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Friday, 25 March 2016

Beautiful Panorama

This lovely picture was taken today by John Blyth:

click to enlarge

Taken from the station footbridge looking north it shows, left to right, Settle Primary School's Rugby pitch (ye Gods) with Buckhaw Brow in sunlight above it.  Pen y Ghent is on the far horizon dead centre.   Our water tower is to the right of the main station building.

Pointing the Way

When we had the water tower surveyed we were advised that re-pointing overall was absolutely not necessary.   The lime mortar from 1876 was tough as nails.

A curious exception was the walls below the 10 foot high cast iron framed windows.   There, particularly on the west face of the building, the lime mortar was almost dissolved away, allowing draughts and dampness to penetrate.   Today it was remedied in fine style by Steve Roberts:

You can see the problem in the two un-pointed courses below the window, above where Steve is working.   And below - the result on one of the four windows that were affected.   The staining on the window outer sill stone indicates the presumably chemical reaction that was taking place from the run-off water from the windows.   Another super job on the tower by Steve.


Thursday, 24 March 2016

Pannal Water Tower revealed

Watch Channel 4 at 9pm Thursday March 31st to see Carol and Maj's magnificent restoration of Pannal water tower.   They bought it at auction a day or two after ours was on TV.   We had the odd problem to overcome but nothing like theirs.

A smashing result for two lovely people.

Midland Green Locomotives - and water towers

For some reason I get into occasional hot water from railway experts who insist that Midland Railway locomotives were red, not green.  Well if it keeps them happy and stops them breaking into places (my Mother-in-Law's expression) that's fine.

We found green, red and cream paint beneath later paint layers on our tank so took our lead from that rather strong evidence.

Having a bit of time on my hands I decided to nail this once and for all.   It seems that all Midland Railway locomotives were painted green until 1883.   Our tower was built in 1876.

Here is a picture of one of the green ones:
And another:

Here the artist has taken liberties with the LMS bit.   The LMS didn't start until January 1923 by which time the engine would have been red.

The authority on such things is Midland Style.   Page 71 of the 1975 Edition states: 

...... in September 1881 class 1492 2-4-0 No.1500 and nine other locomotives were experimentally painted a dull red. The object of this was to find a less fugitive, more economic and more distinctive colour than the green. The outcome of the experiment was the development and adoption of the famous crimson lake which became known as “Midland red”, although its official description at the time was oxide of iron. The Locomotive Committee minute of 2nd November 1883 which ordered that all Midland engines were to be painted the new colour also stated that the estimated saving would be £2,000 a year. The last Midland engine to be painted green was 0-4-4T No.1636, completed at Derby in July 1883

I shall trouble you no further with this.   Promise. 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Exploding Universes

Seven year old boys and their grandpas have a very special relationship.   And so it has been today.

Junior Grandson Ben raised the issue that is common amongst all mankind - including you.   Farting. Now, come on, there is no point in denying it.

Ben's main source of written information, after the Daily Telegraph of course, is the Beano.   There the subject crops up from time to time apparently.   In Ben's case the Beano is augmented by YouTube as information needs may dictate.   Knowing (I think) our English Rose of a daughter YouTube access will have parental controls of the highest order but toots (Beano generic terminology) slip in, or out,  below YouTube's radar.

Given Ben's 2016 awareness he was able to give his Grandpa a full blown lesson.   Top if the list is The Exploding Universe.   The average person has just four of these in a lifetime.   Ben, a prescient and very intelligent young man is bracing himself for six in total, one of which is history.   Exploding Universes are absolute happenings so there is no such thing as a half-Exploding Universe.

Not so with the next category below EUs.   Jeffs.

Jeffs are the mainstream and are subdivided almost limitlessly.   1/32nd Jeffs exist it seems but for simplicity it can be kept to full, three quarter, half and quarter Jeffs.  Ben confessed to a half-Jeff in Sainsbury's.

Anything below a quarter Jeff ranks as a mere pop  - with a lower case p you should note.

I asked Ben the ultimate question that must nag away at everybody from time to time.  "Do you think the Queen ever has Exploding Universes?"

"No", said Ben solemnly.   "Women are different.   They might do Jeffs but you rarely hear them.   Perhaps just once a day".   He went on to explain that middle aged women do few of them but girls and the elderly (61 plus apparently) do more.

So now you know.

Ben, you and Grandpa both have a lot to learn.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Flying Fandangos

Half way though my chemo course I find that, mercifully, the only side effect, apart from occasional fatigue, is sore feet.   This is a common side effect, often accompanied by sore hands.   The answer to the sore feet problem is emollient ointment, supplied by the hospital, and going easy on the feet, of course.

Yesterday I had to journey from Leeds to London, then from Kings Cross to Marylebone and to Gerrards Cross where I would have to walk the best part of a mile dragging a wheelie suitcase.   After a good deal of soul-searching about footwear I decided on - wait for it - sandals and socks.    This, I read, is the ultimate and unforgivable fashion no-no.

Furthermore,  yesterday was Flat Cap Friday, a sacred feast when Yorkshireman are urged to wear that iconic piece of headgear.   Who devises these special days incidentally?

Anyway, I decided to go for it and sod the consequences.   Flat cap, sandals and socks will be the next fashion craze, trust me.   You read it here first.

Nobody, as far as I could tell, looked at my feet, perhaps transfixed by the cap.   No child said 'Look at that man wearing sandals and socks mummy'.

There comes a time in life when you can get away with things -when you couldn't give a flying fandango what people think.


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Settle on the Roof

In brilliant sunshine today we (me and signwriter Eddie Ralph, who sign-wrote our wagon) painted the word Settle on our enormous flat roof.   This is anticipation of TV coverage of the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race, stage 1 of which finishes at Settle on 29th April.

After that it may provide information to lost aviators, balloonists and literate pigeons.

Here is fearless Eddie on the roof under a clear blue sky:

 click to enlarge

... and drawing out the letters in chalk:
 Eddie's van is a work of art in itself.   It isn't in need of a wash as it may at first appear:

 ... it is beautifully lined in timber effect paint:
 ... and shows distinct evidence of sign writer's sense of humour:
 ... and here is our roof sign.   Still needs a second coat of paint but it looks the business.   Each letter is 9 1/2 feet high and four feet wide.   The font is Eddie sans serif.
 ... and just in case you think we bottled out of the letter S:

The sign should be very visible from Castleberg Crag above Settle, seen here from the roof:

Second coat of paint now applied.   Bit proud of this.   Took some getting I can tell you:

Might climb Castleberg and get a picture.

Little and Large

Couldn't resist this picture of our tiny trailer alongside the truck:

click to enlarge

The trailer was rebuilt last year after a detachment and end to end roll over incident.   Son in law Alan has recieved words of advice on how we British hook our trailers onto towballs.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Nothing but Clear Skies, Via NASA

A remarkable image from NASA today:
click to enlarge

Not just clear but warm enough to have lunch on the rooftop sun deck on 14th March.

Intrigued by those curly-whirlies off the Yorkshire coast though.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

A Housing Journey (Mark)

This is bit of an experimental posting.  The original intention was to depict my housing ladder, right from childhood.   It seems at risk of becoming an autobiography, which will be as dull as dishwater to too many Blog readers.   I may abandon the idea as irrelevant to the water tower or may keep it simply to depict one man's living quarters over a lifetime.   I'll see how it shapes up so bear with me.
-Mark R&

Our first house was in Rowly Drive, Cranleigh where I spent most of my babyhood - apart from some time in Shropshire as an evacuee.  I have found it on Google Street View but cannot copy it, infuriatingly.   But here is a picture of a house on Rowly Drive which looks very much like the other half of our semi:

This one has clearly had a side extension built onto it.  Mentally delete the extension and you have our small semi.   It had a huge rear garden and a very wide green was in front, typical of Surrey at that time.   Its problem was that nearby was RAF Dunsfold* which 'the Gerries were after'.   The home counties airfields south of London were fair game - hence the evacuation of baby Mark.   

I do however remember air raid sirens - absolutely terrifying for a baby - or for grown-ups for that matter.   My only memory was being put into a one-piece garment called a siren suit, then into a baby gas mask and finally being shoved under the dining room table where I can vividly remember a cross underneath - presumably where the varnish / stainer had dried off his brush.   I can see that now and can smell the sickly rubber of the gas mask:
That baby in an obviously posed wartime propaganda picture looks content enough but can you imagine the sheer terror of being put in those things whilst the grown-ups (mother and grandma) panicked and donned their masks as the sirens wailed?

After the war I remember playing with (and destroying in the process) those dreadful things, along with lots of other wartime bits and pieces which would nowadays fetch a fortune on EBay.

* Dunsfold aerodrome is still there and is (or was) where BBC Top Gear was filmed.


Then it was Beckingham Road Guildford.   Cannot say if this was ours on the right but very similar:

Not here for long as father, who worked at Lloyds Bank on Guildford High Street got posted to Leeds.  This was a culture shock but it did involve me in Pullman travel from Kings Cross to Leeds on trains with magical names which have, alas gone.   The White Rose, The Yorkshire Pullman and, the best of all, The Queen of Scots:

I was always disappointed when it was hauled by a humble 'blinker' as above (Roaring Through Retford by artist Philip D Hawkins).   I much preferred it to be a 'streak':

click to enlarge

There was a Pullman surcharge, doubtless paid by Lloyds Bank, but boy, was it worth it.  My first experience of mint sauce was on the Queen of Scots.


This is where I grew up through teenage (though some might say I never have grown up), from about 1954
- 7 Morritt Avenue, Leeds 15

click to enlarge

A road of enormous three tier Victorian semi detached houses.   Ours was the first house on the left.  The top two floors have had their frontages cement rendered, covering what I remember to be black and white half timbering, sadly.  The front door has acquired a brick box of a porch. 

 Here it is from the other direction, ours the second one in on the right:

  When first built Morritt Avenue stood in splendid isolation in open countryside:   

The pair of gateway houses were magnificent

I guess these were High Victorian in style and were becoming quite unfashionable in the 1950s.

Good to see that Morritt Avenue at least survived the wholesale demolition of such places in Leeds and elsewhere in the UK.

Just as I was doing my A levels my father got posted to Bournemouth.   It was deemed, wrongly, that I was mature enough to look after myself in Leeds.  I got a place at Leeds University to read medicine.   That's a whole 'nother story for another time.   After a couple of sets of digs with landladies I laid my head at Boddington Hall of residence - in Grant Hall, on the right of this picture:
1960's architecture but still going strong on the evidence of this 2011 view.   I restored a 1930's Austin 7 Nippy in the car park when I should really have been stuck into Grant's Anatomy (a modern version of the classic Grey's).   I actually passed anatomy (of which I am very proud) and physiology but failed biochemistry.   So, out.   Poverty, parental disappointment and general w.t.f. ensued so I hit rock bottom residence-wise.   An attic in Kelso Road, Leeds' student / dosser land:
Eight bedroom terraced houses.   Think Rising Damp & Rigsby.

Matrimony rescued me from destitution or Lord knows what.   I got a job with drug giant Pfizer as a rep - calling on doctors to persuade them to use Pfizer drugs.   Here is our first matrimonial home, on West View Avenue, Wrose, Shipley:

It looks OK in this sunlit picture but it was a disaster.   It was built on a severe slope and could only be accessed by an external flight of stairs - now enclosed on the left.   It has gained Georgian windows and a bedroom in the roof.   It was the best we could (almost) afford in ? 1961 - ish.

The views from the back of it were to die for but that was all.   It was on the edge of a precipice and there was a maggot farm alongside.  The resultant bluebottles were impressive.   There was no central heating and the wind blew hard.   It was brand new so we were on a building site with no topsoil to speak of.

After a month or two a huge vertical crack appeared in the main living room which just got wider and wider - over an inch wide and increasing,  Not just that, the ridge of the roof was showing a distinct bend.

It just happened that the Ordnance Survey had an office in Shipley.    Heaven knows why but there it was - fortunately.   I went along to see if they had large scale map of the land on which our new home had been built.   They could not have been more helpful.   On their colossal scale map we superimposed the house.   It had been built right over a filled-in quarry edge, the line of which coincided precisely with our fearsome crack.

Armed with this evidence, and by now a police constable I confronted the builders - not a big firm by any means - but honourable people.   They recognised our situation and without hesitation agreed to offer us another house on a site they were building in Bingley - with three bedrooms rather than two.   We accepted with great relief!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Settle-Carlisle Locomotive at St Pancras in 1919

This amazingly detailed photograph is from 1919 at London St Pancras and shows a Midland Railway express passenger train about to depart for the north with a full head of steam.
Eurostars now depart from this platform.
click to enlarge (well worth it)

This class of locomotive dates from 1876 - the very year of the S&C's opening.   They were designed by SW Johnson - the man who signed off the plans for our water tower - for express passenger work.   They remained in production until 1901 and were considerably modified by Johnson's successor Fowler.   The last of these locomotives was withdrawn from service in 1963.   None has survived.

554, poor thing, was withdrawn in August 1949 and scrapped.

For work over the S&C these Class 2 locomotives were double-headed, working in pairs to cope with the Long Drag.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Watching Me Watching You

Had a fun morning with Adrian Bradshaw and Mike Birtles from RailCam.  We checked out the cameras on Horton in Ribbledale and Ribblehead stations, getting the sound working at the latter.   I had wired it wrongly.  Ahem.

Before the two RailCam men set off for our camera at Kirkby Stephen they couldn't resist having a fly around the Ribblehead Viaduct with RailCam's drone.

On the return leg of the flight I asked if the drone might hover in front of the webcam on the Ribblehead Station Master's House:

click to enlarge
and here's the webcam that took the picture of the drone taking a picture of the webcam.   It begins to make the brain hurt!

Here is the drone's eye view of the Viaduct and area

This remarkable image of a drone in flight demonstrates the amazing depth of focus of the webcam too.   The rapidly rotating blades of the drone have been frozen at 12.14.07.   The drone is under the control of Mike Birtles, who flies an even bigger drone in his day job - he's an archaeologist.

This machine is serious kit and actually weighs quite a lot.   Mike marked the take-off spot and the drone landed right alongside it automatically, on a 'home' command as in this case, or on its own systems if it flies out of control range or its batteries are running low, courtesy of GPS.   The batteries are good for 20 minutes or so apparently.

This is another new world of technology with huge potential.

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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Winter to Spring in one Morning

Station supervisor (he supervises himself) Paul Brown took these pictures this morning after the commuters had left for the daily grind:

click to enlarge

He even gritted the platforms - both sides and broke off to take the picture above before he tackled the down platform.

Later this morning the sun came out:

"'Pon my soul, bother it" said Paul.  Or words to that effect.

More to Giggle About

click to enlarge

Giggleswick Station c1926.  Taken by H Pearson, Station Master, with a quarter plate camera.  The station was demolished in 1978.'

Immediately on the far side of the water tower is a chimney, of industrial size.   This may have indicated a steam driven pumping engine was in the base.   The chimney has gone by the 1960s.  Maybe the pump was by then electrically powered?

Another possibility is that by then a water supply pipe had been taken from the larger tank at Settle.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Another Midland Water Tower - In Settle !!

Grateful to Michael Soames for discovering this photograph of unknown but fairly recent date that clearly shows a Midland Railway water tower at Giggleswick station - in Settle!   So tiny little Settle had TWO water towers, only just over a mile apart.   In this view Giggleswick station is a mere halt with no station buildings.  Settle by-pass now runs between the station and the trees on the near horizon.

Not only that Michael has found two photographs of Giggleswick station complete with water tower and station buildings.   Unfortunately they are on a secure website that cannot be copied to show you.

But watch this space.   Where there's a will there's a way eh?
And here they are, colour pictures but earlier than the one above.   Clearly in steam days so pre 1968:

Not at all obvious here but the station signboard bottom left bears a name ending in  --eswick