musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Ships

Musings and Mumbles

Having finished our sightseeing in Swansea, we now turned our bows to a distant point on the map called “Mumbles Pier“, which is situated at Google Earth co-ordinates:  51.568880°,  -3.976965°.  It just struck me that this is also the furtherest western point I have been to in the United Kingdom.  The Mumbles lighthouse may be seen in the image below and the lattice like bridge  is our destination. 

You drive all along the bay to get there, and unfortunately stopping places are few and far between and the road is busy. I was hoping to spot the Cenotaph on the way, and eventually did see it which confirmed where it was, although it did not make a lot of sense having it on the beach front, but then things may have been very different way back when it was erected. 

We managed to squeeze into a parking a bit further from the area above, and I grabbed a few pics looking towards Swansea before we carried on with our journey. 

(1500 x 724)

The area was really nice, with small boats and picturesque houses, and people enjoying the stiff wind that was blowing. 

A short drive further and we had arrived at Mumbles Pier.

Unfortunately the pier extension is closed off, presumably for repair. It was built in 1898 and is 835 feet long and is a Grade II listed structure.  The building on the left is a lifeboat station and there is a gift shop too. Alas we would not be visiting those on this day.

The end of the land had a flight of stairs down to the beach, but you could also get a good view of the lighthouse and the other outcropping of land. The angle of that rock is amazing to see.

Standing on some rocks looking back at the pier and small beach I could not wonder what it must be like to stand here when the sea is raging.

(1500 x 437)

The area that Swansea Bay opens into is the Bristol Channel, and the Mumbles Lighthouse was built in 1794 to guide vessels along the coast and into Swansea Bay, past the hazards of the Mixon Shoal ½ mile to the South. The height of the tower is 17m, and the height of light above Mean High Water is  35 m. It was automated in 1934 and electrified in 1969. (https://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouses-and-lightvessels/mumbles-lighthouse).

A quick walk through the amusement arcade and we were once again outside. I was curious about what this building was supposed to be but there was no clue.

We drove up the very steep road, and good clutch control was needed because it was a killer of a hill. We were now heading for Oystermouth Castle which was not too far away, although we were really taking the long way to get to it. The Castle is situated at  51.577066°,  -4.002761° although it was closed by the time we wound our way to it.  

It is a Norman castle, the first iteration being built in 1106,  and  overlooks Swansea Bay on the east side of the Gower Peninsula near the village of the Mumbles. The castle fell in and out of use, but  after the Middle Ages, it gradually fell into ruin, and was described in a survey of Gower made in 1650 as “[a]n old decayed castle of no use, but of a very pleasant situation.”  It was restored in the 1840s while the castle was owned by the then Duke of Beaufort. He gave the castle to Swansea Corporation in 1927; and today the castle is maintained under the responsibility of the City and County of Swansea council.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oystermouth_Castle)

The weight of ages looms heavily over these ruins, and it is one of those buildings that has just managed to stay with us in spite of the ravages of war, politics, climate and time. The view from the castle over the village is good, although it looked very differently so many centuries ago. At least there was no air pollution from cooking fires.

It was time to head back home, a last pic of the pier, and we were on our way.

(1500 x 875)

On the drive back to Swansea I was determined to find the Cenotaph, and I saw it almost at the last moment and hurriedly snapped the pic below, hoping to fire off at least one more as we got closer. Unfortunately a local bus decided to insert itself into the space and as a result I only have this one pic of the Cenotaph. It is however, better than a picture of a bus.

The sun was low as we headed past Port Talbot and back to Tewkesbury, but the hills were still very impressive.

The moon was extremely large and bright and I attempted to grab some pics of it but had very little success due to the vibration and light; which is a pity because it was spectacular to see. 

It had been a great day out, I had seen many things and added to my knowledge, I have been to Wales, and seen the Mumbles. It was one of those things to write home about. 

Special thanks to Evert for the trip, I really enjoyed it.

Random Images

 

DRW © 2018. Created 25/09/2018 

Updated: 09/10/2018 — 19:47

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. Created 24/09/2018

Updated: 09/10/2018 — 19:47

Breaking the Lusitania

Yes it is true, I broke the Lusitania. 

Actually there is a bit more to this title than meets the eye. When the Atlas Editions “Legendary Ocean Liners” collection was originally advertised most of us were very excited, but that excitement declined when we saw the first model come out (RMS Titanic).  It was not what I expected, in fact it was not good at all. I had already decided to not collect the ships because of the outlay on these part works and hassles cancelling it. I was not after most of the ships anyway, just a select few, and it was easier to buy those off ebay once the novelty wore off. 

I did pick up a Titanic for the princely sum of £10 at the local charity shop but really wanted the Lusitania model.

The Titanic model was not great,  which is sad because the Atlas Editions warships were amazing models and I have a few of them. The warships were easy to waterline, you just had to unscrew the lower hull and voila: a waterline warship. The big question was: could you do the same with the passenger ships? short answer is: no! The hull is in one piece so it is going to be a mission to cut off the underwater part of the hull. I had done that before to a Revell QE2 model and that was plastic, this was some sort of alloy and would need a lot of work unless you had the right tools (which I thought I had.)

A quick squizz on youtube found me a video of somebody that had performed surgery on these models, and I watched it and it didn’t seem too complicated but there were snags in doing it. I have a mains powered mini tool and a whole wodge of cutting and grinding disks so it was feasible. It was just a case of getting a ship and actually doing it. With hindsight I should have cut the Titanic first.

A few weeks ago Atlas Editions suddenly stopped trading and a notice appeared on their website “it is no longer possible to place orders for new collections”. The playing field had changed and it was now in the realm of the second hand market. I did not really expend much energy looking for a Lusitania though but eventually found and bought one off ebay.

It is not a nice model, in fact it doesn’t really look too much like the Lusitania. The vents make it look like the Mauretania (incidentally they use the same model for the Mauretania), and I have no idea why there are strips of different colours on her superstructure.

Unscrewing the base was easy, and I tried a cut on the underside of the hull… seemed to work…

Phew, it turned out to be a major job, my cutting disks were just not up to the job and I ended up using a hacksaw to cut my way through the metal. The big snag is that there are at last two known pillars used to screw the base onto, and possibly more that I did not know about. The metal was easy to cut but the angles and sizes made it difficult. Surprisingly enough the paint and plastic fittings held out quite well although I eventually broke the mast and the foredeck crane (did the Lusie have one originally?).  

Here are the 3 sliced up bits

And what it looks like as a waterline model only before I get down to finishing off the waterine.

I am semi happy with what I have achieved, but there is still a lot of metal work involved to get the model down onto the waterline. Watch this space is the operative word from now on.  

The next day.

I repainted the underwater parts and add a new white line and remounted the mast and painted them brown. The ship looks like this now and I like it more than the full hull version. Will I waterline the Titanic? I am considering it, but at least next time around I will know what is waiting for me

As mentioned before, there is a Mauretania in dazzle camouflage,  and it uses the same model for both. Do they really think we wouldn’t notice? Similarly there is a dazzle camouflaged Olympic and I expect that they are using the same Titanic model but may be wrong, I have not seen too many pics of that iteration yet. 

The funny thing is that since there is no longer an Atlas Editions distributor the ships are popping up all over ebay as being available from China. 

** Update 13/10/2018 **

I managed to pick up an Albatros Mauretania and she is amazingly detailed. 

And this is what she looks like with the Atlas Lusitania.

I taped those strange brown lines on the Lusie and at some point may paint them instead. I do however like this waterlined Lusitania, it is quite a nice model if you don’t look too closely at it.  This is what they look like from above:

DRW © 2018. Created 26/08/2018, updated 13/10/2018

Updated: 13/10/2018 — 15:48

Shipshape and Bristol Fashion (3) The Harbour

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

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

Great Britain on the left, Balmoral on the right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bee and Balmoral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

but it was a close won race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DRW © 2018. Created 22/07/2018

Updated: 04/08/2018 — 14:47

Loving Liverpool (10) Liverpool Parish Church

Liverpool Parish Church is also also known as “Our Lady and St Nicholas”, and the current building was built after the original main body of the church was destroyed by fire on  21 December 1940, during the bombing of Liverpool by the Luftwaffe.

Situated close to the pier head it would have been much closer to the Mersey before all the changes and dock building was done.

The bombing attack resulted in the building of a new church, and the completed church, was dedicated to “Our Lady and St Nicholas” and it was consecrated on 18 October 1952.

The church had a very welcoming feel about it and it is light and very beautiful inside. Liverpool is a maritime city and that is reflected in the church too.  The best find was the Cunard Roll of Honour which was moved from the Cunard building and rededicated on 21 July 1990.

 

The nautical theme abounds and I found yet another bell from HMS Liverpool. Just how many bells did the ship have? (there is also an HMS Liverpool bell in the Cathedral)

One of those rare gems is the Roll of Honour of those who lost their lives during the 2nd World War while serving in merchant ships and fishing vessels. The case is made from wood from the Aquitania.

The Pulpit and Font.

Chapels.

Maritime Chapel of St Mary del Key (St Mary of the Quay)

Chapel of St Peter

The Cross in the Chapel of St Peter was created by Revd David Railton, who was the rector at Liverpool at the time, was formed of two pieces of fire blackened roof timbers taken from the ruins of the church. in 1920, Revd Railton wrote to the Dean of Westminster, about the possibility of giving an unidentified soldier a national burial service in Westminster Abbey. This became the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior 

The Grail Boat (Greg Tucker)

Our Lady of the Quay (Arthur Dooley)

Unfortunately I missed so much in the Garden of Remembrance that I now have a reason to revisit the church in the future. 

Atlantic Conveyor Memorial

And then I had to leave and go to my next destination.

As far as churches go this one is a relatively new building in an ancient parish, but it has managed to straddle the old and the new and the result is stunning. I regret not looking over the garden though, but the lack of headstones probably put me off.  But, that’s a good reason to return.

The Bombed Out Church.

I also found one more church that had been affected by the bombing, and it is the former St Luke’s Church on the corner of Berry Street and Leece Street, It is known as “The Bombed Out Church”

The church was built between 1811 and 1832, in addition to being a parish church, it was also intended to be used as a venue for ceremonial worship by the Corporation, and as a concert hall. It was badly damaged during the Liverpool Blitz in 1941, and remains as a roofless shell. It now stands as a memorial to those who were lost in the war, Unfortunately it was closed on both times I was there, but I was able to photograph two monuments of interest. 

The first is “Truce” by Andy Edwards, and it commemorates the the moment when British and German soldiers called a temporary truce during Christmas in the First World War.

The second monument is related to Malta.

There is an Irish Famine Memorial too, but for some strange reason I missed photographing it. 

Incidentally the surrounds were never used for burials, and today this is a nice peaceful green spot in the city. And that concludes my look at the two churches I saw in Liverpool and both are worthy of a revisit. Continue onwards to the final say.

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DRW © 2018. Created 19/06/2018

Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10

Loving Liverpool (6) Ferry Across the Mersey

Continuing where we left off…

Naturally visiting any sort of harbour presents possible opportunities to get on a boat or a ship, or at least to see one (or two).

MV Snowdrop

Liverpool did not disappoint because there is a ferry that crosses the Mersey and I had her in my sights as soon as I spotted her (which says a lot for her dazzle camouflage).

At the time “Snowdrop” was working “River Explorer” cruises between Pier Head Ferry Terminal to Seacombe Ferry Terminal, and then to Woodside Ferry Terminal where the U-Boat Story was and then back to the pier head. When I first hit the ferry terminal my first consideration was queues. These were very long to get on board so I decided against it at the time, although did try a bit later in the afternoon but by then it was her last round trip so I gave it a miss. It would have been better to have taken that late sailing because the light was so much better that afternoon compared to the next morning.

The next day was a different story (as detailed in Loving Liverpool (5)) but by 10 am I was on board and ready to sail! Let go for’ard!

The vessel was built in 1959 for the Birkenhead Corporation as “Woodchurch” by Philip and Son, Dartmouth and was yard number 1305

Builders Plate

She was launched on 28 October 1959 and made her maiden voyage from Dartmouth to the River Mersey in 1960.   She is of 617 GRT, with a length of 46.32 m (152 ft 0 in), beam:  12.2 m (40 ft 0 in) and draught of 2.46 m (8 ft 1 in), as built she had a capacity of  1,200 passengers. 

Fortunately she was not too crowded so I was able to wander around taking pics of her decks and seating areas and just taking in the scenery. I was hoping to get close to the Stena Mersey but almost half way across the river I saw that she was getting underway so managed to get some pics of that happening.

(1500 x 476) heading back towards Seacombe.

I rode the vessel only as far as Woodside where I jumped ship and went to look at the U-534 exhibit.

I reboarded Snowdrop at 11H30. 

We puttered along towards the bend in the river and I was able to see the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries berthed at Cammell Laird of Birkenhead.

The vessel above is RFA Wave Knight (A389), while the vessel on the slipway is a Royal Research Ship being built at an estimated cost of £200 million, with the name RRS Sir David Attenborough and she is expected to be in service in 2019. The vessel below is  RFA Fort Victoria (A387)

RFA Fort Victoria (A387)

I was not sure how far you could get if you walked along the promenade towards those ships at Birkenhead, although I had been tempted to try that in the morning. Actually with hindsight Birkenhead may have to go to the top of my bucket list if ever I get back to Liverpool.

And then we were alongside once again and the queue to board was already looking long. I was happy because I had had my “cruise”. It was not much but was better than nothing. At least for that hour I was on the deck looking towards land and not vice versa.

The second trip.

On my last day in Liverpool I discovered that the cruise ship Saga Sapphire was in port so I decided to grab a short hop across the river to Seacombe and see about getting pics of her from the ferry,

Unfortunately the sun was really in the wrong place so the pics came out pretty badly.

Commuter services run between Seacombe departing at 7.20 am with a ten minute trip across to the pier head terminal and back until the last arrival at the pier head at 9.50 am.  However, this morning fleetmate Royal Iris was berthed at Seacombe so I was able to grab closeups of her, but it also meant that there was either a vessel swap going to happen or she was going to do a cruise too.

I stayed on board Snowdrop and rode her back to the pier head.

From there I strolled to the passenger terminal and took a closer look at Saga Sapphire before plonking myself on a handy bench to see what happened with Royal Iris; who had shifted from where I saw her earlier. 

Voila, she unberthed and started to head towards me and Snowdrop started to come into the shot too from behind Saga Sapphire…. this could be interesting, because I was hoping to get them both together and was rewarded for my patience. Royal Iris was already packed so I suspect she was doing a cruise, possibly down the Manchester Ship Canal?

Why the dazzle camo?

Dazzle camouflage was really the brainchild of famous artist Norman Wilkinson and the zoologist John Graham Kerr, and it consisted of complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colours, interrupting and intersecting each other. the intention of it was to make it difficult to estimate a target’s range, speed, and heading.

How effective was it? It is certainly very strange to see and just maybe a few lives were saved as a result of it. However I have heard about the case of a WW1 destroyer sent to escort a large vessel that was dazzle camouflaged and her captain  admitted that he had to sail around the ship before he could work out which direction she was going in. The confusion of somebody trying to view a ship through a periscope could gain a potential target a few more seconds to evade a torpedo attack, and that was very important in the war at sea. False bow waves were also painted on ships too and I have seen images of a destroyer painted on the side of a passenger liner. 

The current mania for dazzle camo ships in Liverpool was really to draw attention to the war at sea and if it succeeded then that is a good thing. 

In January 2015 Snowdrop was given her unique new livery inspired by dazzle camouflage. Designed by Sir Peter Blake and entitled Everybody Razzle Dazzle.  She was one of three vessels commissioned to carry a dazzle livery, the others being Induction Chromatique à Double Fréquence pour l’Edmund Gardner Ship / Liverpool. Paris, 2014 by Carlos Cruz-Diez on the museum ship Edmund Gardner also berthed in Liverpool.

Tobias Rehberger’s Dazzle Ship London was created on HMS President in the River Thames. Unfortunately she was not in London in 2016 when I was there as she had been shifted to Chatham to make way for sewerage works. Her future was looking very bleak and it is unknown whether she will survive her cash crisis or not. She does need dry docking and funding is needed to get her through to her new berth in 2018. Images of her in dazzle camo are on her website

I do not know what Snowdrop looked like before she became so hard to see, but Royal Iris certainly looked much better in her normal livery.

As for Royal Daffodil, I was hoping to see her too, but she was nowhere that I was familiar with, at one point she started to sink at her mooring and I suspect she had been moved since then. I have since heard that she is laid up at the east float next to the Duke Street Bridge in Birkenhead and no real firm plans had been made about her future.

And that was my fun with ferries.

When next we return I will be dealing with Western Approaches Command and three large memorials that I found in the same area. Space permitting I will also visit the church on the waterfront

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DRW © 2018. Created 05/06/2018

Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10

Loving Liverpool (2) Pier Head

In which we continue our exploration of Liverpool.

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

(1500 x 291)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Fury

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

The plaque reads:

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

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

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

The Crossing

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

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

After the break… 

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Finding Abercromby Park, and the Anglican Cathedral

DRW © 2018. Created 02/05/2018

Updated: 14/06/2018 — 07:59

Loving Liverpool (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I arrived at midday, and the sun was shining!

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

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

Imagine this space in the days of steam…. 

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

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

St George’s Quarter.

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

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

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

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

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

Walker Art Gallery

World Museum and Central Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Liver Building

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

Cunard Building

Port of Liverpool Building

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

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

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

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

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

Snowdrop

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

The Titanic Memorial with Royal Liver Building in the background

Captain Frederic John Walker RN. Memorial

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

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

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

Liverpool Naval Memorial

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

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

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DRW © 2018. Created 02/06/2018.

Updated: 02/09/2018 — 08:46

Driving Goliath

Last year ’round about this time, Tewkesbury was holding what it calls “The Big Weekend” although last year it was probably more like “The Overcast Big Weekend”. What does happen is that quite a lot of activity centres around the bank of the Avon by the Tewkesbury Lock. It doesn’t really interest me though because it is really geared towards kids and families, and of course there are boats of all shapes and sizes. I am a ship enthusiast as opposed to a boat enthusiast, but I always have en eye open for something of interest. Last year my eye was drawn towards what looked like a telephone booth on a hull, but was actually a small tug that was berthed alongside and I did get pics but they really turned out poor because of the weather. This year it was a whole new ballgame because the weather was excellent.

The “vessel” in question was alongside again, her bow firmly shoved into the rear end of a barge/landing craft. 

I decided that when I got back from Evesham I would pop in and see whether I could get pics of her moving. 

Wind forward to 12H30 and I was back in town and headed down to the locks. By now things had woken up and the usual tables and rides had been set up. They did not interest me because I was after that tug. Unfortunately she was not where I had seen her that morning so I went and asked somebody at the Avon Navigation Trust (aka ANT) . She took me to a friendly fellow who said he would be happy to show me the tug and we could even go for a ride.

The tug was berthed on the opposite side of the bank and her barge from the morning was berthed nearby. And here she is:-

She is what is known as a  “Bantam Tug” and she is a pusher tug as opposed to one that tows. They were used extensively on inland waterways moving barges and small craft around. This particular vessel carries the name “City” on it and a bit of digging reveals that she was built in 1951 for the  Docks & Inland Waterways Executive in Watford and used on on the Thames at one point. Her builders were E C Jones & Son (Brentford) Ltd and she was number 17 out of 89 (number 13 and 15 did not exist). She was acquired by ANT in 1963. Her skipper proudly showed me her new engine which sits underneath the raised hatch area.

Apparently she was built with a 2 cylinder Lister engine and was not very manoeuvrable and took ages to go astern. She was rated at 30 BHP when built. The current engine is produced for IVECO and is a major improvement. 

Further looking would reveal her builders plate in the “wheelhouse”, and that ties into the information I did manage to pick up while researching her. 

Wheelhouse? its more like a telephone booth and was crowded with 2 of us in it, its actually crowded with 1 person in it. What I found interesting is that her helm drives the rudder through a chain system. No fancy hydraulics here I am afraid. If anything she is very minimalistic and functional

And then we were letting go from alongside and the skipper took us out, handing her over to me. I will be honest, I did badly at making her go in a straight line because she steers very differently to a car and I was not too sure of how many spokes to give her to achieve a desired direction. And of course I wanted pics! I also learnt a bit more about this particular stretch of waterway that I did not understand before and really need to make a few changes in my pages to reflect what I now know. 

Here we are sailing up the River Severn toward the Mythe Bridge. The gin palace ahead of us crossed our bows as we were coming out of the Avon into the Severn and she threw up a large wake that made our little vessel rock ‘n roll. I think I prefer the tug to the gin palace. I really wanted to film this part of the trip but my camera steadfastly refused to work in video mode. The skipper also showed me what she was capable of speedwise when he opened the throttle and it was literally one of those thrown back into your seat moments.  ANT seems to be very satisfied with the performance of her new engine.

I am afraid that she does not have space for anything else down there except engine, no wardroom table, or heads or even a galley. She is literally a hull with an engine. 

And then we were coming alongside again, my short trip completed, and a smile on my dial.

There is a lot that can be done to “give her character” but these were not built for the tourist trade or leisure activities, they are purely working vessels, and function over form is the watchword. I asked what her name was and was told it was “Goliath” but I do not see a name board reflecting that name, maybe it is more of a description? At any rate her original name is still displayed on the wheelhouse.

I was chuffed and gave a donation and continued on my my rounds, satisfied that I could add her to my list of ships that I have experienced. 

On the Sunday I was down at the event again, to see if she was moving at all, and to my satisfaction she was. Apparently the reason the barge looks like a landing craft is because it was a landing craft and belonged to the Royal Marines who donated it. I believe that one of her sisters is at the Gloucester Inland Waterways Museum so I may go look her up if I get there again. I certainly do not recall seeing one when I visited originally 

And that concludes my short look at one the peculiarities that live in the water. I believe she lives at Wyre Piddle near to Pershore. I wonder what else they have there of interest? I have seen a dredger before. She goes by the name of Canopus.

And that was my day. What a score it was too. My special thanks to the gent who took me for a spin, and for ANT who look after the waterways. They are always looking for volunteers so if you are interested drop them a line via their webpage

The best source of information on the tugs was by Jim Shead

The list of Bantam tugs is available at the Canal Museum Website

DRW © 2018. Created 21/05/2018

Updated: 23/05/2018 — 12:20
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