Sunday 31 October 2021

Crewe Heritage Centre

Yesterday i visited Crewe Heritage Centre. I have been once before but have been meaning to return for a couple of years. The railway museum has a great selection of exhibits including an ex-Manchester Metrolink T68 tram which i was keen to see. The repainted Class 87 in the hall is a wonderful sight. You can see my photos here.

Friday 29 October 2021

Churches (123) : St Mary, St Giles and All Saints, Canwell

The church of St Mary, St Giles and All Saints in Canwell on the West Midlands-Staffordshire border dates from 1911 when it was created as a chapel of ease. The church has a nave and chancel (which are one continuous structure) and a West tower. The vestry is next to the tower and two storey.

The church is built from dressed stone.

Wednesday 27 October 2021

A room of old iron

A glorious photo of a computer lab from the Convair/General Dynamics Astronautics Atlas Negative Collection. Large disks, loud printers, what could be better?

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Walking the waterways (30) : Droitwich Barge Canal

The Droitwich Barge Canal is a broad canal which links Droitwich Spa to the river Severn at Hawford. The canal links to the Droitwich Junction Canal in Droitwich. The two canals are sometimes together known as the Droitwich Canal.

The Droitwich Barge Canal was opened in 1771, a major cargo being salt (Droitwich having been a source of salt thanks to it's natural brine springs since Roman times). The canal was built as a broad canal able to accommodate Severn trows which could be up to 20m long. The canal was already in a commercial decline by the early 19th century though matters were helped by the opening of the Droitwich Junction Canal in 1854 which linked through to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. By the early 20th century the canal was making a loss and was abandoned in 1939, though the last cargo boat had used the canal as far back as 1916.

Restoration of the canal began in 1969 though it was until 2009 that the Droitwich Canals were fully navigable again.

Monday 25 October 2021

Blakedown and Churchill

On Saturday i visited Blakedown, a village in Worcestershire which i have been to once before. The main purpose of my visit was to walk to the neighbouring village of Churchill and take some photographs of the church of St James the Great. You can see my photos here.

Saturday 23 October 2021

ALGOL (ALGOrithmic Language)

ALGOL is a family of high-level programming languages originally developed in the late 1950s. ALGOL is a mathematical language [1], indeed the name comes from ALGOrithmic Language [2]. The language has had a major influence on modern languages like C and Pascal and their derivatives which have gone on to dominate the world. Modern languages like these are sometimes referred to as "Algol-like".

ALGOL was originally created at a committee of American and European computer scientists in 1958. It was developed to try and rectify what were saw as problems with other early languages such as FORTRAN. ALGOL has been a major research and teaching language and became the standard for the publication of algorithms. This ensured its influence on future language development.

There have been three standards of ALGOL, the first was ALGOL 58 as originally defined. It was followed by ALGOL 60 and finally ALGOL 68 which added new elements to the language. However, ALGOL 60 remained the most popular version as some thought the ALGOL 68 changes went a bit too far and could be considered a whole new language.

As well as usage in academia and research examples of ALGOL usage includes the software on the Soviet Buran space shuttle, computer systems of the Royal Air Force in the Cold War and a number of operating systems from companies like ICL and Burroughs. It is still used on Unisys mainframes as a system language and elsewhere on "legacy" systems (including some UK government departments).

Finally lets look at some code examples of ALGOL 60. Even if you are unfamiliar with the language and never seen it before if you know a bit of C, Pascal or similar then ALGOL is perfectly understandable:

for n:= 5 step 1 until 10 do
begin x:=n/5

if fract(p) > 0.5 then a := p;

day := day + days[month];

One thing ALGOL 60 did lack was input and output facilities. This was left to individual implementations of the language and thus differed between computer manufacturers.

[1] Eric Foxley & Henry R. Neave, A First Course in ALGOL 60 (Addison-Wesley, 1968) p. 5
[2] Graham C. Lester, Data Processing Vol 1: Hardware & Programming (Polytech, 1980) p. 203

Friday 22 October 2021

Churches (122) : All Saints, Evesham

The parish church of All Saints in the Worcestershire town of Evesham shares a churchyard with the former church of St Lawrence, part of the former Evesham Abbey complex. The church was built by Benedictine monks in the 12th century. The current church is mainly 15th and 16th century (there is some surviving 12th century masonry), there was a restoration in the early 1870s.

The church has an aisled nave with a West tower and porch and the church is in the Perpendicular style. The church's chancel was enlarged during the Victorian restoration.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Walking the waterways (29) : Rushall Canal

The Rushall Canal is a short (just under four and a half kilometres) but important canal in Walsall which links the Tame Valley and Wyrley & Essington Canals. The canal was built in 1847 to take coal from the Cannock mines to Birmingham via the above mentioned canals and also to provide a water source for the busy Tame Valley Canal. 

The canal is a fairly straight narrow canal with nine locks. Despite being an important industrial link the canal passes through fairly rural and exposed areas. The first seven locks on the canal were known as the "ganzy seven" (ganzy being a term for a jumper) as boaters needed them to keep warm!

Monday 18 October 2021


At the weekend i went to London, and on Saturday morning i took advantage of the starting location to travel somewhere that might be a little bit too far to go in a day from Birmingham. I went to Rochester in Kent, a historic town on the river Medway. It has a lot to see including a rather lovely cathedral and a castle. You can see my photos here.

Friday 15 October 2021

Churches (121) : St Mary and All Saints, Beaconsfield

The parish church of St Mary & All Saints in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire has been in existence since 1210CE. However, the current church is mostly from a 19th century rebuild and enlargement. The enlargement included the Western parts of the arcades and part of the tower.

The church is built from flint and bath stone. The church is the burial place of G.K. Chesterton, Edmund Burke and Edmund Waller, who has an obelisk memorial in the churchyard.

Thursday 14 October 2021

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Walking the waterways (28) : Basingstoke Canal

The Basingstoke Canal was built to connect Basingstoke, and surrounding areas, with the river Thames via the Wey Navigation passing through Hampshire and Surrey including places like Woking and Aldershot. Construction began in 1788 and completed in 1794. However, the canal was not a financial success even though it carried trade such as timber from Basingstoke. Even by the mid-19th century parts of the canal were falling into disuse. Commercial traffic ended in 1910.

By 1913 the canal was no longer fully navigable. However, during the First World War it was used by the government to transport supplies from London. After the war the canal was used for some pleasure cruising but by the 1960s the canal was essentially derelict. Volunteers have restored much of the canal though ironically the canal does no longer reach Basingstoke due to a collapsed tunnel. The last eight kilometres of canal from Greywell Tunnel to Basingstoke is now unlikely to ever be restored any time soon.

Monday 11 October 2021


At the weekend i visited Evesham in Worcestershire, somewhere i have been to at least once before but not for a number of years. A few days earlier i upgraded by iPhone from an XR to a 13 mini so wanted to give the camera a test, to see if it's better. I think it is, well you can judge for yourself by taking a look at the photos here!

Friday 8 October 2021

Churches (120) : All Saints, Four Oaks

The parish church of All Saints in Four Oaks in the West Midlands was built in 1908-9. The church has a five bay nave and a chancel with an organ chamber. There is a bellcote above the chancel arch. The church has an octagonal vestry. Another polygonal building is the choir vestry on the West side of the church. 

The church is built from red bricks in the Late Free Gothic style.

Tuesday 5 October 2021

Walking the waterways (27) : Gloucester and Sharpness Canal

The Gloucester & Sharpness Canal links to the river Severn at Gloucester and acts as a shortcut to the Severn before it rejoins the river 26.5km away at Sharpness. Work began on the canal in 1793 though the project ran into financial difficulties in the early 1800s with work stopping for some time. Finally, with funding secured from a variety of sources, the canal was completed and opened in 1827. The canal was, at the time, the broadest and deepest in the world.

The canal was a success, carrying over a million tons of cargo in 1905. Commercial traffic continued on the canal until mostly petering out by the 1980s, the oil trade being a major source of income during much of the 20th century. Now the major source of traffic on the canal is leisure of course.

Monday 4 October 2021

Kingsway tram tunnel

As with the diesel gala on Friday, something else i haven't done for a long time was go on a Hidden London tour of usually closed parts of London's transport heritage. That changed on Saturday when i went to London and explored the now-disused Kingsway tram tunnel. Although not as interesting as some of the other Hidden London tours such as Charing Cross and Aldwych, it was still great to do another the things i did often before covid. You can see my photos here.