Some pictures of Basildon

Sunday, April 28th 2017

As it was Sunday and we had spent the morning shopping, we needed to find somewhere nearby, or at least, easy to get to, for our afternoon ramble. Tigger chose Basildon, mainly, I think, because we had never been there.

Basildon is in the county of Essex and is fairly near to Southend-on-Sea. It’s easy enough to find on the map if you want to do so. The name is about the most interesting feature of Basildon. It is thought to be composed of the Anglo-Saxon personal name Boerthal with the addition of dun, meaning a hill, thus Boerthal’s Hill. We can never be sure that this is the correct derivation but it seems plausible to me.

Basildon, I suppose, is neither better nor worse than hundreds of towns the length and breadth of Britain. The people who live there probably like it but I found in it nothing of interest. Possible we missed the best bits and I am being unjust but I doubt it. We took a few photos as we went about and a selection of mine appear below.

Basildon Station
Basildon Station

Basildon can be reached by a 30-minute train ride  from Fenchurch Street. Basildon Station, as you can see, is rather small and of understated appearance.

Market Square
Market Square

We wandered hither and thither without any fixed plan though I subsequently discovered that the town publishes a Heritage Trail Map (PDF file). Would this have made a difference to our trip? No, I don’t think so.

St Martin's Square
St Martin’s Square

One thing I can say in favour of Basildon is that a large part of the central area is pedestrianized. This is a policy I approve of and wish more towns would adopt. Vehicular traffic has been favoured for too long, to the detriment of our health and convenience, and it is time the balance was restored.

The Basildon Centre
The Basildon Centre

The Basildon Centre is Basildon Council’s main administrative building and also has rooms and conference facilities for hire. It forms part of the new town centre developed in the 1950s.

St Martin's Bell Tower
St Martin’s Bell Tower

The bell tower of the Church of St Martin of Tours is adjacent to the church but separate from it. The tower was opened by the Queen on March 12th 1999. It contains a peal of eight bells (one dating from the 15th century) which originally belonged to the Church of St Nicholas in Coventry. (See here for more details.)

Church of St Martin of Tours
Church of St Martin of Tours

The Church of St Martin of Tours was built in the 1960s and its styling is perfectly consistent with that date.

Sculpture of Christ
Sculpture of Christ
T.B. Huxley-Jones, c1968

Rendered even more eye-catching by the plainness of the walls, above the entrance hangs a fibreglass sculpture of Christ. It is by T.B. Huxley-Jones (1908-68) and when unveiled was expected to cause controversy. Some 50 years later, however, it no longer seems as avant-garde as once it might have done.

Church interior
Church interior

The church was quite busy with people milling around engaging in various activities but they were happy to let us in to look around and take photos.

Stained glass window

Stained glass window, side chapel
Stained glass windows

The church is decorated with a set of modern-style stained-glass windows, of which the two above are samples, the upper in the main church and the lower in a side chapel. They were designed by Joseph Nuttgens.

Unascribed sculpture
Unascribed sculpture

Continuing on, we found this sculpture in a nearby street. I know neither the name of the sculptor nor the title of the work, if any. Was it always free-standing or did it once form part of a larger structure? I have no idea.

Mother and Child Fountain
Mother and Child Fountain
Maurice Lambert, c1960

The Mother and Child, by Maurice Lambert, is a sculpture that forms part of a fountain but the fountain is not working at present. The poses of the figures seem to me rather awkward and unlikely but I hear that it is very popular with the townsfolk.

East Square
East Square

Superman in mufti paying a visit to East Square, possibly on his way to the nail bar.

Man Aspires
Man Aspires
A.J. Poole, 1957

This oh-so-1950s sculpture graces the side of Freedom House. It is by A.J.Poole (1926-2009). For a long time, the sculptor’s own title  for the work was unknown and it was called the Treble Clef. More recently, the sculptor’s daughter has vouchsafed that the artist called it Man Aspires.

Sculptures with strings or wires stretching across them seem to have been a fad of the middle decades of the 20th century, now happily relegated to the past though not before some quite famous sculptors tried the genre. For example, see this work by no less an artist than Barbara Hepworth.

East Walk
East Walk

East Walk forms part of the Eastgate shopping centre that opened in 1985. Its launch was accompanied by all the usual superlatives and I suppose it is a good place to go either on a shopping spree or when trying to buy some special item. Unless you have some such special purpose in mind, though, it is a pretty dull haunt of the usual retail suspects. I left Basildon without any regrets and don’t expect to return.

The Railway Squirrel
The Railway Squirrel

While on the station platform waiting for the train back to London, we spied a squirrel running along the track. My reflex was to worry that he might be run over by the train. Having watched him for a while, though, I could see that he was perfectly familiar with the lie of the land and was in no danger. Animals are often cleverer and more competent than we give them credit for.

Copyright 2017 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 1 Comment

Brooklands

Thursday, April 27th 2017

Brooklands in its heyday was probably the world’s most famous motor race track. It was also the world’s first purpose-built motor race track. Today it is a museum and can be visited.

Brooklands was built by a local landowner, Hugh Locke King, on his estate near Weybridge in Surrey. It was 2.75 miles long, 100ft wide and was banked to allow the curves to be taken at high speed. The first official race took place on July 6th 1907. Facilities also included an aerodrome and by 1918, Brooklands had become a major aircraft manufacturing centre.

Racing at Brooklands was halted during the First World War and resumed in 1920. When the Second World War was declared in 1939, however, racing was once again stopped, this time permanently. Having secured funding, the Brooklands Museum plans to restore the final mile-long finishing stretch to its original state and bring it back into use.

Arriving at Weybridge
Arriving at Weybridge

The journey to Brooklands took us first to Weybridge (Surrey) which we reached by train from Waterloo. As this map shows, Brooklands is about half a mile from  the station, as the crow flies. By road it is longer. We looked around for buses to take us there but ended up making our way there on foot. The entrance is at the western end of the complex where you pass through a wooden building comprising the ticket desk and the inevitable museum shop.

Getting an antique motor cycle to run
Getting an antique motor cycle to run

This is by no means a static museum where you file politely past the exhibits in their glass cases. There is a lot of activity and people in nicely soiled overalls doing things with engines. We came upon this group of enthusiasts trying to start an ancient motor cycle and then ride it.

Racing teams and motor businesses established themselves at Brooklands and many of the sheds are still in place with the names of their famous owners emblazoned on them.

Malcol Campbell's workshops
Malcolm Campbell’s workshops

Pictured above, for example, are the (restored) workshops of Sir Malcolm Campbell (1885-1948), racing driver and journalist, who achieved many speed records on both land and water in vehicles that all bore the name Bluebird.

Brooklands Clubhouse
Brooklands Clubhouse

This rather handsome building is called the Clubhouse. It contains offices, displays of memorabilia and welcome facilities such as toilets and a cafe where we gratefully took tea.

Display of cars
Display of cars

There is much to see, including cars…

Display of motorcycles
Display of motorcycles

motorcycles…

R.G.J. Nash Collection of Cycles
R.G.J. Nash Collection of Cycles

and even pedal cycles. This display features the R.G.J. Nash Collection of Cycles. There is so much to see, in fact, that unless you are deeply interested in vehicles of every sort (and perhaps even if you are), it is likely to become difficult to pay attention to all the exhibits.

Bust of Sir Malcolm Campbell
Bust of Sir Malcolm Campbell

I concentrated on those items that particularly attracted my attention.

RAC Patrol Motorcycle
RAC Patrol Motorcycle

These included this motorcycle and sidecar combination belonging to the Royal Automobile Club, better known as the RAC. The RAC was founded in 1897 and in years past, motorcycle patrols run by the RAC and the AA (founded 1905) were a common sight on British roads. Their role was to help members who were in difficulty, typically because of mechanical problems. The patrolmen would even salute members (indicated by the appropriate badge affixed to the vehicle) encountered en route.

1930s Austin Sevens
1930s Austin Sevens

I similarly noticed this handsome pair of 1930s vintage Austin Sevens, one of the most popular cars in its day. From left to right they are an Austin Seven Sports (1934) and an Austin Seven Speedy (1935).

Working on a car
Working on a car

I spotted this group of three gentlemen giving some TLC to one of the exhibits. It is care and attention like this that helps keep museums lively places to visit.

Concorde
Concorde

We also visited the aircraft hangars, starting with the Brooklands Concorde. This exhibit features in various events as this Web page explains. The museum also owns the last remaining Concorde Simulator, that was used for training Concorde flight crews.

Wellington Bomber 'R for Robert'
Wellington Bomber ‘R for Robert’

Wellingtons were the main allied bombers of the Second World War. This one, known as ‘R for Robert’ had been lost until it was rediscovered in 1978 at a depth of 60 metres (197 feet) in Loch Ness. Its finders had actually been looking of ‘Nessie’, the so called Loch Ness Monster! Since then, funding has been obtained, firstly to recover the aircraft and then to begin the work of restoration. More information on ‘R for Robert’ here.

VC10 interior
VC10 interior

We had a look inside a Vickers VC10, in its day one of the most popular passenger aircraft, so much so that the Sultan of Oman bought one for his personal use and adapted it accordingly. Yes, that aircraft is also in the museum’s collection. (See here.)

Sopwith F.1 Camel (replica)
Sopwith F.1 Camel (replica)

Before leaving the aircraft section, we had a look at some of the historic aeroplanes, most of which had fascinating stories attached to them. Not least was the famed Sopwith Camel, though this one is in fact a modern reproduction. The Sopwith Camel became legendary both for the awkwardness of its handling, which caused the deaths of a number of pilots, and for its formidable manoeuvrability and destructive prowess when flown by an expert. The Camel was first made in 1917, during the First World War, as a fighter plane. Its armaments consisted of twin machine guns synchronized to fire through the propeller. This is a replica of B7270 of 209 Squadron, RAF, which was piloted by Captain Roy Brown when he shot down the ‘Red Baron’, Manfred von Richthofen. (More details here.)

London Bus Museum, General View
London Bus Museum, General View

Conveniently sited just next door to the Brooklands Museum is the London Bus Museum. Londoners, and the inhabitants of any city, no doubt, entertain a love-hate relationships with the bus. When the services run to time and the buses are not crowded, they provide a convenient way to get around and see the sights. In rush hours, or when the traffic is disrupted for some reason, bus travel may become less than wonderful… Quite apart from that, the development of the omnibus and the various forms it has taken throughout its relatively short history are fascinating and the bus museum will provide surprises for even the most apathetic visitor. In a phrase: the London Bus Museum is well worth a visit.

'Knifeboard' Horse Bus c1875 
‘Knifeboard’ Horse Bus c1875

I must admit to being particularly fond of horse-drawn buses, an enthusiasm enhanced by a ride on a horse bus in Antwerp in 2011 (see Bruges 2011 – Day 2). This horse bus is the oldest vehicle in the bus museum. It continued in use for some decades even after the introduction of motor buses.

A curiosity is the advert on the side. This reads ‘DOOF SEGDIR’. It doesn’t take long to realize that this is ‘RIDGES FOOD’ spelt backwards. (Ridge’s Food was a food preparation ‘For Infants Invalids & The Aged’. See this advertisement.) Why is it the wrong way round? One theory is that it was written thus so that shoppers would see it the right way round when reflected in shop windows. I am sceptical of this.

Ridges advertisement in mirror image
Ridges advertisement in mirror image

The above mirror image is surely no more readable than the original version. If they had meant it to be seen in reflection, Ridges would have reversed the letters as well, as is done with the words ƎƆI⅃Oꟼ and ƎƆИA⅃UᙠMA intended to be seen in vehicle drivers’ rear view mirrors. I am inclined to think it was a rather bold way of grabbing people’s attention with a puzzle.

1925 Dennis 4-ton bus – D142 1925 Dennis 4-ton bus – D142
1925 Dennis 4-ton bus – D142

Inevitably, motor buses improved in reliability and horse buses and trams gradually disappeared from London’s streets. Open-top buses are these days not very popular but once they were the norm as this 1925 motor double-decker shows. What now appears quaint to us would once have been a common sight along the busy streets.

For us it was time to leave the museums and find our way back to the railway station. For the return leg, however, we found a bus stop and waited patiently there until a bus arrived and carried us smoothly into Weybridge. We felt we had done enough walking for one day!

Copyright 2017 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Moreton-in-Marsh

Wednesday, April 26th 2017

The village of Moreton-in-Marsh (often mis-called Moreton-in-the-Marsh) lies in the county of Gloucestershire, the nearest large towns being Cheltenham and Gloucester, as shown on the map below.

Moreton-in-Marsh on the map
Moreton-in-Marsh on the map
(Click for Google Map)

The quaintness of the name and the picturesqueness of the town itself have long attracted the notice of tourists and sightseers. Its fame has spread as far as Japan from which country it receives many visitors, so much so that it has been thought a good idea to make the notices in the railway station bilingual in English and Japanese.

Moreton-in-Marsh Station
Moreton-in-Marsh Station

The railway station in Moreton-in-Marsh dates from the arrival of the railway in 1853 and is apparently familiar to many Japanese tourists and, from today, to us, because it was the railway that brought us to this Cotswolds town.

The derivation of the name ‘Moreton-in-Marsh’ is subject to some uncertainty. The first part, Moreton, seems clear enough, deriving from Anglo-Saxon words meaning ‘moor’ and ‘farm’ (tun), hence ‘Moor Farm’. It is the last part that remains under discussion. There are indeed marshy areas in the surrounding countryside and the idea that the name indicates a settlement in marshland, seems reasonable. Others, though, suggest that ‘Marsh’ was originally ‘March’, where the word march signifies a boundary. This is plausible, given that in times past, the boundaries of the counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire met to the east of the town. Yet another theory claims that ‘in-Marsh’ is a corruption of an earlier Henmarsh, a name derived from the local marshy areas and one of their principal inhabitants, the moorhen. As is often the case with ancient names, we cannot now be sure which of these, if any, is the correct derivation.

Cotswo;d stone building

The Cotswolds are known for their deposits of limestone which is suitable for building. Many, perhaps most, of the buildings in Moreton-in-Marsh are made with what is commonly called Cotswold Stone. I have not identified all the buildings I photographed or determined their purpose. I will annotate those that I do known something about.

High Street
High Street

Moreton-in-Marsh was once a very important market town. It consists mainly of a very broad main street with a few side streets. The High Street consists of two carriageways separated by a central reservation which is in some places planted with grass and trees and in other places provides parking for vehicles and a site for the war memorial.

Batsford and Moreton-in-Marsh War Memorial
Batsford and Moreton-in-Marsh War Memorial

In fact, this is the Batsford and Moreton-in-Marsh War Memorial, shared with the neighbouring village of Batsford. It was erected in 1921 (designed by Sir Edward Guy Dawber) in memory of the fallen of the First World War and, sadly, had to be modified to take account of the Second World War.

The Toy Shop
The Toy Shop

The other buildings in the High Street are the usual mixture of residential and commercial premises, including banks, shops – such as the toy shop above – and, of course, pubs!

The Bell Inn
The Bell Inn

The Bell Inn goes back at least to the 18th century though parts of the building are older still. The 18th century was perhaps Moreton’s boom era when the wool trade was flourishing and most of the buildings date from then. We had lunch at the Bell before continuing.

The Black Bear
The Black Bear

There are quite a few pubs in and around Moreton-in-Marsh partly because the town is sited at a confluence of roads and would once have been busy with travellers.

More Cotswold Stone buildings

Today, a weekday, the town was quiet with very few people about though some of these were obviously visitors like ourselves. We did not see any Japanese, however. Perhaps it’s not their season for holidays abroad.

The Stocks
The Stocks

Every self-respecting olde Englisshe town or village has to have ancient furniture, preferably military or to do with the harsh justice of bygone times. In line with this requirement, Moreton-in-Marsh has ye olde stocks. I’m pretty sure these are not ancient but are modern mock-ups but I suppose they add a touch of character to the place.

The Old Bank
The Old Bank

This large building on a corner is called the Old Bank but whose bank it was and how old the building is, I have no idea. It’s no longer a bank and is advertised for sale. What will occupy it next: Tesco? Starbuck’s? Luxury flats?

The Redesdale Hall
The Redesdale Hall

The Redesdale Hall is probably the most prominent building in Morton-in-Marsh. It was designed by Mr, later Sir, Ernest George and bears a plaque reading as follows:

THE REDESDALE HALL WAS ERECTED IN 1887 BY
SIR ALGERNON BERTRAM FREEMAN MITFORD,
GCVO, KCB, 1ST BARON REDESDALE,
LORD-OF-THE-MANOR OF MORETON-IN-MARSH
IN PIOUS MEMORY OF HIS KINSMAN, EARL OF REDESDALE, 1805-1886.
SUBSEQUENTLY, BY PURCHASE,
IT PASSED INTO THE POSSESSION OF
SIR GILBERT ALAN HAMILTON WILL, BART, OBE, TD,
FIRST BARON DULVERTON,
WHO PRESENTED IT IN THE YEAR 1951 TO
THE NORTH COTSWOLD RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL.

It now belongs to the Town Council and is run by a charitable trust. It is available for hire. (More details here.)

The Curfew Tower
The Curfew Tower

This building is not in the High Street but a short distance from it along Oxford Street. It caught our attention with the slender tower upon the roof. This dates from the 16th century and is called the Curfew Tower. It’s possibly the town’s oldest building.

Old Market Way
Old Market Way

In Old Market Way we found a group of shops. I hesitate to call this a ‘shopping centre’ though I suppose that that is what it is. Emblazoned across the top of the arch in very large letters is the phrase ACCESS TO HIGH STREET as though the managers fear that people will become confused and unable to find their way out. Hardly likely.

Cottage
Cottage

If you walk north along the High Street, it becomes the Fosse Way. Or perhaps we should say that the Fosse Way is rebadged ‘High Street’ where it passes through the town. As you reach the Budgens store, the Fosse Way briefly becomes Roman Road. Why this is so, I cannot say. Perhaps it is one of those mysteries best left unsolved. Having reached this point, we decided there was no point in continuing and turned back.

Moreton-in-Marsh is a handsome Cotswold Market Town and well worth visiting, not least because of its picturesque name. To be honest, though, there is not a lot there apart from some intriguing bits of architecture and a morning or afternoon will suffice to see it all. We will remember it fondly but I doubt we shall return.

Copyright 2017 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 2 Comments