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Sunday, 3 December 2017

Christmas has Started in Settle

They really do Christmas well here.

click to enlarge

Picture above shows The Shambles in the Market Place with Settle Town Hall and fireworks from Castlebergh rock.

And below is the Naked Man Cafe later in the week.


Saturday, 2 December 2017

One of the World's Awesome Water Tower Homes it Seems

Just received a Google Alert about this rather upmarket website on which we feature among the World's 'awesome water tower homes':


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

We Have a Loft

Well, the large / navvy hut loft is finished, complete with staircase access.   This has produced immense storage capacity.   I have sorted all my 'cannot throw away/ come in useful sometime' goodies into those red lidded buckets and there is still an enormous amount of storage space left.

Note the two chandeliers.   Very effective workshop lighting and definite talking points.   All done in the best possible taste of course.

And, we even have a mighty great block and tackle hoist to lift things up and down.  

Friday, 24 November 2017

A Settlescape

This is part of a Settlescape that has appeared for sale on the local website.    For very obvious reasons I think it is lovely!

What an honour to see that we have been counted among this artist's iconic images of our town.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Welcome to a Special New Follower

One of the fascinating aspects of having a Blog is that you can get a picture of who is looking at it and where in the world they are.   Not who by name though, unless they register as a 'follower'.   Delighted to see that the most recent follower is my 12 year old grandson James Mark (I really appreciated that) Gavin.    Welcome James.   I shall take even greater care what I say from now on.

The worldwide audience remains interesting.   Russia has piped down a lot with all that Trump hoo-ha but a surprise outsider is Brazil.   I wonder if it has been shown on TV there?

Meanwhile, here is James Mark Gavin getting the feel of Gladys Emmanuel.   The car that is, not the nurse.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

POTUS is a F.A.C.

Our darling daughter Lorna

has just put the following on Facebook for the World to see.   The Ben referred to is our sweet little grandson - a student at Gerrards Cross Church of England Primary School:

Me to Ben: 'Describe Donald Trump in three words'.
Pause from Ben.
Ben: Farty. Arsehole. Carrot. 
Now, normally I don't approve of my boys swearing, of course. But this time, all I could do was nod with approval and shake my son's hand.

I do hope that provides a chuckle to our Blog followers at GCHQ, the Kremlin and the Pentagon.   There are enough trigger words in this post to register on their systems, surely?

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The View That Keeps On Giving

Twilight today from the top of the water tower.

click to enlarge

Happy Boys

I somehow missed posting this lovely picture back in May on James' (left) birthday.   Brother Ben seems to approve too.

click to enlarge

Our two grandchildren are a source of constant delight.   Almost.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

We Are An Example

This article has appeared in the Bournemouth Echo

A very handsome, but endangered Listed water tower in Poole may be made into apartments and we are quoted in the proposal as one of two examples of how good such conversions can be.

click to enlarge

Looks as though they plan to use the actual tank for living space, necessarily removing tank panels to fit windows.   That I think would be a shame.

Still, I wish them luck and would be happy to share experience.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Massive New Storage Space and SUPAlyx

Trouble with flat roofed houses like ours is you miss the storage space that most conventional houses have in their lofts.

We have coped with this to a limited extent by using the space in the coal truck and the void below the roof room floor.   Mainly though the spaces inside the three bays of the navvy hut have become cluttered (a serious understatement).

I do not know why I have not thought of it before but I am fitting a floor below the pitched roof of the navvy hut which is creating an enormous loft.   There is a good six feet of headroom under the apex.

Here is the hut before it was taken to pieces by Network Rail at Appleby.   If you draw an imaginary line between the gutters you get an idea of the size of the resulting loft.   Of course, not all of the space is usable because of the sloping roof but well over half of it is.

Not only that, I have dropped upon nearly 40 sturdy lidded rectangular buckets from a local farm.   Into these will go the odds and ends in their various categories for ease of retrieval when needed.   That at any rate is the theory.   I am mindful of a comment made by darling daughter Lorna last weekend.   "Don't put all your rubbish up there Dad, please.   When you kick the bucket it will be me who has to get rid of it all."

True, but it will at least all be in red buckets for ease of disposal.

A proper staircase will give access to the loft, which is already lit with LED lights.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Settle's Going Up in the World

click to enlarge

If you enlarge the picture and look carefully you will see a couple of chaps earning their money.

Here is the crane from Booths supermarket car  park:

Fear not, the resulting building is nowhere near the height of the crane.   Retirement homes are being built on the site and the long reach of the crane will enable fast construction.

And a dramatic one from former Dalesman editor Paul Jackson:

Oh yes, and it has three bright red lights on the top!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Settle Station Back in The Day

This 'atmospheric' picture of Settle station popped up on social media the other day:

click to enlarge

It rather captures the bleakness of many wayside stations at the time.   Just when the time is I do not know.   Anywhere from the 1950s onwards.   The station is neglected and its platforms are lit by gas lamps.   It is winter and the few people on the platforms are dressed for it.

Health and Safety has not yet kicked in judging by the state of the platform with trip and slip hazards aplenty.   The tracks though look ready for serious purpose.   The Thames-Clyde Express would have been a daily blur of steam and speed through Settle then.   Even so the track is of jointed rail - the things that gave trains that comforting di-der-di-der, di-der-di-der noise.   Today's continuous rail has got rid of that.   The ride is smoother but the experience has lost that accompaniment.

Recognising the depressing appearance, somebody is making the very best of it with flower beds.   This suggests the work of Stationmaster Taylor - perhaps that is him with raincoat aflap on the down platform at the far end of which is the down water crane.

And on the far right is the water tower of course.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

A Viaduct Transformed

Settle's Church Viaduct is an iconic feature of the town but its six arches were fast becoming obscured by trees:

Earlier this month I mentioned this to Network Rail's Track Maintenance Engineer Gordon Allen who  took up the case instantly.

During this week a small detachment of the Orange Army from Carlisle struck:

And within two days Settle had its viaduct back again:

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Grandson Ben is in Residence

Click to enlarge.   Note rotation - the house is a tip

But we love him really.

I am sparing you the bathroom fall-out.   Little boys cannot aim well.   Perhaps it's a bit like firearms - the shorter the barrel the less the accuracy?

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Our Rain Problem in Pictures

When we first bought the water tower there was a serious problem with rain getting in, to the extent of it streaming down the insides of the outer walls.   The obvious and visible fault was that there was a gap between the base of the iron tank and the decorative stone plinth below.   Attempts by our builders and then by ourselves had failed to fill the variable gap effectively.   Then we took advice from sealant specialists Adshead Ratcliffe & Co Ltd who supplied their high modulus Arbomeric M20 which solved that problem absolutely, if inelegantly*:

* our fault, not theirs!!

click to enlarge

Rainwater then flows down a sloping (red painted) stone and onto a less steep ledge which provided a walkway round the tank for the bold / brave or barmy:

at the edge of that ledge most, but by no means all of the water drips off and falls to the ground, well clear of the tower walls below.   Remaining water has further opportunities to drip away as more overhangs are encountered:

These pictures were taken during heavy rain this afternoon and it can be see that the combined system is very effective indeed in shedding the water - to the extent that the tower walls are perfectly dry:

The problems only arise in driving rain when some of the rain makes it to the lowest of the ledges, immediately above the square support or dentition stones.   Any water that does not fall off then gets blown against the top of the wall itself.   The increased wind pressure outside finds any crack in the mortar and water gets sucked towards the reduced air pressure within.   

Nowadays a drip groove cut into any or all of the overhangs would deal with the problem most effectively.   There appear to have been attempts to deal with the situation by applying tar or bitumen to the stonework between the dentition stones but this, besides being unsightly, has failed:

In short, what appears to be a decorative plinth of the tower is in fact a cleverly devised and most effective way of shedding the water away from its upper walls, most of the time.

The remedy seems to be to remove the old tar (much of it scabbing off anyway), to rake out the mortar between the dentition stones  and to replace it with the sort of filler that was used with success between the iron tank and the tops of the plinth stones, in a matching colour.

Unless you have any other ideas????   

Do please comment below.

Scaling the Heights

Trouble with towers, they are tall.   Ours is about as short as they come but it still takes effort and some nerve to reach the ceiling of our main room and the parapet and tank from outside.

I got myself a scaffolding tower of sufficient height to paint the main room's ceiling.   It has featured here already.   I am now the proud owner of an extension kit and substantial outriggers to reach the masonry under the water tank:

We have a slight water ingress problem when the wind blows strongly from the south.   Rain hits the south side of the tank and runs down onto the massive overhanging stone plinth below.   Some of it gets into the joints between the stones and then into the top of the wall causing localised dampness  and occasionally puddling on the floor below.

The extended tower gets us right up to the problem.   Local roofer James Holgate is en route to advise and fix.    The tower is sitting on the front entrance platform, from which it is slightly taller than necessary but the overall height will be ideal for the rest of the tower from ground level where we have paving all round for this very purpose.

And now a set of scales to add to the railway ambience.   Robert Staveley was having a clear out and was en route to scrap these when inspiration struck.   Thankfully, he diverted to the water tower and dropped them off.    They were familiar items at every staffed railway station that could accept goods, back in the day.   They will weigh up to 5 cwt and are in fine working order.    They are also immensely heavy.   

In case you are into these things they are a type 600 weighing platform, made by F.J. Thornton & Co Ltd of Birmingham.    If they do not achieve EIDAS* they may find their way to Settle or Ribblehead stations.

That's the next restoration project sorted.

*EIDAS - 'Er Indoors Approved Status

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Hurricane Ophelia Devastates Water Tower

One of the consequences of living in a triple glazed virtual castle is that you are insulated from the sounds of the world outside.    Last night the UK suffered the wrath of Hurricane Ophelia - an unwelcome export from the USA.   Here you can well see the extent of the devastation that greeted me as I went dog walking this morning:

and that was the extent of it.

Below is my new lean-to car port, since yesterday equipped with a translucent side wall - with air gaps top and bottom.   It proves to be hurricane proof.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Our Water Crane in 1955

click to enlarge

This lovely old picture popped up on Facebook today.   The text tells the tale.   What took my eye though was the water crane at the end of the platform.   The location is Skipton and that is where what are now Settle's two water cranes came from - see several earlier posts.

We have few pictures of the water cranes in situ at Skipton but this is unlikely to be bettered.   

There it stands forlornly, a soon to be obsolete relic of the steam age, alongside the shape of things to come.   The S&C's trains look much the same today - charmless boxes on wheels.

On the right of the picture are catch points to deflect any runaway train away from the down main line.

Well, the water cranes have survived but I bet the train hasn't.

Monday, 9 October 2017


click to enlarge

Stackhouse is a small place on the outskirts of Settle - walking distance from us.   It is the first place worthy of a name on one of our many routes around here with the Model T.   This lovely picture was taken a couple of days ago by former Dalesman editor Paul Jackson.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

An Outing to the Goat Gap Cafe

On the one fine day of this week we decided to have a lunchtime run out in the Model T to the Goat Gap cafe on the A65 between Clapham and Ingleton.   The A65 would get us there directly but it is no fun and there is a gentler route by country lanes via Giggleswick, Lawkland, Austwick and Clapham along which you can just chug-chug, potter and take in the countryside.

The Goat Gap cafe used to be a Little Chef.  It closed some years ago and has lain forlorn until March of this year when it re-opened, following a stunning refurbishment, doing fine food and wine cafe style.

Goat Gap Cafe

It is highly recommended, but that's another story.

In the middle of nowhere en route my 'phone rang.   I pull over and answered it.   As coincidence would have it we were at a spot near the village of Eldroth, overlooking the little used but important railway line that connects Settle junction with the West Coast Main Line at Carnforth, near Lancaster.

I switched off and continued the call, which proved lengthy.   The scene in front of us was idyllic and the sun was on our backs.   Nothing was moving on our country lane nor on the railway.    There was silence.   My interlocutor was at work in his solicitors office in the City of London.   Conversation was businesslike.

After some minutes Pat interrupted.   "Look!" she shouted, pointing to our left.   Curling lazily upwards was the unmistakable shape of a cloud of steam.    I interrupted my call with a description of the unfolding scene, to the delight of a London lawyer.   It was indeed a steam engine, towing only its support coach, en route from Carnforth to Hellifield and onwards to who-knows-where.   Our old car on the skyline would have been as unexpected a sight in the bucolic scene as the train was to us.   We waved, I commentated and there was a wave and a whistle of mutual admiration and respect.   "What was it?   Did it have a name?", London asked.    "Just an 8F or a Black Five" I lied, pretending to know the difference.   That satisfied London and conversation moved on, with only thinly disguised envy seeping northwards.

In hindsight the scene would have been worthy of one of those jigsaws;  you know the ones - happy people in old car, picnicking by a railway line with a steam train passing, everybody at peace with their worlds.

At the other end of my call was Edward Album - heavyweight London lawyer who tied British Railways in legal knots in the 1980s when they were trying to close the Settle-Carlisle railway line.   Unknowingly, the crew of that little train had made his day.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Our Lounge Just Got Twice as Long

Our lounge, if that is the right word, is the entire middle floor of the water tower, less the space taken up by stairs and the lift shaft.   It is enormous as lounges go - 52 feet long by 20 feet wide.

Clever arrangement of furnishings visually divides it into a dining area at the southern end and a bigger sitting, reading and TV viewing area to the north.

Daylight is inevitably limited to that which comes through the original tower windows, plus what amounts to a large glass wall in the south end.

Settle, along with most places nowadays I imagine, has a buying and selling website where you can have a clear out or drop on a bargain on your doorstep.   Many a time the items are simply free to a good home.   So it was that I happened upon a very large bevelled glass mirror in a heavy black frame.

It would be far too large for most living rooms but it suits our monster lounge admirably:

click to enlarge

There it is on the far wall.   Depending where you stand the lounge now appears 104 feet long!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Clouds in a Blue Sky

Today has been one of those days when it is good to be retired, not to have to go to work nor school.

God has been in His Heaven and All has been Right with the World here in Settle at least.

Off to Booths, get a picnic and off we go in Gladys Emmanuel.   Not far - just to the road to Lawkland, park up and picnic.

The Dales scenery is wonderful but today it was the clouds that stole the show:

This one first took my eye.   Can you too see the fluffy dog jumping from left to right?

And here is the view to the north with Ingleborough and Whernside on the horizon.   But it is the clouds that complete the picture.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The 4x4 Ferrari is Finished

Well, it has been quite a job, or series of jobs, but the station truck is finished.   She may get a final coat or two of paint next year but meantime she, and the Yanmar tractor have a new shelter:

click to enlarge
 It is at the back of the navvy hut and therefore out of sight.   It also means I can hide away other things like wheel barrows too.

The finishing touches for the truck were LMS signs:

and here is the Villiers Mk 10 engine, which starts first pull and now has the correct Villiers identification plate - a gift from Meetens Ltd who overhauled the engine.

Been doing a bit of digging into the history of these Geest trucks.   Turns out they were made by the Geest banana people at a factory in Spalding, Lincolnshire initially for use by Geest in such places as wholesale fruit and veg markets.   They proved so successful that other people, railways for instance, wanted to buy them from Geest so production was increased to satisfy that demand.

They were simple, rugged, reliable and above all  extremely manoeuvrable.   The single front wheel can turn full circle.   Great fun.

We Are Happy - and that's Official

There are statistics on just about everything nowadays.   Even Happiness can be counted, apparently.   The government counts Happiness by local authority areas and countries in the 'United' Kingdom.

We live in the Craven District of the UK and, so say the government, we are the Happiest people in the UK.


OK, it's the Guardian so it could be wrong but if the report is accurate, I suppose our Happiness is more to do with the God-given scenery than anything done by Craven District Council.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Treats from Down Under

We get ever so many visitors from Australia, most of whom have seen our programme on TV there.   Most sign the visitors book and have a chat if we are about.

Imagine our delight when the postman delivered this to us today:

 click to enlarge

All the way from Tasmania was a box of chocolates, made in Tasmania and a pouch of 'kangaroo strips' doggie treats for Bess.

No, seriously I kid you not.   The number one ingredient is er, kangaroo.

Inevitably, that too was made in Australia.   Bess has sampled one and has been jumping about the place like mad.

I shall not embarrass the senders by full name but their covering note said this:

"Dear Mark, Pat, Bess and Boss*,
 Thank you so much for showing us your home when we visited Settle in August.   It was truly the highlight of my visit I even bought the T shirt.   You have even rekindled Steve's interest in model railways.
Please find enclosed a small token of our appreciation in return.
Very kindest regards for such wonderful memories,
Gwyn and Steve

*Boss - the cat, of course

Thank you Gwyn and Steve.   What a lovely gesture.

Monday, 18 September 2017

"One of the Greatest Restoration Projects I've Ever Seen"

Spurred on by the deterioration of the DVDs of our TV appearances on Restoration Man I have been doing a bit of web surfing to see if there is anything out there which might address the situation and fill some gaps.

In the process I came across this, a compilation of the best tower restorations covered by Restoration Man.   Somehow we missed it first time round, or had forgotten about it.

Do have a look at:

which covers four tower restorations - ours being the first, as it happens.

Presenter George Clarke is generous enough to describe ours as "One of the greatest restoration projects I've ever seen".   That is mighty high praise considering the dozens of projects that Restoration Man covered.   I am not at all sure it is fully deserved either, considering the magnificence of so many others.   Not least the three other towers covered in the link, some of which encompassed human tragedy and setbacks that we, mercifully, were spared.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Tornado Blasts By

One of my self appointed jobs in Settle is to use social media to tell the local people, and visitors, about the steam trains passing by.   Today it was Britain's new-build A1 Pacific locomotive Tornado hauling a Birmingham - Carlisle - Birmingham train.

It screamed through Settle at full speed at 1620 today.   This superb black and white picture freezes the speed but the body language on the platform reflects it.

click to enlarge

The trail of white steam betrays the whistle of recognition for Settle.

The Water Tower from Above

This link gets you to a quirky but fascinating short film about the Settle-Carlisle railway from very different viewpoints, not least above and around Settle station

Use full screen, sound and HD if you have it.

The first minute or two has you flying over Settle station - and the water tower.   For the first time you can see the enormous SETTLE  letters on the roof of the tower.

There are some stunning shots of Arten Gill Viaduct and delightful glimpses of a small child experiencing perhaps his first impressions of a wonderful railway from the privileged vantage point of his father's back.   You'll see.

Friday, 15 September 2017

DVDs Don't Last Forever

Discovered to our dismay yesterday that DVDs do not last for ever.   The makers of Restoration Man, Tiger Aspect, had kindly sent us DVDs of our two episodes - the original restoration and the re-visit.   Neither will now play, sadly for us.   Googled it, like you do nowadays, and it appears this is a well known problem - especially if DVDs are left exposed to light.

But all was not lost, our re-visit programme is still on the Channel 4 website at

The link itself may eventually go so I must discover how to create copy DVDs - which will be kept in a dark place for posterity.   Maybe.

All is not lost - far from it.   Right up there on our third floor - the roof room - is a Personal Video Recorder  about which I had quite forgotten.   It makes no noise or fuss.   It just does what it is told.

I looked at its library today and, lo and behold, there was our original Restoration Man programme, and our re-visited programme,safe, sound and very viewable.   In fact it has recorded every single Restoration Man episode - and every Father Ted, and every Foyles War and much more besides - 350 hours of television in all and there are still 117 hours-worth free.

I expect if I r.t.f.m.* I shall discover how to put our programmes onto clean DVDs - to be kept henceforth in the dark.

* r.t.f.m. read the f-----g manual.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A Slo-o-o-o-o-o-w News Day in Settle

Well, most days are slow news days in Settle actually.

Todays slow news is that we have an energetic slug on a first floor window of the annex.   Outside, fortunately.   Here she is:

enlargement not recommended

Slug photography is not my strong suit but you get the picture.   Anything on windows poses problems of focus for 'intelligent' cameras.

For the record, her name is Slimonella.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The 4x4 Ferrari's Engine Leaps into Life

Regular readers will know that during the past couple of years I have had three vehicular projects on the go, punctuated with cancer and a busted Achilles tendon.   Both are now history but they have slowed progress on the three vehicular projects.

Today they all met meaningfully for the first time:
click on pic

First there was the four wheeled trailer, made from a caravan chassis.   Today I towed it to the far side of Preston to collect the 4x4 'Ferrari' three wheeler truck from Paul Child - wizzard with Villiers engines and boss man of Meetens Ltd.   Here is the man himself, basking in the glory of having got the 55 year old engine back to life:

40 years of this sort of thing enabled him to diagnose a faulty ignition coil, new HT lead and the wrong carburettor jets, all fixed to perfection.   The engine was, he declared, otherwise good as new with very little wear at all.   His firm has a mountain of genuine Villiers engine parts along with the factory's records of every engine they built - including those supplied to the makers of our Geest auto truck, seen here sitting on said trailer.

The third of the triumvirate of therapeutic wheeled vehicles is the Yanmar diesel mini tractor.   I have equipped this with a front tow ball - a push ball really.   This enables me to manoeuvre the heavy four wheeled trailer to the millimetre - much as you see those airport tugs positioning jumbo jets so delicately.   Not only that it sounds like a canal boat - chug, chug, chug.

Anyway, the three wheeled 4x4 Geest-Ferrari is now very much a going concern, though presently stranded on the trailer whilst I sort out its gearbox:

I think these three projects have been occupational therapy with big boy's toys as a theme.

Our local fish and chip king, Richard, happened past this afternoon and casually enquired "Mark, what the heck's that?"

"Ferrari" I replied, which seemed to impress.   I shall expect Ferrari sized fish come Saturday.

The final drive chain fitted this morning and the gear box works!   It had probably gummed up a bit with standing unused for so long.   Her maiden voyage was a couple of circuits of the station car park.   Great fun.