Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Yorkshire Mason

Walk around to the back of the York Minster and a craftsman might be found plying a trade that would be as familiar today as is was back in the middle ages when the great cathedral was built.  Today the limestone, as then, is from a Yorkshire quarry. 
Many skilled craftsmen and women look after York Minster, not only to restore and recreate the historic masonry but also to replace those objects and grotesques that have been worn away by the Yorkshire weather.  The little area at the back of the minster is to show the public the mason's art. This particular Yorkshire mason said he likes being out here, although it seems some of his colleagues are more reticent as he was the only one on the day we visited. 
From a plain piece of  magnesium limestone comes a work of art, ready to slot into place on the Minster facade  

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

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Happy Holidays

Hope the reindeer landed on your roof without any damage.  These ones are lightly perched waiting for the take off at the Manchester Christmas market.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

X Rated

 Manchester Museum model Viper  with the heat sensing pit organ between the eye and nostril on either side of the head. An ambush predator with a preference for nocturnal hunting.  As we  know well the protagonists in x rated horror films always leave it until night-time to visit scary places.   Hiss.
 The disembodied arm holds a warning by a quarry.  Just in case someone wants to leap over the fencing.
And lastly some x rated radioactive nuclear waste encased somewhere beyond the fence, the long term government strategy of which seems to be to ignore it and leave it to future generations, after all, it is located some distance away from the political centre of London.  

And on that note I wish you all - A Happy Xmas

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

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Wellington at Whitehaven

The instruction is clear, dismount your bike before wending your way down the slope to Whitehaven harbour on the Cumbrian coast.
Having an interest in industrial archaeology this chimney (known locally as 'The Candlestick') takes centre stage in my photograph.  Today it is just a landmark but its original purpose was as the ventilation chimney for the Wellington Mine which was sunk in 1838/40 and ran out under the sea.  Known as a what is called a "fiery pit", that is it suffered from fire damp (flammable gases), which made it a difficult pit to work and potentially dangerous with numerous accidents.  The worst disaster underground occurred in May 1910 with an explosion and  fire which took 132 lives.  There is a plaque dedicated to the men, women and children that lost their lives that day by the Candlestick.  The pit closed in 1933
 The other remnant of the mine is Wellington Lodge (seen here with the harbour light) which was the mine entrance and today the home of the coastguard.
It appears here in the artist's impression of the Wellington mine hanging outside the pub that takes its name.  

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

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Village Views

The Over Kellet Village Post Office in Lancashire is a family concern and supplies the usual eclectic mix typical of village shops,  although at the time all I was buying was ice cream and a newspaper.  On our way here we had passed by
the chimney and bell tower of the
  old village school, now converted into a private dwelling and at the time up for sale.
Walking up the hill was this group of buildings which I imagine would at one time have been a old farm house and attached workers cottage typical of the area.  The meaning of 'Kellet' in Over Kellet means 'spring' and probably refers to this and the neighbouring village of Near Kellet's water springs on different parts of the hill, one of which runs to the village well.  In the 18th century this provided drinking water for the horse troughs.  But no horses to take the strain here
as a little group on a training run cycles up the hill. It was a lovely day for doing just that
with clear views over the valley and perhaps they took a route past this
farm weather vane in Near Kellet. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet sojourning this week at -  V 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Underground Overground

This year was the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the London Underground Metropolitan Line and the Royal Mail issued a set of stamps exactly 150th years to the day on 9th January.
I move forward some years to the Russell Square Station which for any lover of tiles or fonts is a great one to visit, that and the fact that it is near the British Museum.  One of many surviving stations designed by Leslie Green in an Arts and Craft style it opened in 1906 and although the upper ticketing areas have been altered some of the station level tiling survives
The last count was 1.2 billion passenger travelling on the various lines every year.
Although I'm not going to show you any of them because I had a bit of a camera glitch so here are the approaching train lights
Goodge Street station built in 1907 was closed for alterations when we were in London but it is one of the rare stations that has a different exit to the entrance. It is also one of eight London stations that had a deep level air raid shelter built underneath it.  Unlike this one
A postcard of a 1940s book cover with everybody carrying their gas masks in a sort of idealised blitz spirit kind of way, although perhaps reality was more like this
which looks rather more uncomfortable.  The Aldwych*  Station in 1940, one of 79 Tube stations used as air raid shelters

*UPDATE:  By one of those strange coincidences of life I just noticed that one of my favourite bloggers has written about his recent visit down to the long closed Aldwych Station (pictured above)  here (with pics and Doctor Who references).

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

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Tour of Britain Stage Two

Timing a rolling road block relies on communication and here is one of the police bikes waiting for the next team member to take over. This means that our wait is about over to see the Tour of Britain Riders 
 The first to arrive were the breakaway here led by the An Post rider Sean Downey.  The spectators are well wrapped against the weather which had been only showery until the riders approached and then it became a deluge and it looked as though they would have their own personal rain cloud throughout the day.
This next highlight of Stage Two of the Tour of Britain in September was indicated by a rather jolly Peleton Safety official bantering with the crowd jumping off the bike to run to the junction
to indicate the direction to the peleton powering up the hill out of Whitehaven 
Bernard Eisel leading the Sky Team and his expression and rhythmic determination to hunt down the breakaway did not alter throughout the stage. 
Mark Cavendish, the Manx Missile tucked away in the middle of the peleton. Hills are not his metier but give him a nice flat finish line to aim for and whoosh.

The events marshal rides up the A595 as the last of the bunch cross the road ahead turn left,  81 of the 186 miles done but lots to come on this trip from Carlisle to Kendal down the coast and across the Lake District.
The Australian rider Steele Von Hoff must have had some mechanical problem as he was the last rider and out of contact, he danced on the peddles trying to regain the peleton.  My camera was nicely steaming up at this point. The breakaway would lead for much of the stage until they hit Honister Pass which was a popular place to watch the tour, but one that produced the worst of the Lakeland weather so its 1 in 4 gradient was also part stream.  I watched that part of the race on the TV, not outside on the big screen in Workington but gradually drying out in the comfort of a pub.

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

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Saints, Sailors and Seabirds

Here is St Bega as imagined by Chris Telfer in one of his iron ore dust and resin statues. The village of St Bees is named after her and the statue was installed for the millennium, the tower of  12th Century St Bees Priory stands in the background. Legend has Bega as an Irish princess who was promised in marriage to a Viking Prince but she fled across the Irish Sea to escape her fate. The legend continues that she went to Lord Egremont to ask for land to build a priory, he joked that she could have any land that was covered in snow the following day (it was midsummer at the time).  The next day the land between the sea and the castle was covered in snow. After founding the priory pirate raids meant that the little community of nuns later moved to Northumberland. History has a Benedictine nunnery established in c650 destroyed by the Danes.
The many interesting gravestones in the churchyard include this one which is known locally as "The Sailors Grave" and commemorates the souls of the seamen from wreck of the 'Luigi Olivari', only one which could be identified, the pilot Henry Legg, and this from his pilot certificate which was kept safe enclosed in a tin in his pocket. The cross is dedicated to him and the other 11 unknown sailors.  The three shells seen on the left complement many on the back and have been there as long as anyone can remember.  The old people in the village remember them being there as children but no-one knows who put them there.
Walking out of the village to the sea and the most westerly part of Cumbria are the sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head. This is also the start of the 182 mile coast to coast walk across northern England where tradition has it to dip your feet in the Irish Sea here (or bike wheel if doing the C2C), and after passing through three contrasting national parks reaching the end at Robin Hoods Bay to do the same in the North Sea. The preferred route is usually west to east because, as the Irish blessing goes, the wind is ever at your back. I however am heading north.
along the coastal path on a warm June day, and a summer that abounded in buttercups. The views were hazy but in the distance can be seen the St Bees Lighthouse
and the path crosses inbetween that and the 
coastguard lookout.  The sea here merging with the sky it was so calm.
which the occupants of these cliffs were enjoying for turning around the corner there were
thousands of black guillemots. They almost look like dark pieces of rock from a distance but crop
a photo and here they all are. Over the last fifty years their numbers have increased but many sea-birds stop here including Razorbills which come to breed from March to July.  If lucky there are also a few Puffins,(not on this day) but there is no shortage of many other species to be seen whirling over the sea and sky.

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

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Railway Reflection

The Oxford Road Railway Station reflecting its surrounding in the late afternoon sun.  The original station on this site was opened in 1849 but became dilapidated and was demolished when the line was electrified and modernised, being rebuilt in 1960 (and  recently refurbished in 2004).  I have not been able to find a photograph of the 19th Century station but it was lucky to be rebuilt before the mid 60s and concrete brutalism. The architect Max Clendinning was joined by the structural engineer Hugh Tottenham of the Timber Development Association whose timber shell roof and this laminated timber fa├žade make it so distinctive.  Rather than reverse the time in ones head from the reflection, turn around and see

the clock tower and the correct time.
Express Sprinter waiting at Oxford Road
The curved wooden beams inside the station support the canopy and there have been later additions of waiting shelters in the same theme
who occupants may be reflecting on when their train might arrive. 
To see what the clock tower is attached to one must walk away from the station and see it soaring above what was the Refuge Assurance Building built by Alfred Waterhouse in the 1890s and then later in 1910-12 a 217 ft (66m) clock tower and extension along Oxford Road was built by his son John. Refuge Assurance occupied the building for nearly a century but today it is the Palace Hotel a short walk from the ornate
entrance (still with the Refuge name on the stonework), to the railway station or vice-versa.

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