Thursday, 24 November 2011

You wait here, I'll get the car.

I was browsing through some old pictures of Derbyshire that I got online - not sure why, I think I was after Gloucestershire and hit the wrong number, but still they're quite nice.

This image of Bakewell reminded me of the time that I took my late Mother and the wife to Derbyshire and we went round the Town

As is usual, we had a fair amount of in and out of the shops.  One included a Household goods shop, it had things that were old and new, things that I knew not with which to do.  Whilst I was left to gaze in awe, in wonderment, the ladies were planning my downfall, they had bought, this great big heavy set, no not a set, my wife buys crockery in 12s, of platters, bowls and plates, for me to carry back to the car.

Back then I had a five-door Mondeo. Plenty of room for two of us, or even three or more, but I was used to going loaded with enough outfits for occasions from expeditioning up the equatorial Amazon to Antarctic trekking and coming back with even more.

I have lugged things large and small, but this time there was no chance, the stuff was loaded into four plastic bags and weighed so much that the handles stretched and hummed with tension.  The car was only about four hundred yards away, but if I'd tried to carry this lot I'd have needed an iron-lung or ended up in the proverbial Box.  My arms would have been like those of the gibbon.

You wait here, I'll get the car

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sepia Saturday 102

Alan's theme image this week shows an Alabama, Roadside Store in mid-30's with absolutely bags of choices. The thing that struck me was the House Mover sign as dragged a memory from the back of my mind something that I'd seen on the television somewhen in the deep distance.  A quick google search showed that May's task had received considerable publicity.  Whilst, many may recall the event or have knowledge of them, I think it is an House Moving tale that will stand another airing.

It is the story of a little old spinster and her mission to preserve her house.  Without going too deeply into her life, because this can be found in great detail in the book about her by her niece. "A Lifetime in the Building: The Extraordinary Story Of May Savidge and the House She Moved."  After the death of her intended in 1938,  May withdrew into herself and in 1947 bought the mid 15th Century Ware Hall House, at 1 Monkey Row, Ware, to restore.

May taught herself many of the building skills, and apart from employing a local builder to repair the roof she did the brickwork, plastering. carpentry, glazing and decorating herself.  In 1953 the Council told her that the was to be demolished to make way for a new road - an Act of Vandalism by todays' Standards.  For the next 15 years she fought against the Council's Plans.  In 1969, when she was 58, she decided it was time to move.  She acquired a plot of ground in Wells-Next-The -Sea, Norfolk and set forth to move the house one hundred miles from the hands and bulldozers of the Council

With help from a local firm of demolishers to dismantle the massive timber frame, she set about numbering every brick, every stick of timber, and every slate was meticulously numbered and stored.  Rubbings were made of the brickwork to ensure that the right bond was made.

With Planning Permission obtain, May began transporting her Home.  It took 11 lorry loads to bring the materials to Norfolk so that reconstruction could begin.  She had the help of  a local carpenter to fix the Massive timber frame to the foundations, and from then she was on her own.  As with the demolition she had night in the cold under the stars, but until she was able to move in, lived in a caravan.

The rest of her life was given to the rebuild, after ten years the property was made water tight and she was able to move in, but some brickwork still needed to built and walls had to be plastered.  She carried on through her seventies and into her eighties.  Whilst, climbing ladders and knocking-up cement was beyond her when she reached her eighties she was still able to install a wood-burning stove.

She died in 1992, just short of her 82nd. birthday, the house was willed to her niece, but it was little more than a shaky shell with a roof on it.  Throughout her life May had been a hoarder and her hoard provided the funds for the building works to completed - so even after death she assured the future of the building.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Wishing You Well, Alan, Thank You.

As you know,  Alan is having an implant today and yesterday his laminator smoked in its demise as it attempted to take the rustle out of  Autumn Leaves.

I was impressed with his idea (as I find am with many of his creations) of laminating Autumn Leaves to create a modern take on the "Pressing"  And, having a laminator lying about under the Bed doing nowt but getting in the way, decided I would have a bash at making an Autumn Leaf Creation.

Once I'd found a plastic wallet and worked out how to operated the machine, I had the problem laying out the leaves and getting them to stay put.  As can be seen, they didn't, an not only that the plastic decided it would crease and wrinkle.  In fact it probably looks better for being scanned and pasted into this post.

The idea is, I think, sound, and with a bit more care is capable of producing something rather striking.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Sepia Saturday 101

Alan picked a Vintage Chevrolet as this week's theme.  I think we all admire old cars, and some are more admired than others, but what, I thought, of the designers and the builders of these objects of desire - who were they.  Are they too to be considered as admired and wanted as what they gave the world.

As we started with the Chevrolet, why not start with the man who gave it his name.

He was a Swiss, and later American, Driver and Designer for Buick, before collaborating with William Crapo Durant to found Chevrolet Motors  

Chevrolet in a Buick that he designed

Other big names in the infant car industry include, and they appear in no particular order, include;

 Armand Puegeot
 Benz Velo
 Carl Benz
Duryea Brothers of Springfield 
 Emil Jellinek-Mercedes
 Frederick Lanchester - English Engineer - one of the big three in British car design
 George B. Selden Patent lawyer and Inventor early patent for automobile
Gottlieb Daimler
Henry Ford
Duryea Patent

William Maybach
And, this one I include because I just love the graphics.

Monday, 14 November 2011

From Where I came, Again Continued

In my posting about the various Walton Bridges, I made reference to Cowey Sale..  In many respects Cowey has little to recommend it for modern lives.  It is an open space, a flat stretch of sometimes marshy, sometimes flooded , land on which a car park stands.  Much of it destined to host the new bridge or its feeder roads.

Whilst, I certainly played there as a kid and caught sticklebacks in the Engineer River, and leeches in the backwater, it is not the place that the average safety conscious modern mum will let her little dears play.

What gives it a marginal interest is that Local Legend as long declared that Julius Caesar, crossed the
Thames at Cowey Sales to meet and defeat King Cassivellaunus of the British Catuvellauni Tribe, who defended the opposite bank with a breastwork of Stakes.  Caesar in his own account briefly refers to his invasion, the Roman Historian Tacitus makes a reference, and so too does the Anglo-Saxon Historian Bede,  But none of them are specific as to where the battle took place or where the Thames was crossed..  The reason for Cowey being selected was that it was supposedly one of only two places where the Thames could be crossed on foot.

The Venerable Bede stated that the stakes were still visible in his day, but he doesn't say where.  It as always been assigned to Cowey without any evidence to suggest that that was what he was talking about, or that he was even aware of, Cowey Sales
.                                                                                                                                                             The Legend was given more credence, and almost Official Blessing, with the assertion of the Elizabethan Antiquarian, (the Father of  British Archaeology) William Camden that Cowey Sale was the actual place where Julius Caesar crossed the Thames.  He wrote, in his History of Britain"...I am on the banks of the River Thames.  Perhaps, the great Caesar crossed at this place. I am indeed fortunate to be the first to find this place .."

All following historians and commentators picked up on this and just repeated the assertion as a fact. Daniel Defoe, mentions it in his  "Tour Through England and Wales"  and so too many others.

The legend has it that Caesar, camped on St Georges Hill - once the home of Gerard Winstanley and Diggers (see the Novel Comrade Jacob) and now the gated abode of the rich - before making his attack on the British.  Archaeologists have found that the so called Caesar's Camp shows no evidence of Roman occupation or, for that matter,  occupation of any kind.

In 1750 stakes were dredged out of the River and this was immediately taken as evidence in support of the Bede and Camden statements.  These however, ran across the River, not along it length.

In the 20th century doubts began to expressed about the evidence for Cowey being the site of Caesar's crossing. Documentary evidence showed that since Anglo-Saxon times the Meads on either side of the Thames was leased out as Cow Farrens,  an area supporting a certain number of cattle according to the variety and quality of its vegetation.  Dr Gardener, a Curator of the local Museum, suggested that Cowey was derived from Cow Way and pointed out that Weybridge Heath, prior to the construction of Oatlands, was known as Cow Bridge Common.  The proportions and positions of the 1750 stakes suggest some form of bridgeway  to cross the river to join the Farrens on the North and South banks, not a defensive structure.

Certain other factors are cited that discredit the crossing theory.

This place is on a bend in the River.  Fords never occur where rivers bend.  The flow of water makes for deep, and fast, water on the outer bend and shallow silty water on the inner.  Secondly, the course of the river has moved North, and both Banks are now within what was the old Middlesex.  Surrey did not start until some distance after the river was crossed from the North. And, Finally, there is absolutely no evidence of any Roman Roadways approaching or leaving the Thames any where in the locality.

1849: Rambles by Rivers: The Thames By James Thorne -
"We ... notice in passing the long straggling combination of arches called Walton Bridge. It is in fact a sort of double bridge, a second set of arches being carried over a low tract of ground, south of the principal bridge, which crosses the river. According to the popular tradition this marshy tract was the original bed of the Thames ; and the change of the river's course here is mentioned in many books, and in some with considerable embellishment.

That most credulous of collectors, Aubrey, has recorded a report, which he had from Elias Ashmole, that when the river changed its bed, a church was "swallowed up by the waves"; and a much more recent writer tells us that the tradition states the river to have run (up hill and down valley) south of Walton town !" 

Cowey, or what remains of it, has become more and more sanitised and gentrified.  It is no longer fit to be the habitat of the ragamuffin urchin in the daytime or the erstwhile lover - of all kinds - in the night.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

From Where I came, Again

In an earlier posting I displayed images of the Anglers Wharf on the Thames.  Just above the Anglers, about 400 yards upstream is Walton Bridge.  Now the bridge, or rather the Thames-Crossing, has a long History, or perhaps Saga, and has taken various forms.  The reason for bringing it up is that the bridge is now undergoing a metamorphosis, and is about to become the  latest in a long line of  bridges that have spanned the Thames at Cowey Sale (Cowey Sale, or Stakes, is a story of its own which may be related at some time).

There is evidence to suggest that there was a river crossing going back into pre-historic times. Historical documents show that from the 14th. century a ferry operated between the North and South Banks until the first Bridge was built in 1750.

This picture by Canaletto shows the first Walton Bridge and was probably painted from the North, the Middlesex  Bank.  I just love the activity going on on the river.  It is a highway, a source of energy, an economic resource - not just a leisure resource.

This Bridge was built by Samuel Dicker MP for Plymouth, who was a local Landowner.  It is believed that the Bridge was constructed for economic reasons (tolls), to displace the unreliable ferries (or is that the ferrymen?) and to ease his passage to Parliament  from his residence at Mount Felix.  Dicker also had plantations in Jamaica and was elected as a councillor for Jamaica.  At the time of its construction it had the widest unsupported span in the country with a span of 139 feet.

The Bridge proved costly to maintain and quite quickly became uneconomical to repair.  The bridge was taken down in about 1873 and the ferry returned for a period until 1788 when the second Bridge was opened.

The second Bridge depicted by M Rouviere.  This Bridge was built of Brick and Stone and designed by James Pain.  The Bridge features in a J M W Turner painting of the Thames.

This Bridge lasted for 73 years until the two centre arches fell into the river in August 1859.  The cause of the collapse was apparently due to the settlement of the central support pier.

From a sketch by P Duggan

In 1862 a Bill was promoted in Parliament for the replacement of the Bridge.  The Bridge was now in the hands of  Thomas Newland Allen.  Once again the ferry transported goods and passengers across the River.

The Third Bridge was opened in 1864 and was made of iron lattice girder construction on brick and stone piers.  It also features a brick arch viaduct across the Engineer River and a low lying marshy area below Mount Felix where we used to play as kids..  The Viaduct still forms part of the existing Bridgeway.

Until the third bridge, the preceding Bridges had been toll bridges.  But in the late 1860s to Acts had an impact on the bridge.

The London Coal and Wine Duties Continuance Act 1868, contained provisions to purchase private Bridges on the Thames and to remove all Tolls and the Metropolitan Board of Works (Loans) Act 1869
allowed a loan of £150,000.00 to be borrowed against the surety of future coal and wine taxes.
This lead to a dispute between Middlesex and Surrey over who would maintain the bridge on behalf of the Metropolitan Board of Works.  A special assizes court gave responsibility for the Bridge to Middlesex and for the Viaduct to Surrey.

Air raid damage in 1940 led to a 7 tonne weight restriction and in 1953 a fourth bridge was constructed alongside, the third bridge was kept open for foot passage and cyclists.  Virtually nothing was spent on the bridge for the next thirty years and it was demolished in 1985.

The fourth bridge was built by there Middlesex County in 1953 as a "Temporary Bridge" responsibility passed to Surrey when Middlesex was abolished as part of the Government re-organisation in 1964.  It appears to have been a cheap job and following minimal maintenance, led to a weight restriction of 24.5 tonnes in 1985, in 1993 this was reduced to 17 tonnes and down to 7.5 tonnes in 1998.

Ariel view showing 3rd and 4th Bridges
 The fifth bridge was built in the same place as the third bridge, that had been demolished in 1985 and was another temporary structure

Now work is going on to erect a modern bridge, land has been compulsory purchased, albeit at market rates and the old Toll House, for a long-time used as a doss-house, has now been demolished.

An artists impression of the new bridge imposed on a picture of the river.  It looks like a coat-hanger, but I guess we will have to wait until it is built before we make comment.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sepia Saturday 100

I started with the thought that 100 would be a snip, I would simply surf the net and find one or two goodies, but it is strange, there was simply too much.  So much that I ended up like a schoolboy in a sweet shop - salivating, dribbling at the lips and picking things up and putting them down when my eyes fell upon something new and bright.  At one time I flirted with the idea of 100 images, but with a flit into the mathematical I settled for the square root of 100

Mathematically it would not be particularly significant if it wasn't for our use of a counting system based on Ten.  One Hundred is the square of 10 and the bases of percentages.

The SI prefix for 100 is Hecto or Hecta, and whenever I see it my mind turns to Hector; known not only for his courage but also for his noble and courtly manner.  Indeed Homer places Hector as the very noblest of all the heroes in the Iliad; he his both peace-loving and brave, thoughtful as well as brave, a good son, husband and father, and without darker motives (remind you of anyone?)

100 is somewhat special in the psyche of mankind - it is, or was, at the outer limits of mans' span and therefore something for a special celebration

100 years old Fuaja Singh  recently became the oldest person to ran the Toronto marathon.
During his life many things have happened, including the founding of Women's Weekly.

And so too the Chevvy
100 years ago in 1911, the Xinhai Revolution overthrew China's last Imperial Dynasty, the Qing (1644–1912), and established the Republic of China. The revolution consisted of many revolts and uprisings. The turning point is the Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911 that was a result of the mishandling of the Railway Protection Movement. The revolution ended with the abdication of Emperor Puyi  on February 12, 1912, that marked the end of over 2,000 years of Imperial China and the beginning of Republican China
The picture above shows the Nanking Road after the Shanghai uprising showing the "Five Races Under One Union" flags used by the revolutionaries.
It was not only abroad that tensions were growing. In response to the Llanelli Railway Workers Strike a   local JP and Railway shareholder called in the Army.  

This resulted in two young men being shot to death.  In the following riot train trucks were fired and unfortunately an explosion of a wagon containing detonators led to four more deaths.

On a lighter note and thanks to Topfoto for the next three images

Mrs Elizabeth Shaw of Rothbury Road in Hackney Wick is celebrating her 101st birthday - Mrs Shaw is one of the first old age pensioners - her pension book is No 13 - photo shows Mrs Elizabeth Shaw and her pet cat on her 101st birthday. October 19th 1934
Born 1832, drew pension in 1909 aged 77

A Vacuum cleaner from the first decade - looks like harder work than sweeping.

A now for the Arts

Vaslav Nijinski, and Anna Pavlova in "Le Pavillon d'Armide". First season of the Russian ballets. Paris, 1909

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A Contribution to Pub Week

The Pub is a rapidly declining tradition.  There can barely be a town in the country that has not lost some, or all, of its Pubs.  And, this is happening at a time when Nanny State is becoming increasingly concerned at the level of alcohol consumption.  To my simple mind, the correlation between the decline in Pubs and the increased concern over drinking can only mean that the Pub carries out a regulatory function and when this is removed people resort to buying cheap alcohol from the Super-markets and getting totally wasted in the privacy of their homes.

In part this is due to over pricing by the Breweries and Pub Landlords, and in part by over-taxing the Nanny State to pay for the medical problems brought on by drink

Now I do not expect them to get back to prices like this, even I cannot recall such prices; a pint of Bitter when I first started frequenting Pubs was just over a shilling (about 5 & 1/2 pence in today's money) and relatively weak, probably under 3% - And, if I'm frankly honest, not very well kept more often than not.

Sepia Saturday 99

I can understand Alan theme for this week; his recent trip to the Scarboro' Jazz Fest, his celebration of Pub week (where many fine Musicians used to be found) and, of course, next week's celebration of the Ton.

When I was a youngster, I nurtured a unrealistic desire to be a musician and belonged to a skiffle group.  It was a rather flexible affair and consisted of  anything from four to seven or eight depending on the direction of the wind.  We had two singers, one sang like Nancy whiskey, and was last heard of (some twenty or thirty years ago)  living with an old farmer in Somerset and pickled in Cider, the other actually made a living for a while in the entertainment industry, but not as a performer, even though he managed a quite camp Act that he performed local Workingman's Clubs.  For my part, I had a guitar, and could play at least four chords, but unfortunately did not know when or where to use them.

It is a blessing, to the world in general and me in particular, that no photographs exist of our attempt to find fame.  If they had, feel that I would have had to expose them to the derision of my colleagues in the wider Bloggery. As they don't exist I feel free to use this pictures I took on one of my sojourns to the North of England.

I enjoy listening to street musicians, some are very well trained others are a little more basic, but nonetheless genuine.  They were playing in Keswick, outside the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop and were not part of the Blue Cross event. I asked if they had any discs but I was out of luck.  The band was particularly pleased with an old Japanese couple, he put a tenner in the banjo case, and she - not to be outdone - put in a score.

In the following pictures I've taken the liberty of borrowing them the Net

I'm not exactly sure but this may be the same three guys as above

The next two images are of New Orleans Marching Funeral Bands.  It has long been a desire to have a Marching Band at my passing, but only if I'm allowed to watch

And, finally just for the aaahh.