Posts Tagged ‘2006’

Ten Years ago

July 24, 2016

24th July 2006

This may look like a scene from the 1950s but it isn’t. It is perfectly possible that I could take photos of a similar scene today. We have fairly local farmers who grow long straw wheats for thatching. Combine harvesters trash straw so harvesting is in 1950s style with a tractor hauled binder (correctly a reaper binder). The cut wheat is ‘stooked’ up to dry and later a threshing machine is used to remove the grain from the ears. The straw is fed to a reed comber which makes up neat bundles of straw for the thatcher to use.

I didn’t see any of the mechanical processes on this day – but stooks of corn just look lovely anyway.



The binder has left neat rows of sheaves on the ground. It needs a team of workers to erect the stooks.


And there they were, away in the distance. It’s a labour intensive business.



Doesn’t it look grand? Maybe it would loom more 1950s if we converted it to monochrome.


For the record, what I saw operating that day was a combine!


Windsor and Eton Riverside

June 3, 2016

Yesterday I looked back precisely ten years and that brought to my attention a trip made in June 2006. It was to Windsor. We’d have travelled by car but we were meeting people arriving by train and that took us to the railway station called Windsor and Eton Riverside. And here it is.


Let’s ignore the train which was a very ordinary, for them, suburban electric train. The station, we can see for the train approaches buffers, is a terminus. And Windsor, of course, is the home of monarchs so the station was built above and beyond what might have been expected for a little branch line terminus. It has a grand little roof to ensure any travelling king or queen was kept dry. Actually, I believe they tended to use the GWR station rather than this one.

My previous visit had been back in 1961 when I travelled on a steam hauled special around a number of suburban lines in south west London.


On that basis of frequency of visit my next journey to Windsor would be in 2051 and I’d be over 100!


Ten Years ago

June 2, 2016

Ten years ago was when I was heavily into family genealogy. My wife and I took a brief holiday in Sussex to enable us to discover more and on this day, ten years ago, we visited my birth parish of Wadhurst in Sussex and took a look at the graveyard there. I had ancestors called Clark or Clarke who also came from this Sussex village and I wondered if any graves might help trace family members. So here’s a photo taken ten years ago today.


This grave remembers Rhoda Hannah Clark who died April 16th 1926 aged 77 and also her husband Stephen who died January 2nd 1932 aged 84.

So were they related to me? The first thing I did was look up the marriage and I found it was in 1867 in Tonbridge. Rhoda’s maiden name was Heasman – not a surname known to me. The marriage was handily early. Stephen and Clark are common names, but that marriage gave me plenty of censuses to find Stephen and Rhoda together.

The 1871 census gave me vital information. Both Stephen and Rhoda were Wadhurst born. That made it worth checking out Stephen who could be found, with parents, on the 1851 census. His parents were Edward and Ann.

I’m afraid I have no ending to this story. My gut feeling is that Stephen is a relative but as yet I have not proved it.

But if Steven is related then these folks are as well – another Clark grave photographed ten years ago at Wadhurst.


John is the son of Stephen and Hannah.

I rarely find time for my own family history these days. Volunteering at a local museum means I spend time doing genealogy for others – and for fun.


The Quarter Mile Field

March 26, 2016

My dad died in November 1996. Ten years on we had a family get together and took a walk that Dad would have taken many a time.

And here’s a group of us setting off.


I can recognise siblings, children nieces, wife, cousin, great nephew etc in that photo. I took it so I’m not in it.

The walk was from (more or less) my childhood home and it took us to the Quarter Mile Field.

image004This field is said to be a quarter of a mile long. And that is about right. In my young days it had always been pasture but now it has come under the plough. Of course, in animal drawn plough days the field was too long. A furlong – the length taken between rests for a horse plough, is an eighth of a mile.

Here are some of the men folk traversing ‘the quarter mile’.

image006Twenty years will have passed since Dad’s death this year. Maybe time to mark it again.


March 25, 2016

Oh how we steam enthusiasts used to like it when diesels let down the railway by failing. And back in the 1960s they did, far too often. British Railways seemed to have no sense of direction with the diesels and ordered twenty or so from various manufacturers. Some of them were, frankly, very poor in terms of reliability.

But then things got sorted out and by the 21st century most diesels were very reliable. But it was still possible to grin when things went wrong. And here was a case in point.

This was a dire day back in November 2006. Roads and railways had been hit with floods and problems. One of my work colleagues had managed to get to a station some ten miles from work and I went to pick him up. On crossing the railway  near Pewsey I could see a problem and stopped and took a couple of photos.


There’s no blame to the loco, but its leading bogie had left the rails. Nobody was hurt but on a difficult day it added to the chaos for it meant the main line between London and Exeter was blocked.

The loco is a class 67, bought in principally to operate mail trains, a job they lost when mails forsook the railway to add more clutter to the roads. I think, but am not certain, that this train was spreading some kind of rail adhesion substance.

Another loco of the same type was on the other end of the train and back down the line we can see a tree fallen on the tracks. It had been this with an accompanying heap of earth that derailed that leading bogie.

image004The loco was rerailed later the same day and removed. The track was checked and repaired as needed and reopened the next day.


Amy Howson

October 28, 2015

From time to time boats I see take the eye. Normally these would have a canal connection or be sailing boats or barges. One such was the Amy Howson which I spotted in the Barton on Humber area in the autumn of 2006. Despite sitting on the mud I thought she looked truly lovely, but lighting and her position made photography difficult.


This view was into the sun and so the boat looks dark.

It was a better view from the other end.


What a lovely vessel. You can type Amy Howson into Google these days and get a fantastic history of this sloop which dates from 1914. That means she has celebrated her centenary since I saw her.

The site to visit is .

I really do suggest you visit that site. The boat has an amazing history of ownership changes sail changes, engine changes etc. There are dozens of photos on that web site, better than mine as well.

What a fantastic boat!

Duke of Gloucester

April 30, 2015

THE Duke of Gloucester is a cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, but I’m afraid I have no connection with him and know very little about him. This post is about a steam locomotive named after him and seems to be known without a ‘the’ in front of Duke of Gloucester. The Duke was the last ever express passenger steam loco built for British Railways. It was turned out of the works at Crewe in 1954 and was not particularly successful. The Duke was the only loco built to that particular design and was withdrawn from active service after only eight years. Bits of the Duke were removed for display in the Science Museum. The bulk of the engine languished in Dai Woodham’s scrapyard until 1974. In getting the engine back into running order, faults in original manufacture were found. These were rectified and other improvements made. The restored loco was transformed, in terms of performance, from its earlier days. It has proved a competent and popular loco on special trains. We saw it in 2006 when some close relatives were hauled by the loco to Bristol. image002Here she (locos are always she, even if named after a Duke) is rounding the curve into Temple Meads, the main station in the West Country city. image004 The Duke made for a handsome sight on arrival. image006 Drawn up in the station. The Duke could take a breather. It was the end of November and well into darkness when The Duke paused at Trowbridge on the return trip. There looks to be steam to spare. image008 That was a special day and starred a special engine.

Alford Mill

April 2, 2015

They do things differently in Lincolnshire. Down in the south of England, where I come from, we tend to use right angles. Up in Lincolnshire they like to divide their circles into five rather than four. So instead of right angles of 90 degrees they use angles of 72 degrees.

Now what on earth am I talking about? Well the title of this piece is Alford Mill so I am talking about the windmill in the rather lovely little town of Alford in Lincolnshire.

The town sign shows it. Alford has a windmill with five sweeps (or sails) – and like the town, the mill is delightful.


It has to be said that when I visited it was a rather drab day towards the end of October in 2006. No doubt it is even more charming in good weather. But come rain or come shine, that mill is truly worth seeing. So let’s go and find it.


There it is, peeping over a hedge and it really does have five sails, sitting atop the tower with a rather onion shaped cap to the mill. To my eyes, attuned to four sweeps it does look strange and I can see possible disadvantages in that it can’t be run on reduced power with two sails as a four sweep mill can. But maybe five sails extract a bit more power from the wind than four do.


It’s a tall mill.

There are seven storeys to the mill which has been preserved, restored and so is still working, largely, of course, as a tourist attraction. It was built back in 1837.

At one time Alford boasted four windmills. There was one with four sails, another with five and the fourth had 6 sails to drive the machinery.


Here we see the fantail at the back – such a clever yet simple mechanism to make sure the main sails always face into the wind. We can also see the slats that comprise the sweeps – patent sails with no need for a chap to climb up the sails to fix canvas. In this photo it is easy to see why the mechanism in the centre of the sails is called the spider.

Lovely mill! Well worth a visit!

Oliver’s Camp

January 31, 2015

Back in 1970 I came for a job interview in Wiltshire. I had no car then and I found that Chippenham was the nearest available station. From there I was given a lift to Devizes for the interview.

Regular readers will know of my love of chalk downland, so that car journey absolutely captivated me, for we passed some glorious chalk hills. One in particular stood out. It was steep sided with a clearly earth worked plateau on which a few gaunt trees struggled to survive. This was, I was led to understand, called Oliver’s Camp or Castle.


With such a hill so close by, I had to get this job, and I did, beginning what is now a 45 year association with Wiltshire. This photo of Oliver’s Camp dates from 1973.

It is a fairly unchanging scene – except with the seasons. This similar picture was taken in 2006. It is amazing how little those gaunt trees have changed in over thirty years.


Things would have looked different back on 13th June 1643. That was when a civil war battle took place in the area – the Battle of Roundway Down.

Cromwell’s men had camped on the headland the photos show although Oliver himself was not amongst them. The hill’s name comes from that day. Although it would seem that Cromwell’s men had all the advantages when the King’s men arrived from Oxford, it turned out to be a huge victory for the Royalist side. They won this battle, but in the end, of course, Cromwell won the war.

Today what was once a scene of utter carnage is quiet and peaceful.


It is wonderful walking country with fine views over the Vale of Avon, the Vale of Pewsey and, with a short walk the vale to the north.


Morfa Mawddach

November 17, 2014

Morfa Mawddach is a railway station in west Wales.


Let’s try to get the pronunciation first. Morfa is pronounced ‘more var’ Mawddach starts off as mou as in mouse. Then has a th sound as in ‘the’ and ends ack.

English speakers can find Welsh hard! But being able to pronounce it properly matters. The station is a request stop. If you are on a train and wish to alight at this station you have to ask the guard. I remember our first attempt when we asked the guard if he’d make sure the train stopped for us at ‘More fur more datch’. He claimed not to know the place. I suspect he was teasing us but taught us how to say it.

We took our children camping close by this station three times in the 1980s. Back then it still had something of the former grandeur of an important junction station. Once upon a time it had been known as Barmouth Junction and looked like this.


By 2006 when we revisited it was a single, rather windswept and desolate platform.


Scenically this is a marvellous place. It is just south of the Mawddach estuary and Barmouth lies across the other side. A long bridge enables trains to cross and it has a footpath alongside it.


In 2006 we walked across.


The estuary is fantastic and the southern side is dominated by the brooding hulk of Cader Idris.


The bridge itself is a wonderful bit of engineering.


That looks towards Barmouth.

And this shows the view to Morfa Mawddach.


There’s a view out to sea as well.


It’s a great train journey, of course. There are miles and miles of spectacular scenery from, say Machynlleth in the Dovey valley right through to Pwllheli on the Lleyn peninsula.