28 July 2014

Isle of Man - Douglas Head

Overlooking the town of Douglas is the Great Union Camera Obscura. Built as a tourist attraction in 1892, this is the only camera obscura in the world with eleven apertures. A metal tube is rotated between each of these, and the captured light mirrored down and through a series of lenses onto a circular and concave white tabletop, to produce a properly-oriented changing view of the immediate locale.

Clearly visible is the Douglas Head Lighthouse, built in 1857 by David and Thomas Stevenson, and rebuilt in 1892. The tower is 66 feet tall, and provides a light at an elevation of 105 feet. The light, one of five on the island, was automated in 1986.

27 July 2014

Isle of Man - Point of Ayre

Point of Ayre marks the northernmost point of the Isle of Man. There are three marine warning systems here. The Point of Ayre (High) lighthouse, at an elevation of 105 feet, is the oldest on the island. Built by Robert Stevenson, of the famous family of lighthouse builders, the light (in background below) operated from 1818.

The accretion of shifting shingle - the Norse Eyrr means a gravel bank - necessitated the construction in 1888 of a second light, Point of Ayre (Low), 30 feet tall and known as The Winkie, 250 yards to seaward of the main light. The Winkie (top photograph) had to be moved a further 80 yards to seaward in 1951, but ceased operation in 2010.

The main lighthouse was automated in 1993, since when the lighthouse-keeper's house has been in private ownership. The fog signal, the twelve feet-long horns of which were supplied by Sentinel air compressors driven by Kelvin diesel engines, was taken out of service in 2005.

24 July 2014

Isle of Man - Snaefell Mountain Railway

The Snaefell Mountain Railway climbs from Laxey to the Isle of Man's highest point (2,034 feet) over a distance of five miles. The electrified railway, built in a single season in 1895, is of 3 ft 6 in gauge, and employs bow collectors to pick up 550 volts DC from catenary wires, the most exposed of which are removed in winter to prevent damage through icing.

There are six wood-bodied railcars, all built by George F. Milnes & Co. in 1895 (although No. 5 was rebuilt in 1971). These can also be used on the Manx Electric Railway (the "low road"), which runs between Douglas and Ramsey, on track of 3 ft gauge, crossing that of the Mountain Railway at Laxey, by virtue of a change of bogies.

Isle of Man - Laxey Wheel

Known also as the Lady Isabella (after the wife of the island's then governor), the Laxey Wheel is the largest operational waterwheel in the world. It was designed by Robert Casement and built in 1854 to pump water from part of the Great Laxey Mine.

The overshot wheel, six feet broad, and a stunning 72 feet and six inches in diameter, is still, as designed, driven by water syphoned to the top of the structure in concealed pipework. The wheel turns, in 'reverse', at about three rpm, and drives a crank with a throw of four feet. This is connected to a counterweight and a wooden rod, 600 feet long, which runs on iron wheels seated upon short lengths of flat ironwork affixed to the top of a stone 'viaduct'.

The wheeled rod moves back and forth about eight feet, its movement transferred, via T-rockers, to vertical pump rods that descend 1,500 down the mine shaft. Although the wheel no longer pumps water, it originally moved 250 gallons per minute, and was capable of managing significantly greater volumes. Great Laxey Mine closed in 1929.

23 July 2014

Isle of Man - Peel Harbour

Peel is the third largest town on the Isle of Man, but known as the isle's sole 'city' - as only Peel has a cathedral. The town is the island's main fishing port, and shellfish processing and kipper curing continue as viable trades.

Accordingly, Peel has a substantial harbour. The inner harbour, pictured, is tidal, but a gate was added in 2005 as part of the development of Peel Marina. There are five marine lights around the town, that on Peel Castle Jetty marking the west side of the entrance to the inner harbour.

19 July 2014

K6 Restoration

Concrete knocked out of K6 telephone kiosk base; handle, glazing frames, Pull/Push sign, glass, Telephone signs, shelves, poster frames and backboard removed; door closer detached; bare shell media blasted.

Cracks in cast iron repaired; unnecessary bolt holes in back filled; shell primed, undercoated and sprayed in Post Office red, inside and out. Ceiling hand painted with primer, undercoat and three coats of gloss white.

Back and roof top-coated in red, by hand. Telephone signs stripped of putty and silicone, and reinstated using clear mould-proof silicone.

Kiosk lifted onto scaffold poles using levers and car jack, and rolled into place. Time capsule placed in base; base half-filled with hardcore and near-filled with ready-made concrete; base finished with sand and cement screed.

Box fitted with earth strap, connected to ground, and cabled for lighting and telephone. Externally-switched power cable carried through 'hockey stick' pipe and ceiling channel; fluorescent light cleaned, rewired and installed; hockey stick painted in.

Two sides and opening front top-coated by hand in red, inside and out. 72 panes of glass stripped of paint, putty and silicone, scrubbed, and run through dishwasher. 72 glazing frames cleaned and hand-painted in red.

Backboard washed, cleaned with industrial thinners, sanded with fine wet-and-dry paper, polished with black T-Cut, and refitted, with cabling ducted behind.

Glass and Pull/Push sign reinstated, using clear mould-proof silicone; glazing frames reinstated; new brass glazing pins inserted, with crimping tool used to affix washers.

Shelves and poster frames cleaned and sanded, twice sprayed in black, and affixed to backboard, positioned to cover as many old holes as possible. Handle re-affixed; door closer re-attached; plinth painted with two coats of black.

GPO 706 telephone connected to ring when house telephone rings. Appropriate posters printed on photographic paper and inserted. (Note: Public Telephone sign was of the National Telephone Company, 1881 to 1911, incorporated into the General Post Office when telephony was largely nationalised in 1912.)