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Monday, 22 August 2016

I am Not the Only Barmpot Out There

Among recent visitors to the tower was Steven Scott and his wife.   As is my custom I asked them if they too had a coal truck in their garden.   Nobody as yet has said yes but Steven Scott's reply was astonishing.

"No, but I used to have a cab from Deltic 55021 in my garden".   Furthermore he said that as a 16 year old he had photographed our water tower in 1983.   He said he would try to find the pictures and e-mail them to me.   Good as his word, here they are:

 click to enlarge

Picture quality has come on a bit of course but next time there are grumbles about the coal truck I shall plead relative sanity compared with a locomotive cab.

In passing Steven mentioned a coal truck at the long since (1967) closed Wheathampstead Station in Hertfordshire, on the former line between Hatfield and Dunstable:

OK, this isn't in anybody's garden but the villagers have lovingly preserved what is left of their station and have restored a coal truck, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

R.I.P. Crane Driver Alan Sowerby

During the course of converting and restoring the water tower we had the privilege to meet many many people without whom we could not have got the results we did.   Some stood out as being absolutely on top of their game.

Alan Sowerby was the crane driver for the mighty lift of our 13 1/2 tonne roof room.   A good deal of planning had gone into this operation just before Christmas 2011.   I first met Alan when his massive 90 tonne crane came down Station Road on the morning of the big lift.   A man in his sixties I guess and a veteran of a working lifetime of lifts this was just another day for him - but one where his skills would be pushed to the limit in the unforgiving gaze of television cameras.

The first problem was that the Station Road entrance to the site was far too small for this monster crane.   It would have to go round the block to The Sidings which meant going under two railway bridges with limited clearance.   I therefore climbed into the cab - a scary flight of steps it was too - to show Alan the way and to see him under the bridges.   I had never travelled in such a big vehicle before or since.   The cab was like a ship's bridge  - bristling with controls and computer screens.   We squeezed under Cammock Lane Bridge with millimetres to spare thanks to CCTV cameras atop the crane.   Here was a man who was taking no risks and knew what he was doing.

There were three great lifts to be done - getting the structure off the lorry that had brought it from Hull, lifting it over our telephone wires and then the big lift to the top of the tower into a prepared landing pad where it would sit for ever by gravity alone.   The lift had to be millimetre perfect in every dimension.

Today, one of our visitors was the very man from Jardines who had done the calculations for our job.   He had seen it on TV but never in the flesh.   Sadly though he had to report that Alan Sowerby had died - very soon after retiring from Jardines.   In the hurly-burly of the day I did not get a proper picture of Alan Sowerby but I do have these dramatic shots of him in action in his office.

click to enlarge

R.I.P. Alan Sowerby.   The crowning glory of our tower sits there precisely where you put it.   Testimony to your skill.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

People Just LOVE Settle Station Water Tower

Since the big yellow letters appeared on the tower they have caused comment, be-it amusement, dismay, concern for their welfare in high winds or derision.

Today there was some very welcome support in postings on Facebook and Twitter with this picture:

click on the link

It really is rewarding to be able to give pleasure to so many people - and to play a part in attracting visitors to this amazing part of the World.

for comparison, here is the same view before the tower was restored:

Friday, 19 August 2016

Eddie Stobart and Ankles

Today I had a hospital appointment at Airedale with orthopod Mr Wray.   We deviated for our normal straightforward route because one of Eddie Stobart's finest had had a coming-together with the bridge over the river Aire at Consiton Cold some days ago, resulting in queues and traffic lights from now until Kingdom Come:

click to make big lorry bigger

Ancient masonry and modern traffic sometimes don't mix well.    

Anyway, we took the scenic route via Airton and Gargrave to Airedale Hospital, which was delightful.

Mr Wray probed my Achilles-less left ankle and taking all things into consideration decided that an operation would be too risky.   I shall continue without a left Achilles tendon and hope it heals - if I behave myself and don't climb any ladders or sign up for any Olympics.

A Visit from The Tea Club

A couple of days ago, a delightful group of people visited us.   They were West Yorkshire's 'Tea Club'

click to enlarge

They reported favourably on their day out in Settle and were kind enough to Tweet to their 4,000+ followers what a spiffing day they had had here.   Not only that, their Tweet (or was it Facebook?) had this picture as their main visual impression of Settle - besides a plate of fish n' chips.

Nice picture and we are chuffed to bits.

Places need a bit of different-ness, unfettered by the dead hand of the planning system.   We have not troubled the planners with the Settle sign but if it becomes a bit of a feature then OK.    You do rather wonder what UK planners would have had to say about that statue on Sugar Loaf in Rio.......

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Four Wheels on my Wagon

Well my so far two wheeled car transporter trailer now has four:

This roughly doubles the trailer's carrying capacity and should make it stronger and safer.
.Next stage is a steel frame to surround a deck made of 10ft x 5 foot trailer decking board to make a flat bed large and strong enough to take the Model T

Sweet Nymphs

Dozens of people wander round the water tower's outside each day, which means we meet some extraordinary people.   Yesterday was no exception.

Pat and I were sitting on the 'Settle Down' bench in the evening sunshine when along came a smartly dressed 6ft 4" visitor who had visited earlier in the day.   He had returned to pick up his mobile phone which we had found.   Some detective work had traced him to Skipton.

It emerged in conversation that his many interests included 17th Century English music.   So grateful was he to have been reunited with his 21st Century phone that he took little coaxing to give us a magical solo recital of Rest, Sweet Nymphs - much to the astonishment of passers-by on the station drive!  There was absolutely no noise of any kind in Settle just then so they may have heard it in the Market Square.

Sound on and click the link below:

Rest, Sweet Nymphs

Rest Sweet Nymphs, by Francis Pilkington (1565-1638)

We reflected on the time the Kings Singers visited and gave us Blue Moon in acapella.   That was memorable but this was bizarre.     Imagine the scene - two people sat on a bench being serenaded in a former coal yard with

Rest, sweet nymphs, let golden sleep
Charm your star brighter eyes,
While my lute the watch doth keep
With pleasing sympathies.
Lulla, lullaby. Lulla, lullaby.
Sleep sweetly, sleep sweetly,
Let nothing affright ye,
In calm contentments lie.

Dream, fair virgins, of delight
And blest Elysian groves,
While the wandring shades of night
Resemble your true loves.
Lulla, lullaby. Lulla, lullaby.
Your kisses, your blisses,
Send them by your wishes,
Although they be not nigh.

Thus, dear damsels, I do give
‘Good night’, and so am gone:
With your hearts’ desires long live,
Still joy, and never moan.
Lulla, lullaby. Lulla, lullaby.
Hath pleased you and eased you,
And sweet slumber seized you,
And now to bed I hie.

A memorable, magical, madrigal.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

You Are Scruffy

One of the welcome results of stopping chemotherapy is that your energy returns.   This is what has happened for me and I am indulging my creative and constructive side.   This means dressing for the tasks in hand which in my case in summer could mean a painty shirt and trousers and sandals with socks.   I have also got into the habit of shaving every other day or three.

In adopting this mode of attire I am in good? company, at least so far as the whiskers are concerned:

Sandals and socks are good for conversation and it is surprising how many people admit to wearing them - but timidly in their own homes.   Outside in the big wide world they are still a no-no though I cannot for the life of me see why.

My chemo feet appreciated the combination and now I can report that I have another excuse.   I have a broken left Achilles tendon, diagnosed with an ultrasound scan yesterday.   Apparently the two broken ends are 3.5cm apart so surgery will be likely.   Meantime I can shuffle around comfortably - in socks and sandals.   So there.

The day before yesterday Pat accused me of being scruffy - to which I pleaded guilty.    When you had to wear a smart uniform for much of your working life scruffy is an absolute delight.

Anyway today, Sunday, I decided to mend my ways, shave and put on some clean clothes.   Ye Gods it has been boring.

If anybody wants Christmas present ideas I recommend these:

Sunday, 7 August 2016

We are on the Rail Map

As part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative (no sniggering at the back there) the railways in the north of England were given a fresh coat of looking-at and some were designated Northern Connect routes - to link the northern cities by higher speed trains running on 100 mph tracks - all part of the greater HS2 (I SAID no sniggering at the back).

Maps were published showing the situation come the revolution but lo-and-behold the existing high speed line linking the cities of Leeds and Carlisle was not so designated.   Indeed it was missing entirely:

click to enlarge and to expose the enormity of this scandalous omission

The coloured lines are Northern Connect intercity routes.   The Leeds-Carlisle line via Settle is just not part of the script!!!   

We are quite used to this actually.   When the route was under threat of closure it was quietly dropped from national railway maps.   To include it did not assist closure as its route is starkly obvious as an Anglo-Scottish line - the very reason it was built.

Anyway, we e-mailed our displeasure to the railway industry through our usual channels - only to be ignored entirely.   No responses whatever.   The Friends of the S&C are not the sort of people to let things like this drop so we went to the tops of the two organisations most involved - Rail North and Northern Rail (if this sniggering at the back continues you will ALL be on detention).

Rail North Chairman Sir Richard Leese had the courtesy to answer our e-mail and promised to kick arse, as it were, and did.   Northern Rail MD Alex Hynes responded instantly to a mere Tweet and acted within the day.   In next to no time the map was amended:

and Leeds and Carlisle are once again connected.  See what I mean about 'obvious'.   NOT a line to be ignored.

Thursday, 4 August 2016


Had a visit from Ribblehead Viaduct engineer Tony Freschini the other day.   Yet again he came bearing a small tree for our garden.   We already have a Freschini oak and a Freschini acacia tree.

This time he excelled himself with a paulownia, grown from a seed he brought back from one of his frequent trips to family in Italy.   This is paulownia:

click to make it grow even bigger!

Paulownia is amazing.   It can grow 14 feet in a year and has truly enormous leaves which can be as large as 3 or 4 feet across!   Not only that they have wisteria-like flowers if allowed to become full sized trees:

For garden purposes you cut them back to just 12 inches each autumn.   The buds can be vulnerable to frost so we shall try our paulownia freschinii in the sheltered climate inside the tank.