Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Lime Kilns

Peter Lane Lime Kiln, Near Warton, Lancashire
If I had visited this Lime Kiln today I would have a nice snowy photograph although with the amount of snow that has fallen in the past week the kiln may have half disappeared under it but I took it earlier this month and there was only winter grass and we thought spring was in the air. There are hundreds of old lime kilns in woods and valleys in  northern England sometimes like this one alone in the middle of the filed and sometimes
Hyning Lane Lime Kiln, Hyning Scout Wood, Nr Warton, Lancashire
camouflaged with overgrown vegetation. They sometimes have almost disappeared but hese kilns were restored as part of the Arnside and Silverdale Limestone Heritage Project from 2001-2007.  Originally used for burning limestone (calcium carbonate) which gives quicklime (calcium oxide).  I seem to remember Charles Dickens killing someone off in one of his novels by falling in a quicklime pit so avoid that.   Mixed with water this produces slaked lime (clacium hydroxide) which was used as mortar for buildings.  Soft when mixed with water but with time it absorbs carbon dioxide and it reverts back to calcium limestone and this is how the Romans used it.  Spread as agricultural lime it is invaluable for improving the fertility of acidic soils.  My uncle used to say it was like spreading sugar on the land. Before the mass production of lime in the industrial revolution all lime was produced locally in the 18th Century, often by  local farmers.
And this is how the process would have looked.  Kilns are set into the side of a shallow hill so that carts could deliver limestone and firewood to the kiln. The lime would be crushed into lumps and it would take a day to load, 3 days to fire, 2 days to cool and one to unload and start the process all over again for this reason they are called intermittent kilns. The alignment of kilns often takes advantage of prevailing winds to hasten the burn.  The kilns were built using the handy limestone and were lined with fire-bricks or sandstone slips but one rarely sees these as  the majority were removed and recycled for other uses.
Smardale Gill Nature Reserve
You can see the limestone pavement and the Lime Kilns inset  in this photograph, taken when the Hawthorn blossom was in full flower.  These are later than the first two I have shown and are commercial lime kilns from the 19th Century.  Today old lime kilns, if one is lucky, boast bat roosts, sometimes they are home to small mammals and the limestone pavements are protected from being used, their unique nature means they house rare and unusual plants.  I believe that Britain and Ireland have the most of this habitat in the world. It was laid down in the Carboniferous era 300 million years ago when the conditions in this area would be similar to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia but with the movement of the earth's crust (plate tectonics) the Lake District was pushed up into a dome structure and rocks were tilted, faulted and folded.  The eroded rings of limestone seen today have been called a "necklace of limestone".
Bruntscar Lime Kiln near Whernside, Yorkshire

This kiln is in a county also famous for its limestone pavements and is on the popular route down from the top of Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales. The finger-post shows two directions, straight on to Scar End or the much more attractive option  at the end of a walking day, turn  left to the Hill Inn.

An entry to ABC Wednesday - a journey through the alphabet stopping off this week at  K

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Abraham Brothers

The Abraham Brothers George (1870-1965) and Ashley (1876-1951) whose father ran a photography business  in Keswick so it was fated that they too would follow him into photography but in  ground-breaking ways for they were the first to venture onto the Lakeland crags laden with photographic gear (often weighing up to 20 lbs) climbing on ridges and ledges in all weathers to take photographs of both climbers and the views.  The photograph shows them in middle age (when I imagine the cameras were a lot smaller) with their climbing accoutrements and  of course the obligatory tweed suits which everyone wore to climb at the time complete with nails hammered into boots.  I remember a story about them borrowing their mothers washing line (which may be apocryphal) when they tried their first climb  but discovered that was far from satisfactory and moved onto more robust twine.
They made many first assents in their career as both climbers and photographers. It must be useful to have a brother's shoulder to help one make a move across a rock face.
Unfortunately unlike the Sepia Saturday's prompt photograph of photographers taking pictures of the famous cherry blossom in Washington I have been unable to find any of the Abraham Brothers with their cameras. I know there is one because I have seen one of them in their early days with huge cameras and being amazed at the possibility of being able to climb with them.  They are probably most famously associated with
Napes Needle on Great Gable in the Wasdale Valley, an important part of the early history of rock climbing in England first climbed in 1886 its iconic status is combined with the Wasdale Head Inn in the valley which is the place these early climbers gathered  and so too do the modern climbers  The decent of Napes Needle is considered more difficult that the climb but those people on the top are just feeling the exhilaration.  The Abraham Brothers climbed this with cameras and also for the fun of just climbing it.  This photograph is from "Beautiful Lakeland" published in 1912, one of the many of their books  featuring their photographs. The book credits Ashley with the text and George with the photographs and describes this as "A very favourite climb, short but exceedingly difficult and only for those of long experience" and goes on to describe how to do it but as we all know from holiday disasters the best stories are those of adversity survived and enjoyed in retrospect so here is an extract from the book

"I recall a very unpleasant experience of my own on the Needle. It was a bitterly cold Christmas day of 1897, that a part of three of us climbed to its apex.  We had no sooner arrived there than it came on to rain and as the rain fell it froze immediately on the rock; the Needle became almost like a huge inverted icicle.  I essayed the decent, but the small handholds near the top were veneered with ice.  It was quite impossible, so, with great difficulty, I regained my companions on the top.  By this time a driving wind had sprung up and it behoved us to descend at once, or else be frozen and then blown off.  It was an unpleasant dilemma, but we got out of it in the following manner.  The strongest man of the party lowered first one and then the other of us, swinging round and round on the rope end like a spider at the end of its clew, until we reached the neck between the Needle and the mountain, seen in the illustration.  Then the last man tied his rope round the top of the rock and came down hand over hand for about twenty feet, when off slipped the rope from the top and he came tumbling down on to us.  Fortunately he retained his grasp of the rope and, as we were tied to the other end, we were able to arrest his fall before he had gone far.  Beyond a severe shaking he was no worse, and this, with a bruised shoulder where his boot struck me as his body flew through the air; was all the damage sustained in our escapade". 
And here is George's photo on firmer ground, an aspect that would have appeared on the Abraham's postcards and still does on modern cards, the road complete with potholes will be pretty similar too.  In fact the potholes have got so bad that the council were to close the road to repair it this week, I wonder how far they got before the snow storm hit today and nature closed the roads in the Lake District.  Great Gable appears as the middle mountain but the title of this book plate of "the gathering storm" put me in mind of the changeability of the Lake District weather and the time I sat on the mountain to the left, Kirk Fell, it was a beautiful summers day and we were fascinated to watch the speed the mist was rolling down the valley, over the lake until it climbed and covered all the mountains and everything disappeared around us, one of the many occasions it is good to have a compass to descend and regain the Wastdale Head Inn bar.      

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

June Flowers

Foxgloves, beloved of bees whose favourite colour is purple, are out in profusion in my favourite month - June, the air is warm, the countryside has exploded into colour and the hedgerows hide the little
wild geraniums,
 wild roses twine through the hedges
Heath Spotted Orchid   

and it is the peak season for the Heath Spotted Orchid which loves the bog land and marshes. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish it from the Common Spotted Orchid for they can hybridise and sometimes they are just
tricky to spot hidden among the jumble of grasses
The wild jostles with the manicured golf course
This clipped lawn is for play (there is a football net out of sight behind me to the right)  but there is enough room for a rhododendron
 and of course no garden is complete without roses.  It is also the best place to sit out and eat the June's early
English strawberries. Not the supermarket ones grown to be robust for transport and tasteless but the sharp, sweet and delicate local ones. I've cheated with this photograph because they are not English strawberries as it is Antwerp Railway Station in Belgium where they are selling Strawberries dipped in a big vat of chocolate however look there is someone walking past wearing a Union Jack jumper. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday - a journey through the alphabet


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

A Good Innings

On our way past Poolside, the home of Haverigg Cricket Club we noticed a full car park and a crowd one afternoon last September so we went to investigate and found the final of the Cumbria Cup in full flow.  This was the first innings with Barrow winning the toss and opting to field.  Here the Barrow wicket keeper is catching the ball and trying to keep the run rate down however

Workington proceeded to hit the ball around the ground with impunity.  We left to continue our walk but the rest of the day went like this: After tea rain interrupted play so the Duckworth-Lewis scoring system had to be brought into play.  This is a mathematical formula designed to calculate the target score for the team batting second in a weather affected limited over match.  A method impenetrable to all but the most dedicated cricket watcher, and statisticians (the explanation here). Barrow were unable to hit the target as they were all out for 114, well off target, so Workington took the cup.

Rain affected play and inclement weather  was a common feature of 2012 and those competing in the Cumbria Cup may have a professional player and groundsmen to look after the pitch.  Those teams that just played in their local pub league in 2012 experienced a year that broke all rain records and
found their water logged pitches and rainy weekends made the season a wash out. Time to repair to the pub and  imbibe a pint or two
Cricketers Arms, St Helens
and dream of a better summer in 2013. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday - a journey through the alphabet

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

High Rises


The sun starting to set on a high-rise building in Portsmouth.   This occupants of this building must have seen some stunning sunsets across the city.  We, however, were side on in our hotel so could just appreciating the light as it illuminated the building.
Hands steady, click.  Yes we often find ourselves photographing the same thing but in this case I have been quicker so now photograph the other happy snapper
Heading north and nearer home, another city skyline from old to modern where nearby in the Tate there was a high-rise
stack of plates.   This is "No Title (Stacked Plates)" by the American Sculptor Robert Therrien who likes to super-size household items and trigger memories of childhood. These huge plates tower over you  and when walking around the shiny curves make it seem as though it is smoothly moving.  Quite discombobulating but mesmerising.

An entry to ABC Wednesday - a hop from letter to letter through the alphabet

Friday, 1 March 2013

Paper Counting

I've made more than a few boxes in my time from flat cardboard but the object was to store or display. I've also been involved in moving a library twice, and my mother's wool shop once, all those occasion requiring well labelled cardboard boxes.  My last job also involved a move but  by that point  I had left libraries far behind and only had a mini research library, CDs and a computer, ah how times change, it was a breeze.   So there are all my cardboard experiences without even mentioning that of moving house  however I have never stood and made boxes all day for a living as in this week's Sepia Saturday prompt.  I have no boxes to show but
"Counting the paper at Barrow Paper Mills, Salthouse"
do have someone counting paper at the Barrow Paper Mills in pre automated days. Look at those stacks towering behind her. No dangerous moving machinery but don't forget the horror of  paper cuts, she looks as though she has kept clear of those judging from her happy demeanour.  All that can be heard is the soft rustle of paper.  The place she works in was constructed in 1889 as the Barrow Chemical Wood Pulp Company, it imported logs by ship and moved them from the port by train to the mill.  They chopped the logs boiled them with sulphur to make pulp which was supplied to paper mills. A few years later (1892) paper making machines were installed and the firm renamed Killner Partington Paper Pulp Co  and they started to import pulp rather than make it, then in 1919 the firm was reorganised as Barrow Paper Mills Ltd. They made cartridge paper, printing paper, and in a link to this week's prompt, coverings for carboard boxes and lastly high quality fine paper for books.

The company who employed 400-500 people, 200 of them women, would close in 1973.  One of the men who was part of decommissioning and moving the machinery at that time, Terry Hesseltine, remembers it as a happy place to work although the conditions were "hot and sticky with a smell of bleach and wood-pulp".  
Barrow Paper Mill works and Cavendish Dock, Barrow in Furness 1929
 Here is the Barrow Paper Mills in 1929 from the "Britain from Above" resource.  You can see the train steaming into view top left, trains still go past the site which is now derelict but always referred to as Salthouse Mills despite the paper mill having long gone.  All sorts of things have been suggested for the area, the latest was a waterfront residential. development but the economic climate and cost of cleaning up a brownfield site means its acreage is still unused apart from a few small businesses.  Wood pulp is still shipped into the Barrow port but it is going into the opposite direction of this site and the Kimberly Clark factory making paper tissue branded with the Andrex puppy.