... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Woo! Pictures of Geoffrey

Jim's rescue Galgo, who is a lovely, gentle big and handsome dog.

Although he's got more stamina than a greyhound or whippet - Galgos are bred for hare coursing on Spanish plains - he can still sleep all day with the best of the sighthounds.
He always seeks out the highest ground and the best view, and then scans the horizon looking for hares (or rabbits will do). Unlike Ricky, who barks like mad at the sight of any small (or large) furry (or woolly) animal, Geoffrey is a consummate professional; a highly trained assassin, and - if he's on the lead, just freezes.
He has inordinately long legs, which he's not always quite sure what to do with. When Jim first had him, he had no idea what a sofa was for. I'm pleased to report that he has now got the hang of it.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Scenes from an abandoned village

I've written before about Tidemills, the little industrial hamlet on the coast between Newhaven and Seaford, and there is a very good history of it here.  But it was looking particularly photogenic in the sun last week so here are some pictures.

The mill creek and the site of the mill.

Part of the boundary wall (I think) and buildings in the distance.
From memory (don't hold me to this) the stationmaster's cottage - one of the few buildings which recognisably remain.
Standing on the site of the mill - directly over those arches you can see in the top photo, looking down the creek towards the sea, where the water ran out after it had powered the grindstones.
And finally, looking the other way, the creek above the mill, which was filled on each tide, with the remains of some buildings on the right.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Transport treats

As the fortunes of the Port Access Road have ebbed and flowed over the years - nay, decades - the rationale for it has also changed (a bit like HS2).

Originally it was all about shifting lorry traffic from the residential Beach Road and Railway Road; back in the nineties there was still a lot of freight and produce coming in by lorry. There were also big scare stories around the time the incinerator was built that there would be imports of (quelle horreur) French rubbish. As it stands - and in the much lamented absence of the Sussex Express' 'Harbour Jottings' - the two main products passing through Newhaven appear to be scrap metal and aggregates.

Still things you would rather not have lorryloads of driving past your house, but perhaps not in the volume anticipated (as I recall the prospect of a constant caravan of noisy. dusty. smelly lorries was dangled in front of us when I was on the Town Council many years ago). In our walks last week I think I spotted a total of two aggregate lorries on the relevant roads - although there may be another, very exciting, reason for that, which I will come to later.

Latterly the argument for the road has been that it will 'open up development land' for industrial use, thus bringing jobs and the aforementioned prosperity beyond our wildest dreams. The land in question is (or in the case of quite a lot of it, already, was) to all intents and purposes natural, brambly scrubland - it may once have been industrial, but it had very largely returned to nature. At the same time as former industrial sites on the edge of town are being razed to build housing in their place, industry moves further out to the margins . And fair enough, you couldn't build housing there - it's too vulnerable to flooding, I would imagine. It's sobering though that part of the development has entailed 'species relocation'. The question is, are there really takers for all this new industrial land?

Well, an aggregates firm has already moved in, which seems very fitting. And this is the exciting bit - a new railhead has been constructed for them, so that at least some of their aggregates - which come in by sea - will go out not along Beach Road, nor even the new Port Access Road, but by train!
When I make my layout (oh, didn't I mention that?) I am seriously tempted to base it on Newhaven, which has a lot of railway interest (sidings! aggregates! three stations! ok, one redundant and condemned, but I could model the return of the Boat Train) and I could have 313s! (yes but not at the same time).
While all this was being set up there was a footpath diversion, from which I got the railhead photos, but on our last walk before I returned to Sheffield, they had just re-opened the new, permanent, footpath route, and we were the first to traverse it. This felt very fitting as we - especially Jim - have been following these developments for so long.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Newhaven's new bridge

For nearly as long as I lived in Newhaven, there was talk of a new Port Access Road, that would (along with many other proposals, as reported by the Susses Express from time to time) bring prosperity as yet undreamt of to the town. Planning permission was first granted in 1996, and construction started, then stalled, in 2007; restarted in 2015, and got going seriously in 2019. The County Council's timeline though rather optimistically states that it was completed in 2020. It does not look quite complete yet.

However, what we do have is a really rather impressive new bridge, taking the new road across both the railway line and Mill Creek (the tidal creek that provided the head of water to operate the flour mill around which Tidemills village developed).

The bridge was constructed last summer, and the spans are  made from steel beams some of which are very long (the New Steel Construction website says 46.7m, but they also give this as the width of the central span, which is clearly made up of three sections bolted together - you can see them doing it in the video too. The outer spans are 37m and are also made up of more than one length. However, the central beams of the middle section are still clearly pretty damn long). These came in by road (I think from Birmingham) which necessitated the removal of road signs so that they could negotiate Denton roundabout. This was covered on the local BBC TV news but sadly I cannot find  the footage to link to. What I can offer is the contractors' video of the installation. Which is quite stirring. There are also some amazing high definition (if somewhat seasickness-inducing) panoramic photos of the project here.

Here you can see it in the distance from the footbridge over the railway line off Beach Road. And below, approaching it from the other direction:
It's very exciting having a new bridge, even if it doesn't have rivets. 

And here it is with a bonus 313:

Friday, 16 April 2021

Easter Side

In the latter part of my Easter time off, I managed to get back to Newhaven for a proper seaside holiday, with lovely walks with the dogs in the sunshine; roads, railways and bridges (but no sandcastles or paddling, sorry). A big shift is taking place towards the industrial East Side of the town (that's east of the river; Newhaven being on the estuary of the Sussex Ouse) with lots of new housing going up, particularly on the site of the former Parker Pen factory

The factory in 2008 (photo; Our Newhaven)
which was still very much a going concern and a significant employer when I first lived in the town. It was gradually run down from the 2000s, and finally closed in 2011. Sebastian went to nursery school next door, in what was then called Grays Nursery, and is now a 'Forest School', but was originally Railway Road Nursery School.

Most of the walks from the house take us in an easterly direction along the coast, to Tidemills, so we get to traverse East Side, historically the poorer and more industrial part of town. And there on Beach Road, or Railway Road, or Clifton Road, someone had been up to some amazing guerilla crocheting, making an Easter scene for the top of a postbox.

As I photographed it from every side, the background also gives a taste of the area. Terraced houses on Beach Road in the background above and below.
Here the railway:
And finally the other side of the road and a disused garage.
But more importantly, just look at the work that's gone into this. I hope it's now safely back with its creator and that it gave many others as much pleasure as it did me.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Won't be here forever

 A few final images from around Doncaster Street last weekend.

The light was lovely.

You might also have guessed by these recent rather longer and even slightly researched posts that I'm currently on holiday from work ...

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Round the rear of Record Ridgway

I've tried previously to explain (not least to myself) my doomed love for the ephemerally derelict; the decayed and the destroyed. Through this blog (and dozens if not hundreds of other un-organised photographs) I can document a tiny snapshot of this. Sometimes buildings remain in a state of dereliction for decades, declining organically and imperceptibly, but can then disappear in a matter of days. (When this happens, it makes me feel very disconcerted.)

So on my weekend walk I circumnavigated the Record Ridgway works. The most part of the very large building is not architecturally distinguished or interesting. It's a massive shed in which hundreds of people worked making tools - chisels, planes and other things with blades and edges.

I poked the camera through one broken pane to get a very unimpressive picture. 

However, urban explorers have not only explored, but documented the building, here and here for example with some wonderful photos. 

Big empty buildings like this don't only attract explorers, kids with a deathwish (I once had a taxi driver who was telling me hair-raising stories of what him and his mates got up to in Kelham Island as boys in the eighties and nineties) and vandals; alongside the crude tags some serious graffiti artists have made the abandoned and all but hidden walls their canvas.

The photos from Oblivion State include this massive, very unnerving but beautifully executed work by the Welsh-born, Sheffield-based artist and muralist who goes by the name of Phlegm, and whose work can be seen all over the world, as well as in a number of places in Sheffield. The Record Ridgway example is particularly gruesome but I do like the surreal detail, often on such a large scale, of his work.