Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Art Deco Railway: The Chessington Branch

This video from Jago Hazzard reveals that what we know as the Chessington Branch was originally meant to be a secondary main line to Leatherhead.

Some work took place beyond Chessington South, as Wikipedia explains:

Work to extend beyond Chessington was halted by the outbreak of World War II, with track laid beyond Chessington South as far as Chalky Lane, and preparatory works continuing further south. 

This included an embankment built by the Royal Engineers as a military exercise from Chalky Lane as far south as Chessington Wood, close to where the next station at Malden Rushett would have been built. 

A second station to serve Ashtead, namely at its northern extreme, was also planned. 

After the war green belt legislation put a stop to any resumption because Ashtead Common was given protective status.u

You can support Jago's videos through his Patreon page.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Joy of Six 1044

"Water companies have left our rivers in an appalling state. Pumping raw sewage into them has done untold damage. Only 14 percent are considered ecologically 'good' and over half have failed cleanliness tests." Tim Farron says water companies must be held accountable for this mess.

Peter Olusoga examines the adultification of Black children and the case of Child Q.

"Most of the Gustloff’s estimated 10,000 passengers - which included U-boat trainees and members of the Women’s Naval Auxiliary - would die just hours after they boarded on January 30, 1945. The stories of the survivors and the memory of the many dead were largely lost in the fog of the closing war, amid pervasive devastation and in a climate where the victors would be little inclined to feel sympathy with a populace considered Nazis - or at the very least, Nazis by association." Francine Uenuma explains why the worst ever disaster at sea has been forgotten.

Academia must take account of the rise of audible research content such as podcasts, argues Mark Carrigan.

John Cooper pays tribute to the children's writer and illustrator Shirley Hughes.

Dermot Kennedy celebrates the art deco pubs of Nottingham.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Secrets of the East: John Rogers takes us along a hidden river to a medieval shrine in Ilford

From the YouTube blurb:

Our walk today takes us once again back into the past, where the landscape reveals the deep history of this area and tells us its stories. We start by exploring two Possible Prehistoric ditches on Wanstead Flats near Centre Road/north of the Jubilee Pond and running Southeast to Centre Road. 

And then we pass through the uncanny suburb of Aldersbrook to pick up the River Roding. We follow the Roding as it runs beside Ilford Golf Club and find the mysterious little Alders Brook, a mysterious rivulet that for some of the year is little more than a muddy ditch hidden in the undergrowth. The recent floods and high tide have filled the Alders Brook with water and revealed it as a flowing river. 

We follow the Alders Brook as it passes beneath the railway bridge and then runs parallel to the Roman Romford Road and returns to the River Roding at Ilford Bridge beneath the North Circular flyover.

The final stretch of our walk takes us up Ilford Hill to the Hospital Chapel dedicated to St Mary and St Thomas of Canterbury. The Chapel was established around the year 1140 by the Abbess of Barking as a leper hospital. It became a stopping place for pilgrims and medieval travellers passing through the area. It's a wonderful hidden location. 

John Rogers has a Patreon account to support his videos and blogs at The Lost Byway.

Mike Brearley turns in another great index

One of the charity shops had a copy of Mike Brearley's book On Form, so I have another good index to celebrate.

As I said when looking at an earlier index of his, Brearley's willingness to bring wider intellectual interests into his cricket writing leads to some wonderful juxtapositions.

And On Form does not disappoint, its index offering:

Bowlby, John
Boycott, Geoff

Burke, Edmund
Burns, Neil

Carter, Angela
Cartwright, Tom

Gower, David
Gramsci, Antonio

Hutton, Richard
Huxley, Aldous

Lillee, Dennis
Lincoln, Abraham

Thomson, Jeff
Thorndike, Sybil

Titmus, Fred
Tolstoy, Leo

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Insight into the new Royal Opera House production of Peter Grimes

Members of the cast and creative team discuss Deborah Warner’s new production of Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes ahead of its opening at Covent Garden on 17 March. Tickets from the Royal Opera House site.

It's a wonderful opera, but weren't the Borough gossips right about Grimes?

The Joy of Six 1043

"Failures of investigation and enforcement by the National Crime Agency and other UK state bodies have led to flawed judgments by UK courts, especially regarding post-Soviet elites. Capable and expensive lawyers (hired by members of transnational elites or their advisers) defeat or deter the regulators’ often weak and under-resourced attempts to prosecute politically exposed persons." A Chatham House briefing paper by John Heathershaw et al. details how the UK is ill-equipped to assess the risk of corruption from transnational kleptocracy, which has undermined the integrity of important domestic institutions and weakened the rule of law. 

Tarjei Svensen finds that some of Ukraine's chess grandmasters have take up arms to defend their country.

Patricia Clarke says the "epidemic" of spiking with needles in clubs and at parties in autumn 2021 revealed something important about women’s lives in Britain, but it wasn’t what we thought.

"For borough librarian George F Vale and his deputy, Stanley Snaith, the underground village that had developed at Bethnal Green station was the perfect opportunity to set up a makeshift library and provide the local community with access to free books once more." Kate Thompson explains how working-class East Enders had access to books, entertainment and culture in an underground library during the Second World War.

The Corn Poppy on learning sea shanties at school.

"If you ever visit Easthope, you may be struck by how quiet the place is- But if the ghosts are anything to go by- It’s an area alive with the hum of the past." AmyNearlyKnowledgeable investigates a village on the slopes of Wenlock Edge.

GUEST POST The Bielsa dream is over

Stuart Whomsley
mourns the sacking of Leeds United's manager and what it means for the club's future

Leeds is a smaller place today. The big metropolitan sprawl of the city will be shrinking in on itself; the dark brooding moors looking down upon it in contempt; the dark satanic mills, more satanic than ever. The armour in the Royal Armouries will be tarnished. Leeds faced a test, and Leeds failed that test. Marcelo Bielsa is gone. 

Leeds should have shown more respect for Bielsa and what he did for them. Not only did he get Leeds up, but he brought joy in the way his teams play. Leeds should have shown more loyalty; not blind loyalty, but loyalty with an evidence base. 

Evidence base, part one: just look at the March fixtures that Leeds will face; they include Aston Villa and Norwich at home, and Leicester away. On 10 March Garth Bamford and Kalvin Philips return from injury, and just look at the form of Norwich, Watford, Everton and Brentford. Leeds were likely to stay up. 

Evidence base, part two: if you look through the Leeds results of the season so far, only the losses to Everton and Newcastle were bad results in terms of points. If you lose 10-0 or 1-0 against Liverpool and Man City it is the same in points. The very best sides would always hammer a Bielsa Leeds, particularly one with key players injured. Those were not the games that mattered. 

So heart and head should have said stay with Bielsa. But he is gone and Leeds are no longer special. They are sort of a Southampton, a Crystal Palace.

Being brought up as a Nottingham Forest supporter it may seem odd that I was showing an interest in another club, and in Leeds of all clubs. Leeds, The Damned United. But it was always a Marcelo Bielsa, not a Leeds thing. Now I return to my natural state of hating Leeds. Dirty Leeds. I hope they go down.

However, as someone whose introduction to football was Brian Clough it is perhaps not hard to see the appeal of Bielsa to me: both men who as a football manager had a vision for the game which went beyond results. Both football managers who had an ethos for life that went beyond the game. Both men are legendary for their many, usually unseen, charitable acts. Both men who could make you smile, could make you laugh. 

I once found my wife in bed laughing hysterically. It turned out that she was reading some of the things that Bielsa had done and said in the past: how after a loss he had asked another coach if at such times he did not think of suicide, how he challenged some angry fans outside his home with what looked like a hand grenade, his retreat to a monastery.

So the painting of Marcelo Bielsa is still above the mantlepiece and the statue of Bielsa is still on it. I guess we too shall show some adjustment and they will move elsewhere in the house. 

Last Saturday I was bouncing up and down in the Trent End at Nottingham Forest as the new Nottingham Forest manager, Steve Cooper, gave us his now famous fist pump after a win. Yes, thank goodness for Steve Cooper.

You can follow Stuart Whomsley on Twitter.