musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Avon River

Edging back to Evesham

While waiting for my new temp job to start I decided to do a morning trip back to Evesham to have a look at the Almonry Museum which had so far been closed each time I visited the Town. 

I caught the bus just after 8.30 in Tewkesbury which left me about 30 minutes to kill in Evesham before the museum opened and I planned to pay a visit to Bengeworth Cemetery which is not too far from the museum. It opened in 1857 and there are 6 CWGC graves in it, 3 from WW1 and 3 from WW2. The weather was nice and sunny but you can feel the slight bite of winter in the air already, best get it done now while I could. 

Crossing the Avon at the Workman Bridge I headed east along Port Street which then becomes Broadway Road after the roundabout. Before the roundabout was the Parish Church of St Peter which was really a typical church found in any number of towns in the UK. The churchyard is now a garden and unfortunately the church was closed. It was quite a difficult church to photograph though because of the big tree in the way.

And not too far away was the cemetery  (52.089526°,  -1.934438°), fronted by a small building which may have doubled as a chapel, office or store. 

There was an interesting relic in the building which may have been used in the moving of coffins.

The cemetery is not a large one, and was not really a cemetery to die over, but somewhere in there were the graves I was after. 

Of course the standard CWGC headstone is easy to spot, but three of the graves were private headstones so they needed a bit more legwork, however, all were found and after a few contextual shots I headed back the way I came. 

Evesham is an old town and you can see it in the street leading up to the bridge. Lots of small shops with flats above them, no longer prime real estate and in a busy street that has limited parking.

I do like the town though, it has all the amenities and a good public transport system, but I have not explored it all yet.

Finally the museum.

This 14th Century building was once home to the Almoner of the Benedictine Abbey that was founded at Evesham in the 8th Century. An almoner is a chaplain or church officer who originally was in charge of distributing money to the deserving poor. Following the closure of the Abbey by Henry VIII, the Almonry became the personal home of the last Abbot, Philip Ballard, whilst the rest of the Abbey buildings were sold to Sir Philip Hoby who arranged for the quarrying of the stone.

The Almonry has had a varied career: ale house, offices, tea rooms, private home, until it was finally purchased by Evesham Borough Council in 1929, opening as a heritage centre in 1957. Today, the Almonry is still owned and funded by Evesham Town Council (http://www.almonryevesham.org/about-us/)

Inside it was a veritable treasure house of goodies laid out in the small pokey rooms with their creaking floorboards and low doorways. Its the sort of place that gives you a glimpse into a totally different way of life, but without the usual glitz and gadgetry of a modern museum.

The main display I was after was model of the former Abbey, I had seen pics of it and really wanted to see it up close and personal. I was not disappointed.

It is interesting to see how the two parish churches and existing bell tower fit into the abbey complex, and in the bottom left you can see the Almonry building that I was about to explore. I will add more images of the model to my post about the Abbey.

As you can see it is an eclectic mix of items, some themed to a particular trade or occupation. The metal object with all the holes in the right hand corner is a prisoners bed from Evesham Jail. I believe the jail was housed at the almonry at one point, and there was a bigger jail in town. 

Outside the garden is on display with an interesting collection of odds and ends that originate from all ages. A close look at the buildings reveals that there are very few straight edges and parts of it lean at an odd angle; but then I would lean at an odd angle if I was that old too.

It is a very pretty spot, but somehow I got the feeling that it could be a very creepy spot too. Back inside I went into the World War 1 display which also had a section on the Battle of Evesham, and of course the effect of the war on the town and its people.

The display case above has a information about the two Victoria Cross holders with ties to the town:- Guardsman William Edgar Holmes VC. and Private William Jones VC. 

There was also a mock up class room, complete with apples on desks (the fruit, not the gadget). 

The wooden boxlike gadget in the upper right hand corner is a “Pedoscope“, also known as a shoe-fitting fluoroscope. 

These have long been legislated out of use, but back in their day they were considered high tech devices. 

A last glimpse into somebodies window… and I was finished for the day.

The museum is a gem, there is a lot to see and digest, and the World War 1 display had a lot of personal items relating to one of the casualties and to the Abbey Manor Auxilliary Hospital from 1914-1918. I need to process those and decide how I want to present what I saw.

I am glad I made the trip to see the museum, and would return there readily. I do recommend it as a place to experience, even if it is just to see what a 14th century building looks like.  I spent an hour looking around town, popping into the Magpie Jewellers to look around again. It too is a wonderous place to behold.

On my way home we passed through those little villages again and I am still going to do a day to each of them when I can. Logistically it will be difficult because of the bus times, but I think it can be done. I have spotted three war memorials from the bus, although photographing them has been almost impossible. I am going to visit these villages soon, so have started on a blogpost to deal with what I see. I have done the navigation, but have not been able to get it done due to other commitments. But, that’s for another day, for now the Almonry Museum is in the bag!

forwardbut

DRW © 2018. Created 13/09/2019

Updated: 29/10/2018 — 08:08

Sheepish in the snow

There is snow outside again. Wow, we will write about this winter for a looooong time, or at least still spring or summer (assuming we have one).  Anyway, I went walkies again because frankly I love seeing the snow.  I never grew up with the phenomena when I was young, in fact the first real snow I saw was in the USA in 2000.  Gathering my winter woolies I headed out on a different route and looked for somewhere new. The sad irony is that from Mitton I could see hills in the distance but could not find a place to photograph them as there was no open area with a clear view. Unless otherwise noted all images are 800×600 when opened.

(1500 x 567)

My meandering took me to a part of Mitton I had not been in before and I really wanted to see whether I could find Mitton Manner which served as a military hospital from June 1915, until it closed in January 1919. It treated 1,188 sick and wounded soldiers, the first patients being a group of Belgian soldiers. Over that period, only three patients died, and those from the 1918 influenza epidemic. It was manned by the Gloucestershire Red Cross volunteers, who were almost entirely local women, under the command of Mrs Devereux. (https://www.tewkesburymuseum.org/mitton-manor-plaque-unveiled/) . Not too long ago I spotted a set of images at the local doctors office about the house and it’s history as a hospital, but as usual I could not find them (since found  and their information is added to the update).

This strange structure below is supposedly called “the long barn”.

Update 07/05/2018.

This wonderfully warm and sunny bank holiday took me back to the former Mitton Manor where I was able to photograph the plaque relating to the role the house played in World War 1. I have however not found any trace of the Devereux family that were associated with the house at the time. 

The display at the Devereux Centre did not throw out too much information either. This is what it says:

In 1872 Dr Daniel Devereux was the inspiration for the opening of the first hospital and was appointed as surgeon.   

1914, Dr W.C. Devereux presides over the Tewkesbury Voluntary Aid Detachment under the Red Cross, to treat the influx of wounded. Mrs Ethel Devereux is appointed Commandant at Watson Hall

In 1915 the Red Cross moves to Mitton Farm. Over the next four years at least 121 local people served there.  

In 1918 Mrs Devereux is awarded the M.B.E for her work as Commandant.  And in 1919 Mitton Farm is stood down.  In 1927 Dr Devereux resigns from the post and the couple move to Cambridge. Mrs Devereux dies in 1931. Strangely enough, one of her daughters married a South African from Johannesburg. 

The Domesday Book entry for Mitton reads: 

  • Head of manor: Bredon.
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 4 geld units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £4. Value to lord in 1086 £4.
  • Households: 12 villagers. 6 smallholders. 10 slaves. 3 female slaves.
  • Ploughland: 5 lord’s plough teams. 9 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 40 acres. Woodland 2 furlongs.
  • 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 entryMittonTeddington.
  • Phillimore reference: 2,23

I hope to revisit this post once I find the odds and ends I had collected about the manor and Mrs Devereux. Another interesting snippet came via a work colleague who told me that at at one point the house was in the family of some baroness who was a famous model and who slept under her car when she arrived home only to find it had been vandalised in her absence (the house.. not the car). After our original conversation he found the following info:

“In the 1950s the estate was in the possession of an Austrian Baroness, Violet von Gagern, a former Cecil Beaton model. However, by 1960 the Baroness was rarely in residence, and the manor started to fall into decline. It was at this time that she sold much of the surrounding farmland to the housing company Jane s of Luton, which constructed the present housing estate, mainly between 1963-7. By 1969 the manor house had become so dilapidated that local residents started to voice concerns. But thankfully in 1971 a planning inquiry refused the Baroness permission to demolish the manor house to provide space for further new housing. Subsequently the house was bought and carefully restored by its present owners Jan and Margaret Lucas.”  (http://www.glosarch.org.uk/Glev%2037.pdf)

I also found out that the Carrant Brook that flows past where I live is actually the border between Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. 

My exit from Mitton took place more or less where the border signpost is, and I photographed that sign when I paid a visit to St Giles in Bredon in 2016. On the left hand side of this sign is a farm and of course the Avon flows past here too. It looked like this in 2016.

(1500×506)

The Avon was running quite low at that point, although the same cannot be said of today. What I was hoping to see were the sheep that live on that patch of green, and this post is dedicated to them. 

They were looking quite cosy in their woolie jumpers too. The area where they are is now a snow covered winter field, and the Avon is much higher than in 2016

(1500×791)

(1500×731)

(1500×747)

It is looking very beautiful out there, and at the time of writing the wind is blowing like mad. The weather forecast is for temps between 1 and -2 degrees with snow showers and breezy. It looks like it Winter will be with us just a wee bit longer this year. 

And that was the weather. We return you now to our regular Sunday broadcast of church music, radio drama and pictures of sheep. Baaaah. 

Incidentally, this is what it looks like today (07/05/2018)

(1500 x 544)

DRW © 2018. Created 18/03/2018. Updated 07/05/2018.  Domesday Book Image by Professor J.J.N. Palmer and George Slater. 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: 07/05/2018 — 19:26

This has also been true for January 2016

 

 
Yes it is true, it has been a very quiet 2016 so far, although in South Africa the old racism issue has raised its ugly head once again, and frankly I am not interested in that. Tewkesbury however is the same as usual, the only difference is that the water level has risen with the recent storms that the UK has experienced, the Avon and Severn have become one, and the flood plain outside my window has become a lake. The Carrant Brook that barely burbles is running strongly, and the local squirrel has probably started to take swimming lessons. 
 
 
Now ordinarily that building in the middle is where the Severn/Avon locks are. I posted about it last year, but currently it is easier to just go over the locks as opposed to through them.

Tewkesbury is prone to flooding, it is one of those things and probably has been like that since forever. Unfortunately it sits on two rivers, it is expected.

 

 

So, unless the weather improves and the Avon and Severn start dropping in depth things where I am may be a bit wet. 
Meanwhile, in South Africa there is a drought.  I would post some water back home but the SA post office is liable to steal it.
It never rains, it pours.

Update: 16/01/2106
The river is slightly down and the lake outside my flat is subsiding, the locks are also starting to re-emerge.

 


It was however a sparkling morning, with frost on the ground, ice in the streets and a nip in the air, one of those beautiful mornings that I love so much with its stunning light and a chill that is not too uncomfortable.

 

I believe it may snow on Tuesday evening….

© DRW 2016-2018. Images recreated 17/03/2016
Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:22

The Banana Bridge

While doing my Bristol blogposts I remembered that I wanted to do a separate post about the “Banana Bridge”. I had first crossed it in 2014, but that was as far as it got.

Built in 1883 by Finch and co, Chepstow, it is a footbridge that spans the Avon. Originally erected 1883 as a temporary footbridge on the site where Bedminster Bridge now stands, it was then transported by barges to Langton Street where it now stands. 

As far as bridges go, it is one of many in Bristol, and the unusual colour really makes it stand out amongst the herd. It is also a firm favourite with the Minions. 

There are other bridges in the city that I have crossed, but they are generally not easy to photograph. This is the Bedminster Road bridge.

And this is the Bath Road Bridge from 1885, with its slightly outdated information sign.

There is also a railway bridge that is close to the Bath Road Bridge, and this is it from the station. It does not however cross the Avon River

This is the Totterdown Bridge, and I have finally gotten across it.

Walking backwards along this route towards the station brings you to yet another interesting structure, and as yet I do not have a name for it. It is a railway/pedestrian bridge that crosses the Avon, and the pedestrian side comes from Victor Street. The bridge is painted a jaunty blue colour and was quite a nice one to cross.

victor30

Of course in my opinion, all these bridges pale into insignificance when measured against the Clifton Suspension Bridge  which I visited in early August this year. It really makes everything else look like a poor relative.

There are many more bridges in Bristol, but they are not easy things to photograph as a rule, I hope to add to this post as I explore more of the city, although with Winter coming my days of heading off on a whim are drawing to a close. Watch this space though, this may not be the end of the story.

Update 2018. 

I have added a few more bridges to the collection.

The first is the Redcliffe Bridge.

The Temple foot bridge 

The Bristol BridgePrince Street Swing Bridge

Pero’s Bridge

© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 02/05/2016. More images added 04/08/2018

Updated: 09/12/2018 — 17:42

Up and down the Avon.

This fine morning, I climbed on board my trusty Rusticle and headed off down the road to town, my objective being to investigate the Mythe Bridge further, as well as the railway tunnel and railway viaduct in the area.  
I have consolidated the material relating to the railway in a separate post
 
My Mythe Bridge exploration did yield some improved images and it is better to take a look at the original blogpost about the bridge.
 
The railway tunnel is a literally “over the road” but unfortunately was not accessible as it was fenced off and closed off. Although I was able to zoom into it from the gate. 
  
I discovered the other end in December 2016 and it is bricked closed. The tunnel appears to be roughly 300 metres long. 
The next objective was the railway viaduct which is visible from the road. I eventually found a way to get close to it although I could not get onto it as it is fenced closed.
 
Did trains really travel over this viaduct? it is in line with the tunnel so it is entirely feasible, 
  
This image I took from the approach to the viaduct, and the tunnel is where the cars are parked, I do think there must have been some sort of embankment leading to the tunnel though, the distance is quite short and for a steam engine to climb from the tunnel to the viaduct in such a short space would have been difficult as the grade would have been quite steep.  
 
I also tried to access the trestle bridge that runs over the marina but could not get that right so shelved the idea for awhile, and decided to head back to town.
 

There is a short river cruise that runs along the Avon and I considered taking that if it was running on this day. I would then be able to kill a few birds with one stone.

Approaching the King John Bridge from town is the Old Black Bear Pub which was supposedly founded in 1308, and which is the oldest public house in Tewkesbury.

The Black Bear

The Black Bear

The Avon River played quite an important part in Tewkesbury in the days of yore, and of course flooded in 2007, putting Tewkesbury on the map. Today it is more of a leisure boating type river, with fisherpersons lining its banks and small boats puttering up and down the river.

  
The large building on the right in this image is an old mill building and it has a very pretty iron bridge spanning the Avon. 
Bridge over the Avon

Bridge over the Avon

 
This bridge was erected in 1822, and is really two bridges alongside each other. The slight arch of this bridge would have made rail traffic difficult, so a flat bridge spans the river next to this one and this flat bridge would have carried the rail traffic into the mill area.  
  
The river cruise happens a bit further down from here, and on this particular trip there were only 4 people on board. 
  
Then we were off, puttering along a waterway that has been in use for who knows how long. We were heading towards the marina and that was where I could satisfy my curiosity.
 
Just look at that steelwork. They don’t build bridges like that anymore.
 
The next bridge we were approaching is the King John’s Bridge which was commissioned by King John in the late 12th century as part of improvements to the main road from Gloucester to Worcester. This bridge was widened in the mid-to-late 1950s to meet traffic requirements although original stonework still exists on the bridge.


And then finally our boat reached the trestle bridge over the marina.

 

And my first thoughts were: Ok, where is the original structure? because there is no way that this was it, especially when you look at the stonework on either side. I kept on thinking that this was almost like a Bailey Bridge or a slightly used former bridge that needed a new home.

We continued puttering along, passing cabin cruisers and narrow boats, although some were not all that narrow. eventually reaching a turning basin where the boat turned around, 10 minutes after we had left.
And back we headed towards our berth in town.

Past the Avon Locks that I had posted about before 

With the old mill on the right. What will happen to this building? I suspect yuppie pads. It is technically prime real estate with riverside views. It is probably the tallest building in the town apart from the abbey.  I spoke to somebody about it and it is a listed building and as such they are unable to do much for it so it will probably remain derelict until it falls down on its own. 


And into the crocodile infested mooring berth… No, I do not have an explanation.

with the Abbey in the distance.

It was nearly time to head off home and I strolled along the slightly deserted streets of the town to where my velocipede was chained. I had a whole wodge of new stuff to consider, and of course a few pics to add to the collection. Next time around I want to see how far I can follow the Severn River, and of course try to find the other side of that tunnel and find some more info about the railway. The current cycle path is laid on the former trackbed of the railway, and there is a tantalising piece of railwayana in the centre of town.
 
From the station the line ran into Quay Street and onto the mill.
 
Quay Street

Quay Street

The Upton Line is one with the tunnel,  It is an interesting mystery though, and maybe it is time I contacted the society mentioned on the plaque. There may be a lot more just waiting for discovery. But that will have to wait for another day.
 
Update:
I never did get a reply about the mysterious bridge, however, very close to where I live is an embankment and buttress for a bridge that would have joined up to the trestle bridge.
 
 
 
The image above I took from the embankment and you can see the trestle bridge in the distance. My neighbour says that originally there was no bridge up to the trestle, the embankment stretched all the way across to it and the road only came afterwards. However, I spotted an image in town that may scupper that theory. The road was always there and was spanned with a bridge. The embankment then continued onwards to where the trestle bridge is today, it then crossed the current marina, went over the viaduct to the tunnel then onwards. 
That is the bridge that spans the road, and the buildings on the left still exist. 
It does however seem that I can now put this to bed because a lot of the dirty work has been done for me at Malverns Lost Railway
Out of curiosity, the Ashchurch Junction was quite a complex layout and I found an old map (no date though) which shows the extent of the junction.
The cycle path is part of the old trackbed and there is one small bridge that goes over the road that still has remnants of the steelwork from the railway

The cycle path with the small bridge heading towards Tewkesbury

The little footbridge on the cycle path from the road beneath. The steel girders are still in place as is the brickwork although the bridge is a jerry built effort.
The cyclepath looking towards the town. The former grain store would have been on the right, and at some point the railway would have branched off onto the embankment heading towards Upton.   
It amazes me how all the railway related equipment is all gone and there is almost nothing left. It is a shame that Tewkesbury has become divorced from the railway, with proper rail links the town may have become greater than it is now, but sadly it is now just another glorified bus stop. 
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Created 27/09/2015, Images migrated 02/05/2016, Additional pics added 26/12/2016 
Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:38

The Mythe Bridge

It is true; I am a bridge fan, and I have probably mentioned that bit of useless information on a number of occasions. My newest bridge to admire is known as the Mythe Bridge,  and it spans the Severn River very close to Tewkesbury. I had been looking for the bridge since arriving here, but have always headed off on a tangent without doing any serious homework. 
 
A chance remark by a co-worker led me to place where the bridge was, and this morning, while I had a few hours off work I headed off to confirm the theory.  
 
I had originally thought that the trestle bridge in this image was what I was looking for, it spans the marina but is not really accessible to gawkers like me as you need to have the requisite permit to get into the marina. 
 
My bridge was a bit further up the road, and surprisingly is not signposted all that well. The road that crosses the bridge is the A438, but I have no idea where it finally ends up.  It wasn’t too long a slog to get to either, and when I did arrive could not really see the bridge, just the road over it. I would need to access the river bank somehow.
 
On the approach to the bridge is the old toll house, with a plaque proclaiming it’s age.
 
  
Thomas Telford:  yet another of those famous engineers who left their mark on Britain. His legacy has remained with us, and this particular one was opened in April 1826.  I love reading about these bold engineers, they seem to see any obstacle as a mere challenge to overcome, and they do it with style and beauty. 
 
My attempt at photography could only be done from the other side of the bridge as waterfront access was almost impossible due to private property on either side. I crossed the bridge, noting how the pillars were looking somewhat weather worn. 
And then I found a public footpath leading down to the river bank. There were cowpats galore and trees and mud, and the view was lousy because the sun was in the wrong place. I abandoned that spot and headed for the other side of the road.where the view technically would be better.
 
And I was right.
Unfortunately the bridge is slightly wider than the camera could handle comfortably (I was using my phone and not my camera).  But I fired off shots as quick as I could because I am still not sure whether I was allowed in this area. (Some of these images have now been replaced with some that I took on 27 September). 
Six cast iron ribs span the the river without interfering with the water borne traffic, and while the river was empty on this morning, you can bet that 150 years ago it was a totally different story altogether. These rivers were the way freight was moved and a network of canals fed into them. Thomas Telford even building a few along the way.

 

Unfortunately the bridge does have a sign that reads “Weak Bridge”, and that really has to do more with the heavier traffic that it carries now compared to when it was built. Trucks vs horses and carts? fortunately the traffic is controlled by robots that allow cars to use the single lane that the bridge has, everybody gets a turn, and there are no minibus taxi’s pushing in.

The bridge is sagging in the middle though, and that is probably as a result of the increased traffic and weight. You can see  the sag in the image below.

 

With hindsight I probably could have done a better job with this pic, but then I was not on a full blown photography trip, just a quick jaunt to find the bridge while I had time. I will come back with a camera one day, the other fork in the road looks very interesting, and I believe there is a railway tunnel close by.
(Update 27/09. The railway tunnel is blocked off and fenced off too, so I could not get close to it. However, the other side I may still go hunt down. ) 
I returned to the road and recrossed again, pausing at the toll booth. If buildings could talk, what would this one tell us about the impact that this structure had on the people of the city?
 
And then it was time to head off to work. 
 
© DRW 2015-2018 Images migrated 17/09/2015
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:25

Bridges not too far.

When I did my original trip to Bristol in January 2014,  I decided that on my next trip (whenever that was) would take in the Clifton Suspension Bridge, assuming I could find it and get to it from where I was on that particular day. However, my plans did not happen and I have still not gotten back to Bristol.

Yesterday, while on a trip to Lymington I mentioned that I would really like to see this bridge, and seeing as we had to go past Bristol could we stop by on the way? and having some time to kill we did so on the way back. And what a score it was.
 
Naturally finding it was troublesome, I only know Bristol from the area around the station, the cemetery and the SS Great Britain, so we really had to rely on the GPS to get us close, and then work at it from there. Eventually, after traversing the town we spotted the bridge in the distance.
 
And now for the weather: as you can see above it was cloudy and gloomy and not really photography weather, but we still had to find the route to the bridge, and by the time we did the weather was clearing and the view turned out so much better. The odd thing is, that for such a landmark structure it is really very poorly signposted, so we struggled to get up there. 
 
Eventually we found our way and we were soon on the approaches of the bridge. Please deposit £1 in the slot!
 
The tower that we now approached was sheathed in plastic as it was being restored, so it did detract from the approach.  We parked close by and walked down to the bridge, although you could not really see it from where we had parked. And then we were there. And what a beautiful bridge she is. This is the Leigh Woods Tower. 
 
 
At first I thought that it was a Brunel built bridge, but in reality it is based on his design, Brunel never saw the completion of the structure.  
The view from the bridge is stunning, and it depends on whichever lane or side you are on at the time.
  
This image is taken towards the Avon Gorge from the Leigh Woods Tower. Out of frame on the right hand side of the image is what I assume is a lookout tower, or possibly a guard tower (aka The Observatory), and that was the destination we had in mind as we headed across the bridge.
  
It was from that point where we would get our best views of the bridge. The purpose of the tower still puzzles me and I will have to do some reading about it. Oddly enough there was no information board on the tower.
 
The wrapped tower is the Clifton Tower, and it is not identical to the Leigh Woods Tower. 
  
This view is of the Avon Gorge, and is taken from the park on the Clifton Tower side. 
 
The park is dominated by the Observatory, and the small blue oddity at the foot of it is a Shaun the Sheep figurine.   
And the best views of the bridge are from here.
 
 
The major difference between the Leigh Wood Tower above and the Clifton Tower are cutouts on the Clifton Tower, although that tower is wrapped in plastic and cannot be seen in any detail. 
 
A travelling gantry is used to perform maintenance on the roadway, and the guard rails now include a anti suicide precautions because the bridge does have a high suicide rate. Only recently an elderly lady jumped from the bridge area after being hounded by “charities”.
 
And then it was time to recross and head for the car.
 
The view from this side is of the approaches to Bristol along the Avon. This used to be a very active waterway, and one of the stipulations around the bridge was that it had to be high enough for tall masted ships to pass under it. Sadly, only two yachts transited while we were there.
 
 
The Leigh Wood Tower has the Latin motto “Suspensa Vix Via Fit” which translates as ““A suspended way made with difficulty”
 

The bridge is a testament to the Victorian Engineer and those who have vision. It was completed in 1864, and sadly Brunel never got to see the end result.

Leaving Bristol we headed North, and then West towards Wales and the two bridges that span the Severn Estuary. It was really one of those whim moments and I am glad that we did do this slightly expensive detour.

The first bridge we crossed over the Severn on was the Second Severn crossing, and it was inaugurated in 1996.  Unfortunately time was marching so we did not go looking for a vantage point, and the images taken here are from the car and through the windscreen. It is a toll bridge (Deposit £6.50 in the slot please).

 

This bridge is a cable stay bridge and links South Wales and England at the Severn Estuary.

Our return trip after our brief sojourn in Wales was over the M48 Wye Bridge and Viaduct, The Wye Bridge is of a stayed girder construction and is located between Beachley in Gloucestershire and Chepstow in Monmouthshire.

severn27
 
 

These are relatively modern bridges and have an attraction all of their own. They are functional and have the modern lack of aesthetics so beloved of the Victorians. Would Brunel have approved? I don’t know, he would have probably lined them with brick and added a lion or a sphinx or two.

Bridges are structures that are with us for a long time. The Clifton Suspension Bridge has been around over a century and hopefully will still be there in another 100 years time. These two will probably be with us for a long time too. They become part of the scenery, and as far as I am concerned enhance the view, because they are still amongst the most beautiful structures that mankind erects. 

© DRW 2015-2018. Created 02/08/2015, images migrated 01/05/2016 
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:31

Going through the locks

I must admit the canals in the UK fascinate me, they are a rare glimpse of an age that has passed and which has become somewhat of the domain of the inland boater and canal fan.  I have never really been able to explore them properly, and only just see the occasional length of water in my travels. In Tewkesbury we have two major rivers: The Severn and the Avon, and at one point they are joined together through the Avon lock. The Avon Lock may be seen in the map below.

Just by chance I was there when a narrow boat traversed from one to the other.
At this point the narrow boat has turned across the Avon river and is now heading into the lock, the gates on the Avon being open, and the other side being closed. The water level inside the lock is the same height as that of the Avon.
I am now standing next to the open lock gates, the black and white beam is one of the arms of the gate which would have been manually operated but which is now electrically operated. You can just see the bow of the narrow boat on the right.
The narrow boat is now inside the lock and is being moored to the side of the lock, however, the mooring lines are not tied down, the one end is held by the skipper so that he can pay the line out as the water level drops. The lock gate is still open at this point. Now the gate on the Avon side gets closed with the narrow boat inside, the water level is still the same as it was.
This is the gate from the outside.
The water in the lock is now drained into the other side of the lock, lowering the level of the water till it matches that on the other side side of the lock.
 
 
Once the water level is the same the Severn side set of lock gates can be opened.
 
And the narrow boat can start moving into the Avon and a bit further down into the Severn 
and the gates can be closed once again, ready for the next customer. It can work in either direction, the only difference being that to rise up into the Avon water would be let into the lock from the Avon side. 
This whole process took 9 minutes according to the file information of the first and image above. 
It is as easy as that…
The Avon joins the Severn just a bit past the narrow boat in the image.  If you had turned to Port you would have eventually reached the Upper Lode Lock
and if you had turned to Starboard you would have come to the Mythe Bridge.
 
Of course when the rivers flood the lock gates become moot anyway.
 
 DRW © 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016, added in upstream and downstream links 24/06/2018
Updated: 24/06/2018 — 15:13

Heading to Reading

This fine morning I grabbed my gear and headed out to Reading. My recent trips to that city en-route to elsewhere made me curious about what I could see, and to be honest I was pleasantly surprised.  On my list of possible targets was Reading Abbey, the old cemetery, St Giles and St Marys Churches, any war memorials, and of course anything else that caught my eye (or lens).
 
The cemetery has 205 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war and 41 of the 1939-1945 war. in it, so I could have quite a lot of ground to cover. Weatherwise it was sunny when I left Basingstoke, but it got cloudy once I was in Reading, so much so that at one point I thought I was going to be caught in a rain shower.  
My first goal was St Laurence Churchyard, the church is situated next to the Town Hall, and is not too far from the station. I had a rough plan of my route so knew more or less what I was going, and of course I had my phone with in case I got lost. 
The Town Hall

The Town Hall

I have to admit St Laurence was a great exploration. It has a fantastic churchyard with a lot of very interesting graves. Unfortunately though, they were building a road in the middle of the street so some of my access was cut off from the park next door.
 
The park interested me because it bounded on the ruins of Reading Abbey,  and I was hoping that I could pass through the ruins and go around the prison to get to the route I needed to follow to find the cemetery. 
After a slight detour, and an attempt to buy some food at a local supermarket I found myself faced with the Cenotaph (which stands at the entrance to Forbury Park), which was great news because I had not really done much research as to where the main war memorial was in the city.
  
 
The park, Forbury Gardens,  is a pretty one, with a bandstand and lots of trimmed grass and pathways. It is also home to a very special memorial:
 
“This monument records the names and commemorates the valour and devotion of XI (11) officers and CCCXVIII (318) non-commissioned officers and men of the LXVI (66th) Berkshire Regiment who gave their lives for their country at Girishk Maiwand and Kandahar and during the Afghan Campaign MDCCCLXXIX (1879) – MDCCCLXXX (1880).”

“History does not afford any grander or finer instance of gallantry and devotion to Queen and country than that displayed by the LXVI Regiment at the   Battle of Maiwand on the XXVII (27th) July MDCCCLXXX (1880).” (Despatch of General Primrose.) 

Known as the Maiwand Lion, it is a very big memorial, and definitely the largest lion I have ever seen. Unfortunately the sun was behind it so pics just did not work out the way they could have. In fact the sun was to prove problematic for most of the morning as it kept on dancing between the clouds. I returned to Reading on 3 March and was able to obtain a better image of the lion as seen below.

Seeing the Abbey seemed to be problematic as the site was closed on safety grounds, and given that the building dates from around AD1121, I can see that there may be a problem, however, it is very frustrating to be so close to history like that and not being able to access it.

The one part of the Abbey complex that still survives is the Abbey Gate, and it is a very nice structure, but again it faced in an awkward direction.
It was looking to be somewhat of a frustrating morning. I decided to head for the cemetery, passing the very pretty St James Church which is between the park and the prison.

 

The church opened in 1840 and it now serves as a Catholic Church for the multicultural community in Reading. Surprisingly a small corner of the graveyard still exists, although it has been “rationalised” and there is no real way for knowing how big it was before. Unfortunately HMP Reading was not accessible, and the high walls meant the only pic I would get would be of high walls.

The route I was now walking took me along the very busy Kings Road which merged into an intersection with London Road  where the cemetery was located. 

The cemetery was first opened in 1834 and there are 18327 grave spaces covering 4,7 Hectares.  There were originally two chapels but both have been demolished, and at first glance the cemetery seemed like a bit of a hodge-podge mess. However, as I penetrated deeper into it the layout began to make a bit more sense.

Like many of these older cemeteries it does support a wide range of fauna and flora, and I believe there is even a species of deer that lives in it, and I actually saw one on my next visit, but was unable to get a pic. I also saw raptors flying overhead, so there must be food for them in the cemetery.  To maintain the status quo of conservation, the grass is cut 6 times a year. The gatehouse/office is a very pretty building, although it must have been somewhat of a squeeze when it came to navigating through here with a horse drawn hearse.

 

And while my pics show sunlight, that only happened after I had completed photographing most of the graves I was after! The cemetery is actually quite a nice one, with lots of pre 1900 headstones in it. Parts are as wild as some of the wilder ones that I have seen, but generally it was a pleasant place to gravehunt in. I managed to get most of the graves I was after except for 43. I also found some private memorials that I have submitted, and these are equally important as they often contain the only physical grave that there is if a body was not recovered from the battlefield. (I have since been able to add an additional 24 graves from the list to my tally, as well as 8 more private memorials.)

Then it was time to head off to my next destination which was back in the direction I had come from but via London Road.

The "Swimming Bath"

The “Swimming Bath”

 
I had arbitrarily selected suitable places as I saw them mentioned as being worthy of seeing, and naturally everything along the way was a bonus. My first target was St Giles-in-Reading Church, and the second was St Mary-the-Virgin.
St Giles-in-Reading

St Giles-in-Reading

St Mary-the-Virgin

St Mary-the-Virgin

Both were really beautiful buildings with wonderful graveyards that I explored. However, on my way to these buildings I also spotted this beaut which is used by the Polish community.

 
Overall though the area I was walking through had really reverted from a residential area to more of a business area, the grand old houses now occupied by dentists and accountants. The shortage of student accommodation also meant that many properties had been subdivided and now had a new lease on life. 

The Hospital building was magnificent, more reminiscent of a town hall than a hospital.  Like many other buildings from that age it was now probably overwhelmed by the role it had, and it must have been very interesting to see on the inside (although preferably not as a patient).

My meanderings would eventually lead me to the Kennet and Avon Canal which I had first encountered when I visited Bath in 2014, I will admit that the inner workings of the canal did interest me, but I was really lacking the expertise to comment on where I was in the system at the point where I now stood.

Theoretically though, had I followed this portion of the Kennet River I would have come out at the River Thames, and had I followed the Thames would have ended up in London.

The area I was now moving into was where St Mary-the-Virgin was situated, and it was really the last area I wanted to explore before heading home. The church itself was very nice, with a graveyard that seems to be ignored by the public at large who use the path as a thoroughfare, and it is nice to see how these small green spaces have become a part of the community.

The area though is quite busy, with lots of buses and taxis hithering and thithering their collective ways. I paused for lunch and a potty break before taking some last pics and heading for the station (assuming I could find it).

The monument was erected to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 50th year on the throne, and there is a nice statue of her close to the Town Hall.

 

This area of Reading was really nice, the buildings are oldies with a new face, and generally it has much more of a personal feel than the mall close by. Unfortunately for them most malls lack character, and I like character in an area instead of glitz and glamour. Unfortunately though it also means that many older areas become seedy as the inevitable cellphone cover, overpriced fake trainers and junk jewelry businesses move in. But, sometimes I am wrong.

Realistically though, you need to view a lot of these areas as they may have been 100 years ago to fully appreciate a city like Reading, although it would have been tainted by the smog and smoke of industrial progress and transportation. Times have changed, and we are now in a different world and in a different era, but it is nice to see these old survivors of progress still standing next to the chrome and glass of “progress”.

The station awaited, and by 14H40 I was on my way home. 

It had been an interesting morning, I have a better feel for Reading now, and while it is unlikely that I will pass this way again it was nice to be able to look around here. Many years ago when I wanted to move to the UK this town had been the centre where many in IT headed when they arrived here, I don’t know if that is still true, but given its location it is a handy midway point between East and West, and of course access to London. Personally I don’t think I could live here, but I would not mind exploring more of the river system, but somehow that is unlikely to happen.

© DRW 2015-2018. Created  24/02/2015, images migrated 26/04/2016 

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 09:29

Closing the door on Salisbury

In September 2013 I started full time work in Salisbury, and moved there in late November 2013. This afternoon I left it for good. It has been quite a year for me, but I guess I have to look at opportunities and developments and occasionally these may require change. Leaving Salisbury and my job was one such change.
 
Initially I was not too keen on Salisbury, its only really redeeming feature seem to be that it had a cathedral in it, and that magnificent building was really an experience on its own. 
 
 
Initially I stayed very close to work, in an area called “The Friary”, which had somewhat of a chequered reputation. But I did have a nice spot but when an affordable place came available to rent I grabbed it like a shot, moving in in mid April this year.

My new walk took me from one end of Salisbury to the other, through town and the many shops and business that would become almost second nature to me. It was a 25 minute walk and by the time I got to work (or home) I was usually bushed.

This odd structure is the Poultry Cross, and it marks the site of the former markets. It was constructed in the 14th century, and is a popular hang out for pigeons, smokers, cellphone weenies and sitters arounders, The market is usually held on a Tuesday and Saturday, and while not my favourite place did net me a few interesting odds and ends. The market square is also home to the Guildhall and the War Memorial; where I commemorated Remembrance Day this year.

Naturally I would gravitate to the local cemeteries, there were two larger ones in Salisbury, namely Devizes Road and London Road cemeteries. Both are quite old and I did have lots of fun walking through them. London Road in particular was a very nice visit, and I did find all the war graves and got very muddy while doing so. (It’s an occupational hazard)

Salisbury was a very large training area during the war years, and still has a number of military bases and facilities on Salisbury Plain. Unfortunately the furthest I seemed to get there was Old Sarum and of course Boscombe Down Aviation Collection. I had visited Stonehenge with my landlord from Southampton during 2013, and while I was suitably impressed I did not get there a second time.

We also visited Woodhenge on the same day, and it was quite a strange place to see.

I even attempted a panoramic stitch of it, and while it is not perfect you get the general idea. (Image is 1500×426).

Salisbury is really a tourist attraction, and somewhat of a retirement home, with its narrow pavements and strange alleyways it can sometimes lead you to surprisingly pretty buildings. In general though the city is a mix of olde, old and recent, but there is not a lot of work available so it does tend to be a destination commuted to (and from). The station is not a pretty building at all, if anything it is somewhat of an ugly place, although occasionally steam powered specials would make an appearance. It was also the site if a very bad train accident in 1906 but at the time of posting there was nothing to see that commemorates the accident on the station. However, I believe a plaque was erected recently. 
blacks 038

 
There is a wall memorial in the cathedral, although I would have thought that the station would have been a much more relevant place for it.
 
The rest of the time South West Trains and First Great Western make the station their junction. There are 3 lines converging on Salisbury. One heads towards Southampton/Portsmouth, the other heads towards Andover, Basingstoke, Woking, Clapham Junction and London Waterloo, while the third heads west to Bath Spa, Bristol Temple Meads, and Cardiff Central. I did a lot of odd visits on these lines, and probably once winter had finished would have gone a bit further, although an ankle injury really messed up my travels towards the last few months.

There were a number of interesting museums and churches worth occupying myself with, and I did the rounds of most of the accessible ones.  The prettiest must have been St Lawrence in Stratford Sub-Castle  as well as St Andrews in Laverstock.

Walking around town on my rounds was always interesting, especially since there are 5 rivers converging on Salisbury. In January we had a flood scare, and I must admit it was quite interesting watching the levels rise and the flood plain become a lake. The Avon used to flow past the back of the house where I was staying, and it was fun feeding the ducks when I had some spare bread.

 

Naturally there were also coots, swans and pigeons, but the water birds had the advantage when it came to food. 
I think that one of the all abiding memories I will take with me from Salisbury are of the people I worked with for just over a year. They made Christmas fun and often inspired me to do things. A new workplace does mean making new friends and that is always difficult. But I will have to make a go of it irrespective. Tomorrow is week 2 of my new job and new home. So lets see what I can find in Basingstoke.

And so I close the door on Salisbury. I will miss it, and I take fond memories with me. I never did get to the spire of the Cathedral, or revisit Bemerton, neither did I get back to Arnos Vale in Bristol. Oh, and that pub that forgot my breakfast? you probably lost a lot of money from me, much more than the lousy 3.19 that you nicked from me. I will miss my little home that I had, and will look for a new one. London is closer and I have cemeteries to visit. But first I must unpack all this stuff I brought with me; where did it all come from?

Random Photographs.
War Memorial

War Memorial

The Guildhall

The Guildhall

© DRW 2014-2018. Images recreated 21/04/2016

Updated: 22/06/2018 — 12:49
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