Thursday, 9 January 2020

Ghost signs (139): Chester, platform 3

This ghost sign is an intriguing fragment, visible between the posters on platform 3 of Chester railway station. It seems to have directed passengers to ... somethingS AND TRAINS. The temptation to remove that poster is strong! 

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Cap Frehel in winter

One of the finest places in Brittany is Cap Frehel, a peninsula on the Emerald Coast. The rugged coastline is watched over by two lighthouses and protected by Fort la Latte. Today, the only invaders are tourists but in the Second World War it was an important radar station; few traces now remain except a few blockhouses which are now home to bats.

More enduring is the Chapelle du Vieux Bourg, formerly the parish church of Pléhérel, which stands on top of cliffs 40 metres above a sandy bay. Parts of it date back 800 years, although major work was done in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Its location is a bit of a mystery, as it was never in the heart of the parish. Theories include that Saint Herel had a hermitage in a nearby (and now-disappeared) cave, or that it was an important place of worship under the Romans. In 1870, a new parish church was dedicated at its centre and this building demoted to chapel. Its dilapidated nave was demolished, but worship continued here and today it's in good condition.

The moorland's vegetation is shaped by the poor soil and powerful winds. Its charms are obvious in summer, when the heather and gorse bloom with flowers, but even in winter it is beautiful. 

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Deptford Ragged School archive

Deptford Ragged School was founded 175 years ago, changed its name to the Princess Louise Institute over a century ago, and still survives as the Deptford Ragged Trust and a hall on Frankham Street. Amazingly, its archives have been kept through all that time - and are now being catalogued and recorded. 

The volunteer archivists are led by museum professional Dr Katharine Alston, and the catalogue is accessible on eHive. This project is revealing all sorts of stories from Deptford's history, and the group displayed some of the incredible contents for September's Heritage Open Days. Here are a few pictures from my visit, but do explore the project's own image gallery and Instagram to see much more. 

The school was one of the earliest ragged schools, dedicated to eduating the urban poor. It opened in the founding year of the Earl of Shaftesbury's London Ragged School Union and began above a cowshed. By 1862, it occupied a disused chapel where average attendance at the day school was 160, plus 64 at the night school and 140 at Sunday school. The state provision of elementary education from 1870 saw ragged school attendance decline, but the Deptford organisation did more than educate children - it also provided outings and activities, as well as classes for adults. The archive is full of vivid evidence of its continuing importance in the lives of Deptford residents. 

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Fake London facts

There is only one street in Britain where you drive on the right. It's Savoy Court, the short and taxi-filled road from Strand to the front door of the Savoy Hotel. 

- False.

This favourite bit of trivia is a myth. It has been debunked again and again, but refuses to disappear. Savoy Court is not a public thoroughfare (it's privately owned by the hotel), and is not the only one where vehicles drive on the right. Hammersmith Bus Station and various car parks share this 'unique' quirk.

So, over to you - what's your favourite fake London fact?

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