Friday, 29 November 2019


"No one left and no one came
On the bare platform..."

The good ship Wikipedia informs me that Cottingham station was opened in the mid 1840s like so many stations, little and large, in this country. I learn that the place was actually designed by a real person, an architect no less (who knew?), George Andrews, I had thought these places just grew by themselves, organically, they all look the same, and that would be, I suppose, because the Boy George designed most of them ... I read that there were "two platforms, a stationmaster's house, and waiting rooms. In addition to the passenger facilities there was a goods shed, and coal depot to the west of the line, reached by points to the north of the station. Goods transit into Cottingham included coal and building materials, whilst goods outwards from Cottingham included large amounts of agricultural produce as well as livestock." 
Must have been quite a busy little place back then. Now it's more Adlestrop than King's Cross ...
Well there are still two platforms, the stationmaster's house is a listed building now though I wouldn't want to live there as there's no floor. The coal depot is no more, I think it's a builders' merchant store or it was, there were plans for a supermarket there (whatever happened to that I now wonder.) There are waiting rooms, that much is true and recently renovated too, but only on one platform and I've never seen anyone use them. The signal box is now a museum piece and goods traffic all goes by road these days and has done for decades. The footbridge remains as do a few dozen passengers each day who want to go to Bridlington or Scarborough or Hull and Sheffield, I believe there's a through train to London once a day but that might just be a myth. There's no ticket office, never has been while I've been here. A modern, somewhat intrusive, innovation is a fancy interactive ticket machine ignored by all; I always buy my ticket on the train ... 'cos sometimes the conductor doesn't turn up and a free ride is always fun.

The weekend in black and white is here.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Very Reasonable Doubt

I came across a sticker just like this a few years ago. Even then  the case of Jeremy Bamber was a long running and worrying affair but I thought he'll at least win his appeals and this injustice will soon be over. But Mr Bamber, convicted  in 1986 of the murders of his parents, his sister and her six-year-old twin sons is still behind bars and years later there are still stickers on cars ... I don't know if he did what he's accused of, I do know there's abundant evidence (the suicidal, schizophrenic sister with access to the gun, for example, and shockingly doubtful forensics;  you know how it all goes in these cases) to make the conviction troublesome to say the least and where's there's reasonable doubt, so the old myth goes, you must acquit ... Thirty three years is damn long time to do for any crime, an eternity for an innocent man. There are stories that new evidence will gain a release in the near future but hope is, perhaps, best kept in a jar and not let loose upon the  world ...
Still when I was a child back in the sixties he would no doubt have been hanged for such a heinous crime and that, for those who like finality in these things, would have put an end to all doubts ... there's more if you can face it to read here.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

The Money Pit

At some point after the stinking little port of Hull was granted the right to exist those who lived in the ancient town of Beverley grew tired of having to sail/row slowly down the twisting, meandering mud stream that was (and remains) the river Hull and decided they needed a road to get to the place that was going to take away their trade and their preeminence as a leading town in England. And so the Hull Road came about, straight as can be through the hamlets of Woodmansey, Dunswell and on through the largest village in England Cottingham across the swampy mires of Wyke until running into the Beverley Gate and the delights of what is now Whitefriargate. Down this road came King Charles I and his mates looking for a bed for the night before being told to go sling his hook. Later on to maintain the road, toll booths were put in place on the Beverley-Hull turnpike.
But times changed, the stinking little port grew and grew and became the stinking big town spreading ever outwards and reaching up and swallowing large chunks of Cottingham (its appetite is still not sated and it would swallow the whole and other villages besides if it had its druthers)  and the road is no longer Hull Road but Beverley Road and despite its historical significance no kings would come down here if they'd any sense.
The stretch of Beverley Road running from the town centre up to Cottingham Road is, now how shall I put this without appearing too blunt, a dump. In the thirty eight years I've been here it has always been a dump, a grey depressing dump. Behind it old slum housing with attendant social problems has been cleared and replaced by new slum, sorry social, housing with attendant social problems but the late Georgian/Victorian buildings put up by the expansion of the mid 19th century remain on the road itself. The condition of these buildings varies from maintained to totally neglected as in bombed out by the Germans and still not demolished nearly eighty years later, another building had all its internal walls  taken out (don't ask why) and is in danger of collapse. To add to its woes the area has somehow become a Conservation Area, so nothing can be done without jumping through the extra hoops of planning permission and cost. None of which would matter much if this wasn't one the main roads into the town, a gateway to use Council planning parlance, and it's hardly a delight but in its defense I would say that other roads into the town also produce the urge to turn around, leave and never come back. I know other cities have similar dreary roads, I recall Liverpool's long and winding roads even after more than forty years,  but that is their problem.
Now this has not gone unnoticed by those who claim to run the place. It has been spotted that the place has had economic decline in recent years (recent years? how recent is well over half a century of decline?). The cash strapped Council fresh from putting millions of pounds of paving in parts of the empty town centre put in for some cash from whatever source has the stuff and managed to bag a couple of million to do up the place. They have a plan, and (God help us all) the plan has a name: the Townscape Heritage Scheme. Well they've had this plan for a few years now but nothing visible has shown itself. The plan is to give grants for part of the cost of renovating buildings, put in new railings and boundary walls, remove a few street signs, install heritage lighting and no doubt polish the dog turds on the pavement and so on. I'm sure none of this will do any harm but honestly it's a drop in the vast ocean. And as any fool knows a couple of million can soon be eaten up in a council plan, especially as extra staffing will be needed to get the plan off the ground (ça va sans dire!), and approving the grants is "proving slower than anyone anticipated" (of course it is, this is Parkinson's Law in action). Clearly there is little reason why a private individual would sink good money into this place and even with grants it's becoming difficult to get any progress. So why waste any more public money? Simply knock the crumbly edifices down (it wouldn't take much; one simply fell down just the other year!), scrub it clean and start again with acres of prime development land or greenery if you wish right in the heart of town ... and as this will take an absolute age to do you could invite the king to come have a look.

The weekend in black and white is here.

Friday, 22 November 2019

It's beginning to look ...

... a lot like mid-November.

I don't know which is the more disappointing, misleading and tawdry. The tinselly fake-snow eight week build up to that stupid whilom Christian, whilom Pagan end-of-year exercise in conspicuous consumption and phoney bonhomie or the tinselly, fake, five week exercise in mendacity, vilification and knavery known as the UK general election. This year's offerings from the town that has the culture are particularly unimpressive, the town tree I'm told is much taller than the usual twig but someone hadn't turned the lights on so I couldn't see or maybe the helpful Grinch had stolen them (Hooray!).

Indeed there seemed to be no festering, sorry, festive lights at all in Queen Vic Square (Hooray! Hooray!). The only seasonal thing of any note was a gaudy illuminated  ginger bread house affair on King Edward Street. Council must have spent all their pennies on that and couldn't afford any more (Hip, Hip, Hooray!)

This looks impressive but it's all an illusion like everything these days.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

The Feel Good Legacy

You can if you like just look at the picture of the pretty lights on Ferensway and move on. I'm going to prattle on about the City of Culture and stuff like that so if that bores you terminally press on to better things ...

Just the other day there were reports on local TV and in the local paper of the final evaluation report by the University of Hull on the year 2017 and the City of Culture and what , if any, its long lasting benefits might be. I've tried to find a copy online but failed so what I'm commenting on is second hand, might not be accurate, indeed may be a pack of stale tosh but that never stopped me before so here goes. 
The picture I get is one of desperation. For example nearly 80% of the "visitors" to "events" in 2017 came from either Hull or the East Riding neighbourhood, of the other 20% I bet a fair few came from Lincolnshire just across the Humber Bridge. Less than 1% of visitors were from abroad. It seems that, despite being the "national" UK City of Culture, they now claim that the year of culture was to be a local thing, aimed at Hull folk and they never intended to be aiming to attract a foreign (or indeed national) audience, well that was at least one measurable success they had. This was local culture for local people we now hear ... well more on this below.
It's claimed that five million people came to Hull to see the "events" but this figure cannot be anything but a guesstimate (or, as I call it, an outright lie): I came to Hull several times during the year, I "saw" some of the "events" but I was there to do my shopping and would have been there in any case much like many of the so-called "visitors" from Hull and hereabouts. I can only assume I was counted several times as a "visitor". It was not so much a case of "Let's go see the big thing in Queen Victoria Square" as "Oh look there's a big effing big thing standing in my way, and what the F*** is it doing there?". Surely passive (or irate) "visitors" like this cannot count, indeed should be counted as a negative visitor ... and anecdotally I should add I did not notice more folk in town during the year. I admit, though, I was asked once by a tourist where Humber Dock was ...
Still and yet there's the glorious legacy, as they like to call it. It seems those who volunteered to be part of the show did, on the whole, think it was positive for them. How nice for them I'm sure; but then these were only a few, a very few out of the many thousands who live in the place. Young people apparently were not too impressed by it all with mainly 50+ year olds attending most of the offerings. Also youngsters at school apparently missed out and continue to miss out due to curriculum requirements (shame, indeed, that their educational needs should take priority over this cultural hogwash).
Surely all that money has left something behind, something tangible ... (I love that word! tangible!) Well it seems there was a 1% increase in tourist spending in 2018 over 2017 but then inflation was ~2.5% so that actually is a decrease in real terms ... There have been some hundreds of millions of public and private investment spent in the town in the past six years but the best the report can say is this could "at least be partly attributed to the UK City of Culture" or maybe it is partly due to this splendid blog or who knows? ... like I say : desperate.
Now, look around the town: has it got better? Are the shops full of wealthy customers eager to keep the local economy thriving? Hardly,  they're shopping online or going out of town to Sheffield or York. The photo shows the old House of Fraser shop, Binns, as I call it draped with lights but it shut back in summer (I'm told it will open as an "artisan food hall" whatever that is ...) and there are dozens more shops like this some empty for many years.
There is apparently a legacy organisation, with the absolutely ridiculous title of Absolutely Cultured ("core purpose is to put culture and creativity at the heart of people’s lives to drive Hull’s ambition and aspirations.")  that is described as "vague in terms of resources, responsibilities and modalities of implementation." which is I take to be a polite way of saying they haven't got a clue ... I can say I've heard of it but cannot see anything that it has actually done and its website hardly inspires.
Ah but culture is not to be measured in such crude financial ways, the benefits to the people of Hull are intangible, some might say. They get a boost somehow from all this publicity, they get to feel good, to have pride in their city. Hmm well in 2018 4% fewer Hull folk felt better about Hull than in 2017. I guess those who took the £32 million or so that was raised, the out-of-town installation makers, the out-of-town providers of torch lit parades (Continentals do such a good torch lit parade, don't you find?), the strange out-of-town American guy who took photos of hundreds of naked folk on the streets of the town (for a big fat fee, of course), the gangly out-of-town oik who was in charge and the out-of-town journalist whose sole qualification seemed to be that she went to Hull University once and was second in charge (for oh so reasonable a fee) I bet all these and so many more out-of-townies who selflessly had to force their snouts into the trough (again the fees were reasonable)  are indeed feeling a lot happier about Hull.
Let us, therefore, seek the cultural legacy elsewhere since it clearly ain't here, mate.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Poppycock or false memory day

How can children remember something that happened before they or in many cases even their parents were born or someone they never met? Indeed why  should they even bother? Who benefits from all this? The dead? Long past caring.  The living, then? How? The land fit for heroes threw them on to the jobless scrap heap but every November out came  the bloody poppies and British Bloody Legion with their bloody flags, their bloody medals and their damn bloody marches.
It has become a routine that is only done because it has always been done. This year the PM put his wreath upside down! (titter ye not!) The other guy who wants to be PM turns up even though he has voted against every British military intervention there has been and has fraternized with just about every 'enemy' while he has been an MP, at least he didn't bow his head only because he's too damned ignorant. No-one dare say "Let us stop this nonsense now and get on with our lives". 
As a child I was told that on Remembrance Day we remember those who died in the War. The War then was the Great War, WW1. Now the War is WW2 though that too is fading, Korea (where was that now?), Falklands (oh yeah dimly recall), Afghanistan, Northern Ireland (maybe not so much NI as that wasn't officially a war and besides half the enemy were in the pay of the secret service), any patch of a scrubby useless middle eastern shithole that the British Army has been sent to and come home again having achieved precisely zip and at such a cost ... Ah yes I was told and you tell your children still they must remember these 'sacrifices' and show their respects. What for?
Now memory is as you know a pretty untrustworthy thing at the best of times but if you are going to tell your children stories what do you expect to happen? I was told by my mother that her father's brother joined up at the start of the war; both brothers enlisted together, leaving their jobs in the steel works, joined the Gordon Highlanders (the kilts were a thing back then). Poor old great uncle Thomas however died in the war, I was told, and grandpa married his brother's bereaved fiancée. That's a nice story with such a romantic ending... Or so I was told ... Hmm today I find, thanks to computers and internets that never forget, Great Uncle Tom actually lived to over 70 and died in 1959 and worked in a pawnbroker's shop and was in the Northumberland Fusiliers. Grandpa Joe, was living in a different town to his brother, was actually in the Gordon Highlanders in France from 1915 onwards (I guess something had to be true) and when I knew him as a chain smoking (Capstan full strength or Willy Woodbines) old man he cursed the British Bloody Legion whenever he could, he'd no time for poppies or poppycock. He never, ever mentioned (maybe he forgot) being wounded in 1916 but computers and internets they never forget ...
There I've done with my bit of remembering. Now what? Hmm?

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Honey Fungus (I think)

On Snuff Mill Lane the other day large numbers of these pretty brown critters had sprung up alongside a blackthorn and ivy hedge. I think it's honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) a destroyer of broadleaf trees, particularly fruit trees. I'm told they are edible but somehow I don't think I'll try. I recall the saying that everything is edible at least once. Did I mention there were large numbers of them?

Friday, 8 November 2019

Pier review

Bridlington pier attracts all sorts who bring along all the right gear to catch either the light or the odd passing codling or flounder ... I have a tripod, I just can't be bothered to traipse around with it.

These guys are not allowed to fish off here during the summer in case a passing tourist (there are still a few who pass) might be harmed by seeing grown folk waste their time in the pursuit of the big 'un. There must be some hidden thing I'm not getting, each one finds their own way through that gap twixt cradle and grave.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Old Warty

Avid followers of my dreary tales will know of my pumpkin cultivation (if that is the word, they just romped along all by themselves) and will, no doubt, love to know that the only one that grew anything like a pumpkin ended up as all good gourds do: top sliced off, gutted and crudely hacked about in some really messy ritual. (I don't like Hallowe'en but making a mess still appeals) But then what do you do with the damn thing? Being a novice at this game I put old warty face on the garden gates' spikes  for any passing wildlife to enjoy; plus I'm sure he'll annoy the neighbours (who do things neat and tidy in the garden). He sits there still, a girning, toothy memorial to the sunshine of the summer of '19.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

"Looks like an accident in the cutlery drawer"

Over last weekend and to the annoyance of many gridlocked motorists Castle Street was blocked off and the new footbridge (which we last saw parked up in preparation in a car park a few weeks ago) was shuffled into position in a faultless manner and much quicker than expected. The road was reopened fifteen hours earlier than forecast to much rejoicing. The bridge is only the small matter of thirty odd years late (who's counting?) ... and it won't be fit for pedestrians until spring.

The title was Margot's comment upon first seeing this. "Like the dish ran away with the spoon?" said I. Still you don't have to look at it when you're on it.

The weekend in Black and White is here.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Waste for Energy

As the train draws into Sheffield station you cannot but be a bit overawed by the outsized industrial plant with attendant chimney right in the heart of town. What do they make here I wondered, what new industrial delight has Sheffield brought forth?
But then a few days later and after a very small amount of searching I find this is no more than a commercial trash incinerator/power plant/community heating concern. That must be nice for the neighbours, I thought, what kind of idiot place would build that in its centre? Then I remembered that the small town of Hull has just built a very similar place also in the heart of town though that heart is somewhat more sclerotic and rotten. That place too will be bringing in other people's trash to turn into electricity though at what a price. Didn't we used to burn cheap, local coal and make sparks cheaply that way? Now we burn anything but coal and that is considered fine and proper (but it's damned expensive; not to say stupid), ah but the greenie bumpykins are happier; they are never happy as such just less unhappy. Maybe we could burn them and increase the sum of human happiness ...
I was going to look up a load of stuff about this place but it's an incinerator and frankly it bores me rigid but fortunately I find someone has already written a piece a few years back so you can (should you want on a slow rainy day) go look at this and I can just go think of something nice like blowing up Parliament with gunpowder ... drat it's no longer sitting.

Monday, 4 November 2019

And quiet flows the Don

Here's the river we've been trailing all the way up to Sheffield. The Don was once a jet-black flowing cess pit of pollution but since the 1970s it's been cleaned up and now salmon and other fishes spawn and thrive in its rushing waters.That's a nice little success story that's no-body shouts about for some odd reason.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Masbrough and Millmoor: nothing to see here ...

As our train slowly drags its weary way up the Don valley we pass through what was once the dark Satanic mills country of south Yorkshire; a place of coal mines, iron works and heavy engineering that once led the world but is now a land  struggling to find a use for itself. I doubt Sir Walter Scott ever ventured up here to find romantic inspiration for his twaddle tales of derring-do ... So here in Rotherham, a place that has know better times, is Masbrough or Masborough (depending on who is doing the spelling, I favour leaving out the 'o'; I don't pronounce it so it's not there ... it is said that Middlesbrough, a town near to where I was born, is so because the Town Clerk couldn't spell ... But I'm digressing again)  where was I? oh yes, Masbrough, a suburb of Rotherham just across the river, comes to us as a passing, fleeting view of an old unwanted station. This was once the main station for Rotherham, from the 1840s until the mid 1980s.  All we have now is an unused platform and some railway buildings which I read are now a restaurant but it was once a thriving, busy station, you can read more here. The station's last use was for 'football specials' which leads us neatly onto the next picture ...

This is a really bad picture of  Millmoor football stadium once home to various Rotherham football clubs over the years until Rotherham United were thrown out for not paying the rent a few years ago. The place, I read, is the home of Westfield United of The Bud Evans BD U18 Division 5 which is quite possibly the least exciting piece of information I've ever found out in my entire life... a paper ran a piece on the place should you need cheering up ...

Saturday, 2 November 2019


At fifty or so miles an hour this is about as much of Conisbrough as I manged to spot from the train on our way to Sheffield the other day. Still it's enough, I think. I've been trying to find out something about this place and well, here goes. The castle, you've noticed the castle I take it, big old Norman keep, recently reroofed and famed as the inspirational source for Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. He called the place Coningsburgh so no-one would know ... I admit I've never read the book, (who reads that stuff these days?) but as a child I was suitable appalled by Roger Moore's acting in the TV series ... 
Erm what else? Oh yes; Kilner jars originated here but went bust way back in 1937. There was an Earth Centre I recall it was some sort millennium thing (there was a great madness about the land at that time) consisting of a big hole in the ground or former colliery or former glass works (Kilner's Works? I dont know or care much. It's all a bad memory best forgotten)  into which money (>£41 million!! as I say madness was stalking the country) was poured à la Maynard Keynes. It had an ecological theme that, quite naturally, failed to appeal and no-one could be bothered to visit so it went bust and is now a housing estate I hear. There's also Archers Way which once had another, sillier name but you can search for that yourself. 
I'm sure Conisbrough is a nice place. It certainly has a very long history, the Old English Cyningesburh was recorded back in 1000, and if I had the time and inclination I could tell more ... it's just that we went through at fifty miles an hour and it's gone now...

Friday, 1 November 2019

A River Runs Through It

The theme for the City Daily Photo's start of the month shindig is 'brown'. Since there runs a big streak of glorious brown stuff right through the heart of town what else could I post other than another view of the river. As ever it's a symphony of browns. The river is empty now and rarely used, you know it's bad when they decide to turn the old dry docks on the right into a heritage feature; mind you I said they should do that years ago ...