Kirkstead Abbey, Lincolnshire, England.

The Cistercian Abbey at Kirkstead was founded in 1139 by Hugh Brito (Hugh son of Eudo), lord of Tattershall. Cistercian monks and nuns were founded in 1098 and followed the rules of St Benedict (obedience, poverty and chastity). They are often referred to as the ‘White Monks’ because of the light coloured robes that they wore, as opposed to the Benedictines who wore black robes.

In 1536, 17 of the monks were involved in the Lincolnshire Rising. A protest against Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the monasteries. The abbot supported the insurgents and as a consequence, he and 3 monks were executed, and the abbey destroyed.

Little remains of the Abbey, below are a few images from my visit.

The abbey is about 100 meters from the road, I parked at the gate and walked down the dirt track to the abbey.

Barlings Abbey, Lincolnshire

Barlings Abbey in Lincolnshire is the remains of a Premonstratensian Abbey. It was founded in around 1154 by a local landowner named Ralph de Haya, with the first canons coming from Newsham Abbey near Grimsby.

After the Lincolnshire Rising of 1536, the abbot and 6 of the canons were executed. The Lincolnshire Rising was a protest against Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the monasteries.  At the time, Barlings was classed as one of the greater abbeys as it had an income of over £200 and was one of the wealthiest houses in Lincolnshire.

The abbey was suppressed in 1537, lead was stripped from the roof and the Abbots books and other possessions were removed and sold.  The abbey fell into ruin with much of the stonework being used to build local farm houses.

Today, not much remains, below are a few images from my recent visit.

Barnsley Main Colliery

May 2020.

As the lock down has now eased slightly, it is nice to be able to get out a little more. Many places are still closed, but there are a few places that are un-manned that you are free to walk around, maintaining social distancing of course. My trip out took me to Barnsley Main Colliery. In 1862, the colliery was producing 180,000 tons of coal. The pit closed in 1991, the site was cleared apart from the headgear and buildings, which were to be preserved as a memory of the history and heritage of the areas mining past. As well as a way to remember men that tragically lost their lives in the Oaks Colliery disaster.

The Oaks Colliery at Hoyle Mill suffered a series of explosions in December of 1866, where 361 people, including rescue workers were killed. However, researchers today suggest that number is closer to 380. It is still to this day the worst mining disaster in England.

The colliery is cared for by the Barnsley Main Heritage group. https://barnsleymainheritagegroup.com/ There is a small car park but it is not always open if there are no volunteers on site. I recommend parking at the nearby Abbey Lane car park and walking to the colliery from there.

Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, Oro Grande, CA.

Located along Route 66 near Oro Grande, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is definitely one of those quirky roadside attractions that are uniquely American. Being from the UK, we just do not have places like this and these are the types of places as to why I love visiting the USA. The ranch was the home of Elmer Long who inherited his fathers bottle collection and just kept on collecting, creating wonderful sculptures from the many different bottles that he has acquired. Sadly Elmer passed away in 2019. As you walk amongst the bottles, you hear chimes and noises from the bottles and objects that make up the unique bottle trees. I love Elmer’s and have been twice, with another trip planned later in 2020, hopefully!

It is free to walk around the bottle tree ranch, there is a donation box where visitors can leave a contribution to keep the ranch open.

Below are just a few of the many photographs that I took at Elmer’s. Thanks for reading.

Deserted Streets of Sheffield.

April 2020.

At the end of March 2020, it was reported that my home town of Sheffield, England had the highest number of coronavirus cases outside of London.

When I read this news, a wave of panic came over me. Like most other people, I had only been leaving the house for shopping and exercise, but after reading this, I did not want to go anywhere. The Director of Public Health for Sheffield stated that the numbers in Sheffield were so high because Sheffield was doing more testing than other areas.

After the initial panic had gone away slightly, I decided that I would try and document some of the strange times that globally we are all facing and so, when I went out for my daily exercise, I took along my phone in order to capture some images and video clips.

Thanks for reading.

Manzanar War Relocation Center.

I have visited the Owens Valley on Vacation a number of times. My first visit was back in 2012. However, it was not until 2017, that I finally visited Manzanar, after driving past it numerous times.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the U.S. government began making plans for the incarceration of Japanese-Americans. On the 19th of February, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers. The order resulted in over 100,000 Japanese-Americans being removed from their homes and placed in internment camps.

The camps were located in isolated areas where the weather could be burning hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. People had to leave behind their businesses and possessions, taking only what they could carry.

After my visit to Manzanar, I seemed to come across lots of information relating to the persecution of Japanese Americans during World War II. I think after visiting Manzanar and the emotional effect that it had on me, things just caught my eye more. For example, I was watching a documentary on art in San Francisco, and I learnt about the photographs that Dorothea Lange captured of Japanese-Americans, in the early 1940s. Then whilst doing some research for a paper that I was writing for my MA on the California Water Wars, I came across a fascinating book by Karen Piper called Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. In short, the book tells the story about how the people and environment of the Owens Valley have suffered since the Los Angeles Aqueduct was built to divert the course of the Owens River in 1913. The fugitive dust from the drying of the Owens Lake caused toxic dust storms in the valley where Manzanar is located, meaning Manzanar detainees were subject to this dust. The dust has been known to cause disease and death among the people that inhaled it. Not only were these poor people forcefully removed from their homes, but they were also subject to toxic dust, from which they could not escape (n.b. at the time Manzanar was in operation, no-one knew the dust was toxic).

By November of 1945, Manzanar was deserted, the war had ended and the Japanese-Americans returned home. However, some people had no home to go back to. It took another 44 years for the US government to apologise to those interned at Manzanar. Camp survivors were given $20,000 by president Ronald Reagan.

Monument marking the cemetery. It was built by internees in 1943.

Prior to the drying of the Owens Lake, the area where Manzanar is located was full of beautiful fruit orchards. The Owens River provided ample irrigation for the growing of produce and the area was named after the Spanish word for apple, ‘manzana’.

Guard Tower
Basketball Court

After the war ended, Manzanar was razed. However, many of the buildings were sold to local residents of the Owens Valley. When Manzanar was preparing to be opened to the public, the NPS attempted to relocate the original buildings. However, they did not have much luck. They did manage to reclaim a building that was at Bishop airport, but many of the buildings that are there today are replicas.

Thanks for reading :).

Around Sheffield

I had planned on visiting Brodsworth Hall this weekend, but with the recent floods and some roads still being closed off, I decided to leave that trip for another time. It was a beautiful November morning and I didn’t feel like driving anywhere, so I picked up my camera and had a walk around Sheffield. This is something I have been meaning to do for a while but I have never got around to doing it. I suppose you take things from granted when they are on your doorstep and as I was walking around, I definitely felt a sense of regret that I had not done this years ago as there are many places that are long gone. I think I will do some more posts on Sheffield at a later date as there are many other places that I want to photograph. But for now, below are a few pictures that I took on Sunday, along with a bit of history about the content of the pictures. I welcome people to correct any errors I may have made, or add any information they may wish in the comments.

Bishops’ House, Meersbrook Park.

Bishops’ House is a Grade II Listed farmhouse located in Meersbrook Park. It is open to the public on weekends only from 10am until 4pm. The house was built in around 1500 and was the home of the Blyth family until 1753.

Meerssbrook Hall

There isn’t a great deal of information on the internet about Meersbrook Hall and unfortunately I don’t have the time to do more detailed research as my Masters dissertation is looming. The Friends of Meersbrook Hall have a great website though, with lots of information and history about the hall. The date of construction seems to be unknown but the website states that, “the earliest documentary evidence of a building at Meersbrook Hall are the notes of William Fairbank, of alterations he made to an existing building in 1759″. A plan of the estate in 1770 shows a single building on the site and in 1819, an extension was added. Meersbrook Hall housed the Ruskin Collection from 1890 to 1953.

A view of the city from Meersbrook Park.
Pinder Bros Ltd, Sheaf Plate Works, Arundel St.

Pinder Brothers have been in operation since 1877, and the company has been run by seven successive generations of the Pinder family for over 140 years. They moved to the above location at Sheaf Plate Works on the corner of Arundel Street and Matilda Street in 1939. There is a more detailed history on their website. I think it’s wonderful that they are still a thriving business and I love that the building probably looks much the same as it did in 1939. The building is also home to other craftsmen and women, who rent out spaces for their trades. There is an article that the Star newspaper did back in 2017, which you can read by clicking here.

Biggins Bros Ltd, building location is on the corner of Arundel Street and Newton Lane.

Sadly, this building looks like it’s derelict. I can’t find a lot of information on Biggins Bros. but the sign on the building states they were established in 1856 and were Electro Platers. From what I can gather, they went out of business in the year 2000.

The Rutland Arms, 86 Brown St, was built in 1936.
Butcher Works, Arundel Street.

Butcher Works is a former cutlery works located on Arundel Street. The works were originally founded by William and Samuel Butcher, who began manufacturing steel in 1819. Today, the buildings are Grade II listed for their architectural and historical significance within the city of Sheffield. The buildings were refurbished as flats and workshops partly due to a £1.2 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There is a nice cafe located in the works called Fusion Organic Cafe.

More information can be found here https://www.wessexarch.co.uk/our-work/butcher-wheel-sheffield
The old Heeley Railway Station, Chesterfield Road.

I wish Heeley still had a station as it’s just down the road from my house, I believe that this building is now a scrap yard. The station originally opened in 1870, serving the Midland Railway’s line between Chesterfield and Sheffield. It closed on the 10th of June in 1968.

The main entrance to Sheffield Town Hall. The building opened in 1897.
Green Police Box, Surrey St.

This Grade II Listed Police Box is located outside the Town Hall and was installed in 1928, as part of 120 police boxes in Sheffield. It is the only one that remains in Sheffield. More information can be found by clicking here.

The O2 Academy, Arundel Gate, formerly the Roxy. I always wondered what became of the Roxy Disco sign that used to be on the side of the building.

I think this is one of those buildings, like Park Hill Flats that you either love or hate. This may not be the most attractive of buildings, but personally i’m glad it’s still here as much of the old Sheffield is disappearing. In the 1980s and 90s, the Roxy was the biggest club in Sheffield. I remember as a kid seeing the glowing red sign on the side of the building. I’ve not been able to find a lot of history on the building itself, but at one time it was owned by a guy called Barry Noble, who advertised the club with the catchphrase “is that alright fyuzs”. Noble owned other amusement arcades and nightclubs, including the Astoria in Nottingham. He allegedly died in 1985, but there seems to be some ambiguity surrounding his death. The Roxy attracted performers such as Kyle Minogue, Jason Donovan and New Order, who played there in 1987. It was also the location of the TV show, Hitman and Her from 1988 until 1992. The Roxy remained a club until 1998-1999 (I can’t find the exact date). Later in it’s life, the building was home to St. Thomas’ Anglican Church before it became the Carling Academy in 2008, and then the O2 Academy when Telefónica Europe became the new sponsor of all Academy venues.

Statue of Poet, James Montgomery by the Cathedral.

James Montgomery was born in Scotland in 1771, but moved to Sheffield in 1792. He made his name as a poet and achieved some fame with The Wanderer of Switzerland, which he wrote in 1806. He died aged 82 in 1854. I have to admit, I had never heard of him until I took this photograph. If you want more information on James, you can find it by clicking here.

Grade II Listed Buildings at Paradise Square.

I always associate Paradise Square with solicitors offices (most of the buildings are office spaces today), but at one time it a place where people came to hear preachers speak or for public meetings. The Sheffield Society for Constitutional Information formed here in 1791 and it was said to be the only square where all major political meetings of all types were held. More information can be found by clicking here and here.

Physician David Daniel Davis, lived at No. 12, Paradise Square from 1803 to 1812.
West Bar Fire Station.

The West Bar Station was built in 1900, and was home to the police, fire and ambulance services. Today, the building is home to the National Emergency Services Museum. I will do a separate post on this museum sometime in the future.

Woollens for Signs
Woollens for Signs
Woollens for Signs

I’ve seen this building many times as you can’t miss the striking signs located on the side, but I have never looked into what it was. From what I have found, Woollen & Co Ltd was established by sign-writer, James Woollen and lithographic printer, Frederick Ibbotson in 1883. The company moved from this location in 2005, and ceased trading in 2008. I have found a Sheffield company that are trading under the name Woollen Group (website here). Their website states they are formerly Woollen Signs Ltd, but were only established in 2007 so i’m unsure as to if they are the same company. Personally, I think it would be great for this building to be refurbished, keeping the wonderful signage on the front in respect of the past.

The Chimney House, Kelham Island is now an events venue. I can’t seem to find much about this building, If you have any info, let me know in the comments.
Alfred Beckett & Sons Ltd. Brooklyn Works is now residential apartments and offices. The building was declared Grade II Listed in 1985.

Alfred Beckett & Sons Ltd were established in 1839, and were a saw file and tool manufacturers located at Brooklyn Works on Green Lane. In 1967, Alfred Beckett & Sons was purchased by Tempered Spring Company Ltd. Tempered Spring was founded in 1895, as a subsidiary of Laycocks. It seems that they dissolved in 2015.

Alfred Beckett & Sons Ltd. Brooklyn Works is now residential apartments and offices. The building was declared Grade II Listed in 1985.
Alfred Beckett & Sons Ltd. Brooklyn Works is now residential apartments and offices. The building was declared Grade II Listed in 1985.
Wharncliffe Works, Green Lane. Grade II Listed.

Wharncliffe Works was built in c1861 for Steel & Garland, manufacturers of stoves, grates and fenders. If you want to read more, click here.

Sign for Wilson & Murray at Wharncliffe Works.
George Barnsley & Sons Ltd, Cornish Works.
George Barnsley & Sons Ltd, Cornish Works.

George Barnsley & Sons were founded in 1836. They moved to Cornish Works (pictured above) in 1849. Their main focus was the manufacture of files and cutting tools for leather workers and associated industries. Today, they are still in operation, however, they have moved from Cornish Works to Mowbray Street and are a subsidiary of Mowbray Manufacturing Co Ltd. When I walked past Cornish Works it looks like the building is currently being refurbished. I hope they keep the old signage. There are some amazing pictures on the website Behind Closed Doors of the inside the building.

A H Smith & Co. LtdDon Brewery, 4 Penistone Road, Sheffield

All that remains of Don Brewery is this sign. A H Smith & Co. Ltd were founded in 1828. They were acquired by Tennant Brothers Ltd of Exchange Brewery in 1915. A H Smith closed in 1917 and their buildings were sadly demolished in 1994. Tennant Brothers Ltd were Acquired by Whitbread & Co. Ltd in 1961. However, they closed the brewery in 1993. The Exchange Brewery buildings remain, but have been mostly converted to offices.

Paul Waplington ‘Steelworker’, 1986.
W.W. Laycock & Sons Limited. Suffolk Road

W.W. Laycock & Sons Ltd. were silversmiths and suppliers to the metal finishing trade. From what I can gather, they are still operational, but I don’t think they are still in Sheffield. The building above on Suffolk Road is now the premises of Student Roost. There are some great images of what the building looked like before it was refurbished here.

Thomas Boulsover Memorial outside of the Library.

Thomas Boulsover (1705 – 1788) was a Sheffield Cutler who famously stumbled upon a process that became known as Old Sheffield Plate in 1743. He served an apprentice as a cutler until 1726, and in around 1740, set up his own workshop on the corner of Tudor Street and Surrey Street. There is another memorial to Thomas at Whiteley Woods on the hillside between Wire Mill Dam.  

Thanks for reading. Please add any more information, or correct any errors that I may have made in the comments :).

Secret Sheffield

Conisbrough Castle,South Yorkshire.

Conisbrough Castle is located just outside Rotherham in South Yorkshire and is managed by English Heritage. The original Castle was built by William De Warenne, the 1st Earl of Surrey who was the son-in-law of William the 1st (William the Conqueror) sometime in the 11th century . The castle passed to Isabel De Warenne in 1147, and the keep was built by her husband, Hamelin Plantagenet in the late 1170s or 1180s. The castle inspired Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe, published in 1819.

I did not visit, but the nearby Anglican Church of St Peter has stood in Conisborough since the 8th century, and is the oldest standing building in South Yorkshire.

Personally, I always prefer English Heritage places over National Trust, I think it’s because I find ruins more fascinating. I really enjoyed Conisbrough Castle. However, there are a few things to bear in mind if you plan on visiting. Firstly, the parking. I usually look in advance before I travel on what the situation is with parking, but this time I did not. When I arrived at the castle the signposts send you into a privately run car park. I parked up and got my little pot of car park change from my glove box that I keep for such situations. I went to find the machine, but there was not one in sight. The car park requires you to either download an app, or to call and pay by card. Bear in mind that parking is 50p an hour. I thought this seemed like a lot of faff for 50p. I tried scanning the QR code, like the sign said, but nothing happened, so I drove out of the car park and parked on a nearby street. I don’t usually like parking in residential areas as I’ve had bad experiences with people who don’t like you parking in front of their houses, even though you can park where you like as long as there are no parking restrictions, or you aren’t blocking anyone ones access, etc. But, often people get real funny about parking. Anyway, there is plenty of free on street parking, that isn’t outside anyone’s house, if you don’t mind a short walk to the castle. If the car park was English Heritage, I would have paid the money, but as it was a private company, I did not bother. I think this is a bad call from English Heritage. If people don’t have a mobile with them, I know my parents don’t always take their mobile phone out with them, how are you meant to pay? Or if you don’t take your bank card out with you, you can’t pay as there is no machine.

The other thing to consider at Conisbrough is that there are narrow stone stairs in the castle with no lift. If you are disabled or have push chairs, you might not be able to access the castle, but I would double check with English Heritage before you go.

Some of the winding stairs inside the castle.
The parking situation.

Thanks for reading.

Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire.

Tattershall castle is located in Lincolnshire, close to the beautiful Woodhall Spa.  I always like visiting this area as there is plenty of heritage, especially if you like the history of the RAF. 

The original castle was built by Robert de Tateshale in around 1231. He was granted a licence by King Henry III in order to build a crenelated manor house.  The castle was then passed to Ralph, 3rd Baron Cromwell sometime in the fifteenth century.  Ralph became Lord Cromwell in 1433, and remodeled the manor into a more lavish home.  It is said that half a million bricks were made at Edlington Moor Brickworks for the castle re-model.

Cromwell died, childless in 1456. I have found two versions of what happened to the castle after his death. One is that it was passed to his niece, Joan Bouchier. When Joan’s husband, Humphrey Bourchier changed sides during the war of the roses from the Yorkists to the Lancastrian cause, Yorkist King, Edward IV seized the castle on Bourchiers death. However, the National Trust website states that on Cromwells death, the castle passed into the Crown’s possession who subsequently granted it to loyal and familial subjects.

In 1573, the castle was purchased by Edward Clinton (Earl of Lincoln) and remained in their possession until 1693. It was then passed to the Fortescue family, who never lived at the castle and so let it decline. At one time, it was also used by farmers as a cattle shed.

In 1910, Tattershall and its contents were sold to a buyer in the USA (rumoured to be William Randolph Hearst). The sale included the contents which included the tapestries and fireplaces. However, in 1911, Lord Curzon purchased the castle and saved it from exportation and in August of 1914, the Castle was opened as a visitor attraction.  The castle became the property of the National Trust when Lord Curzon died in 1925. (The Curzon family home of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire is also property of the National Trust).

I visited the castle on Sunday the 27th of October. The castle had been decorated for Halloween as they had an event on for kids, which made it a little busy and noisy for my liking. There isn’t a great deal to see, you can do an audio tour if you want more information whilst you are walking around. If you are not a National Trust member, adult entry is £7.50 without gift aid. There is a small shop (the old gatehouse) selling the usual National Trust merchandise and small selection of cakes, overpriced sandwiches and hot drinks. I had a coffee and it wasn’t very nice if i’m honest.

My pictures did not turn out as good as I would have liked. The light was too bright and shadows too harsh. But I have done my best to edit them.

A view of the Holy Trinity Collegiate Church from one of the upper floors in the castle.
The Guardhouse and Holy Trinity Collegiate Church.
The Guardhouse, now the shop and castle entrance.
One of the huge fireplaces saved by Lord Curzon.
The ruins of the stable block with the castle in the background.
Graffiti inside the castle.
Some of the tapestries saved by Lord Curzon.
The castle roof (photograph taken with iPhone)
Tattershall Castle (photograph taken with iPhone)

Thanks for reading.

The Tatton Park Stars and Stripes American Car Show, Knutsford, Cheshire, England.

2019 was my fourth time to the Stars and Stripes American car show at Tatton Park. I’m not overly enthusiastic about cars in general, but I do like old America cars, especially from the 1950s and 1960s, and they make great photography subjects.

The show has been going for 30 years and is one of the biggest America car displays in the UK, with around 2,500 vehicles on display. There are also trade stands, mostly selling car parts, but there was a variety of other stalls, selling everything from clothing to tools.

Like many UK shows, the food choices were poor. No healthy options at all. There was a choice of burgers, fish and chips, Tex Mex and pulled pork sandwiches etc. There was also one coffee stand which was extremely overpriced as the cups were tiny.

Every year the Lone Star old west re-enactment group perform stories of the old west. We attended on the Saturday, the weather was pretty miserable in the morning, but by the afternoon it cleared up and was nice and sunny.

Lone Star old west re-enactment group
Lone Star old west re-enactment group
Lone Star old west re-enactment group
Lone Star old west re-enactment group

I couldn’t photograph everything, but here are a few of my favourite cars. Apologies, my car knowledge is limited, but I’ve done my best to identify what I can :).

1964 Ford Thunderbird
1970 Chevrolet Camaro
Pontiac Catalina
1955 Vauxhall Velox
Lincoln Continental
1957 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
1969 Dodge Charger
1969 Dodge Charger
1977 Lincoln Continental
1935 Ford Model 48
 Lincoln Continental
1956 Studebaker E Series Transtar
1960 Chevrolet Apache Pick-up Truck
1953 Ford F100
Chevrolet
1947 Dodge
Chevrolet
Chevrolet
SVS 546 1942 GMC CCKW 353 Cargo
1971 Cadillac Eldorado
1999 Chevrolet
Cadillac
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 429 Cobra Jet Four Speed
Ford ‘Hot Rod’ Coupe
1955 Ford F100
Dodge Charger
Chevrolet Bel Air
Pontiac
Dodge
Ford
Ford Mustangs
Trucks
Bikes
Chevrolet
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
Lincoln Continental Coupe
Pontiac GTO
Chevrolet Camaro Z28
1969 Ford
1959 Chevrolet Impala
1956 Chevrolet Bel Air
1958 Buick Super

Useful Information

The show is usually held over a Saturday and Sunday in early July, 09:30 – 16:00.

In 2019, adult entry was £9 and parking was £7 even if you are a National Trust member.