Archive for February, 2019

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The launch of HMS Trafalgar

HMS Trafalgar was a 120 gun ship of the Line built at Woolwich in 1840-41. In an age of great change for the Royal Navy she was the last ship of her type to be built. She was launced by a neice of Admiral Lord Nelson in the presence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert using a bottle of wine taken from the stores of HMS Victory at the time of the battle of Trafalgar. 100 Trafalger veterns were on the ship for the launch. She took part in the bombardment of Sebastapol in the Crimean war in 1854. She was converted to screw propulsion in 1859 and retired from active service in 1873. She was renamed HMS Boscawan and sent to Portland Harbour to act as a training vessel. She was retired in 1906 when the training school moved to a land base in East Anglia.

Figurehead from HMS Trafalgar (Admiral Lord Nelson). Now in Historic Dockyard Portsmouth

Figurehead from HMS Trafalgar (Admiral Lord Nelson). Now in Historic Dockyard Portsmouth

Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth

Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth

In January 1510, Henry VIII signed a warrant for the construction of two new warships. The largest of the two was to be called the Mary Rose. The name was chosen as it had both personal and religious significance. The Mary refers to both Henry’s sister and to the Virgin Mary, patroness of England, whilst the rose symbolises both the Tudor Rose, the family emblem of the Royal family and the mystic rose a symbol of the Virgin Mary.

Model of Mary Rose

Model of Mary Rose

Mary Rose was launched on July 1511 and saw active service in three wars with France. It easy when we think about Tudor warships to imagine that they were like those of the later Napoleonic era, floating gun platforms designed to inflict the maximum amount of damage on an enemy ship at range. But Tudor warships were designed to be a platform for transporting soldiers, the main naval tactics of the day being to come alongside an enemy and bought them and overpower them on their own decks. This can be seen as only five of the guns aboard Mary Rose could be classified as ‘big guns’.

At the battle of the Solent in July 1545, the Mary Rose was effecting a term when suddenly she heeled over to one side and began to sink. There are many accounts of this sinking and of the reasons for it. However, it appears only one of these accounts was actually written by somebody who was on the Mary Rose and survived to tell the tale. According to this report, the lowest set of gum ports on the ship were not closed before the turning manoeuvre was undertaken. In itself, this might not have been a problem but as the ship turned the wind caught her sails and caused her to heel over much more than usual. The open gum ports were now below the water level and water flooded into the deck. This then probably caused a series of other events to occur and the ship was not able to right herself and began to sink. Less than 10% of a crew of 400 made it back to the shore.

Mary Rose lay in the silt of the Solent until 1965 when a group of divers began to search for the wreck. In 1970, they found a gun barrel in the silt. This long gun known as a ‘sling’ was a type of long-range gun which dated from before the end of the 16th century. This gave them a clue that they were in the right area and the following year the first timbers of the ship were found.

The Sling gun found in 1970

The Sling gun found in 1970

After many years of planning and excavation, the remains of the wreck were finally lifted from the seabed in October 1982 and, after works had been carried out put on display at a museum in Portsmouth. The original Mary Rose Museum opened in 1983, has now been replaced by a new museum which opened in May 2013 and enables a much better display the ship itself and the artefacts that were excavated from it.

The ship's structure as it looks today

The ship’s structure as it looks today

HMS Warrior

Posted: February 26, 2019 in History
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Timsvideochannel1 (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8mWulo_qPrlXZZw98nbR7g)

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4468 Mallard was built at Doncaster in 1938. The A4 class was designed for the North-Eastern Railway by Sir Nigel Gresley to pull high speed express trains. Mallard remained in service until 1963 working the route between London and Edinburgh. Mallard is the holder of the record for the fastest steam train in the world at 125.88 MPH. This record was achieved on 3rd July 1938 on the Stoke bank section of the east coast line near Grantham. It was a risky business as a curve occurred in the line just beyond the Stoke bank and the engine needed to break heavily to ensure it remained on the rails, During this the engine overheated (a problem that had been foreseen) and the engine had to be removed from service for repairs. Mallard also took part in the 1948 Locomotive exchange trials when locos from different regions of the newly formed BR were trialed on routes they did not usually run. Mallard hauled a train from London Waterloo to Salisbury but failed following the run and was removed from the trial. Mallard also pulled the last Steam hailed flagship ‘Elizabethan’ express from London to Edinburgh on 8th September 1961.

In the 1980s the engine was restored to working order and after being used for a number of years for pulling railtours become part of the static collection at the National Railway Museum, firstly at York (till 2008) then at Shildon (2008-2010) and subsequently back at York.

The plaque on Mallard commemorating the Stoke bank record

The plaque on Mallard commemorating the Stoke bank record

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Smithfield is an area in the city of London. In early Medieval times, it was one of the few areas on the edge of the ancient city that was not marshland and became known as Smoothfield. Originally used as a mustering ground for troops, it soon developed other uses – as a jousting ground and a place of execution. It was the site of the Bartholomew Fayre which took place for 3 days every year and to the east lay the infirmary of St Batholomew’s Monastery (later St Bartholomew’s Hospital, one of London’s great teaching hospitals). Later a daily live cattle market was held here. In Victorian times this was moved further out of London and replaced by Smithfield Market a meat market. In order to transport the meat to the market, the Victorians built a dedicated underground railway station (now an underground car park) and covered the excavations with a garden, now known as West Smithfield Garden.

In the garden stands a statue of Peace. It dates from 1879 and is the work of John Birnie Philip. Originally she was one of a set (temperance, hope, faith and charity being the others) but the other 4 have been removed. There is a story that a local worker found a ring in the garden and not knowing who it belonged to placed it on the finger of the statue. Sadly I am told that even if this story is true then it is no longer there.

The Huntress Fountain, which is found in the Rose Garden in Hyde Park, is a bronze figure of Diana, Goddess of hunting. It dates from 1906 and was sculpted by Feodara Gleichen, the first female member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.

The Winter Sea

Posted: February 18, 2019 in Landscape, Natural History
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Pictures from the Dorset Coast

A Photographer looking for the best shot regardless of the conditions. I was pretty wet by the time I get back to the seafront (Photo by Sue)

Lyme Regis

Posted: February 15, 2019 in Dorset, UK
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This post is originally from the summer of 2014 and our first visit to Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis is a quiet coastal town and harbour in Dorset on the south coast of the UK.

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Lyme Regis - June 2005 - Ammonite Street Lights at Dusk
Street lights in Lyme Regis
Photo by Gareth Williams (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gareth1953/)

It’s fame springs from the fact that it provides one of the most accessible beaches along the Jurassic coast and has been a magnet for fossil hunters for at least 150 years.

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When Sue and I were in Dorset we paid a visit and went out on an organised fossil hunt. The leader explained what to look for and then took us to a place on the beach where there were likely to be fossils.

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The rest was down to us.

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Some ammonites we found on Lyme Regis beach