07 August 2012

Kenilworth Castle

The royal chamberlain Geoffrey de Clinton built the keep at Kenilworth in the 1120s. King John added, in the early 1200s, an additional circuit of walls and a dam in order to provide the castle with a defensive lake. But it was John of Gaunt who developed Kenilworth into a palace, principally through constructing the great hall (above), between 1373 and 1380.

In 1563 the castle was given by Queen Elizabeth I (Elizabeth for Scottish readers) to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, quite possibly her lover but most certainly her favourite. Dudley lavished money on the palace, making it fit to receive his queen on her progresses through her realm. 

Leicester caused to be built a new gatehouse (above and below) to provide a grand arrival space. Although the interior was solidly Elizabethan, the exterior design echoed the style of a century earlier, and has about it shades of the castle at nearby Kirby Muxloe. The gatehouse is virtually intact.

Dudley also created what is now known as the Elizabethan Garden, for the queen's fourth sojourn at Kenilworth, in 1575. Of 19 days' duration, such a visit would have financially ruined a less-favoured member of the court. The garden was recreated in 2009, and includes a large wooden aviary (below).

After the Civil War, in 1650, the defensive parts of the castle were slighted. Sir Walter Scott was inspired by the resultant ruins to pen his 1821 novel, Kenilworth. Since 1984 the castle has been in the care of English Heritage, who have carefully restored key elements without making Disney-esque mistakes.

06 August 2012

More Myddle Muddle

North of Shrewsbury lies the village of Myddle. Nearby is Myddlewood Garage, which specialises in the repair and restoration of classic and vintage cars.

Currently under the garage's hands is a Morris Twelve-Four, commonly used in the mid-1930s as a taxi-cab. The proprietor, Peter Tanulak, has an interest in all things mechanical and vintage. He has a number of old petrol pumps, some complete with globes, which share the yard with a K6 red telephone box. Peter is also a pilot, has built his own biplane, which he keeps hangared at nearby Sleap airfield. Under construction in the workshop is an aerocar. Amongst the various goodies in the yard is an aero engine, doubtless awaiting a further project.

01 August 2012


Founded in Toronto in 1908, Brandes formed a British subsidiary in 1924 that moved to its Foots Cray, Kent, manufacturing plant in 1928. The subsidiary became Kolster-Brandes Ltd when its parent merged with the Kolster Radio Corporation of Newark, New Jersey.

In 1930 KB supplied 40,000 two-valve sets to tobacco company Godfrey Phillips Ltd as a promotional give-away for their BDV (Best Dark Virginia) cigarettes - the coupons from 500 packets of ten got one a radio. KB later won the contract for the internal communications equipment on the RMS Queen Mary.

The four-valve KB BM20, pictured above, was introduced in 1947. The cabinet is formed of two identical halves that bolt together, and the radio can be found in a wide range of, often speckled, colours, in Bakelite and other plastics. This example has an almost lacquered finish.