The register of the UK’s national historic ships

As we’re a maritime nation it’s surely right that we value our maritime heritage. We all know of some of our historic ships,  HMS Victory, Cutty Sark, HMS Belfast, and the SS Great Britain.

National Historic Ships UK is the organisation that oversees our maritime heritage. It’s a government funded, independent organisation that gives objective advice to UK governments, local authorities, funding bodies, and the historic ships sector on all matters relating to historic vessels in the UK.

Part of National Historic Ships UK is the National Register of Historic Vessels, which is a database of over 1300 significant vessels. Within the database is a list of some 200 or more vessels on the National Historic Fleet.

The prompt for this short article was our visit, earlier this year, to the Isle of Grain in the Thames estuary, and the surrounding area. We stopped for lunch at the excellent Ship and Trades in Chatham Maritime, and afterwards saw the partially restored Medway Queen paddle steamer moored at Gillingham Quay. She’s in the National Historic Fleet.

Lightwater’s All Saints’ Church impressive poppy cascade

It’s over a year now that Revd Derek Browning, Hon Curate of All Saints’ Church in Lightwater, wrote about a cascade of knitted poppies in the Roundabout Lightwater parish magazine.

Derek, also being Chaplain to the Windlesham branch of the Royal British Legion, suggested that a cascade of knitted poppies would be a special way to mark the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on 11th November 2018.

At Lightwater’s recent village fête All Saints’ Church had a wonderful display of information about the men of Lightwater killed in the First World War. What stood out was the display of some 750 knitted and crocheted poppies made into two large poppies hanging from the chancel arch.

The display contains just a quarter of the poppies knitted so far. Derek’s hope has surely been met that the communities of Bagshot, Lightwater, Windlesham, and beyond could be encouraged to knit poppies for a large cascade to be hung outside at the front of the church for the lead up to this year’s armistice commemoration.

We attended the fete, and saw the magnificent poppy display in the church. Knowing that this was a temporary display I felt an urge to record the event on video, and to speak to Derek and his wife Carol. Not my best video, but important to record a special one off event, however amateurish on my part.

The Great Bagshot River of antiquity

While researching online about Bagshot Sand, I came across mention of the Great Bagshot River.

I simply had to find out more. The first mention of the river was in the University of London’s [UCL] paper Sand on the Heath. The paper contains a map of the river, which was imagined to exist in the Eocene era, some 33 to 56 million years ago. It said of the river,

Putting these observations together builds up a picture of The Great Bagshot River flowing from SW England, across the Salisbury Plain, to deposit thick river sands in the London Basin. The lines of pebbles record periods of flood when the river had more potential to carry larger particles.

Below: This is the path that the Great Bagshot River probably followed about 50 million years ago. The river would have been a similar length to the Niger, Indus, or Ganges Rivers today.

The Great Bagshot River drained the ice sheets, which covered Britain, bringing the sand and pebbles that form the Bagshot Beds of today. The Great Bagshot River is also mentioned in an article on local Geology in the Woking History website, which usefully also includes a map of local geological structures [see below].  This article describes the formation of the Bagshot Beds, which are also described in Wikipedia’s Bagshot Formation, though a bit complicated to my reading.

Paul M Cooper’s articles on abandoned places

I’ve previously mentioned the excellent Twitter thread of @paulMMcooper, picking out his thread on the subject of the ruin of Nineveh, the ancient capital of Assyria. I said it was well worth a read, here’s the thread.

I’ve come across another of Paul’s super articles on Twitter, which he says is about “one of the most chilling abandoned places in the world is France’s Red Zone, or “Zone Rouge”. Here’s the thread, or click on the image below to link to the thread.

Mark Williams’ On The Rails Episode 1: Cornish Steam Giant

Every Friday for the next 10 weeks I’m posting an episode from Mark Williams Discovery TV channel programme, On The Rails, where he looks at the 200 years of Railways. In episode 1 Mark visits  Cornwall to track the development of the first locomotive by mine engineer Richard Trevithick in 1804.

The Golden Milestone in Rome

Our presentation on renovating the Surrey Heath milestones, that’s by Reg Davis and me, to Camberley and District Probus Club, went far better than Reg and I had anticipated. Funnily, it’s the first opportunity we’ve had to talk about milestone renovation project, so we should thank the club for taking a chance on two old blokes.

I won’t put the presentation here, as it’s not really the right format for it. What I will do is share with you some parts of our presentation. I began our talk by describing the history of milestones. Here’s that history.

The Romans introduced milestones throughout their empire. Remains of them have been found in France, Spain, North Africa, Israel, and of course in Britain. The Romans laid good quality, mostly straight, metalled roads in Britain. Their key purpose was to move soldiers and supplies quickly across their Empire.

They indicated distances by erecting milestones.  “A Roman unit of distance was the mille passum, which translates to ‘thousand paces.’ A pace was five Roman feet, meaning a Roman mile measured 5,000 feet. Hadrian’s Wall is 80 Roman miles long, and each mile was marked by a milecastle fort. These were used for controlling the movement of people, goods and livestock along the Wall.”¹

The first Roman milestone was erected in 20 BC in the Forum in Rome, from which all road distances were measured. It is known as the Golden Milestone – Milliarium Aureum. While no proven evidence of this pillar remains, a reference in Plutarch’s, Life of Galba, refers to an imposing gilded column. There are some supposed fragments of Milliarim Aureum in the Forum in Rome.

Here’s a photo of the fragments in the Forum, and the imagined Golden Milestone.  [Click on image to expand].