Where Pocahontas came to die

We had two chores to do this weekend, firstly, the usual one of shopping and, secondly, the more intermittent but equally pressing one of the laundry. Which should we do today, either, neither or both? It was a fine day, so we were keen to get off on a ramble somewhere.

A view from the bridge
A view from the bridge
At London Bridge, the cruise ship Fram from Narvik was paying a visit, moored to HMS Belfast

In the end, the shopping won. We trundled the trolley round to the Alpino for breakfast, and then set about ransacking Sainsbury for the things we like. At home, we put away the shopping, had a little rest while catching up on things going on online, and then…

“What about Gravesend?” said Tigger.

“Um…?”

“There’s some sort of festival on there. Have you been to Gravesend?”

“Erm… not knowingly.”

So we went to Gravesend, which is a town in the borough of Gravesham (concentrate: you’ll get the hang of it) on the south bank of the Thames. You’ll find a map here.

The beachcomber
The beachcomber
This hardy soul was beachcombing. Along the Thames, among the dead bicycles, old tyres and other city detritus, there are treasures to be found

Going to Gravesend involved getting a bus the London Bridge, and there taking a train to our destination, first checking that the dreaded weekend rail works were not interfering with travel.

New Road Town Arms
Bunting in New Road & Town Arms
New Road and other streets were decorated with patriotic bunting though we never discovered for certain why

We walked up the hill from Gravesend station and came to the pedestrianized New Road. It was decorated with bunting and the shops and cafes were open. In the absence of vehicles people could move about freely. I do wish towns provide more of these traffic-free areas. If there was indeed a festival taking place, we never found it.

Bank doorway
Bank doorway
This large bank building dated 1899 had a lot of elegant carving and mouldings

Not knowing Gravesend or what might be found there, we set off and followed our noses. A number of pretty things soon came to light such as this bank on a corner of King Street and another building (currently being refurbished), a gift of Andrew Carnegie in 1905.

Carnegie mermaid Carnegie mermaid
A handsome pair of mermaids
The Carnegie building (was it once the library?) was inaccessible behind a building works fence but this pair of graceful mermaids could be seen

We walked up Manor Road, hoping to find a cup of tea. We discovered more bunting but of a slightly different kind.

Paulines Manor Shades
Pauline’s Manor Shades
Where the heart of Gravesend beats (allegedly) and the tricolour flutters (visibly)

We were rewarded by finding a cafe called Snack Attack where we stopped off for refreshments.

Stopping off for tea
Stopping off for tea
I sometimes think these honest backstreet cafes are not appreciated for the service they provide

After tea we carried on into Harmer Road, passing a notable structure, which I shall come back to. I was intrigued to find a doorway with an escutcheon over it.

Decus et Tutamen
Decus et Tutamen
This is the coat of arms of Gravesend and the Latin motto is sometimes translated as “Glory and Defence” and sometimes otherwise

It turns out that the coat of arms you see next to the photo of New Road is that of Gravesham, the borough, while the coat of arms shown above is that of Gravesend, the town. (I said you should concentrate.) It shows a castle with, superimposed upon it a fire-breathing bull’s head resting on a crown. What would Freud make of that?

Queen Victoria's Jubilee Clock
Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Clock
As Jubilee clocks go, this one is impressive for its size alone:
Gravesend did Victoria proud

Returning to Milton Road, we find the notable structure that I mentioned above: an impressive clock tower in honour of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, dated 1887 in rather small digits below the clock face. This elegant structure not only tells the time but also chimes it on a set of bells donated, according to a bronze plate, by Alfred Tolhurst in 1891. For more information, see here.

Portrait alcoves
Portrait alcoves
As is usual in this kind of design, there are arched alcoves on all four
sides but only three contain royal profiles

As is to be expected, there is a likeness of Queen Victoria and, not unusually, one of King Edward VII, unveiled by him in 1912. What is less common is that there is also a profile of the present Queen, added in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the accession of Queen Victoria (1987).

Queen Victoria Edward VII Elizabeth II
Clock Tower Portraits
Three monarchs are represented, the third of which, that of Elizabeth II, was added only in 1987

Walking and exploring, we gravitated naturally towards water and open sky. At last, we came to this agreeable place.

Beside the water
Beside the water
Water, sky, ships and a beach: are we at the seaside?

This may at first sight look like the seaside but it is in fact the Thames. Opposite are the docks of Tilbury. The water seems vast until one of the heavy tankers or container ships comes by and makes it look small again.

A container ship passes
A container ship passes
and makes the channel seem small again

This is Riverside Park, a broad green space beside the river and on a day like today, a very pleasant place to be. There is a cafe and public toilets, everything you need to spend the day here, should you wish to do so. We spread a rug in the shade of a tree and ate a picnic lunch.

Swans
Swans
A flock of swans floated beside the bank, to the delight of children and adults, and obligingly ate the food thrown to them

After our picnic and our meeting with the swans, we moved away from the water, through the park where there is a pretty lake with fountains.

Lake with fountains
Lake with fountains
There were moorhens on the lake and, less happily, people fishing.

Pleasant as this place was, we now turned back towards the town to explore further.

Uncle Sam comes to Gravesend
Uncle Sam comes to Gravesend
We passed by Uncle Sam’s American Circus without stopping to enquire further. Is an American Circus different from the traditional kind?

We walked back into town by a different route, passing Uncle Sam’s American Circus, and, once more, the Jubilee Clock Tower. This time, however, we encountered another historic institution.

The Borough Market
The Borough Market
The Market was founded in 1268 by a charter from Henry III

The Borough Market was first founded in 1298 when Henry III issued a charter to Robert de la Parrock. It has continued since then, adapting and reorganizing as necessary. The current building dates from the 1890s and is incorporated into the old Town Hall.

Classical colonnade
Classical colonnade
This rather startling classical colonnade is the entrance to the relatively narrow passageway leading to the market and the old town hall

From the market, you pass along a fairly narrow passage and out through the above colonnade into the High Street, otherwise known as the Heritage Quarter.

High Street
High Street
Also known as the Heritage Quarter, this is a sloping street, closed to traffic, containing old shops

The High Street, closed to traffic, gives an impression of Gravesend in times past. During the day, it is probably busy with shoppers but at this time in the evening, the shops were closed and all was quiet, making it resemble a recreated street in a museum. It only needed a few people in Victorian costume to complete to scenario.

Three Daws
Three Daws
This pub in Pier Square is said to be 500 years old

The High Street leads down to Pier Square. These days it seems a quiet place but, according to an information board, it would once have been a very lively place where many of the town’s activities took place. Not least, a ducking stool was in operation here. The Three Daws pub stands where a waterside pub is said to have existed for 500 years. The pub’s history can be found here, provided you can read the olde worlde fonte.

The Town Pier
The Town Pier
The town pier is said to be the world’s oldest remaining cast iron Pier. I think that today it is entirely occupied by a restaurant and is no longer accessible to the public

From here we walked along the riverside path, giving views of the waterway and the ships on it. It also reminds one of how many different environments one encounters along the Thames.

Cross-river ferry port
Cross-river ferry port
This somewhat cluttered bridge and platform is the port for the cross-river ferry linking Gravesend with Tilbury

We watched the ferry come across from Tilbury and waited to see it depart again. The crossing probably takes only about ten minutes but in times past this link was vital to Gravesend and its economy.

Church of St George
Church of St George
A church has stood here since 1485 but the present building dates
from 1732, the original having been destroyed by fire

We turned inland again, and came to the parish church of St George. It has an unusual and attractive white top to the tower, which I suspect is an addition to the original plan. The church is for ever connected in the popular imagination to an historic – or perhaps, legendary – figure.

Pocohontas
Pocohontas
The legendary Pocahontas, having been presented at the court of
James I, died in 1617 as she was about to sail home and was
buried in the church

The church is the burial place of Pocahontas, whose somewhat romantic statue stands in the grounds. Her story is too long and involved to be told here and, in any case, there are many bitter disputes over the facts. To discover the truth (if that is possible at this late date) one must dig deep. Two somewhat conflicting accounts may be found here and here.

SilverTiger meets Pocahontas
SilverTiger meets Pocahontas
(No comment!)

The churchyard was quite a pleasant and peaceful place and we found we were sharing it with others, some human, some a lot smaller.

Ladybird larva
Ladybird larva
Among the creatures sharing the agreeable place with us were
ladybird larvae like this one

Beautiful as the day had been, evening was now coming on and the sun was declining. It was time to be thinking about returning to the station. We passed along cobbled Jury Street on the way.

Jury Street
Jury Street
A picturesque narrow cobbled street

I had not known what to expect when going to visit Gravesend so I was surprised by what I found. Our visit was short – just an afternoon – so we obviously could do no more than sample what it had to offer. I am sure we missed as much, or even more than, we saw. Gravesend revealed itself as a place of hidden depths and a character all its own.

 Face  Face
 Face  Face
Four faces
A set of successively more scary faces on a building

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 1 Comment

Tigers will die of hunger

The Ministry of Environment & Forest in Bangladesh is to allow the commercial farming of spotted deer. The legal marketing of meat, skin and antlers will be used by poachers to sell their illegally poached deer. There is already a high level of poaching and this is set to increase, masked by the legal market. Anti-poaching enforcement is so weak as to be virtually non-existent and people have no qualms about taking deer illegally.

Deer are essential food animals for Bangladesh’s tigers which are already under considerable pressure, as are tigers everywhere. The new policy will greatly increase the removal of deer and will lead to starvation among the tiger population, pushing these endangered animals even closer to the brink of extinction.

For more information, please see 21st Century Tiger, and to sign the petition, please click here: petitionsite

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Animals | Tagged , | 1 Comment

April Staycation 2011

I have finally managed to complete the write-up of our stay-at-home holiday, or “staycation”, in April.

You can consult the individual posts dated consecutively from April 16th 2011 to April 24th 2011 or see the whole set by clicking on April Staycation 2011 under Travels in the sidebar.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Travel | Tagged | Leave a comment

Comment spam: delete or keep?

Blogs attract spam as horses attract flies. It’s a fact of life, and how you take it – with amusement or resentment – depends on your mood, your personality and the frequency with which you receive these unwanted little gifts.

Bloggers receive spam in two forms: if you provide an email address for readers to contact you, then you will receive email spam; whether or not you provide an email address, you will receive comment spam.

Email spam sent to bloggers is similar to email spam the world over but with some added twists. Along with the adverts for drugs, sexual encounters and casinos that can’t wait to turn you into a millionaire overnight, there will be those proposing advertising banners, asking you to write for them or requesting you to publish a review (positive, of course) of their product or give publicity to their events.

These are easy to deal with: simply delete them and change your email address regularly or whenever the amount of spam reaches annoying levels.

Comment spam raises a different order of problem. It is an altogether more subtle game. While email spam seeks to put its message across in the fewest, punchiest words, comment spam tries to deceive you by appearing to be a genuine comment.

This is the modern type of comment spam. The old sort, where the “comment” consists of nothing but a long list of links to porn sites, sites selling medicines, etc., still exists, but spam filters have become adept at catching them and preventing them from cluttering up your blog.

The modern type of comment spammers use deception or, at least try to. For the most part they are not very successful. There are two types, though, the bulk and the individual.

Bulk comment spam works by drafting a general message that the writer hopes will fit any blog post that it becomes attached to. They attempt to appear to be saying something without actually saying anything. The text will run something like this “I chanced on your blog by accident and I must say, I am impressed and I shall follow you from now on”; or this: “I agree completely with what you say here, especially your conclusions. May I ask you where you get your ideas from?”; or this: “I have been wondering about this matter for some time and your post has answered all my questions. Thanks! I can’t wait to see what you will write about next and will keep following your blog”; or… but you get the idea.

These “comments” – often written in poor English by people who have presumably composed them first in Russian or Romanian and then put them through the Google translator – are sent out in their thousands if not millions. This is their undoing because the very fact that large numbers of identical texts are circulating soon gets them noticed and filtered out. They come in batches and you may have noticed, if you look at what Akismet filters out, that you often receive two, three or more at a time, attached to the same or different posts. The same post will receive a whole series of spam comments, presumably because its URL has been added to a spammers’ list which has then been circulated.

These bulk spams are so easy to recognize and trap that I really do wonder why anybody bothers sending them. Maybe some blog platforms have less effective spam filtering than others but sending them to WordPress is a waste of time as they rarely slip through the defences.

If these spams are so vague what, you may ask, is the point of them? Why bother to send them at all? The answer is that like all spams, they carry a payload. In this case, the payload is the Web URL that the sender inserts in the comment header along with his (false or stolen) email address. The spammer hopes that readers will click on the link and thus be taken to his Web site. A forlorn hope, you may think. Yes, but as with all spam, so many are sent out that even if only a tiny percentage elicits a response, the campaign has been worthwhile.

This brings us to the individual comment spam. Because it is individual, by which I mean a one-off comment written for the post to which it is attached, I should perhaps not call it “spam” at all. But what else should I call it? I think I’ll let you worry about that and go on calling it “spam” for now!

This sort of spam is written by a spammer who trawls the blogosphere looking for posts that fit what he has to sell, albeit in a general or indirect way. He will then write a comment, trying to make it look like a genuine comment, whose real payload is, again, in the URL in the comment header.

Because these comments look genuine, and are unique, they get through the spam filter with no trouble at all. To a human eye, however, they are usually easy to spot because of their rather uninspired content and, of course, the commercial URL attached to them. I think these spammers must be desperate for publicity as the practice must mean a lot of work for small returns. The comment often gives the impression of a writer who is tired, bored and short of imagination. The result is then dull and barely relevant to the post. I am happy to delete such comments without the least compunction.

However, there are others that give me more trouble. They are obviously an attempt to draw attention, however indirectly, to their Web site, but they at least make the effort to produce what looks like a genuine comment. With my finger hovering over the delete button, I nevertheless hesitate over these.

On the one hand, they are obviously spam in their intention but, on the other, they have made an effort – a small one, perhaps, but an effort nonetheless – to draft what looks like a comment and is relevant to the post. Perhaps, then, the comment should be kept.

One way of looking at it is to ask oneself this: suppose the writer’s URL were a blog or a personal Web site. Would I in that case have any doubts about keeping the comment? If the answer is no, isn’t it a bit harsh to delete the comment just because the URL is a commercial one? Perhaps in this case, I should give the writer the benefit of the doubt?

Some bloggers will agree with that, others will disagree. Distinguishing between what you might think of as the worthy and the unworthy comment is not an exact science. It can only be done by exercising judgement and human judgement is neither steady nor consistent. I am sure that I delete comments on one day that I might keep on another day, and vice versa. I comfort myself with the thought that the author of a deleted comment can always email me and ask why I deleted it and perhaps make a case for its retention. The fact that this has never happened suggests to me that my judgement of the comment’s intention was correct.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Thoughts and Ideas | Tagged | 6 Comments

Around Limehouse

Today we took a little walk around Limehouse and, in particular, the Limehouse Basin. Below is shown a map of the area and you can link to the interactive Google map here. Limehouse was so named after the lime kilns that used to operate here in the 14th century to supply the building trade.

The Limehouse Basin
The Limehouse Basin
Once an important London dock connecting with the Regent’s Canal and the Thames

The reason for the marker indicating Three Colt Street is explained by the following. Where Lowell Street meets Commercial Road (just above the basin) there is a railway bridge and underneath it we discovered this drinking fountain.

Harriet's Fountain
Harriet’s Fountain
Erected in memory of her brothers

The fountain is rather sober in design and has long since ceased to function but what attracted my attention was the inscription, whose gilded letters are still perfectly legible. It runs as follows:

THIS
FOUNTAIN & CATTLE TROUGH
ARE ERECTED
AS AN AFFECTIONATE TRIBUTE
TO THE MEMORY OF
THOMAS & DANIEL BARRETT
FORMERLY OF STEPNEY GATE
& THREE COLT ST LIMEHOUSE
BY THEIR SISTER
HARRIET
1886

Sadly, there is now no sign of the trough mentioned in the inscription. Either it is buried in the masonry of the railway bridge or it has been lost altogether. Perhaps when the bridge was built, the front of the fountain with its inscription was preserved and affixed to the wall and the rest carted away. Will we ever know who the Barretts were or is this the only remaining trace of three Victorian lives?

Commercial Road Lock
Commercial Road Lock
The Regent’s Canal arrives at the Limehouse Basin

Weaving a sinuous path across country to Islington and then through Mile End, the Regent’s Canal makes a southward dash into the Limehouse Basin which it meets here at the Commercial Road Lock.

Bridges
Bridges
A train of the Docklands Light Railway passes overhead

It is crossed by a modern footbridge and by a brick viaduct of the Docklands Light Railway. Despite the graffiti, the lock is still in working order and serves a traffic of canal boats.

Limehouse Basin
Limehouse Basin
A quiet place today, once a high-tech cargo handing dock

Built by the Regent’s Canal Company and originally called Regent’s Canal Dock, the Basin was an important cargo handling dock from the 1820s to about the Second World War. You might not guess that from looking at its tranquil aspect today.

The Accumulator Tower
The Accumulator Tower
A central element in the hydraulic system

Here, however, is a clue to that past: the Accumulator Tower, a central element in the then advanced hydraulic system that drove the cranes and swing bridges, enabling work to be done in hours that would have taken days by traditional methods.

Yachts and houseboats
Yachts and houseboats
The basin is a marina for pleasure craft these days

These days, the vessels in the basin are more likely to be yachts and houseboats passing through on their various peregrinations. (Note the Welsh flag in the above photo.)

Industry has gone
Industry has gone
The buildings along the quays are now mainly residential

The cranes have gone, the dock is railed off to stop people falling into the water and instead of warehouses there are now blocks of flats. It is a quiet and pleasant place for a stroll and I wonder whether it is also pleasant to live here.

Water fowl
Water fowl
All sorts of water fowl now find the basin to their liking

The calm and peaceful atmosphere has attracted wild life. A notice board informs us of a wide range of fish and aquatic creatures living here, while the most obvious are the water fowl like these ducks and coot.

Coot
Coot
This coot was happy to gobble up the seed Tigger tossed into the water

There were ducks and coots in abundance, and all were ready to accept a donation from passers-by. The ducks were not too keen on seed (I’m not sure they recognized it as food) but the coot was happy to gobble up anything Tigger gave him.

Crow coming for seed Crow coming for seed
Crow coming for seed
Crow
The crow kept returning for more seed

So was this small crow. He (or she?) would shovel up as much as he could cram into his beak and fly away. Then he would come back for more. We guessed he was either storing the seed somewhere (crows are very wily birds) or feeding it to young.

Canada goose family
Canada goose family
This family of geese came to see what was on offer

There was also a pair of Canada geese with a single gosling. Though tiny, he seemed quite vigorous and active, paddling away to keep up with the adults.

Limehouse Basin Lock
Limehouse Basin Lock
The gate to the Thames

This heavy-duty lock is the Limehouse Basin Lock and it protects and facilities the Basin’s (and the Regent’s Canal’s) connection with the Thames.

Out to the Thames
Out to the Thames
and to the wide world beyond it

A few yards beyond the lock lies the relatively open water of the Thames, giving access to the sea.

Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf
The now famous skyline of Canary Wharf

Looking to the east where the river bends, we see the now famous cluster of buildings around Canary Wharf in the redeveloped Docklands.

The Prospect of Whitby
The Prospect of Whitby
A famous pub named after a famous town

We walked along the river to Wapping and stopped for refreshments at one of London’s most famous pubs. It claims to be the oldest riverside pub and whether or not it is, it has a long and colourful history which is sketched here.

Restored wharf buildings
Old wharf buildings
Restored wharf and warehouse buildings in Wapping

In contrast to the brash new built environment of Canary Wharf, in Wapping, a self-conscious effort has been made to preserve – or restore or reconstruct – the old wharfs and warehouses, refurbished as office and apartment blocks. There is something eerie about the hoists and drop boards that no longer serve their purpose but haunt the sides of buildings like ghosts.

New Crane Stairs
New Crane Stairs
One of the many “stairs” giving access to the river

Here and there between the close-packed buildings are narrow alleys, often accessed by steps, with the word “stairs” in their names. These are old access points to the river and often bear colourful names.

New Crane Stairs Wapping Stairs
New Crane Stairs and Wapping Stairs
When the tide comes in the lower steps are under water

The Thames here is tidal, something that has to be taken into account when travelling or moving goods by boat. The tide was even used to execute convicted criminals who would be chained on the beach and drowned as the water rose – gruesome note on which to end our walk!

Speedboat!
Speedboat!
Out for a splashy ride on the Thames

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Accidentally in Faversham

There are days when everything seems simple and straightforward enough but then goes haywire. Today was such a day but it ended well enough after all so we are not grumbling.

Jurys Inn, Islington
Jurys Inn, Islington
We awoke to a fine, sunny day

We awoke to a fine, sunny day, so of course we were going to go on a trip. But where? Well, it appeared that I had made a decision about this without realizing it:

You mentioned Romney Marsh the other evening," said Tigger. "So let’s go there, shall we?"

If only all my decisions were that easy… So we caught a bus to St Pancras Station, where admired the courtyard again and then went to the Camden Food Co cafe for porridge and croissants.

The courtyard at St Pancras Station
The courtyard at St Pancras Station
It would once have been a-bustle with Hansom cabs but is now a residents car park

The plan was to take the fast HS1 service to Ashford International and change there to a bus for Romney. On reaching the platform, however, we learned that because of the endless railway engineering works, train services in the Margate area were paralysed, requiring rail replacement buses to carry people to their final destinations. As we understood it (though this later turned out to be incorrect), all HS1 trains were terminating at Faversham, where rail replacement buses would be waiting. Accordingly, we boarded an HS1 bound for Faversham.

Faversham Station
Faversham Station
The presence of rail replacement buses convinced us that we had understood the situation correctly

Believing that we would have to take a rail replacement bus to Ashford and another from there to Romney and undertake the same journey in reverse for the return, we decided it was too much trouble and that it would be better to spend the day in Faversham instead. You cannot say we’re not adaptable!

Limes Place
Limes Place
A Victorian (1863) terrace in Preston Street, Faversham

From the station, we set off down Preston Street and soon discovered two interesting things. Firstly, Faversham retains many old buildings from various periods in its development, adding to the pleasure of the visit for history enthusiasts.

The drill hall Descriptive plaque
The Drill Hall
It has seen better days as the Faversham Assembly Rooms (1848)

Secondly, the inhabitants of Faversham are very proud of their town and its history and have done a lot of work providing information boards and descriptive plaques explaining their historic buildings, as above in the case of the Drill Hall.

The Leading Light
The Leading Light (Wetherspoons)
This pub is founded on the site of Faversham’s original Co-operative Society

We stopped for refreshments at this intriguing pub. We thought at first that it might be an old cinema. In fact, I am not clear about the history of the building and Wetherspoon’s own Web site is not very helpful in that regard.

The strangely organic interior
The strangely organic interior
There is an “organic” Art Nouveau feel to the interior décor which is pleasant as well as striking

A panel on the wall does explain that workers, mostly from the gunpowder industry, founded Faversham’s first Co-operative Society in 1874 and that when it became successful, moved it to this site. It is not explained how much of the present building dates from that institution, though I suspect some of it does.

Front entrance
Front entrance
The glass at the entrance is very elegant and has a Thirties feel to it

We were later told that this pub becomes rowdy in the evening though we saw no sign of this and it is certainly worth a visit for the décor alone.

Cross Lane
Cross Lane
Faversham possesses narrow medieval lanes, broad thoroughfares
and everything in between. Tudor frontages with overhang,
come as standard.

Faversham bears witness to its long history that dates from before the Romans and enjoyed prosperous times in the Middle Ages. Every sort of street and building is exemplified here. The passing centuries have dealt gently with its fabric but the citizens of Faversham have cared for it and lovingly restored the best and most interesting buildings.

Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre
Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre
The picturesque Centre houses Faversham’s museum and a shop with a remarkable selection of books

We soon discovered the Museum and went in for a look. Visiting the shop was an experience on its own as it has a wide selection of books covering the history of Faversham and the area and even of other topics (London figures among its titles, for example). The museum itself is obviously the work of historians and is almost overwhelming in its coverage and detail.

18th century bell from the Oare factory
18th century bell from the Oare factory
Gunpowder was one of Faversham’s main industries until relatively
modern times

We asked if we could take photos in the museum and were amused by the answer: “Oh, no one’s ever asked that before!” After the query was passed up the levels, the answer came back that we could take photos as long as we didn’t sell them.

Hard work for the maid
Hard work for the maid
The maid cleans the grate in the Victorian kitchen, one a set of tableaux of that era

It is impossible here to give more than a superficial impression of the museum. It covers life in Tudor times, the Victorian era and more recent days, in peacetime, as above, and in war, as below.

Memories of wartime Faversham
Memories of wartime Faversham
These figures were eerily lifelike, especially the St John Ambulance lady

Exhibits also pay tribute to the industries of Faversham, of which there was a surprisingly wide range for a relatively small town. Apart from the manufacture of gunpowder, Faversham, in the midst of the Kent hop fields, is famous for breweries.

Faversham has a strong brewing tradition
Faversham has a strong brewing tradition
Shepherd Neame is the big name here but there have been, and are, many others

Brick making
Brick making
The local clay enabled the manufacture of high quality bricks of all kinds that were sold widely including in London

Pottery
Pottery
The potteries are still going strong today

Barge building
Barge building
This detailed scale model, with roofs that lift off to see the activities within the sheds, illustrates Faversham’s long history of boat and barge building

In no other museum, have we received such personal attention. We were accompanied throughout and while I found this a little irksome, I have to admit that we were shown things and given explanations that we would otherwise have missed. The museum is truly an enterprise of enthusiasts.

Abbey Street - a restored (1958) medieval street
Abbey Street – a restored (1958) medieval street
This fine street contains a stunning array of different designs of houses and the keynote might be “the harmony of variety”

After the museum, we set out to explore the town. It is impossible to do more than scratch the surface in the time we had available. To explore thoroughly would require a long stay. All we could do was catalogue points of interest that particularly struck us.

Shepherd Neame, the brewers
Shepherd Neame, the brewers
Their building is decorated – naturally – with hop branches

We walked the length of Abbey Street with its endless array of house designs, all beautifully looked after. The office above, belonging to Shepherd Neame shows the importance of the hop to beer making and to Kent.

The spire of St Mary of Charity
The spire of St Mary of Charity
The spire was built in the 18th century but much of the church
fabric is older

The parish church is St Mary of Charity, whose crown spire was built in 1794-7. This was not the first spire and some parts of the church are much older.

"Two-headed" tombstone
"Two-headed" tombstone
One of the several curious gravestones in the churchyard of
St Mary of Charity

There was a rich and powerful abbey in Faversham but it was closed down by Henry VIII, along with all the others. It was demolished and the stones taken away for other purposes, except for the eastern portion of the gatehouse that was incorporated into the house of local bigwig Thomas Arden.

Thomas Arden's house
Thomas Arden’s house
Thomas Arden’s house incorporates part on an abbey gate but Arden himself came to a violent end

How Thomas Arden met his end is described in the plaque attached to his house: ‘Here lived Thomas Arden (Mayor 1548, Comptroller of the port of Sandwich and Customer of Feversham) and herein on the 15th February, 1551, he was murdered at the instigation of his wife. This house is immortalised in the Elizabethan drama “Arden of Feversham”’

The Creek
The Creek
The Creek was for long a source of wealth to the town because sea-going vessels could come here for purposes of trade.

Faversham was a ‘limb’ of Dover, itself one of the Cinque Ports, and therefore has plentiful associations with the sea and with ships. Trade through its own port on the Creek gradually declined because only small ships could dock here. Today it harbours pleasure craft.

The Guildhall
The Guildhall
This spectacular building was built as the market hall but became the guildhall

The present guildhall is the third building to bear that name. This one was built in 1574, not as a guildhall but as a market hall. The corporation, needing bigger premises took it over in 1603. The market still takes place at its feet and was in full swing when we arrived. In the above photo, you can just about see the town pump (the red shape). Here is a better view:

Faversham town pump
Faversham town pump
This pump dates from Victorian times and would have replaced an
older one

When we boarded the train back to London, we received a shock. The ticket inspector refused to accept our tickets. Not only that, but the way the conversation developed, it looked as if we would even have to pay a penalty. Our belief that all trains were going to Faversham turned out to be incorrect. Trains were running to Ashford as normal and so our tickets were not valid. The only thing in our favour was that the inspector on the way down had accepted our tickets without blinking when he should have warned us we were on the wrong train. In the end, we got off lightly: having to pay for tickets from Faversham to Ebbsfleet, where our original tickets would once more be valid.

Holding up the canopy
Holding up the canopy
One of a pair of figures supporting the canopy of the Royal Cinema

Despite this upset and the fact that we had set out for one destination and ended up at another, we had had a good and very interesting day out. Faversham is a unique town and I am sure we shall visit it again.

Quilted wall hanging
Quilted wall hanging
One of a pair of wall hangings showing Faversham’s history made by Quay Quilters (Faversham Library)

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 11 Comments

A short run to Sheffield

Today, Tigger is off on a courier run to Sheffield and, as usual, she left early to catch the 7:25, leaving me to follow along later. It is a warm and sunny day in London but as it’s often cooler in the north, I am dressing well and not taking any chances. I can always remove unwanted layers and put them in my shoulder bag.

The water feature, Sheaf Square
The water feature, Sheaf Square
I always try to photograph the water feature when I come to Sheffield but its size makes this difficult

When I reached the bus stop, a 214 arrived almost immediately. This takes me directly to St Pancras and I was expecting to be early. Instead, we found ourselves in heavy traffic in the Kings Cross area. Shut up a the bus stuck in a log jam, I began the feel anxious. Fortunately, I had left plenty of time and reached the upper levels of St Pancras with 15 minutes to spare. The train was already boarding so I got in and found a good seat, ignoring my reservation. It is one of a pair of "priority seats" at the very end of a carriage, handy for the exit. They are intended for disabled people and have extra room for my long legs.

Arches in front of Sheffield Station
Arches in front of Sheffield Station
I find these stone-built arches very elegant and the glass ceiling makes the concourse light and airy

We always keep in touch while apart (using email and IM on our smartphones) and Tigger lets me know that she has completed the drop and confirmed this with HQ. Despite the sunshine here London, she tells me it is raining in Sheffield. It’s just as well I brought my rain jacket, then! I sometimes think I carry too much clutter around with me but just occasionally this saves the day!

Howard Street in the rain
Howard Street in the rain
We usually walk up Howard Street to the Millennium Gallery

As the train made its way towards Sheffield, we passed through several different weather bands: bright sunshine would give way to cloudy overcast which in turn ceded to rain which then melted away into sunshine. Tigger tells me that is how it is in Sheffield, a continually changing weather scene.

The Millennium Gallery always has interesting exhibitions
The Millennium Gallery always has interesting exhibitions
though we didn’t visit this one and I’m not even sure how you pronounce it!

At Sheffield I met up with Tigger and we walked up sloping Howard Street, enjoying the scene and taking photos as we went, despite the fact that it was spitting with rain. Our destination was the Millennium Gallery, and more precisely, its cafe, where we nearly always go for lunch when in Sheffield.

The Millennium Gallery Cafe
The Millennium Gallery Cafe
Not quite the Palm Court but pretty good nonetheless

On arrival at the cafe, we found there was a queue and we had to wait for a few minutes. We seem to have arrived just at the end of the busy period because while we were having lunch, the number of customers thinned out and things became more relaxed. We once more enjoyed our by now traditional lunch of vegetarian fish & chips (the “fish” is deep-fried battered haloumi cheese).

The Millennium Gallery's living wall
The Millennium Gallery’s living wall
The living wall or vertical garden brightens up the area and is an interesting feature in itself

After lunch, Tigger suggested we visit the Heeley City Farm. We had been there once before (see Sheffield and Heeley) and I had been a little critical of it but that was back in the winter, not the best time to see a farm, and we thought to take another look. However, we realized to our surprise that we didn’t have time because our train left in just over an hour, insufficient time to get to Heeley and back, let alone visit the farm.

Fountain top Fountain bottom
We love this unusual and colourful fountain
The water is channelled to follow the edge of the undulating lawn to the basin at the bottom where it swirls becomingly

The reason for this situation was that we had had lunch much later than usual and had now run out of time. This was because, wishing to save money, I had asked the ticket clerk for the cheapest ticket available, and she offered me two. I took the second, cheaper, one not realizing this was for a much later train. As a result, I have paid only a flying visit to Sheffield this time. We cannot prolong our stay to compensate because our return tickets are valid only for a specific train.

Sheffield's picturesque Town Hall
Sheffield’s picturesque Town Hall
This imposing edifice, a fitting symbol of Sheffield’s civic pride, was opened by Queen Victoria in 1897

To fill in the remaining time we went for a ride on the FreeBee free bus which follows a circular route around the city centre. We got off at Sheffield’s massive town hall to take a few photos but then had to board the bus again to return to the station where we arrived with 12 minutes to spare before the departure of our train.

Pinstone Chambers has Salvationist connections
Pinstone Chambers has Salvationist connections
Development of Pinstone Street started in earnest after a Salvation Army Citadel was built on the corner

This, therefore, has been only a short visit especially for me, but it is always good to see Sheffield, the city where I went to university, and which I have come to know again more recently in its shiny new post-industrial existence. And we at least enjoyed our lunch of vegetarian fish & chips with tartar sauce and mushy peas! (“Mushy” should always be pronounced to rhyme with “bushy”.)

The foundation stone of Pinstone Chambers
The foundation stone of Pinstone Chambers
was laid by William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, who came close to making Sheffield his headquarters

The London train was crowded – unsurprisingly, at the end of a Friday afternoon. We did have reserved seats but preferred to find a couple together that suited us. There wasn’t much leg room but I mitigated the discomfort by falling asleep for most of the journey! That’s one way to do it.

Don't feed the pigeons - for their own good!
Don’t feed the pigeons – for their own good!
I was happily surprised by this Council notice that actually showed concern for the welfare of the pigeons; unusual but welcome

When we disembarked at St Pancras, everyone crowded onto the first escalator so we preferred to walk to the other end of the upper level, intending to take the steps down to Midland Road and go over to Kings Cross station to catch our bus. This brought us to the front of the building and the grand courtyard of St Pancras station. For years this has been boarded up and inaccessible to the public while building works have been in progress. Finally, the fences have been removed and we can go into the courtyard and admire both it and the magnificent façade of the station.

A detail of the water feature
A detail of the water feature
a final look at this ever-fascinating structure before boarding the train for London

Other people were also enjoying the novelty of walking or sitting in this open space and quite a few were taking photos as were we. I note, however, that on the ground there are rectangles marked out in darker brick, suggesting that this courtyard is intended to become the car park for residents. A few cars were already parked there. This will make the courtyard a much less attractive place in future.

The newly liberated courtyard of St Pancras Station
The newly liberated courtyard of St Pancras Station
How Sir John Betjeman, its champion, would have liked to see the refurbished St Pancras

On the way home, we received one piece of bad news: tomorrow’s courier run is off, so it will, sadly, be a normal Friday after all.

Some of Sheffield's pigeons
Some of Sheffield’s pigeons
look after their health and do not make them dependent on people!

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments