Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Avro Lincoln at RAF Cosford

During a recent visit to the museum at RAF Cosford, I was able, as a confirmed fan of the Avro Lancaster, to view its successor, the Avro Lincoln:

cosford c xxxxxxxxxxx

The Avro Lincoln flew for the first time in June 1944, just a few days after the Normandy landings. The first examples of the new bomber were actually called the Lancaster Mark IV and the Lancaster Mark V, but they were eventually rechristened the Lincoln Mark I and the Lincoln Mark II. The new aircraft was the last bomber in the RAF with good old-fashioned piston engines and proper propellers:

lincoln_rf570_heritage_centre

The theory was that the Lincoln would be used in “Tiger Force”, Bomber Command’s contribution to a potentially catastrophic invasion of Japan in 1946. The bombers would have acted, presumably, as the RAF’s equivalent of the B-29 Superfortress or the much less well known Consolidated B-32 Dominator. Here is a B-29, “Fifi”, sadly the only example left flying from the 3,790 constructed:

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This is the little known B-32, the aircraft which actually flew the last combat mission of World War 2. Only 1156 of these bombers were ever built:

b32-main

At the time of “Tiger Force”, my Dad had already had all his medical injections for this next phase of the war, and the squadron’s Lancasters were all being crated up to be transported out to the Far East. Then suddenly, the Americans dropped their two atomic bombs and the war finally came to an end.
The Lincoln was certainly an improvement on the Lancaster, but the performance figures given in Wikipedia are not particularly startling, with bomb loads, aircraft size and speeds all roughly similar.  Here is the capacious bomb bay:

cosford b xxxxxxxx

The range of the Lincoln was greater than its predecessor, and the maximum speed was an improvement, with the aircraft able to cruise happily at 215 mph.  Similarly, the service ceiling and the rate of climb were better than the Lancaster.
Eventually, more than six hundred Lincolns were to be manufactured, with a further 73 in Australia where it was the largest aircraft ever to be built there.

This photograph comes from a splendid Australian website where you can learn, more or less, to fly a Lincoln, especially the long nosed version, the Mark 31. Every single one also contains two or three  of the author’s laugh-out-loud feelings about life. My favourite one is:

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”

 

australian mark 31
Just one single Avro Lincoln was constructed in Canada. Here it is:

canadian _Lincoln_ExCC

With the RAF, the Lincoln was used in the 1950s to oppose the Mau Mau terrorists/freedom fighters in Kenya. You can read the story for yourself, but I do love the British evaluation of the Mau Mau by Dr. John Colin Carothers as

“an irrational force of evil, dominated by bestial impulses and influenced by world communism”

I also enjoyed the description of the traitorous Africans who continued to support the nasty British as:

“the running dogs of British Imperialism”

Very Mao Tse-Tung. And here is the Great Man, ordering five beers:

Chairman-Mao-Zedong-007
The Avro Lincoln was also employed against terrorists/freedom fighters who operated in Malaya (now Malaysia). They too were influenced by world communism, although they were unable to import any running dogs of British Imperialism because of the rather strict customs regulations in force at the time.

All of that history is fairly predictable, except for the sad story of the single Avro Lincoln (RF531 “C”) which was shot down by the Soviet Air Force.  The bomber was attacked by a MiG-15 fighter on its way to Berlin on March 12th 1953. This is a MiG-15:

mig15takeoff05 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Lincoln was being flown by members of the Central Gunnery School at Leconfield in Yorkshire, and all seven of the crew were killed. The whole very sad, rather ghastly tale, is told on the Spyflight website. What a sad, sick waste of young men’s lives that was. There was just no need for it.

A lot further south, the use of the Avro Lincoln by the Argentine Air Force, the Fuerza Aérea Argentina is quite interesting:

Avroaregenrtine 2Lincoln_B-010_0084_2006-0

These Lincolns (and indeed, Lancasters) were initially employed by the I Grupo de Bombardeo to bomb the rebels, during a military coup in September 1951.  Four years later, the British aircraft were obviously highly thought of, because, in what seems to have been another rather over-vigorous political argument, they were used by the government to bomb the rebels, and by the rebels to bomb the government. Here is the paint scheme of the rebels, apparently influenced, if only slightly, by world communism:

rebel lincoln

This was, of course, the Revolución Libertadora which ousted Juan Peron and his wife Madonna.

(“She plays Evita with a poignant weariness and has more than just a bit of star quality. Love or hate Madonna-Eva, she is a magnet for all eyes.”)

Some things I just cannot resist. Nobody could:

One interesting feature about these ageing South American bombers was that both the Lancasters and the Lincolns in Argentina were serviced, and kept viable, for many, many, years, by ex-Luftwaffe engineers.  For some unknown reason, they had all decided to leave the Fatherland in 1945 to live out the rest of their sad lives in South America:

lincoln argentine

I was fascinated to read as well that Avro Lincolns were used to support the Argentinian bases in the Antarctic. One aircraft therefore, was flown back to Avro in England. Engineers there added a civilian nose and tail, removed all armament, and put in generous extra fuel tanks. Registered as a civil airliner called the Cruz del Sur, the aircraft dropped supplies to the Antarctic San Martín Base from December 1951 onwards:

crfuz del sud
Sixty or so years later, the Argentinians still have two Avro Lincolns preserved. You have already seen two photographs of one of them. Here is another:

argen best picture

The Australians have one of their Lincolns in storage for restoration in the future, and there is also the aircraft that we all saw at RAF Cosford, with its rather disconcerting blue bosses to the propellers:

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And, as far as I know, that’s it! What a wonderful regard we have for preserving RAF aircraft. Are we embarrassed that we were ever forced to use them in anger?

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Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History

The very first football season of them all 1888-1889 (Part 2)

In my previous article about the involvement of the High School’s ex-pupils in the newly invented Football League. I spoke in some detail about the career of Arthur Frederick  Shaw, who played twice for Notts County in that inaugural season of 1888-1889, before going on to make two more League appearances the following season. He then continued his career in the Second Division with firstly Nottingham Forest and then Loughborough. Here is the Notts County kit that he would have worn during that first season:

Capture 1 - Copy

When Arthur Shaw made his first appearance in the Football League on December 8th 1888, at home to Aston Villa, a narrow 2-4 defeat for the Magpies in front of 2,000 spectators, he was the inside right (No 8). In the same team, playing at left full back (No 3) was the splendidly named Herbert Durrant Snook, a fellow ex-pupil of the High School.

Born on December 23rd 1867, Herbert Snook entered the High School on September 11th 1876. He left at Christmas in 1882. Herbert was one of four brothers, the sons of James Snook, a wholesale merchant and draper. The family lived initially in Elm Avenue, Nottingham, before their fortunes improved dramatically and they moved to Penrhyn House, in Clumber Road, The Park, Nottingham:

penryn

The other three Snooks at the High School were James Brasher Snook, Frederick William Snook and Percy Walter Snook. All three played for Notts County in various F.A.Cup ties and friendlies, but never in the Football League.

In that first season of League Football, Herbert also played in three F.A.Cup ties. These were all home games, against Eckington (4-1), Beeston St.John’s (4-2) and Derby Midland (2-1). Herbert played as a right full back (No 2) against Beeston St.John’s, but as a left full back in the two other games. The Cup Ties against Eckington and Beeston St.John’s were both contested by Notts County’s reserve side. On the same day, the First Team played Football League fixtures against Blackburn Rovers (3-3, 4,000 spectators) and Burnley (6-1, 5,000 spectators), both games taking place immediately after the Cup games. The crowd against Beeston St.John’s and Burnley must have gone home happy. It isn’t often that County win two successive games and score ten goals doing it. Here is Notts County’s Meadow Lane. It is the football stadium in the top right. Nottingham Forest’s City Ground is towards the bottom of the picture, on the southern side of the River Trent:

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Herbert’s brother, Frederick William, played against Eckington and Beeston St.John’s, at centre forward (No 9) in the first game, and as inside right ((No 8) in the second.  A third Old Nottinghamian to play was Henry Harold Brown who was at the High School from 1874-1878. He appeared as outside left (No 11) in both games and scored a brace of goals against Beeston St.John’s. His brother, Gilbert Noel Brown, yet another ex-pupil of the High School, played as centre forward (No 9) in this game.

In 1890, Herbert Snook was one of the earliest shareholders in the newly formed “Notts Incorporated Football Club”, although during the 1888-1889 season he had played in two friendlies for Nottingham Forest, the first against Stoke City (1-2), the annual Shrove Tuesday match. Here is the Stoke City kit:

Capture 1 - Copy

The second game was against his old team, Notts County (2-5). In excess of 5,000 spectators watched the match. On March 12th 1891, Herbert appeared for the Old Boys in their 3-1 victory over the High School First XI at the Gregory Ground, the home of both the High School footballers and of Nottingham Forest.

Herbert was to spend most of his life living at “The Cedars”, Derby Road, Lenton, Nottingham. He was keen on tennis, and in partnership with Gilbert Noel Brown, held the county men’s doubles championship for many years. Herbert was well known in political circles as a liberal, and worked in the old established family business of James Snook and Company Ltd., who were wholesalers and clothing manufacturers in Houndsgate, Nottingham. In actual fact, Herbert was still working until well into his eightieth year, after forty years as chairman and managing director, and a grand total of sixty two years in the company. Immediately after Herbert’s retirement, the business was taken over by a Birmingham firm. Herbert died on October 13th 1947, at the age of seventy nine, after an illness lasting some months. He was buried in the family vault in the Church Cemetery on Mansfield Road. Here is the Church Cemetery, a Victorian masterpiece. It has a permanent staff of eight vampires:

graveyard

Playing at right half (No 4) on December 8th 1888, against Aston Villa, alongside Arthur Shaw and Herbert Snook, was a third ex-High School pupil, namely G.H.Brown. Strangely, there are two likely candidates of this name in the Victorian school registers at the High School.

The first possibility is George Henry Brown, the son of Samuel Brown, a fish and game dealer of 96, Sherwood Street, Nottingham. He would have been nineteen years of age when the match against Aston Villa took place. A better fit though, would be George Hutchinson Brown, the twenty one year old son of George Wilkinson Brown, a grocer and chandler of firstly 14, Colville Terrace, and then 62, Addison Street, Nottingham. We will probably never know the answer to this enigma, unless Notts County have a dusty box full of players’ contracts from this era, hidden away somewhere, perhaps among the cobwebs of  their trophy room.

George Hutchinson Brown was to wear his admittedly un-numbered shirt as a right half (No 4) for most of that historic first season. He played 19 times out of a possible 22 games. He had the honour of playing in County’s first ever League game, a 1-2 defeat away to Everton at Goodison Park, and also in their first ever home game, a 3-3 draw with Blackburn Rovers. Here is the Blackburn Rovers’ strip, very similar to the present day:

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Notts County’s first ever league victory came in their fifth game of the season, and was a 3-1 home win over Everton. George Hutchinson Brown was again the team’s right half. Here is the Everton kit:

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George also played in County’s first ever away win in the League. This was a long, long, wait, until Match 18 out of 22, a 2-1 win over Accrington on January 26th 1889, County’s only victory away from home in the whole season.  Here are the Accrington colours:

accrington-1892-1893-b

George Brown’s solitary goal came in a narrow 2-5 away defeat against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, in front of 4,000 spectators, on December 15th 1888. One particularly exciting game must have been the last one of the season, another narrow defeat at home, this time by 3-5 against Derby County. The Rams wore this unusual kit:

Capture 1 - Copyxxxx

George had played in friendlies for County in both the 1886-1887 and the 1887-1888 seasons. He made 28 appearances and scored one goal, against the Sheffield Club. Interesting results came against Scottish club, Hibernian (0-6), Aston Villa (8-2), Corinthians (1-4), Nottingham Forest (0-0, 12 000 spectators) and the disastrous Notts Rangers match (0-8). Here are the Hibernian colours of the era:

hinerbnian

George played in five F.A.Cup ties for County, against Nottingham Forest (1-2), playing as a centre half (No 5), Derby Midland (2-1), Old Brightonians (2-0), and Sheffield Wednesday (2-3). Best of all, he played as a left full back (No 3) in the El Classico of the Victorian era, Notts County 13 Basford Rovers 0. Here is Meadow Lane from the spectators’ point of view, seconds after the end of the game:

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At the end of the 1888-1889 season George left County for ever, and moved to Forest, where he was to play seven games in the Football Alliance, and a number of friendlies. Interesting results included games against Bootle (2-2), Grimsby Town (0-4), Long Eaton Rangers (3-5). Clapton (0-1), Walsall Town Swifts (0-1) and Everton (0-7).

A fourth Old Nottinghamian to play in County’s first season in the Football League was Harry Jackson, who was born on April 23rd 1864. His father, Charles J.Jackson, managed what the School Register rather grandly listed as a “Piscatorial Dépôt”, (probably a fishmongers, or even a fish and chip shop) and the family lived at 23, Carrington Street. Harry played on five occasions; as an outside left at Stoke (0-3), as a centre forward at Burnley (0-1) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-2, 1 goal), an inside left at Bolton Wanderers, (3-7, 1 goal), and an inside right at home to Derby County (3-5).

Here is the Burnley kit;
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And here is the Wolverhampton Wanderers’ strip:

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Here are the Bolton Wanderers’ colours. Very little has changed here:

Capture 2 bottom - Copy (2)

In his career with County, Harry also played in 21 F.A.Cup ties, and scored 19 goals. In other games for County, all of which would have been friendlies, he made 101 appearances, and scored 85 goals. This gave Harry Jackson an overall career total of 104 goals in 122 games for Notts County, both totals and a strike rate which  are only exceeded by those of Harry Cursham himself:

h cursham

A fifth Old Nottinghamian in that same inaugural season of 1888-1889 was Edwin Silvester Wardle. Edwin was born on January 11th 1870 and the family lived at Magdala House in Mapperley Road. He attended the High School from 1881-1883. He made two appearances in the League for County, the first as an outside left (No 11) at Goodison Park, Everton, in the very first match of the season (1-2), County’s début in the Football League. Strangely, he then appeared as an outside right in the very last fixture of the campaign, the 3-5 home defeat to Derby County. Prior to this, he had played in six friendlies, scoring three goals, two against Aston Villa (3-3) and one against Halliwell (1-4). He also appeared in four F.A.Cup ties, scoring one goal against Staveley (3-1).

Another particularly disappointed Old Nottinghamian, the sixth to play in that first season of 1888-1889, must have been John Alfred Brown, who made just one appearance for County, as an outside left (No 11) in a game at Villa Park against Aston Villa. County lost narrowly by nine goals to one, watched by an entranced crowd of some 4,000 spectators.

John Alfred Brown was born on March 20th 1866. Along with his elder brother, he entered the High School on August 10th 1874, at the age of eight, although the date when he left the High School remains unknown. He made his first appearances for County towards the end of the 1883-1884 season, when, after the New Year, he played as an inside left in away friendly games at Walsall Swifts (1-2), and Sheffield Attercliffe (0-2). Overall, he played in 34 friendlies between 1884-1888 and he scored a healthy total of 14 goals. Interesting games and scores in 1884-1885 included his two goals in a 5-0 defeat of Wednesbury Old Athletic, and another goal against Hendon in an 8-2 victory. There were also games against Blackburn Olympic (1-1 and 0-3), Preston North End (1-2), Sheffield Wednesday (1-0), the Sheffield Club (3-0), Blackburn Rovers (0-2), Notts Rangers (2-1) and Derby County (0-2). Here are the Blackburn Olympic colours:

Blackburn_Olympic

For the most part, John was an outside left, although he also played at inside left, and inside right. In 1885-1886, he appeared in home games against Bolton Wanderers (3-3) and Great Lever (1-3), and in away games against Queen’s Park (1-5), the Sheffield Club (6-1) and Wellingborough Grammar School (8-3). He scored a goal at Sheffield, although three of the scorers at Wellingborough remain unknown. Two games were at inside left, with one at outside left, and two at centre forward. The following season of  1886-1887, he played at the Sheffield Club (4-1) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (0-2). He also appeared against Preston North End, a game which County were narrow losers by 0-14. Here is the Preston strip:

Capture 2 top y
John’s most successful season was 1887-1888 with 10 goals in 14 appearances. These included Walsall Town (0-4), West Bromwich Albion (1-5), Nottingham Forest (1-0), Preston North End (2-5), Everton (1-3). He played in home fixtures against Leek (8-1), Aston Villa (8-2), Preston North End (2-3), Grimsby Town (4-0), and Corinthians (1-4). A substantial veil might be drawn over Mitchell St.George’s (0-10).

John scored four times against Leek and Aston Villa, with single goals in each game against Preston North End. All of his games were as an inside left.

By the way, the illustrations of old football kits came from the best ever website for the soccer nerd and all the boys who had more than twenty different Subbuteo teams. New Brighton Tower 1898? Oh, yes.

 

 

 

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Filed under Derby County, Football, History, Humour, Nottingham, The High School

The rarest bird I ever saw

(An extract from my old birdwatching diary “Crippling Views”)

Tuesday, September 20, 1988

Another bit of excitement, this time at Pitsford in Northamptonshire, where there is a Sociable Plover, first discovered apparently by a teenage birdwatcher, late on Sunday evening, flying around with a flock of Lapwings. The Sociable Plover, not the teenager.

Here is a Lapwing:

lapwing1a480 zzzzzzz

And here is a Sociable Plover:

plover

I have a free afternoon from school on Tuesdays, so I decide to leave at one o’clock, directly from Period Five. So as not to look an even bigger idiot than normal, I take a pullover and a pair of jeans to change into, as well as my telescope, tripod and binoculars. I religiously ring Paul, as I always do, to ask him if he wants to come, but he’s at work, I also ring Alan to unmake a previous date to go looking for Hobby at Clumber Park that evening. Surprisingly enough, he also has a free afternoon, so we decide to go for the bird together.
It’s only about eighty miles to Pitsford, so we arrive there about three thirty. Look for the orange arrow:

midlandszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

It is obvious where the bird is supposed to be from the great tangle of parked cars. Quickly, we park too, and head on out there. It is a marshy area, with a very long shoreline, and a lot of distant birds. Look for the orange arrow:

cayseway

Unfortunately none of the distant birds is a Sociable Plover, although a winter plumaged Grey Plover, seen through a heat haze at a range of about four miles, does cause quite a few hearts to flutter, mine included.

Grey%20Plover% xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

There are some Curlew Sandpipers, a few Ruff , and a couple of Little Stint.

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The Pectoral Sandpiper, though, which has been reported for the last couple of days, seems to have gone:

pectoral_sandpiper_zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Eventually the disappointed crowd drifts away, in ugly mood, to the section of the reservoir where the Sociable Plover came in to bathe on Monday afternoon. Here, there are absolutely thousands of gulls, and to relieve the monotony of waiting, we look through the crowd for the lone Mediterranean Gull that has been tantalising the gull watchers for the last few evenings:

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No luck with that either, and Alan and I agree on a departure time of six thirty, as the last few minutes of daylight tick inexorably away. Finally, we are forced to admit defeat, and terribly disappointed, we trudge despondently back to the car. Fifty yards from the vehicle, I get my car keys out. We are just climbing over the fence at the side of the road, when a rather rusty car suddenly squeals to a halt, and a young man jumps out and screams:

“THEY’VE FOUND IT!!!!         THEY’VE FOUND IT!!!!   

We restrain him for a moment and ask him one or two simple questions like:

“WHERE???      WHERE???      WHERE???”

He burbles on for another ten minutes about crossroads and turns left and turns right and pubs called the Red Lion, houses with green doors and the third tractor from the right:

red-lion-inn-01

This is terrible. It is one thing if the bird is not there. That you can live with, difficult though it may be. But to be right next to the bird, and not to be able to navigate your way to it in the car, that’s something else:

socco plov xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

It is cruelty of an unreasonable nature. The young man tells us to wait. He’ll call over all of the other birdwatchers, still standing expectantly on the edge of “The Marsh”. Then we can all follow him in a convoy, just like in the song and the film made from it:

This we all do, or rather, attempt to do. I am personally amazed at what staggering speed a rusty T Reg Datsun can achieve when provoked:

datsun xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

He must have rocket assisted take off in the boot. We are driving along country lanes at around ninety miles an hour, squealing the tyres on rustic roads which are really meant for bicycles or the odd haywain:

haywain

On the other hand, there is a certain logic that says if I keep fifty yards behind the lunatic in front, we cannot fail. Whatever bend the Datsun can get round, I can get round. Any emergency stop he is forced to do, I will have ample time to prepare for. It doesn’t work quite so well at “Give Way” signs, and we have a couple of close shaves. Nevertheless, after a fundamentally frightening drive down these little country lanes, we arrive at the tiny village of Old, where we find cars abandoned at crazy angles across the grass verge and even in the road itself . A great crowd of people is staring fixedly at the back of a distant field.

This Must Be The Place:

.

one above OS

The field itself is in a rather strange condition, unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Nottinghamshire, with some areas recently ploughed, with lots of bare earth visible, but there is also a series of strips of stubble, all about six or seven yards wide. The Plover is out there with a large group of Lapwings, but it is a long, long way off. It takes a lot of careful and diligent searching, most of it done at comparatively high magnification, before Alan and I both find The Bird:

sooibla xxxxxxxx

It is nowhere near as colourful as the field guides would have you believe, and, indeed, it is completely capable of disappearing entirely when it stops moving around, and just sits down quietly, looking rather reminiscent of a clod of earth with two eyes and a beak. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fly at any point, so we miss the chance of comparing the wing pattern to that of Sabine’s Gull, and of seeing just how similar it is:

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Still, you can’t have everything. Indeed, the way that things have gone tonight, it would be difficult to imagine how much luckier we could have been.

In my career as a twitcher, that was the closest I ever came to not seeing a rare bird, but then still managing to see it.

Secondly, the Sociable Plover was the rarest bird that I ever saw, from a global point of view. Red-breasted Nuthatch has occurred only once ever in England, and so has Ancient Murrelet, and I saw both of them:

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The world as a whole, though, is not particularly short of either species. Sociable Plover however, at this time, some thirty years ago, was on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, chiefly because of over-hunting and habitat loss, two splendid ways of driving a species into extinction. At the moment, the Sociable Lapwing, as it is now called, has recovered sufficiently to be placed currently in the Critically Endangered category:

sociable-lapwing-bharatpur-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Filed under Science, Twitching, Wildlife and Nature

Water, water everywhere, especially past Trent Bridge

In a recent blogpost, I mused about the cold past of our city, and how the River Trent had frozen over on a number of occasions in the nineteenth century, the last being in 1892. Previous years when similar brass monkey weather conditions had occurred were 1682, 1814, 1838 and 1855. In all of these winters, the River Trent at Nottingham had literally frozen over from one bank to the other. I found these extremes of weather really quite interesting, so I continued to do further research of my own. I duly found some extra details, such as, for example, the sad fact that:

“on 10 January 1814, seven boys drowned in the River Trent in England by the breaking of the ice.”

One or two more examples of extreme cold have since come to light, in years of which I had previously been completely ignorant. During the winter of 1092-1093, for example, when William Rufus was king:

“the River Thames and all the English rivers (were) heavily locked in with ice”. There was severe frost in this winter. English rivers (were) frozen so hard that horsemen and wagons could travel on them.”

When warmer weather finally came, however:

“drifting ice on the rivers destroyed bridges, and mills were carried away”.

Here is William Rufus, who was to be killed by an arrow in the New Forest:

4559818813_e810e0ca1c_z

Four hundred years later, the River Trent was frozen near Nottingham in the winter of 1485-1486. When the thaw finally came, “the bridge at Newark-on-Trent was swept away.” In 1766, on February 15th, a great snowstorm hit Nottinghamshire, which lasted fifty hours. That is a lot of snow!

Our old friend “Wikipedia” provided a great deal of historical detail about this kind of event, not all of it totally fascinating, although the word “palaeochannel” was new to me and it does contain three unusual vowels in a row. Here’s one I photographed earlier:

paleo chanaell zzzzzzz

I knew that Giant Floods generally follow any Big Freeze but it was interesting to see that, in the modern era, the worst flooding experienced in Nottingham came very soon after the vast snows of the winter of 1946-1947 had melted. This melt was extremely sudden because of continuous heavy rain throughout March. The result was extensive and severe flooding all along the valley of the Trent. During this flood the peak flow of the Trent was 39,100 cubic feet per second, thirteen times the norm. As many as 9,000 houses were flooded and almost one hundred industrial premises were awash, with floodwater up to the height of the first floor. Here are one or two photographs of the flooding. These are of West Bridgford:

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Here is Arkwright Street next to the railway station:

arkwright st

This is the aptly named Canal Street:

NTGM006755.tif

Here is a picture of the River Trent near the present day Harry Ramsden’s and Toys-r-us. On the left is Wilford Power Station, demolished in the 1980s, and on the right, Clifton Colliery which disappeared even before this (possibly through flooding?):clif colli wilf power station

Here is Beeston, looking remarkably like Venice:

NTGM016349.tif

This photograph is just about recognisable as Melton Road in West Bridgford:

220px-Melton_Road_in_the_floods_of_March_1947_-_geograph_org_uk_-_1537395

This natural disaster in 1947 was the beginning of our modern attempts to tame the river, by building concrete embankments and sluices in an effort to avoid the surging floods which had devastated Long Eaton, Beeston, the Meadows area, Colwick and West Bridgford on more than one occasion during this period. Here is the Trent, with early concrete steps visible only on the far side of the river, and just a grassy slope on this, southern, side:

before concrete

This photograph was probably taken in the 1950s, with concrete embankments on both sides. Trent Bridge is in the background, so we must be looking north:

nottinghamtrentbridge-620x413

Nowadays, the concrete steps near Wilford Suspension Bridge would stop a Soviet tank. Well, perhaps make them feel a little motion sick:

nearcounty hsall

Here’s the other side, looking north towards Trent Bridge and the green roof of County Hall:

concrete zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

These are the sluices on the river between Holme Pierrepont and Colwick, designed to hold back excessive flood water so that it can be released gradually at sensible intervals. By the way, firm promises have now been given that the next time they release fifty billion gallons of floodwater, not only will they look first to see if any anglers are fishing at the riverside, but they will also sound a warning klaxon:

colwick sluives zzzzzzzzzzz

This huge construction work of the modern era seems to have been completely successful. During the Millenium Flood of November 2000, the peak flow of the Trent was 36,000 cubic feet per second, around twelve times the norm, and certainly comparable to the conditions experienced in 1946-1947. But this time, the 15,000 homes at risk were completely unaffected and there was none of the widespread flooding seen in 1947 within the city:

flood 2000

In this photo the flooded Trent is, for the most part, still contained within its banks, although Nottingham Forest’s pitch does look as if it may be somewhat waterlogged.  All of the floodwater in the background, by the way, is, for the most part, lying harmlessly on playing fields.

 

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Filed under History, Nottingham, Science, Wildlife and Nature

A strange and worrying zoo in France

I have now written quite a few articles about the various Beasts of France, beginning with the most famous, the Beast of Gévaudan, which flourished from 1764-1767:

second-beast

And then it was the Beast of Benais, followed by the Beast of Noth, not forgetting the Beast of the Cévennes, the Beast of Primarette, the Beast of Orléans, the Beast of Lyonnais, the Beast of Sarlat, the Beast of Auxerre, the Beast of Cinglais, the Beast of Gâtinais, the list just goes on and on. Some of them were really quite peculiar creatures, even by the contemporary standards of Beastliness:

beast 1709

Not all French monsters are wolf-types, however. Here are just a few of the inmates of what the original website called “Un Zoo étrange et inquiétant en France”, “a strange and worrying zoo in France”.

The first animal is a snake, which used to live in the Forest of Fontainebleau, just to the south west of Paris:

forest of fontaineblasu

It was seen, and duly killed, by the King (Quite right too!). According to legend, it was 18 feet long, with a weight of some 160 kilos (around 350 pounds):

Giant_snakezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

This monster was venomous and used to hide in a great pile of rocks which offered him protection as no group of attackers was able to approach the creature simultaneously. Only one adversary at a time could reach him.

One day, King Francis the First or le Roi François Premier, was out hunting in the area. This king was a contemporary of King Henry VIII, at the start of the sixteenth century:

220px-Francis1-1

The King and His Royal Nose decided to put an end to this creature which had sown terror and desolation throughout the land.( Well, it was a very big pile of rocks).

BOA

The king had commissioned a suit of armour covered with razor blades. When the snake tried to coil itself around him, the razor blades, quite literally, cut the monster to pieces.  “Scratch one constrictor!” as they say.

What other animals are in the “strange and worrying zoo”?

Well, back in 1965:

“In the Toulouse area, flocks of sheep belonging to Trappist monks at the Abbey of St. Mary of the Desert, and also those belonging to the Count of Orgeix, suffered extensive depredations from a mysterious animal. Three students from the area of Cadours who were driving around one  night in the car, saw two animals which were larger than a dog or a wolf. They had light beige fur. These strange creatures were like enormous mastiffs, with huge, round, bulging eyes. The four footed killers then disappeared from the area as mysteriously as they had appeared.”

One year later, in May,

“In the region of Pignans (in the département of Var), a tenant farmer, Monsieur Baptistin, asleep in his small house, which was located some two kilometres from the village, was awakened by furious barking from his dog. He got out of bed, switched on the light and saw the silhouette of a huge animal which was disappearing into the darkness:

bigfoot giph

The next morning, he discovered near the water trough animal tracks of a startling size:

jerry-crew-taught-by-bob-titmus zzzzzzzzzzz

The authorities were alerted. The Forestry Services photographed the tracks and made a cast, but nobody was able to ascertain what kind of animal they belonged to.

For several weeks, the locals no longer dared to go out at night. The more daring people who did venture out never failed to take a reliable rifle with them.”

(Actually, it wasn’t Bigfoot, or at least I don’t think it was. It’s just that the details of this story are so vague that it is actually possible to interpret the events as being “Grand-Pied” himself, rather than some, presumably, fairly run-of-the-mill Alien Big Cat.)

In mid-August of 1966, a monster was seen haunting the area around Draguignan near the road to Grasse , a region where many UFOs had been seen, both in flight and on the ground:

“A former member of the armed forces, Monsieur Paul G… , found himself one morning around seven o’clock  face to face with an unknown creature. The animal had its mouth open.  It had a pointed snout, which was rather long, and triangular teeth. Under its neck, it had a goitre which gave it a frightening appearance. The ears were short, like those of a dog, but they were very pointed. The body was very long and covered with grey fur. The animal had a long tail, at least 40 centimetres (16 inches) in length.”

imaginative chaingyu

Interestingly, the town of Draguignan has a name and a coat of arms which are both redolent of another species of legendary animal. The town was founded around 400AD after Saint Hermentaire, the Bishop of Antibes, had overcome a dragon in single combat. Exactly how he managed this does not seem to have been recorded, but here is the coat of arms:

draguignan

It was definitely not a friendly dragon:

friendly dragon

In 1967, the presence of a number of monsters was reported throughout the whole of France. In the Creuse region in particular, between Royère and Chavanat:

Département_creuse zzzzzzzzz

…a feline of unknown species was flushed in the hamlet of Cloux Valleret by a farmer named Monsieur Simo:

surrey puma original

A week earlier, farmers in the Vosges area had already stalked an animal of indeterminate species which looked rather like a wolf:

wolf bounding

All that was easily topped though, by a report from Italy:

“In June 1970, in Meldola, about ten kilometres from Forli, a farmer claimed to have encountered some kind of dragon, six to seven metres long, with a body some 15 inches in diameter.

dragon

The Italian police organized a hunt which did not turn up anything. The monster appeared once or twice more and then disappeared forever.”

Back to France, in 1972:

“In the area around Vigan in Hérault, some medical students, out hunting in a snow covered area, discovered the footprints of an unknown animal:

yeti tracks

They followed the tracks for several kilometres. Suddenly they disappeared just in front of a rock which was projecting up out of the ground. The beast seemed to have reared up on his back end and then been recovered by his masters on board a flying machine.”

Don’t think though, that the French are especially weak minded and that this is why they continually report crazy sightings of weird animals. In this area, the British, quite rightly, are streets ahead of their nearest and dearest neighbours. But first of all, let’s just forget our many, many, ferocious Black Dogs such as Shuck and his like:

dog

Forget the werewolves seen more than once at Alconbury USAAF Air Base:

werewolf attack

Forget the sightings of Bigfoot in Cannock Chase and Sherwood Forest (an “eight-foot, hairy man beast with red glowing eyes” seen in late 2002) (allegedly):

red eyeszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Just on cats alone we are well in front. The most famous cat of all, of course, is the Beast of Bodmin:

bodmin1

But don’t forget his less famous sidekick, the Beast of Exmoor. And before that Gruesome Twosome, it was the Surrey Puma. And don’t ever forget the heyday of the Nottingham Lion.

But look at this list, put together originally by George M. Eberhart.

Don’t just skip through it. Select your top three:

“The Ashley Leopard, the Ayrshire Puma, the Beast of Ballymena, the Beast of Barnet, the Basingstoke Beast, the Beast of Beacon Hill, the Bennachie Beast, the Beast of Bin, the Blagdon Beast, the Beast of Bont, the Broadoak Beast, the Beast of Broomhill, the Beast of Bucks, the Carsington Beast, the Beast of Chiswick, the Essex Beast, the Inkberrow  Beast, the Beast of Margam, the Beast of Milton, the Beast of Otmoor, the Shropshire Border Beast, the Beast of Tonmawr, the Beast of Tweseldown (sic), the Black Beast of Gloucestershire, the Black Beast of Moray, the Brechfa Beast, the Cadmore Cat, the Chiltern Cougar, the Crondall Cougar, the Durham Puma, the Eccles Cheetah, the Fen Tiger, the Highland Puma, the Lindsey Leopard, the Mendips Monster, the M25 Monster, the Munstead Monster, the Norfolk Grinder, the Pink Panther of Derbyshire, the Penistone Panther, the Penwith Cougar, the Beast of Powis, the Rosshire Lioness, the Terror of Tedburn, the Tilford Lynx and, last but not least, the Wolds Wild Cat.”

For me it’s, in third place, the Norfolk Grinder. Second is the Penistone Panther, but my own winner is…….. the Eccles Cheetah!!

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If Poetry Could Raise the Dead

We forget too easily just what all those brave young men and women sacrificed for our freedoms. Decade after decade of ordinary, everyday life.

toritto

For Remembrance Day/Armistice Day/Veterans Day

If poetry could raise the dead
the earth would bleed where they had bled
to flow back into fallen soldiers 
who would rise, young and filled with wonder

and they would laugh and smile again
the millions, shaking dirt from tousled hair
turning unmarked faces to the sun
looking ’round to hug their friends

as well as former foes; gathering
to share a coffee, a schnapps, a sake
wondering which poet wrote the lines
which brought them back to life.

And leaning against the stone
they would gather to go home
strong and virile cobbler, butcher, Kansas boy
as all the nations wept with joy on their return

and they would work, create
have children, celebrate,
watch football, cut grass, harvest
live, love and die in their own bed

for if my poem could raise the dead
 your gentle Seiji, Hans, Yuri and Tom
would…

View original post 27 more words

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The very first football season of them all 1888-1889 (Part 1)

At the moment, the High School has very strong  footballing links, both with the Premier League and the Championship. They come in the person of Patrick Bamford, a young man who would seem to have a sparkling footballing future ahead of him:

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He is not the only Old Nottinghamian to have played professional football, however. Well over a century ago, for example, a number of old boys took part in that inaugural season of 1888-1889, playing for Notts County in the newly formed Football League.

The season was totally dominated by Preston North End, “The Invincibles”, who beat County on aggregate by 11-1, for example, and were undefeated at the end of the campaign after 22 matches. They dismissed Wolverhampton Wanderers by an aggregate of 9-2 and Stoke City by 10-0. Notts County were to finish in eleventh place out of twelve. Their record of five victories, two draws and fifteen defeats produced a grand total of 12 points, with two for a win and one for a draw. Stoke City also managed 12 points, but their goal average (not difference in those days) was 0.510 as opposed to County’s much more impressive 0.548. That difference of 38 hundredths of a goal was enough for County to escape the Wooden Spoon! Derby County had 16 points and Burnley had 17 points. All four teams were re-elected to the League for the next season:

league table

One Old Nottinghamian who appeared in the County team that season was Arthur Frederick Shaw, of whom I have been, unfortunately, unable to find any photographs whatsoever on the Internet. Arthur was born on August 11th 1869 in Basford. His father was Alfred Shaw (1842-1907), the famous Nottingham and Sussex cricketer:

AlfredShaw_RedLillywhite1876

Shaw senior played for England, and he actually bowled the very first ball ever in the entire history of Test Cricket, which was to the Australian batsman, Charles Bannerman. During his cricketing career, Alfred Shaw took more than 2,000 wickets for Nottinghamshire and Sussex from 1864-1897, before becoming a first class umpire. He died in 1907 at Gedling, Nottingham, and is buried in the churchyard there, close to the grave of Arthur Shrewsbury, the former Nottinghamshire and England batsman:

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At the time when their son entered the High School on April 28th 1881, at the age of ten, the Shaw family was living at the Belvoir Inn in Kirkby Street, Nottingham, a street which no longer exists. The date when he left the High School remains unknown.
Arthur Shaw played just two games for Notts County during that inaugural 1888-1889 season. His first game was on December 8th 1888 at home to Aston Villa, which resulted in a 2-4 defeat for the Magpies. A crowd of some 2,000 spectators watched the game, where Shaw played as an inside right (Number 8, except that there were no numbers in League Football until August 25th 1928). At left full back (No3) was Herbert Durrant Snook, a fellow Old Nottinghamian, with George Hutchinson Brown, a third Old Nottinghamian, playing at right half (No 4). I will talk about these two gentlemen in a later article.
Arthur’s second game came on March 5th 1889, when County entertained Bolton Wanderers at Meadow Lane. A crowd of some 3,000 spectators watched the match, where Arthur played on this occasion as an inside left (Number 10). County lost narrowly by four goals to nil.

Arthur went on to play for Notts County on two more occasions in the Football League. These both came in the following season of 1889-1890, when the team finished in a much improved tenth place in the League. On December 14th 1889, he appeared in a game at Meadow Lane against Wolverhampton Wanderers, watched by 3,000 people and ending in a narrow 0-2 home defeat for the Magpies. A week later, they entertained Derby County and beat them by three goals to one, in front of a Meadow Lane crowd of, again, some 3,000 spectators. On both occasions, Arthur was playing as an outside right, and, again, had there been numbers on the players’ shirts at this time, he would have worn a No 7.

Arthur appeared a number of times for Nottingham Forest, both before and after his appearances for Notts County. At the age of barely eighteen, therefore, well before Forest were a League club, Arthur made his début for them in the 1887-1888 season, scoring the only goal in a 1-1 home draw against Burslem Port Vale. His other game for Forest was a 3-2 home win against Bolton Wanderers, when Shaw scored what turned out to be the winning goal.

During the following season of 1888-1889, Arthur made four appearances for Forest and scored two goals. He played at home against Preston North End (0-2), Newton Heath (2-2, one scorer unknown), and Clapton (3-2, two goals). He played in away games at Newton Heath (1-3), a team who were later to become Manchester United. All of these games were friendlies. Here are some Forest strips from this long ago era. Things have not changed a great deal:

forest 1868 zzzzzz

In the 1889-1890 season, Arthur made eleven appearances for Forest and scored six goals. He played a number of games in the Football Alliance against Long Eaton Rangers, Sunderland Albion, Darwen, Newton Heath and Small Heath (later Birmingham City). The result in this last game, a 0-12 loss, remains Nottingham Forest’s record defeat. Arthur also appeared in the 0-3 away defeat at Derby Midland in the First Round of the F.A.Cup.

Perhaps the most unusual moment in Arthur Shaw’s whole football career came in this 1889-1890 season when he played for both Nottingham Forest and Notts County. He appeared in the Football Alliance for Forest against Sunderland Albion, (3-1) and then, as we have already seen, for County in the Football League against Wolverhampton Wanderers (0-2) and Derby County (2-3). Shaw capped it all on Boxing Day, December 26th 1889, when he turned out for Forest against County in a 1-1 draw in a friendly at Meadow Lane. I presume that this swapping of allegiances was possible because County played in the Football League and Forest played in the Football Alliance. There would have been no connection between the two organisations.

In the 1890-1891 season, playing for Forest as an outside left (No 11), Arthur appeared in the First Round of the F.A.Cup against Clapton. He scored one goal at the wonderfully named Spotted Dog Grounds as Forest won narrowly by 14-0, still the record away score for the F.A.Cup, and indeed, the record away win in any competition. Clapton had only trailed 0-5 at halftime before conceding nine quick goals in the second half. Arthur’s fellow Old Nottinghamian, the “ageing Tinsley Lindley” was also playing:

Tinsley_Lindley

“There’s only one Tinsley Lindley” scored a mere four goals in this one sided game, where five goals came from the Scottish international Sandy Higgins. A third Old Nottinghamian was playing for Forest in the person of John Edward Leighton, called “Ted” or “Teddy” at the High School and later in his life, “Kipper”, for his ability to fall calmly asleep in the dressing room before big matches. He played quite a few of those over the years, but his greatest honour came on March 13th 1886, when he won his only international cap for England, as an outside left in a 6-1 victory over Ireland in Belfast. Teddy Leighton was making his England début in the same team as fellow High School Old Boy, and Nottingham Forest player, Tinsley Lindley, mentioned above. This was one of no fewer than four occasions on which two ex-pupils of the High School have played together for their country. On other occasions, Leighton and Lindley had also played together for the fabled “Corinthians” club.

Overall, Arthur Shaw was to score a grand total of 11 goals in 79 appearances for Nottingham Forest. After he left Forest he went on to score three goals in 11 appearances for Loughborough, who, at the time, were playing in the Football League, Second Division. He would have worn these long forgotten colours:

Loughborough_Town_1895-1900

Arthur’s final appearance of any kind for Nottingham Forest came when he played as a right half in the semi-final of the Bass Charity Cup. The game was away from home, against Leicester Fosse, and took place on April 6th 1899. It finished in a 1-1 draw, and was watched by approximately 1,000 spectators.

Arthur’s final appearance for Nottingham Forest in the Football League had already come in a 0-5 defeat in an away game against Derby County. This fixture took place at the Baseball Ground on April 11th 1898, and the legendary Steve Bloomer scored a hat trick, before a crowd of some 12,000 spectators:

bloomer xxxxxxxx

Only five days later, the same two teams were to contest the F.A.Cup Final at Crystal Palace before a crowd of 62,017, Forest triumphing on this occasion by 3-1. Unfortunately, Shaw did not make the team for the final, his position of right half being filled by Frank Forman. This is the closest, however, that any Old Nottinghamian has come to winning an F.A.Cup winner’s medal but only if you don’t count the School Gardener,

programme

By the way, the illustrations of old football kits came from the best ever website for the soccer nerd and all the boys who had more than twenty different Subbuteo teams. New Brighton Tower 1898? Oh, yes.

 

 

 

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