Tuesday, 29 June 2010

New Dr. Who Series

I can now reveal that the next Dr. Who series will involve the Leeds & Liverpool Canal after the Tardis was spotted near Foulridge Tunnel.
Back in Lancs
Excuses for absence of blog postings:
1) Out of mobile range for a few days
2) Grandparent duties
3) Supporting England in World Cup fiasco
4) Too much sunny weather (brain cells don't work properly)
Yesterday we took the grandchildren to Blackpool by train. The forecast was for glorious sunshine all day so we took the big umbrella. By the time we arrived the sun had gone and by 4pm it was raining quite hard. Good thing we studied the weather forecast before setting off.
Today we crossed the border without incident(see picture, above) and are now back in Lancashire.
The reservoir is looking very sad here and the locks are restricted to operation between 10-12 and 2-4pm. There is talk on the towpath of further restriction to three day working only. The long Wigan flight is currently only accessible between 10-11am daily. It is hard to believe that in November it rained up here non-stop and now the canal reservoirs are only 40% full.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Lights, Camera, Action
The canal is short of water and we are being exhorted by BW to share locks with another boat.
This is not as easy as you would think on the Leeds & Liverpool canal east of Bingley. We haven't seen another boat! It really is devoid of boats once you are beyond the range of the hireboats (All of which, incidentally, begin with S - Skipton, Silsden, Snaygill)
Our route from Shipley to Riddlesden involved the ascent of the Bingley staircases. Both are manned by BW lock-keepers and their skill and experience made the passage up the staircases on our own very comfortable. I is refreshing when one finds a BW employee who knows what he is doing.
When we moored up by Puffer Parts near Keighley, the little tug, Anna, came past with the camera crew from a German TV station who are making a programme about the Leeds - Liverpool canal link. They certainly had the weather for it today.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Arcade Games
As we had chickened out of travelling down to Leeds by canal we took the bus today. Not a bad run from Shipley with many glimpses of the canal on the way. On arrival we walked down to see the recently renovated Clarence Basin next to the Armoury Museum. The location in the city is excellent and there is electricity available at each mooring but the Elsan and refuse disposal is 300 yards through the lock and down the river.
After a brief look around the museum we wandered around the city for a while. there is some interesting architecture as one would expect in such an important city.

In particular we found the Corn Exchange most enjoyable. It is now converted inside to house a number of boutiques but is very sparsely populated at present.

There are also a number of quite elegant Victorian shopping arcades.

Less glamorous but equally interesting was this piece of street furniture. It appears to be a form of stench pipe but not similar in dimensions to anything I have seen before.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Organist Entertains
A rainy Sunday in Shipley.
Sounds like a painting by L. S. Lowry or a short story by Alan Sillitoe but as the location is wrong for both these gentlemen it will become no more exalted than a post on my blog. To brighten up our Sunday afternoon we took ourselves off to see what was afoot in Saltaire whence we gravitated towards the beautiful Victoria Hall. This used to be the Club and Institute for the workers at Salt's Mill.
After many years of declining the offer from The Cinema Organ Society, the hall management finally acceded to the installation of the Wurlitzer organ which had previously graced the Gaumont cinema in Oldham. Not only did the Society supply the organ, they paid the £20,ooo cost of installation. The superb acoustics of the hall make this an ideal setting for the instrument, and, in accordance with the terms of the gift, the Society holds an organ concert here every month. This month the resident organist from the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool - Phil Kelsall - is performing.
The concert starts with the organ rising through the stage floor whilst I do like to be beside the seaside is played. We are a good distance from the seaside but I guess there is a certain tradition in this. I am immediately transported back to my childhood when Reginald Dixon held this post and performed every week on the Light Programme.
The Wurlitzer is an amazing instrument - powerful and versatile - and in the skillful hand s of Phil Kelsall demonstrates these qualities admirably. Personally, I find this kind of music tiring. the relentless and solid nature of the harmonics and lack of definition to individual notes reminds me of mashed potato.
On this occasion a brighter interlude was provided by a charming and talented singer - Claudia Myles whose repertoire included some beautiful renditions of popular songs. She also provided a more attractive vision than Phil's back!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Curry and Chicks
Once a year Bradford holds a festival of Asian Culture - the Mela.
Today is the first day of the 2010 Mela which is taking place in Peel Park. The sun is shining music is pounding out from five stages around the park and the whole place is a riot of colour. many of the Asian ladies are dressed in their finery and are most attractive. She who must be obeyed bans me from photographing them so you will have to make do with a couple of fairies and a picture of the fairground.
At least I am not boring you with the statue of Sir Robert Peel. You will remember from our blogs from Tamworth that the Peel family transferred their manufacturing from the north to the midlands when they encountered labour problems. However they did leave this delightful park for the people of Bradford.
As the bus journey and en trace to the park were both free we splashed out on an al fresco dinner. Chicken Korma, Lamb Madras, Dal curry and rice for two - £5 including a delightful polystyrene tray and one plastic spoon. Followed by four gulabjam, what more could anyone want?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Police frogmen search canal at Shipley
After checking the River Aire at Saltaire on Monday, the West Yorks Police Underwater and Specialist Search Unit were checking the L & L Canal opposite our boat near bodge 207E in Shipley today.
We returned from the library at 11.30 to find them just packing up and they left soon at fer.
Is this a new direction in the search for remains of the third missing Bradford prostitute?

Police frogmen searching the River Aire at Saltaire on Monday June 7
More NewZ from the Travel Diary...
A Bit Steep!
In our five weeks touring New Zealand we encountered only one person who was less than polite and friendly. This was at an historic house where I presumabley asked the wrong question of the receptionist. My enquiry as to whether there was a discount for senior citizens elicited a tirade which included:
"We don't get discount in England. You give discount to your new European friends but have forgotten you colonial relaltions. Besides you all retire at 60 and we retire at 65"

If, like me, you think that was a bit steep you should try Baldwin Street which is claimed to be the steepest street in the world. I walked up it - one side is all steps - but she who drives the car stayed at the bottom.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

More NewZ from the Travel Diary....
Hang the Judge
I am not sure if this a Scottish tradition, but in Dunedin every judge who sits in the regional court is hung in the robing room. We learned this from a very kind security officer at the court who, on Easter Monday, gave us an impromptu guided tour of the robing room and library. This was followed by a visit to the main courtroom where our guide asked the judge how long she would be because there were some foreign visitors who wanted to photograph the courtroom. The response was in keeping with things that day "don't mind me"
The tradition of hanging the judges was started by a local newspaper cartoonist. Since his death it has been continued with digital photographs and Photoshop.

Our unofficial tour included the court library where cases are prepared by local lawyers at this usefully designed table.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Crime and Punishment in Saltaire
This was found by Roger Clarke in the Shipley Times and Express of May 1880:
Arthur Spencer (13) and John Bower (12) stole property to the value of 2/- from Crabtrees confectionery shop of Westgate, Shipley. They gained entry down a cellar grate and stole 6d in copper, wine, ginger beer, keys, a hair brush, a riding whip and a cork remover. They were later found by a policeman asleep in a hamper. Bower, of previous good character, was discharged with a caution. Spencer was regarded as having led him astray and was sentenced to a period on a training ship until he should be 16 years of age.
I wonder what the policeman was doing asleep in a hamper.
More NewZ from the travel diary....
Mar 22-23 Dunedin

The old Gaelic name for Edinburgh was Dùn Èideann and Dunedin on the coast of Otago thinks it is Scottish. Even the school uniforms are tartan!

The railway station would not lok out of place in Edinburgh either, with its baronial style of architecture. .

A look inside is rewarded by an attention to detail that is often absent today

Monday, 7 June 2010

Salt of the earth
On the banks of the River Aire, where police have been retrieving the gruesome remains which were monopolising the news papers before the more recent tragedy in Cumbria, is the delightful village of Saltaire. It was designed and built from scratch by Titus Salt for the workforce of his new woollen mill. Titus Salt had become a successful worsted manufacturer with five mills around Bradford when, in 1851, he decided he could be even more successful if he consolidated all the production processes into one building. Two years later he had created Saltaire. The main factory building has a frontage of 545 ft and its six storeys attained a height of 72 ft. Straddling the Leeds & Liverpool canal and with a railway alongside the factory it was well located. The original plan was to use the River Aire to provide water power but this proved inadequate and steam engines were installed. The engine beds alone required 2400 tons of stone so this was a sizable operation. The mill housed 1200 looms and over 2000 employees producing 18 miles of cloth a day for which the steam engines consumed 50 tons of coal.
Consolidation was not the only motive for the move. Titus Salt had become aware of, and increasingly concerned at, the poor health of his workforce in Bradford. A survey of 161 woolcombers in 1844 showed that their average age at death was 14 years 2 months! Salt formed the opinion that poor housing and lack of education were the main causes and that alcohol did much to exacerbate this. At Saltaire, therefore, he built over 800 houses and his workforce were encouraged to move from Bradford to the new village of Saltaire. Each house was equipped with water, drainage, gas and a back yard with private toilet. The size and style of the houses reflected the status of the employee but there was no segregation in the street layout. The village was laid out on a grid plan and communal buildings were also provided - church, school, club and institute, infirmary, allotments , bath house, 40 shops,Sunday school and alms houses. But no pub. A dining hall for those not living in Saltaire was built opposite the factory and linked by a tunnel under the road. There were generally 600 taking breakfast and 700 at dinner.

Every house had a back yard to facilitaate removal of waste
Census figures indicate the average occupancy of these two up/two down houses was five people.

Overseers houses had the luxury of a small front garden.
Three stroey units were often for unmarried workers but proved unpopular and were adapted for more senior staff.

Salt was not the first mill owner to develop a paternalistic stance. Robert Owen - the father of the co-operative movement - had done something similar at New Lanark 40 years earlier and closer in time and geography the Akroyd brothers had built 132 terraced houses for their workers in Halifax in 1847.
What makes Saltaire so important is the scale of the enterprise.

Woollen production ceased in 1986 and today the mill houses retail and exhibition units including a large collection of Hockney paintings, and a large bookshop. The village still retains its unique atmosphere. One feels that the residents appreciate this and are at ease with it.
If you visit Saltaire try to take refreshment at Vicars Cafe/Bistro where 10% of the profits go to support an AIDS charity in Zimbabwe.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

What Four ?!?!?
The water shortage on this canal is making it difficult for us to find moorings. We arrived at the top of Bingley five-rise yesterday afternoon and could not get the stern any closer than four feet from the bank. This was at ten to three and I was listening to the play on radio four so we tarried awhile before tackling the problem. A chat with the lock keeper confirmed that the last descent of the staircase was under way and that if we were prepared to start down at nine this morning we could moor on the lock bollards. Of course, once the locks were closed the water level rose overnight and we were floating quite nicely by the morning. Our partner in the locks was to be a considerably shorter boat - Tom Pudding - who we had seen at Gargrave just after being blacked but when this morning dawned their starter battery was dead and we had to descend alone. In the event this was quite useful as we are finding these locks a little short. The problem when descending is that to allow the bottom gates to be opened it is necessary to pull the boat right back to the cill but the top gates are so leaky the water cascades over the counter. With she who must be obeyed taking orders from the lock keeper (hurrah) we completed the five locks in 30 minutes.
A few hundred yards later we descended the three-rise next to that famous manufacturer of warm undies.
This was followed by a two-rise staircase and a singleton.

Our run for the day, therefore being 5-3-2-1. Which reminded me of a joke John Cleese made during an interval in a recording of Monty Python which we attended back in the 1970s.
Dad is surprised in the shower by young son...
Son: Dad, what are those for?
Dad: Four?!?!
The water here is quite clear so we have a good view of the rocks which prevent us mooring by Salts Mill at Saltaire and we eventually found a spot on the offside.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Lest we forget
Water levels are down and BW has introduced restrictions on lock operation. Today we have a lock-free day as we travel from Skipton to Bingley. Lock free it may be but seventeen swing bridges make up for the absence of locks.
By one of these swing bridges - number 183 - there is a monument to seven Polish airmen who died near here in September 1943.
Returning to Cumberland from a routine training flight, the port wing and engine fell off their Wellington Mk XI bomber when a spar failed and the plane plunged into the ground at a point known locally as Winifred's Gate. The airmen were aged 21 - 31 and one had been married only three weeks. When this memorial was inaugurated in 2007 his widow had been traced and participated in the ceremony.
Fifty yards further on there is a smaller but more poignant memorial at the actual site of the crash. This was created by local Poles and is tended by them.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Curry & Chips
Arrived in Skipton over a week ago and have been busy with three dental appointments, two optician visits and one outing.
Our first priority when we arrived, however, was to visit Bizzie Lizzie's which is unrivalled for fish and chips in this area. If you do not need half a hundredweight of chips then the OAP special is extremely good value. Second priority was to go to our secret pie maker. Here we bought real sausage rolls - that is real sausage meat in real pastry. I have it on good authority that the real sausage roll is now on WWF endangered species list. We are therefore sworn to secrecy to prevent plundering. Whilst there we also bought some potted meat for our sandwiches and savoury duck (faggots to us southerners). Once stocked up I was ready for the dentist, but not, alas, for his bill. Why does dentistry not come with a warranty?
I have finally decided that driving into the sun when it does grace us with its presence has become intolerable as the reflection on water and boat roof blinds me. And so to the optician to rack up another bill for polarising specs. Should have them in a couple of weeks and am very hopeful of success.
Graham and Joyce from the Watford and District Industrial History Society were staying at their local cottage recently and called to take us out for the day in their car. These trips occur from time to time whilst we are up north as Joyce is a Yorkshire lass and their enthusiasm for her home county ensure we have an interesting and enjoyable time. This trip took us to The Sawley Arms for lunch where they specialise in home made pies. (Made on the premises, not in a distant factory) That clarification may seem unnecessary to theorists but we have encountered many home made dishes whose parentage is very suspect.
After lunch we visited Brimham Rocks near Harrogate. This is part of the National Trust portfolio and are some of the most friendly sandstone outcrops we have encountered. Plenty of space for children and picnics and many manageable climbs.
Back in Skipton we found Boo Dee's Curry Boat moored close to us. We have been leap-frogging it for a few days and not spoken to the crew so we made amends forthwith. The couple on here have just started making and selling ready-cooked curries which they vacuum pack for boil-in-the-bag reheating. Whenever we cook spicy food or fish the smell insinuates itself into everything in the wardrobe so this sounds a good idea. When we next meet them we will try their wares and report our findings.