Friday, 25 December 2009

Tis The Season

Well I was going out to visit Ian's relations with him and Guzzisue, however when I opened the back door to find over a foot of snow on the ground.....

All I can do is to say Seasons Greetings to one and all and a prosperous new year.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Papplewick Pumping Station - 1940's Weekend

I was a little concerned on our last trip to Papplewick Pumping Station. Soldiers were guarding the main gate and checking the papers of every occupant in every vehicle. We had been issued with identity cards and ration books upon entry ourselves.

Walking up the main cobbled road there was a line of important looking motor cars.

I'm not sure if the ARP warden has been dabbling in the black market to purchase and run his Austin.
By the green 'Monty' was giving a speech to motivate the troops and local people.
Looking around I was relieved to see that the Registration of Boys and Girls Order had no mention of bears.
There was also plenty of warnings around to make us wary of what we were fighting against.
The Home Guard kept a watchful eye on the day's proceedings,
especially as there was such an important visitor in the grounds!
There was enthusiasm by the locals wanting to enlist, having checked out the weaponry.
There was a fine arsenal on display, enough to scare off any invaders?
While a sharp eye was kept on the skies
the same could not be said about on the ground.
Spotting a German motorcycle, I was about to sabotage it when
two Germans came a little too close.
Not to worry. As we were departing, I noticed that the Yanks were on the way.

But it was all just a dream. Wasn't it?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Papplewick Pumping Station - A Hidden Gem

It’s strange how events sometimes happen. There is a peaceful, secluded spot not too far from where we live that Ian and Guzzisue have been intending to visit since before I was born. The opportunity arose when Ian’s nephew Shaun was up in the area for a few days. When this occurs, Ian and Guzzisue always try and take Shaun and/or Tanya, Ian’s niece, out for a day. On this occasion it was a trip to Papplewick Pumping Station, between the A60 and A614.

Before I go into detail of our visit I will give a brief insight as to why the Pumping station was built.

As the Framework Knitting and Lace Industries expanded, so did Nottingham’s population. Between the years 1720 and 1830, the population rose from 10,000 to 50,000. The River Leen , Nottingham’s water supply, quickly became contaminated with sewage and industrial waste, resulting in cholera and typhoid epidemics.

In 1845 the Nottingham Enclosure Act was passed which enabled the town to expand on the surrounding land. Prior to this all building had to be done within the medieval town boundaries. During the same year, the Nottingham Water Act amalgamated all of the existing small water companies into the Nottingham Waterworks Company.

As the local water supplies were becoming increasingly polluted Thomas Hawksley, engineer to the new Waterworks Company, looked underground for a fresh supply of water. Much of the surrounding area of Nottingham is situated on Bunter Sandstone, with some 20% of its volume made up of interconnecting spaces, thus enabling it to act as both a filter and sponge, storing vast quantities of pure water.

Three Pumping Stations were built between 1850 and 1871, with the water being stored in four reservoirs built by the Company, alongside one reservoir already in use. Papplewick reservoir was built in 1880, but more about this will follow later.

Also in 1880, the responsibility for the water supply passed over to the Nottingham Corporation Water Department whose Engineer, Marriott Ogle Tarbotton. Tarbotton realised the need for increased production and storage capacity for water and was quick to submit a report drawing attention to this. The result of this was for another reservoir to be built near Nottingham and the construction of Papplewick Pumping Station, complete with two 140 HP James Watt rotative beam engines. These engines continued to be used for the next 85 years until June 1969 when an electric pumping station was built.

Surprisingly when we arrived for the start of our day out we managed to walk straight into the grounds without paying. This was due to the fact that we were an hour too early and the staff were still setting up for the day. All was not lost as we were able to sit down, have a drink and talk to the preservation society treasurer. This gave us the opportunity of purchasing a family season ticket for about the same cost as getting all of us in for the single visit.

At this moment in time, little did we know how much use this ticket would get!

As the day slowly awoke, there was a morning chorus of a local group of Austin owners coming to display their fine motors for the day.
There was so much to wander round, look at and watch it was difficult to know where to start, so I stood watching two gentlemen fettling their mini traction engines.

For our first view of the beam engines we started by going in via the tradesman’s entrance and warmed ourselves by the Lancashire boilers. There are six in total, three of which were in use at any one time when the station was in operation, but as the pumps now provide enjoyment and education as opposed to water only one is required. About 2,000 tons of coal was required every year when fully operational.

Walking along the length of the two central boilers we enter the Victorian splendour of the pump house. In front of us stand the two beam engines. Due to the size of these gentle metal leviathans it was impossible to photograph them in one shot, so I will explain each section individually.

When looking over the safety rail into the basement area there are some heavy timbers that cover the 200ft well that had been cut through the sandstone into the water bearing area. The well is connected by a horizontal tunnel to the original pilot well near to the main gate, which in turn now has some submersible pumps supplying water to the Nottingham area.

On the left of the photo we can see the 21 inch pipe that the pump rod is protected by. The rod and pipe go down 200ft to the bottom of the well lifting the vast quantities of water to the reservoir. Also visible is the connecting rod that is connected to the flywheel by a crank. The flywheel rotates at a steady 11 ½ rpm, thus keeping the pump at an even movement. In front of the flywheel is the Watt’s Patent Governor. This can be found on many steam powered engines. As the flywheel gains momentum the heavy steel balls on the governor rise, thus helping to keep a regular momentum.

The un-victorian screen in the background is one of several scattered around giving an audio and visual explanation of the pump’s operation.

Passing by the manual valve gear with its starting handles, complete with a brass nameplate dated 1884, we head upstairs to the middle floor, known as the “Packing Flat”. Here we are level with the tops of the steam cylinders. These provide the power to operate the pump rods to obtain the water. For the steam cylinder and pump rods to be connected we have to go up another flight of stairs and view the beams.

The beams are a mere 25ft in length and weigh 13 tons. The rocking motion, combined with the lazy sound of the engines make this floor a delight to spend some time in. Around the walls are various displays with information of the site and surrounding area.

There was no shortage of decoration on the ground floor pillars either. On the top of these there are ornate birds, just visible in the steam cylinder photo. They are looking down at the fish in the cooling pond, an easy meal for them. The fish grow to a good size due to the water temperature.

We spent several hours watching the steam pumps in action, along with other exhibits scattered around the grounds. It is certainly a hidden gem of British heritage that needs investigating if you ever get the chance. We never thought that we would use the family ticket for more than one occasion, however as the year unfolded…….

Finally, here is a short film of the day’s events put into some form perspective.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Bells! It Must Be The Gate To Southwell.

The original event of the Gate to Southwell dates back to 1109, and was revived back in 1981, becoming an annual event for many local Morris dance teams.
In the year of Our Lord 1109, someone decided to build a “Mother Church” at Southwell, Nottinghamshire. Obviously money was required for such a grand plan, so people were invited from all over the Diocese to walk to Southwell and donate money. These monies became known as the Southwell Pence.

The amounts varied as to the wealth and generosity of the people from the various parishes, for example, Nottingham gave 13 Shillings and 4 Pence, and poor Stanton could only muster 5 pence in total!

Since Great Britain went decimal in 1971 there will be many people that cannot remember the old currency, so let me explain.

4 Farthings = 1 Penny (d)
12 Pennies = 1 Shilling (s)
20 Shillings = 1 Pound (£)
21 shillings = 1 guinea.

Therefore something bought for 50 guineas means that it costs £50 and 50 shillings, or £52 10s 0d.

So far, so good.

There were several different coins used in the old monetary system:

Farthing = ¼ of a penny
Half Penny = ½ of a penny
Penny = 1/12 of a shilling
Three Penny Piece ( pronounced “threp-ni” with “bit”) = ¼ of a Shilling
Sixpence (known as a tanner) = ½ of a shilling
Shilling (also known as “a Bob) = 1 shilling
Florin (known as “2 Bob”) = 2 shillings
Half a Crown = 2s 6d
Crown = 5 shillings

Incidentally the film Half A Sixpence, with Tommy Steele might not have been so popular if it was simply named Threepence!

This system was known as £sd and youngsters look at Ian with far out expressions when he explains this to them!

In today’s money the sum passed over equates to £15.94 approximately.

As part of the revived Gate to Southwell, each Morris group takes a purse of pre decimal coins representing the various parishes. At the conclusion of the procession the monies are handed over and speeches exchanged, along with a cheque for the equivalent in new currency.

The Gate starts in Nottingham’s Old Market Square with informal dancing from participating Morris groups. The Lord Mayor makes a speech and the Southwell Pence are handed over to begin their journey.

The troupe then proceed out of the city centre, through the Lace Market area and down into Sneinton. Here a warm welcome awaits and more speeches are made, after which members of the Sneinton Environmental Society escort the procession to the parish boundary.

From here there follows dances at various taverns along the route. These include stop offs at Burton Joyce, Lowdham, Thurgarten, where we meet up with the pilgrims.
In the first film we can see amongst others the Dolphin Morris, who are responsible for the organisation of the event and Yellow Belly from Lincolnshire.

The dancers then head off towards Bleasby for a well earned cup of tea and scone before they travel on down to the Bromley Arms at Fiskerton, by the River Trent. Here I captured Greenwood Clog and the Maids Of Clifton in action.

This was the final stopping off place for these particular troupes before reaching Southwell and proceeding up the main road to the Minster.

Here at the Minster the Southwell Pence are handed over to a grateful minister. Speeches are made, from the Morris Representative and the minister before we gather inside the Minster for more dancing and a small service.

After the formalities are over the dancers are given free beer vouchers to be redeemed in the Bramley Apple Public House. in this film we see the Sallyport Sword Dancers and at the end Mike, from the Dolphin Morris with his pick up sticks routine.

FREE BEER! Must find some bells and practise for next year.

Monday, 5 October 2009

I Binns Out For The Day

Although not officially part of the City Pulse event this year another summer music event kicked off on the same weekend.

The Albert Hall has had a troubled existence and if there are building councillors then this could well have been a case for one.

In the early 1870's the Good Templar's amongst other groups were looking for a site in Nottingham to build a Temperance Hall. The local architect, Mr Watson Fothergill won the commission and the foundation stone was laid in 1873, however funds soon ran out.

A rescue bid was put into place by the formation of a limited liability company and work began on what is now the Albert Hall, with the costing being £14,000.

At that time, the Albert Hall was Nottingham's largest concert hall and a major venue for political rallies. By the turn of the century it was realised that the Hall would never be able to generate enough cash to avoid frequent financial crises.

It was time for the Wesleyans to take over the mantle. When the venue came on the market in 1901 it was purchased by a syndicate of local businessmen for £8,450 and opened as a mission in 1902.

The outstanding debt on the building was a burden, however work on the mission was progressing well until the 22nd of April 1906 when fire swept through the building. The fire hit the Methodists hard as it was under insured, therefore they needed to raise a substantial sum of money to rebuild. The sturdy community managed to raise the sum required and brought in another local architect, Mr A E Lambert. His new Albert Hall Methodist Mission was built in the style of an Edwardian Theatre or Music Hall and, in the practise of temperance halls, concerts and other events were staged in the hall.

The new hall was dedicated in March 1909 and officially opened on the 15th September 1910 by Lady Boot, wife of Sir Jesse Boot.

The centrepiece of the hall is the magnificent Binns Organ, built in 1909 by J.J. Binns, gifted to the City of Nottingham by Sir Jesse. The walnut casework was made by Boots' shopfitters.

Back in the 1980's, Ian had the pleasure of being at a recital of Gillian Weir's, when she performed Mussorgsky's "Pictures At An Exhibition". There was an audience of less than one hundred in the vast hall and the windows could be heard rattling when the bass notes were played.

The hall continued to function as a Methodist mission until 1984 and the City Council purchased the building in 1987, conducting a major refurbishment in order to link the venue with the Nottingham Playhouse. The work was completed in 1988 and HRH the Princess of Wales unveiled a plaque in 1989 to commemorate the refurbishment.

The Nottingham Playhouse managed the Albert Hall until July 1990 when the City Council leased the building to the Albert Hall Nottingham Ltd for use as a Conference and Entertainment Venue.

After the final service in the hall the organ lay silent for three years, being exposed to damp, dirt and the disturbance of the refurbishment.

When the hall was purchased by the council the Binns Organ Restoration Appeal Fund was launched. The group, representing local businesses, organists, art bodies and civic charities, needed to raise £200,000. Donations poured in and restoration began in September 1992 under the guidance of local organist and custodian of the organ, David Butterworth. Restoration was undertaken by Harrison and Harrison, of Durham, and in October 1993 was ready to sound forth again, which brings us full circle on this post.

On Sunday May 24th, John Keys, a former pupil of Gillian Weir gave the "Centenary Celebration Recital". This was the first of six free recitals for 2009. In it he performed music from Purcell, Mendelssohn, Wagner including Ride of the Walkyre (or should that
be Valkyre?)

Unfortunately we only stayed for the first half of the performance as there were so many bands playing around the city centre. Ian did sneak in the video recorder and I managed to record the first movement from Handel's "Suite for the Royal Fireworks"


Sunday, 27 September 2009

Nottingham City Pulse 2009

As a one time Glam Rocker from the 1970's sang before he fell into shame, dishonour and tabloid public enemy #1. Hello, hello, it's good to be back!

Ian, Guzzisue and myself have just returned from our latest travels. Naturally I will be posting details on these, but I have so much to catch up on from this year for the time being. It will be difficult to follow The Long Not Winding Road series as this included new horizons, cities and emotional experiences.

When Ian found himself joining the masses of workers losing their jobs, things were not looking too hopeful for this summer, however it gave us chance to find cheaper options to be entertained. I will start with the Nottingham City Pulse 2009.

The event was held over the Whit Bank Holiday period at the end of May around the city centre. In all there were six stages around the centre with the usual buskers plying their talents as well.

With the sun shinning and Nottingham alive with saturday shoppers we sat ourselves down in St Mark's Square to listen to songs from the 1920's and 30's performed by the Hot Potato Syncopators, looking quite dashing in their dickies and evening suits. Music to give images of punting down a river, complete with picnic hamper and wind up gramophone abound. The group were so impressed with the recording of their performance that it now appears on their web site, so for your enjoyment, I give you the Hot Potato Syncopators.

Moving along to Nottingham Castle wall, by the statue of Robin Hood, a new stage and marque complete with a dance floor had been erected for this year. Previously there had been only a small stage. Admittedly I was convinced that this would not work, however, like most humans, this bear can make mistakes and the idea was a complete success with people dancing to big band music and local ceilidh bands amongst other types of music.

Five Go Off are a local folk/ceilidh band consisting of four talented musicians. Inside the marquee they managed to get people of all ages up and dancing by slowly talking the steps through slowly so the dancers could get an idea of what they were meant to be doing. Denny Plowman, one of the musicians also took on the mantle of caller for the dances.

The Henly Farrell Big Band, another locally based band. The band features a traditional line up of 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxes, piano, bass, guitar, drums and 2 singers. I was only able to be at the start of the band's set and the video below is rather mellow. Later on when I returned the marquee was in full swing with several dancers on their feet.

Leaving the marquee behind, it is time to head towards Chapel Bar, Nottingham's continental area. Here there are several restaurants with seating available on the pedestrianised area. At the top of Chapel Bar there is another small stage, occupied by yet another local group, The Hot Club Trio. They consist of two guitars and a double bass. Arriving here a little late Ian and myself only caught the last number, I Surrender The Win, a breathtaking performance. The Hot Club Trio certainly suited the ambiance and I would have liked to hear more from them.

From here it is only a short walk to the centre of Nottingham and the Market Square. A few years ago the square looked like the picture below.

However the city council decided that the area needed a revamp. In the foreground below the two grassed areas were public conveniences that had well passed their use by date. The central area was well used by skateboarders and people that liked a drink or five, whilst at the top near to the council house, there were two fountains. On many occasions these had to be switched off and drained due to detergent being thrown in.
The New Old Market Square now looks like this.

A vast open space that just shouts out "Use Me!" And so it gets used. Now we have craft fairs, continental markets, a large Ferris wheel and Nottingham Riviera. The Market Square's website for future events can be found here.

But I digress a little. The event is the City Pulse and taking the main stage is James Hunter. James is a talented bluesman from the Deep South of England, living in a caravan in Colchester, when he was nine. His ability to work the crowd is second to none. He was the ideal person to headline on the Monday and bring the Pulse to a close.

Walking along the left hand side of the Council House is Long Row. Here is the final band I shall showcase. The Big Beat are a collective that not only specialise in educating, but also pass on their eco message at festivals as well as planning corporate events. Their act is certainly lively and I struggled to keep the camera steady filming them.

In the local elections this year the council that has put the funding for the two City Pulses has lost power. I look forward to 2010 to see what happens next.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

New Awards For Biker Ted

This is a very belated thank you to a couple of my blog friends who have bestowed awards on me.
First to Sally over at Crafty Salutations who has the added bonus (?) of knowing both Ian and Guzzisue for many years, poor thing, and secondly to Baron, with his blog, Baron's Life.
Every time a comment is placed on any post it can help to kick start memories that may otherwise be lost in the depths of the mind. I will take this opportunity to thank everyone who has posted their comments and ideas in the past and hopefully in the future.
Before this turns into an Oscar speech, whereupon I start to thank my parents, photographers and film crew (Ian and Guzzisue), I will proudly exit stage left.

As they be continued.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

One Place I've Not Been To........Yet

For as long as I can recall, Ian has been going on about what was still in his father's attic. Having moved out over 20 years ago, his father announced that he was having his lagging replaced and everything had to be removed from its storage space. Various boxes found their way into his old bedroom for a while, then Ian's sister's family were coming up to Nottingham for a few days, so boxes were ousted to Ian's shed and eventually arrived at Ted Towers a few weeks ago.

Several things of interest saw the light of day for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, including this publication. There has been the usual "what were you doing on the day when...." on local radio and I assume in the press as well.

Forty years ago, a young pre acned Ian was spending the school summer holiday period with his sister in Melton Mowbray with relations. From this period he gained a loathing of luncheon meat and sandwich spread.
During the summer of '69, Bryan Adams seems to have been too involved in starting a band that he overlooked a small piece of history, the moon landing, 20th July 1969. Back then the local press were always a little slow to cash in on such an event, the Nottingham Evening Post being no exception.

In early August for the extortionate price of 6d (two and a half new pence!), a 20 page souvenir paper could be purchased. The photos have been seen many times since the landing and is a good thing they have as now the paper is getting somewhat fragile.
Inside there are articles on the moon landing,

the Lunar Logbook, not quite up to Captain's Log, Star date ... standard but interesting nonetheless.
There is also a small piece on the Lunar module

and the three astronauts.
A smiling President gets in on the act before a watery gate took away some of his glory.

Some of the advertisements had a space theme about them.

The advertisement for Two Three Four Motors shows they certainly did not put all their eggs in one basket, dealing with British, Japanese and Italian transport!
I somehow doubt that the Fresh Fish 'N' Seafood from Mason & Clarke Ltd of Reading would have been caught in the Sea of Tranquility.

Friday, 14 August 2009

2006 The Long NOT Winding Road - Paws For Thought

While I have been reminiscing on our trip, my friend Affer has been busy on his blog On The Road To Who-Knows-Where... on his travels around the Somme Battlefield area. I recommend that you pop over and have a read. Also there is BBE's Video Snapshot, where the Belgium Based Englishman has been concentrating on various small film clips of war memorials.

Last but not least, one blog that has become a living history is WWI:Experiences Of An English Soldier. This blog is compiled by Bill Lamin and the posts are copies of his grandfather's letters that were written 90 years ago to the day they were written. Willimam Henry Bonser Lamin was born in Awsworth, Nottinghamshire, about 15 miles from where we live, so there is some local interest for us.

It feels quite poignant that as I was putting the finishing touches to the Verdun Battlefield Tour that the news of Harry Patch's death was announced. Harry was the last surviving veteran from the trenches of WWI, having fought during the Battle of Passchendaele.
He returned to Passchendaele in 2007 for the 90th anniversary of the battle, laying a wreath, not only on a memorial for the British dead, but also at a cemetery for the German victims of the offensive.
In 2007 he became the UK's oldest author when he collaborated with Richard van Emden to write The Last Fighting Tommy, a detailed account of his life.

Mr Patch's friend Lesley Ross said she felt great affection towards him.

"Extremely modest, dignified gentleman, with a slightly wicked sense of humour and considerate to everybody he met. Very polite and I would sum him up as a true gentleman," she said.

Finally it is all quiet on the Western Front. Sleep well Harry. You have earned it.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

2006 The Long NOT Winding Road - History Lesson (Part 4)

By now we were beginning to feel like sheep as our tour guide was behaving like shepherd and dog combined. After disembarking from the coach at the next stop, Douaumont Ossuary,

the three of us left the flock to take a few photos and film in peace, only for the shep, er, tour guide to come running after us crying 'Mes anglais. J'ai perdu mes Anglais!'
Harmony was restored as we rejoined the flock and headed into the cinema to watch a 20 minute film, complete with headphones, entitled 'The life of Poilu'.

The Douaumont Ossuary was inaugurated on August 7th 1932 by the French President, Albert Lebrun, having been suggested by the Bishop of Verdun, His Grace Ginisty.
During the 300 days of battle for Verdun, over 300,000 French and German soldiers lost their lives. The Ossuary lives to join the unidentified remains, some 130,000 French and German fighters in one final resting place.

The building's tower overlooks the entire battlefield. We were unable to climb to the top due to lack of time on our mini tour, maybe another visit will be required in future. The Ossuary's facade is 137m in length and displays the shield of every town or city that helped to fund the building. The cloister consists of 22 cavities each containing 46 granite graves. Each grave represents a sector of the battlefield and contains the remains of soldiers found in the relevant area. At the ends of the cloister there are 350 cubic metre vaults to contain the excess remains found from sectors that had received heavy losses. In front of the Ossuary there is the Douaumont military cemetery containing the graves of 15,000 identified French soldiers.

There are many war cemeteries throughout France, for both wars and it is not until one of these is visited that one can comprehend the human loss endured in such battles. With no time to ponder or pay our respects to the fallen, we were back on the coach for our last stop.

The Verdun Memorial is located in the heart of the battlefields and is amongst the principal European Great War museums.

Built in 1967, it houses planes, vehicles, heavy arms and weapons alongside uniforms, personal belongings and handicrafts from the trenches.
Due to the time limit of the tour, we were allocated only half an hour inside this museum. So little that Guzzisue only managed to take a few photos of the weapons outside and I managed a little filming (to be posted soon). Guzzisue was not able to take photos inside the museum, as was also the case inside the Ossuary.

The photo below shows a 170mm minewerfer that was buried in the clay during the fierce battle for Hill 304 in 1916. It was saved with the help of "L'Office National Des Forets" and technical assistance of the army in June 1976.

Next is a French cannon that was used as fortification artillery during the battle for Verdun. Its total weight was 6 tonnes and had the ability to fire shells between 40 - 43kgs up to a distance of 12kms.

Finally, two views of a 1913 Schneider cannon. This had a range of 12.7kms and could fire shells at a rate of 6 - 8 per minute. The tyred wheels were not added until after 1918.

We arrived back in Verdun just after 17:00 and headed off to the centre for some refreshment before returning to the hotel to prepare for the journey home over the next couple of days. The tour, although short, was good value for the money. Trying to fit four visits in and traipsing around on a warm day with motorcycle gear is not always easy, Let the coach take the strain I say.