Cathedral Pillar boxes

DurhamI noticed that at the last three cathedrals we visited there was a pillar box close by and I began to wonder if there was some unwritten rule that a pillar box should always be provided near any cathedral. Why is there such a need for pillar boxes there? Who are the avid letter writers? They almost look out of place, as if they have escaped the hustle and bustle of a busy city centre or commercial area, to find peace and solace in the cathedral green or precinct, and who can blame them?

The most noteworthy of these three photographs is this Penfold hexagonal Victorian pillar box near Durham Cathedral. However, it is not actually a Victorian box. It is a replica, (is that a polite word for fake?) which was installed in the late 1980’s. Once you know that, and look at the overall condition, you realise it is not as old as it claims to be.

The Community of Cuthbert arrived in Durham from Lindisfarne in 995 and built an Anglo-Saxon cathedral. Construction of the Cathedral as we know it today was started in 1093 by Bishop William of St Calais. Amazing to think the construction of the cathedral and the unveiling of this pillar box spans a period of over 900 years.

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The second postcard if from Gloucester Cathedral. This is the closest a pillar box got to the door of the cathedral so far!

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And finally, a pillar box located at The Close adjacent to Lichfield Cathedral.

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A question of life or death?

DefibA slight deviation from the usual picture postcard but this appealed to my sense of humour and love of anything bizarre or quirky.  Is it just me?

The Co-op has an ongoing project of providing defibrillators in the local community. Ours is outside the local Co-op store but this example a few miles from us caught my eye recently.  it is on the wall of a funeral directors premises (the Co-op of course).  It seems ironic that a business whose very existence relies on death should provide equipment designed to keep people alive! Apparently, these are funded from the 5p carrier bag levy. Full marks to the Co-op.

All is safely gathered in

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1 backA post which was prompted by a question asked by a listener on Scala Radio last week – ‘When is all safely gathered in?’ In other words ‘when is the harvest complete?’. We weren’t in the car long enough to hear all the answers suggested by other listeners but I know there isn’t a set day when all the farmers can lock up their combined harvesters for another year, put their feet up and enjoy a well-earned rest after all their hard work. No doubt the finishing date of the harvest depends very much on the type of crop, weather conditions and geographical location.

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DSCF8498It’s our church Harvest Festival this Sunday and we will be following the practice of recent years of not offering gifts of fresh, home grown produce, but instead, providing non perishable items which in turn will be donated to the local YMCA food bank. This has significance in more ways than one; firstly, that most people in the congregation no longer grow their own fruit and vegetables, and secondly, the ever-growing need for food banks in 2019. This is a commendable idea but I do miss the sight and smell of all the potatoes, carrots, greens and apples which greeted us in earlier years.

Of course some things will never change as no harvest service is complete without the obligatory ‘We plough the fields…’ or ‘Come ye thankful people come…’!

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.

 

 

The Ferry Bridge

10postcard back 2 2A postcard from home, taken during an evening stroll by the nearby river Trent. In fact, we crossed the Trent via the Ferry Bridge, a familiar landmark to all Burtonians. The bridge leads to a walkway, Stapenhill Viaduct, which links Burton town centre to the suburb of Stapenhill, around half a mile on the other side of the river.

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Before the bridge was built, the only way across the river at that point was by a small ferry.  The bridge was gifted to the town in 1889 by the brewer, Michael Arthur Bass.

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Around that time the population of Burton was growing rapidly, mainly due to the expansion of the brewing industry. The Ferry Bridge must have been welcomed and appreciated by the large number of brewery workers who lived on one side of the river but worked on the other side. They could finally cross the river free of toll.  (Not such good news for the ferryman).

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The bridge is described as a semi-suspension bridge. It was the first of its kind in Europe to be built to this design and possibly the only one remaining. It is made of wrought iron and cast iron, and is Grade II listed. Two or three years ago it was completely refurbished.

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It is still used by hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists every day. A real turn-around is that cycling across the bridge was strictly prohibited when the bridge was first build until quite recently. Those who ignored the warnings ran the risk of a fine of forty shillings (£2.00) in the early days, which eventually rose to £10 before the rule was finally abolished. Now, a narrow cycle lane is marked and this is part of National Cycle Route 63.

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The viaduct part of the walkway is necessary as it crosses the Trent Washlands, an area which can be very wet and boggy and in fact floods from time to time.

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At the Stapenhill side of the river are the Stapenhill Gardens, an area very popular with residents. Locals will tell you this is the largest swan in England!

Beamish Transport

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Beamish TransportThe third and final postcard of this trio from Beamish.

Beamish is home to several electric trams which run on a mile and a half circuit around the site.  The museum contains modes of transport in all shapes and sizes. Not only is this of interest to transport enthusiasts but forms a much-welcomed way of moving around the site, for visitors and staff, all included in the entrance fee.

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Sheffield tram
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Co-op delivery bike

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Beamish Buildings

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Beamish BuildingsDipping into the file of photos from our recent visit to Beamish again, this time looking at some of the many buildings on site. Most of these have been re-located, (or translocated is the word used on the Beamish website) stone by stone, brick by brick, from outlying towns and villages and now form an important part of the structure and layout of the museum.P1080741The town area, officially opened in 1985, depicts a typical street scene of around 1913.P1080743Ravensworth Terrace is a row of terraced houses, presented as the premises and living areas of various professionals, e.g. a music teacher, dentist and solicitor.P1080646The school opened on site in 1992. The building originally stood in East Stanley, It was donated by Durham County Council. P1080656No they are not IPads on the desks! Who remembers a Stephens Ink thermometer from school days?P1080653 ed

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The relocation of Pit Hill Chapel was completed in 1990. Originally opened in the 1850s, it first stood not far from its present site, having been built in what would eventually become Beamish village.  It houses a fine replica of a double-lensed acetylene gas powered magic lantern as the chapel would have been used for various community activities.

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As brass band enthusiasts we had to visit the Hetton Silver Band Hall which was opened in 2013. P1080645

As one of the more recent ‘translocations’ we felt it need to weather a bit as the brickwork looked new and pristine as did the surrounding block paving. However, it represents the role of numerous colliery bands in the area. The hall had been used by the Hetton Silver Band, founded in 1887, and the band donated the hall to the museum after they merged with Broughtons Band of South Hetton to form the Durham Miners’ Association Band. It is still used for performances at the museum.

P1080717St Helen’s Church was relocated from its original site in Eston, North Yorkshire where it had existed since around 1100. It opened at the Beamish site in November 2015.

Beamish People

We recently spent an enjoyable day at the Beamish Museum https://www.beamish.org.uk/ ‘The Living Museum of the North’. It is a vast site and includes relocated buildings making up a small town, pit village, colliery, farm, railway station and much more, all connected by a tramway and other forms of period transport. What really brings it to life is the small army of staff and volunteers who clearly enjoy living out the lives of the characters they depict. It was school-trip season but that didn’t detract and it was good to see young people engaging with all that was on offer.

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Beamish back

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I am sure we will return on the annual pass offer (pay once and return as often as you like in the next twelve months). Hopefully one or two more blogs to follow shortly but in the meantime here are a few ‘Beamish People’. I couldn’t resist a bit of post shutter editing as these seemed to cry out for some monochrome treatment. I hope you agree.

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Grange-over-Sands

The second day of our recent mini-break was spent at Grange-over-Sands.

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Grange over Sands 6x4 backWe last visited Grange-over-Sands about 15 years ago and as expected, nothing has changed and we were pleased about that. The town has a sort of timeless charm and doesn’t need to change. That of course is spoken as a tourist; residents may or may not agree.

The only thing that should change is the name, Grange-over-Sands. It is a big misnomer and some have suggested it should change its name to Grange-over-Grass. Apparently the “over-Sands” suffix was added to Grange in the late 19th or early 20th century by the local vicar who was fed up with his post going to Grange in Borrowdale near Keswick. Since then, the river Kent has changed its course and the water (Morecambe Bay) and the sand is now a fair distance away. Instead of ‘Where’s Wally?’ it’s ‘Where’s the sand?’

There is a mile-long promenade but this is not a typical seaside resort promenade. This one is totally traffic-free and instead of shops and amusement arcades there are views across the bay on one side and informal gardens lovingly tended by local volunteers on the other side. We ‘Nordic-walked’ the whole length from the station and back with the gardens on one side and views over the bay to the other side.

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grange 4The station building was designed mid-1860s and was tastefully restored to its former glory in the late 1990s. It is a delightful building. The light and shade through the glass canopy created this fascinating effect on the platform.

grange 7The train was about to leave for Manchester Airport, calling at such places as Carnforth, Lancaster, Preston, Wigan, Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly, all a far cry from sleepy little Grange.

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Oh dear what can the matter be…?
What was the problem in the toilets which required hazard warning signs and hard hats? Clearly much more than just a dripping tap!

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