Wednesday, 18 July 2018

River Cole (West Midlands)

The West Midlands River Cole flows North West across the Birmingham plateau. The river source is at Hobs Hill near Wythall. The river then crosses across the South East of Birmingham through the likes of Yardley, Chelmsley Wood and Shard End before joining the river Blythe at Coleshill. From there the waters join the Tame, then the Trent and eventually the North Sea at the Humber estuary.

The Cole is a non-navigable waterway but at one stage it had twelve watermills along it. The Cole is usually shallow but due to the nature of the clay soil in the area the river can be changed quickly by heavy rainfall and can easily flood.

The earliest recorded name of the river from 972AD is Colle which is an old English word for Hazel.
At Shard End

At Wythall (rather swollen by heavy rain)

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Churches (22) : St Andrew's, Shottery

Shottery is a small village to the West of Stratford-upon-Avon, though nowadays there is continuous settlement between the two places. Most famously Shottery is the home of Anne Hathaway's cottage, purported to be the childhood home of William Shakespeare's wife. There is some doubt about this though it is certain she did originally come from Shottery.

The church of St Andrew in Shottery dates from 1870 [1] though to a thirteenth century style. The church is made from light brick with a stone dressing and has a nave and chancel.

[1] Nikolaus Pevsner & Alexandra Wedgwood, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire (Penguin, 1966) p. 397

Sunday, 15 July 2018

All along the SVR

So another visit to the Severn Valley Railway yesterday, my second of the year. I was planning on going to a diesel event in the Autumn but as the lack of rain has made the ground tinder dry and steam locomotives have been setting off many line-side fires the SVR have gone diesel only for the next few days. Of course I thought it would be a good idea to go up and get some diesel thrash. I took photos all along the line, including the now closed Eardington Halt which i have finally got some decent photographs of. You can see my photos here.

Saturday, 14 July 2018


Today I took a trip on the Severn Valley Railway, this time I went all along the line from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth and this time visiting the historic old town. This is built amid the ruins of Bridgnorth Castle and is atop some cliffs. The best way to reach it is by funicular railway of course, I haven't been on the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway for many years. In fact the only time I have been on it before was the only time I have visited the old town before when I was with the cub scouts, in 1982!

Bridgnorth is a lovely old town. I must make sure my next visit is sooner than thirty six years! You can see my photos of the town here.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

IBM 7070

The IBM 7070 was a mid-range data processing system introduced in 1958. It was IBM's first stored-program computer to use transistors rather than vacuum tubes, the first of a new line of fully transistorised mainframes. The 7070 used around thirty thousand germanium transistors and could perform twenty seven KIPS (thousand instructions per second). The 7070 used machine words consisting of ten digital digits plus a sign. Each digit was encoded by 5-bits. The 7070 used core memory and could store up to around ten thousand words.

Unfortunately the 7070 was incompatible with the models (such as the 705) it was intended to replace. A simulator was needed to run programs written for older computers though the waste of resource and incompatibilities meant the 7070 was a bit of a flop. The later 7080 was said to be fully compatible.

Also coming later were the faster 7072 and 7074 in the early 1960s. They were replaced by the highly successful IBM 360 within a few years.
IBM 7074 (Public domain image)

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Churches (21) : St Swithun's, Worcester

The Church of St Swithun is a former Anglican church in the centre of Worcester. The church's origins date to 1126 when permission was granted to build a church dedicated to St. Swithun by the Dean of Worcester. Little of the original church remains however. The tower was built in the fifteenth century. The church was completely rebuilt in the 1730s, the tower also being resurfaced. The church is thus considered an example of early Georgian architecture. There were further changes to the church in the nineteenth century.

The church was declared redundant in 1977 and since then has been preserved as a venue for concerts and ceremonies.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Sunday, 8 July 2018


Yesterday I went to Wendover in Buckinghamshire, a nice little market town near Aylesbury. The main focus for the visit was to walk the now-disused but still watered Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal. I walked this as far as the neighbouring village of Halton. Maybe a little too far on a hot day to be honest but it was a nice place for a walk. You can see my photos here.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Ettington Park

A couple of my good friends got married on Sunday, the venue they chose was lovely: Ettington Park near Stratford. This is a fine Victorian Gothic manor house which is now a hotel. What was more interesting though was the ruins of the former church of St Nicholas mere metres away in the grounds. Of course I took a few photos of both, which you can see here.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Churches (20) : St Mary's, Melton Mowbray

"The stateliest and most impressive of all churches in Leicestershire" according to Pevsner [1] and it's hard to argue with that. St Mary's dates mostly from the late 1200s with fifteenth century additions. The lowest part of the tower is Norman and dates from 1170.

The church is built on a plan more usual with cathedrals, having a transept flanked by aisles - a rare feature for a "mere" parish church, and has a thirty metre tall tower. The church dominates the town of Melton Mowbray. By the twenty first century the church was in a poor state of repair and a two million pound appeal was begun to raise funds for renovations and improvements including improved accessibility. Work was completed in late 2017.

[1] Nicholas Pevsner, Leicestershire and Rutland (Penguin, 1960) p. 188

Monday, 2 July 2018

Claverdon and Bearley

Claverdon and Bearley are two small stations in Warwickshire near to Stratford-upon-Avon. They don't have a very good service so travelling to them by train has not been something I have yet attempted (though I have travelled through them many times, including on Saturday). As I was driving down to that part of the world on Sunday, to attend a friend's wedding, I decided to take a detour and visit both stations on the way. One way I will take a train to them but for now this will do.
Claverdon station sign



Sunday, 1 July 2018

Stratford River Festival 2018

The annual river festival in Stratford-upon-Avon is something I have attended a number of times now. I went yesterday and took in plenty of boats, morris dancers and people... so many people. I've never seen Stratford quite so crowded. The hot weather obviously bought people out. As it was so busy I didn't take as many photos as I usually do but of course I did take a few and you can see them here.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Programming the PDP-11

This is great (albeit somewhat cheesy too), part 1 of a video series showing to operate and program a DEC PDP-11 minicomputer. The other parts of the series are accessible from the end of part 1.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Churches (19) : St Botolph's, Aspley Guise

There has been a church in Aspley Guise since Saxon times, the church of St Botolph (a seventh century Anglo-Saxon abbot and scholar) dates from the early thirteenth century at least with the first record of the church dating from 1223. The church was extensively reworked in the early nineteenth century. The church is made from ironstone with ashlar dressings, the tower from limestone rubble.

The church tower dates from the fifteenth century at least and has a clock that dates from then too. The oldest monuments in the church date from the 1400s including a tomb effigy though to be of Sir William Tyrington who died in 1400.

Monday, 25 June 2018

A second raised bed

I've made a start on a second raised bed in the garden, just behind the first one which I built over five years ago now. This one will eventually be a memorial garden for those I have lost. Quite a lot of work to do first though, the ground is a bit more uneven in this part of the garden than I thought it was.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Two old postcards

Postcard from the Past is a wonderful twitter account (and book) which is about old postcards and random snippets from the messages on them. As I recently received two postcards via eBay (included free with something else I had bought) I thought I would scan them and post them here. Unfortunately it would be very difficult to find out more about these messages, did Aunt Mary ever get up again for example?

First off a postcard from Branksome posted in 1950, a simple holiday message: "We are having a nice time and weather up till this week."

Secondly from Westcliffe-on-Sea in 1908: "I am sorry to hear that dear Aunt Mary is not yet able to get up"

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Leighton Buzzard Railway

When, earlier in the week, I decided to go to Leighton Buzzard I didn't even know there was a narrow gauge railway in the town. Obviously it became the focal point of my visit. The Leighton Buzzard Railway is great, winding through the outskirts of the town and up to a former quarry.

I've always liked narrow gauge railway (of course my model railway is one), especially the sometimes strange little diesels used on mineral railways. Lots of those kind of loco were on display on the railway plus some rather lovely German built steam locomotives. You can see my photos here.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Thursday, 21 June 2018

LV14 Lightship Sula

Lightships are basically mobile lighthouses. They are used in waters where it is impractical/impossible to build a permanent lighthouse. Lightships have been in use around British waters since 1734 and a number are still in use around the coast. These days lightships tend to be unmanned though previously were crewed.

A number of older lightships still survive as preserved boats and are dotted around British waters. One of them is Lightship Sula which once served at Spurn Head off the Humber estuary. Sula was decommissioned in 1985 and has had a varied life since in retirement including being the headquarters of a yacht club and an alternative therapies centre. Now it is moored at Gloucester Docks.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Churches (18) : St Christopher, Haslemere

The Church of St Christopher in Haslemere is an early twentieth century Anglican church built as the Surrey town expanded westwards following the arrival of the railway. The church was consecrated in 1903 though not finished until the following year. It was designed by Charles Spooner and built to the Free Late Gothic style.

The church was built mostly out of bargate stone and is a nearly perfect rectangle. The interior draws heavily on the Victorian Arts & Crafts movement (of which Spooner was a member of). A chapel was added to the North in 1935. Unusually the church was built by Haselmere Builders - owned by a Quaker who operated the company on a co-operative profit share basis.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Lapworth to Hatton

As the car was at the garage for it's MOT I was not at work today. Instead I went on a long canal walk along the Grand Union Canal between Lapworth and Hatton. A very nice walk it was too though maybe slightly further than I thought it would be. Southern Warwickshire is one of the most wonderful places in the world and walking a canal through countryside is one of the best ways to see it especially when you suddenly spot over a hedge a beautiful old farm house (see photo below). You can see my canal photos here. I also took some photos at Hatton station which are here.