My inspiration for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week comes from two contrasting signs we spotted on a family summer ramble along the Waskerley Way in County Durham, which forms part of the C2C long distance cycle path.
My first ‘sign’ is an old lichen-encrusted and weathered stone marker, bearing the letters SDR – the initials standing for Stockton & Darlington Railway. Synonymous with the Victorian railway engineers, George and Robert Stephenson, the Stockton & Darlington Railway was the first railway in the world to operate steam locomotives for passenger transport. However, this branch of the line opened on 4th July 1859 and carried mainly iron ore for use in the nearby Consett Ironworks.
My second sign is cast in iron and was designed and produced as one of the Millenium Mileposts to celebrate the creation of the National Cycle Network here in the UK. The Millenium Mileposts were sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland.
This elevated view of Newcastle upon Tyne’s Central Station is one of several panoramas that can be enjoyed if you are sprightly enough to climb the many stone steps and spiral staircases to the rooftop of Newcastle’s medieval Castle Keep.
For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week we are looking at large subjects. ‘Large’ is a relative term. To appreciate the scale of a subject, we have to look at size compared to something else. The large subjects I have chosen from either the built or natural landscape are all quite substantial … at least compared to a human.
This medieval manor house was three storeys high and even the remaining ruins are quite impressive. In this image, you can see the scale of the building compared to the oak tree immediately behind it.
This Victorian railway bridge has been built very tall to accomodate the contours of the ground here on the banks of the River Derwent, so that the railway could be constructed on a given level. You can see the scale of the bridge compared to my son who is walking underneath it.
The Broad Oak gives its name to the farm on which the tree stands and what a magnificent ancient oak tree it is too. The scale of the tree can be deduced from the other trees and bushes in its vicinity.
Whitburn windmill is a restored 18th century flour mill and now it towers above the new housing nearby.
Living in a landscape of rivers and old railways means we have lots of bridges in our area. Here are some of my favourite bridge pictures that I’ve previously featured on my blog – from Tyneside icons to forgotten relics – for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.
A trip to Sunderland is not complete for our family without a visit to Sunderland Winter Gardens and Mowbray Park.
The “Winter Gardens” is really an absolutely enormous greenhouse, full of exotic plants such as banana plants and pitcher plants that you’d normally find in a tropical rainforest. It’s probably hardly surprising that in this mini rainforest, water features are important. One of our favourite water features is this stainless steel fountain. The water cascades down the surface of the tall steel tower, making wonderful wave patterns and catching the light as it flows.
Right outside of Sunderland Winter Gardens is Mowbray Park, a lovely old-fashioned municipal park, complete with a duck pond and this rather marvelous fountain. I love the way my son has captured the falling water in this shot.
I see this sign every time I travel through the bus station at Gateshead Interchange. It always makes me smile 🙂
We have many public artworks in our area – in the town centre, along the cycle path by the river, and even in our local woods – but this is the only one that seems to require a sign to discourage any adventurous types from climbing on it!
Our family’s home education journey has taken us to many events over the years. One type of event that has always proved very popular with our boys is Living History. Here in North East England, the Romans, the Vikings, and the English Civil Wars have all played their significant parts in our local history.
We have enjoyed some wonderful learning opportunities at Living History days at museums and Roman forts around the North East. We’ve met people dressed in authentic costumes of the era and learned all about the lives of the people they represent. As a parent, I have found this kind of ‘hands on’ approach has really brought the history alive for our boys. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week on the topic of ‘Events’, I thought I’d share with you a few photos of some of these Living History events.
That’s my young gladiator, second from the right 😉
Another thing we have found with the participants on Living History days, is their generosity with their time and knowledge. We talked to this lady for ages about her Viking tablet weaving. It was fascinating to see how the different patterns were made.
Our boys took a close interest in how to load a musket at this English Civil War living history event held at the Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend in Summer 2010. Later in the same Summer we saw muskets and Civil War artillery in action at the re-enactment of the Battle of Hylton Castle.
Sunderland’s Hylton Castle was the scene of this important English Civil War battle in March 1664. The rivalry between the North East cities of Newcastle and Sunderland is legendary, especially in terms of football. Back in 1644, things were no different! Newcastle supported the Royalists and Sunderland were on the side of the Parliamentarians.
The Parliamentarians really needed to win the Battle of Hylton Castle to keep the port of Sunderland out of Royalist hands. The Parliamentarians did win which meant the port of Sunderland was also able to continue to supply their allies, the Scottish Covenanters, which in turn meant that the Scottish Covenanters were properly supplied for the pivotal Battle of Marston Moor on 2nd July 1644 – the largest battle ever to take place on English soil.
This large-scale re-enactment was organised by the Sealed Knot re-enactment group and a very dramatic battle it was too, with musketeers, pikemen and field artillery. The armies marched to the beat of their drums. The smell of gun smoke filled the air as the musketeers lined up and fired off their muskets and the field cannons were loaded. “Have a care!” they called out, before,”Boom!” the cannons were fired off too. The sturdy pikemen in their steel helmets clashed pikes in noisy groups on the battle field. The ‘injured’ were tended by the female camp followers.
As well as the battle re-enactment itself, there was also a large living history encampment with demonstrations of food, entertainments and various skills and crafts of the time. We spent the whole day at this event, exploring the living history encampment, watching the dramatic battle and soaking up the atmosphere among the crowds of people who had come along to experience the Battle of Hylton Castle.
As a keen countryside footpath explorer, I have climbed over many stiles in my life. Most of them tend to be of the wooden rickety type. But I think this one we found a couple of Summers ago at Whitburn is magnificent … and definitely the most sturdily built one I have ever traversed! There was no need to perch precariously on the top of this fine sandstone edifice. I was able to stand atop and gaze out across the meadow to the North Sea beyond, completely without any risk of the stile giving way beneath me!
Regular visitors to my blog may have seen my photo of the view looking down from the top of Newcastle’s Norman Castle Keep for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge last week. This time we are looking up the steep stone main steps to the ‘front door’ of the Castle Keep. Can you spot the silhouettes of our two boys in the dark doorway? 😀
When are outdoor stone steps called ‘stairs’? When they lead down the steep slope from the old medieval town onto Newcastle’s Quayside. There are several sets of ‘stairs’ in this vicinity. My two photos show the Castle Stairs and the Long Stairs (known in Newcastle’s Geordie dialect as the ‘Lang Stairs’). The Castle Stairs and the Long Stairs between them lead from the Castle Keep right down to the Quayside.
Another set of stairs that lead from the Castle grounds is the more oddly-named ‘Dog Leap Stairs’. Apparently ‘Dog Leap’ is an historical reference to ‘a narrow slip of ground between houses’. This set of stairs has two claims to fame. Firstly, according to local legend, when the well-to-do Bessie Surtees eloped with the coal merchant’s son, John Scott (later to become Lord Chancellor of England) in 1772, they escaped on horseback up the Dog Leap Stairs. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have a photo of these stairs, but if you can imagine, this is a long set of steep, stone steps – on horseback? That sounds as if it would be a hair-raising experience! The Dog Leap Stairs are also mentioned in the song ‘Down to the Waterline’ by the band, Dire Straits.
At the foot of the Long Stairs is one of the oldest buildings in Newcastle. This timber-framed building dates from the 15th century. In the 19th century it was owned by a family called ‘Cooper’ and was an actual cooperage (barrel-making!). It retained the name, “The Cooperage”, but I knew it as a quaint old public house in the closing decades of last century. The pub closed down in 2009 and it seems, sadly, the building is no longer in use.
This was the chosen location for early settlements because of its defensive position high above the River Tyne – the Roman fort at Pons Aelius, an Anglo Saxon settlement and the original Norman motte and bailey castle built by Robert Curthose all occupied this site at different times. The medieval Castle Keep still stands guard on this ancient vantage point today.
I chose this image because I think of this spot as the starting point for the development of the whole of the City of Newcastle. Modern day visitors can climb to the roof of the Castle Keep and look out right across the city, just as medieval knights and soldiers in the English Civil Wars would have done in the past. The views have changed a lot, of course. However nowadays, visitors can enjoy the cityscape and spot local landmarks rather than worrying about the approaching Scottish armies 🙂
Nikolaus Pevsner, the eminent 20th century architectural historian, described Newcastle’s Grey Street as “one of the finest streets in England”. Grey Street is named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey. That’s the same Earl Grey who gives his name to the famous fragrant tea. However, the Monument to Earl Grey that heads Grey Street recalls something even more important than tea! It celebrates Earl Grey’s Great Reform Act of 1832 that gave Britain’s electoral system a good shake up, gave more men the vote and saw an end to the ‘rotten boroughs’ … well, at least it was a move in the right direction 😉
Newcastle’s 19th century grandeur, that is so beautifully displayed in Grey Street, was significantly influenced by two men whose names are synonymous with the elegant classical architecture that still graces the contemporary city, Richard Grainger and John Dobson. Unsurprisingly, both men have Newcastle streets named after them.
This photo shows Grainger Street, which also leads up to Grey’s Monument. Richard Grainger was the son of a quayside porter, and set himself up as a builder and developer. With the help of his wife’s wealthy family, he built up a very successful business. In 1831, it was he who created the vision of an elegant and fashionable new street, Grey Street, right in the heart of the city centre. You can read more about Richard Grainger’s vision for Newcastle’s Grey Street on this blog post by Tyne & Wear Museums service.
John Dobson Street
Here’s a contrast of architecture on John Dobson Street (though neither of these buildings were designed by John Dobson!) – Newcastle’s 21st century Central Library building and the early 20th century Laing Art Gallery, built in the Baroque style. John Dobson was a 19th century Newcastle architect and a contemporary of Richard Grainger. Dobson had trained in London and returned to Newcastle with many fashionable ideas from the capital. Working together, John Dobson and Richard Grainger put their elegant stamp on new developments in Victorian Newcastle.
The Tyne Bridge
No trip to Newcastle would be complete without a view of our world-famous Tyne Bridge. To close my entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, I have chosen this photo taken looking west along Newcastle’s historic Quayside. You can see four of the seven bridges that span the river within a short distance of each other along the city centre stretch of the River Tyne. Reading from the river surface upwards, we have:
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Newcastle cityscapes. The links in the text will take you to more information and photos about the people and places mentioned, either in previous blog posts of mine or via other resources I have found.
Last week I posted about the European Parliament’s crazy idea that would have outlawed much of street, travel and architectural photography in Europe.
I can now happily report that there was an outbreak of common sense yesterday at the European Parliament.
“After handing over the half a million signatures on Wednesday, the parliament voted yesterday with a big majority against any restriction of the Freedom of Panorama!” Nico Trinkhaus on Change.org
Julia Reda, the MEP who was supporting our campaign to save Freedom of Panorama from Euro-meddling, was overwhelmed by the response to the petition. She said:
“the petition has changed the debate in the parliament considerably and a lot of the parliamentary groups that originally voted for a restriction of Freedom of Panorama are clearly changing their mind about this.” Julia Reda MEP
The change of heart in the European Parliament was so complete, the French MEP, Jean-Marie Cavada, who had introduced the proposed legislation amendment to end our Freedom of Panorama, even asked members to vote against his own amendment!
Commissioner Günther Oettinger of the European Commission said that they “don’t intend to restrict the Freedom of Panorama”. He said:
“what you can see with your eyes as a citizen, on public places and streets in Europe, you should be allowed to also photograph it with a camera.” Günther Oettinger of the European Commission
So that’s a successful outcome? Almost. This outcome was certainly a win for people power, but we must not forget the whole reason Julia Reda initially brought up the issue of Freedom of Panorama for photographers in Europe. France, Italy and other European countries still do not currently enjoy Freedom of Panorama. It is hoped the European Commission will now take on board the strength of feeling on this issue and look at bringing Freedom of Panorama to all European countries.
Thank you to everyone who supported our Freedom of Panorama! 😀