Touching a statue of Captain Cook to show respect

When I neared Admiralty Arch on the Mall in London last week  I saw a well-dressed man walk past the statue of the explorer Captain James Cook RN FRS.

As he neared me I asked him why he touched the statue as he walked by it. He said Captain Cook was one of Britain’s greatest hero’s, and touching the statue was a mark of respect to the great man.

In our short conversation I asked if he had been to Whitby with it’s strong connection to Captain Cook. He replied that he hadn’t, I suggested that were he to do so, then both the Whitby Museum and the Captain Cook Memorial Musuem were must visit places. On which we then parted. I then took this photo of the statue of Captain Cook.

The Arts Society Camberely’s next lecture

The Arts Society Camberley has well-regarded and professional lectureeers to deliver talks in their lecture series. If you’re keen to listen to them, for visitors it’s just £10 per lecture [details below].

Their upcoming talk by Adam Busiakiewicz on Wednesday 22 May 2019 is entitled Robert Dudley: The Patronage and Collection of Elizabeth I’s Favourite.

Memories of my motoring life in 1965

In spring cleaning some of our paper records I came across the invoices of my first motor cars.

Unlike today when teenagers get a motor car, I was in my early twenties before I could afford a car, and then it was a basic car. In June 1965 I bought a second-hand Ford Popular 103E for £30. The invoice doesn’t mention the year of manufacture or the mileage. The registration number was KRN 271.

Known at the time as a Ford Pop, it was basic motoring. Here’s the description of the car from Wikipedia.

The car was very basic. It was powered by a Ford Sidevalve 1172 cc, 30 bhp four-cylinder engine. It had a single vacuum-powered wiper, no heater, vinyl trim, and very little chrome; even the bumpers were painted. It had semaphore indicators, pull-wire starter, manual choke. No water pump, engine cooling by thermosyphon.

A car tested in 1954 recorded a top speed of 60.3 mph (97.0 km/h), accelerated from 0-50 mph (80 km/h) in 24.1 seconds, and had a fuel consumption of 36.4 miles per gallon.

I enjoyed using my car in the summer 1965, although the phrase I used to describe it was that “it couldn’t pull the skin of a rice pudding”. There is one experience with the car that’s burned into my memory.

In early autumn of 1965 I was on month-long non-residential training course at a college in Solihull, while at the time was living in southern Shropshire. It was an awkward railway journey  with two changes, though, on reflection it wasn’t that bad. I lived near a station and the college was near a station.

I’d got quite fond of my Ford Pop, and so thought it was worth doing the journey by car. The route, pre-motorway, was through the centre of Birmingham, and the very centre at that, through the traffic island at the Bull Ring Centre, pretty much the same sort of traffic intensity as Hyde Park Corner in London. Lots of roads leading into the island and lots of traffic.

And so it was, on a busy Monday morning I merged into the traffic on the island, only to hear an awful graunching sound from the car. I took the car out of gear. No change, the graunching noise continued. Leaving the island the road went down hill, and so offered the opportunity to switch the engine off, while still running downhill. Still no change to the graunching noise.

Nothing for it but to seek the help of a garage. Not too far on I pulled into Bristol Street Motors, a big garage. Asking a mechanic to check out the fault, came back the reply.

It’s the rear differential that’s gone, and no, son, we can’t repair it, as we wouldn’t know where to start looking for the parts.

I left the car with them, saying I’d be back to see them later in the week, and then caught a bus to the college. At the end of the week I went back to the garage, and ended up buying a second-hand green, 1963 Austin Mini,. The registration was 621 KOK, how odd that it was so similar to the 621 AOK in the British Motor Museum  About the Mini, well, that’s another story.

Great places to visit: Brooklands Museum

On the lovely warm and sunny Easter Sunday we visited Brooklands Museum in Weybridge. Our verdict, lots of fun seeing the historic motor vehicles, aircraft, and London buses. We’ve been before, although we’ve not previously spent as much time with the aircraft exhibits, which are well presented, some in the new flight shed. Nor have we previously spent time in the London Bus Museum, equally as good as the other parts of Brooklands Museum.

There is always a variety of cars to see in the member’s enclosure. To drool over, for petrol heads like me, there were a couple of well presented old Bentley’s, and a Chevrolet Corvette in tip-top condition.

On our next visit, whenever that will be, we’ll take the Concorde Experience tour, and ride on a Routemaster London Bus. Here are a few photos of our visit.

Discovering a new place to visit in Winchester

For Good Friday we decided on Portsmouth and its environs as the place to visit. That plan was frustrated by the horrors of traffic. Our thinking about turning round a going home was rejected. We wanted an outing, or whatever sort.

Quick reassessment, and decision was made to visit Winchester. Choosing quiet roads we arrived at Winchester to find car parking was free on bank holidays and Sundays. Excellent.

We’ve explored Winchester numerous time previously. In this visit, armed with a city map from the tourist information office, we spent more time around Kingsgate, and the tiny, and oddly placed church of St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate.

I know we’ve walked through Kingsgate before, though have not previously noticed the stairs leading to the church. It’s not what you expect, to find a church built into the city walls.

The structure of the stairs leading to the church are imposing. The wooden beams obviously centuries old. Inside it’s unprepossessing. An exposed wooden beamed roof, and a couple of small windows on each side of the church. What it does have is peace and quiet, away from the bustle of city life. I doubt you’ll resist the urge to sit and ponder.

Oh, almost forgot, we had a lovely lunch at Rick Stein restuarant. Here are my photos of the church.


Sound Mirrors uncovered at Fan Bay near Dover

I mentioned that, last Saturday, we attended the South East Region Industrial Archaeology Conference [SERIAC], held at Dartford Grammar School. I attend Surrey Industrial History Group talks, which is where I learned of the conference.

SERIAC is an annual one-day conference organized by a group of Societies in the southeast of England who have an interest in industrial history and archaeology.

In the conference programme there was one talk I was keen to listen to. It was on the subject of Sound Mirrors, and in particular the recent uncovering of two lost sound mirrors at Fan Bay near Dover.

Sound Mirrors were built between the two world wars as early warning detectors of approaching enemy aircraft from the sound of their engines. The convex mirrors work by concentrating sound waves of the plane’s engine so it could be heard before it was visible.

There are Sound Mirrors on the coast in Kent and a number in Yorkshire, built to give advance warning of approaching enemy airships. The increase in speed of aircraft and the invention of radar rendered them obsolete.

I’ve seen the sound mirrors at Denge in Dungeness from a distance, and have long wanted to learn more about them and to visit some.

Robert Hall’s lecture, in which he briefly described their history, focussed on the uncovering of two lost sound mirrors at Fan Bay, near Dover. Here are a few photos of his slides.

To learn more about these interesting monuments in our landscape, I recommend these web sites,