31 December 2007

Work's Outing

I am guessing that this very grand occasion with everyone dressed in their finery was the annual summer outing of the optical firm that my grandfather worked for before starting out on his own. I believe that my grandfather, Sydney Howard, is the eighth person from the right standing at the back. As he started out on his own around April 1914 then this picture was taken before that date. Note the charabanc on the left of the picture - presumably hired especially for the outing. Although they probably referred to it as a charabanc it is more likely a double decker bus.

Snow Bears

Apart from the unbelievable cuteness of this photo from the late 1950s, I like it because it reminds me that as a child I didn't know about snowmen. Of course this was long before the Briggs story. Whenever there was enough snow when I was growing up my father always made a snow bear. The one in the photo here is a particularly fine example. In subsequent years I always throught the traditional snowman had something missing - the large pointed ears!

For the eyes and nose my father used pieces of coke which we used as fuel for the kitchen Rayburn. It was probably in good use on a day like this baking hot cakes for tea. I remember my mother's delight when we moved house and she had an electric cooker for the first time - with a thermostatic oven.

20 October 2007

Flood defences

I drove past this in the car today but had to go back on foot to check I had read this sign correctly. I'm not at all sure whether the instruction 'do not remove' is intended to refer to the wall or the sign itself. However, in view of the damage that can be caused by flooding I sincerely hope that nobody would be tempted to sneak up and remove the wall. Wall thefts and removals as we know are commonplace these days and I hope this warning notice serves its purpose and deters any potential culprits.

06 October 2007

Dalek Invasion of Suffolk

Back in the mid-1970s this giant Dalek was a familiar sight in Aldeburgh, Suffolk where it trundled up and down the Saxmundham Road and made a guest appearance at the Aldeburgh Cinema for the annual town carnival. It also made forays out into the High Street to advertise the film 'Peter Pan'.

The Dalek in question was built in 1976 using plans published by the BBC in a Radio Times Dr Who Special, and using materials and components that the BBC workshops used to create their own Dalek versions - except that this one ended up rather bigger, standing a good 6 feet high!

The Dalek made its debut public appearance on the steps of the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington just as the opening night of the Proms was ending and caused quite a stir among the concert goers as they streamed down the steps into Prince Consort Road.

This Dalek's reputation for getting into trouble started off when it was trundling along Oxford Street and stopped temporarily outside Debenham's. The commissionaire was alarmed at the huge crowd gathering around it and called the police. Minutes later a 'Black Maria' screamed to a halt alongside and what seemed like an army of uniformed officers piled out of the back and surrounded the Dalek. They then remonstrated with the Dalek that it was causing an obstruction and attempted to arrest it, much to the amusement of the assembled crowd.

However, it was the Dalek's misfortune to be solen overnight from its temporary home at Imperial College that brought it to the attention of millions when it's plight was featured on the BBC television programme 'Blue Peter', the ITV crime reporting programme 'Police Five' and a sprinkling of radio programmes and newspaper articles.

01 October 2007

London Airport - How Quaint!

I recently came across an edition of Visitor's London by Harold F. Hutchison and published by London Transport in 1955. In the light of the progress being made with Heathrow's Terminal Five, I was amused by this entry:

"London Airport is about 14 miles from the West End on the south of the Bath Road. It will not be fully completed for several years, but it is already an impressive and fascinating sight. There is a public enclosure where the visitor is given a running commentary on departures and arrivals, and the children have such additional amusements as pony rides, a miniature railway, and sandpits. Conducted tours of the airfield and short flights are arranged. London Airport displays the world's latest aircraft flying to and from every continent."

I doubt that the author had in mind quite so many years before completion! And what of the sandpits?


30 September 2007

Sestrel Hand Held Sighting Compass

This was given to my father by my uncle (my mother's brother) possibly in the 1960s and to my knowledge never been used. As part of my de-cluttering exercise I dug it out and was intrigued to see that it was made in Barking by the now-defunct Henry Browne & Son Ltd. A quick Google search revealed that an identical model was recently sold for £125 so I guess I'll hang on to it for a while.
It seems that Henry Browne were considered to be makers of very fine quality nautical instruments and were a part of Barking's proud maritime tradition. This compass is certainly very well made, with a beautiful wooden handle and a fine glass prism. Maybe it will come in useful when I finally retire and buy a boat!

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