Thursday 28 March 2024

Churches (217) : St John the Evangelist, Upper Holloway

The parish church of St John the Evangelist in Upper Holloway, north London is a Commissioners' church built between 1826-28. The church has a nave and chancel with a clerestory. The nave has north and south aisles, and there is a west tower.

The church is built from white Suffolk brick laid in Flemish bond with a stone dressing.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Model week : Board complete

The new board is complete, and pretty solidly built too! Next will be to put a nice layer of card atop the wooden top which will hopefully be a good base for the new N gauge layout which will begin development in a week or so.

Monday 25 March 2024

West Midlands Places (12) : Brownhills

Brownhills is a town in the far north of the county, historically part of Staffordshire until 1974. Brownhills is on Watling Street and traces of habitation from Roman times or even earlier have been found in the area. However, Brownhills does not appear until it was listed as a hamlet of the manor of Ogley Hay in 1680 (back then it was just the one Brownhill!) The name may comes from the brown heaps of spoil from the mines in the area.

The mining industry was developed in the 17 and 18th centuries, Brownhills was reached by the Wyrley & Essington Canal in 1794. Brownhills had expanded to become a parish in 1838 with mining dominating the local economy well into the 20th century. The population rose from 305 in 1801 to over 13,000 in 1891. Brownhills became a town in 1877.

The vast majority of the working population worked in the mining industry, though as the 20th century dawned the mines began to close as they became exhausted. The last mine was closed in 1950. Brownhills went into a severe economic slump which various waves of redevelopment and investment have only partially reversed.

Sunday 24 March 2024


Yesterday's trip didn't go to plan. The plan was to take a train to Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway (which is in Bishopton) then walk along the Stratford Canal to Stratford itself. Unfortunately, due to the towpath collapsing into the canal (not while i was there i hasten to add!) i was only able to go a short way before i had to turn back. Oh well, just Bishopton it is this time but i can visit Stratford later in the year. You can see my photos here.

Friday 22 March 2024

Churches (216) : St Bartholomew, Roby

The parish church of St Bartholomew in Roby, Merseyside was built in 1875. The church has a nave with a clerestory, north and south aisles and a chancel with a round apse. The west tower has a broach spire.

The church is made from rock faced stone with an ashlar dressing.

Model week : Got wood

The new model railway project can proceed soon beyond planning to some actual hardware. I have bought some wood which will hopefully prove sufficient for the new baseboard. The new board will be about half of the size of the old one which should mean construction is not too difficult but we will just have to see...

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Trains and trams of southwest London

On Saturday i headed down with a well worked out plan for new stations to visit and cross off then i found out that the line i intended to be on was closed for engineering works! So, i headed down towards Wimbledon with an alternative plan i made up on the fly, to be honest as it included the south London trams as well it was probably a better plan in any case! You can see my photos here.

Monday 18 March 2024

West Midlands Places (11) : Solihull

Solihull is a market town to the south of Birmingham. It's name may be derived from "soily hill". Solihull was once covered with the ancient Forest of Arden though there has been settlement in the area since the Iron Age. Later on the Forest of Arden was part of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Solihull first appears as a village founded by the de Limsey family between 1170 and 1180. The parish church of St Alphege dates from the late 13th century though was built on the site of an earlier collapsed church, the location of this church on a soily hill may have given Solihull it's name! 

Solihull became well known for it's black smiths, the wood from the Forest of Arden providing ample fuel for the forges. Solihuill gained a market charter in 1242. However, the town remained small maybe overshadowed by the larger towns nearby such as Birmingham and Coventry which grew greatly during the Industrial Revolution. This has helped Solihull retain it's historic character and buildings that have been lost elsewhere. There is industry in Solihull of course, most notably these days a Jaguar Land Rover factory. Solihull is also home to Birmingham Airport (in Elmdon) and the National Exhibition Centre.

Solihull has many transport links including the M42 motorway and railway stations at Birmingham International and Solihull.

Friday 15 March 2024

Churches (215) : St Mary, Stamford

The parish church of St Mary in Stamford, Lincolnshire dates from the 12th century though the tower is 13th. A notable part of the church is it's 13/14th century north Corpus Christi chapel with it's decorated medieval wagon vault ceiling. The church was rebuilt in the 15th century.

The church's spire has been at risk of collapse for a number of times, work was carried out in 1788 and 1913 to strengthen it. The tower and spire together rise just over fifty metres. The church is made from rubble and limestone ashlar.

Thursday 14 March 2024


In 2013 i bought my first typewriter, and today i received my thirty first! The Silver-Reed Master II is a nice machine i found cheap on eBay, i know i often say this but it should be the last i buy for some time...

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Brother Deluxe

Me typing on my Brother Deluxe 1350, the first typewriter i bought back in 2013. Little did i know that just over ten years later i would have thirty. There is another on the way too.

Monday 11 March 2024

Golden Age (45) : The Leavenworth Case

The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green is a late 19th century crime story set in New York. A popular story in it's time and said to be Stanley Baldwin's favourite story. 

The story revolves around the murder of a rich merchant (Leavenworth). Suspicion falls upon the two nieces and a mysterious man. An investigator and a lawyer tackle the case.

Quite why this story was so popular is the true mystery (sorry Mr Baldwin!) I found the story a bit slow and tedious though it is undeniably well written but by the time you find out who was the murderer you have largely lost interest. It also suffers from a bit of over the top melodrama like many Victorian novels.

Sunday 10 March 2024


Yesterday i headed to Bedfordshire for the first time in a while (unless you count climbing the wooden hills every night). I went to Lidlington on the Marston Vale between Milton Keynes and Bedford which is a nice part of the country though not a great deal to see but it is always good to travel somewhere new! You can see my photos here.

Friday 8 March 2024

Churches (214) : St George the Martyr, Minworth

The parish church of St George the Martyr in Minworth, on the Birmingham - Warwickshire border near Curdworth, was built in the early 20th century and dedicated in 1909. The church has a simple layout in the Early English style and is made from brick. The church is not aligned east-west unlike most churches. The "east" side of the church almost points north.

A bellcote with a single bell was added to the church having originally come from a church in nearby Water Orton.

Thursday 7 March 2024

Around the shires

For a number of years i have operated a blog called Midlands Photos which is a photo blog of places (one different city, town or village as the week's theme) in the Midlands of England (the number of counties gradually increasing over time). 

However, i have decided to open this out to the entire country, instead of changing the existing blog i have replaced it with a new one called Around the shires which has been running in parallel for a few months and is now ready to take over. This is a similar site though will include non-Midlands counties and also outside of England too. It also will have a little more textual content than just photos chiefly a profile of the week's theme on the first day, it will also have more videos. The old blog will continue to exist though will probably not be updated after next week.

Monday 4 March 2024

Golden Age (44) : Death in White Pjyamas

Death in white pjyamas by John Bude mixes the world of murder with the even more treacherous world of the theatre! 

A group of actors are gathered at the estate of their rich backer to research before their next play. Crimes then begin to occur, first theft of money then finally the theatre set designer being found dead in a lake in her white pjyamas.

The story is a little slow to get going, and has a lot of characters who need to be established which doesn't help with the pacing early on but once it is up and running, and the police detective gets to work, it is a fine murder mystery.

Sunday 3 March 2024


This year i want to revisit the various Warwickshire railway stations i last visited in years past. So, i made a start with Earlswood which only just counts as a railway station of the shire, the county border literally crosses the platforms! There isn't a great deal around the station, it does make you wonder why stations like this could survive but places like Kingsbury lost theirs! Anyway you can see my photos here.

Friday 1 March 2024

Churches (213) : St Mary, Chepstow

The priory and parish church of St Mary in Chepstow (Cas-gwent) in Monmouthshire dates from the late 11th century. The priory was founded in 1072 by the Benedictines, later the nave of the church became the parish church. After the Dissolution of the priory in 1536 the other priory buildings around the church were demolished, the choir church and chapterhouse were also lost.

Although parts of the original Norman church remain, including the main doorway, there have been a lot of changes to the church over the subsequent centuries. The church originally had a central tower which collapsed in 1701, destroying the tower and the transepts. A new west tower was built to replace it over the Norman doorway. The church is built from local yellow sandstone, rubble and ashlar.