Saturday, 30 April 2016

The bridge was too low.

The Downs Link in Spring.

A couple of days ago I had a short ride on the Downs Link cycle track. This runs along the bed of the old railway from Guildford in Surrey to Shoreham by Sea. It was pleasant cycling, with bluebells carpeting the woods on both sides and the trees just bursting into leaf. Unfortunately I was not aware that a tunnel had been blocked up and the path diverted over the top. This was made known to me when I tackled the 200yds. at 1 in 5. I know it was that steep because that is the gradient at which the front wheel of my bicycle leaves the ground on each pedal stroke. With the back wheel skidding on the loose gravel it made for quite an interesting climb.

The bridge on a bridge over the River Arun.
But what about this bridge? It carried the original line of the Horsham and Guildford Direct Railway over the River Arun but when the line was opened in 1865, the inspector of the Board of Trade decreed that Rudgwick Station, sited on an incline of 1 in 60, was too steep to be used safely and so the railway company had to lessen the incline. It could only do this by raising the embankment and consequently, the bridge, which it achieved by simply building the girder bridge on top of the brick bridge.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Easter Island comes to Toddington Services.

It seems that I just cannot keep away from Toddington Service Station on the M1 motorway. Perhaps it is because I like walking over the original open-air footbridge which spans the carriageway.

This time, on my way up to Yorkshire, I discovered these three personages whose task, it seems, is to prevent the passage of wheeled vehicles along the sidewalk.

Our own little bit of Easter Island.

The Huddersfield View

Having some work to do in Yorkshire necessitated my staying for three nights in the Premier Inn, Huddersfield Central. I thoroughly recommend it; it is well placed, clean, quiet and, as usual with Premier Inns, the staff are very pleasant and helpful.

Huddersfield on a sunny day in April.

Its only disadvantage in my opinion is that the hotel is the wrong side of a six lane highway. Huddersfield is a town for car drivers. Pedestrians have to walk miles just to cross a road and don't think that you can just nip across at the traffic lights because in Huddersfield, motorists believe that stopping at the red traffic light is optional.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Brunel Trail – Cycle path or dog toilet?

Recently working in the region of Haverfordwest I decided to try the Brunel Trail, a cycle track laid on the bed of the old Great Western railway line from Haverfordwest to Neyland. 

It was a lovely Spring day and in many places the track was fringed by a tapestry of primroses and celandines.

At another point an almost nightmarish assembly of distorted trees leers and lunges at you as you cycle by.

I show you these pictures in preference to the sight that met us as we cycled through the settlement of Johnston. There we met the Johnstonians with their dogs. Dog discipline in this village is assured by the owner shouting, 'Damn you, dog, damn you dog.' as the brainless mutt runs alongside the bicycle in an attempt to chew the cyclist's shoes.

And in Johnston, the cycle path becomes a dog toilet with little monuments of steaming dog turds peppering the tarmac. 

Is this how you want your village to be known?

Saturday, 9 April 2016

From my old poetry book.

This was a contemporary take on a scientific achievement of the time. It does not make the poetry any better...

There was a space probe called Giotto,
Who chased Halley's Comet a lot-o,
He thought that the tail,
Was cold, just like hail,
But it wasn't – it was terribly hot-o.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 17

Continuing the series of passport photographs from my collection.
Peruse and wonder.

Juan Iglesis, a 45 year old Spaniard who had found refuge from the Civil War, is now living just over the border in Pyreneen France with his wife and teenage daughter. It is now November 1939 and once again he is in a country at war but this time he is a neutral foreigner. He needs a pass from the local police station to enable him to travel around the region. 

The purpose of his travelling is stated as 'commerce'; on his wife's pass the purpose is 'food and clothing'.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

A tramway reappears.

A short walk from the site of the future Mackeson Square, a building has been demolished. It used to be called the Old Tram Shed and one could see a railway track running into it from the street. I knew it as a teashop. I believe it latterly became an Indian restaurant.

Demolition of the Tram Shed has revealed this brickwork guilloche.
It has now gone and in doing so has revealed its ancestry. It was indeed the old tram shed and the brick building in front of which it stood was the offices and stables for the Folkestone, Hythe and Sandgate tramway. In the nineteenth century railway race to the Continent, the South Eastern Railway was hoping to run its tracks into the port of Folkestone to link with the packet boats sailing to Boulogne. They built the line as far as the Sandgate station but there they were baulked by the refusal of Lord Radnor to allow their tracks to run through his land. A solution was sought by building a tramway along the seafront from Hythe, through Sandgate to the bottom of Sandgate Hill, Folkestone.

The Tram Shed stood at right angles to the left of this building, giving the trams direct access to Red Lion Square.

Underneath the, now residential, building you can see the former stables for the horses which drew the tramcars.