Tuesday 31 March 2020

Leicestershire Places (3) : Melton Mowbray

Melton Mowbray, famous for it's pork pies of course, was already a market town by the time of the Domesday Book and there is evidence of inhabitation in the area from Bronze Age times. The town has certainly existed since Anglo-Saxon times as a pagan cemetery has been found.

By the time of the Domesday Book Melton Mowbray had around two hundred inhabitants with a weekly market (the third oldest market in England) since before 1077CE. Melton Mowbray's impressive parish church of St Mary dates the 13th century though with major additions in the following centuries. It is one of only a handful of parish churches to have a transept flanked by aisles.

These days Melton Mowbray is best known for it's food, especially pork pies and stilton cheese and styles itself as the Rural Capital of Food. The town's railway station is on the Birmingham-Peterborough Line.

Monday 30 March 2020

BGLR : Bear video

Ironically despite being stuck at home i don't seem to have much time for the layout! Here is a video of Bear in operation last week.

Sunday 29 March 2020

Lad in the Lane

Instead of having to travel far and wide to see this country's architectural treasures sometimes they are just on your doorstep. Take the Lad in the Lane public house in Birches Green for example. It is probably the oldest house in Birmingham and may have been in existence since the end of the 14th century.

The building was originally a dwelling but since the 1780s has been a public house, known as the Green Man for a long time but the Lad in the Lane in recent decades. Although the building has been much altered over the last six centuries some of the beams have been dated to the 15th century and maybe earlier.

Friday 27 March 2020

Churches (57) : St Mary the Virgin, Attenborough

The parish church of St Mary the Virgin in Attenborough, Nottinghamshire may date from late Saxon times with the church being listed in the Domesday Book. The chancel may have been built in the mid-11th century and existed in 1042CE. It is probably the current church was built on the site of an earlier Saxon chapel which was built in 964CE.

The church was built from dressed stone and ashlar and has a West tower, vestries, nave, North and South aisles and a South porch. Much of the current church dates to the 15th century with some later rebuildings kept to that style.

The spire was rebuilt in 1848 and is forty metres tall and the church restored in 1869.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Leicestershire Places (2) : Sileby

The town's origins date from the mid-9th century when a settlement was established by the Danes and was part of the Danelaw. One of the families were known as Sighulf which is probably where the name of the town comes from. Sileby was an agricultural settlement that developed near the river Soar later on with a cottage industry in clothing manufacture.

In latter centuries Sileby became an industrial town noted for the manufacture of hosiery, shoes and wallpaper though most of these factories have now gone. However the wealth bought in from industry helped the town treble in size in the late Victorian and Edwardian period.

The oldest building in Sileby is the parish church dedicated to St Mary which was founded in 1152CE. There are also a number of houses from the 18th century. The town is situated between Leicester and Loughborough.

Sunday 22 March 2020

BGLR : Time for some layout work?

With the pandemic closing many if not most attractions there may soon be plenty of time to work on the layout! At the moment though we are just doing some operating. Here Black Beauty takes a freight train through the station with Jam on the bay platform with the express passenger train. Normal services and no real social distancing required in the model world!

Saturday 21 March 2020

Local roads much travelled

Usually on a Saturday I will take a train somewhere, hopefully somewhere new, and discover a little bit more of this great country. Unfortunately due to the pandemic that is not going to happen for awhile. Luckily though i do have a canal on the other side of the road from where I live, so i was able to walk that today. For the next few weeks at least it looks like it will be the local area I will be exploring. But maybe I will find some things I missed in the past? You can see my photos from the canal here.

Friday 20 March 2020

Churches (56) : Holy Trinity, Hatton

The parish church of the Holy Trinity in Hatton, Warwickshire mostly dates from a complete rebuild in 1888 though a church has been on the site since the 12th century. The rebuild was financed by local millionaire Alfred Hewlett with George Younger as the architect. Not all of the church was rebuilt then, the West tower dates the 15th century. Some of the finishings such as the stained glass are also from earlier centuries.

The tower is built from ashlar with the later parts of the church rock-faced masonry. The church has a clerestory with low gables and a South porch.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Leicestershire Places (1) : Market Harborough

Market Harborough, a market town surprisingly enough with that name, is in the South East of the county near the border with Northamptonshire. The village was founded by the Saxons in the 1st millenium CE. It was listed in the Domesday Book as Haversberg being part of the manor of Great Bowden, now a separate village a mile away. A market was established in 1204CE by Henry II, the growing town eventually being called Market Harborough.

The centre of the town is it's square, the oldest building of which is the church of St Dionysius which dates from about 1300CE. Another notable building in the square is the Grammar School which was founded in 1614.

Market Harborough gained in the last few centuries transport links including turnpike roads, coaching inns, a canal and in 1850 a railway station, this later becoming a stop on the Midland Main Line. Heavy industry began to grow in the town replacing the earlier reliance on agriculture. The town retained it's rural roots though becoming a centre for fox hunting!

Sunday 15 March 2020

Carlton and Netherfield

While many of my rail adventures are to the country side and idyllic rural villages sometimes i stay pretty urban. Carlton and Netherfield which I went to yesterday are suburbs of Nottingham. There was still plenty of interest though including a couple of churches, a couple of railway stations and a house which looked like a castle! You can see my photo here.

Friday 13 March 2020

Churches (55) : St Paul, Burton upon Trent

The parish church of St Paul is a Victorian building built in 1874 funded by the brewer and parliamentarian Michael Thomas Bass. The church is a large building in the geometric decorated style which stands on St Paul Square next to the Burton Town Hall.

The church is cruciform in shape with a three bay chancel and a five bay nave. The church was modified in the later 19th and 20th centuries including the south chancel aisle turned into a chapel.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

BGLR : Attack of the Pacer

Since I have laid some HO/OO track for the tramline i occaisionally like to run some of my old British OO scale stock. The trains have spent the last twenty five years or so in boxes but remarkably have all run after a bit of coaxing. Even my Pacer runs, not that well but it did move!

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Golden Age (25) : The Belting Inheritance

An interesting tale by Julian Symons set in the Post War period. The story deals with the issues of identity, inheritance and family secrets... and murder of course.

Lady Wainwright had lost two of her two sons in the war, thus when one of them turns up alive after a number of years - claiming to have been a prisoner of war - this causes a great deal of delight from the mother and surprise and suspicion from the other family members. The story is told through the eyes of an adoptive member of the family who helps discover the truth behind the returned son...

An enjoyable enough read, the charactisations are on the whole well drawn and a varied ensemble. The plot is a bit off though, sometimes meandering and heading off onto brief irrelevant tangents. However we do get to a reasonable ending and there is a good twist!

Sunday 8 March 2020

Norton and the newest station

Yesterday I took a train to Worcestershiire Parkway, the station is currently the newest in the country and has only been open for a couple of weeks (though one of the toilets was broken already!)

I also visited the village of Norton which is near the station. A nice little village with the usual old church, though one currently having some work done to it's bell tower. You can see my photos here.

Friday 6 March 2020

Churches (54) : St Mary the Virgin, Oxted

The parish church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxted, Surrey dates from the 12th century though only the Bargate stone tower survives from this time. The top of the tower has has "battlements" and a parapet. The church was mentioned in the Domesday Book though nothing of the church from those times remains.

The chancel (13th), aisles (14th) and porch (15th) are later additions and largely made from rubblestone with a brick dressing. The church was restored in the 19th century.

Thursday 5 March 2020

Wednesday 4 March 2020

BGLR : Falcon and the heritage train

Since Falcon entered storage last year a whole new heritage train has arrived on the BGLR, so at the weekend Falcon hauled the heritage train for the first time ever. The flagship loco is running well, Jam will leave the layout to go into storage in a few days. Ballasting of the tramway line has continued, the clear glue seems to work quite well.

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Golden Age (24) : The Pale Horse

"The Pale Horse" by Agatha Christie is not what at first it seems. The heavy feel of the occult and witchcraft early on is a bit of a red herring as this is actually a very fine murder mystery with some great twists (as you might expect).

A strange coven of witches in the shires appears to be causing the deaths of people. A list of those who have died or are soon to die ends up in the hands of a keen amateur detective Mark who seeks out the witches and tries to find out exactly what is going on with the help of plucky Ginger. The police are also investigating of course and are actually one step ahead...

The book has a perfect feel for post-war Britain on the 1950s and early 1960s before the big changes that befell... well everything.

Sunday 1 March 2020

Bow Brickhill

A number of the stations on the Marston Vale line between Bletchley and Bedford have intriguing names like Aspley Guise and Kempston Hardwick. One thing i would love to do one day would be to write a 1920s set detective story where the main characters are named after stations on the line. Aspley Guise would probably be the keen amateur detective.

As for Bow Brickhill well I suspect he would be the police inspector, a solid if unimaginative middle aged man whom Aspley loves to torment. Well anyway I went to Bow Brickhill yesterday (i believe my first ever train trip on February 29th) and it is a fine little village on the outskirts of Milton Keynes. I walked up to the church, the path was very steep but it was worth it for the church was fine and the view too. Red Bull Racing have their factory and base in Bow Brickhill too. You can see my photos here.