Amberley Publishing - Transport, Military, Local and General History

Tag Archives: Local History

  • Beverley in 50 Buildings by Lorna Jane Harvey

    In 2019, I co-authored a book for Amberley Publishing about the small town of Beverley in Yorkshire. I have since moved half-way across the world and now live in New Zealand. There is no place on earth farther from Beverley than New Zealand.

    Beverley Market Cross (Saturday Market Place). (Beverley in 50 Buildings, Amberley Publishing)

    The significance of this book may seem to some to only have a local impact. However, not only does the book serve to guide tourists and locals who may be interested in the town of Beverley, but it also serves a greater purpose by recording its history. The extensive research that goes into this series of books brings to light information that could easily have been lost or forgotten otherwise. How else would the Hodgson’s Tannery be remembered as it has been replaced by the modern shopping centre Flemingate? Who would know where the statue of a red devil on a house outside North Bar came from? Would Nellie the hunchback be recalled in another generation or two?

    Included in the numerous little-known histories featured, the former site of a Knights Hospitaller preceptory is exposed. The Knights Hospitaller were a crusader military order. In 1540, the preceptory was the richest of its kind in Britain. It seems almost impossible that half a century later it would be all but forgotten under a railway station. The book also points to a Bronze Age Burial Mound overshadowed by a massive black tower, prisoners’ treadmills, and much more.

    Old Friary (Friars Lane). (Beverley in 50 Buildings, Amberley Publishing)

    In my case, this book has brought enjoyment in other ways as well. An elderly woman I have the privilege to have met in New Zealand was thrilled to read it as her ancestors came from this very town. Ruth remembers visiting Beverley as a child and was delighted to be able to give a copy of the book to her children. Without it, perhaps their family’s link to Beverley would have been left behind. Her great grandchildren would probably only be told that they had British ancestors. They likely wouldn’t ever know that numerous buildings in Beverley were named after their family.

    My own story is not dissimilar as I have lived most of my life in Canada and Switzerland, a long way from Yorkshire. I treasure the link to Beverley that writing this book has brought back to me. I have fond childhood memories of Beverley, but my understanding and appreciation of the beautiful town only truly developed as I researched this book.

    My ancestors, the Robsons, were part of the Gunn Clan not far from where Beverley now sits. I imagine these Vikings would be amused and pleased to think of their home being remembered all around the globe. Indeed, copies of Beverley in 50 Buildings are in homes in Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, England, and likely a few more countries. As many others this century, we are a migrant family: I recently edited an anthology about migration called ‘Somewhere - Women’s Stories of Migration’ in which the topic is discussed further. The knowledge of our roots will always be essential to each one of us. By supporting book series such as the 50 Buildings series, Amberley Publishing is contributing to the knowledge of our roots remaining alive and well.

    Lorna Jane Harvey and Phil Dearden's book Beverley in 50 Buildings is available for purchase now.

  • 50 Gems of the Lothians by Jack Gillon

    The Lothians consist of West Lothian (Linlithgowshire), East Lothian (Haddingtonshire) and Midlothian and Edinburgh (Edinburghshire), which nestle along the south side of the broad estuary of the Forth.

    The strategic location and political and economic importance of the Lothians, with Edinburgh at its centre, have made the region witness to some of the most significant events in Scottish history. This is reflected in the remarkable wealth of architectural heritage spanning thousands of years. The Lothians have been settled since prehistoric times, as reflected in two of the gems in this book – the fortified settlement of Traprain in East Lothian and the sacred site at Cairnpapple Hill in West Lothian. Castles, royal palaces, churches and industrial buildings of national importance abound in the Lothians. 50 Gems of The Lothians explores the places that make the Lothians special and tells the fascinating story of their rich and varied past.

    With this wealth of heritage, the task of selecting fifty places to represent Lothian’s rich architectural legacy has been immensely difficult and not everyone will agree with the selection. However, hopefully it will be of interest, even if your particular favourite has been omitted or you think a particular example is less than worthy of inclusion.

    50 Gems of the Lothians explores the places that make the Lothians special and tell the fascinating story of their rich and varied past. It takes the reader from Edinburgh, with its castle, the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyrood House, to the East Lothian village of Athelstaneford, the birthplace of the Saltire, Traprain Law and the historic Hailes Castle.

    Among the gems of Midlothian are the glorious Rosslyn Chapel, which was the setting for the finale of The Da Vinci Code and described by its author, Dan Brown, as ‘the most mysterious and magical chapel on earth’. This book also explores the highlights of West Lothian including the Bo’ness &Kinneil Railway, Linlithgow Palace (birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots) and the impressive Hopetoun House, near Queensferry.

    Here are just  a few of those gems:

    The Palace of Holyroodhouse. (50 Gems of the Lothians, Amberley Publishing)

    The Palace of Holyrood house and Holyrood Abbey

    The abbey was founded in 1128 and was the base of Augustinian monks who were granted the right by a charter of David I to form a new burgh between the abbey and the Netherbow – the Canongate. The Scottish kings made the abbey their main residence when they were visiting the area until James IV started to build a palace.

    Between 1195 and 1230, the original abbey was rebuilt as a substantial building of great importance and splendour, consisting of a choir, transept and an aisled nave. It has been witness to some of the most dramatic moments in Scottish history.

    It was repeatedly burned by English armies and suffered further damage in 1559, during the Reformation. After the Reformation, the nave was used as a parish church. However, in 1570, the choir and transept were in such poor condition that they were demolished.

     

    Hailes Castle. (50 Gems of the Lothians, Amberley Publishing)

    Hailes Castle

    The substantial ruins of Hailes Castle are located around 4 miles east of Haddington along a single-track road and hidden away in a peaceful riverside setting on a bend of the River Tyne. The castle has its origins in the early thirteenth century as a fortified tower house for the Earls of Dunbar and is one of Scotland’s oldest castles. It was later held by the Hepburn family and Mary, Queen of Scots was entertained by her third husband James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, at Hailes. There are two vaulted pit-prisons and a dovecote in the original tower.

     

     

     

    Athelstaneford Doocot. (50 Gems of the Lothians, Amberley Publishing)

    Athelstaneford

     Athelstaneford, pronounced locally as ‘Elshinthurd’, lies some 3 miles north east of Haddington. It was established by a local landowner as a planned village in the mid-eighteenth century. Low, whitewashed and red-pantiled single-storey cottages stretch along both sides of the wide road. The village is the legendary home of the Scottish Saltire. The story has it that in AD 832 a Pictish army was mustered in the area for a battle with the invading Angles. Before the battle St Andrew appeared in a vision to Óengus II, the leader of the Picts, and predicted their victory. The following day a white cross formed by clouds appeared in a blue sky and the Picts went on to win the battle. The village is also said to take its name from Athelstane, the leader of the Angles, who was killed at a local river crossing by Angus McFergus, the Pict.

    The legend has made Athelstaneford an important site on the Saltire Trail with the National Flag Heritage Centre based in a lectern doocot, which dates from 1583, in the village.

    Doocots (dovecotes) are prominent features in the rural landscape of many parts of Lothian, as estates were relatively small and consisted of rich arable land producing fine agricultural crops, which provided an excellent source of food for the pigeons.

     

    Jack Gillon's book 50 Gems of the Lothians is available for purchase now.

  • Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire by David Paul

    Over the years many stories have been written and recounted concerning the visitation of the Plague, or Black Death, when it was inflicted upon the tiny Derbyshire Peak village of Eyam.  At that time the vicar of Eyam, as is well documented, was Rev. William Mompesson. However, it is the exploits of another of Eyam’s vicars that I have researched and retold in Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire. The story relates to a bizarre marriage that took place towards the latter part of the seventeenth century and is recounted as follows:

     

    The Parish Church of St Lawrence, Eyam. (Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire, Amberley Publishing)

    One winter’s day in 1684 the Rector of Eyam, Rev’d Joseph Hunt, had been called to the Miners Arms to perform the office of baptism, as the landlord’s infant son had suddenly taken ill. Having baptised the child the landlord, Mr Matthew Fearns, invited the rector to stay and enjoy a drink or two with some of the village’s miners who were sat in the bar enjoying a well-earned couple of pints at the end of a long week. The rector took the landlord at his word, and enjoyed his hospitality and the company of the miners until he became totally inebriated. Now, it was well-known in the village, especially amongst the miners in the community, that the landlord had a very charming and beautiful daughter, Ann, who, at the tender age of 18, was destined to break many hearts. Before very long Rev’d Hunt was seen entering into flirtatious conversation with the young woman. As is often the case when large quantities of ale are consumed, one thing led to another and, ‘egged on’ by the miners, the rector, enjoying the prevailing mood and one or two drinks too many, agreed to participate in a mock wedding with the publican’s daughter. The miners had little trust in the rector’s promise, so they insisted that he should honour his promise there and then. After imbibing in another glass or two, the rector consented to go ahead with the ceremony. Without further ado, one of the miners produced a Book of Common Prayer and promptly acted as officiant. He read through the whole of the solemn ceremony, with the young girl and the rector performing the roles of bride and groom respectively.

    News of the event quickly spread throughout the neighbourhood, and before very long the unfortunate act of theatre came to the notice of the Bishop of the Diocese. He had no hesitation in commanding the beleaguered rector to legitimise the mock wedding, declaring that he must fulfil in earnest what he had done in jest. Although Hunt was already engaged to another lady from Derby, he duly complied with this edict and legally married Miss Fearns (Furness) on 4th September 1684. This action had unfortunate consequences, as the lady from Derby, who was very wealthy, took out an action for breach of promise against him. Many of Hunt’s subsequent years were occupied in legal proceedings. The legal expenses alone ensured that he lost what little money he had, but the stigma of his actions soon lost him his friends in the village, whilst the reality of his actions meant that he was continually harassed by the officers of the law.

    Desperate to escape from the multitude of pressures which were besetting him, Hunt, together with his new bride, took refuge in the vestry which, supposedly, had been built for the specific purpose of providing him with a place of refuge from his enemies. He dwelt in the vestry, together with his wife and nine children, until his death. In later years he was characterised as being of a very friendly disposition, with young people from the parish visiting him in his abode, where they would sit round the fire telling tales to while away the dreary winter nights.

    Rev’d Joseph Hunt was Rector at Eyam between 1683 and 1709.  He resided in his makeshift dwelling until his death. There is a tombstone in a corner of the churchyard which records his death and the death of his wife. It simply states that of Rev’d Joseph Hunt, Rector of Eyam, was buried on 16th December 1709 and Ann, his wife, was buried on 18th December 1703.

     

    There are many other strange and incredible stories, garnered from numerous sources across the county, and retold in Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire.

    David Paul's book Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire is available for purchase now.

  • Shropshire Airfields Through Time by Alec Brew

    Wander nowadays down many Shropshire country lanes near small villages like Atcham, Condover, Montford Bridge or Rednal, and you will come across silent, sightless sentinels, looking out across empty fields of corn or cows, derelict control towers watching over long forgotten airfields. High above, only soaring skylarks can be heard, where once aircraft engines filled the heavens with noise, as young men from across the World learned the necessary skills to fight the aerial battles of the Second World War.

    The Spitfires moved south in August and were replaced by the Lockheed Lightnings of the 14th Fighter Group, who flew their aircraft from California. An RAF officer greets one of the pilots. (Shropshire Airfields Through Time, Amberley Publishing)

    When war clouds loomed in the late Thirties, the adjacent counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire were seen as the ideal place to site the training airfields which would be needed for an expanding air force, thought to be far enough away from Europe to be out of range of the Luftwaffe. Shropshire alone had nearly twenty airfields across its Northern plain, two of them, at Shawbury and Tern Hill, reviving First World War airfields, which had served the same function. Suddenly the skies over Shropshire were filled with aircraft, the circuits at many airfields almost touching.

    There was basic training from RAF Tern Hill, advanced training from RAF Shawbury, Bomber Operational Training Units (OTUs) at Tilstock, Sleap and Peplow, a fighter OTU at Rednal and Montford Bridge, the Fleet Air Arm used an airfield at Hinstock which they called HMS Godwit, about as far from the sea as a godwit could fly. Even the Americans came, operating a Combat Crew Replacement Unit at Atcham, and when their P.47 Thunderbolts chanced upon the Spitfires from Rednal, could they resist a mock dogfight?

    Other combats were far from mock. Night fighters operated from High Ercall and Tern Hill, stalking the Germans who came to bomb the North-West or the Black Country. Bomber OTUs joined raids on Europe, new crews testing their skills.

    Even in training accidents were many, young men let loose on powerful machines, always a recipe for disaster, and especially with the Shropshire and Welsh hills close at hand. The Americans at Atcham had a favourite sport, chock to chock races in their powerful Thunderbolts, all around the Wrekin, which loomed large just to the south. Such was its peril that they placed a warning beacon on the top, with the on/off switch in Atcham control tower, turning it off when Germans were about. After the War, when Atcham closed, the switch was moved to High Ercall, and now resides in the tower at RAF Shawbury.

    This photograph has always been attributed to Tern Hill, but shows 1456 Flight Turbinlite aircraft. In the foreground is a Handley Page Harrow transport ‘Boadicea’, sometimes called a ‘Sparrow’ without the front turret. Behind is an Airspeed Oxford of No. 286 Army Co-operation Squadron, a Havoc and two black Hurricanes of 1456 Flight. The Pontoon and Dock Company, currently make Marina equipment in this Type K hangar on No. 2 Sub Site. High Ercall has a total of three Type K hangars. (Shropshire Airfields Through Time, Amberley Publishing)

    When the invasion of Europe loomed, assault gliders were assembled at RAF Cosford, and glider pilots trained at Tilstock, Peplow and Sleap, and then they went away to carry the fight to Normandy fields.

    At the end of the War the cut back was swift, airfields soon closed, those at High Ercall and Tern Hill lasting longer than most. RAF Shawbury remains today training the helicopter pilots for all three services, including, in its time, two young princes. Its runway remains a safe haven for aircraft in difficulty, in an area of the country where few remain. RAF Cosford remains the sole training base for ground based trades, and the home of the RAF’s only surviving annual Air Show. Tern Hill was turned over to the Army but the helicopters from Shawbury visit often. Sleap became Shropshire’s main general aviation airfield, and up on the Long Mynd, the one airfield closed during the War, has thrived since, as the home of the Midland Gliding Club. One other airfield is a surprising survivor, little RAF Chetwynd, a neat grass field lost down the lanes north of Newport, continues to serve as an extra landing field as it has for over 75 years, currently for the helicopters from Shawbury.

    Hopefully my book makes sense of what once was there, and what little still remains, those silent sentinels, the old control towers, those small industrial estates in surprisingly rural places, built on the old technical sites like Condover, Hinstock, Atcham or Rednal, those derelict Romney or Maycrete huts in farmyards or woods. Unsung memorials to a generation of young men now disappearing as they are reclaimed by Nature and the march of time.

    Alec Brew's book Shropshire Airfields Through Time is available for purchase now.

  • Secret Broadstairs by Andy Bull

    The untold story of the lady who inspired David Copperfield’s aunt, Betsy Trotwood.

    Charles Dickens’ semi-autobiographical story of David Copperfield has proved a timeless classic, and is gaining new admirers through Armando Iannucci’s 2019 film version.

    Aunt Betsy chasing donkeys off the green in an illustration for the American edition of David Copperfield. (Secret Broadstairs, Amberley Publishing)

    A central character in the story is David’s eccentric aunt, Betsy Trotwood. A key comic scene in both book and film is that in which she chases donkeys off the green in front of her home.

    Aunt Betsy was based on a formidable lady Dickens came to know during his annual summer stays at Broadstairs. That lady was Mary Pearson Strong and, while her connection with the character is well known in the town and where her former home houses the Dickens Museum, I discovered a fascinating untold story about Miss Strong while researching my new book, Secret Broadstairs.

    It involves a long-forgotten legacy which means that Mary, who was a hugely public-spirited character and did a great deal to help the people of Broadstairs, is still benefiting the town’s children and elderly today, 165 years after her death.

    Here is the story I uncovered.

    Mary Pearson Strong’s home, now the Dickens Museum. (Secret Broadstairs, Amberley Publishing)

    Mary Pearson Strong was a member of the wealthy Strong’s brewing family from Hampshire. She had a sister, Ann, and while Mary remained single – like her fictional counterpart – Ann married Stephen Nuckell in 1799.

    Stephen owned the cottage in which Miss Strong lived, and several adjoining buildings in what was then called Nuckell’s Place. He also owned the land running down to the cliff edge, which is now an enclosed garden. It was from this spot that Betsy (and Miss Strong) tried to ban donkeys.

    Stephen Nuckell was a prominent figure in Broadstairs, running Nuckell’s Library and the town’s Assembly Rooms, which stood at the western end of Nuckell’s Place (now Victoria Parade) where the Charles Dickens Inn is today. Mary, Ann and Stephen share a tomb in St Peter’s churchyard.

    The green from which Mary Pearson Strong chased donkeys. (Secret Broadstairs, Amberley Publishing)

    Stephen Nuckell’s death, in 1834, coincided with a change in the law regarding provision for the poor. The occupants of the town’s workhouse, in the High Street in the St Peter’s area of town, were moved to another facility at nearby Minster-in-Thanet, and the building put up for sale. It was bought by Stephen’s widow and named Nuckell’s Almshouse in his memory. In 1838 she paid £700 for the building and a further £100 converting it from what had been a grim and forbidding place into pleasant homes for ten poor, elderly widows.

    This pattern of charitable giving continued in the wills of Mary Pearson Strong and Ann, in which they both endowed charitable institutions that still exist in Broadstairs to this day.

    Delving into documents including a Board of Education report on endowments for the years 1853 to 1894, I discovered the details.

    Nuckell’s Almshouse, which still benefits from a bequest by Mary Pearson Strong. (Secret Broadstairs, Amberley Publishing)

    When Ann died, in 1843, her will left instructions that, upon her sister Mary Pearson Strong’s death, the sum of £5,000 should be invested and the income used to support or establish three schools in Broadstairs: an infants’, a girls’ and a boys’ school. The money was expressly to be used ‘for the purpose of educating the children of the poor in religious and useful knowledge ... and towards the clothing [of] such children of the said schools’, and to help them become ‘good and profitable servants and labourers’.

    Ann left it up to the vicar of St Peter’s, John Hodgson, to decide exactly where and how the money should be spent. He divided the income in equal proportions among the six schools built during his incumbency in the parish of St. Peter.

    When Mary Pearson Strong died, in 1855, her will left money for the improvement of St Peter’s Church and ‘for the benefit of the Girls’ School at St. Peter’s ... and of the inmates or any of them in Nuckell’s Almshouse’. Shortly afterwards, in 1858, Nuckell’s Almshouse was radically rebuilt, creating the grand Palladian-style Grade II-listed building to be seen today, with its niche holding a sculpture of a mother and children, representing Charity.

    The inscription on Mary Pearson Strong’s grave, urging charity. (Secret Broadstairs, Amberley Publishing)

    John Wood, clerk to the trustees of Nuckell’s Almshouse, confirms: ‘Together with a few others, Nuckell’s Almshouse benefits from a small charity of Mary Pearson Strong. I understand that Miss Strong also paid for a girls’ school to be added to St. Peter’s Infants school in the village ... Nuckell’s Almshouse still houses “poor” people. The building is now arranged in six self-contained flats – one two-bedroomed and five with one bedroom. The residents help towards the upkeep of the premises by paying a weekly maintenance contribution.’

    Charities in the names of Mary Pearson Strong and Nuckell’s Almshouse still exist. The charitable object of the Mary Pearson Strong endowment, as the current Charity Commission listing makes clear, is little changed. It is to provide: ‘Almshouses for poor persons of good character who are members of the Church of England and who have resided in the Isle of Thanet for not less than seven years ... with preference to persons who have so resided in the ancient parish of St Peter.’ It is linked with the Nuckell’s Almshouse charity.

    Mary’s inscription on the family tomb in St Peter’s churchyard reads: ‘Give alms of such things as ye have’. Ann’s inscription records that she died ‘bequeathing large sums to pious and charitable uses in this parish. Founder of Nuckell’s Almshouse’. Inflation has eaten away at Mary Pearson Strong’s endowment and, says Mr Wood, the charity now receives just £19 per year from this source.

    Andy Bull's book Secret Broadstairs is available for purchase now.

  • Yorkshire Buses by Scott Poole

    Gods own country is a name bestowed upon Yorkshire, with her variations of major cities, historical towns and award-winning villages. There are many attractions within the county of Yorkshire, from Minsters, Cathedral’s, ancient Abbey’s, market towns, rolling hills and vast moorland, Yorkshire offers plenty.

    Preserved 180 - a Horsefield car with Brush bodywork - stands in Crich Tramway Museum. (Yorkshire Buses, Amberley Publishing)

    Today transport within the county is operated by three large operators Arriva, First and Stagecoach, alongside Transdev. With the 1972 local government re-organising of the Yorkshire county from   Ridings to Metropolitan councils, it saw major transport departments of the cities vanish into new PTEs or merge into parts of the NBC bus operations. But the 1985 Transport Act again saw major change, as PTEs could no longer operate bus services, new arms-length companies arrived. New names, updated vehicles and the low floor generation saw new styles arrive into Yorkshire.

    From humble beginnings, using horse drawn trams and carts to steam powered vehicles pulling large trailer cars, to the use of electricity for the new generation of tram car, with designs created by forward thinking managers. Bradford, Doncaster, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Hull, Rotherham, Sheffield and Wakefield all had tramway systems, which towards the end of the 1940’s were slowly abandoned in favour of the motor bus. Some of our towns and cities used Trolleybuses to replace trams, which saw Bradford being the last operator of the type in March 1972.

    Bradford Corporation's last front-engine double-deckers were a batch of fifteen Alexander-bodied Leyland Titan PD3s. (Yorkshire Buses, Amberley Publishing)

    After World War Two, the manufacturing sector saw improvements to materials and equipment, which allowed new methods of construction. Gone were the traditional teak framed bodies, replaced by lightweight aluminum frames and sheets. Fiberglass parts were also constructed, which saw a much-needed shape arriving on to buses during the 1960’s. Yorkshire had many traditional industries and saw cities extend boundaries, as many of the population wanted to live outside of the centers. This is where public transport grew in the 1920’s, 1930’s and the 1940’s as the public moved around the area for reasonable fares, the boom time of the 1950’s saw an increase in leisure travel.

    Plaxton’s a Scarborough based coach builder would benefit from this coaching boom. With stylish bodies arriving at the Wallace Arnold firm, based in Leeds, with many journeys setting off from the Calls near the Corn Exchange, Leeds. West Yorkshire, West Riding, Yorkshire Traction and Yorkshire Woollen all joined together forming the coaching pool services. This saw in the 1950’s and 1960’s increased travel around the country, with days out to Birmingham, Edinburgh, The Lake district, Newcastle, Nottingham, Wales and London. With M1 opening, this allowed for express coach journeys to most of the cities’ south of Leeds.

    This bus is seen on the 163 in Kippax during the first day of the ADL E40MMC working the route. (Yorkshire Buses, Amberley Publishing)

    Charles. H. Roe, initially based on Balm Road in Leeds, moved to Cross Gates in the 1920’s, were the firm stayed until closure in September 1984. Roe had bodied almost all the vehicles of Leeds City Transport, with neighboring towns and cities also purchasing Roe bus bodies. As a tradition, Leeds always sent a specially built vehicle to the annual Commercial Motor Show at London’s Earl’s Court. The last Leeds buses at this show was a Roe bodied Daimler Fleetline 761 (211) in September 1972. Roe bodied the West Riding orders for the interesting Guy Wulfrunian, which arrived during the 1960’s a concept which failed. Luckily two examples of the type are preserved with the Dewsbury Bus Museum, one in the green and the other in the red West Riding liveries.

    The 1970’s saw the much-loved municipal transport departments close, as new transport ideas were generated, gone were local urban and district councils replaced by the larger metropolitan county councils. These in turn saw the creation of the larger Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) from 1969, the Yorkshire PTEs arriving in April 1974. The National Bus Company (NBC) arrived in 1969, taking into her fold were the West Riding group, West Yorkshire Road Car and Yorkshire Traction. With a poppy red livery, the Yorkshire based fleets. Agreements saw the creation of the Metro/National group, which saw integration of the whole service numbers, inter-ticketing solutions, the rail network and the off-peak fares. Plus, the introduction of the multi journey saver strip, which was introduced as part of the 1983 bus fayre held in Leeds. The saver strip was a success along with the off-peak fares; it saw a 2 million plus rise in passengers during the late 1981-1983 period. But it was South Yorkshire, which had the rest of the PTEs thinking, bus fares in the county were the lowest, allowing the passengers to travel over ten miles for around 10 pence. All that would change in October 1986, as the fares in South Yorkshire rose to a staggering 250%, a basic trip across town would cost the same a Leeds, about 30 pence.

    Sheffield ordered a batch of eighteen Bristol VRTs with East Lancashire bodywork. This example has been preserved and is housed at the Wythall Transport Museum. (Yorkshire Buses, Amberley Publishing)

    The 1985 ‘Transport act’ or deregulation, as it became better known, saw the new commercial enterprise era arrive. The PTEs were no longer allowed to run services, but could assist in financial subsidies of service, were required. Companies had to register a commercial service before 25th October 1986, after which time a 56-day notice was required to set in any alterations or cancelations to a service. Yorkshire saw some colour return to the transport scene, but it led to some confusion as to which company was operating an established route. In both South and West Yorkshire most of the former PTEs services were successfully tendered by the new at arm’s length companies. Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield were the areas were most of the competitive nature of deregulation occurred. But by the turn of the century, the situation had changed, with the now established big three of Arriva (West Riding routes) First (former PTE operations) and Stagecoach (Yorkshire Traction services and Hull Corporation). East Yorkshire remained independent until late 2018, when the firm was purchased by the Go-Ahead group. In 2019 a new livery and branding of key routes followed by investment in new vehicles, have ensured East Yorkshire continues. Blazefield, set up upon the departure of AJS Holdings took over the former West Yorkshire operations in Harrogate, Keighley and Malton, now operation as part of the colourful Transdev group.

    In this volume I chart the ever-changing transport scene, as operators are seeing more difficult situations from funding cuts, competition and loss of business. It has shaped the county from its humble beginnings in the 1860 until now in the 21st Century. Step on board and enjoy this look back at the various types which once were operating around the Yorkshire area.

    A huge thank you to Connor at Amberley for the opportunity to write a second book and to everyone else at Amberley too for their time. I hope you enjoy the book.

    Scott Poole's book Yorkshire Buses is available for purchase now.

  • A-Z of Glasgow by Michael Meighan

    On Glasgow's Dear Green Place

    Since long before Glasgow's George Square became our main civic centre, Glasgow Green has been a place for rallies, concerts, rowing regattas, athletics, football, and even soapbox races. It was here too that the Glasgow Fair was held after being moved from the grounds of Glasgow Cathedral in the 1800's. A stone also commemorates the place where, in 1765, James Watt was said to have come up with his ideas for a condenser for the steam engine so starting the age of steam.

    The River Clyde at Glasgow Green. (Author's collection, A-Z of Glasgow, Amberley Publishing)

    As a child, I was taken by the hand by my father round the People's Palace. The Palace at that time, like many museums, was a dusty mausoleum of stuffy old artefacts locked up in glass cases. The museum now reflects Glasgow's social and industrial past in interactive and very interesting exhibits - Glasgow in wartime, the cinema, Red Clydeside and fashion.

    The Winter Gardens with their extensively glazed panels and foliage draped paths make this a delight to walk or sit in. I wonder what the air quality might have been like when it was built. While it is set in the expansive Glasgow Green it would still have been in the middle of one of Glasgow's busiest and dirtiest areas. Now though, 100 years after its opening, the Palace was given a new lease of life with a £1.2 million refurbishment and this gives us the space for the new café. With a redeveloped Green and against the backdrop of the Doge's Palace and with the newly restored Doulton Fountain, it is a joy to visit.

    The People's Palace and the Doulton Fountain. (Author's collection, A-Z of Glasgow, Amberley Publishing)

    There can hardly be a Glaswegian who doesn't know about Templeton's carpet factory on the Green. James Templeton, its founder, was a Highlander from Campbeltown in Argyll, who along with many thousands of his ilk, left the poverty of the Highlands to find fame and fortune in Glasgow.

    By the time he was 27 James had set up a business in Paisley making shawls and with William Quiglay worked on a patent for the machinery for 'a new and improved mode of manufacturing silk, woollen, cotton and linen fabrics'. Buying out Quiglay he was joined by his brothers-in-law and moved to King Street in the Bridgeton area of Glasgow to expand his business. Production started in 1839 and by 1851 the company was employing 400 people. By the start of the First World War it was reputed to be the biggest carpet manufacturer in the United Kingdom. By the 1950s it was Glasgow's biggest employer with 7000 workers in this and other mills in the area.

    Templeton Building modelled on the 'Doge's Palace' in Venice. (Author's collection, A-Z of Glasgow, Amberley Publishing)

    It is said that the nearby residents in Monteith Row, which was then a very desirable area objected to Templeton's building plans for a new factory a number of times so he was forced to come up with a dramatic design which would guarantee acceptance. He recruited architect William Leiper who emulated the Doge's Palace in Venice to produce what must be one of the most unusual industrial buildings in Europe. Leiper is also known for Glasgow's Gothic Dowanhill Church, now home of the Cottier Theatre. The design of the factory also guaranteed its listing and survival as a business centre. Its opening in 1889 was tinged with sadness as soon after a freak gust of wind combined with alleged bad building work caused a partial collapse of a the main facade killing 29 workers. It was rebuilt and re-opened in 1891.

    At the end of the 1960s, the Guthrie Corporation, a rubber plantation owner, was looking for a foothold in the British flooring market. They succeeded with a takeover of Templeton's in 1969. Guthrie was ambitious and in 1980 they acquired a £1.5M stake in Stoddards. It subsequently closed down the Templeton factory and transferred production to the Stoddard mill in Elderslie.

    Following a takeover and then closure of Templeton, the redundant building was re-opened as a business centre in the 1980's with architect James Anderson winning the Regeneration of Scotland Design Awards. It now also houses a popular micro brewery, restaurant and bar, West On The Green. Highly recommended.

    West on the Green in the Templeton Building. (Author's collection, A-Z of Glasgow, Amberley Publishing)

    Although the area round Glasgow was sacked by Vikings from their Kingdom of Dublin in the ninth century, it was generally of little interest to invaders. For much of its early years it was simply a fishing village on a crossroads. Even Prince Charles didn’t bother. The Green at Christmas 1745, on his way back from an abortive attempt at invading England, his army camped on what is now part of Glasgow Green, Flesher’s Haugh. Charlie demanded that the city ‘donate’ £15,000 to his campaign as well as provisions, clothing and footwear.

    Glasgow had been doing rather well under the existing regime, and the Provost wrote back saying that as his citizens didn’t support the cause, he couldn’t help. He was actually more afraid of the reaction in the area than he was of the Jacobite army. A smaller contribution than asked for was given even as the citizens prepared to defend Glasgow against attack.

    While Charlie dined well with supporters his army made do with camping on the Green, some of them round the church of St Andrew's in the Square, just off the Green.

    Michael Meighan's book A-Z of Glasgow is available for purchase now.

  • Secret Dover by Jeff Howe

    Dover’s Quite Alright

    Dover holds a particular fascination for me. I don’t really know why, I don’t live there.  It’s just another run-down seaside town, suffering still from the effects of war-time bomb and shell damage, and population stagnation. Since then various economic impetuses have caused many buildings of monumental style and importance to be demolished; as recently as the 1990s, concrete pilings for ‘The White Cliffs Experience’, a new type of interactive visitor centre, were knowingly driven through part of a Roman fort. But to quote Jim Cairns, Mayor of Dover during WWII, “Dover’s quite alright…we are all very busy doing our jobs… we have our problems”, and Alderman Cairns’s words probably ring as true today as they did in 1942. Dover’s hustle and bustle is as busy as that of any other Kentish coastal town. So what makes this such an interesting place?

    Advert for 'The Magic Flute' featuring Esme Atherden and her future husband, Walter Hyde, 1899. (c. The Era, Secret Dover, Amberley Publishing)

    Of course, there is the Iron Age hill fort that is the site of Dover Castle, the Bronze Age boat discovered during a road building project, and the Western Heights which has the largest system of 19th century fortifications in this country. But for me it’s the little things about Dover that make it such a fascinating place. For example, the Flat Earth Society was founded here in 1956. Also, there was once a defensive military canal where today container trucks thunders along the town’s main road, much shorter, but with the same purpose of defending against Napoleon’s hoards, just like the impressive Royal Military Canal at Hythe just along the coast.

    More recently, Walter Hyde, the prolific Wagnerian tenor of the early 20th century sang at Dover Town Hall in 1904 and 05. He also married a local girl, Emma Atherden from the Pier District, an area now non-existent and once referred to as a slum. This was by the Western Docks and largely inhabited by mariners and their families, full of tumble-down houses, pubs and churches, where folk lived cheek-by-jowl.

    The effects of the flame barrage at Studland Bay, Dorset, 1940. (c. Flame Over Britain, Secret Dover, Amberley Publishing)

    In a February 1957 broadcast of The Goon Show Moriarty gives Neddie Seagoon the deeds to the English Channel with a proviso that Neddie insures it against fire. Luckily, Moriarty and Grytpype-Thynne also happen to be wandering insurance agents, and they sold Neddie a policy with a £48,000 payout should the Channel catch light, for just 18 shillings. I always wondered if The Goon Show had any idea that there was such a plan to set light to the Channel just 17 years earlier. In ‘Secret Dover’ you will find a photograph of the 1940 anti-invasion flame barrage. This consisted of a set of large oil tanks and a pump house secreted in a ditch on the Western Heights, their purpose was to set light to the surf had a German invasion force arrived. This would have been used in conjunction with other fixed defences, such as the ubiquitous pillboxes and wire entanglements on the beach to repel the invaders. I think this is a textbook case of fact being stranger than fiction! I found the photo of Dover’s flame barrage tanks on Facebook, posted by a Dover resident who watched them being removed in 1991. And I’m convinced that there are secreted in people’s lofts in Dover and every other town in this country, shoeboxes of old photos waiting to see the light of day again, and these will amaze us with once familiar vistas.

    The music-hall comedian Harold Montague who played the Promenade Pier in 1905.

    These more esoteric odds and ends form the basis of ‘Secret Dover’. 22,000 words about the harbour; the blitz; Matron Louisa Stewart, stalwart of the military hospital during the Great War; Harold Montague who sang his new song, “When Maud Put Her New Bathing Costume On” in the Promenade Pier Pavilion around 1905; roof repairs to the Castle’s keep, and much more.

    I’ve been picking old Dover apart for approaching 30 years, and I think ‘Secret Dover’ is a culmination of my favourite bits, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop now. I mean, think about it; who else is going to uncover the intricacies of Maximillian Ball’s 18th century ‘Britannia Coffee House’, decipher Jatt Church’s last will and testament (he was Clerk of the Cheque of Dover Harbour, and died in 1808) and get to grips with Archcliffe Fort? After nearly three decades there’s still much to fascinate.

    I think Jimmy Cairns had a point.  Dover is quite alright.

    Jeff Howe's book Secret Dover is available for purchase now.

  • Scotland Remembered by Michael Meighan

    Scotland's Viking Past

    It is well known that from the 8th to the 15th centuries, Vikings – the name given to Scandinavians – raided, colonised and enslaved much of the islands surrounding the north and west of Scotland as well as Caithness and Sutherland. This included Orkney and Shetland, the Hebrides and the islands of the Clyde Estuary.

    Viking Longship in Shetland - waiting to be burned. (Author's collection, Scotland Remembered, Amberley Publishing)

    Very recently, on the Ardnamurchan peninsula a rare Viking burial was discovered in which a warrior was buried in a boat along with his decorated weapons. However, there are few solid remains of Viking Scotland but it is well remembered in place names and in language, particularly of Orkney and Shetland. In Shetland the yearly Up Helly Aa winter festivals commemorate Viking days and end with the ceremonial burning of a Viking Longboat.

    There are records showing that Scandinavians had been raiding along the coasts of the British Isles from the 8th century and that settlements may have begun soon after this. In fact it was resistance to the Vikings that resulted in the joining of tribes to form the kingdom of Alba under Kenneth Macalpin in 843.

    Hogback stones in Govan Old Church. (Author's collection, Scotland Remembered, Amberley Publishing)

    Following the sacking of Dumbarton Castle (then Alt Clut) in 878, Govan, now in Glasgow became a major town in their new kingdom – Strathclyde.

    Govan as the centre of the Viking estate is marked by the Govan stones held in Govan Old Parish Church in Glasgow. The most important is a sarcophagus that was found during excavations in 1855. This may contain the remains of Saint Constantine although the carvings are thought to be much later.  The stones are some of Scotland's earliest Christian carvings and include unusual Viking 'Hogback' stones. It is well worth a trip to the Govan Stones visitor centre there. It really is a most beautiful church and new finds continue to be made there and this is helping us re-assess the Scandinavian influence on Scotland

     

    The Battle of Largs 1263

    ‘The Pencil’ marking the Battle of Largs in 1263. (Author's collection, Scotland Remembered, Amberley Publishing)

    While the western seaboard of Scotland had been under Norwegian sovereignty for many years, the Scots had tried to purchase the lands but this had been rebuffed. The Scots then tried to take the lands by force so King Haakon set sail from Norway with a massive fleet to re-assert control.

    On the night of 30 September, 1263, the ships of King Haakon, which were occupying the Firth of Clyde were driven ashore in stormy weather near Largs. On the 2 October a Scottish army commanded by the High Steward of Scotland, Alexander of Dundonald arrived to confront the Vikings. A battle broke out on the beach. After hours of skirmishing the Norwegians were able to re-board their boats, sailing North to Orkney to over-winter.

    It was here that King Haakon took ill and died. His successor Magnus Haakonarson, King of Norway agreed with Alexander III of Scotland in the Treaty of Perth to lease the Viking occupied western shores of Scotland for a yearly sum. This fell through with Norway's civil wars and Scotland simply occupied the west. However, the control of Orkney and Shetland was ceded to Norway, so while the Scandinavian influence diminished in the West of Scotland it was to continue in the Northern Isles and to this day many in the Northern Isles do think of themselves as Scandinavians.

    The Battle of Largs is remembered by 'The Pencil' a tower on Craig Walk on the shore at Largs. The Pencil Walk takes you 2km from Largs to the monument and it is a fine place for a picnic. Each Autumn at the Largs Viking Festival, there is a re-enactment of the battle, held beside The Pencil.

    While you are in Largs you might also like to take the short ferry trip to the delightful island of Cumbrae that is brilliant for both easy walking and cycling.

    Michael Meighan's book Scotland Remembered is available for purchase now.

  • Surrey's Military Heritage by Paul Le Messurier

    Canadian troops riot in Epsom, Surrey in June 1919

    Just over one hundred years ago, the First World War officially came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on the 28 June 1919. The brutally of combat had ended the previous year following the armistice of 11 November 1918. Yet sadly, in the same month that the Treaty was signed, the war would claim one more victim as a result of a tragic incident that would change the lives of a Surrey family forever.

    The grave of Station Sergeant Green in Epsom cemetery. (Copyright Paul Le Messurier, Surrey's Military Heritage, Amberley Publishing)

    Following the end of hostilities, repatriation of Commonwealth troops proceeded at a very slow pace leading to frustration, boredom and confusion. By the summer of 1919 there were still over 2,000 Canadian soldiers in Woodcote Park Camp near Epsom in Surrey.

    Trouble had been brewing over a period of time between local men, mostly ex-soldiers, and Canadians in Epsom town centre. One such occurrence took place on the evening of Tuesday 17 June 1919, during which a Canadian soldier was arrested. A group of soldiers attempted to free their colleague but were seen off by the local police who arrested a further soldier for obstruction. The group returned to their camp and word spread about the arrests. At around eleven o’clock that evening, an estimated four to five hundred Canadians left the camp heading for Epsom police station. Armed with iron railings and wooden stakes, they stormed the station.

    After about an hour of fighting, the police were eventually overwhelmed. The Canadians managed to free their two colleagues and returned to the camp. Practically every policeman had been injured during the battle, some worse than others. Station Sergeant Thomas Green, aged 51 and close to retirement, was taken unconscious to the local hospital and died the following morning having suffered a fractured skull.

    The memorial to Station Sergeant Green erected by the Metropolitan Police. (Copyright Paul Le Messurier, Surrey's Military Heritage, Amberley Publishing)

    A scene of devastation met the crowd that gathered around the police station the following morning. Local magistrates issued an order closing all public houses to prevent further trouble and the town was placed out of bounds to all troops at the camp. The Canadian authorities had claimed that the original disturbance started when a Canadian soldier, walking with his wife, was insulted by a group of locals. This explanation was strongly refuted by Epsom Council.

    Station Sergeant Green had been in the police force for 24 years after having served in the Royal Horse Artillery in India. A large number of residents assembled in Epsom town centre for his funeral procession, local shops were closed. Several hundred members of the Metropolitan Police Force were in attendance. He was survived by his wife and two daughters aged 19 and 18.

    A plaque near the site of the riot in Epsom town centre. (Copyright Paul Le Messurier, Surrey's Military Heritage, Amberley Publishing)

    Seven Canadian soldiers appeared in court charged with manslaughter and riot. The charges against two were dismissed. The remaining five were found guilty of rioting, but not guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to one year in prison. The men were released early, handed over to the Canadian authorities, and returned home in December 1919.

    In August 1929, New Scotland Yard received a telegram from the Chief of Police in Winnipeg. One of the soldiers, who had appeared in court in 1919 on a charge of manslaughter, was in custody for a minor offence and had decided to clear his conscience. He admitted killing Station Sergeant Green by striking him on the head with an iron bar. The telegram read, ‘Am detaining Allan McMaster, who admits being murderer of Police Sergeant Green at Epsom on June Seventeenth Nineteen Nineteen. Do you want him. Wire instructions.’.  New Scotland Yard replied that since the case was closed no further action would be taken. McMaster would take his own life 20 years after the tragic incident in Epsom.

    Station Sergeant Green is still remembered to this day. One hundred years on from his death, memorial events were recently held in Epsom in his honour.

    Paul Le Messurier's book Surrey's Military Heritage is available for purchase now.

Items 1 to 10 of 178 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. ...
  7. 18