Archive for the ‘London’ Category

The original West Gate at Twickenham rugby stadium contains a number of memorials.

The Lion, one of a pair, originally stood in front of the Lion Brewery on the South Bank of the Thames near Waterloo Station. The Brewery was demolished in 1948 to make way for the Royal Festival Hall. This lion was in storage until 1972, when it was presented to the RFU on their centenary by the London Council. The other lion of the pair can be seen on Westminster Bridge.

On top of the gates are 4 statues by Gerald Olgivie-Laing from the 1990’s representing 4 rugby players

There is also a memorial to George Rowland-Hill, President of the Rugby Football Union at the beginning of the last century.

The Rose and Poppy gates by Harry Gray were installed in 2016 as a memorial to all rugby players who have died in conflicts since the foundation of the Union in 1871. It has the Rose, the emblem of the England Rugby team, and poppies of remembrance on it.

Statues and Monuments: Line-out

Posted: February 5, 2019 in Art, London, UK
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This statue stands on the South Plaza of Twickenham Stadium, home of the England Rugby Union team.

The 27 ft tall sculpture depicts a line-out and around its base are the core values of the game: Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship. It was sculpted by Gerald Laing, who also created the sculptures which sit upon the stadium’s west gate.

First trip of the year for Keith and I to the London Wetland Centre.

On arrival, we heard that a Bittern was showing well from Hedley Hide and so we went off in that direction. sadly it had retreated into the reeds by the time we arrived and it was a 60-minute wait until we saw one fly out from the reeds and head across to another section of reed-bed. We did have the pleasure of a Sparrowhawk keeping us company in a nearby tree during our wait.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Our next stop was the Peacock Tower and a search for the resident wintering Jack Snipe and Water Pipit. The latter proved no problem although as soon as I got onto the bird it took flight and disappear from view. Another wait followed before I spotted one on their usual island. We were able to watch it feeding in and out of the vegetation for about 15 minutes before it was lost from view. Then a few minutes later, it or another one, ran across the island. I guess something had spooked it, although we couldn’t see any other bird in the area. keith reacting quickly managed to get a photograph as it passed across his lens view.

Having seen the specialities, there was time to wrap up the commoner species on the reserve.

Tufted Duck (male and female)
Eurasian Robin
Grey Heron (one of last years young)
Northern Pintail (2 males)

On our way to see if there was a Grey Wagtail in the Otter enclosure (our usual place to find them as they feed in the fast running water) we heard that a Bittern was again showing from Hedley hide and so we diverted there and this time we were lucky and it was still in view when we arrived.

Eurasian Bittern

The light was now failing fast and so it was time to call an end to a great day.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Eurasian Bittern [sp] (Botaurus stellaris)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull (Common) [group] (Larus canus canus/heinei)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Water Pipit [sp] (Anthus spinoletta)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A new year and a trip up to central London affords me the chance to spend an hour in Hyde Park. Starting at Lancaster Gate, I soon find a Redwing amongst the Blackbirds in the trees. On the Serpentine, there is the usual assortment of water birds whilst in the lakeside vegetation, Grey Squirrels and Ring-necked Parrakeets are taking advantage of the tourists offering food.

Grey Squirrel

Checking the Little Owl tree on the eastern side, there is no one at home. This used to be a reliable site but haven’t seen an owl here on my last 3 visits. Reaching the bridge I cross over to the western side and begin to trace my way north again.

Egyptian Goose
Great Cormorant

Once again, the Little Owl tree on this side turns up trumps as the owl is sunning itself in the entrance to the hole.

Continuing north I come to the leaf yard. This is a favourite bird feeding place for visitors and amongst the Parakeets, pigeons and squirrels there are a number of Great Tits and Blue Tits.

Great Tit

Also seen are a Coal Tit and a Wren skulking in the undergrowth.

Wren

My final point of call is the Italian Garden, where a Red-Crested Pochard has been seen recently. A smart looking bird, this is probably an escapee from one of the central London bird collections.

Red-Crested Pochard

Then its time to move onto my appointment, but a very good hour with some nice birds.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull (Common) [group] (Larus canus canus/heinei)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Little Owl [sp] (Athene noctua)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

UCI World Cup London: Day 3

Posted: December 19, 2018 in London, Sport, UK

Sue and I were back at the Lea Valley Velodrome for Day 3 of the UCI World Cup meeting.

The first event was the Men’s Sprint Semifinals

Jack Carlin (UK) preparing to race  Harri Lavreysen (Netherlands) in the semi final
Lavreysen would win 2 races to 1 and go onto win the Gold medal

After that there was the Woman’s Keiran; the Men’s Omnium Elimination race (in which Matt Walls from the UK came second to lead overall) and the Women’s Madison, where Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald, two of the UK’s top riders rode to Gold.

Kenny and Archibald await their medals
Laura Kenny recieves her Gold medal for the Madison

After the final of the men’s sprint, it was the points race in the Men’s Omnium. Matt Walls leading the competition rode superbly to ensure his Gold medal was secure.

Matt Walls with his Gold medal

 

UCI World Cup London

Posted: December 18, 2018 in London, Sport, UK

One of the things I love about track cycling is there is always plenty to see with all the activity going on in the centre of the track.

Each bike is weighed and checked before a race to ensure it conforms to regulations.

UCI World Cup, London : Day 2

Posted: December 17, 2018 in London, Sport, UK
Lea Valley Velodrome
(Photo by Peter O’Connor -https://www.flickr.com/photos/anemoneprojectors/)

Sur and I were at the Lea Valley Velodrome for Day 2 of the UCI Cycling World Cup in London.

Waiting for the start of the first race

The Omnium is cycling’s equivalent of the Pentahlon. It comprises 4 races over a single day. Race 3 is the elimination race, where there is a sprint every 2 laps and the last one to cross the line is out. This continues until 2 riders are left and they contest the final sprint.

Riders wait for start of Womens Omnium Elimination Race
Tatics are all about getting in the right position as you approach the line

The next event was the Mens Keiren which is a paced event where the riders are paced by a Derny bike until they reach a certain speed and then its a sprint to the line.

Derny Bike
The contestants start as the Derny passes them
Building up speed

Following this was the Women’s sprint, which although the shortest and quickest race starts off with a lot of tactics on the first lap with the riders sometimes coming to a complete stop as they manoeuvre for position and try to catch out their opponent, before a final 2 lap all out sprint for the finishing line.

Stephanie Morton (Australia) and Emma Hinze (Germany) manoeuvre for prime position on the track in the Women’s Sprint

Then there was the Men’s Madison which s a two-person team race where one rider is active at a time and points are scored by winning sprints or lapping the field. The riders in each team change status by tagging the other. The Silver medal was won by Fred Wright and Matt Walls of UK.

Walls and Wright wait for their medal ceremony
Matt Walls recieves his Silver medal

The final event was the points race in the Womens Omnium. The scoring is like the Maddison with points for winning sprints (every 10 laps) and for lapping the field, but this is an individual race.

Ice-Watch London

Posted: December 13, 2018 in Art, London, Natural History, UK
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“Put your hand on the ice, listen to it, smell it, look at it – and witness the ecological changes our world is undergoing” Olafur Eliasson

An artwork by Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing in the City of London. It aims to provide an immediate, tangible testimony to the effects of Climate change. The Greenland ice sheet is losing 200 to 300 billion tonnes of ice every year, raising sea levels around the globe. These large blocks came from a fjord in Greenland, where they had already detached from the ice sheet, just like 10,000 other such blocks which detach from the ice sheet every day.

24 hours later

The blocks will be on display until 21st December or whenever they melt away.

24 hours later

Thanks to Sue for the photographs

This statue of General Gordon is located in the riverside park at Gravesend in Kent, close to Gordon Promenade and Khartoum Square.

Gordon had been born in SE London in 1833, the son of an army officer. Gordon and all of his brothers joined the army when they were old enough. His first commision was to oversee the construction of defences at Milford Haven in Wales. It was whilst stationed here that he became a Christian, although he never aligned himself with any denomination and enjoyed attending services in many different churches. He once remarked to a priest that the church was much like the army ‘one army, but many different regiments’. 

He saw service in Crimea and China before returning to the UK in 1864 and was placed in command of the defences of the River Thames and its estuary. He based himself at Gravesend. His views on the defence of the river were ignored but, under protest, he carried out the plans of the War Office. In Gravesend Gordon is not remembered for his military activities, but for his work with the poor and homeless of the town including teaching at the ‘Ragged School’, feeding and housing homeless boys and the dedication on his statue ranks this work over any of his other achievements. He spent much of his salary on his chariable projects.

He left Gravesend in 1871 to work on the Danube navigation and then as war graves inspector in the Crimea. whilst on this trip he met the Prime Minister of Eygpt and he was attached to Eygptian forces (with the consent of the British Army). He was appointed governor of Equatoria (South Sudan and Northern Uganda). He did much to suppress the slave trade in the area. Eventually he became Governor-General of the Sudan. He worked to abolish torture and public floggings and became well-known for his obstenacy. He once joked that ‘the Gordons and camels are of the same race. let them get an idea into their heads and nothing will take it out’. He did much to maintain peace in the Sudan, including on one occasion riding into the rebel camp armed only with his cane to demand the surrender of the rebel forces.

Exhausted he resigned in 1879 and returned to London. He was in much demand. the King of Belgium offered him the Governorship of the Congo and the Cape Colony approached him to become its military commander. He became private secretary to the Governor-General of India but resigned after a few weeks because he found it boring. Against the wishes of the British Government, he travelled to China to try and broker peace in the tensions between China and Russia. After predicting that the actions of the ruling elite would eventually lead to a revolution of the people he was expelled from Beijing. Under threat of discharge from the army, Gordon returned to London. He set about championing land reform in Ireland, much to the annoyance of William Gladstone, the prime minister. He was soon sent off to command the Royal engineers in Mauritius, building defences against a possible Russian attack. He was posted to the Cape province the following year and in 1882 went to Palestine, where he visited the historic sites of Christianity.

He returned to London in 1883 and he was sent to Sudan to counter the Sudanese revolt led by the Mahdi. The situation worsened and following the defeat of the Egyptian army, Gordon was sent to Khartoum to evacuate the city. However, the Egyptians had other ideas and pressed him to take control and expel the Mahdi and his forces and he soon decided to hold the city against the rebel forces. The siege of Khartoum began in March 1884. The British Government had decided to abandon Sudan, hence the evacuation plan, but Gordon had other ideas and had great public support. In August the British Government bowed to public pressure and issued the orders for a relief force to be sent to Khartoum, but it was not until November that it was ready to leave.

In January 1885, the fort at Omdurman fell to the rebels enabling them to fire with cannon on the city. The relief force defeated a rebel army on 18 January leading the Mahdi to realise that if he was going to capture the city he needed to do so before the relief force arrived. It took only an hour for them to breach the defences and thereafter killed 10000 soldiers and civilians including Gordon. The relief force arrived on 28 January, two days after the city had fallen. Under heavy fire, they turned back from the city.

The failure to rescue Gordon was a major blow to the government’s popularity and Queen Victoria sent a telegram rebuking Gladstone for his lack of action. This was leaked to the press and added to the government’s unpopularity. Stones were thrown at the windows of 10 Downing Street and Gladstone was dubbed ‘Murderer of Gordon’. But they stuck by there decision to abandon Sudan.

The Mahdi, encouraged by the lack of international action established a state which reversed many of the reforms Gordon had introduced. It is estimated that between 1885 and 1898 approx 8 million people died in the lands controlled by the Mahdi. Eventually, in 1898 a force under general Kitchener comprehensively destroyed the rebel army at Omdurman. It was subsequently revealed that the expedition had eventually been sent because the British Government was concerned that the French might try to liberate Sudan and establish control.

The famous farting lamp of London

Posted: November 28, 2018 in History, London, UK
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Following on from my post about Frederick Winsor and the production of Gas in London, I was interested to read this post from Stephen Lidell which presents a whole different method of producing gas to light our streets.

Stephen Liddell

Last week I wrote on The Great Stink of 1868.  By chance todays post is on a related subject.  Many people will be aware that in the Victorian age, much of London was lit with gas lamps and in deed several places still are.   Less well known is that some of these lamps were powered by the gas from human sewage.

The Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp was invented in the late 19th century by the Birmingham inventor Joseph Webb. In London the lamps were used for two main reasons; firstly to burn off the smells and germs from London’s sewer system, and secondly as a low cost, low maintenance way to keep London lit up at night.

wp1e8f8dc3_1aPart of the original patent for the sewer lamps.

Methane was collected by a small dome in the roof of the sewer, with the gas then being diverted into the…

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