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Wednesday, 31 July 2019

First Phase of Steelwork Installed - Amidst Storms and Flooding

Hopley's have beavered away for the past day or two levelling up to the millimetre and fitting the last of the massive steel components of this phase, necessary to enable really accurate measurements to be taken so that final steels can be welded and galvanised (under way).

The extent and size of the new extension becomes clearer as the angle steels have now been secured to the tower and the existing annex.

Below is the L beam on the block-work wall of the existing annex.  The heavily insulated floor panels will rest on the horizontal flange and the top of the floor is level with the bottom of what was the external door mid way along:

Below, another L beam straddles the original tower entrance window:

The floor beams can be seen against the tower and existing annex in the shot below:

Floor panels and the remaining steels are next on the agenda.

The latest work has been done amidst torrential thunder storms which have caused localised but intense flooding in North Yorkshire.   Our Leeds-Settle-Carlisle railway line is closed because of a landslip between Blea Moor Tunnel and Arten Gill Viaduct at Shale Cutting - a known landslip risk location.   Work has gone on throughout last night, today and tonight in the hope of re-opening the line late tomorrow morning.

Below is a bridge at Grinton pictured by the Cave and Mountain Rescue team:

Pictures below are of the landslip at Shale Cutting, courtesy of Network Rail:

The picture above shows the up (London bound) line covered by the spoil, including large iron girders which had been securing the cutting side.   What has happened is that a culverted stream along the top of the banking has given way sending torrents of water down the slope to the railway lines, cutting a huge valley in just an hour or two - a process that usually takes centuries.

We could have used some of those girders!!

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Gladys on Top Form for the 2020s

Gladys Emmanuel:

absolutely flew up the notorious Buckhaw Brow yesterday morning en route to Clapham Street Fair.   In top gear too despite her 105 years.  We were able to get a good run at it and there was just me as payload.

As per the previous post we could have aquaplaned back down in the afternoon!

A major item of interest for visitors was the newly installed reversing camera on Gladys:

This C21st addition sits inconspicuously under the rear of the car but inevitably the monitor screen is prominent.   Especially with the hood up the rear view is almost nil so reversing without assistance is tricky.  The problem is acute for anybody like me with limited neck rotation.

I imagine that almost all new cars have this kit and I think it would be good if all cars had them retro-fitted.  I think Henry Ford would have approved.

They are absurdly cheap too - £14.99 on E-Bay, postage included!  If I was getting another I would not bother with the LED lights on the camera, making it all but invisible.

Not only does it assist reversing, you can leave it on as you drive along, enabling you to detect angry looking BMWs coming up from behind.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Clapham in the Rain with Gladys

That sounds a bit like a book title doesn't it?  Today, Saturday 27th of July 2019 I drove Gladys Emmanuel to the annual Clapham Street Fair - a delightfully English indeed Yorkshire Dales event which included an amazing array of old cars - mainly by invitation to keep out the riff-raff, y'know.

This year was special.  I was on my own (Pat is doing a grandmotherly visit to Gerrards Cross) and it was the first time for two years at least since I had been able to be there, what with the neck etc.  After the hottest heatwave ever in the UK it decided to be a wet weekend which makes it all the more important to attend in support of good people who organise such things.

The predicted rain came overnight so I set off in the dry, which held good for the morning, the about 1pm the heavens opened. Big time.  By 2pm everybody had vanished - stalls, Morris Dancers, even the Cave and Mountain Rescue had packed up - or been called out, more likely.  At leisure I prepared Gladys for the return home just as the downpour intensified to the extent that I considered delaying departure. Besides lacking windscreen wipers and with tyres that aren't exactly water shifters and rear brakes only that much prefer to be dry.

The journey includes the locally fearsome Buckhaw Brow whose descent is just as uncertain and far quicker than the ascent.   Over Buckhaw Brow we (me and Gladys) experienced heavier rain than either of us had encountered in a very long time.  The road was a temporary river but Gladys coped.  Thank you Henry Ford!   We are now back home and my first job was to look at the rain radar on mylocalweather/settle:

The Sputnik in the middle is Settle.

I am off up to the roof room for a medicinal and recuperative glass of wine.  I shall feel complacently warm and dry.  But I shall be thinking about those people who must be out in it.  Especially the emergency services, the Cave and Mountain Rescue volunteers especially.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Cladding all Down

This morning has seen  the last of the rain-screen cladding and its fixing fails thanks to Hopley's men Chris and Trevor.  The cladding components will be re-used on the new exterior walls which will therefore match exactly with the north end cladding which remains undisturbed:

By mid morning all that remained were the six black vertical channels.  CSi had fixed them well  in 2011 and they took some unfixing!  But unfixed they were, to reveal the existing extensions block-work in its entirety

The squareness and levels of the steels are now being measured to the millimetre before massive steel angle brackets are fixed to the original tower's external wall and those of the now exposed annex.

Things are really taking shape.

Phew What a Scorcher

Well, yesterday was the hottest day on record.

OK, not quite as hot as elsewhere but we are 500 feet above sea level, and in the 'frozen north'.  The weather station screen-grab  yesterday shows almost no wind and a feels-like temperature of 34.2 C.

Inside the main body of the tower though it was a comfortable 24 C.

The red bits on the rain radar on the right are thunder storms but we have largely avoided them.

Our main excitement was the fire alarm activation ay 0103 last night.  Turned out to be a back-up battery failure in the roof room but it took until 0200 to diagnose that and silence the system. 

The dog was mildly perturbed by the noise, which I can still hear in my ears 8 hours later!   Still, proves the system works.

Monday, 22 July 2019


That title is likely to ensure this is read by at least one Blog follower.  Architect Stuart Green and his erstwhile firm CSi of Hull have been doing a heroic job here - just as they did with the main tower steel and glass-work.   Here is a flashback:

Intricate and unforgivingly hard steelwork placed to the millimetre in an unforgivingly large stone opening in the tower's east end.

Stuart is not just a pencil and paper man - though he prefers those tools to computers, leaving that nowadays necessary stage to others.

I have been acutely aware that I am physically weaker than before my accident - and much more vulnerable.  I have been frustratingly unable to lend a hand.   Not though Stuart.

The other day as the steels were being assembled Stuart was pitching in with the rufty-tufty builders moving and positioning heavy components.  As a mere bystander all I could contribute was 
verbal encouragement.  During one lull in proceedings I remarked to the builders "I guess you don't often get an architect who rolls up his sleeves and gets his hands dirty do you?"

'That's true" came the reply, accompanied by what my father would have called an old-fashioned look.  "But we really like the ones that can do sums."

Friday, 19 July 2019

Baa Baa Black Shed is Very Useful

 Our much travelled black shed which now sits above the north garden is serving time as the site office, meaning the plans are there.   But so too a very comfy chair for those times, like last evening, when it is too windy to sit properly outside in comfort.

Of course, when the extension is finished there will be no view of the upper summer house from the black hut but both will enjoy fantastic views to the west.  The grassy bank to the left will be easily mow-able from the path below.  The upper summer house will have a veranda / decked and railed area on the two sides visible in this view.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

First Steels In

Amazing progress today as the galvanised steel components were manhandled up the hill to their locations, there to be bolted together with eight large bolts per fish-plated joint:

click pics to enlarge

British Steel too:

 And here is the fist part of the steelwork assembled.   Everything fitted together perfectly:

There are still some final checks and adjustments to be made before four 18mm holes are drilled into the concrete foundations per supporting leg.  The supporting legs and the outer edges of the steel work are designed to be seen.  The final cladding panels will be removed when electric wires are isolated and removed.  The final three horizontal steels will span right across from the main rear longitudinal beam to the original tower wall, with intermediate supports

Tuesday, 16 July 2019


I have posted before about the cast iron spoked North Eastern Railway wheel that has been sunk in and among the limestone gravel in front of the tower, near the water crane.   It was given to us and frankly was one of those things for which a use was not immediately obvious.

It was decided that it might make a novel container for rockery or Alpine plants so we planted it with sempervivums - hardy and should quite literally 'live for ever'.   Not all have lived up to that name but most have:

This little beauty has done exceptionally well

Monday, 15 July 2019

Steels on Site

Fist thing today the first batch of steels arrived from Hull, offloaded from CSi's lorry with great precision by Settle Coal's four wheel drive extending forklift:

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Life Changing Discovery

My garage has been the subject of much comment ranging from 'Wow. that's what I call a real man-cave', through 'How can you ever find anything?' to 'What a tip'.

Truth is that for the past year or two it has had little attention but the tip has just got deeper.   I have known throughout that time that a day, or month, of reckoning would come when I would have to face up to clearing it all up.

In no small measure the feeling of guilt has deepened by repeated comments from daughter Lorna along the lines of 'Dad, when you do actually kick the bucket I shall have to clear all this lot up'.   She doesn't mince words our Lorna.    I remember once asking her advice on some problem of the day concerning her mother and how I might best broach a sensitive issue with her.  What solicitorial words should I use that would not provoke an unwanted reaction?  'Just f-----g tell 'er' was the pro bono advice I got.   I have used that advice often, always prefixed by the words 'On a just f-----g tell 'er basis' . . .   Works most times.

Anyway, that garage.  Among other things it was a trip hazard and I appreciate the potential involved in falling over.  I did a risk assessment, naturally.  That was easy.  The method statement was harder and took some time.

There was a financial dimension to it as well.  I was forever being unable to find stuff that I knew was there, failing to find, then going out and buying things.  At the end of it all I was poorer - and would end up with two or more to add to the long term problem.  The smaller the item being searched for, the more difficult it was to find, naturally.  It is hard to lose a lawnmower but a No.7 SDS masonry drill bit can hide away for eternity midst the chaos and camouflage.

The solution?  Parts Bins.

Cheap as chips and immensely satisfying to fill, as I have discovered these past couple of weeks, during which I have labeled and filled 72 of them.   Now, if I find a sudden need of a No.7 SDS masonry drill, I know where I can lay hands on half a dozen of them.

Today is Sunday, a day of Rest.   I may though just count, and photograph my staggeringly impressive  collection of screwdrivers.  Be warned.

Well, you were warned - here is my current part collection of 101 screwdrivers:

I'm talking here about proper screwdrivers - with handles, not mere bits which slot inside handles with hexagonal holes at their ends.  If we included those bits we would be into the thousands.  If inclined to count the screwdrivers in the picture be warned - it is confusingly hard given the unsystematic layout (my fault).   There is a further tranche of screwdrivers in the lift so that I have a set on every floor.

Sad or what?

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Three Amazing Pictures From the Sky - and a Bonus for Good Luck

Here are the three still images taken by Flying Spider Films drone yesterday courtesy of Mark (son) and John (father) Futter.  It was a delight to meet them during an incredibly busy day for them taking in Wales, ourselves, Ribblehead and the Stockton and Darlington Railway. All were being filmed from above for the forthcoming TV series on railway architecture, to be screened in 11 episodes from January 2020, provisionally.

for a beautiful website showing Flying Spider's work

Picture 1 looks directly down on the water tower and shows the SETTLE lettering on the roof room roof.  Overnight rain had not quite evaporated leaving dampness at the edges but the message is clear. Also seen are the deck areas at the south (left) and north ends.  The clutter on the extension roof includes some of the wall cladding, in store there prior to be re-fitted on the new extension. Also Gordon-the-Gondola from which I was able to paint the outside of the tank back in 2011/12 and our rooftop fire-escape ladder:

 click on any pic. to enlarge

Picture 2 shows the tower in relationship to settle Station buildings, top left, and the station master's house, top centre:

Picture 3 is taken from above the station master's house so looking east.   The garden to the left contrasts starkly with the earthworks below the summer house to the right.  In the fulness of time that area will be planted and lovely.

It is important to say that the room on the roof is obvious from the air but from key viewpoints on the ground it is invisible.

To round off a very interesting day, here is a picture by Settle's Anthony Ward of 70000 Britannia flying through Settle station later in the day with a special train from Carlisle to Crewe - ten minutes early!  The footplate crew are taking a well earned breather after hauling that heavy train up and over the roof of England.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Shots from Above Have Got Simpler

When we first exposed our project to the scrutiny of television, to get panoramic shots from above meant a sky-lift going up there with a lift operator, a cameraman, a large camera and a lot of nerve:

Especially if it was cold and windy.

All that has changed meantime and this is how it is done nowadays:

Today, by prior arrangement, this drone caused quite a stir by flying over and filming the water tower and the station buildings generally.   Our frontage was the launch site for the drone, controlled by a pilot and a camera operator.   The sun did not oblige but the windspeed was a flat calm. Astonishing flying skills and camerawork, visible on two monitors on the ground.  Watch this space for some spectacular views of the water tower from high above and around. 

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Building Work Started

Local firm Hopleys have made a start on the actual building works by preparing four sockets in existing walls to accommodate some of the steel beams, presently being galvanised elsewhere:

 I appreciate that pictures of holes in walls have a certain boredom factor about them but they are there mainly to indicate actual progress.

Meanwhile the north end of the garden flourishes, seen here glowing in evening sunshine, taken from the kitchen window:

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Progress with the Steelwork

Things are really happening. Here are a couple of pictures of steelwork under construction in the factory prior to be galvanised.

These are two of the short support columns that will be attached to the concrete foundations, already in place.  The complexity and detail of the design and welding work are plain to see.

Meanwhile I am enjoying myself removing the lower panels of the existing annex wall cladding prior to the walls being marked up for the creation of beam holes on Friday.   Pictures later I hope.