Monthly Archives: June 2018

28th June, 2018. Current very hot weather.

After a wet, cold early Spring early Summer has seen a very prolonged spell of hot weather with, in this area, just one torrential downpour in the last few weeks. According to the BBC weather site 14 day forecast it is more of the same through the next two weeks. An anticyclone has sat stationary over the British Isles bringing the current settled weather although with air circling in a clockwise direction around a high pressure system and with the sea (North Sea) being colder than the land sea mists have kept the east coast cooler with the north or north-easterly breezes. The west coast, on the other hand, has seen some particularly high temperatures for the time of year particularly, it seems, in North Wales.

Two inevitable results – brush fire on Saddleworth Moor in Lancashire (west) and water companies pressing customers to use less water.

Our local jet-stream, the main determinant of our weather, is sitting way to the north, rather than over the British Isles as was the case earlier in the year when one depression after another from the Atlantic was being channelled across the British Isles.

26th June, 2018. ‘Sheep may safely graze’.

The title is given to one of J.S. Bach’s most well known cantatas No. 208 written in 1713, the reference to ‘safely’ is explained by the fact that this piece of music is but part of a larger cantata entitled ‘The lively hunt is all my heart’s desire’, hunting the potential predators to sheep. The above picture was taken at the western end of Westfield Road, Barton with a view across and along the upper Humber Estuary.

Yesterday I was uncertain about a topic for the blog until I read an E-mail from Animals Australia charity. I had become aware of Animals Australia via the website of Compassion in World Farming of which I am a member. The E-mail included short videos taken secretly by a seaman on board a large purpose-built ship transporting 58,000 live sheep and lambs from Australia to the Middle East – this, apparently, an established form of ‘trade’. The images showed sheep suffering extreme heat exhaustion, almost knee-deep in excrement and urine, in danger if they sank down of suffocating in the putrid waste. The images were so upsetting. Also, although the sheep are supposed to be screened to check that they are not pregnant before being loaded some give birth and the crew members are told to cut the lambs throats. This is a commercial trade, organised for profit, pandering to so-called religious dictates at the complete expense of the lives and feelings of sentient creatures.

Animals Australia have mounted a huge campaign against this barbarity not only in Australia but around the World and, perhaps reluctantly, the Australian government have called the ship back to port.

So ‘Sheep may safely graze’, well it’s a nice thought, but now they face a much greater predator than foxes and wolves.

25th June, 2018. Hull Guildhall Time Ball (2).

Above photo shows top of Guildhall tower, again needs to be enlarged to see stem of time ball. Picture taken from Queens Gardens on Saturday (see yesterday blog). A time ball was an aid to navigation, incorporated was a mechanical devise which caused the time ball to rise to the top of the pole just before midday each day. At 12 noon precisely the time ball would then drop to the bottom of the pole, this allowing ship’s captains to accurately set timepieces on board (see yesterday blog). Obviously its effectiveness would depend on the clearness of the view.

Clearly time balls were soon to become redundant with the advent of broadcasting time signals by radio, although the architect in the early 20th century was not to know that. It seems that the Guildhall Time Ball stopped working in the early 1920s. ‘Hull Council is currently developing a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to restore the Time Ball to working condition. The project will also renovate the Guildhall Tower and will provide new access and learning opportunities related to Hull’s maritime heritage’ (quote from promotional leaflet, see yesterday blog).

With this particular project to the forefront of my mind I noticed last evening that the ‘onion shaped’ cap on the Old Mill restaurant, Barton, had at the top an imitation time ball and it would be interesting to explore whether other buildings prominent from the Humber Estuary once had time balls at the top. An objection to the developer’s plans for the redundant tower mill near Waterside Road, Barton, has resulted in a requirement for it to be capped with an ‘onion shaped’ cap rather than just a rounded one as originally intended.

24th June, 2018. The Guildhall Time Ball, Hull.

The above picture was taken yesterday while attending a Hull Trade’s Council public event in Queens Gardens, Hull. Fortunately the event was blessed by the continuing fine weather and the atmosphere was really pleasant – not overcrowded and not over commercialised. A programme of poetry reading, speeches and music bands and solo artists was free to sit and listen to throughout the afternoon. Well done Hull Trades Council.

The above photo shows, in the background, the tower of Hull’s Guildhall building. At the top of the tower is a vertical pole which is the stem of the Guildhall’s Time Ball  (the picture has to be enlarged to see it). The present Guildhall was built in 1914 and designed to compliment the collection of public buildings along Alfred Gelder Street, themselves a result of a town improvement act of 1897. The tower was specifically designed to accommodate the Time Ball and ‘is thought to be the only tower in the country that has been designed specifically to accommodate a Greenwich Time Ball’ (quote from a current leaflet co-printed by Hull City Council and Historic England). ‘Time Balls provided a means for accurately setting ship chronometers, a task that was vital to ensure accurate navigation at sea’, (a further quote from the leaflet), this, presumably, referring to the calculation of longitude at sea by comparing, at any given point, local time with Greenwich Mean Time, the necessary ship’s chronometer still similar to that pioneered by John Harrison of Barrow on Humber, north Lincolnshire, back in the 18th century.

So how did the Time Ball work and why is it having to be restored?, see tomorrow.

20th June, 2018. Hull ‘Citadel’ (s.p.b.s)

As is often the case in the English language the noun ‘citadel’ has taken on various meanings and inferences over time. The most common use for the term is to define a fortress (fort), a stronghold, a place of last stand if under threat or invasion and the Hull Citadel certainly fits that context. In some cases it seems it also implied a place to which the local people could retreat to safety as well as any military personnel, it is not clear whether it was ever envisaged that Hull Citadel should provide this but the perimeter walls encompassed quite a large area so it had the potential to do so, although the people would have had to cross the River Hull by the one bridge then existing or be ferried across.

Another implication associated with the word ‘citadel’ is of a structure that dominates the townscape, the two 18th century views of Hull from the Humber Estuary show this to have been the case at Hull. Enemies sailing up the Estuary (as, for example, had the North-men in 1066) would see firstly the imposing south blockhouse and curtain wall before the town itself.

Later the Salvation Army adopted the term ‘citadel’ to define some of their places of worship and in some contexts the word implies a place of glory and goodness, a place of central importance.

In France the Bastille was sometimes referred to as a ‘citadel’ having been built in the early 100 Years War (14th century) as one of a series of forts around Paris to protect the city from English armies (in the same way that Windsor Castle was one of a number of castles built by the Normans around London, again to protect the city from the English!). For most of its subsequent life the Bastille was used as a state prison and armoury. It was demolished during the French Revolution after the ‘storming of the Bastille’, 14th July, 1789. The picture above is of the Bastille and Porte Saint-Antoine from the north-east in 1715-’19 and shows its related earthworks and river-side site (taken from the Internet).

17th June, 2018. Further fortifications in the parish of Drypool.

The picture above is a copy of the bottom right part of Thew’s ‘Plan of the Town of Kingston upon Hull, from an Actual Survey, 1784’ and shows the ‘Citadel’ near the east bank of the lower River Hull. The Citadel was a roughly triangular fortified enclosure and was built in the 1680s as an improvement on the Henrician line of defence built a century earlier (s.p.b.s). Within the curtain wall remained two of the three Henrician blockhouses, the northernmost one and its linking defensive wall being allowed to decay. The curtain wall of the Citadel was further defended by a moat on two sides with sluice gates connecting it to the Humber, while the south curtain wall section was built into the foreshore.

In 1681 the government’s Ordnance Commissioners required improvement in Hull’s defences with ‘all expedition according to proposals already presented’ (Gillett E. and MacMahon K.A. A History of Hull (University of Hull, 1980, 194). The engineer-in-charge, in Hull and elsewhere, was a Swedish soldier Martin Beckman and his deployment of multi-angular curtain walls was progressive for its day. The incentive for the building of the Citadel was an ongoing series of Dutch Wars spanning the years of the Commonwealth and Protectorate and the restored monarchy – Dutch warships might threaten any port on the coast of the North Sea.

At the top left of this extract from Thew’s plan/map may be seen some surviving elements of the gardens of Suffolk Palace – see the relevant article in the Articles/Publications section.