A Raft of Apples

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Jackfield Bridge

I had something in mind for this week's ABC and remember thinking it would be perfect but alas whatever J it was has slipped as easily out of my mind as it did in.  Happily this soaring structure also begins with a J 
It is the Jackfield Bridge over the River Severn, just a few miles away from the iconic Ironbridge I showed last week. It replaces an earlier bridge which was the first toll free bridge crossing of the gorge and was funded by public subscription with the land donated by the land owner. Built by Liverpool Hennebique to an open spanned arch design by LG Moushell it was an early example of the use of reinforced concrete.
Here is the grand opening of the what was then called the Free Bridge or Haynes Memorial Bridge in 1909.  A 14 ton steam roller was sent over to load test the bridge.
The years were not kind to the Free Bridge with decaying concrete carbonising. chloride attack from de-icing salts and rusting steel.  Repeated repairs were tried but the tonnage limit kept having to be reduced until by 1986 there was a 3 ton limit.  It was decided to demolish and replace the bridge which created its own design contraints due to the unstable banks caused by the river undercutting and the repeating River Severn floods, one of which can be seen in the above photograph taken in 1950s of a bus crossing the Free Bridge.

The design also had to be sympathetic to the Ironbridge Gorge which is designated a UNESCO Heritage Site and the ultimate result was a counterpoint to the old ironmasters bridges that cross the river.
The new Jackfield Bridge has an overall span of 57m with a 30 ft steel tower and cable supports and was opened in 1994 (designed by Gifford and Partners, built by McAlpine Construction).  As part of the opening celebrations a vintage steam roller trundled over the bridge (to recreate the original 1909 load test) accompanied by its modern counterpart.

What I also found fascinating about the bridge was not only had they to stabilise the ground before building could begin but because of the narrow winding roads to the gorge everything had to be brought to the site in sections (unlike those early bridges when the industrial revolution was in full swing and all the foundries were still operating nearby).  The tower was delivered in 4 sections and hoisted into position by a 200 tonne crane.  The crane itself was so large it also couldn't navigate the roads and was delivered in sections taking 2 days to erect on site.
Photograph from the Tata Steel site.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at J here

Monday, 15 September 2014

Red Cross Volunteers

This recent Red Cross newsletter reminded me that before I went on holiday I was delving into my inherited War Illustrated magazines.  The Red Cross are also remembering the outbreak of World War 1 and their volunteers and staff who "did everything from nursing to air raid duty to searching for missing people and transporting the wounded" and of course the Red Cross work did not end in 1918 (or indeed ever) and by 1919 the numbers of volunteers had reached 90,000.  The majority of female VADs (Volunteer Aid Detachments) were nurses who organised and managed  the 3000 local axillary hospitals throughout Britain which were set up in a variety of buildings and places but many were also deployed abroad to help in field hospitals. From 20th October the records of the VADs will be available to browse at -  redcross.org.uk/ww1
World War 1 VAD Recruitment Poster

But lets return to August 1914 when the British Red Cross formed the Joint War Committee with the Order of St John and the War Illustrated edition of 22nd August devoted a page to "Woman's Healing Work Amongst the Wounded"
"Group of Red Cross nurses at Newport in the Isle of Wight"
 which gives the impression that the whole of womankind were on the march, setting sail or boarding trains:

Apart from those marching red cross volunteers the other thing that attracted my attention on this page was the ocean going steam yacht

which took me on a fascinating journey through the Internet where I discovered the story of the ship 'Liberty' and the eccentric Tredegar family but more of this later.

 Related Information:-
1. List of Auxiliary Hospitals in the UK During the First World War 

Saturday, 13 September 2014


Millom School's "Its your Tern Project" has certainly added a welcome splash of colour to the RSPB Hodbarrow hide whose solid dark concrete has a tendancy to look more like a nuclear bunker than a place to  watch birds.
Panels designed and painted by pupils at Millom School and installed in 2013, the colours are still vibrant.
Heron and Natterjack toad contemplating, detail from the middle panel.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Iron Bridge

Erected in 1779 and opened in  1781 this is the first arch bridge in the world to be made of cast iron and spans the gorge of the River Severn whose nearby settlement takes its name, Ironbridge.  The area has a valid claim to be considered the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution for it is where Abraham Darby first smelted iron ore with coke in 1709 (rather than charcoal or coal) meaning  it could be produced in large economic quantities.  The bridge was closed to traffic in 1934 although tolls were still collected at the toll house until 1950 when the council took over its upkeep. 
The steepness and instability of the gorge was another challenge for the original constructors,  they also had to make the bridge high enough to allow sailing boats through and its 100 ft span is supported by 5 cast iron rib members. Both beautiful an functional it is thought that three forges provided the iron one, one of which is the nearby and aptly named Bedlam Forge.
The view from the bridge today is  very peaceful but I imagine in the past it would have looked very different with the rising smoke and fire of the furnaces.
   "Coalbrookdale by Night" by Philip de Loutherbourg 1801.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet this week sojourning at I here

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


I wonder where you would put a table like this?  I imagine in a very large hall where those heads would be irresistible to hang a hat after returning from hacking around the countryside.  This is the 'Deerhound Table' designed and created by the sculptor John Bell (1811-1895) for the Paris International Exhibition of 1855.  The life-size deerhounds support a table top painted to look like marble.  On display in the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron you may guess from that name that it is made of the material loved by the Victorians, cast iron. and it weighs a massive 800 kg.
It would be impracticable for me to own a dog but that does not stop me musing on what type I would like to have.  These hounds might be perfect, the puppies are very lively but once they reach about three they like to lounge around and sleep, the place of preference being on soft furnishing. however their attention is always grabbed by food and the chance of a long walk.  Sounds a bit like me. Perhaps I would take them to the beach
but watch out for the Sea Holly
Bethecar Moor and the Coniston Hills
Their own place of preference would be the high hills with plenty of room to run for, as their name implies, they were originally bred to hunt deer. Want to see some real deerhounds bounding around?  I know I did, here is the Flickr Group.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet this week sojourning at H here   

Saturday, 16 August 2014


 Granite pavement embellishment on the Stone Jetty, Morecambe.  
There are number these whimsical bird plaques with beautiful lettering created by Gordon Young and Russell Coleman.  

One of my favourite birds.  A lapwing flying high with its cry of 'pee-wit' carrying on the breeze down to those of us earthbound.  Look up in springtime and there may be something even better, a pair of lapwings dancing and tumbling  through the air.  In winter they might be spotted near to this Stone Jetty and the mudflats of Morecambe Bay. A bird whose numbers have sadly declined in recent times.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Eee its Tea time

Here I am at the York's medieval city walls and the signs directing those in need of refreshment to Evie's Tea Room, envelopes can be posted on the way past in the double post box.  Nearby is Exhibitions Square the home of the City Art Gallery which is currently closed for a major upgrade until 2015.  This is Bootham Bar
the north west entrance and  one of four gatehouses into York.  In medieval times it restricted traffic into the city, sometimes collecting tolls and in times of war was closed and defended.  Although York's historic centre is its famous attribute it is also a key railway junction halfway between London and Edinburgh on the east coast line so where better to house the national railway collection which includes this  
beast, the enormous steam locomotive KF7, its scale can be judged by the family reading the information board.  It is one of originally 24 designed specifically for the conditions on the Guangzhou-Hankou Railway line in China. Built by the Vulcan Forge of Newton-le-Willows in Lancashire, a company that even had its own railway station (Vulcan Halt).  Completed in the 1930s these engines remained mostly unscathed through the turbulent period of China's history in the 1930s and 40s until they were retired in the 1970s.  There are two known survivors of this class, one in the Beijing Railway Museum and this one in York which was offered back to the UK by the Chinese Government for preservation and arrived in 1981.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at E here