Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Newcastle upon Tyne ... post 100

Newcastle upon Tyne GJC_004725 (1)

Although many of you reading this blog have long past this milestone, in recent weeks it is proving to be a greater achievement for me than first meets the eye. I thought I'd celebrate the occasion by .... staying at home, but more of that later !!
Coming from this area, one would think that my photo library would be large but if you know me by now you will know that I'm never very much at home in my spare time on saturdays.
The best place to start is with some early history and something from the engineering world demonstrating the achievements of the industrial heritage.

The Keep GJC_IMG_2319

The name of the city is taken from the Castle Keep that towers above the River Tyne. The site once hosted a Roman fort centuries earlier that was part of Hadrian's wall, the northern outpost of the Roman Empire for some time. It is interesting to note that the Roman Government deemed the settlement of lesser importance due to it's distance from Rome ... and a contemporary comparison of citizens of South East England, where all eyes look southwards for the sun, think that either Newcastle is still in production and excavation of ships and coal respectively !! A few more consider the cities proximity to Scotland as weight to believing where the heritage lies. The Geordie dialect probably originates from a variety of Scandinavian countries (Angles) and parts of Germany (Saxons) and is generally unintelligible to the afore mentioned people. Maybe I could cheekily suggest that one of the reasons why the Roman Empire collapsed was their inability to deal with the weather and .. the hardy people :-) A contemporary comparison would be found on a friday night in The Bigg market as the youth celebrate the end of the working week probably wearing a lot less than the Roman soldiers did !!

The Keep data GJC_004720

As the centuries passed by a wooden castle was erected by William the conqueror's son to replace the desolate remains of the Roman structure in 1080 AD.

Norman's arch GJC_004694 (1)
Norman's Door !!
William like his Roman predecessors, was concerned about the threat of attack from the Scots. This in turn was later replaced with a stone castle by Henry II in 1177.

The Hall GJC_004702

The main room is the castle, which houses an exhibition of different styles of existing architecture of Newcastle down through the ages, was not built with the photographer in mind !! ... and this is the only possible shot available. I did however find an interactive link that can rotate the room to give you a better idea....

Queens Chamber GJC_004719
The Queen's Chamber

Way up GJC_004699

One of the great features of the building is how all the floors are linked together with a complicated  staircase formation down one side of the Castle. During the construction period, a staircase on the opposite side of the building was left unfinished due to an invasion by The King of Scotland. It is not very photogenic but interesting to see nonetheless.

Doorway GJC_004716 (1)

The basement floor on the street level contains a soldiers garrison and an old chapel with ornate Norman arches.

Stairs GJC_004701 (1)

( When I was allowed to visit the city centre as a young teenager with some of my friends, we had great fun on a couple of occasions playing Hide and Seek until the curator discovered that our interest was not historical !! )

Spiral GJC_004700 (1)
Great fun !!

Noir Keep GJC_003087 (1)

Profile of ancient Newcastle ... Castle Keep and St Nicholas Cathedral, Ghost walks hunting for "The Black Shadow" or ... the house of the grim curator that threw us out many years ago !!

Newcastle Black gate GJC_004689 (1)

The Black Gate was an entrance to the Castle that was later added in 1250 with Portcullis, drawbridge and the works completing the Motte and Bailey of The Norman Castle, not quite like today's wooden footbridges. The upper floors were rebuilt in the Middle ages giving it ... a more homely feel !!

The Black gate GJC_004691 (1)

The name of the gate originated in this period by a merchant trader who was a tenant at the time called Patrick Black. The building then developed and expanded into a small housing estate including a public house and by the late 19th century, the overpopulated dwellings needed extensive restoration to preserve it for future generations.

GNER days GJC_004713 (1)
The modern Scottish Army arrives at ... platform 3... with shopping bags !!

In the mid 19th century, The railway did what many previous Scottish Kings couldn't do and that was to drive right through the Castle grounds splitting the Black Gate from The Keep. The view above taken from the top of The Castle Keep towards Newcastle Central station is the opposite image of the title shot in my biographical post 50 (birth and early journey of a blog). The railway junction was once the largest railway crossing in the world before the car park replaced six platforms and the later re-modelling of the track at the time of electrification (1992).
The above machinery, the class 91 electric locomotive with a potential top speed of 140mph / 225km/h, is my trusty steed for York and Glasgow with occasional trips as blog followers will know to Edinburgh, Peterborough and London.

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This leads me nicely into a half time blog break and an opportunity to thank all you followers and commenters that keep me posting here. In recent summer months it has been increasingly difficult for me to keep up to date with the blog due to countless other reasons. During July, I was rarely at home (don't know how I managed to post), August was meant to be the month to do the garden and cut huge hedges but a few other things emerged in addition to the British August weather !! I started making inroads into the work during September and consequently the publication of this post makes it the longest gap for me on blogger since I signed up. On a side note, I additionally appreciate all your support as I am finding with the Google hits I get, the information has to be verified, accurate and a post cannot be written in one night. To be fair, I try to follow other regular blogs throughout the rest of the week and sometimes feel that with other commitments and a full time erratic shiftwork career that posting and following once a week is occasionally too frequent for me in the format that I do. I think I have admitted defeat on replying in my comments section but I will endeavour to answer any questions in the comments section or by e-mail.
I decided on the blog concept for a number of reasons beginning with a mixture of tourist, photography and walking posts but there is a greater meaning to it that is developing although is often obscured by my long solo trips to Scotland, Wales and The Lake District. One reader came very close to discovering what it was all about with my reply in the comments section and hopefully I have a variety of material from this year to continue with shortly.

Once again, as in post 50 it is my mini award ceremony (blogs 51 - 99) ....

 Wind @ photographis. Adrian @ adriansimages and Judy @ cranberrymorning are the three very different people who provide me with inspiration in numerous ways to continue with this process. Each of them know exactly what it is that I want from them and their blogs ... long may it continue.

Farmchick @ its a small town life, JoLynne Lyon @ mountain lyon and Duta @ places with character all deserve a special mention for the dedication in following my blog. These three seemed unlikely characters for me to follow at first but I have gradually found out over the months that each have interesting things to talk about and portray.

In the travel section traveling hawk (outstanding dedication to blogging and following), Joo @ Urban stories (just joo) (mainly European photography travels that inspire some of my more specialised photographic interests) , Rafael @ Rafael Lam's Travel & Photography World (the image quality is unbelievable), Phivos @ travelling (My personal holiday brochure).

Always enjoyable for a variety of interest, fun, art and photography are rizalenio, Monika @The Bitch is backgeorge the lad and luzias art.

I can't forget a special mention to the one who introduced me to blogger in the first instance, my work colleague and early blog mentor ... primrose patch.

The new arrivals are midwest to midlandscheries place and Ola @ daleka droga. The first two inspire with their photography while the third is the very latest addition to my interest.

I wouldn't want to miss out Sciarada (Anima mundi), Purple Traveller, Brian Walking, Greg (Backpacking), Walkies and Cheesecake, forget me not and Sweet Virginia Breeze. These are accessed by the side bar in addition to any others listed in that column that mean something to me.

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Swing Bridge GJC_003074 (1)

The Swing Bridge stands on the site of the original historic bridge that crossed the River Tyne river back in Roman times that was replaced in the 13th and 18th centuries. The major problem with the previous bridge was the inability of boats to access the upper reaches of the River Tyne's navigable waters during the industrial revolution.

Swing Bridge GJC_IMG_2316

It was in the interest of Lord Armstrong to design a bridge that rotated 90 degrees to allow the passage of large river traffic to a factory that he owned in this stretch of the water. This would allow his products to be shipped downstream and delivered to his customers.

Bridges GJC_003080 (1)
Dwarfed ... by Robert Stephenson's High Level Bridge and The Tyne Bridge
At first, these items were specially developed and innovative hydraulic equipment that later turned into naval armoury and eventually warships due to unsettled international problems. Lord Armstrong was an influential businessman of North East England who has left his mark on a number of regional sites such as Bamburgh Castle and Cragside House.

Swing Bridge workings GJC_IMG_2321 (1)
Engine Room
The Engineering genius decided to put his hydraulic technology to good use by creating the bridge in 1873. Although the bridge was originally capable of a 360 degree swing, the historic preserved structure only does a 90 degree turn these days once a week on Sundays at 12 noon coinciding with the River charter boat tours.

Bridge architecture GJC_003086 (1)

This allows the structure to stay in working order. The bridge is only open to the public who pre-book on the heritage open doors weekend (2nd saturday in September) The internal photo was taken with symmetrical image of bridge ...12th september 2009, all other riverside shots ... 23rd July 2011 and Castle Keep / Black Gate ...  10th September 2011.

Enough walking and talking, it's time to go and get a cup of tea from ....... my cafe :-) ....

Coffee shop GJC_004678

                                 ........... in the 1835 City Centre Grainger market ......

Grainger market GJC_004681

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Glasgow, The River Clyde


Like most river cities, life in Glasgow started with shipbuilding and the associated trans Atlantic shipping trade. These days preserved relics from the past stand alongside contemporary structures in the stretch of river that the tourist board want to promote most.
As an introduction to the way Glasgow has become popular with the tourist trade and the way it looks today particularly down by the riverside, the one event that breathed new life into the city was the 1988 Garden Festival with it's 4,300,000 visitors to a site adjacent to scenes portrayed here. As a result, there was a renewed awareness of Glasgow and a natural progression to becoming the European city of Culture in 1990.

( Following on from my last post, I decided to walk back to the city centre rather than take the underground subway in order to take in some of the sights in this post. )

The 1932 Finnieston Crane stands 50 metres tall and 77 metres wide as a symbol to the past glories of shipbuilding and engineering of the past. The capability it had for lifting up to 175 tons was used for lifting Glasgow built steam railway locomotives onto ships for export.

The 2006 Clyde Arc in contrast is a contemporary bridge with an unusual and interesting curved road, (nicknamed as The Squinty Bridge) that I need to re-visit photographically due to the traffic conditions at the time of day.


In 2008, the bridge was closed for two weeks while investigations were carried out into the failure of one of the supports and cracks in a second one. It was concluded that the bridge was safe and that single supports could be removed for maintenance. I was happy to cross it on foot .... keeping one eye up in the air !

At home !
P.S. Waverley, the last seagoing Paddle steamer in the world, began it's life in 1947 and after much of it's life plying it's trade as a leisurely scenic extension from a railway pier in Craigendoran in The Firth of Clyde, retired from normal service in 1973.
During the 1960's, passenger numbers dropped gradually due to Glaswegians deciding to spend their holiday money elsewhere. Although Caledonian MacBrayne have kept the ferry business buoyant on The Firth of Clyde until the present day (although not without some current Gourock / Dunoon issues ! ), a decision had to be taken at the final company merger in 1973 to dispense with the great ship. Having become too expensive to run, the steamer could not be given away and was sold to The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in 1974 for a legal nominal fee of £1 !! Despite contracts being drawn up that the ship would never act as competition for the newly merged ferry company,"Cally Mac"(or CalMac) and the PSPS both thought that the ship would probably end up being a museum piece.  Numerous financial grants over decades and a large supporting membership of the PSPS are trying to ensure it's future, but it's typical tour later in the year for excursions in The Bristol Channel, South coast and Thames Estuary is once again in doubt as the company have only raised half of the money that they have identified for the immediate future.

Money to burn ! 
My own memories of the vessel consist of numerous sightings going up and down The Firth of Clyde when I spent five summer holidays there as a small boy. The most memorable and sad occasion was when we went for an outing to Dunoon on a smaller charter boat and seeing it sat marooned on a group of rocks a little way from the Pier in 1977.
I had to wait until August 1988 when I was fortunate enough to afford a day rail / boat excursion from Newcastle from the not so delightful Troon docks to Brodick on The Isle of Arran ( I did say that they weren't allowed to compete with Ferry routes !!). It was a very memorable moment when a trainload of people stood behind the pier wall sheltering from the howling wind catching a glimpse of the boat in the distance coming across the almost ocean like entrance of The Firth of Clyde...  with it's paddles lifting out of the water as it rocked from side to side !!
My second and most recent trip in late 2003 was an idea that my Bristol connection had of a more sedate sunday afternoon trip around the two bird sanctuary islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm in The Bristol Channel.
It was good to catch up with it here for my last sighting in April 2010 as it was preparing for the busy summer and autumn season.

GJC_IMG_4635 (1)

GJC_IMG_4626 (1)

There were several National Garden Festivals held around the UK during the 1980's and early 1990's in order to revitalise and promote development to the run down and problem areas of specifically chosen towns and cities by the Government of the day (Liverpool, Stoke, Glasgow, Gateshead and Ebbw Vale). Although the actual festival sites have usually in the short term been unsuccessful in their outcome, the promotion and success of some of these places has been an outstanding success. Having once lived in a modern house for six years adjacent to one of these sites, I was shocked to discover that after 22 years, large parts of this site in Glasgow remains largely overgrown and unsold.

GJC_IMG_4631 (1)

The land next to the banks of The River Clyde however is much sought after and is the premier location for starting the redevelopment of this site back in 2000 with the building of the futuristic looking Glasgow Science centre, IMAX cinema and .... Glasgow Tower !!
The £10 million Tower with it's two lift elevators and emergency staircase has the ability to rotate with the wind and consequently is the tallest structure in the world to do so. Unfortunately due to the complex nature of the tower, it has been be-set with technical problems and closed to the public on 3 lengthy occasions for at least 5 years of it's life since construction in 2001. On one occasion during January 2005, it took five hours to rescue the occupants from one of the lift elevators.

GJC_IMG_4640 (1)

Unfortunately with it's history, you wouldn't get me going up there !!

GJC_IMG_4644 (1)

Standing next to the historic Finnieston Crane, The Clyde Auditorium on the North side of the river is a 3000 seat concert hall built in 1997 otherwise affectionately known as The Armadillo.

GJC_IMG_4647 (1)

Although the unique looking structure may look like an animal from a distance, it is meant to show several upturned boat hulls representing the shipbuilding history on this site.


Concert goers reflect on their overnight accommodation at The Hilton

GJC_IMG_4539 (1)

Lastly, I end up back in the city centre a famous shrine to some for shopping and another lesser known shrine to the hard hat workers of past and present that made the city what it is today !


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