Silent Sunday…… So Off to Church

DSC_7901_00001bbb

The ruins of Kilchattan Chapel, Isle of Luing, Argyll, Scotland

Little remains of this tiny chapel at the heart of Luing.  What does remain contains a history of this once busy and prosperous (for some) Island on Scotland’s west coast.  The story is told in the graveyard that surrounds what is left of the chapel.  It tells of the Fisher folk, the Crofters and a large number of Slate Quarrymen.  Of the later, many were incomers to the island, who lost their lives in this dangerous quarry environment….  they came but never left…..just an inscription on a simple slate stone remains.

Travelers to Luing should pause and read these well weathered stones.  They reveal the true identity of this now tranquil island

DSC_7911_00011bbb

The Island of Luing is one of many, in a chain of islands along the  Atlantic coast of Argyll.  All had one thing in common.  They were all once important producers of Slate, a valuable building resource, that was exported from Luing and its neighbouring islands by ship across the world.

I once described Luing as   ‘The Island with a Hole in It‘.   The hole, is of course, one of the many quarries that dot the islands.  As the slate lies beneath the island these quarries go down deep, well below sea level.   These soon fill with water well disguising the island industrial past….now an attractive tourist view.

DOI_4506_00203bbb

In todays world Luing  still survives on a fragile Crofting way of farming.  This is supplemented by Tourism, but this is also limited and fragile.  But for visitors to Luing they can enjoy  an island that in many ways is still in the past.   Village names such as Tobernochy, Killchattan and Cullipool, names which are larger than villages themselves.  Houses that once were Quarrymen’s homes, Agricultural workers homes and Fishing communities.  Many of course today are Holiday Homes.  Many with great vistas, though for the quarry workers that was possibly of little importance. Well worth exploring on peaceful roads…

In true island style, visitors arrive by way of the small Cuan Car Ferry…

DOI_4481_00179bbb

Then explore this little piece of Scottish Island solitude, relax at Cullipool and reflect that this was one of several Atlantic coast ports from where Luing Slate departed to all points of the compass….

SCOTLAND ARGYLL

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

28th June

(C) David Oakes 2020

A Bridge….. over onetime Busy Waters

Lakes

Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire

Once upon a time this part of the River Severn was know as the Severn Gorge.  It was a busy industrial area and relied upon the Severn as the key means of transport.  Coal, Iron Ore, Limestone and Clay could all be found in the immediate area.  The area became known as Coalbrookdale home of iron foundries and pottery… an important industrial region.

So to link both sides of this busy valley a bridge  was needed.  It had to be a bridge high enough not to interfere  with the passage of  the high mast boats  on the busy river.

The Bridge that was constructed and opened in 1779 was the first in the World to be made from Iron.  100ft span and made from Iron founded in the Gorge.  The design was by  Architect Thomas Pritchard.  Not at first taken that seriously, after much lobbying and fund raising  Master Ironmaker Abraham DarbyIII was contracted to construct the Iron Bridge.  Records suggest that the cost was between £3000 & £4000.

The Bridge was such a success that the Gorge changed its name to Ironbridge Gorge.

The Bridge, the Gorge and its Industrial Heritage is now part of a World Heritage Site.

When life becomes more normal it is well worth a visit….  Till then…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

19th May

(C) David Oakes 2020

 

The City that never Sleeps…..

Hamburg

Hamburg, Germany.

Yesterday I shared an image of a very small, but onetime very important Port.  So here as a contrast is another port.  At the same time as little Ravenscar was trading,  in Germany on the River Elbe, Hamburg was been founded.

Whilst the Port of Hamburg is Germany biggest, it is also one of the worlds major trading hubs. But to say Hamburg is a Port  would be to ignore the growth the City has made in commerce, banking and the arts.  The dramatic skyline round the old port give you some indication of the Cities obvious success.

I mentioned the arts.  Culturaly Hamburg has a veritable feast on offer….. its latest major investment in the Arts is the waterfront building on the right.  A spectacular piece of architecture…..  It is the Elbphilharomonie Concert Hall.  Apart from Concerts it is also now a major Tourist attraction with guided tours on offer. I say now…as sadly we were too early to enjoy a tour.  The day the above image was taken the building was being officially opened by  Prince William and Kate.

I said the City doesn’t sleep, well it doesn’t appear to.  Nor more so than at the International Docks…. the rumbling of cranes and the coming and going of barges and ships continued thru the night.

Hamburg Doks

If you had to choose a word to describe success then that word would probably be Hamburg.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

14th April

(C) David Oakes 2020

 

A Fantastic September morning… just right for a Canal side walk

DOI_3716qqq

Cromford Canal, Leawoods Pump House, Derbyshire

Friday was just a perfect September day…. not quite the heatwave as promised, though perhaps a better temperature for a canal side walk.  The canal selected was the Cromford Canal…. one of my favourites for a walk.  The only disappointment is that it is no longer navigable by narrowboats.  None the less there is much to see and much to remind you of the importance to our industrial heritage that this small part of Derbyshire played.  Now part of the UNESCO Derwent Valley World Heritage Site.

The canal was opened in 1794 primarily to serve  Arkwright’s  and  Smedley  Mills amongst others at Cromford and the Lea Valley.  At the time Cromford Canal linked up to the Erewash Canal, ultimately the River Trent and then the greater English canal network.

At Cromford where the canal begins its journey south are two of the original warehouses. Like all the buildings we pass along this canal, they are rather fine architectural buildings, much finer than todays utilitarian industrial buildings.

DOI_3644qqq

DOI_3657qqq

Progress came fast in the 18th/19th century industrial revolution. The canal was soon to be joined by one of the very first railways, the Cromford & High Peak Railway. Opened in 1849 it provided a faster link across the Derbyshire Peak District northwards. The task being to create a reliable link to Manchester and the Port of Liverpool.

This walk takes you past many of the old railway buildings, engineering sheds, warehouses and wharfs…..

DOI_3699qqq

 I have to admit to once again pausing and taking a peak inside the railways workshops at High Peak Junction.

DOI_3733qqq

The highlight though is the famous Leawoods Pump House built by the Lea Aqueduct.  It is a steam lift pump that was used to ‘lift’ water from the River Derwent to keep the canal ‘top up’.

DOI_3714qqq

The best part of the legacy left by the canal is the towpath… a peaceful walk through woodland and some expansive Derbyshire views.  At this time of the year, before autumn sets in, is the rich foliage along the bank side that is the star. Tall grasses wafting in the lightest of breezes mixing with wildflowers and herbs, banks so full that they hide the elusive Water Vole and provide hidey-holes for Dab Chicks.  Today the bright low sun is making the greens glow, glow much more like spring than autumn.

DOI_3721qqqq

All in all….not half bad for a once hectic industrial landscape.

14th September

(C) David Oakes 2019

Dark Satanic Mills…..

The Mill

Whilst this mill* has recently been spruced up you can still understand why,  in the industrial areas of the UK,  these mills became known as the “dark satanic mills”.

They were noisy, polluted, dark and dangerous places to work. Employment conditions for many were poor and had no respect of age… children to elderly grandparents were the labour force.

The legacy they leave are buildings, that with a degree of skill and imagination,  have in many locations, been turned into luxury apartments, art and design studios, gyms and high grade offices.

Whilst I appreciate the saving of these buildings, buildings that are an important part of our industrial heritage, I often think they look rather ‘prison’ like.  Maybe those early mill workers felt the same way about their place of employment.

* This Mill is at Darley Abbey Complex, Derby.  It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site along the Derwent Valley.

6th August

(C) David Oakes 2019