musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Tewkesbury

Revisiting Soldier’s Corner

The last time I was in Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol was October 2015, and on that visit I discovered that the original ledger stones had been installed on what is known as “Soldier’s Corner”. This area was established by the Bristol Red Cross who placed the original ledger stones on the graves in the 1920’s. Many plots have more than one soldier buried in them so there are multiple names on some stones. However, the ledger stones were not maintained by the CWGC although the screen wall behind them was. 

At some point the ledger stones were removed from the plot and stored underneath the Anglican Chapel where they were rediscovered, along with the original cross that used to be mounted on the plot. It was decided to re-install them, although many were broken or damaged and some were missing altogether. It was these restored stones that I went and photographed in 2015.

Wind forward to December 2017, the Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust and CWGC came to an agreement about the restoration of Soldier’s Corner, that involved replacing some stones, repairing and cleaning others and re-turfing the plot, thereby restoring it to what it may have looked like in the 1920’s. The project  was completed on 8 December 2018 and the unveiling of the plot was to coincide with the unveiling of the new headstone for Private William Walker, AIF, who died in Bristol on 11 December 1918.  I had been in contact with the family of Private Walker due to my work with Lives of the First World War and was invited to attend the unveiling and meet the faces behind the emails, I am however not a related to the family in spite of my surname. 

And that is the background to why I was about to head off to Bristol on this cloudy, windy, damp and dodgy Saturday. 

My major concerns for the day were twofold: weather and timing. The weather had been clearing in Tewkesbury when I left, but the forecast for Bristol was 50% chance of rain. The rising sun made a rare appearance for me, signifying that I needed to make the trip. 

When I did the navigation for the trip I was concerned that the service was only starting at 2pm, and I had two options on trains, 14H45 or 15H00, the next trains were nearly 2 hours later, and anything after that was just out. I really had to watch my timing very carefully. Unfortunately though Bath was holding some sort of market and when the train got to Cheltenham it was swamped. To make matters worse it was only a 2 coach train and it filled even more when we reached Gloucester, and even more as we neared Bristol. It was so bad that the train ended up standing longer at each station as people struggled to board or get off. It was a tight squeeze as you can see from my image below at Bristol Temple Meads.

I had planned on grabbing a taxi at Temple Meads but the roadworks in front of the station caused the taxi queue to stand still. It took me less time to walk out of the station and to the road than it did for a taxi that had a fare.  It is roughly 20- 30 minutes walk to the cemetery depending on how many detours I make, but on this day I made none because I was already running 20 minutes late. I had a list of 77 graves that were still outstanding from Arnos Vale and I was hoping to at least find a few of them between when I arrived and when I had to attend the function. However, I had forgotten what Arnos Vale was like. For starters it is a very hilly place and very overgrown in parts.

Recent rains had also made the going very treacherous in places so I would have to try to stick to paths where possible. The odd thing is that once I was in the cemetery and ready to search I could feel the old sensations of enjoyment come back. I used to love walking these cemeteries but have cut down considerably on them because of my own mobility issues these past 2 years. When Summer comes it is Arnos Vale and I!

Soldiers Corner was looking so much better than it had since I had last seen it. Compare the image below with the one at the top of the page.

There were two people busy planting flags and planning for the event, and after comparing notes I tackled the 82 ledger stones that I had to photograph.

Amongst the stones that was replaced was number 674, which is the grave of A Dowling, AG. Lavers, PC. Mitchell, W Toogood and Jacobus Mozupe (or Molupe). A South African, he died in Bristol on 28 August 1917 and he shares his grave with 4 others. Unfortunately the ledger stone for 674 was not amongst those reinstalled in 2015 and he was now afforded a proper marker just like those around him.

The grave on the left is 674, while the grave on the right (675) is for HG Jones, GW. Turner, M Modlala (Madhlala), W Podmore and WT. Hellier. Gunner Jones and Private Madhlala are both South Africans, of which there are 5 tagged to Arnos Vale.

The family gathering I was attending was being held in the former Anglican Chapel which also has a small crypt beneath it.  This is an image I took of it a few years back. 

I did manage to peek inside it in 2015, although this time around it did not have all the trappings of a wedding reception. I always wonder what it looked like way back when it was being used for its original purpose.

The family gathering was interesting, because it did bring through that you really needed a bit of genealogist in you to be able to fully appreciate the lives of those who are buried all around the chapel. William Walker and his siblings are long passed on, but 100 years down the line we were able to connect to those whom he was close to and to experience the loss of a soldier that died a month after the war had ended. Twice wounded, he had spent 2 years on the Western Front and we will never really know what he went through in those two years. He has not been forgotten though, and hopefully long after we have passed over others will remember him, and the other servicemen and women who gave their lives in the “Great War”.

I briefly went looking for the one grave I visit each time I am at Arnos Vale and this time I was determined to identify her.

Her name was Lillian Sarah Radford, and she was 2 years and when she passed away on 9 March 1902 and she was the daughter of George and Lillian Radford. Her statue is beautiful, and if you don’t know where she is you won’t find her.  The 1901 census records that she was born in Bristol in 1899 and was the youngest of 3 children

Crunch time was rapidly approaching and I had to make a decision whether to stay for the service or not and I decided to leave as it was just too risky with the train situation. I was not in the mood to get stranded in Bristol, and after a quick look around I turned my bows for home. People were arriving all the time and I even spotted a representative from South Africa, and that made up for me leaving. 

It had been quite an emotional trip, as these things usually are, because no matter how many times I see war graves I can never forget that each was connected to 2 other people, and each was affected by the deaths of that loved one, often in a foreign country far away.  

The seven images below are reproduced courtesy of Julian Walker and the CWGC

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today.

It is strange to see how so many countries were represented at this service, how strangers all came together to remember a soldier who lost his life so long ago. Looking a the images above I was struck by how smart the military personnel were, and how important that wreath laying is. As civilians we often forget that when large scale trouble does occur these are the men and women who are in the forefront, and who will lay down their lives for their countries and loved ones. That was also true for the men and women way back in 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.

The road to the station is a familiar one, I have walked it quite a few times, thankfully the roadworks are complete so walking on the pavement is now possible.

I took a slightly different route as I wanted to see the Avon as it was flowing very strongly, and I was not disappointed.

I also found another Gromit statue at Paintworks, although I could not identify which it was. 

And of course there is a nice bridge to see on the way too.  I have not gotten a name for this one yet, and it does feature in my Banana Bridge post.  It does appear as if another bridge is being built in this area and it is to be called the St Philips Footbridge.

The one thing I do like about Bristol is the street art (not to be confused with those meaningless “tags” so beloved of spray paint purchasers).  This pair caught my eye.

The dogs are raised from the surrounding brickwork, and while the 2nd one seems to have been ruined it really looks awesome.

One of my favourite buildings in Bristol stands just outside the station. It used to be the headquarters of the former Bristol and Exeter Railway,  and was designed by Samuel Fripp and opened in 1854. Alas it is now an office complex, but it really needs to be something more grand like a hotel or museum.

At the station it appeared as if my train was still on time, and I had 10 minutes to grab some pics of the all new Class 800 Azuma that are replacing the long lived HST’s that have dominated train travel in the UK for so many years. I have been trying to get pics of these for quite some time and this time I was successful.

800-031

800-317

On the other platform 47-378 in the Cross Country livery showed these newcomers a thing or 2.

My own train arrived shortly after I hit the shutter and it was a Class 166, and these seem to be appearing more often in my viewfinder. It seemed to have originated in Malvern and not Bath so was reasonably empty, but it could quite easily have been choc-a-block had it come from the opposite direction. I was just relieved that I could get home without having to fight my way onto a train. 

And then we were on our way, it started to drizzle just after we left Bristol, and of course the light was also fading and by the time I reached Ashchurch it was getting dark very fast. The sun leaves us early these days, but soon it will turn and get darker later. Winter however will still be with us for awhile.

My mission was semi complete. I had to sort and label pics and of course write this post as well as send off images to whoever needs them, then there are all those Lives that need new images in my Arnos Vale Community I will probably change things in this post too, but I will leave that till tomorrow.

Mission accomplished. 

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 09/12/2018. Some images courtesy of Julian Walker and the CWGC

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:51

The village tour: Beckford

Continuing where we left off

Beckford (Google Earth:  52.020002°, -2.038073°) was the last village that I wanted to incorporate into my grand village tour that started in October, although there was no real reason to visit it as there was technically no War Memorial that needed photographing. In fact the one object that I originally thought may have been one turned out not to be one. I hit the road at 8.38 on Monday 26th, the plan being to photograph Beckford then continue to Evesham, do some shopping and then return home for lunch and to head to work for the evening shift at 4pm.

The bus travels through Bredon, Kemerton, Overbury, Conderton and finally Beckford. The pillar in the images above is really a road marker with the distances to the various village and towns around. A more modern equivalent also points more or less in the right direction.

The houses below are reasonably new additions I believe. Apparently a passing train caused a fire that decimated the old thatched cottages in this area, but the newer equivalents are not too awful.  

The left hand side of this road is dominated by 3 properties: and from the street you can only really glimpse 2 of them. 

The property to the left of the image above is where the church of St John The Baptist is, and that was where I ended up. 

The Lych Gate in front is the village War Memorial, although there are no names inscribed on it.

And the church behind it is a beauty with perfect proportions and a very nice churchyard surrounding it. There are however no CWGC graves in the churchyard, but there was a surprise in store.

I circumnavigated the church and tried the front door. It was unlocked and I hoped that there was something to see within. I have visited a number of parish churches in the UK and some are truly spectacular, and many are very old; St John’s seems to encapsulate both.  I was pleased to meet a church warden inside and he took me around the church. The village has had a church on this spot for about 1200 years, and a church is referred to as far back as 803 A.D.  It can really be split into 3 sections: the older section being to the left of the spire,

then the spire itself (where the organ is situated),

and finally the area to the right of the spire (where the Altar may be found)

Yes it looks kind of plain, but this building carries a lot of the weight of ages in its structure, as well as the handiwork of those who built it so many centuries ago. There are many unique features in the church, one of the stranger ones is a piece of carved graffiti on one of the pews dated 1710! 

The War Memorial inside the church is a brass plaque, and what makes it unique is that it not only gives the names of the casualties, but also their causes/places of death. There are 17 names on the Memorial plus one name from the 2nd World War. There is also a separate Roll that lists the 80 men from the village who went off to war in 1914. 

Of special interest is the name of Kathleen Bennett, a VAD who died from TB in 1920. She is buried in the churchyard and her home was next to the church. There is also a stained glass window commemorating her. It is quite rare to find a woman on a war memorial, they tended to be conveniently forgotten or omitted. 

I could waffle on about this church for ages, but won’t because this is supposed to be a village tour as opposed to a church tour, but it turned into one because realistically the village life would have been deeply meshed into their parish church, they would be christened in the 15th century font, and would be buried in God’s Acre around it.  

 

The village also has a post office/shop,  but I did not see a local pub but I bet there is one.

My watch put the time at just before 10 am. But my bus would only arrive at 10.57, so I checked for a bus heading back to Tewkesbury and decided to grab that instead. The problem with hanging around for an hour is that realistically once you have walked the village flat you end up having to stand around waiting… and I was not ready to do that for an hour, especially on a full bladder. There is much more to this village than what I had briefly explored, so maybe that is a reason for a return?

And that was Beckford, and the conclusion of my grand village tour. I do need to return to Overbury and visit Conderton, as well as possibly return to Ashton Under Hill, but that’s for another day. I will do a proper ROH post for the church at a later date.

What does the Domesday book have to say about Beckford?

  • HundredTibblestone
  • CountyGloucestershire / Worcestershire
  • Total population: 67 households (very large).
  • Total tax assessed: 11 geld units (very large).
  • Head of manor: Beckford.
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 11 geld units. Taxed on 11.0.
  • Value:
  • Households: 34 villagers. 17 smallholders. 12 slaves. 4 female slaves.
  • Ploughland: 3 lord’s plough teams. 30 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: 1 mill, value 0.03. 1 church.
  • Lord in 1066Rotlesc, a royal Guard.
  • Overlord in 1066King Edward.
  • Lords in 1086Ansfrid of CormeillesKing William.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086King William.
  • Phillimore reference: 1,59

Random Images  

 

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 26/11/2018. The Open Domesday Project and the associated images are kindly made available by Professor J.J.N. Palmer. Images may be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence. 

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:50

The End of the War

Today we commemorate the end of the First World War. The guns fell silent on this day 100 years ago, although they really just went into standby mode for the next global conflict that was a result of the peace that came at the end of 1918.  It is strange to think that in 2014 we were remembering when it started, and now we remember the end. But in that 4 year period what did we do? I know I changed jobs, moved house, got new glasses, built ships, read books, cycled, shopped, ate, slept and brooded. But if you were in the military way back then the chances are you would have been shot at, shelled, gassed, wounded, abused, messed around, and prayed that you would get a “blighty” that would take you home. Time is a strange thing, it can pass so quickly, but drag so slowly.

I was wearing a very large knitted poppy this week and somebody admired it. I explained that the poppy was very big because I have a lot of remembering to do during this period. I remember not only those who I am connected to immediately, but also a whole army of men and women who served in the wars, as well as their families and the many animals that served and died.  My involvement with the South African War Graves Project and the Lives of the First World War project have given me a greater understanding of what we did to each other. The many names on the war memorials and graves that I photograph are always connected to at least 2 other people, who are each connected to two others and so on. If you really look at it hard enough the end result is staggering.

In a few minutes I will be heading out to the War Memorial in Tewkesbury where we will commemorate the people who are named there, and the millions of others who are not listed on a memorial. Mothers, Fathers, Sons and Daughters, Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, Friends and Family. They are all an integral part of the symbolism of the poppy.

13H27 11/11/2018.

Once again Tewkesbury came out in force and we commemorated this dark period of history with a solemn service. The sun blessed our endeavours by shining brightly for the hour that we spent at “The Cross”. This year they read out the names from the memorial, and it kept on occurring to me how many of the names on it were the same;  back in 1914 the town had a much closer knit community, and “joining up” was something that was “done” back then. 

And once again the front of the marching column had reached the memorial before the slightly ragged end had left the Abbey. Children are included in service and I hope that some will take heed of the importance thereof and one day watch their own children march past in a ragged line of sombre expressions and the occasional shy waves. 

And when it was done the clouds came up and the occasional spatter of rain fell, not enough to scatter everybody but enough to change the atmosphere.  The parade marches off and then returns once again, passing the Memorial en route to the Town Hall where the Mayor takes the salute. It can get very crowded there so I tend to stick close to the Memorial to watch the parade as it “Eye’s Right” past us. 

Close by was a little girl in a red coat sitting on her fathers shoulders, and she returned the salute to every group that came past. And, it was not a half baked salute either, but a proper one, and I like to think that those who marched past appreciated her efforts. She made my day and pulled me out of the gloom that I was in.

The crowds have all dispersed and gone home to their roast, 2 veg and spuds, but back then what did Tommy and his mates have to say nearly 3 hours into the armistice? You can bet they were wary of the peace but glad that it was done, and you can bet Pierre and Gunther and soldiers on both sides were equally glad that they had come through it all intact, although some would be scarred mentally and physically for the rest of their lives. You can bet the Nurses and VAD’s did not cease their vigil over the men who were in their care, and you can bet that in homes throughout the world there was joy and sadness in abundance. 

We have not learnt the lessons of the war because sabres are still being rattled as politicians push their own agendas. If it happens again it will be a short war, but a very long nuclear winter will follow. 

The two World Wars made the planet what it is today.  And what would those who lost their lives have said about the mess we are in? I am sure that they would be disgusted.

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created Remembrance Day 2018.

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:50

The village tour: Kemerton and Overbury

The day finally arrived, it was time to embark on my grand tour of the villages en route to Evesham. The weather forecast was favourable, my navigation was done and all that was left was hitting the road. My plan was to travel by bus to Kemerton, take my pics and then head over to either Overbury or Ashton-Under-Hill, and from there to Evesham. The only real hard and fast decision was that Kemerton would be my first stop. 

I grabbed the 07.35ish 540 bus in misty weather and even the sun was still partly asleep at this time of the morning, and I duly arrived in Kemerton at 7.50ish. Everybody was apparently asleep too.

This is the road from Bredon.

I did not venture into the side streets of the village, but only the main street, and there is not a lot to see. 

Lost? this may help.

As you can see the sun was starting to colour the sky and the light was improving considerably.

Even the local shop/post office looked like it was starting to stir. This was the only shop I saw in the village. While “The Crown” was the only pub I saw, although there may be others. 

And finally, the reason for my early morning sojourn.

The War Memorial is described as a “Latin Limestone Cross atop a tall shaft, which is on a 5 stage base. The design of the cross was adapted from an ancient village cross in the village of Laycock.” (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/32460). It was unveiled on 9 January 1921, and was made by Sir Herbert Baker RA (possibly the architect?), Messrs E T Taylor of Tewkesbury and Mr A Stanley of Kemerton. It is a Grade II listed structure. 

There are 20 names from the First World War and 7 from the Second World War on the memorial.

The building in the picture behind the memorial had an interesting sign painted on the wall, although I do not know if it is a period sign or a recent addition.

The rent was paid, it was time to walk across to Overbury which was less than a kilometre away, past the village hall (dated 1902), 

although walking on the pavement was difficult because the grass was heavy with dew. Not much was stirring here, but then it was still early.

Much to my delight I found a Catholic Church on the outskirts of the village, and it still had a graveyard.

It is called St Benet’s Catholic Church (served by the Benedictines of Douai Abbey), and it was built in 1843 by M E Hadfield, together with the adjoining Priest’s House.

I had missed the local Anglican Church though, so that is another reason for a return to the village. Across the street from the church was a large field with grazing sheep and a white painted farmhouse in the distance. There was a hint of mist in the air and the slowly lightening sky was still coloured orange by the sun on the clouds. It was one of those moments that always leaves me breathless. 

(1500 x 510)

In fact there were sheep having breakfast on both sides of the road. This chap was resting his wary head and we exchanged Baa’s. 

Kemerton is also mentioned in the Domesday Book

  • HundredTewkesbury
  • CountyGloucestershire / Worcestershire
  • Total population: 40.5 households (very large).
  • Total tax assessed: 13.4 geld units (very large)
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 60 geld units. Taxed on 60.0. Payments of 0.82 urban.

My next destination was in sight.

And in the distance I could see the the bell tower of St Faith’s, Overbury on the left side of the road. 

There are 5 CWGC graves in the churchyard, and all five are from the First World War. The War Memorial is incorporated into the Lych Gate so technically it could also double as a coffin rest.

The Memorial commemorates the Men of Overbury and Conderton who gave their lives in the Great War (and the Second World War).  There are 26 names from the First World War and 4 from the Second World War. (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/32563)

For some strange reason I took almost no images of the Lych Gate structure as I was too intent of trying to get the names instead. Once that was done I tackled the Churchyard, 4 of the headstones were standard CWGC pattern while the last was a private memorial, and it had been recently restored too.

Rent paid, it was time to move onwards. And I seemingly did not photograph the church completely, although it was not easy to get an unobstructed view of it. Fortunately I did get the back of the Lych Gate.

The Exif data of this image puts the time at 8.34 and I still had to find the bus stop to get the bus that theoretically should arrive about 8.50. I had scoped the route out on my maps and the bus stops were marked on it, so no problemo!

In fact, the timetable listed the bus stop as “opposite shelter”, and this is the shelter….  

The shelter however is on the side heading back to Tewkesbury, and Google Earth marks the stop as being roughly 50 metres before the shelter, and the locals said the stop was at a small bench 50 metres on the other side of the shelter. This is the UK,  if you do not stand at a designated bus stop the bus will not stop! 

Overbury Church Of England First School

Old Village Shop

Overbury is in the Domesday Book too:

  • HundredOswaldslow
  • CountyWorcestershire
  • Total population: 15.5 households (medium).
  • Total tax assessed: 3 geld units (medium)
  • Head of manor: Overbury.
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 6 geld units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £6. Value to lord in 1086 £6.
  • Households: 15 villagers. 7 smallholders. 6 slaves. 2 female slaves. 1 priest.
  • Ploughland: 3 lord’s plough teams. 12 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 10 acres. Woodland 1 * 1 leagues. 0.5 church lands.
  • Lord in 1066Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Lord in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Places mentioned in this entryOverburyPendock.

and this is the road out of here.

The next village in the route was Conderton although I was not stopping there, and fortunately the bus driver saw my frantic waves from what I hoped was the bus stop.

My next destination was Ashton-Under-Hill and that is over the page….

forwardbut

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 20/10/2018.  The Open Domesday Project and the associated  images are kindly made available by Professor J.J.N. Palmer. Images may be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.  

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:49

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, Sedgeberrow, and finally Fairfield. 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)

forwardbut

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

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:48

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 – 2019. Created 25/09/2018 

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:48

Last days

This afternoon I closed the door on yet another chapter of my life, and the outcome can go either way. I have left my job in Tewkesbury due to personal and health reasons and I am hoping to find something else somewhere else.

It is quite strange to pack your goodies after so much time, hell, I have done it so many times I am an expert! But it’s the funny things that I end up breaking up that make me smile the most: my 2 decker paper tray and my makeshift shelf were all cobbled together from boxes and wood, and helped make my life just that easier. Let’s face it, I can be a messy worker at times so every little bit of shelving or organising space helps. Wherever I have worked I have built these contraptions, often because the companies do not provide decent spaces where you can stash your “stuff”. I also have bought a number of tools to make things easier and these will now join my every expanding toolbox at home. 

It is depressing to think that the knowledge I have gained over these 3 years will never be used again, I can pull the little flush lever in my brain and it can join the knowledge of all the arcane stuff that I have fixed or worked on in my career that lives in the dusty archives of my brain basement. I do however keep some skills handy because sometimes odds and ends of it will be used somewhere else. A good example is my printer repair skills that were last used in 1998. Little did I know that in 2015 I would have to dredge them from the dusty archive of my mind, and when I first started here 3 years ago I was embarrassed to see how much things had evolved since I first started working on printers. Way back then a colour laser was unheard of, and ink jets were rickety machines that often stopped printing randomly. There was no such thing as USB or Wifi, it was serial or parallel only! Things have come a long way since then though, and pricewise they have definitely improved, although that may not be true in South Africa where nothing ever comes down in price.

The one thing I usually miss has to do with the people I worked with. Because I lead a solitary life I very rarely get to know people well except in the case of work colleagues. I spend 8 hours in a day with them (as they do with me), and naturally it can be an up and down affair depending on how much work we have or how much we get moaned at or how much we help each other. The tech field seems to draw slightly “weird” (in a nice way) characters and this time around was no different.  I will miss them the most, and the sad thing is that in so many cases, when you walk out the door for the last time you never see them again.  This will be true from the 1st of September.

Naturally there are those who I will not miss, but I will not discuss them, suffice to say that I have encountered many of these in my careers, and they exist everywhere too.

As I head into the last 3,5 hours I am still bogged down with broken machines, but my pile of stuff is steadily moving towards my backpack as I prepare to sail towards the horizon. Here be dragons? Who knows.

Will I remain in Tewkesbury? It really depends on whether I can find work to pay the rent while I look for permanent work wherever that may be.

As I always say: watch this space!

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 31/08/2018

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:47

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival 2018

 [ TCVF2016 ] [ TCVF 2017 ]

The Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival is held around this time of the year pretty much longer than I have lived here. I missed the 2015 event as it was cancelled because of heavy rain, but this year, 2018, is probably the last time I will be attending the event. It is fascinating to walk through because so many of the vehicles are cars from my past, and my parents past too. It did not seem that there were as many vehicles on display this year, and of course the weather was grey and cloudy some of the time. But, it was still packed and cars were still arriving by the time I left just after 12 (and the sun was making token appearances too). 

How to not repeat what I have posted before? duplication will creep in, and many of the cars on show were here in the previous years too, so unlike last time when i posted 4 pages, this time I am going to try to keep it at 1. I am really going to try post the odds and ends that interest me in this post instead of the usual vehicles.

There were 2 speed merchants to see this year, and it’s kind of hard to picture them hurtling along because they will just be blurs in the lens. The first was the Bloodhound SSC,a British supersonic vehicle currently in development. Its goal is to match or exceed 1,000 miles per hour (1,609 km/h), and achieving a new world land speed record. The pencil-shaped car  is designed to reach 1,050 miles per hour (1,690 km/h).

The vehicle was supposed to be tested on the Hakskeen Pan in the Mier area of the Northern Cape, but it appears that the record attempt has been put off till 2019. Maybe one day we will hear that it happened, but this glimpse at the needle nosed speed merchant was a unique one,

Speed merchant number two was a dragster, and its the first one I have ever seen in real life before. Its an impressive beastie but seems almost fragile. I know nothing about these vehicles but the fastest competitors can reach speeds of up to 530 km/h and can cover the 1,000 foot (305 m) run in anything between 3.6 and 4 seconds (on a good day?).  

Fortunately I prefer a more sedate drive and one of the many oldies I saw was a fabric bodied Austin 7 from 1928.

The British weather played havoc with the vehicles and I don’t think there are too many survivors around. The fabric used was called Rexine’, a cloth coated with a mixture of cellulose paint and castor oil and formerly used in the manufacturing of WW1 aircraft wings. I was quite fortunate to see this old lady and hear about the unique body. Truly a rare gem of a vehicle.

Two other oddities that tickled my fancy were a pair of milk floats in the Cotteswold Dairy livery. I cycle past the Dairy every morning and it never occurred to me that they would have operated floats too. 

How many of us used to collect Matchbox cars as children? and how many were thrown away by our mothers? quite a lot of them end up in boxes like this one…

Spot the blue Mini… I almost had to have a dual with a munchkin over the contents of that box, and we both left satisfied and clutching our 50p toys in sweaty hands. Phew, these muchkins can play dirty though. On the subject of Mini’s, yes there were quite a few there, and I have probably seen most of the ones on display, naturally some caught my eye, although the pink one was kind of jarring. It was for sale too, but I had spent my last 50p so was skint.

The other Mini that hurt my eyes was this orange 1970 Mini Clubman Estate (the turquoise one was quite nice too), I will post the new Mini’s in my famous Mini Minor with two flat tyres gallery at some point.

Another interesting find was this Ford Escort that did not come from the factory like this. It is a four seater, 3 sleeper motor caravan based on the Ford Escort 8 cwt deluxe van. 

The odd love of camper vans was also evident from the many VW’s Kombi’s around in various states of quirkiness.  I believe the windows in the roof were for viewing mountains with. 

Next to this old lady was a Beetle Cabriolet from the 1970’s. I was not too keen on the bubble gum colour, but she was a nice vehicle and her own was justifiably proud of her.

And you can always enjoy your travels on 2 wheels if the need takes you, and there were some interesting bikes on display too. The show stopper however was this beaut. It was a seriously large bike, but I have no idea how the rider manages with it.

There were a few other vintage machines, the first one in this trio is a 1914 Triumph Roadster.

although I kind of liked this Lambretta step through scooter in spite of the colour.

Chrome was evident in many of the vehicles though, and that reminds me, have you seen my Figureheads and Hood Ornaments post yet? I started it way back in 2017 and was finally able to complete it in 2018. 

Dream car? besides a Mini? there are a few that really make me ooh and aah, and right at the top of the list is the Morgan and this red example is perfect. Sadly I did not see any 3 wheel Morgans around this year.

There were not too many small commercial truck and van variants around, but there were two that made me smile.

I could probably waffle the whole day about the 400 images that I took, but I wont. Suffice to say I enjoyed this blast from the past. What I did find quite odd though was that there were a number of vehicles that are still in production on show (Golf’s and Mercs and Beemers), and I cannot quite class them as vintage or even classic. But if you look at it rationally, the VW Golf has been in production since 1974, and those 1974 models are now over 40 years old and technically are classics. What I do find hard to think about is that in 50 years time car enthusiasts may be looking at some of the plastic rubbish on our roads and discussing the merits of the internal combustion engine and a pre 2000 VW Golf, or the merits of a three wheel vehicle over a hoverspeeder.

And as usual I shall leave you with some random cars. In no particular order and with no favouritism anywhere. 

 

 

And that was it for the Classic Vehicle Festival of 2018. It was fantastic and special thanks to all those who keep these oldies running and in such a great condition. I probably wont see you next year, but I have many memories to carry me forward of the event that I have seen this year and in 2016 and 2017.

 [ TCVF2016 ] [ TCVF 2017 ]

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 19/08/2018

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:53

Figureheads and Hood Ornaments

The one item that seems to have disappeared from motor vehicles is the Figurehead aka “Hood Ornament”. In South Africa a hood is a bonnet and a trunk is a boot. Sound confusing enough? The age of plastic has left us somewhat poorer as can be seen by the examples that I photographed at the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Event. Somehow a badge just doesn’t cut it as much a a chrome bird or symbolic creature. I don’t know of too many modern vehicles that sport these anymore,  I know Rolls Royce still sports the “Spirit of Ecstacy” and Mercedes Benz still have their gunsight up front. These images are purely for enjoyment, no captions are needed.

I never published this post way back in 2017 when I started it because there was more I wanted to add in but never did, this year around at the Classic Vehicle Festival (2018) I went looking for more of these but the odds are I saw the same ones. Anyway, I am going to post this in 2018 come hell or high water!

   
   
   
   
   
   

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicles 2018

DRW © 2017 – 2019. Created 21/08/2017. Finally completed 19/08/2018

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:53

The Battle of Tewkesbury 1471

Having seen the re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury I feel that the time has come to try lay it to bed. I have seen enough now to finally make some sort of sense of it, although I probably still don’t know enough. You can read about the actual battle on the relevant page on Wikipedia 

To really understand the whole shebang you need to know where it happened and there are a number of maps out there to show the area. I picked up this one in a shop window although I do not know when it dates from, but it does show the outline of the cemetery which means it was created after 1857 as the cemetery was opened in that year. There is a reason why the cemetery position is important, but that comes later. 

(Lancastrian forces are the darker rectangles, Yorkists are the lightly shaded forces)

What you should know is that the Lancastrians are descendants or supporters of John (of Gaunt) Duke of Lancaster, second son of Edward III, younger brother of Edward the Black Prince. Their badge was a red rose and in the context of the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Wars of the Roses they were the army fielded by Queen Margaret of Anjou, 

The Yorkists were descendants or supporters of Edmund of Langley, fifth son of Edward III and, from 1385 1st Duke of York, and they adopted the white rose as their badge. In the context of the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Wars of the Roses they were the army fielded by King Edward IV.

Having landed at Weymouth the Lancastrians were seeking to cross the River Severn into Wales to meet up with Jasper Tudor and the men he was gathering, then march into Lancashire and Cheshire, and raise the men of the north to overturn the Yorkist throne. The nearest crossing point was at Gloucester and forewarned King Edward sent urgent messages to the Governor, Sir Richard Beauchamp, ordering him to bar the gates to Margaret and to man the city’s defences. When Margaret arrived at Gloucester on the morning of 3 May, Beauchamp refused to let her army pass, and she realized that there was insufficient time to storm the city before Edward’s army arrived. 

Her army made another 16 km forced march to Tewkesbury, hoping to reach the next bridge at Upton-upon-Severn 11 km further on.  The Lancastrians halted for the night at Tewkesbury, while Edward drove his army to make another march of 9.7 km from Cheltenham, finally halting 4.8 km from the Lancastrians who knew they could retreat no further before Edward attacked their rear, and that they would be forced to give battle.

As day broke on 4 May 1471, the Lancastrians took up a defensive position a mile south of Tewkesbury. To their rear were the Rivers Avon and Severn. Tewkesbury Abbey was just behind the Lancastrian centre.  A farmhouse then known as Gobes Hall (Modern day Gupshill Manor) marked the centre of the Lancastrian position. 

Gupshill Manor

The Lancastrian army was approximately 6000 strong, and as was customary was organised into three “battles”. The right battle was commanded by the Duke of Somerset, the  centre was commanded by Lord Wenlock, while 17 year old Prince Edward was present with the centre. The left battle was commanded by the John Courtenay, 15th Earl of Devon. The River Swilgate, protected Devon’s left flank, before curving behind the Lancastrian position to join the Avon. The main strength of the Lancastrians’ position was provided by the ground in front, which was broken up by hedges, woods, embankments and “evil lanes”. This was especially true on their right. On the map below the Swilgate starts at the upper right and cross through the map in front of the abbey. 

The Yorkists numbering roughly 5000, were slightly outnumbered and they too were organised into three battles. King Edward commanded the main battle and his vanguard was commanded by his youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester while Lord Hastings commanded the rear. 

To the left of Edward’s army was a thickly wooded area and he ordered 200 mounted spearmen to occupy part of the woods and prevent the Lancastrians making use of them, or act on their own initiative if they were not themselves attacked. These men really played an important role in the defeat of the the Lancastrians.

Edward then “displayed his bannars: dyd blowe up the trompets: commytted his caws and qwarell to Almyghty God, to owr most blessyd lady his mother: Vyrgyn Mary, the glorious Seint George, and all the saynts: and advaunced, directly upon his enemyes.”

As they moved towards the Lancastrian position the Yorkist army found that the ground was so broken up by woods, ditches and embankments that it was difficult to attack in any sort of order. Yorkist archers and artillery showered the Lancastrians with arrows and shot.  The Duke of Somerset led at least part of his men via some of the “evil lanes” to attack Edward’s left flank.  Edward’s men resisted stoutly, beating back Somerset’s attack,  the 200 spearmen Edward had earlier posted in the woods attacked Somerset from his own right flank and rear.  Somerset’s battle was routed, and his surviving army tried to escape across the Severn. Most were cut down as they fled. The long meadow astride the Colnbrook leading down to the river is known to this day as “Bloody Meadow”.

As its morale collapsed, the rest of the Lancastrian army tried to flee, but the River Swilgate became a deadly barrier. Many who succeeded in crossing it converged on a mill south of the town of Tewkesbury and a weir in the town itself, where there were crossings over the Avon. Here, too, many drowned or were killed by their pursuers.

Two weeks ago I found a memorial that I did not know about before and it was situated in an area known as “The Vineyards” and is on the edge of the cemetery. (position can be seen on the map below)

The Vineyards formed part of the battlefield and the memorial is sited on what was then Holme Castle, and the Abbey is visible in the distance. I was standing with the cemetery behind me when I took this image. The memorial  marks where the defeated Lancastrians routed and fled towards the “safety” of the town and presumably to seek refuge in the Abbey. Fortunately the Abbey played no part in the battle, but was caught up in the aftermath

Wars of the Roses Reference

Holme Castle Reference

Margaret of Anjou was taken captive by William Stanley at the end of the battle,  while her only son, Edward of Westminster was killed, although the manner of his death is not clearly known, some sources state he was executed in the market place of Tewkesbury. The Queen was completely broken in spirit and ended her days in France as a poor relation of the king. She died in the castle of Francis de Vignolleshis in Dampierre-sur-Loire, on 25 August 1482 at the age of 52 

The grave of  Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster may be found in Tewkesbury Abbey. 

“Here lies Edward, Prince of Wales, cruelly slain whilst but a youth, Anno Domine 1471, May fourth. Alas the savagery of men. Thou art the soul light of thy Mother, and the last hope of thy race.”

A number of others from the battle are also buried in the Abbey, and it is likely many of the foot soldiers were buried where they fell. History is not altogether clear as to their fate, after all, in this struggle for power they were really just pawns in a larger power game between kings and queens.  

The Arrivall

Just past Gupshill Manner on the Stonehills roundabout on the A38. there are two large wooden statues collectively known as The Arrivall.  The two 5 metre works, feature a victorious knight on horseback and a defeated horse. They took 15 years to plan and two years to make and they were created by Sculptor Phil Bews from the Forest of Dean and were unveiled in May 2014. They pretty much sum up the battle in two images. Unfortunately  I have never been able to see them up close and personal but only managed images from the bus.

More reading:  

Matt’s History Blog

Wikipedia page on the Wars of the Roses

UK Battlefield Resource Centre

Tewkesbury Battlefield Society

There is a lot written about the battle and the consequences thereof, who wrote the story? probably the winners. Personally I really deal with aftermaths, as my collection of references above shows. I do not know the whole story, but one of these days I will do the tour and hear another version and hopefully I will be able to add even more to this page afterwards. 

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 17/07/2018

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:56
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