This short creative contract to research and develop concept-led proposals for design interpretation and public art for Winchester Station Approaches has now completed.
This work was intended to inform discussion, dialogue and consultation with regard to the final form and feel for the public realm around Winchester Station. This form of placemaking based upon creative site analysis and creative research , which hopefully results in an original interpretation for the site, is essential to create a space fully responsive to its local environment and client & user aspirations.
Above: This draft study detail of the key to materials, finishes and 3D objects, is a concept only proposal and not intended as a final design. Its description of materials, forms and finishes is subject to further discussion and comment. with a future project team.
I had requested a meeting as a matter of courtesy, having visited the Cathedral several times previously during my research work for the Winchester Station Approach Project. It was important I met with Annabelle as I wished to discuss the possibility of collaborating with the Cathedral and particularly with the Stonemasons. Not only that, but I wished to know more about the Cathedral’s role in the community – an enormously broad subject, but nonetheless, one that I considered vital to understand the nature of its calling. It was of real interest to me to hear Annabelle talk about the Cathedral as a living place serving not only its faithful and local congregation, but everyone and anyone. A living and breathing building, actively engaging with and remaining vital to a worldwide audience in the 21st Century.
One outstanding calling is about welcome. In the Cathedra’s Calling and Vision document , emphasis is placed on welcome, access to all, hospitality and pilgrimage. The Cathedral Close is a haven for visitors and locals alike. The Station is also a Gateway to Winchester, so the same ethos ought to be present here in the public realm too, with an emphasis on welcome, and civic hospitality. A place of arrival and departure, a place of safety, a gateway and a welcome.
Marketing Manager Catherine Hodgson, then took me on a walk around the Cathedral and its outbuildings, including a visit to the stonemasons yard. Should the project progress to design stage, then I will certainly be advocating for a cross discipline collaboration with the Cathedral.
‘Sarsen Stones in Winchester’, from the website of The City of Winchester – these sandstone blocks, sought after as ‘markers’, are an inspiration for block seating at Station Approach…see below…
A number of industries, which Winchester supported, including Watermills, Brewing and Iron Foundries depended upon an immediate and plentiful supply of water. Winchester’s waterways brought wealth to the Cathedral.
Amongst these industries, several stand out as examplers –
City Engineering Works and Iron Foundry – Jewell Family of Middle and Lower Brook Street. Amongst other things the made components for the GWR Railways Winchester to Newbury Line. The family were also involved with Durngate Mill and the initials of Philip Charles Jewell appear on much cast iron work in the City.
At the beginning of August 2019 I was issued with a much simplified plan of the public realm proposals by LDS Architects.
Above: This image – a cropped version of the plan drawing issued by LDA, shows the principal public realm and station access roads. The previous concept proposal for the public art benches and interpretation following the radial plan as previously illustrated was no longer viable, but the strong horizontal banding across the station forecourt still provided a viable grid and scaffold upon which to set out my ideas.
I have always been in favour of using sandstone as the principle paving material, as this has history with the city, plus in terms of colour and appearance, seems much more sympathetic to the fabric of the site and its low level & undemonstrative railway architecture, rather than big city, corporate use of granite for public realm.
We could explore the use of varied sizes of paving slab, within a manageable modular framework. The stone paving in the Cathedral for example, exhibits a wide range of slab size, from a small unit square Purbeck Stone tile – which appears to have been the principle paving material – to the larger and unique Ledger (memorial) Stones in Tournai Marble & other stones.
Above: Both images explore the possibilities of embedding interpretive Public Art elements within the revised LDS Public Realm proposal – seating, paving and retaining structures bringing an original and creative interpretation to the site. Working within the proposed LDS scheme, seating could be positioned at intervals along the parallel banding, using these lines as the principal interpretive parameters.
The key in the plan above outlines the use of:
Sandstone for main paving of the forecourt –
Cast Iron elements with low relief text and / or motifs set within the parallel banding in the paving & an extra wide kerb detail . There were several Iron Foundries in Winchester, which served the Railways –
Porphyry Paving for the primary parallel banding –
Bespoke Benches or ‘Perches’ –
Possible sandblasted, inlaid or etched surface patterns to the sandstone paving – employing super-graphic motifs inspired by the medieval ceramic tiling within the Cathedral –
Granite, Cast Iron, Cast Concrete or Steel defensive barrier structures which can double as seating or ‘perches’, following the radius curve of the highway. These are modelled on cross sections through stone piers in the Cathedral. –
In June 2019 I was issued with early draft plans for the public realm proposals at the Station by LDS Architects on behalf of Winchester City Council. I proposed to add a layer of creative interpretation to these plans, based on my contextual research and employ the setting out details within the LDS plan as a secure foundation into which I could set my public art concept drafts. My proposal was always going to be about utilising the need for paving, seating, retaining walls and other practical details of public realm highways engineering to keep visual clutter at a minimum. This would also be more economic in terms of budget use and future management and maintenance.
Above: The Station building is on the left of this plan drawing (as seen from above). The plan for the public realm is primarily a sequence of parallel horizontal bands (green) delineated in the paving, which flow downhill from the Station towards City Road and another series which flow uphill along Station Road. However, this baseline geometry is combined with a radial pattern (also in green) which expresses the radius curve in the highway as it transitions from Station Road to Station Hill. This radial pattern provides the anchor for a series of seats (red) and secondary barrier structures (blue). These are concept ideas only – and not designs.
Above: This concept study shows a series of interrelated structures – which could be seating, walls, barrier structures or paving – set out in a radial pattern. These forms are presented as interpretive devices which exhibit combinations of materials and motifs, which seen together in this way embody ideas and responses developed from the contextual research I have undertaken.
Above: The Winchester Bible is regarded as the largest & finest 12th century Illuminated Manuscript. The script is by the hand of a single monk scribe from Winchester. However, the magnificent illuminations were often drawn and painted by itinerant artists – lay professionals who travelled between monasteries and centres of learning. These Illuminated Initials have been inspirational, as has the Morley Library, of which the Winchester Bible is a part. Bishop George Morley bequeathed his collection of rare books to the Cathedral in the 17th Century. His collection is also monogrammed.
Above: Polished flint terrazzo circle with inset letter ‘W’ in Swedish Marble with sandblasted detail, resin bonded in white.
Above: Plan study (meaning ‘seen from above’)of a monolithic sandstone bench with a flat seating surface with the inset letter W and Circle motifs in flint aggregate terrazzo. Below: Sandstone & Flint are primary building materials in Winchester.
“Of particular interest is the ledger stone (memorial) of Francisca Clobery, the daughter of Sir John Clobery. She died in 1683 and her grave is in the south aisle of the Retrochoir, in front of her father’s monument. It is of a distinctive Ordovician limestone (around 465 million years ago) from the Island of Öland, Sweden, containing the straight-shelled Nautiloid.” from ‘Winchester Stone’ by Dr John Parker 2016. ‘John Parker studied geology at Birmingham and Cambridge universities. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London. For over 30 years he worked as an exploration geologist for Shell around the world. He has lived in Winchester since 1987. On retirement he trained to be a Cathedral guide’. John has personally shown me around the Cathedral and pointed out many geologic wonders and quirks.
Above: Studies for objects (seating?) in Timber, Sandstone and Swedish Marble employing techniques of inlay, lamination, polishing and sandblasting.
Above: Study for two concept benches in monolithic black Tournai Marble with inlaid detail and laminated stone additions of Swedish Marble.
I hope to investigate manufacturing processes which allow stone to be cut, laminated, decorated and finished in a manner which embodies the richness of the Cathedral interiors and it’s ongoing repair and regeneration – BUT – in a functional manner, either as seating etc or as a method of improving wayfinding for visitors.
Station Hill leads up to Winchester Train Station from the busy junction of Stockbridge Road, City Road, Andover Road and Sussex Street. Swan Lane also joins here. The site has been historically known as Carfax, meaning the meeting of roads. The Carfax Hotel, formerly on the site now occupied by the Hampshire Records Office took its name from this historic site. The Masterplan proposals for this whole site, developed by Winchester City Council’s Consultants Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands Architects, is referred to as the Carfax Site. and incorporates the Station Approaches & public realm.
Station Hill today doesn’t give much away about it’s local community or life as a lively neighbourhood, but this wasn’t always the case.
I will try to add to this post throughout the project as new research throws up characters and stories.
Above: Warren’s Street Directories, held in the Hampshire Records Office on our doorstep, lists street by street, almost everyone who lived at each residential property. If this was a business, then it lists the nature of the business, as well as the people who owned it. A wonderful archive. The books also contain the most interesting advertising for local products and services, mostly & brilliantly illustrated.
The Train Station is seen above in the bottom left quadrant. Roger Brown’s model was based on the OS Map of 1873. Roger had been a Planning Officer for Winchester City Council.
Some key building are still extant , such as the Station and the South Western Inn, formerly the Railway Refreshment Inn – & up until 2015, Winchester Register Office. The Carfax Hotel is visible on the junction of Station Hill & Sussex Street. The terraced houses of Gladstone Street are there too, but the Reservoirs of the Sussex Brewery, seen on the OS Map of 1870 now appear to be allotment gardens. Needs a bit more investigating to discover what the reservoirs were for. I can’t find any reference to the Sussex Brewery.
Above: A bit blurry…but nonetheless the Station and Public House are clearly shown. A narrow footpath leads to Sussex House just beyond the Station in this image. A lovely circular garden feature can also be seen just left of the Station forecourt behind a fence. I wonder if this was a public or private space?
Above; At centre is the Carfax Hotel building on Station Hill and Sussex Street. This important crossroads, (or Carfax), shows a complex junction of City Road, Swan Lane, Station Hill, Andover Road and Sussex Street. Looking rather genteel – and not the complicated crossing for pedestrians we experience today.
By 1970, the Carfax Hotel, first named in 1918, had fallen into disrepair during the 1960’s. It had been taken over by the King Alfred Teacher Training College as student accommodation. However, it was demolished in 1972 as part of a road improvement scheme.
Early beginnings…outlines…some thoughts and notes –
Actually, this short concept development project was commissioned in May 2019 by Winchester City Council . The brief called for creative & contextual research with which to frame a ‘concept-led’ draft scope for the inclusion of public art & interpretation within the Winchester Station Approaches project. The client’s Architectural & Urban Planning consultants LDS Architects have developed a Masterplan Framework & Public Realm for the Station Approach site, which has since been made public & my work may eventually be embedded into this scheme or influence the final detailed design for the public realm.
As a creative research-led project I have set out to celebrate the City of Winchester’s rich cultural history by examining its use of specific materials, decoration & craft skills within its architectural legacy and built landscape, with a particular emphasis on Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest Cathedrals in Europe.
The Station is the Gateway to the City, once the Anglo Saxon capital under Alfred the Great. As a Gateway the Station and its surrounding external environment should be above all else welcoming. The public realm is required to deliver this. It can also give visual expression, via its landscape, materials and detail to what may be discovered by visitors moving beyond the Station. The Cathedral, for example cannot be seen when arriving by train, when, by contrast the Cathedrals of both Bath and Durham present their magnificent architecture from afar.
This is still early days in research and concept development. No doubt this project will shape-shift considerably along the way.
People come from around the world to visit
5 million arrivals and departures recorded
in 2018 –
What should this Gateway communicate about Winchester?
The Cathedral ?
Cathedral was founded in 1079 – it is an astonishing 940 years old & we can still walk around it in the
footsteps of countless others. The whole building was completed in the form we
see & experience today in the 16th Century. The spectacular Nave
in Perpendicular Gothic with Lierne Vaulting was completed in the 14th
& 15th Centuries. The carved oak Quire Stalls
were created between 1306 and 1309. We know who carved them & we know who
‘In the Christian Medieval world, this ‘arrival’ was rewarded through the sheer brilliance & breath-taking fusion of art & architecture as seen in the form of the Cathedral. This building was clearly at the heart of Winchester and England. It was the house of God and widely interpreted as the gate of Heaven, a world-renowned centre of pilgrimage, education & religious life’.
CONCEPT: to explore some the materials that built Winchester and, in doing so, reinforce their importance and role in communicating the cultural significance of the city. Rare & bespoke materials and craft can reflect this. These materials connect us to the past, the present & the future.
Manufacturing and contemporary methods – crafts fused with the latest technology.
Reflect the ingenuity and importance of the craftsmen & master masons of the age of Cathedrals. Illuminated Manuscript Illustrators and Master Masons were itinerant specialists – often travelling continually between great building projects.
I am also influenced by the on-going work to maintain and secure historical structures. Cathedral Masons repair and replace stonework. Over time, this must lead to substantial renewal. This concept of gradual change and renewal is of great interest.
For Example: Solid or monolithic blocks used as primary public art sculptural artwork benches within the current forecourt plan submitted by LDS Architects – with secondary barrier benches in another repeating style.
OPTIONS: creative thinking out loud ! Materials could include…
OAK – inspired by the massive oak timbers in the cathedral roof & bell tower and the brilliance of the carving in the Quire Stalls.
TOURNAI MARBLE – The beautiful 12th Century font – see below – sculpted from a single massive block of blue black carboniferous limestone, known as “Tournai marble“, was quarried from the banks of the River Scheldt’ & brought from Tournai in modern day Belgium. These were extremely rare and highly prized medieval luxury items. The natural stone is 135 million years old.
Bench Three: SWEDISH MARBLE – see below – this was considered an exotic imports from the Baltic states & illustrates the connectedness of Winchester to other places through trade and pilgrimage. This ledger stone is for Francisca Clobery, the daughter of Sir John Clobery. She died in 1683 and her grave is in the south aisle of the Retrochoir, in front of her father’s monument. Sir John was a 17th Century Merchant with connections to Europe.
Alfred the Great twice went on pilgrimage to Rome, the first time as a young boy in 853AD. I can’t but wonder if he had seen the Pantheon & the astonishing interiors of marble clad walls and polished patterned floors?
GLASS – The huge medieval stained glass West Window was smashed by Cromwell’s forces in 1642, but the fragmented remnants were gathered together and the window eventually restored maintaining the fragmented style.
CAST IRON – GUN METAL – Jewell & Son, City Foundry, between Middle and Lower Brook Street in Winchester was owned by the Jewell family and made components for the GWR Railways Winchester to Newbury Line. It was one of several iron foundries in the city. The coming of the railway and the ensuing Victorian Industrial Revolution brought massive change and population growth to the city. On each of the bells of the Cathedral it is recorded that it was ‘Recast by John Taylor and Co., Loughborough, 1937’. John
TERRAZZO – a fusion of fragmented materials with the
ARCHITECTURAL CERAMIC – Much of Winchester is built of brick and tile, with clay locally sourced and manufactured & fired often close to the site. The Cathedral has an extant 13th Century pavement of inlaid ceramic including many beautifully reproduced in the 1960’s.
GRANITE – Granite is not a historic building material in Winchester, nonetheless it does appear in various forms within the city centre. however, For example, the plinth for for the statue of Alfred on the Broadway (1901) is made of granite. Brought by rail from Penryn in Cornwall , at the time they were the largest blocks of granite ever moved – and processioned by steam tractor through the streets of Winchester – at the height of the second Industrial Revolution and Victorian pomp.
FLINT – a quintessential Winchester material.
These materials could be treated in the following ways:
could be cut, laminated and re-cut to present a geological and
decorative expression – using the latest manufacturing technology. Surfaces can
be inlaid, laser etched, sandblasted or textured to provide variety and
narrative. Objects can be cast, moulded or carved.
Lines & intersections within the general forecourt paving scheme suggest way-finding & direction but are also resonant of the magnificent Cathedral Lierne Vaulting, a high point in Gothic Architecture & engineering skill – the crossing and interweaving of stone vaulting providing the myriad crossing points and junctions for decorated bosses. Within the Station forecourt and approaches, these paving lines will intersect, at which point more focussed detail could be embedded in the form of robust but beautifully finished granite or cast iron units. These lines extend outwards from the Station Forecourt up Station Road and down Station Hill. I would propose to extend interventions and interpretive artwork in this direction to encourage the preferred pedestrian routes.
& Decoration seen throughout Winchester and fused into an
astonishingly beautiful form in the Cathedral
reflects the local & natural world of flora and fauna, alongside the
non-secular world of Christianity and faith. I am inspired by the brilliance of
illustrated manuscripts, such as the Winchester Bible & Botanical
Manuscripts held in the Cathedral Library and Archive. Fragmented details of
these motifs could be used to animate the forecourt and Gateway, but also to
give clues to visitors and locals alike as to what may be found within the
Secondary Barrier features nearest to the highway could all be in the same material – granite or sandstone. Reinforced concrete base structure could be stone clad or be used as an immoveable base / foundation.
The fusing of architectural styles, which
in turn create a legible & experiential timeline over hundreds of years in
the Cathedral is an on-going inspiration.
Conduited Water flowing under the City
Streams and Rivers and Water Meadows –
Communicate this concept – Beauty, architectural and cultural heritage,
technology, creativity found in the City of Winchester using a palette of
resonant and contextually intriguing materials, textures and narrative (tell
good stories!) –
I am also researching the following:
Brewery & Reservoirs on the Carfax Site –
business and inhabitants of Station Hill, Station Road and Gresham
Mill – A
700 years old Water Mill demolished in 1966 with massive oak timbers and cast
iron machinery made locally –
Winchester City Mill
Guild processions held on Corpus Christi by the Catholic Church –
Jewell, City Iron Foundry, Winchester –
William Walker – Deep Water Diver & Cathedral Saviour
Site specific and local details can reflect smaller influences – the lives and livelihoods of local people and what they did etc. It is important to acknowledge the whole community its diversity.
I am creating options for paving, seating, edges, retaining structures and kerbs – this keeps sightlines clear and reduces clutter in the landscape.
‘Purbeck marble was extensively used for grave markers and grave stones (ledger stones). Later, large black ledger stones of Tournai marble were very much in fashion. Of particular interest is the ledger stone of Francisca Cloberij (sic), the daughter of Sir John Clobery. She died in 1683 and her grave is in the south aisle of the Retrochoir, in front of her father’s monument. It is of a distinctive Ordovician limestone (around 465 million years ago) from the Island of Öland, Sweden, containing the straight-shelled Nautiloid, Orthoceras’. It is something of an anomaly, but intriguing nonetheless.
I have made several visits to Winchester to consult with specialists, with particular relevance to the Cathedral. I have walked the streets, and routes into the City and experienced the crossing points and have undertaken my own creative site analysis. I have ongoing research threads with the City and with a number of specialist materials suppliers and manufacturers. I have consulted with the Hampshire Archive Services and the Winchester City Trust.
I have meetings arranged with the Cathedral Archivist and Librarian and also with the Cathedral Stonemasons. If possible, I would like to collaborate with the Stone Mason in the production of one of the benches.
In 2001, was commissioned by Elizabeth Smith, the Public Arts Officer for Southampton City Council to collaborate with the project client Barratt Homes, to create an interpretive landscape artwork for the central courtyard of the former Dell Football ground. The Dell was demolished in 2001 by Hughes and Salvidge. I was able to visit the ground to document the site just before this process began and just after the last game had been played.
“a lovely dell with a gurgling stream and lofty aspens” Philip Brannon 1850
“On 19 May 2001, midfielder Matt Le Tissier, (who retired from playing a year later) said goodbye to the stadium that had been host to his entire professional career by scoring a volley in the final minutes of the final league game securing a 3–2 win against. Le Tissier has the distinction of scoring the last competitive goal at The Dell. On 26 May, the club’s fans said goodbye to the Dell by stripping all of its seats, the pitch and even an advertising board after Southampton’s last game at the stadium, a 1-0 victory in a friendly against Brighton & Hove Albion, the first and last opponents at the stadium. The last goal ever scored at the Dell was by Uwe Rosler”. Wikipedia
“The final league goal witnessed by the Dell was Le Tissier’s 89th-minute winner against Arsenal, a fitting tribute from the forward to his home for 16 years and to the fans who could not imagine life without him. Club fortunes fluctuate, players come and go but Le Tissier has infected those who have witnessed his feats on the south coast and their worshipping will go on long after his boots are finally hung up”. The Guardian 21st May 2001
‘The site on which the ground was built was described in Philip Brannon’s Picture of Southampton, published in 1850, as “a lovely dell with a gurgling stream and lofty aspens”. The stream is the Rollsbrook which flows out of Southampton Common, running parallel to Hill Lane before disappearing under Commercial Road and Southampton Central Station, from where it is conduited under Southampton Docks into Southampton Water.
The land had been purchased in the 1880s by the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway to enable them to continue their line from Winchester via Twyford, Chandlers Ford, a tunnel at Chilworth and Shirley where it was to pass to the North East of what is nowSt James’ Park, Southampton and St James’ Church. From here the line would have travelled south across Hill Lane to run through the dell and onto an embankment leading to a viaduct over Commercial Road and the London and South Western Railway line before terminating on the Western Esplanade North of the Royal Pier.
The dell was stripped of vegetation and the stream channelled into a conduit with work started on the embankment, which survives behind property to the North of Commercial Road but was never used, and the viaduct which was part built but later demolished.’ Wikipedia
I wanted to recreate this idea of ‘a lovely dell with a gurgling stream and trees’, as well as represent something important about the history of football and of Southampton FC on this site. It appeared that the centre circle of the pitch was exactly where the stream had originally passed through and was now culverted underground. The radius of the centre circle on a football pitch is 9.15m. My design reflects this. The centre spot is in exactly the same space it would have been on any match day. 11 trees are planted around the circumference to reflect the squad of 11 who would have played each game. The raw cast concrete retaining walls, steps and planting beds retain something of the look and feel of the original football terraces. Several bespoke cast terrazzo benches with white aggregate in a red cement matrix face into the centre. These reflect the club colours.
The most notable detail is the textured low-relief elevation exposed around the centre circle. This is the stud print of Matt Le Tissier’s right football boot – or so I was led to believe. We contacted the club during this project and this was the boot I was sent. I so want to believe it. I wore the boot to make the original mould, by running over a bed of clay. I still have it. The idea was to recreate and remember the raw play and boots on muddy ground which embodies the spirit of play.
I approached Patterns & Moulds Ltd, a fantastic company, I have since worked with on several projects. Established in 1967, Patterns & Moulds remains the largest independent and privately owned mould maker in the UK.
Turf had been stripped off the pitch by fans eager to take a piece of footballing history home with them.
Above: All the concrete works were delivered in-situ, with timber formwork constructed on site. The concrete retaining structures and curving walls created a series of interlinked paths and terraces, which were then backfilled with soil or compacted gravels to create the finished terrace levels. The Matt Le Tissier stud-print concrete feature relief-wall was also cast in-situ on site with bespoke rubber moulds and timber formwork. The raw, unfinished concrete surfaces emulated the original hard terrace construction at the Dell Football ground.
Above: Elizabeth Smith, Public Arts Officer, Southampton City Council 1998 – 2011, talking with the Project Site Manager.
Above & Below: The Rollsbrook Stream was re-imagined as a shallow rill flowing through the courtyard.
Chatham Placemaking Project – A beautifully crafted thing…
Since starting the Chatham Placemaking Project, I am proud and pleased that much of the work we have done has been wonderfully crafted.
Words can be beautifully crafted to capture the essence of meaning, or a point in time, the spirit of a place. Materials too can be made to speak and assembled with care into something meaningful and poetic.
The writer, filmmaker, designer and poet with whom I have worked and collaborated on the project have all brought experience, originality, humour to the table, but above all they have brought an ability to assemble what they know & what they have created into a beautifully honed and finished thing – a sentence, a film, a poem, a pattern. These people are highly skilled. Andrew Lapthorn, a craftsman and furniture maker working from the Historic Dockyard has produced perhaps one of the most beautiful objects created for the project. His laminated Elm radius curved seat – part of a collaboration with me to create 6 granite and timber street benches – has now been installed at New Cut, Chatham, one of two radius timber seats.
Above: Granite & Timber street bench. Honed monolithic granite with stainless steel armrest by Hardscape.
Public spaces – especially those well trafficked, endure heavy duty wear and tear. These seats have been manufactured from robust and tough materials. This timber element was constructed from 45 layers of laminated mature English Elm, which was generously donated to the project by the Historic Chatham Dockyard from the equally historic Timber Seasoning Sheds. Each layer may have 2 of 3 individually sawn planks. It is a brilliant piece of work and very beautiful. It speaks loudly to me and is exemplary of the experience and love of making, which all the artists and creatives involved in the project have instilled in their work, often quietly and unseen. Andrew Lapthorn’s seat, encapsulates so much that has been done by us all in gathering our base material, spending time with it, mulling it over, discarding what doesn’t work, before finally committing to its final form.
Andrew has documented his work over many months and has given us access to the archive of images. Some of them are astonishing. Again, worth repeating, that his process reflects all of our various processes in various forms, making various outcomes. It is all about craft, mixed with experience, originality and passion. I will be making a longer post about this work.
Thalia, Belvedere and Telemon were 3 of 4 locomotives that worked at William Cory & Sons Ltd (Coal Wharf) on Rochester Riverside.
‘Thalia’: Built by Robert Stevenson and Hawthorn Newcastle, (works No 7816, Drewry Car Co works No. 2503 of 1945). The locomotive was supplied new to William Cory & Sons Ltd. where it was named after one of the three Graces in Greek mythology. The locomotive was painted black with Cory’s standard logo on each side & spent all its working life in Cory’s sidings, which were located adjacent to Blue Boar Wharf on the River Medway.
‘Telemon’: Built by the Vulcan Foundry 9 (works No. 295, Drewry Car Co. works No. 2568 of 1955) worked at William Cory’s Coal Wharf, Rochester, 1971
“Staunch and well built though a barge may be, each year sees a toll taken. Some yield at last to the cold embrace of the sea, whose caresses they have so long resisted, others steal quietly up some lonely creek to nose gently into the malodorous mud and settle down into their last berth, gradually to moulder away, forgotten by all save their one time masters, and perhaps, some sentimental fool like myself, who will gaze down on their rotting timbers and imagination see spars clothed with red-brown sails and hulls vibrant with life as they thrash there way round the Foreland.”
Describing the excitement and thrill of the Medway Barge Races – “The course was from Hoo Marshes to the West Oaze Buoy and back to the Sun Pier at Chatham, a distance of about thirty five miles…A strong easterly wind was blowing, and in Long Reach Verona’s bowsprit snapped off short, but the crew cleared away the wreckage and setting a jib topsail as a staysail, carried on to come sixth in their class.” Edgar J March.
Referencing a painting by T.B. Hardy, 1874, Edgar March goes on to describe the Medway as, “When this picture was painted, marine artists had little need to look for subjects. The Medway was alive with sailing craft : dainty little topsail schooners, picturesque collier brigs with apple bows and dingy canvas, barques from Scandinavia, bringing pine-scented timber from the Baltic to Rochester, and above all, barges innumerable, threading their way through the maze of traffic. One hundred a tide was no uncommon sight, and what a joy to a sail-lover that galaxy of russet, brown and ochre canvas must have been, many with various devices emblazoned on their mainsails – Lees’ stumpies had the white horse of Kent rampant on ebony coloured sails – all either hurrying down on the ebb or beating up against wind and tide. Now gone forever.”
…and “In those far-off days, watermen, or “goozers”, to use their riverside nick-name, plied their trade in skiffs”. Edgar J March
William Higham was born in 1838 in Lewes Sussex. On 27/10/1864 he married Fanny Elizabeth Blake in Strood, nr, Rochester. By 1881 they had 9 children.
William was a Barge Builder and they lived in a private house on Victoria Street, Rochester. The location of his Yard is show on the OS map of 1898 on Blue Boar Hard, just above the Pier. ADA & EDITH is just one of many barges built here between 1876 and 1901.
MAID OF KENT
ANNIE & ALICE
HERBERT & HAROLD
ADA & EDITH
‘WALRUS’ & ‘NELLIE’ were two portable conveyors owned by William Cory & Son, Coal Factors, at Cory’s Wharf, used for transporting stone aggregates from Barge to Train. These aggregates were known as Fines, Nuts & Cobbles.
“It has been my privilege to go over and see the marvellous machinery for loading and unloading coal. The five large cranes, when seen at work bowing their stately heads, look like dancers executing a minuet; …when in repose, standing like so many soldiers on sentry duty, with fixed bayonets. What a contrast to see the way a collier is unloaded by these cranes, as compared with the old coal whippers’ days! A coal boat seems scarcely to draw alongside the wharf before it is steaming away again”.Edwin Harris Guides to Old Rochester, Pub. 1930 No. 27 Part 1. (Ref: ROC. 942.23 HAR The Riverside. Harris/Edwin. MALSC).
The five cranes were originally positioned along Cory’s Wharf on the far right hand side of the above OS Map of 1932
The earlier OS Map of 1898 records the same site some 30 years previously as Chatham Goods Yard. The site occupied by Cory’s Wharf is immediately below Blue Boar Pier along the HWMOT line.
Dunlin…A Salt Marsh Bird
‘The Medway Estuary is believed to be the most important area in North Kent for wintering wildfowl in numbers of international significance. The Saltmarsh serves as a roosting area for waders at high tide. Several scarce plant species include: golden samphire, perennial glasswort and one-flowered glasswort. The estuary is one of the best places in Britain for the study of glassworts. The grazing marsh has breeding and wintering birds of interest; the former include lapwing, redshank, pochard, mallard and gadwall, while in winter large flocks of may wildfowl and wader species are present.‘
Ref: Environmental Stresses and Resource Use in Coastal Urban and Peri Urban Regions. DPSIR Approach to SECOA’s 17 Case Studies.
These overwintering birds, along with thousands of others migrating or breeding species have been present on our site, however the numbers of Dunlin and other birds have undergone a decline, ostensibly to do with habitat loss and disturbance, which is of course of great concern.