Walking and Sightseeing – St Ives II

There were different places to visit in the second half of my hf holiday in St Ives.

The next day, Wednesday, we went by coach to the Geevor Tin Mine.  On getting there we were able to leave our bags in a room and then had to pay and get our hard hats.

Wearing our hard hats

Wearing our hard hats

We had a guide and were first shown a 3-D model of all the tin mines in the area with wires showing where the mine tunnels were.  Some were very long and went out a long way under the sea.  It was amazing how many there were and the different depths.

We then went outside and passed the winding wheel for “Victory Shaft”.

Winding wheel

Winding wheel

From there we had a quick look at the Hard Rock Museum – showing various different samples – and then went on to “The Dry”, which is where the miners would have clocked on, been assigned their position for the day and changed into their mining gear.

The Dry

The Dry

We were told that very little of the clothing is original but the lockers are.  There were various interpretation boards which had descriptions of some of the miners and explanations in their own words of the jobs they did.  There were also pictures of some of the miners on the walls.  There were showers there for them to use when they came up from the pits.

From the dry we went on to The Mill where some of the processes for extracting the tin were explained and demonstrated.  We were then shown where we could get overalls to cover our clothing to go down into the mine.  The leader and I got about 10 yards in and as the guide stopped to give more explanations we both decided we were not going to cope with going in any further – so went back.  Everyone else went on – they were welcome!  I went and had more time to look at the boards in The Dry and to look at the rescue room and the first aid room.

When everyone had eventually gathered together and we had returned our hard hats and collected our bags we were shown an area where we could eat our lunches, as it was a bit damp outside.  It was the hut school children use for the same reason.

After lunch we walked along the coast path – didn’t look quite right at times – passing other tin mines on the way.

The Levant mine - I think

The Levant mine – I think

When we got to Botallack we got the coach again to Lands End.

Proof we were there!

Proof we were there!

From Land’s End we walked along the coastal path.

From the coastal path

From the coastal path

As the path is well used in this area it has been reinforced with stone slabs in some places.

Coastal path

Coastal path

One of the rocks we passed was “the Irish lady” – which has some legend that I don’t remember now!

The Irish lady

The Irish lady

We walked to Sennen Cove where the beach would have been nice if it hadn’t been damp and misty.  The café was closed too. so we went and got a cup of tea at the pub before the coach collected us to go back to the hotel for briefing and dinner.

The next day the coach took us for a fairly quick look at “The Merry Maidens” – another legend attached which I can’t remember!

The Merry Maidens

The Merry Maidens

We then got back in the coach to the village of Treen where we got out and started a lovely walk through fields and woodland.

Sunlight on smoke in the woods

Sunlight on smoke in the woods

We were on National Trust land and came across some volunteers who were creating an orchard and had a bonfire – hence the smoke to show where the sunbeams were.  Our path led us to the village of Penberth which was small and attractive (and had a loo!)

Penberth

Penberth

The stepping stones were not the only way across the stream – but more fun – until I nearly fell in on the way back across them!

Penberth

Penberth

From there we went along the coastal path – quite a steep climb out of the village.

Looking back on Penberth from the coastal path

Looking back on Penberth from the coastal path

We continued along the coastal path to an Iron Age Cliff Castle.

Part of Treryn Dinas Cliff Castle

Part of Treryn Dinas Cliff Castle

From there we could get a good look at Logan Rock, which used to rock and the locals earned money by showing this to tourists.  However some 17th? 18th? century lieutenant got his seamen to knock it down.  He was made to pay to get it put back – but it no longer rocked.  I think that was the story.

Logan's Rock

Logan Rock

We continued on towards Porthcurno and could see the Minack Theatre on the opposite cliff.

The Minack Theatre

The Minack Theatre

We also had a view of Porthcurno beach.

Looking towards Porthcurno beach

Looking towards Porthcurno beach

We continued towards Porthcurno and passed this monument.

Telegraph monument

Telegraph monument

The plaque on it explains that it marks where the first Transatlantic telegraph cable link came ashore.

Plaque

Plaque

We went on and had lunch on Porthcurno beach.  Some of us (yes, me included) had a paddle as the weather was so nice.

Paddling on Porthcurno Beach

Paddling on Porthcurno Beach

We then headed up towards the Telegraph Museum passing the Cable House on the way.

Cable House information board

Cable House information board

This had all the cables coming in from around the world.

Cable House

Cable House

Walking up further we could see some of the remaining wiring.

Telegraph wire

Telegraph wire

When we got to the Museum several people just had cups of tea but I looked round and found it interesting – lots of physics (!) and also explanations of how the men were trained to be sent out to telegraph stations around the world.  They had to learn Morse code and be able to use it to send and receive very fast and without errors, but also I think some basic electronics in case of problems.  They did have some time to play cricket!

After the Museum – not enough time to look at it all – we got the coach to Mousehole where we had time to look round and I also had time for a pot of tea.

Mousehole harbough

Mousehole harbour

It was then time to get the coach and return to the hotel for the usual briefing and dinner.

On the final day we had to leave a bit earlier to catch the train to Lelant.  We started by having a look at St Uny Church in Lelant.

Looking at St Uny Church

Looking at St Uny Church

From there we walked along the coastal path back towards St Ives.

From the coastal path

From the coastal path

We crossed the railway line a couple of times and stopped for a (very expensive) cup of coffee at Carbis Bay.

From the coastal path looking towards St Ives

From the coastal path looking towards St Ives – The Island on the right of St Ives

We got back to St Ives by lunch time and then had (more) time to look round St Ives.  I had lunch in Trewyn Gardens again, but all the free benches were in the sun so I didn’t linger as it was a hot day.  I walked round The Island again and sat in the shade near Smeaton’s Pier for a bit where I spent some time watching a bird pick up crumbs.

Bird - probably a redshank

Bird – probably a redshank

There really wasn’t anything I wanted to do in St Ives except have an ice-cream – which I did.  Then as I was heading back to the hotel I saw them launching the lifeboat.  It has to be taken out into the water on a trolley which is pushed by a tractor thing.

Taking the lifeboat ount into the deep enough water

Taking the lifeboat ount into the deep enough water

When it was deep enough they somehow released it so the boat was launched.

After the launch

After the launch

The lifeboat didn’t seem to actually do anything much after that – just sailed round the bay, including where we had been in the morning.  It was then time to go back to the hotel and to pack and prepare for dinner before leaving the next day.

So was it a good holiday?  Not exactly the best ever.  Too many cliff edges, high places and mines underground and we seemed to have too much time in St Ives and at not very interesting places and not long enough at the places I liked!  This is probably because I like different things to many people.  The weather was mostly good and not too hot either, but we did have one woman who seemed to talk all the time and was unrelentingly positive – very wearing!  Add to that the initial train cancellation and the day I was not so well and it all added up to a holiday that was ok but not brilliant.  The Penberth and Porthcurno day was by far the best!

 

 

Walking and Sightseeing – St Ives I

Another hf holiday, but it didn’t start that well as I had booked a 1st Class train ticket by “advanced purchase” and I had to change at Westbury.  When I got to Westbury I found that the train I was supposed to get was cancelled!  Eventually found a nice man who worked out that I could just catch the train an hour later and it all worked – but an hour after it should have.  As it was 1st class, the lack of a reserved seat didn’t matter, but of course there was no taxi to meet me at the station, even though I had phoned to say what had happened.  Eventually I got a taxi, but by then there was no-one to greet us (someone else was in the same position) so we had to go on a hunt for someone to show us to our rooms.  And, of course we had missed the cream tea and the initial tour of the town.

My room was VERY small, with the basin and shower in the room and a bit cut off for the loo, but I knew that when I booked it and got a reduction – which more than paid for my first class rail fare!  I was told it was noisy, but in fact it wasn’t AND it had a sea view!  OK, that was over a flat roof, but still a sea view.

View from the bedroom

View from the bedroom

On the briefing before dinner we were told about the trip the next day and that we could go up the lighthouse at the Lizard, but imagining a tall thin lighthouse (I am no good with heights) I said I would leave that bit out.  Dinner was good, but I didn’t sleep that well – strange bed!

Up the next day and breakfast and coach to the Lizard car park.  We then walked from there along paths to the lighthouse.

Towards the lighthouse

Towards the lighthouse

When we got to the lighthouse I found that it was not very tall and would have been OK but it was too late to change my mind.

Not very tall

Not very tall

There was the Heritage Centre to look at though.

Entrance to lighthouse and heritage centre

Entrance to lighthouse and heritage centre

That was interesting with a lot of information about the history of the lighthouses and Trinity House, including what it was like to be on the Eddystone Rock lighthouse, a broken thick steel door from there (shows the power of the storm…), information about what it was like on other places and for the wives left behind and some of the machinery that was used.  I was sorry to miss the actual lighthouse though, as they apparently had a good tour with some interesting information.  No lighthouses are now manned, of course, they are all automatic but there still have to be repairs and checks.

We had lunch sitting on benches outside the Heritage Centre and then took the costal path to the Lizard.

The Lizard

The Lizard

From there we continued along the coastal path towards Kynance Cove.

Along the coastal path

Along the coastal path

We didn’t have time to go down into the cove but looked down on it.

Kynance Cove

Kynance Cove

From there we headed back across fields and woods.

Heading back

Heading back

Part of the route was across the top of a Cornish Hedge.

Getting up onto the hedge

Getting up onto the hedge

The coach driver told us that these are made from two walls of stone with a gap between them.  They gradually get closer together as they go up but are filled with soil and plants grow from them.  Never get your car too close – they might look soft but aren’t!

Walking along the top of the "hedge"

Walking along the top of the “hedge”

We got back to the coach and were told that there was no time for a cup of tea, but in fact by the time the driver was found there could well have been – or at least for an ice-cream!  We took the coach back and had a briefing, dinner etc as usual.

In the night I had some weird dizzy spells and still didn’t feel good the next day, so I opted out.  They were going to St Michael’s Mount and I had been there before and there was coastal path walking – not good with dizzy spells!  I spent the morning resting and sleeping before wandering into St Ives town.

Smeaton's Pier

Smeaton’s Pier

I wandered round the harbour and tried to find the Tourist Information, so I could get a map.

Looking across the harbour

Looking across the harbour

I found the Trewyn Gardens, which had a free bench in the shade so I sat down and had my lunch there.

Trewyn Gardens

Trewyn Gardens

I then eventually found the Tourist Information and bought a map and used it to find my way – back to the sea and then back to the hotel.

Across the bay from the sea front near the West Pier

Across the bay from the sea front near the West Pier

I spent more time reading and resting before getting ready for dinner.  The next day was a free day so there was no briefing.

So I was slower getting up the next day and wrote a couple of postcards before going into St Ives.  The tide was out.

Tide out in the harbour

Tide out in the harbour

I walked along Smeaton’s Pier and looked back at the town from there.

St Ives from Smeaton's Pier

St Ives from Smeaton’s Pier

I then went on to the Museum, run by volunteers and arrived as it was opening.

St Ives Museum

St Ives Museum

The building has had many uses, including as a pilchard curing cellar, a laundry, a cinema and a British Sailors Society Mission!  Inside it now has a large variety of objects – mostly donated by people in St Ives.  There were photos of St Ives as it had been – fishing, tourists, general life…. There were 2 “rooms” showing how the ordinary people lived contrasted with the more well off;  there was clothing including children’s and also a wedding dress – brown not white.  There were sections for farming, fishing and mining; things from both world wars; information about some of the prominent people and paintings from some of the early artists to come to St Ives.  A glorious jumble – but arranged in sections.  I spent all morning looking round.

I then got more postcards and took them to Trewyn Gardens to write and I also had my lunch there again.  It is a lovely peaceful spot – and seagull free!  I then posted the cards and went to walk round “The Island” – a green hill on a promontory beyond the town.

Looking back to Porthgwidden Beach and the town from The Island

Looking back to Porthgwidden Beach and the town from The Island

There is a Coastguard Watch station there, which had been closed and is now manned totally by volunteers.

The Coastguard watch station

The Coastguard watch station

Walking round I saw various seals but this was the only one I managed to get on a photograph – no, not impressive!

Seal

Seal

It doesn’t take very long to walk round the Island, but it is a pleasant walk.  Once round the other side one can see Porthmeor Beach, which is the one the surfers use – but the waves weren’t really big enough that day.

Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor Beach

At the top of The Island is St Nicholas Chapel, so I climbed up to have a look – the sailors chapel.  So said a short prayer for those who go to sea.

St Nicholas Chapel

St Nicholas Chapel

I still had plenty of time after that so I decided to go to the Barbara Hepworth Museum.   There were some very strokable pieces inside – that one was not allowed to touch!  The information about her life was interesting as was seeing her studio but I didn’t like much of the sculpture.  The pieces that fitted into the garden well were OK.

Sculpture in garden

Sculpture in garden

And I quite liked this one…..

Sculpture

Sculpture

……because of the way the light shone onto the puddle of water – and the garden was quite nice too.

Garden (with another sculpture)

Garden (with another sculpture)

On the whole I don’t think I appreciate modern art – or perhaps I just don’t understand it?

It was then time to go back to the hotel ready for the briefing and dinner.

(See part II for the rest of the holiday!)

 

Family Meal

As my older sister was 70 she decided to have a family lunch to celebrate.  She chose a pub near Swindon which had a play area for children – Swindon being about the mid-point for everyone except my brother and his family.  It is also near where my niece lives.

Birthday cake

Birthday cake

So who came?  Everyone!  My sister, Hilary, and her husband, Brian; their daughter, Catherine, her husband Simon and their children Christopher and Isla;  their son Andrew, his partner Espe and their children, Sofia and Oscar.  Then my brother Malcolm and his wife Brigitte, their daughter Emma with boyfriend Tom; their other children Chantal and Philippe.  And me!

From the left - Philippe, Brigitte, Hilary,

From the left – Philippe, Brigitte, Hilary, Tom and Malcolm at the end

Due to traffic on the M4 – it was a Saturday in the school holidays – the Cambridge contingents were a bit late so it was a while before we all arrived and sat down for the meal – as shown above.

Chris and Sofia -  with the birthday banner above them

Chris and Sofia – with the birthday banner over the fireplace

The banner was provided by Catherine and family.

Andy and Catherine at the back, Oscar, Espe and Emma at the front

Andy and Catherine at the back, Oscar, Espe and Emma at the front

As were the flowers.

Simon (and the flowers)

Simon (and the flowers)

Did the vegan sit down happily with the meat eaters?

Chantal and Andy

From the left:  Chantal,  Andy and Catherine

Not sure – I wasn’t at that end of the table!  Andy is not usually as serious as these pictures suggest…..

From left:  Emma, Tom and Malcolm

From left: Emma, Tom and Malcolm

After we had eaten, everyone moved round to talk to other people.

Left to right:  Brian, Phil and Malcolm

Left to right: Brian, Phil and Malcolm

The children also went outside to a play area, I think.

Isla and Sofia

Isla and Sofia

But they came back in at various times.  I had brought the family photo album – starting with Hilary as a baby and ending with Chris as a baby.  Chris stated looking at that and I was trying to explain who the people were.  Others all had a look later, with the photo of Malcolm with long hair proving the most popular with his children!

Catherine, Isla and Sofia

Catherine, Isla and Sofia

The cake had the candles lit, happy birthday was sung and the candles blown out.

Ready for the candles to be blown out

Ready for the candles to be blown out

The cake was also provided by Catherine’s family and was enjoyed by all (I think).

After a while people started to pack up and leave, with the Cambridge car making the first move.

So was it a good day?   I think everyone had a good time and my sister said she enjoyed it, which was the main point.

Cat transport

I seem to have been providing transport for cats several times recently – and cats don’t like going in their baskets and more especially in cars (see, for example, “Mog and the V.E.T.” by Judith Kerr).

Izzy – black and white, elderly – was the first one.  She had to go to the vet for her annual M.O.T. – or whatever it is that cats have.  Her owner has no car so…..  As she is getting old, it was not that difficult to catch her and put her in the basket but on the way to the vet she disgraced herself and had to be cleaned up before the vet saw her!  I have an old dust sheet that lives in the car which always goes underneath cat baskets and the like.  It wasn’t actually needed – I think she just got the mess on herself.  Fortunately, on the way back she behaved – apart from the miaows.

The next trip was not actually with a cat – it was to take the potential new owner to see a litter of kittens.  (Are they called litters for kittens?)  We were told they were 3 females and the breeder was not sure which was going to be my friend’s cat.  They are sorrel Abyssinians – if sorrel is the correct name for a sort of orangey colour.  At that stage they were too young to leave their mother.  A few weeks later, my friend was told that one was actually male and as she had wanted a male that was hers.

So, a few weeks later we went to pick up Flamstone Sorrel Splendour – his registered name!  But he is Rufus for everyday use.

Flamstone Sorrel Splendour

Flamstone Sorrel Splendour

He was put in the basket, which he was not sure about when the door was shut and it was picked up.  Then into the car and we started off.  You never heard such loud miaows from so small a cat!  And he kept it up all the way to his new home!  Not at all happy.

I left the new owner to take him in and release him – and he does seem to have settled down.

Rufus has settled down

Rufus has settled down

He has had quite a lot of visitors and (apparently) likes to play.

So?  I prefer dogs to cats.

 

“Self-Guided Walking” holiday.

I put this on the end of my Industrial Heritage of Shropshire so as to make it a week away.  I wasn’t intending to do that much walking, but I did do more than several other people – who went out in their cars or stayed at the hotel, by the swimming pool!

The first day I walked down to Church Stretton – mostly to get stamps, post the cards I had written and see if I could get more postcards.  I also had a look round and found a series of boards giving a brief history of the town – including when it almost totally burnt down.  Having done all the tasks I needed to do – and had a cup of coffee – I walked back to the hotel.  That hill is steep……

I picked up my rucksack and lunch and the route card and set off for the Carding Mill Valley.  This was not a long way – less than 2 miles.  I had lunch looking across the valley.

Looking across Carding Mill valley

Looking across Carding Mill valley

I then walked up it, past the National Trust café and futher up to the reservoir.

The reservoir

The reservoir

There were actually people swimming in it.  I considered going on to the waterfall further up the valley, but it was too hot and there was no shade so went back down to the café.

Coming down from the reservoir

Coming down from the reservoir and looking back down the valley

I had a drink at the café to help cool off and then followed a different route back to the hotel and was in time for the cream tea as it was “arrival day” for this holiday.  Then back to my room to write postcards and for a shower and change ready for dinner.

The next day I took a train to Shrewsbury but found that the holders for maps were empty – so had to guess which way to go – up hill!  As I was in the town I found a couple of “ambassadors” and one of them gave me a map so I could find the tourist information office – which was actually not very good.  There was a café there so I had an iced coffee and looked at the map.  Just outside was the old market hall.

Old Market Hall

Old Market Hall

I then walked down The Mardol, which was an old street I had heard of, possibly from the Cadfael novels by Ellis Peters.  This had a lot of shops etc. from different ages.

Houses on The Mardol

Houses on The Mardol

This led almost directly to the Welsh Bridge over the Severn.

River Severn from the Welsh Bridge

River Severn from the Welsh Bridge

A friend had recommended the river boat trip from near the bridge, but I found that the next 2 trips were full so I decided to walk along by the river instead, on a path which the ambassador had recommended.  It was a very pleasant walk and mostly in the shade, the only disadvantage being a rather noisy food festival going on in “The Quarry” beside part of it.  I had also been recommended to find “The Dingle” which is a garden laid out by Percy Thrower, I think.  I sat there for a while and then continued along the river path.  It was rather odd to see cows on the other side of the river so close to the town.

Cows seen from Shrewsbury town river path

Cows seen from Shrewsbury town river path

After I had been most of the way along the path I headed back towards the town – accidentally finding the town walls on the way!

Town Walls

Town Walls

I was going to look at more of the town, but by then I was too hot (it was that sort of day) and tired so I went back to The Dingle and ate my lunch there.

The Dingle

The Dingle

After lunch I looked at the rest of the garden.

More of the Dingle

More of the Dingle

I then decided I had seen as much as I could cope with and made my way back to the station, passing the castle on the way.

Part of Shrewsbury Castle

Part of Shrewsbury Castle

Shrewsbury seemed a very pleasant town and I would quite like to explore it further on a day when it is less hot and doesn’t have a food festival on.  I got the train back to Church Stretton and then had the climb back up the hill to the hotel to rest and read and change for dinner.

The next day, being Sunday, I decided to go to church in the town.  As the service wasn’t until 11.05 I had plenty of time to potter round and read before I went down the hill to the church.  The service was labelled informal – so jeans were OK.  Seems they were in an interregnum, but they had a speaker from the Bible Society and the whole service was quite good, even though I didn’t know most of the songs/hymns.  A regular from the church even came and sat next to me so it felt friendly.  I would give the whole experience a good score!

After the service I went for a coffee in a local coffee shop before going back up the hill for my rucksack and lunch – and then down the hill again to sit on one of the picnic tables at the bottom to eat my lunch.  I then had a slow wander through Rectory Wood which has a nice stream or two, a pool and is nice and sheltered and cool.  The birds sing and there are very few people around.  I took the route that eventually led me back to the hotel where I organised my packing, spent some time reading and then showered and changed for dinner.

Was it a good holiday?  Yes, a good addition to the Industrial Heritage where I could take things slowly and at my own pace.  The walks I did were very gentle and Shrewsbury was interesting – but needs more time and a less hot day to explore it properly.  I suppose we were fortunate with the weather, too.  I think a short “self-guided” break might be a good addition to future holidays.

Industrial Heritage Holiday III – Steam Trains

The third day of the holiday was spent on the Severn Valley Railway.  We had two extra people on this day – one who just loved steam trains and the other who had fallen when walking the previous day and hurt her knee and didn’t think that she would be able to do a walk, so trains seemed a good option.  We started at Bridgnorth and first took a train to the end of the line at Kidderminster.

Our train

Our train

We even had booklets to tell us what to look for out of the windows.

When we got to Kidderminster we had quite a bit of time to look round.  Everything is set out as in “the age of steam”.

At Kidderminster

At Kidderminster

There was also a small museum at Kidderminster, with all sorts of train memorabilia.  My favourite bit was the signal box area where they had the levers and one could try pulling them for two possible “trains” – the “up” train and the “down” train.  It was quite complicated – and that was just for a simple two way track!

The signal box area

The signal box area

We then got the same train, but going in the opposite direction.

Carridges for our train

Carriages for our train

We got into a compartment carriage this time.  I do like the way they used to have pictures of places to visit on the walls.

Pictures on the carrige walls

Pictures on the carriage walls

There were also the old leather straps to pull the windows up and down – never an easy task!

Leather straps to open and close the window

Leather straps to open and close the window

Instead of going all the way back to Bridgnorth we got off at Bewdley.  Some people walked into the town, but I decided it was too hot, so found the station buffet (in an old carriage) and had a drink and then looked round the station.

View of the line from the bridge at Bewdley

View of the line from the bridge at Bewdley

I do like the small touches they have on the platforms, like the old porters trolleys with appropriate suitcases.

Porters trolleys and suitcases

Porters trolleys and suitcases

Also the advertisements on most of the stations.

Advertisements

Advertisements

From Bewdley we got a different train – which was the point of getting off and waiting.  I believe this was called a “pannier tank engine”.

The second engine

The second engine

We went on from here to Highley, where there is “The Engine House”, which – guess what – contains lots of engines!

Lots of engines

Lots of engines

I especially liked the engine where one could go onto the footplate and there were labels to show what all the knobs and levers were.

Engine footplate

Engine footplate

Also the Royal Mail train, with the sorting office on board.

Sorting office on the train

Sorting office on the train

There were lots of engines to look at – one that had “played”  Edward or was it Gordon?  This one had played its part as Thomas, several times – but is the wrong colour at the moment!

Not quite Thomas!

Not quite Thomas!

We had time for a cup of tea there and then got a train – a diesel, so not worth noting – back to Bridgnorth.  We were then shown a copy of Trevithick’s “Catch me who can”, which they keep there.  (See “Frederica” by Geogette Heyer!)

Copy of Trevithick's "Cath me who can"

Copy of Trevithick’s “Cath me who can”

Apparently Trevithick’s engines were very good (for the time!) but his rails were not strong enough, so broke.  Not good enough iron?!

We went back to the hotel from there for dinner and then afterwards there was a “concert” – well, it was a sing-a-long really from “The Shropshire Strummers”, a ukulele band.  They had song books so we could all join in and had songs that were mostly appropriate to our age group(!!) and we could choose some of those we wanted.  A very enjoyable evening.

So was it a good day and holiday?  I always like steam trains!  The noises, and the smells of coal and hot oil and steam and then there is all the nostalgia of course!  No, I don’t think they were “the good old days” but it is fun to sometimes remember – and steam trains were always “going on holiday” when we were young.  So yes – a good day.

Also a good holiday.  Lots of interesting things to see and new things to learn and a generally good group of people.

Industrial Heritage Holiday II – Iron

The second day of the holiday was spent in Ironbridge.  We started with a quick visit to the museum of the Gorge, where there was an interesting model of how the gorge had been, with ironworks, mines, inclined planes, barges and roadways (with horses and carts – which in the model had no drivers!!).  It was a good overview of what had been there – with the River Severn as the main transport link. We then went to look at The Iron Bridge – the first bridge made of iron in the world.

The Iron Bridge

The Iron Bridge

We had a short time to go onto it or walk across it if we wanted.

River Severn from the Iron Bridge

River Severn from the Iron Bridge

We the went on to The Museum of Iron and the blast furnace Abraham Darby used when he first made pig iron using coke not charcoal.

Museum of Iron

Museum of Iron

Before we went into the museum we went to look at the (remains of the) furnace that Derby used.  It was rented, having previously been used by someone else who had used charcoal.

Top of the furnace

Top of the furnace

Derby used a waterwheel to work the bellows to heat the furnace hot enough to produce the pig iron using coke.  Coal cannot be used because of the impurities.

Think this is where the bellows were.

Think this is where the bellows were.

The iron came out into sand.

Where the iron came out

Where the iron came out

Derby’s casting process meant the iron could be used for pots etc which were much thinner than those produced previously.  He was also able to produce much larger quantities than had been possible using charcoal. His son and grandson – Abraham Derby II and III (!) improved the process so that large amounts of cast and wrought iron could be produced that was strong enough for things like steam engines and railway lines – and of course bridges!  This was the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Having looked at the furnace we had time in the museum – but not enough to look at everything and take it in.  There was so much that I didn’t know where to start and didn’t take in that much – so have had to look up things later.  I didn’t think I was really interested in iron, but our leader and seeing these things has made me want to find out more!

We had lunch outside the Museum of Iron and then went on to the Blists Hill Victorian town.  This has a few features that were there originally like the mine shaft, inclined plane, remains of blast furnaces and brick and tile works.

Mine wheel at Blists Hill

Winding wheel for mine at Blists Hill

The winding wheel was worked by steam.

Machinery for winding wheel

Machinery for winding wheel

Most of the rest of the village has either been brought from somewhere else or is a copy of a building from somewhere else.  There was a forge, a sweet shop, a chemist (with dentist chair and drill!), a haberdashers, the doctor’s surgery, a couple of pubs, a bank and almost everything else one would have in a small town.

Post office, Blists Hill

Post office, Blists Hill

We could go into some of the houses (as well as all the shops) and this room was one I liked.

Room in house at Blists Hill

Room in house at Blists Hill

I also liked the school – and the very stern school mistress keeping the (visiting) pupils in order!  My favourite bit was the fairground.

Swing boats at the fairground

Swing boats at the fairground

Especially the carousel, which I had to have a ride on!

The carousel

The carousel

Just before we left we found a steam engine made by Richard Trevithick – not sure if it was a real one or a model.

Trevithick's engine

Trevithick’s engine

It was suggested to us that his engines were not made to be ridden on but to walk alongside as one would a horse, so the platforms were added afterwards.

There was actually loads to look at and we could have spent the day there – even though the purists would say it was “fake” and a theme park not  “real history”.  We went back to the hotel from there, for next day’s briefing and dinner.

Was it another good day?  Yes, even the things I didn’t think would be very interesting were good and provided new things to learn and I really liked Blists Hill – especially my ride on the carousel!

 

 

Industrial Heritage Holiday I – Mines, canals & a mill

I had been looking at this holiday for about 3 years and managed to book it this year.  I think it was actually “Industrial Heritage of Shropshire” and was based at Church Stretton, Shropshire.

On the evening of our arrival there was an introductory talk from the person leading the tour, but it was quite general as it was for everyone – walkers and photographers too, if they were interested.

The first day we started by looking at mining.  We were going up to Titterstone Clee and stopped on the way to see the probable site of “bell mines”.  We were told that gorse bushes grew on the places where the “bell pits” had been.

Gorse possibly signifying positions of bell pits

Gorse possibly signifying positions of bell pits

There was also a place where they might have dug into the hillside.

Possible site of mine.  There was a viewing point at the top

Possible site of mine.

There was a viewing point above this but we had no view as it was very misty!  We then went on to Titterstone Clee – where it was definitely foggy – we had in fact gone upwards and into the cloud.  This was another mining area but they had discovered that the Dhu Stone there was more valuable than anything they were mining as it was/is used for the stone for roads.  There is apparently a large chunk out of the hillside where the stone has been dug out – but we couldn’t even see the hill, it was so foggy.  Most of us got out of the minibus to look at the remains of the crushing works, where the stone had been broken down.

Part of the remains of the crushing works

Part of the remains of the crushing works

We were told that the rocks were crushed by gravity – i.e. dropped.

More of the crushing works showing the fog.

More of the crushing works showing the fog.

The crushed rocks were then taken down the hill on an inclined plane.  There were apparently the remains of this, but again it was too foggy to see it.  I think it was just the remains of a railway line, but they used the full trucks going down to pull up the empty trucks.

As there was no point in staying there long, we went on to Stourport where the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal meets the River Severn.  The river and canals were the main form of transport for goods before the railways, of course.  The boats coming up the Severn were too big to go along the canals so there were locks which allowed these boats into the canal basin.

Wide lock with River Severn behind.

Wide lock with River Severn behind.

The boats were then unloaded, so the goods could be transferred to canal barges.

Entrance to canal basin

Entrance to canal basin

Modern use of the canal basin

Modern use of the canal basin

As the wide lock uses a lot of water there is also a narrow boat lock which uses rather less.  We were very fortunate that a narrow boat was just leaving the Severn and using the lock as we got there – especially as one of our party had never seen a boat going through a lock!

Narrow boat lock with narrow boat

Narrow boat lock with narrow boat

We ate our lunch at Stourport and then went on to Daniel’s mill near Bridgnorth.  This is a working watermill and was open especially for us.  Milling has apparently been carried on here for about 900 years although the present mill is Victorian.  It is a 38 ft “backshot” wheel, which is one of the designs of waterwheel.

The wheel showing one water input

The wheel showing one water input

In fact they have only used the top input for the wheel once, for a short time, as they are not sure the wheel is strong enough any more.  Mostly they use an input about half way down.

View of wheel

View of wheel

The waterwheel uses cogs and so gearing to turn another axle.

Interlocking cogs to turn axle.

Interlocking cogs to turn axle.

Inside the axle is linked by cogs to the axle that turns the millstone.

More interlocking cogs!

More interlocking cogs in top right!

I do like these cog wheels and the gearing that means the millstone turns much faster than the waterwheel.  Like the windmill we went to before, the cogs are wooden to prevent sparks (and fires), because they break easily in case of a problem and are easily replaced.  There is in fact the possibility of working two millstones.

The mixture being ground by the mill.

The mixture being ground by the mill.

And we had a chance to actually see the mill working.  It does sell the ground flour to a biscuit maker, I think.

The mill working

The mill working – note the dust produced!

We had tea and cake in the café at the mill and then it was back to the hotel to change before a briefing for the next day and dinner.

So was it a good day?  Yes, very interesting, with the waterwheel being the highlight for me.

Steam engines and windmills

On bank holiday Monday, I met up with my niece, her husband and my great-niece and we went to visit Crofton Beam Engines and Wilton Windmill.   This was my idea as I wanted to go and thought they might like to come as well.  Both attractions are about half way between our respective homes so we had similar driving times to get there.

We started at the Beam Engines as they have a car park and other facilities and it was a “steaming day”.  The beam engines were/are used to pump water for the highest point of that part of the Kennet and Avon canal and one is apparently the oldest working beam engine still in its original place.  (They pump the water using an electric pump  when the beam engines are not steaming.)

Boilers are fired by coal.

Boilers

Boilers

They need a person to shovel the coal – just like the fireman in a steam train.

Shovelling coal

Shovelling coal

The boilers heat the water to produce steam which then moves the piston in the cylinder.

Cylinder with rod from piston

Cylinder with rod from piston

The piston then works the beam which is pivoted so the other side goes down the well to pull up the water.

Beams from two engines, side by side.

Beams from two engines, side by side.

There are, of course various knobs and levers which have to be watched to keep the pressure and other parts working smoothly.

Knobs and levers!

Knobs and levers!  The man watching them hid from the photo….

After we had a good look round, seen both of the beam engines working and looked at the displays outside we went through the tunnel under the railway line to the canal.  We spent some time watching the boats going through the locks and helping a bit.

Helping work the lock

Helping work the lock

We then walked up to the Swan Inn at Wilton for lunch, passing Wilton Water on the way.

There was a pair of swans and 3 cygnets on Wilton Water

There was a pair of swans and 3 cygnets on Wilton Water

We enjoyed our lunch at the pub (well, I did so I hope the others did too!) and we then walked on to Wilton Windmill.

Wilton Windmill

Wilton Windmill

We had a tour of this – several steep wooden staircases to go up too reach the top!  The windmill is the only working windmill in Wessex (or so they say) but in fact it hadn’t worked since March as it needs 15mph winds and they hadn’t been that strong.  The top part rotates so that the sails will face the wind.

One of the wheels which enables the top to rotate.

One of the wheels which enables the top to rotate.

The sails are attached to a large cog wheel……

Shaft from sails to large cog wheel

Shaft from sails to large cog wheel

….which interlocks with a smaller cog wheel to turn the vertical shaft to turn the mill stone.

Interlocking cogs wheels.

Interlocking cog wheels.

The cogs are actually wooden so they don’t create sparks which could cause a fire and because they are then easily replaced.  Going down a floor we saw the hopper where the grain is poured.

Hopper where grain is poured

Hopper where grain is poured

Going down another floor we saw where it comes out and is fed to the stones.

Grain arrives to be fed to the stones

Grain arrives to be fed to the stones

The stones were not working, of course, as it was too dangerous with lots of people around.

The stones

The stones

There were several gadgets – bits of string and strips of material for example – to make the miller’s life easier so he didn’t have to keep going up and down the steps.  It was also necessary to make sure the grain was ground finely enough, but not too fine – especially as it can easily catch fire if it is very fine.  We went out onto the balcony running round the windmill to see the sails and how they are opened and close to catch the wind.

One sail from the balcony.

One sail from the balcony.

It was then time to walk back the way we had come and go home.

On the way back my great-niece saw and showed us where there was a wild bees nest and we could see all the bees coming out.  That was an added bonus!

So?  I had a good day out.  Lots of “industrial heritage” with lots to see and learn and the addition of good company to share it with and a good meal.  I hope the others enjoyed it too!

 

 

 

 

Thank you presents

I must have complained too much about putting together the IKEA furniture because a few weeks later I was told there ware presents as a thank you for doing it.

First I was given a special apron for doing the chest of drawers.

Special apron

Special apron!

And a few weeks later, a special T-shirt for helping with the bookcase (which was too easy and didn’t take long so didn’t really deserve a present).

Special T-shirt

Special T-shirt

This one shows (the detection of) particles in an accelerator!

So?  I think “we” have found a “physics presents” website or something – especially as I was earlier given these as a birthday present.

Physics birthday present

Physics birthday present.

However, it was nice to be thanked and the presents did amuse me!