Archive for July, 2015

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A trip to Didcot in Oxfordshire for a steam day at the Great Western Railway Centre. The last time I was here was for the re-introduction into service of the magnificent ‘King class’ King Edward II, but today this locomotive was only on static display in the yard.

King Edward II

King Edward II

The working engine on the main line today was the 2-6-2T No 4144, a representative of the type of engines seen both pre and post WWII on GWR suburban lines.

4414 in steam on the main line

4414 in steam on the main line

The engine on the branch line was 0-6-0T pannier shunting engine.

3650 on the branch line at Burlescombe Station

3650 on the branch line at Burlescombe Station

In the yard Phantom was engaged in a series of shunting manoeuvres.

Phantom undertaking shunting manoeuvres in the yard

Phantom undertaking shunting manoeuvres in the yard

After this I spent sometime looking around the museum and the other displays that tell the history of Didcot and the GWR, which was very interesting. One photo which caught my attention was off a group of young train-spotters happily sitting on a platform edge dangling their legs over the edge. I could not imagine what would happen if someone did that today!

As I left the centre 4144 had joined King Edward II on the engine shed yard.

King Edward II and 4144 on the yard outside the Engine shed

King Edward II and 4144 on the yard outside the Engine shed

A very pleasant way to spend a few hours.

 

A model of Segedunum fort c 200AD

A model of Segedunum fort c 200AD

The eastern end of Hadrian’s wall was at Segedunum Roman Fort on the Tyne estuary, east of Newcastle. The main wall, which at this point was 2.3m wide and 4,5m high met the fort on it’s eastern wall.

Model of Hadrian's wall at its eastern end

Model of Hadrian’s wall at its eastern end

A small branch wall then ran down from the south wall of the fort to the river’s edge and a monument situated in the river.

Remains of branch wall south of fort

Remains of branch wall south of fort

Artist's impression of monument at river end of branch wall

Artist’s impression of monument at river end of branch wall

This site had been chosen because it was on a bend in the river and gave excellent visibility in all directions. Fortlets existed on the Northern side of the estuary between Segedunum and the estuary mouth, which was guarded by the fort of Arbeia (modern day South Shields) on the south bank.

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This bronze by the American artist J Seward Johnson is formt he JP Morgan Chase Art Collection. It was made in 1983 and originally stood on the corner of Park avenue and 47th Street in New York before being moved to John Carpenter St in the city of London this year.

The site of Segedunum Fort from the Tower Observatory

The site of Segedunum Fort from the Tower Observatory

Wallsend is now a suburb of Newcastle. The name dates from the 11th century and refers to the most eastern end of Hadrians Wall, which runs from The west coast at the Solway Firth to the Tyne estuary on the east coast. The wall was built during the reign of Hadrian (cAD 122) as a frontier line for the empire. It took about 6 years to build.

 

Bust of Emperor Hadrian

Bust of Emperor Hadrian

The Roman name for Wallsend was Segedunum a word composed from two British words meaning ‘strong place’ and ‘victory fort’. It is not known why the Romans used British words for the names of forts, but we can imagine that they were a message to the conquered people in a language they would understand, since few Celts would have spoken Latin.

Barrack block at Segedunum

Barrack block at Segedunum

Central building complex at Segedunum Fort

Central building complex at Segedunum Fort

A model of Segedunum fort c 200AD

A model of Segedunum fort c 200AD

The Fort at Segedunum was occupied by a mixed auxilliary force of cavalry and infantry. In AD 200 this comprised of 480 Infantry and 120 cavalry, although this may have varied over time. It was occupied for over 300 years.

Cavalry auxiliary c 200AD

Cavalry auxiliary c 200AD

Pottery found at Segedunum fort

Pottery found at Segedunum fort

Jar found at Segedunum fort

Jar found at Segedunum fort

Eastern Veil Nebula

Posted: July 27, 2015 in Astronomy
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Eastern Veil Nebula (colour image)

Eastern Veil Nebula (colour image)

This is a new target for me. The eastern veil nebula forms part of an area of heated ionized gas known collectively as the Veil Nebula. It is the remnant of a supernova that exploded 5-8 thousand years ago. It can be found in the constellation Cygnus and is approx 1470 light years from earth.

Eastern Veil Nebula (Omega -3 filter)

Eastern Veil Nebula (Omega -3 filter)

Eastern Veil Nebula (H-alpha filter)

Eastern Veil Nebula (H-alpha filter)

I found this really amazing photo of the nebula taken by the Hubble telescope

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The Response is a war memorial dedicated to the Northumberland Fusiliers. The bronze on the front depicts a group of soldiers from the regiment leaving for war in October 1914. On the rear is a carving of St George flanked by two members of the Fusiliers from 1674 and 1919. It stands next to the church of St Thomas the Martyr by Barras Bridge. The sculptor was Sir William Gascombe John who had studied in Paris under Rodin. It was unvieled in July 1923 and was restored in 2007.

 

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Little Grebe

Posted: July 25, 2015 in Birds, Natural History
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Little Grebe is always one of my favourite birds to photograph. Here are a few pictures from the archive.

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Tynemouth Priory and Castle from town

Tynemouth Priory and Castle from town

In the late 19th century the site was used for Army barracks, but this ceased when some of the blocks were destroyed by fire in 1936.

Tynemouth castle as an 19th century army barracks

Tynemouth castle as an 19th century army barracks

The site was again put to military use in World War I when a coastal battery command post was established on the headland and in World War II when a coastal defence battery was sited here.

WWII coastal battery

WWII coastal battery

WWII coastal battery casement stores (where shells and charges were stored (separately) for the battery above

WWII coastal battery casement stores (where shells and charges were stored (separately) for the battery above

The site was vacated by the Ministry of Defence in 1960, at which time they demolished most of the remaining 19th/ 20th century buildings on the site. In 1980 a new coastguard station was opened with in the ruins of the old Priory. However, this was short lived and it was closed again in 2001.

Coastguard building 1980=2001

Coastguard building 1980-2001

The site is now managed by English Heritage as a historical site.

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Tynemouth Priory was refounded around the year 1090 and in 1093 was the site of burial of King Malcolm the third of Scotland after he had been killed at the Battle of Alnwick (it is believed that at some later date, the King’s body was removed from Tynemouth and reburied in Dunfermline).
The Priory continue to be redeveloped throughout the 13th and 14th centuries with the addition of new buildings, new walls and a new gatehouse. It is believed this was a result of increased raiding into Northumbria from Scotland.

Gatehouse

Gatehouse

In 1312 King Edward II, sought refuge in Tynemouth whilst fleeing in the company of his favourite Piers Gaveston. In Christopher Marlowe’s play ‘King Edward II’ there is a scene titled ‘before Tynemouth Castle’. The Priory was disbanded in 1536 and the Priory lands given to St Thomas Hilton, but the Castle remained in royal hands.

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14th century floor tile from site

14th century floor tile from site

14th centruy pilgrims badge from site

14th centruy pilgrims badge from site


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New fortifications were added to the Castle from the year 1545 onwards and in 1564, it was the birthplace of Henry Percy, who would become the ninth Earl of Northumberland, his father being at the time the guardian of the Castle. In 1665 a lighthouse was built on the site, primarily from stone taken from the Priory buildings, in order to aid shipping entering the River Tyne. This remained in operation until 1898.

Tynemouth Lighthouse

Tynemouth Lighthouse

Aerial view of Tynemouth priory and Castle today

Aerial view of Tynemouth priory and Castle today

During my recent visit to Northumberland, I visited Tynemouth Priory, which is situated on a high rocky headland on the north shore of the mouth of the River Tyne. It was a horrible wet morning and I could not help but feel sorry for those for whom this had been their home. I mentioned this to the people in the information centre and they said that there were actually letters from medieval monks in the Priory describing how they hated the place because of its weather and because the waves crashing on the rocks below would keep them awake at night.

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There is evidence that the site was occupied during the Iron Age, but apart from a few small remains it doesnot appear to have been occupied during the Roman period.

Iron Age round-house

Iron Age round-house

It is believed that Tynemouth Priory was founded in the early seventh century. It is recorded that in 651 Oswin, King of Deira, was buried there after being murdered. He was subsequently canonised and the shrine of St Oswin became a site of pilgrimage. He was the first of three Kings to be buried in the Priory. The second was King Osred of Northumbria, also a victim of murder, in 792.
In the ninth century, the Priory was repeatedly attacked by the Danes and despite work to strengthen the defences was eventually destroyed in 875. There seems to have been no inclination to rebuild the Priory at this time and so the site lay unused for about 150 years.
In the reign of Edward the confessor, the land was owned by Tostig, Earl of Northumberland and brother of the future King Harold. He rebuilt Tynemouth as a fortress. During this time the tomb of St Oswin was rediscovered and Earl Tostig planned to found a new monastery on the site. However, in 1065 he had a falling out with his brother, who persuaded the King to exile Tostig from country. Tostig first sought sanctuary on the continent and then with King Malcolm III of Scotland. In 1066, together with the Scots and Norwegians he invaded north-east England. It was an invasion that was to change the course of English history as he chose to invade just a few weeks before William of Normandy would launch his invasion of the south of England. The newly crowned King Harold marched North to meet them and defeated them at the battle of Stamford Bridge, at which Tostig was killed. It was in the midst of the celebrations of this victory that King Harold received the news that William of Normandy has landed in Sussex.
With no progress on the re-founding of the monastery the remains of St Oswin were moved to the monastery at Jarrow.

7th century broach found on site

7th century broach found on site