Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Wren’

The aqueduct

Morning all. It’s guest blogger time here at The Adventures of Danda and Yaya. So it’s over to Rambler5319 for today. Enjoy!

 

I recently went on a trip over an aqueduct and will tell you all about it soon. First off we’re starting with a certain Thomas Farryner? Never heard of him? If I tell you he was a baker and he lived in Pudding Lane in 17th century London I reckon you know what’s coming next. He was apparently the King’s baker and it was the pile of wood that he used for keeping his ovens hot that caught fire; he and his servants were trapped in the house and had to climb onto the roof and jump to roof of the next door property to escape. It was that fire which unfortunately grew into what we now call The Great Fire of London. (Some estimates reckon as much as ⅔ of London was destroyed including over 80 churches. Christopher Wren was responsible for the rebuilding of over 50 of those churches along with St Paul’s Cathedral and the Monument which commemorates the fire.) The reason for mentioning it is because the anniversary of that awful day in 1666 was just a couple of days ago on Monday of this week (2.9.13), so 347 years ago to the day. Also significantly on 2nd Sept but this time in 1834 another Thomas, Thomas Telford, died. He was one of those amazingly multi-skilled folks with abilities in a wide variety of fields: civil engineer, architect, stonemason and road, bridge & canal builder; and he is the connection to today’s post.

We arrived at the terminus in Llangollen for our trip along the canal and, after ordering some lunch to have on the way, we joined the queue. The guy running the trip began calling out names and ours was called. We were invited to come to the front of the queue and be one of the first on board but we didn’t know why. Apparently if you order food you get to be first on. Pick of the seats – nice touch! After the usual safety instructions we set off at a leisurely 3 or 4mph. There are a couple of tight turns on the route where the boat can (and did) touch the sides of the canal just because it’s so long. In one section the boat hit the floor and, as with the side contact, we’d been advised in advance not to panic and go scrambling for the emergency exits. There is some commentary, by the crew, along the way but it’s not intrusive and does give you some more info about bits you’re passing. Eventually we came to a junction (Trevor Basin) where we turned right and headed towards the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Now back to our Thomas Telford. He was appointed resident engineer to the Ellesmere Canal Company in 1793 but had little experience of canal building; he was guided by the older & more experienced consulting engineer, William Jessop. It’s worth taking in a few statistics here: the aqueduct was opened in 1805 (just after Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar); it’s over 1,000 feet (304 metres) long, 126 feet (38 metres) high & 5ft 3” (1.6 metres) deep; the stone pillars holding it up are hollow; the water-sealing material used on the joins of the trough is the original stuff Telford used so it’s almost 210 years old. (I wonder if modern day sealants or even the boasts of super glue will last 200+ years.)

The canal originally carried local limestone, slate & coal as well as being a feed for water into the Shropshire Union Canal. The aqueduct still carries 50 million litres of water each day to supply the Cheshire area!

Interestingly, the idea of boat trips along the canal began in 1884 with a guy who had retired from the White Star Shipping Line (of later Titanic fame). He got the first boats from Liverpool and bought a couple of shire horses and began what has endured right up to the present time; there are still horse drawn boats as well as the motorised one we went on.

Here are a couple of pics of our boat.
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And the ticket.image

Did you spot the name of the boat? – Thomas Telford

Here’s a view through the window. Check out the width of the edge on that side. And don’t forget it’s 126 feet (38 metres) down over that edge. Sorry about the reflection – it was just a nice sunny day!

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This is a view of the aqueduct without any boats on it

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Here are a couple of other boats going across.

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This video (not mine) gives a good view and feeling of just how narrow the side of the cast iron trough is on the opposite side to the walkway before the big drop.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=pontcysyllte+aqueduct+boat+trip&view=detail&mid=9E31DB8AFE8E7A778AF19E31DB8AFE8E7A778AF1&first=0&FORM=NVPFVR

Once over the aqueduct it was a U-turn and berth. We disembarked and waited for the bus back to Llangollen.

Just across the other side from where we got off was this stone memorial.

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There wasn’t time to go over and get a close up so here’s one on Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lestiverton/3351027235/in/photostream/

There seems to be a bit of a mystery on who “Canada Bill” was and I can’t help either. Made a few phone calls to the local area and even the tourist info office but nothing so far. All I can assume is that he worked as a miner for the Chirk Castle Limestone Company – also mentioned on the monument – and that perhaps he was a Canadian working in Britain; or maybe he talked about the place a lot and was going to live there.

Very enjoyable trip and good food.

London trip (Part 1)

Good morning all. It’s over to my guest blogger today for a little tour of some of London’s little-known hotspots…

 

After my visit to Bletchley Park I drove further south and stayed overnight in London. Next day a relative had organised a walk round some of the lesser known parts (and some of the more well-known). We headed by tube to Blackfriars and began walking from there. The origin of name Blackfriars itself goes back to the 14th cent. It comes from the black cappa worn by Dominican Friars and the Friars part comes from the French word frères meaning brothers. Close by we saw this very unusually named church:

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Now if you’re wondering how a parish church can get a name like St Andrew By-The-Wardrobe I can tell you it goes way back in history to 1170. However the “wardrobe” bit of the name did not come about till 1361. Apparently Edward III (1312-77, reigned 1327-1377) moved his royal wardrobe (included, arms, clothing & personal stuff) to somewhere just near the site of the church and so that’s how it got its current name because it was near (or “by”) the king’s wardrobe.

 

Next we came to the College Of Arms. Now this is nothing to do with weapons. It’s all about coats of arms. It’s the place which oversees the granting of various heraldic symbols, shields & town crests used by various councils and individual families across England, Wales & N.Ireland. If you want your family to have its own crest or coat of arms it’s to them you have to apply. (It’s not cheap by the way!). Here’s the entrance:

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You can just see the name above the shield over the centre window. It was founded by Richard III in 1484. (His remains, as you may have seen in the news recently, have just been found in Leicester buried under a car park!). Although a royal corporation, with heralds appointed by the British sovereign, they are self-financing and receive no state funding.

Now if you or I decided to make up and use our own coat of arms or indeed someone else’s without their permission we could be brought into the courtroom at the College of Arms. Here’s the pic.
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This is where you would be tried for your crime of using an unauthorised coat of arms or misusing someone else’s.

 

Next stop was The Monument. It’s only ever called that and most people know it only by that name. Many people don’t know what it’s a monument to; I also didn’t. It was designed by Christopher Wren & Thomas Hooke and commemorates The Great Fire Of London (1666); it was built 1671-77. Interesting things about it: it is 202ft (62m) tall and lies 202ft from the place where the fire started in Pudding Lane; it is the tallest single stone column in the world; there are 311 steps to the top. As we arrived we saw a queue waiting to go up to the top. However the wait wasn’t too bad and soon we were paying our entrance fee and climbing the spiral stone staircase. I tried to keep count so I knew how far there was to go; I ended up at 314 so not too bad in that I only miscounted by 3 (less than 1% error!). It was pretty full at the top and we could only just about move. They were letting too many people in and not balancing it with those coming out. However it was a great view from the top. Apparently it was used by a number of people for committing suicide by jumping off the top so the area is now fenced in.

 

From there next stop was a church called St Magnus the Martyr. It’s interesting because it stands at what became the start of the (very) old original London Bridge. The church was cut back and an arch built so that horses and carriages could get onto the bridge. Here’s the arch

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And the sign nearby

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The original bridge as you will know had many buildings on it – houses, shops etc. Selling them was how they financed the building costs. In the church they have a model about 5-6 feet long showing just how many buildings were crammed onto the bridge.

 

On the way to St Paul’s Cathedral we went past a statue (bust) of John Donne (1572-1631): poet, satirist, lawyer and cleric in the Church of England.
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He is famous of course for a number of poems but perhaps his best known lines are No Man Is An Island & For Whom The Bell Tolls. As I looked at the statue I thought that probably Paul Simon would disagree with the sentiment in the first as his song I Am A Rock (from the album Sounds Of Silence released 1966 although the song began life a year or two earlier) says he’s built walls that make a fortress deep and mighty that none may penetrate; also that he has no need of friendship because friendship causes pain. Van Morrison fans – yes I am one – will know there is a tribute to the man on his album Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart and the track Rave On John Donne. (The song also references Walt Whitman, Omar Khayyam & WB Yeats.)

 

Then we passed a sign reminding us how the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) started – no not in 1978 with The Village People! In 1844 George Williams and eleven others began it in the drapery house where GW lived and worked. The closing words on the plaque are: From its beginning in this place, inspired of God, the association grew to encompass the world.

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And how about this place?

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The name comes from the nearby GPO (General Post Office) Headquarters.

In 1900 the park became the site of the Memorial To Heroic Self Sacrifice (by George Frederick Watts). Basically it is a memorial to ordinary people who died saving the lives of others. Here are a couple of examples of the sort of acts commemorated

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That seems a good place to take a break – with people whose only thought in that moment of incredible danger was for the person in the danger and not themselves; and their actions, whilst saving that person, actually ended up costing them their own life in the process.

 

I will do part 2 next week.