31 March 2013

Soixante-Neuf, 1938-style

The Ekco all-wave AW69 (alternating current) was introduced in 1938, and boasted short-, medium- and long-wave bands. It's what's known as an upright table model, though at 22 inches high it would have dominated many an average room of the 1930s. The expansive speaker grille cloth has been replaced. The set was also available in AC/DC (UAW69) and battery (BAW69) forms.

24 March 2013


Shot on a Polaroid 636 CloseUp instant camera, introduced 1996, using out-of-date PX 680 Color Shade film by The Impossible Project, which manufactures instant film at the ex-Polaroid factory in Enschede, the Netherlands.

21 March 2013

Hemlock Hillock, Nottingham

The Hemlock Stone is a pillar of Nottingham Castle sandstone. Such rock is normally weakly cemented, but this outcrop is firmly held together by the mineral barytes, which increases in proportion towards the top of the pillar. Over the last 20 million years the softer overlying and surrounding sediments have been eroded, and the barytes-rich 'cap' has protected the strata beneath it. There is a fanciful story about the stone featuring in ancient Celtic druidic rituals, but no evidence.

18 March 2013

Joule's Energy

The pale ale that later became Joule's was first brewed by Augustinian monks, in Stone, Staffordshire, from the twelfth century, each barrel 'blessed' and marked with a cross. Joule's later adopted the priory's recipe, and registered the red cross as a trademark - the sixth oldest beer mark in the world. The mark is still used, as it was in use prior to the symbol's adoption by the International Red Cross. (The first trademark registered in Britain was the Bass red triangle, in 1876; the second the Bass red diamond.)

The first Joule-named brewery was in Salford, from the mid-1700s, the second in Stone, from 1779. Bass Charrington acquired Joule's in the early 1970s, demolished the brewery, and dropped the brand. 36 years later, a new Joule's was reformed, the independent buying the brand, brewing notes and methods, and yeast, of the original Joule's from Molson Coors, owners of Bass and its various brands.

The new brewery was built next to the Red Lion, a Market Drayton pub of the 16th century. It draws its water from the Market Drayton aquifer, the same as was used by the Stone brewery. There are three beers - Blonde, the original Joule's Pale Ale, and Slumbering Monk, named for a feature of the panelling that graces part of the brewery tap. This was carved by Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson, and came from the Bradford boardroom of Grattan's, where it had been installed in 1931.

09 March 2013

Triumph Carledo

A 1974 Triumph Toledo, fitted with an injected two litre Vauxhall Carlton SRi engine, driving through a Vauxhall Omega gearbox. Finished in Carmine Red, and sitting on MGF wheels. Not to be taken on lightly.

07 March 2013

Angels With Dirty Faces

In response to crowded churchyards and urban population increase, private enterprise developed new cemeteries from the 1830s. The cholera epidemics of early that decade, and in the late 1840s, led to the introduction of the Burial Acts, which established much-needed public cemeteries in all major urban areas of Britain.

Brandwood End Cemetery, near Kings Heath, five miles south of Birmingham city centre, was laid out on what had previously been farmland, acquired in 1895. It was opened in 1899, thereby just squeaking into being a Victorian cemetery, and is laid out in the classic pattern for these - a central, tree-lined drive, with pathways at right angles to this.

The cemetery has a Grade II listing, yet the twin mortuary chapels are in a state of serious disrepair. Built of red brick and terracotta, these were designed by Brewin Holmes, and are essentially Gothic, although boast Art Nouveau touches.

The ever divisive nature of religion is reflected in the fact that one chapel was Anglican and the other Non-Conformist. However, the two chapels are conjoined by a common porte-cochère, topped by a tower and spire. And, of course, everyone ended up in the same earth.

Although thought of as classically Victorian, the angels that grace a number of the graves nearest to the mortuary chapels are, in fact, Edwardian, and are generally of Italian marble.

04 March 2013

Karan Anne Porter

Thursday 4 March 1965 to Wednesday 4 February 2009.
Photograph: Lancaster, 1987.

01 March 2013

From Little Acorns

Rising at just over 2,000 feet on Plynlimon, the highest point in the Cambrian Mountains, the Severn - Hafren in Welsh - is, at 220 miles, the longest British river.

It is difficult to conceive, from its upper reaches - the Blaen Hafren falls pictured above is close to the source - that it is also, by its end, the river of greatest discharge in England and Wales.

The river's drainage basin covers over 4,400 square miles, and is extensively studied by hydrologists, who have installed numerous measuring weirs. The first waterfall of note is Severn Break-Its-Neck, just a couple of miles from the source.