Sunday 28 February 2021

Model Week : Continuing Shard End

Work has continued on the new N gauge layout, Shard End. A second siding has been added to the station. Now all i need is one more set of points and i can finish the track layout! One of the sidings has had an isolated section added. I am now thinking of maybe getting a new locomotive to celebrate the new layout too.

Friday 26 February 2021

Churches (93) : St Laurence, Long Eaton

The parish church of St Laurence in Long Eaton, Derbyshire dates from the 12th century though little of the church remains from then apart from a Norman doorway and some other fragments. Larger parts of the church date from the 14th and 15th centuries. The church was rebuilt in 1868-9 with the original church becoming the South aisle of an expanded church which had a new North aisle, nave and chancel in a matching style.

The West tower dates from the 15th century and has a recessed spire common to many churches in the county. It is ashlar faced. The church was originally a chapel of ease to the parish church in Sawley but became an independent parish in the 19th century.

Thursday 25 February 2021

Grand Central

Grand Central liveried 90 026 heads through Lichfield Trent Valley, a shame GC will never use this loco. 

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Surrey Places (3) : Milford

Milford is a village in the South West of Surrey near to Godalming. Milford remained a small hamlet during the medieval period but like many places across the country the arrival of transport links (in Milford's case the railway line between London and Portsmouth in the mid-19th century) helped Milford grow.

Milford was a hamlet of nearby Witley but Milford became a parish in it's own right in 1844. Milford railway station however, is in Witley!

Monday 22 February 2021

Model Week : A tale of two layouts

There is a nationwide shortage of N gauge track at the moment, especially PECO Setrack points (apparently due to PECO being the victim of a cyber attack last year), however i was able to scrape together enough new track to make a start on my new N gauge layout Shard End. It will depict a small branch line terminus in the early 1970s. It is very early days on the layout as i still need a few more points. It is great to have some of my N gauge fleet return after a long time in storage.

Meanwhile, on the other layout Birches Green there was an unfortunate failure. Ruby seems to have become afflicted by the same motor problems as her two sister locomotives Percy and Maria and has been put into immediate storage. Tango has returned to take Ruby's place.

Saturday 20 February 2021

Strolling around Sutton Coldfield

We are supposed to keep in our local areas, though what a "local area" is has not been defined very clearly. Sutton Coldfield is only a few minutes away so i guess that counts as local area? In any case, I had a walk around the town centre today. I wanted to take some photographs of the two churches that are more at less at either end of the main shopping street. I also visited a church in nearby Boldmere on the way back. A different kind of temple in Sutton, which i also took some photographs of, was the superb Art Deco cinema. Nowadays it is called the Empire, though in my youth when i saw films like Star Wars for the first time it was the Odeon. You can see my photos here.

Friday 19 February 2021

Churches (92) : St Nicholas & St Peter ad Vincula, Curdworth

The parish church of St Nicholas & St Peter ad Vincula in the Warwickshire village of Curdworth has Norman origins and parts of the surviving church date from the 1170s. The church was established in 1165 and may have been built on the site of an earlier church, a carved Saxon font was discovered in the 19th century during refurbishment work.

The nave and chancel are Norman. The church was extended in the 14th century and a Perpendicular tower added in 1460. The tower was intended to also have a spire though this was never built.

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Surrey Places (2) : Ash

The village of Ash lies on the Surrey-Hampshire border and is close to Aldershot (and is included in the Aldershot urban area) and Farnborough. Ash has Saxon roots, it was known as Esche in the 7th century, in Norman times known as Assche. In the 12th century the parish church of St Peter's was built on the site of an earlier Saxon church.

Ash was granted to Chertsey Abbey by Azor, a nobleman and one of the guards of Edward the Confessor, at the time of the Norman Conquest. It remained the property of the abbey until being granted to Henry VIII in 1537. It was later granted to Winchester College.

Ash is served by Ash railway station with Ash Vale and North Camp also close by. The Basingstoke Canal runs through the parish.

Monday 15 February 2021

Model Week : The third way

I had been considering ending Birches Green and starting a new N gauge layout. In the end i have found a third way, i am going to have both layouts! The HO tramline side project has been terminated, the part that has been ballasted in will remain as a static line. The rest of the board built for the tramline will be used for a small end to end N gauge layout based on a British Railway branch line in about 1970 which will be called Shard End!

Sunday 14 February 2021

Friday 12 February 2021

Churches (91) : St Augustine (Old), Rugeley

This is the original parish church of the Staffordshire town of Rugeley dedicated to St Augustine of Canterbury. The church was replaced by a new church on the opposite side of the road in the 1820s, some materials from the old church were used in the new. The original church dates from the 12th century. The church is in ruins with just the West tower, the chancel, a North chapel and a four bay arcade joining them.

The chancel and North chapel are in a good condition and was used as a Sunday school. The tower and chancel date from around 1300CE.

Thursday 11 February 2021

Welcoming Sophie

My Chromebook Pixel has had a good hard life but it has finally come time to replace it. The screen is flickering, the keyboard slightly broken and Google support ends later this year. The Pixel has been replaced by a MacBook Air. This is my first computer with an ARM based chip (not counting the various iPhones and iPads I have had in the past). Hopefully, Sophie (as she has been called) will have just as long a working life as the Pixel (though I will try and not break the keyboard on this one!)

Of course, I bought a Mac mini last year called Emily which remains my main workstation, whereas Sophie is my personal assistant. For the first time I have two new (or new-ish) computers to hand. Which is nice.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Surrey Places (1) : Oxted

Oxted is a town at the foot of the North Downs in the East of the county. The town has Saxon origins and was listed in the Domesday Book as Acstede. Oxted remained a small village throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. Like many settlements, it boomed in terms of wealth and populations after the arrival of the railways in 1884. It is now a commuter town with city workers taking trains from Oxted station to London. The town was listed as the twentieth richest town in Britain by the Daily Telegraph in 2011!

Oxted's parish church is St Mary's which has Norman origins though most of the current church dates from later centuries, the tower with it's "battlements" (see below) is Norman.

Saturday 6 February 2021

Along the canal to Minworth

Today I walked along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal from near my house to as far as Minworth, which is a decent walk. I haven't walked this stretch of canal for some time (2008 in fact) and some canal side buildings have changed, some are a little grubbier, some have gone completely! You can see my canal photos here.

Friday 5 February 2021

Churches (90) : St James, Hartlebury

The Church of St James in the Worcestershire village of Hartlebury dates back to around 1300CE (though a church may have been on the site from Saxon times). Only fragments from the church's earliest days remain. Most of the current structure was built in 1836-7 though the West tower is from 1587CE, though the porch is a later addition. 

The church has a nave with North and South aisles, a chancel (from 1825) and North and South chapels. The church is built from sandstone ashlar from nearby quarries.

Thursday 4 February 2021

Model Week : Is it time for a change?

The model railway mojo has gone missing over the last few weeks. Perhaps Birches Green as it stands has reached a point where the design flaws and mistakes made years ago can no longer be ignored, and also it is time for a fresh challenge. We are therefore looking into a new layout to replace Birches Green. This new layout may feature the return of the N gauge fleet which has been waiting patiently in boxes for the last few years. As yet there are no firm plans either way but some feasibility studies may be made.

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Corn by canal

A Pathe newsreel on the importance of the canals for inland trade in 1940.

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Golden Age (30) : Seven Dead

Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon is one of those crime novels which features a fantastic opening premise but unfortunately the story which follows doesn't quite live up to it. In this story a burglar breaks into a seeming empty country house and has the fright of his life when he discovers a room with seven corpses in it! DI Kendall investigates what happened in the house, with the help of an amateur detective (of course) in the form of yacht owner Hazeldean.

The house's owner was not among the dead and the search for the owner takes Hazeldean across the channel to Boulogne. Kendall finally joins him but a bit late in the book, which is unfortunate as Hazeldean is a bit of an annoying character. For a start he becomes quite obsessed with the portrait of a child on the wall of house so that he must find the woman (she luckily) is now. Quite odd, something that hasn't aged well.

The story is fine and worth persevering with, to find out just what actually happened to those seven unfortunates, and it is novel. It just could have been a bit better. It is certainly is an unusual crime story if not a brilliant one.