Friday 29 September 2023

Churches (199) : St James, Southam

The parish church of St James in Southam, Warwickshire dates from the 14th century with additions in the 15th, 16th and 19th. The tower is 14th century with a 15th century spire. The nave is four bay, the chancel was rebuilt in the 15th century. A north aisle and a vestry were added in the 19th century. The nave gained a clerestory in the 16th century.

The church is built from squared courses lias with a sandstone dressing.  

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station

Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station was established in 1861, though a lifeboat had been supported in the town since 1843. In 1861 a branch of the RNLI was established and the first boat RNLB Evelyn Wood was launched for the first time. This was a ten oared self-righting lifeboat and has been followed by seven other conventional all-weather lifeboats until 1964.

Since 1964 Aberystwyth has had inshore lifeboats only after the last conventional boat was withdrawn. In fact Aberystwyth was the first RNLI station to receive an inshore boat. These can travel in shallower water than conventional boats and therefore are more useful in places where most call-outs might be to holidaymakers or boaters in trouble. The current lifeboat, which has been in service since 2008, is the Spirit of Friendship, an Atlantic 85. This has twin 115hp engines that gives it a top speed of 35 knots and carries a crew of four, it is equipped with radar and direction finding VHF [1]. The station also has a smaller Arancia A-78 rescue craft.

Aberystwyth can be a busy station, in 2014 the lifeboats were called out 41 times. Over the years the crews have been honoured for gallantry thirteen times. The RNLI is a charity that could not exist without donations, please visit their website and support this vital service which has saved so many lives.

[1] Nicholas Leach and Tony Denton, Lifeboat Directory (Ships in Focus, 2013) p. 139

Monday 25 September 2023

West Midlands Places (9) : Four Oaks

Nowadays part of Sutton Coldfield, Four Oaks has it's origin in the sixty acres of land bought by Henry Folliott, 1st Baron Folliott of Ballyshannon in 1677. Four Oaks Hall was built on the estate which later became a deer park. The estate changed hands a number of times, eventually it was bought for residential development in 1868. 

Two hundred houses were built on the estate to form the modern day Four Oaks Estate which is one of the West Midlands' most expensive and exclusive residential areas. Four Oaks Hall was demolished in 1898.

Four Oaks contains two churches of interest including All Saints parish church and the fine Methodist church which is located opposite Four Oaks railway station.

Saturday 23 September 2023

Oxford Parkway

Due to illness a planned trip to London was cancelled this weekend, hopefully everything will be back to normal next week. Instead check out a video from last week's adventure.

Friday 22 September 2023

Churches (198) : St John the Baptist, Kensington

The church of St John the Baptist in Kensington dates from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Work on the church began in 1872, the architect being James Brooks. However, progress was slow due to funding issues and Brooks never saw the church completed. Work was finally completed in 1910 (Brooks died nine years earlier).

Although a grand looking church (resembling a French cathedral with it's Gothic style), as it was built in a space constricted plot it has a long and narrow cruciform plan. It has an aisled nave with transepts and a two bay chancel. The church is built from snecked Ancaster stone with a Bath stone dressing.

Thursday 21 September 2023

Enslow Wharf

By the 19th century the canals and their owners were facing increasing competition and in many cases being eclipsed by the ambitious and aggressively expanding railway companies. One new lease of life for the canals in latter years though were the transhipment whaves. These are where goods were taken to/from railheads to businesses situated along the canals. The Birmingham Canal Navigations had quite a few of these but the Oxford Canal had only one, at Enslow Wharf in Oxfordshire [1].

The Great Western Railway had a goods yard at Bletchingdon next to Enslow Wharf, a major trade being with the Oxford Cement Company at Kirtlington. The company had no rail or road access so everything had to be taken by boat, much of it taken to Enslow Wharf for transfer to rail. This was a steady trade in the early 20th century. The goods yard (closing in 1965), cement company and even the station have now gone though the canal and railway line remain, the latter crossing the former! The wharf survives too though these days is home to many leisure narrowboats and their support services.

[1] Hugh Compton, The Oxford Canal (David and Charles, 1976) p. 135

Monday 18 September 2023

West Midlands Places (8) : Minworth

Minworth is close to the border of Warwickshire and is close to the village of Curdworth. The former village is now part of Birmingham though has Saxon origins. The name Minworth is thought to have come from Mynna's Farmstead which was established in the 6th or 7th centuries. In the Domesday Book the village was known as Meneworde. A mill ground corn on the river Tame in Minworth until 1872.

Minworth was a hamlet of Curdworth until becoming a parish of Castle Bromwich in 1894. In 1931 Minworth became part of Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield. Sewage works for Birmingham were built in Minworth, this remains Severn Trent's largest water treatment works. Next to the works, Birmingham & Fazeley Canal flows through Minworth.

Sunday 17 September 2023


Yesterday i went to Kidlington in Oxfordshire (just outside Oxford in fact). A nice place with an impressive church with a large spire, now this really does finish a church off well i think. It is always a shame when you hear that a church lost it's spire sometime in the past or plans for one never came to fruition. You can see my photos here.

Friday 15 September 2023

Churches (197) : St Peter and St Paul, Headcorn

The parish church of St Peter & St Paul in Headcorn, Kent dates from the 13th century though an earlier church once existed on the same site. In the 14th century a three stage west tower was added, the nave and south aisle are also 14th century though the chancel is 13th. A south chapel also dates from the 13th century though was modified in later centuries.

The church is made from Bethersden marble. It was restored in the mid-1800s.

Tuesday 12 September 2023


On Saturday, a hot day indeed, i went on one of my rail & bus adventures to Dunchurch, a village near Rugby. This is a fine example of a Warwickshire village with a lovely church and historic buildings, including one used by the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. There was also a rather nice maypole too, and some stocks! You can see my photos here.

Monday 11 September 2023

West Midlands Places (7) : Bloxwich

At the north of the West Midlands is the town of Bloxwich which was part of Staffordshire until 1974. Bloxwich has Saxon origins and may be named after the Mercian family Bloc, Blochescwic meaning Bloc's village. By the Domesday Book it was known as Blockeswich and was part of the manor of Walsall.

Bloxwich remained a small village until a great expansion during the Industrial Revolution. Bloxwich became known for the manufacture of items like saddles, stirrups, bridle bits and keys plus coal mining and iron smelting. Much housing in the area was built during the Interwar Period. The town has continued to expand with new housing developments in recent decades.

Bloxwich's parish church is All Saints which was built in the late 1700s. The town is served by two railway stations, Bloxwich and the recently opened Bloxwich North.

Sunday 10 September 2023

Typewriter 26

A new typewriter has joined the collection, this Atlas Portable. It dates from the 1960s and is one of the oldest machines in the collection. It works pretty well though and is in good condition apart from the carriage handle which has been broken (though repaired with glue). It is the second typewriter in the collection with a German language typeset. Thus is has a few extra keys for accented characters and the eszett, and is a QWERTZ not a QWERTY keyboard!

Friday 8 September 2023

Churches (196) : St Giles, Matlock

The parish church of St Giles in Matlock, Derbyshire has medieval origins though much of the current church is due to later additions or rebuilds with the Perpendicular tower being one of the few survivors of the original church. The south porch was added in 1636 and the chancel 1859. The entire church was demolished in 1871 except for the tower and chancel and was completely rebuilt. The south aisle and a chapel were added in 1897. The vestry dates from 1907.

The church is built from local gritstone with freestone dressings.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Litton Imperial 1260

Before the typewriter collection, in the early 2000s there was the calculator collection. I built up quite a collection of the little machines, some of which you can see in this series. For a change i decided to buy a new (old) calculator last week, the first for years. That machine is this Litton Imperial 1260 which may date from July 1976 (it has a sticker with this written on it on the base anyway).

The calculator is AC mains powered and to my surprise does power up. It can't perform any calculations though unfortunately, maybe due to some bit rot in the calculator's CPU.

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Jewellery Quarter again

On Saturday i headed up to the Jewellery Quarter. I last visited in July but my trip had been curtained by some heavy rain so i went back to complete the job, including the fascinating Key Hill Cemetery. You can see my photos here.

Monday 4 September 2023

West Midlands Places (6) : Bartley Green

Nowadays part of Birmingham, Bartley Green was listed in the Domesday Book as Berchelai, the name probably referring to a clearing of birch trees. Bartley Green was part of the parish of Northfield and was part of Worcestershire until 1911 when it became part of Birmingham and was transferred to Warwickshire. Since 1974 it has been part of the West Midlands ceremonial county.

Following the Second World War, Bartley Green gained a lot of new housing as with other outlying suburbs of Birmingham. Bartley reservoir was established for drinking water in Birmingham and opened in 1930. Bartley Green is the home of Newman University which was founded in 1968.

Friday 1 September 2023

Churches (195) : St Nicholas, Baddesley Ensor

The parish church of St Nicholas in Baddesley Ensor in Warwickshire dates from 1848. It was built on the site of an earlier medieval church which was demolished. The Norman doorway of the church was reused elsewhere in the village.

The "new" church has a nave, chancel, a vestry tower to the south-east and a south porch. The tower has three stages and a spire. The church is built from regular coursed sandstone.