Saturday, 14 March 2009

A nice sunset picture

Rootes 1966 Hillman Imp by Fraser Racing

The flag of Scotland,named the Saltaire

What a nice and rather original picture,note the widened steel rims used before Minilights became the only choice for race and rally teams,they have probably been fitted with Dunlops R7 race tires?note also the external door hinges,indicating that they had taken the heavy (28kgs each) steel door sets off and moved to GRP (glass reinforced plastic)this was a large weight saving when all the window glass,excepting the front screen was replaced by clear plastic sheet.With the doors and the glass weight saving,it will have been around 75 kgs,that is around 12% of the road cars weight,which is a massive amount of power to weight saving on a race car.The front bonnet vents also indicate a move to the front mounted water radiator,this increased the cooling water but also moved weight forward,which helped balance the car.This car will have been fitted with a 998cc Hillman Imp block that Rootes Competitions developed,with a full race inlet and exhaust manifold,twin Weber dcoe 40 carburetors,an R20 or R23 camshaft,power available went from 38 hp to a massive 105hp,which is an increase of 275 percent!

Technical stuff:

The Group 5 regulations permit extensive mechanical modifications, but insist upon the body remaining standard - no lightening or changing of the shape.
Fraser Imp
Group 5, 1967
Engine size
Bore x stroke (mm)
Max. power
Compression ratio
Gearbox ratios
Synchromesh on
Anti roll bars at
Road wheels 998
72.5 x 60.3
2 Webers
5 gears
F & R
Front disc
7J x 13in.
Engine will not run smoothly below 4,000rpm, useful torque range starts at 5,000. They kept it between 7,000 and 9,300

Friday, 13 March 2009

Our Argie 15 kit build in Kenya

This is an exciting time for these two small boys,to them this will look like a big boat!

Progress looks good,its a nice clean construction.

We exported an Argie 15 kit to Alfonso in Kenya last year,seeing his build pictures I can see he will be soon sailing with his family on the lake Naivasha.

The Tidal Pool at Gweek

The mud berths at Gweek when the tide is out.

A picture of Gweek when the tide is in.

The Ancient harbour of Gweek on the Helford river.

Gweek is at the head of navigation of the Helford River Helford River,
Helford River is not a river or an estuary but a ria located in Cornwall which passes the Trebah and Glendurgan Garden gardens, and the Durgan village....
. It has been a port since Roman times and was a thriving port in the Tudor period, with its own Customs House.

During the mining boom, a tin-smelting blowing house
a building formerly for smelting tin, using bellows. In Cornwall, the furnace was usually made of granite blocks, sealed with clay....opperated at the quayside.

In a Topographical Dictionary of England published in 1848, it was described as:
GWEEK, a small port, in the hundred of Kerrier, W. division of Cornwall, 3½ miles (E. by S.) from Helston. The pilchard-fishery is carried on extensively, 200 boats being employed in taking the fish, which are cured in the various creeks and coves within the limits of the port. In addition to the fishery, the chief trade consists in the exportation of copper-ore, corn, moorstone, and oysters, and the importation of timber, coal, and limestone.

Some contact details for the Gweek Quay Boat yard,they have a full range of paints and chandlery.Contact
Gweek Quay Boatyard
TR12 6UF.
Tel: +44 (0) 1326 221657
Fax: +44 (0) 1326 221685
website :

Rivers end and low tide in Gweek,this picture shows how the boat yards have built up on a tract of land the follows the river.

The river is tidal,so entry to Gweek needs carfull consideration when entering or leaving via Falmouth on Englands south coast but Gweek has a safe harbour wall,quite large yachts can sit there with little danger of damage when grounding,remember this when your next cruising in the area.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Hard Dodgers why we need them?

click on the picture to view full size!

A H-R 46in Antartica (i think)

We know winter is on its way,so time to order your Hard Spray Dodger kit from CKD Boats.Did you know that Antartica is only 1800 miles from Cape Town and in winter the ice line can be as close as 600 miles?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

A South African racing Hillman Imp,the pictures

Simply the best,not many could match the Fraser Imp Cars.

Alan Fraser,wonder man of Hillman Imp race preperation.

Gavins car is painted in the famous Fraser Imp Team colours,the car has a line on it saying 'X marks the Scot' in tribute to Fraser a scotsman.

Gavin Ritchies Hillman Imp at Zwartkops in 2007,full race engine if only 875cc but running an R20 works copy camshaft with a full race fabricated manifold and twin Weber 40 dcoe carburators.

Fraser Racing Team
Alan Fraser had already had a successful competition carreer with Sunbeams when the Imp arrived on the scene in 1963. By that time he was le patron of a racing team. He himself did still turn out whenever possible with one of his own team cars to 'have a bit of a go'.
He was president of the Brighton and Hove Motor Club, and in 1965 he won the Brighton Speed Trials, driving one of his Tigers.

In 1963 Fraser was racing Rapiers, and though he had had considerable success with them, the appearance of the Lotus Cortina seemed to mark the last of the Rapier's racing days.
Fraser, as many others, looked at the Imp with some interest, impressed by the car's specifications and design. In the second half of 1964 he entered a virtually standard 875 Imp, with rally-modified suspension, for a couple of meetings with Rosemary Smith as driver - purely for test purposes.
In October Fraser and company devoted their time to the development of a 998 Imp for racing. They were sure that such an Imp could beat the Cooper 'S' and they were determined to prove it. Just eight months later the team had its first win !

Cockpit Hard Spray Dodger kit moves to a final stage

As it turned out we glassed the top surface with close weave 6oz glass cloth and our laminating epoxy (thin) it really stablised the 15mm thick laminated Superform Bending ply core,with the lower surface now sheathed,the sandwich will be very stiff and well able to take the weigt of a man or women walking on top of it,the whole structure is very ligt weight without the use of conventional balsa,airex or nidacores and at a fraction of their prices. too.

Note the Lewmar # 30 deck hatch combing is now bonded and a nice epoxy fillet has been added,when sanded and painted,it will look like part of the roof surface.

We now reach the epoxy saturation (surface coats) stage,this stablises the surface and allows fine sanding for later epoxy paint coatings.The next stage with the canopy roof is to turn it over and apply the close weave glass cloth,this will stiffen the roof up,once the roof is bonded to the sub structure,the roof top will receive the same glass cloth finish.

We have now epoxied the lower ply frames together,the roof will be fixed next week,which will be followed by the addition of epoxy fillets and various hardwood corner pieces.

We supply Lewmar quality marine equipment with many of our kits.

A Lewmar low line hatch,which has the 8mm polycarbonate infill instead of the 12mm infill found in the Ocean range,in this case we are just looking for a water tight hatch to give ventilation when its hot outside,so the Lewmar Low Line deck hatch series is perfect.

At this stage the panels are self supporting,they have not been glued together at all,just a few screws placed on the lower ply edges keep it all together,when we epoxy glue it and finish with fibre glass tape,sand and epoxy fair the tapes,no sign of how it is held together will be visible.

The intention had been to have the front window pane as an opening one,second thoughts say that this compromises the companion way below and also any instruments kept in the space behind it,a rethink says that Lewmars low line deck hatch size number 30 will suit just fine,it will allow light in when its closed and air and light when open,the hatch trim in 15mm marine ply now becomes part of out kit.

One or two days away from being glued up,then its the epoxy saturation and marine coatings from International Paints.

The space inside is huge,lots of space for a mini chart table and your nav instruments,a set of rear doors could make this a very dry and secure area.

Our hard spray dodger kit,dry assembled.

We started this a year back,its designed to suit yachts or boats from around 40 to 45ft,it could be re scaled up or down of course.We are now working on the final product,at act number eight attempts to get the design basics right,even the CNC cut 15mm marine plywood was found to require a final adjustment,some of which you can see in the pictures.

The options will be to have a finished unit,painted or otherwise,tempered glass or polycarbonate,front opening hatch for ventilation,or we supply as a flat pack kit,you assemble,thats the side and front marine plys,the jig to shape the roof,the Superform bending plys,glazing templates,epoxies,glass cloth,tapes and screws,we can ship in a flat pack world wide.

Carpenters Hall,Throgmorton Avenue,London,EC2

What a wonderfull victorian sounding name,sounds like an Agatha Christie novel.It was in fact the Carpenters Guild,this is my receipt on becoming a member,my nice parents kept up payments due after I emigrated to South Africa,thanks folks!

Some of Cape Towns traditional boats

The logo of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Towns old harbour.

left click to fill your screen and see all the detail,a nice page for your PC?
camera was the Canon FT with a 1.4 lens,picture by R Mc Bride (jnr)

Boats I can name are from the left of the picture:

Brat of Dunkirk,Dunvagan,Dolphin,Puffin,with She and Domichela at the rear,the place is the V&A Waterfront,in Cape Towns old harbour

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Luke Powell and Working Sail

Working Sail offer classic wooden sailing vessels for the connoisseur. Based on the lines of the pilot cutters from the Isles of Scilly, which were renowned for their seaworthiness and performance, each vessel is individually designed by designer/shipwright Luke Powell.

We build our vessels in a traditional boatyard in the small village of Gweek which lies at the top of the beautiful Helford river in Cornwall, Southwest England. Visits to view our vessels during construction are always welcome and an opportunity to view our previous vessels can usually be arranged. A four hour train ride from London, we are also forty-five minutes drive from Newquay airport.

Established in 1994, Working Sail is run by Luke Powell, drawing on a lifetime of experience in boatbuilding. Luke served his apprenticeship in Thames Sailing Barges, going on to rebuild Pilot Cutters and Smacks. He also spent some years in Greece and Turkey sailing around in an old engineless cutter that he made his home. This was followed by building new fishing boats in France.

After years of this, Luke Powell felt it was time to build a new generation of Pilot Cutters. Setting up the business with the help of Sara James who did the historical research, the reputation of Working Sail has grown and become a tradition in itself.

Luke now employs a crew of shipwrights to help him create these fine vessels. He has surrounded himself in an environment of nineteenth-century wood and sail and spends all his time either designing, building or sailing his cutters..

Agnes,from Working Sail

Logo of Working Sail.

Agnes went to the Mousehole Luggers Event near Penzance in Cornwall. Then on to the festival at Douarnenez in France, where much merriment was had! Coming back after this to her spiritual home, the Isles of Scilly, for the Around-the-Island Race. She has done a lot of sea miles in her short life and is happy back at home in the Cornish waters. As you may have noticed we have not sold her. It was decided that she’d serve us best as an ambassador for Working Sail, giving our customers a chance to experience one of our vessels before taking the plunge. She will also serve as a test bed for new design ideas.

Gweek boat building,at the top of the Helford river,Falmouth,England

AGNES and the result of a freak wave after a visit to Peel on the Isle of Man.

The rest of the pictures are of Amelie Rose,the sister ship to Agnes.

If ever you visit Falmouth,take the time to drive its many narrow and twisting lanes untill you reach Gweek,for anyone with interest in boats,classics in particular,this place is not to be missed.The last two photos were taken by myself,the rest were taken from 'Working Sail' (many thanks to them) the boat is Amelie Rose,a Bristol Pilot type cutter,hand built in the traditional manner, I had already read about the construction of Agnes (Yachting Monthly?) while still in Cape Town,so it was a great sight to see the boat that then followed,NB:ship wrights are invited to apply for work.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Nautical terms ,Press Gangs,the glass bottom theory

A solid pewter metal beer mug with a clear glass bottom.

Question: Why do Beer Mugs have Glass Bottoms? - There are two answers to this odd feature. The first is quite mundane and rather simple: It allows the bartender to see that you are approaching ‘empty’ as you take a swig, and therefore can offer you a refill (Some wags state that it also prevents 'drinking' from an empty mug and taking the space a productive customer would sit in). The second is more interesting, and has to do with the infamous ‘press gangs’ of King George III. It was the law that if a man ‘Accepted the King’s Shilling’ as a first day’s wage, then he was legally obligated to serve the king as a soldier or sailor. Unscrupulous press gangs would buy a potential victim a tankard of beer or ale, and then drop a shilling in the mug when he wasn’t looking. Swallowing, choking, or just finding the shilling was enough for the press gang. Thus, mugs began to have glass bottoms to give the customer a sporting chance to see that his drink was not tampered with.

Nautical terms and their meanings

Sent in by one of our blog readers.
Roy - some more interesting stuff! You probably know this one but the facts are quite interesting!

Splice the mainbrace
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Navy men Splicing the mainbrace aboard HMS Wren during World War II.

Splice the mainbrace is an order given aboard naval vessels to issue the crew with a drink. Originally an order for one of the most difficult emergency repair jobs aboard a sailing ship, it became a euphemism for authorized celebratory drinking afterward, and then the name of an order to grant the crew an extra ration of rum or grog. The phrase is a mainstay of pirate vernacular in popular culture.[citation needed]

Braces are the lines which control the angle of the yards. On the first rate men-o-war, the mainbrace was the largest and heaviest of all the running rigging; the mainbrace on HMS Victory was 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter.[1] Gunners commonly aimed for the ship's rigging during naval battles, with the mainbrace being the prime target. If the mainbrace was shot away, it was usually necessary to repair it during the engagement; the ship was unmanoeuvrable without it and would have to stay on the same tack. Even repairing it after the battle was a difficult job; the mainbrace ran through blocks, so it could not be repaired with a short splice or a knot. Splicing in a large run of hemp was strenuous work, and generally the ship's best Able Seamen were chosen to carry out the task under the supervision of the Bosun (Boatswain).[1] On completion of the task, it was customary for the men to be rewarded with an extra ration of rum. The Bosun would take a sip from the ration of each of the men he had selected for task. Eventually the order "Splice the mainbrace" came to mean that the crew would receive an extra ration of rum, and was issued on special occasions: after victory in battle, the change of a monarch, a royal birth, a royal wedding or an inspection of the fleet.[2] In cases where the whole fleet was to receive the signal, it would be run up with a lift of flags or signalled by semaphore.[3]

A ration of rum a day was standard issue in the Royal Navy until 1970,[4] when concerns over crew members operating machinery under the influence led to the rum ration being abolished.[5] Restrictions were placed on those who could "Splice the mainbrace": any man or officer over the age of 20 who desired to take it received an extra issue of one-eighth of a pint of rum. Lemonade was issued those who did not wish for the rum. The rum was mixed with water to make grog for all ratings below Petty Officer. Only ratings marked "G" (for Grog) in the ship's books could draw rum, grog or lemonade when the main brace was spliced and no payment in lieu was available. Those under 20 were marked "U.A." (for under age) in the ship's book; they were similarly barred from drawing the daily rum ration. "T" stood for Temperance. The issue of rum to Wardroom and Gunroom officers was stopped in 1881 and ended for Warrant officers in 1918; splicing the mainbrace was the only time that officers could be issued with rum.[1]

Other navies abolished the grog allowance far earlier (the United States Navy after the American Civil War),[6] but the order persisted, allowing the crew to take another drink in place of rum or grog; in 1845 it is recorded as being substituted for the more rowdy "Crossing the Line" ceremony.[7] The Royal New Zealand Navy was the last navy to issue junior and senior ratings a daily tot of rum. This continued until the late 1980s. Nowadays, the Canadian Navy is more generous with the allowances, allowing crew members to take 87.5 millilitres (3.08 imp fl oz; 2.96 US fl oz) of sprits compared with the 62.5 millilitres (2.20 imp fl oz; 2.11 US fl oz) allowed by the Royal Navy, although the Royal Navy does make allowance for paucity of supplies, permitting two 350 millilitres (12 imp fl oz; 12 US fl oz) cans of beer may be issued if commercial spirits are not available.[8][9]

Permission to issue the order to splice the mainbrace is heavily restricted - the Royal Navy allows only the Queen or the Admiralty Board to do so;[9] the Canadian Navy permits the Queen, the Governor General of Canada or the Chief of the Defence Staff to issue it.[8] When the Mediterranean fleet received the order from the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) in 1932 it was the first time it had happened since 1918; it was accompanied by the order to "Mend and make clothes", another archaic signal which grants the crew a half-day holiday.[10] Ships in most of the victorious fleets received the order at the end of the Second World War;[11] one ship received the order while still under attack.[3] Nowadays, the order is somewhat more freely given (the Queen issued it after reviewing the fleet off Portsmouth in 2002).[12]

The official naval name for a half-holiday. It comes from the old pipe "Hands
to Make and Mend Clothes", the traditional occupation for the hands when no
official ship's work is to be carried out.

The Childe of Hale,a giant of Liverpool

The Brasenose VIII is always called 'The Childe of Hale'. There is a punning reference to the name of the boat in the Brasenose Ale Verses for 1841, only four years after the official beginning of the College races at Oxford:

Yes, Childe of Ale, well named, you too can tell

The virtues of that beer you love so well;

While with nice skill, and mixture true, you float,

Beer for the crew, the water for the boat.

The Childe of Hale
There were giants on the Earth in those days... or at least one in Lancashire. John Reppion tells the tale of John Middleton, wrestler by Royal Appointment.
Text: John Reppion / Images: John Reppion and Elizabeth Boardman September 2004

About two miles away from the southern outskirts of Liverpool where I grew up, beside the river Mersey, sits the tiny village of Hale. As a child, I was fascinated by Hale and would look forward to the journeys my granddad and I would occasionally make to the parish churchyard. The reason for this was simple: a real life giant was buried there. This was no myth or fairy story, it was written there on a dark stone slab (right) in bold white letters:

“Here lyeth the bodie of John Middleton the Childe of Hale. Nine feet three.”

Such childhood fascinations, however, have a way of fading into the background and I’d all but forgotten John Middleton until a few months ago. Searching for something to do one evening, my girlfriend (not a native of Liverpool) and I decided to go for a short drive. For some reason Hale village came to mind, and before too long there we were in the churchyard, amongst the skull-and-cross-boned graves which in my youth I believed to be those of pirates. John Middleton’s grave still looked huge. I was still fascinated.

A guide at Speke Hall, a local half-timbered mansion, first told me the story of the Childe of Hale as we stood beneath the huge portrait of Middleton that hangs there. I cannot remember exactly how detailed an account it was but the main events (if not the dates) of the Childe’s life were all there.

According to the story, John Middleton was born in Hale in 1578, a normal and healthy baby of humble peasant stock. Middleton grew to a height of nine feet and three inches (2.8m), so tall, it is said, that he had to sleep with his feet sticking out of the window of his tiny cottage. Because of his ‘formidable appearance’ Middleton was employed as a bodyguard by a local landlord called Gilbert Ireland.

In 1617 1, on his way back from Scotland, King James I (James VI of Scotland) stopped to knight Ireland, and in doing so heard of his gigantic protector. Both master and servant were invited to visit the king’s court, and a fine outfit of purple, red and gold was specially made for Middleton. In London, John beat the king’s champion wrestler, and in doing so broke the man’s thumb. Embarrassed by the defeat and displeased with the amount of money many of his subjects had lost in betting on the match, James sent the Childe home with the substantial amount of £20 for his troubles. Unfortunately, jealous of his wealth, and taking advantage of his apparently slow wits, Middleton’s companions mugged him on the journey back to Hale. John Middleton returned to the village penniless and remained there until he died in 1623.

Retelling the story to my girlfriend, I soon realised how odd it sounded, and for the first time I found myself questioning its authenticity. I began to think of all the questions about the giant that I had pondered whilst staring at that same grave as a child. It then dawned upon me that now, as an adult, and in this, the age of the Internet, a bit of research might be able to satisfy my curiosity. Yet, as I soon found out, separating the man from the myth is not all that easy.

My first obstacle was in confirming the dates of Middleton’s birth and death. The grave in Hale churchyard bears the inscription “1578 – 1623”, but the date for Middleton’s baptism (assuming that the John Midelton listed in the church register is indeed the Childe) is 11 January 1573. 2 Furthermore, the portrait of Middleton which once hung in Hale Hall is recorded as bearing the inscription: “John Middleton, Childe of Hale, was born in the year 1572; died in 1628” 3. It seems that dates were not a strong point back then. Nevertheless, the authenticity of the major event of the Childe’s life, his trip to the court of King James, is untouched by these relatively minor discrepancies. Indeed, although there is no actual evidence of Middleton’s visit and wrestling match save the oral tradition, there is very convincing evidence to place him in that particular region at that time.

It is recorded that the Childe and his master visited Brasenose College, Oxford (Ireland was himself a graduate and senior member of the college 4), where Middleton had his portrait painted. The fact that there are only three portraits of Middleton in existence, and that two remain at the college, shows not only that he was there, but also that he was enough of a celebrity to warrant such attention. In fact, Brasenose rowing club’s first eight still wear the “Childe of Hale colours” of purple, yellow and red in honour of their visitor. 5 Further evidence can be found in the Diary of Samuel Pepys, who wrote about seeing the painted outline of the Childe’s hand (which remains to this day) at the college in 1668: “After came home from the schools I out with Landlord to Brasenose College to the butteries and in the cellar find the hand of the child of Hales” 6.

With these historical facts established, I began to feel I was getting somewhere, that I was quite justified in believing in the giant. But was I? I still hadn’t answered the real question. The original question I had first asked all those years ago: “Was he really that big?”

Okay, let’s talk giants. To find a modern, honest to goodness giant where would one look? Basketball seemed like a good place to start. The tallest ever player in the history of the NBA was Manute Bol, now retired, who measures seven feet and seven inches (2.31m) 7 – over two feet (0.61m) shorter than the Childe’s alleged height. What about the tallest man alive on earth today? The Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik probably has that honour, measuring 8 ft 4in (2.54m) and still growing (see p28-29) – still almost a foot (30cm) smaller than Middleton’s grave would have us believe. So, what about the tallest man ever? The tallest man in medical history for whom there is irrefutable evidence was Robert Pershing Wadlow, 1918-1940, who measured eight feet and 11.1 inches (2.72m) 8. Indeed, if Middleton’s epitaph is to be believed, even Goliath himself would have been only slightly taller, at nine feet nine inches (2.9m). 9

The fantastic stories of how the Childe came to grow so large are various. My favourite is that one day the young Middleton drew an enormous figure in the sand at the edge of the Mersey and fell asleep inside the sketch. When he awoke, John found that he had grown to fill the outline and was now a giant.

Real evidence of the Childe’s stature, however, is much more difficult to come by – not least because there is no way of knowing what relation the “feet and inches” of the 1500s bear to those of today. An attempt was made to verify Middleton’s height in 1768 by the then parish clerk and school master, Mr Bushell. Bushell exhumed the bones of the Childe and measured them (although not very exactly), giving the length of Middleton’s thighbone as: From the hip of an average sized man to his foot. 10 Unfortunately, this measurement proves somewhat problematic to even approximate, for two reasons. Firstly, it’s difficult to establish what Bushell took to be “average height” in 1768. Secondly, having already been interred for nearly 150 years prior to exhumation, ossification would have altered the bone’s size and structure considerably.

The most respected scientific evidence of Middleton’s actual size comes from his famously large hands. By measuring the outline at Brasenose, and comparing the dimensions with those of the late Mr R P Wadlow, the Guinness Book of Records has concluded that John Middleton’s approximate height would in fact have been less than eight feet (2.44m). 11 Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable further confirms this view in its “Giants of other note” section: “John Middleton was 9ft 3in (2.8m); according to Dr Plot’s Natural History of Staffordshire (1686)… recent research suggests, however, that his actual stature may have been nearer 7ft 9in (2.4m).” 12 And so the giant is cut down to size.

Even so, I for one am not entirely convinced. Determining the height of a man by the size of his hand is at best a vague procedure, but when the measurements are taken from a 300-year-old retouched outline of that hand then surely the calculations, no matter how mathematically sound, are little better than an educated guess. Perhaps I am too hasty. Yes, there are of course many reasons why the Childe’s size could have been exaggerated. Nonetheless, what is apparent from his epitaph is that Middleton’s reputed size is not the result of embellishments, as his tale has been retold through the centuries. Rightly or not, those around the Childe during his life – the people who walked, talked, ate and drank with him – believed him to be nine feet three inches tall. John Middleton himself, in all probability, gave a similar figure to those who asked him about his height. Not because he was boasting or lying, but because that was how big he had been told he was. In my mind’s eye, I see a villager bidding the giant to stand against a wall or a barn: “Now I know that window sill is nine and a half feet from the ground, ’cause that’s how long my ladder is. Your head’s a little way below that yet, John, so I reckon you’re about nine foot three or thereabouts.”

If the measurement were an exaggeration or a fiction, would it not be more probable that the Childe would have ended up as nine feet or ten feet tall? Some more rounded figure would surely have been equally believable (especially in the 1600s).

So, is my curiosity satisfied? No. I am now more curious about the life and times of John Middleton than I have ever been. Finding the Childe’s place in history, I realised that I had never actually doubted his existence in the first place. Why would I? The history and mythology surrounding the Childe of Hale is kept alive at the village pub of the same name, where small crowds gather in the snug. There, in front of a huge mosaic of Middleton, self-taught experts on such matters regularly retell the history of Hale and the story of the Childe. In the future, I plan to be there more often to listen to their stories over a pint or two of Guinness. Was he really that big? Yes. I think that to everyone who ever met him, and also to himself, John Middleton really was nine foot three – if not bigger.

Trains for America

This is a new one to me!

This one may interest train Buffs
Posted by James Goring on 8/3/2009, 12:51 pm

The C.P.R.Liner 'Beaverdale' built by Armstrong
Whitworth Walker 1928, preparing to leave Tilbury
with the L.M.S Royal Scot Train for America the 8
coaches are clamped down on deck while the Locomotive is accomadated in the hold

The Fighting Temeraire,painted by William Turner in 1838

To my mind this is one of the best uses of light by a painter ever.

The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up is an oil painting executed in 1838 by the English artist J. M. W. Turner (c.1775–1851).

It depicts one of the last second-rate ships of the line which played a distinguished role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the 98-gun ship HMS Temeraire, being towed towards its final berth in East London in 1838 to be broken up for scrap.

The painting hangs in the National Gallery, London, having been bequeathed to the nation by the artist in 1851.

When Turner came to paint this picture he was at the height of his career, having exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, for 40 years. He was renowned for his highly atmospheric paintings in which he explored the subjects of the weather, the sea and the effects of light. He spent much of his life near the River Thames estuary and did many paintings of ships and waterside scenes, both in watercolour and in oils.

Turner frequently made small sketches and then worked them into finished paintings in the studio. He was present when this ship was towed and made some sketches of it. However, he appears to have used some license in the finished painting, which has taken on symbolic meaning.

Voted The Greatest Painting in Britain

The 98-gun ship 'Temeraire' played a distinguished role in Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, after which she was known as the 'Fighting Temeraire'. The ship remained in service until 1838 when she was decommissioned and towed from Sheerness to Rotherhithe to be broken up.

The painting was thought to represent the decline of Britain's naval power. The 'Temeraire' is shown travelling east, away from the sunset, even though Rotherhithe is west of Sheerness, but Turner's main concern was to evoke a sense of loss, rather than to give an exact recording of the event. The spectacularly colourful setting of the sun draws a parallel with the passing of the old warship. By contrast the new steam-powered tug is smaller and more prosaic.

Turner was in his sixties when he painted 'The Fighting Temeraire'. It shows his mastery of painting techniques to suggest sea and sky. Paint laid on thickly is used to render the sun's rays striking the clouds. By contrast, the ship's rigging is meticulously painted

Whitbread racer

UBS Switzerland at the Royal Cape Yacht Club,Cape Town.

This was what they used to race around the world in the days ofthe Whitbread Race,which later became the Volvo Ocean Race we now have,this boat was built in Switzerland,which is land locked, to get the boat out they used a commercial transport plane,memory tells me the hull weighs only 4.5 tons?