central Swansea, stuck out above it’s surroundings, but the church was all but hidden by trees. 

There appeared to be choir practise in progress when I was there but I was able to photograph it from outside the glass doors. 

It was time to find a loo, the bane of my life. Fortunately I was in a mall now so there was bound to be one somewhere.  My phone also rang and I arranged to meet my friend so that we could do more looking around. We then tried to get into the commercial harbour but decided that security would not let us in so I had to be satisfied with the upperworks of a ship (cargo of turbine blades),

And, hull down and half hidden by a fence and other detritus, the tug Christos XXIV (Built as Fairplay IX in 1971 by Schleppdampfsschiffs-Reederei, Bremerhaven). I would have loved to have been able to get a full hull image of this old classic. 

It was time that we headed to our next destination: Mumbles Pier. And I will continue that over the page.

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DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 24/09/2018

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:48
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