Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Am travelling a lot this week so a chance to look back at some posts from one of my favourite spots, The London Wetland Centre

The wetland Centre collection shows off the wonderful work that the Wetlands Trust do in helping to save and re-introduce endangered species from around the world. The centre collection area has also become home to native species such as the Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Mallard and helps promote other plants and insects.

Fulvous Whistling Duck

Fulvous Whistling Duck

photo by Sue

photo by Sue

Red Admiral. Photo by Sue

Red Admiral. Photo by Sue

Moorhen with chick. Photo by Sue

Moorhen with chick. Photo by Sue

Moorhen and chick. Photo by Sue

Moorhen and chick. Photo by Sue

White-headed Duck

White-headed Duck

There were three classes of Passengers on the SS Great Britain

Luxury in First Class

Comfort in Second Class

Not much privacy in Steerage

SS Great Britain

Posted: June 11, 2019 in Bristol, History, Ships, UK
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SS Great Britain, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was the world’s first ocean liner. Launched in 1843 she was the largest ship in the world with the most powerful engines. She also employed the highly innovative screw propeller system, rather than the conventional paddle wheels. She sailed from Bristol, a major terminus on Brunel’s Great Western Railway across the Atlantic to the USA. However, this was short-lived and the costs of running the ship and of refloating her after she ran aground off Northern Island in 1846 caused the owners to reconsider the whole project. Unable to afford the costs of repair they sold her.

From 1852 she carried emigrants travelling from the UK to Australia, carrying 700 passengers per trip, and in 1881 was converted from Steam and Sail power to a Sail only ship and used as a cargo vessel, plying between Bristol and the west coast of the USA. In 1886, having been damaged as she rounded Cape Horn, she sought refuge in Stanley Harbour in the Falkland Islands. The ship’s owners decided that the cost of repairs were too high and so they sold her to the Falkland Islands Company to be used as a floating Warehouse and later a coal bunker. In 1937 she was suttled and sunk.

In 1970 a project financed by Sir Jack Arnold Hayward was started to raise the ship. Repairs were carried out to make her sea-worthy enough to be towed back to Bristol, where she was placed in dry-dock, the same one she had been built in, and restoration commenced.

Bristol from the Water

Posted: June 10, 2019 in Bristol, History, UK

In Bristol for a meeting, but also some time to do a little sightseeing. Arriving at Temple Meads Station, I catch one of the Water Ferries which run along Bristol’s waterways.

It is a great way to see the city.

The Ferry stops at the City Centre

before continuing past brightly coloured residential suburbs

and houses and restaurants on the water

to my final destination: Brunel’s iconic ship SS Great Britain

Travelling through London Bridge railway station yesterday I was surprised to see a Spitfire on the concourse.

It was part of the 75th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings.

Always something new to learn about London. What an unusual story!

Stephen Liddell

Like many ancient cities, London has suffered its fair share of disasters, perhaps unduly so but whilst history is full of fires, wars, pestilence and biblical downpours, few places in the world can have suffered what is known as The Great Beer Flood of London.

It happened over 200 years ago on Monday 17th October 1814, a terrible disaster claimed the lives of at least 8 people in St Giles, London and was caused by a cataclysmic industrial accident which led to the sudden and unexpected tsunami of beer onto the streets around Tottenham Court Road.

The Horse Shoe Brewery stood at the corner of Great Russell Street and Tottenham Court Road. In 1810 the brewery, Meux and Company, had had a 22 foot high wooden fermentation tank installed on the premises. Held together with massive iron rings, containing a brew not dissimilar to stout, it is thought that the…

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Naturelog: 11th May

Posted: May 29, 2019 in Birds, Natural History, Norfolk, UK
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On the way back to London from Lincolnshire, we stopped again at Welney Wetlands reserve in Norfolk. We had hoped of seeing a Common Crane that had been seen earlier that morning but it remained hidden during our visit. The highlight was seeing a Little Ringed Plover on a nest and a Western Marsh Harrier.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

On our way to Lincoln, we stopped off at Kirkby gravel pits, a nature reserve run by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. The highlight here was the large nesting colony of Black-headed Gulls.

Coot with Young

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

The old part of Lincoln is situated on a hill overlooking the River and has been occupied since Roman times.

The remains of a Roman gateway to Lincoln

The old town is full of medieval buildings

The towers of the Cathedral dominate the skyline

Centuries prior to the building of the Norman castle, the Romans had built a legionary fortress on the hill overlooking the River Witham.

The Normans created a motte and bailey castle here in 1068. Stone castle walls were erected by the end of the 11th century, replacing the original wooden palisade and a stone keep was also added shortly afterwards.

In 1141, Lincoln was the site of a battle ‘The Joust of Lincoln’ in the war between Stephen and Matilda for the English throne. King Stephen was captured during the battle and was held for some months before being exchanged for Matilda’s half-brother. Stephen went on to win the war and established himself firmly as England’s King.

It was beseiged 1191 and again in 1217 during the troubles between King John and the Barons and the castle held on both occasions under the control of its formidable constable, Lady Nicola de la Haye. It was also beseiged in 1644 when it was held by Royalists against the Parliamentarian forces although on this occasion it was forced to surrender.

In 1788 a prison block was built within the castle holding both criminals and debtors. In 1826 a courthouse building was added to the castle interior and in 1848 the criminal part of the jail was demolished and a new prison was built to hold short term prisoners awaiting trial at the Lincoln courts. This prison was one of the first to use the ‘separate system’ in which prisoners had their own cells. However, due to the number of prisoners who needed to be housed this was soon abandoned. The prison closed in 1878, just 30 years after its opening.

Today the prison and the castle walls are open to the public. In a specially designed vault in the castle grounds, it is also possible to see a number of ancient documents including Lincoln’s copy of Magna Carta.