Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Castles (9) : Tamworth

Tamworth is a well preserved example of a Norman motte and bailey castle though was built on the site of earlier Saxon fortifications. The original castle was made from wood in the years following the Norman invasion. It was rebuilt from stone while under the ownership of the Marmion family. When the Marmions turned against King John in 1215 he ordered the castle destroyed. The castle destruction was halted after John's death and the damage repaired. The Marmions were restored to royal favour and Henry III visited the castle in 1257.

The castle had a number of additions as it passed to the Ferrers family especially during the Elizabethan period with the castle being made more suitable for habitation than war. During the Civil War it was captured by Parliamentary forces and used as a garrison. The castle changed ownership a few times in the following centuries, fell into disrepair but was restored. It was finally bought by the Tamworth Corporation in 1891 and remains a council owned museum and tourist attraction with well preserved interiors.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Return of the TwiggyMac

The Twiggy Mac is the stuff of myth surely? What am I talking about? Well the Apple Macintosh, up until a fairly late stage in the project (which was finally released in 1984 of course) was going to use the same 5 1/4 inch "Twiggy" disk drive as used in the Apple Lisa. Unfortunately the Twiggy drive was rubbish and often failed, indeed this was one of the Lisa's Achilles' heels (along with the huge price). Luckily Sony had just bought out their new 3.5 inch floppy drive format which Apple used instead and the rest is history...

It has been assumed that none of the Twiggy drive equipped Macintosh prototypes had survived as Apple had had them all recalled and destroyed in 1983. However one was found and later on another one turned up too!

After some restoration work the Twiggy Macs now work again and could boot from the original Twiggy system disks which included a beta version of Mac OS from August 1983. This version of the eventual first release of Mac OS included some intriguing differences from the final version including "Steve sez" in dialogue boxes. The whole story is recounted in the highly enjoyable Twiggy Mac website.
Heres how it ended up looking, my 512K

Saturday, 17 November 2018

The Stratford in Shirley

Today I didn't go very far, just to Solihull in fact. I went to Shirley and then walked the Stratford Canal as far as Whitlock's End. It was nice walking along the canal with many signs of autumn (my favourite season). So many leaves were on the towpath and canal in some places it was hard to see where one ended and the other started! You can see the canal photos here.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Castles (8) : Tutbury

Just inside the Staffordshire border is Tutbury castle which was owned by one of William the Conqueror's leading Norman magnates Henry de Ferrers. He was awarded over two hundred manors in England by the King mostly across the Midlands. Duffield castle was another of his castles, though more an outpost, Tutbury castle was his headquarters. The original motte and bailey of Tutbury was constructed in 1068-9.

The castle was nearly destroyed during a rebellion by one of Henry's descendants against Henry III in 1269. It was repaired though became a residential property than a military base. People who stayed at the castle in later years included the wife of John of Gaunt and Mary, Queen of Scots. The Queen noted that the castle was worn out, damp and draughty though she was a prisoner at the castle.

The castle was destroyed after the English Civil War on the orders of parliament though some parts were repaired after the restoration of the monarchy. In later years it was used as a farm and a residential property, but is now open to the public.