10th March, 2018. Coastal (Estuary) litter (continued).

Following on from the blog of two days ago I took a plastic(!) bag to the Estuary foreshore at South Ferriby and measured (roughly) 100 yards with the intention of seeing how full of litter the bag would be across this distance. In fact the bag was full in less than half way (see picture). So then, with the help of a calculator, assessed the quantity of man-deposited litter along both banks of the Estuary. The total distance along the clay-banks of the north and south banks of the Humber Estuary is 80 miles (approximately) which would equate to 281,600 bags of rubbish using my system above.

Three additional points;

Only the foreshore next to the clay-bank was trawled, the reed-bed stretched another 10+ yards into the tidal water.

A reed-bed would tend to trap flotsam, but with having a large tidal range the litter will settle on any hard surface as the tide ebbs.

About 90 per cent of the stuff in the bag is plastic drinks containers, this has got to be significant.

8th March, 2018. Litter (continued).

The picture above was taken at a point along the Humber Estuary foreshore at the seaward side of the clay bank flood defence. It was an attempt to show how littered the high tide point is, many more plastic bottles and other items were visible than were captured in this photo. The recent spring tides have carried floating items nearer to the base of the clay bank than might otherwise e the case, plus the force of the tide has managed to carry the items through the reed-bed to a point where they can be clearly seen. The Estuary is of course officially part of the coast, the issue of litter thrown-up along the coast being currently a great cause of concern – this because it shows how much litter humans have put in the sea. It also shows how non-biodegradable these containers etc. are, the ones in the picture may have been in/on the water for years.

Occasional litter picks will have only a temporary impact on the problem, albeit a valuable thing to do at the time. A cardinal issue is ‘how do all these plastic/glass containers and other items get into the water in the first place given that it must be rare for people to take their rubbish to the water’s edge and tip it in or that, one hopes, recycling agencies to not dump the products they collect in the seas, rivers and estuaries.

One answer is that if non-biodegradable then the bottle seen today may be the same bottle seen next year, or ten years on. Another might be the issue of rubbish disposal on board ships. Obviously crews need supplies much of which will be stored in containers so what is the policy of captains, crews and shipping companies to rubbish disposal  from on board ship? Do ports have facilities whereby the ship’s refuse can be disposed of when in port?

(To be continued)

2nd March 2018. Litter.

Locally Barton Civic Society’s litter-pick has been postponed for the time being owing to the extreme cold and snow cover (which makes identifying the litter items difficult). This activity was linking in with a national initiative, across the country over the coming weekend, unlikely now to happen anywhere as a result of the weather. Litter is a huge problem in modern society, we all know why there is more potential for package littering to occur but this country has been very poor at ‘doing something about it’. The anti-litter legislation of New Labour’s time has never been enforced – legislation without positive enforcement is worse than no legislation at all. Local authorities have responsibilities in this regard but with drastically reduced funding a general obligation to litter-pick roadside verges gets pushed down the order of priorities, and why wouldn’t it. Urban areas tend to employ litter-pick operatives (a much better alternative than the machines which cannot get in the ‘nooks and crannies’) with the result that roadside verges tend to be more of an eyesore than city streets. Voluntary litter-pickers usually find that most roadside litter is likely to have come from cars and/or lorries – our strong sense of private space (‘my space’) dictates that my nice car should not be ‘littered’ so transfer to the public space about which I care less.

Great strides of progress have been made in refuse collection and recycling but the casual littering of roadside spaces and fly-tipping are a scare on the landscape and a comment on modern society. And what use is an annual litter-pick, only by virtue of it being better than nothing, to really make a difference the activity needs to be done regularly.

And just in case we choose to think that this is just an ‘English Disease’ the above picture (taken from Wikipaedia) was taken in the Swedish capital city. As evidence from ‘Blue Planet’ showed recently this is a global epidemic.

28th February, 2018. The Old Hall, Gainsborough (continued).

At the south end of the east wing (centre right in above photo) is a small chamber on the wall of which Phillip Tyrwhitt etched is family’s commendable motto ‘Trust truth only’. This may date from 1541 when Phillip Tyrwhitt was one of the courtiers attendant on Henry VIII during his ‘Northern Progress’, the whole party staying at Old Hall for a few days.

The west wing of Gainsborough Old Hall was originally built as a ‘terrace’ of four self-contained apartments, each across two stories. Each had open fireplaces and a lofty chimney (see above) as well as a garderobe (toilet exiting through exterior wall). Almost certainly the chimney stacks would have been built with brick during the construction of the original building, this being an expensive way of reducing the fire-risk. However, as on the east wing, the brick cladding on the original timber-framed wattle and daub walls may date from the early 17th century.

Gainsborough Old Hall was built at a time when security was no longer a prime consideration when investing in a new-build manor house, although the north-east tower could have been a place of resort in times of civil unrest such as during the English Civil Wars of the 1640s. There is no evidence of a moat. Built on the River Trent floodplain, presumably to be near the town’s commercial centre, The Old Hall must always have been in danger of flooding at spring-tide times or when melt-waters from the Midlands surged down the Trent.

It is reassuring that Gainsborough’s Old Hall and All Saints church remain in good hands.

27th February, 2018. The Old Hall, Gainsborough.

This fifth of six blogs was initiated following a visit to Gainsborough. Gainsborough Old Hall is a late medieval manor house ranged around a central courtyard which is, however, open to the south. It thus has three connecting ranges of building compartments, north, east and west wings. It is in the guardianship of English Heritage, is Grade 1 listed and is one of the most important historic buildings/houses in England. The original build of the 1460s was given certain Tudor changes with some further changes in the early 17th century.

The surviving Great Hall, the centrepiece of a late medieval stately residence, forms most of the north wing (seen above). This timber-framed building was/is open to the underside of the roof and lit by a stone-built bay window (north facing!) at its east end (see above). The windows in the north facing gable-ends lit the service rooms at either end of the Great Hall – buttery, pantry, kitchen, servery and solar. The huge late medieval kitchen interior survives. The roof of the Great Hall is supported by oak arch-braced trusses cut from trees with a curved profile (like a cruck construction) with no tie beams spanning the upper hall space. There is evidence for a once central open hearth. Most of these features are/were reflected it the surviving part of a late medieval box-frame structure at the rear of 51, Fleetgate, Barton, albeit on a more modest scale. Unfortunately ‘Barton’s oldest building’ is currently closed to the public pending a structural survey.

The timber-framed walling of the east wing of Gainsborough Old Hall was later encased in Tudor bricks, with the bay windows being added at the same time. At the north-east corner of the east wing was built a complex brick tower (see above) with a fireplace and garderobe in each room of its three stories.

(To be continued).

26th February, 2018. Derby cathedral.

Derby cathedral was a parish church until 1927 when it was elevated to cathedral status. The criteria by which this elevation is achieved is by the installation of a bishop’s chair, it does not require any enlargement or other physical changes, although the option might be chosen. So, like at All Saints, Gainsborough, at some point in the 18th century it was decided at the parish church of All Saints, Derby to replace the pre-existing nave and chancel with a rectangular nave and apsidal chancel in the neo-Classical fashion of the time. Apparently in the case of Derby this was largly on the initiative of the then incumbent. Have only once been in Derby cathedral, and that over 20 years ago, at which point I didn’t know really what to expect – that being the case I was astonished at the light and airy space, so open, so colourful. Here, unlike at Gainsborough, the architect James Gibbs believed ‘It is more beautiful for having no galleries which, as well as pews, clog-up and spoil the interior of the church’. Like All Saints, Gainsborough, All Saints, Derby has plain columns with rectangular capitals and is an ‘audible’ church, but unlike Gainsborough it has  chancel screen, albeit of finely fashioned wrought iron.

All Saints, Derby was re-built in the 1720s. Like at Gainsborough it may well have been that the Late medieval west tower was retained as it was still in good condition (with being relatively new) plus the fact that the west tower was the responsibility of the parishioners so retaining it reduced the overall cost. I do not know what evidence may have survived as to the replaced nave and chancel either at Gainsborough or Derby.

How spell-bound the parishioners must have been when first entering their re-built church, almost certainly the first direct contact they would have had with neo-Classical architecture on a relatively large scale.

(Old Hall, Gainsborough – next blog).