Tuesday 31 July 2018

Churches (24) : Knowle Parish Church

Knowle Parish Church, dedicated to St John the Baptist, St Lawrence and St Anne, dates from the early fifteenth century. Foundations of the chapel were laid in 1396 with the church consecrated in 1402 [1]. The church was a daughter church of the church in Hampton-in-Arden and did not become a parish in it's own right until 1858.

The original church was a simpler affair with a bell-cote and no South aisle. The bell tower, a South aisle, vestries and a longer chancel were added to the church. The church grew as the village of Knowle (originally Cnolle) itself grew in size. The church was restored in 1860 and also in 1900 when an organ loft was added.

[1] Nikolaus Pevsner & Alexandra Wedgwood, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire (Penguin, 1966) p. 339

Sunday 29 July 2018

A long hot Summer

Until yesterday we hadn't had any significant rainfall (and to be honest very little in the way of insignificant rainfall) since May. Finally the heavens opened and reminded me I need to get the loaky porch roof fixed. The garden has suffered from the drought, especially the lawn. What was once a fairly decent bit of turf has been scorched into a straw mat. Hopefully the rainfall will help it recover.

Saturday 28 July 2018


Today I visited Tring but I did not spend much time at all in Tring itself (apart from the station). Instead I walked the Grand Union Canal up to Marsworth (so crossing into Buckinghamshire, Tring is in Hertfordshire).

In doing so I passed the junctions of two arms of the canal I have visited before (Aylesbury and Wendover) so now have walked both ends of these two arms. It was a great walk along some interesting waterways and you can see my photos here.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Not disturbing the dead

A few weeks ago whilst at Ettington Park we noticed an old grave which was protected by a metal fence. We found this interesting and wondered if the fence was just to protect the grave stones but maybe it also had a more macabre purpose...

This fascinating webpage on Victorian funerary practices says that grave robbing was very common especially in the early 1800s. Thus families went to great lengths to protect their loved ones' remains from being stolen including metal fences and other ways of reinforcing the coffins. Whether this fence was for this purpose or not I can't say but if it was it seems to have done it's job!

Wednesday 25 July 2018

From Hot Metal to Cold Type

A wonderful video showing how printing has changed (well up until the mid 1960s anyway). Old skool metal type being replaced by an array of fancy new methods including photographic equipment and chemicals. Of course nowadays producing a commercial quality publication can all be done on one computer and one printer. As I do everyday at work.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Churches (23) : St Dunstan, Monks Risborough

The church of St Dunstan (a tenth century archbishop) dates from the fourteenth century though was built on the site of an earlier church. Built of flint the church has a chancel, a two aisle nave and a square tower. Much of the church including the tower and nave dates from the fourteenth with the aisles being additions in fifteenth century. The font is of the Aylebury type and may be from the twelfth century and be a surviving part of the original church.

The church was restored in the 1860s and has had a few more modern additions including an organ chamber added to the chancel.

Monday 23 July 2018

A trio of Formula 1 cars

The Brooklands Museum in Weybridge has some fine exhibits but as you can imagine being one of the ancestral homes of British motor racing the racing car collection is very fine, including these three Formula 1 cars. The best of the lot has to be Senna's McLaren. What the team wouldn't give for such a race and championship winning car these days!

Sunday 22 July 2018

Looking after the canal horses

For most Britain's canals history boats have been hauled by muscle power, and usually horse muscle. Horses were highly valuable assets for canal haulage companies and care had to be taken to look after them. This photo, from the London Canal Museum, shows a box of medicines and treatments for horses.

Thursday 19 July 2018

Departing Little Kimble

A Chiltern 165 departs Little Kimble (just around the bend) heading for London.

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, 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, 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, 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.