June 24, 2016

Round and round

1  Inspiration

Rotunda museum
This week for Five on Friday we're going to take a look at some round buildings. (Sounds a bit like Play School, doesn't it?  Sorry.)

We're starting with one that played a very important part in my life. As you can tell from the photo, it's a museum. In fact it's the first museum that I consciously remember visiting. It's in my home town of Scarborough and it's called The Rotunda.

It was set up to house the rock collection of one William "Strata" Smith, the man who drew the first geological map of Britain. He collected some 8,000 specimens, including numerous 'type' fossils (the ones used to define species for comparison with future finds) while studying the Yorkshire coast in the 1820s.

But it's the later, archaeological, collection that set me on course to become known as The History Anorak. Among the exhibits on show is a Bronze Age coffin, complete with skeleton, now known as Gristhorpe Man. In my innocence as a child I was fascinated by the fact that the 'man' seemed to be too big for the coffin displayed with him. This was actually a side effect of the way his skeleton had been reconstructed. The wiring at the joints had added a few millimetres between each of the bones, with the result that the finished body was about six inches taller than it would have been in life.  (Yes, I know I just mixed my measurements, but you can probably imagine them better this way.)

My fascination with the body led to a childhood interest in all things archaeological, and that later led to a degree in archaeological science. In turn that led to a job studying the history of the Midlands canal system, and eventually the History Anorak website and blogs, and you reading this!

2  Perspiration

Bottle kilns
Pictures two and three are of buildings associated with industry and, in particular, industries that need a lot of heat. Left is of a group of bottle kilns that can be found at the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke on Trent. It'll be familiar if you watched any of the Great British Pottery Throwdown. These huge chimneys are actually kilns. The pots to be fired are stacked inside. Delicate items are placed into big pots called saggars to protect them. Then a fire is laid inside the kiln and sealed in with bricks to bake the clay.

The photo on the right looks similar but is significantly different. It's a glass cone at Stourbridge in the West Midlands. Unlike potters, glassmakers have to be able to work on their material while it's still molten and pliable. So their kilns are created at the heart of a huge brick cone, but they are inside with it while it's lit. It's hot work, as visitors to Red House Cone Museum can feel for themselves. There's a resident glass blower who makes wonderful items that can then be bought in the museum shop.

3  Hydration

This building isn't a museum. It isn't round either, but it's close. Although it's no longer in use, it was originally a water tank. The keen-eyed among you, and anyone who's ever been there, will recognise the south coast town of Rye. You'll find it just below St Mary's Church. There's a plaque nearby that says it was completed in 1735. According to the British Water Tower Appreciation Society (yes, such a thing exists) it's not technically a water tower because the water isn't raised above the ground. The lower, brick portion stored water but the upper section possibly contained a pump to lift the water up. The street used to be called Pump Street, but it's now Church Square. And that upright bit to the left is a gauge to show the water level in the tank below.

4  Rotation

I've always thought I'd like to live in a mill, but what do you do with your furniture? It would never fit right along a curved wall, would it?

I've had a fascination with mills for years. I think I got it from my Dad. So whenever we visit somewhere with an interesting mill we have to stop by and take a closer look.

This wonder is on Anglesey in Wales, and I have to say it was one of the best places we found during that week's holiday. It's called Llynnon and there's also a couple of reconstructed Iron Age huts nearby.

The mill was built in 1775/6 when there would have been hundreds in Wales but is now the last remaining working mill in the country. It is classified as a tower mill, which means that the grinding machinery is held inside a stone tower and the cap turns so that the sails can be moved to face into the wind.  The tower is 9.3 metres tall, with four floors. It was used to grind corn, oats and barley.  It still makes flour that's used to make things on sale in the cafe.

5  Generation

And finally we have a more modern kind of round building. They aren't to everyone's taste but I find them quite attractive. I know they don't exactly fit in the countryside, but I find their lines elegant.

This one's at Ratcliffe on Soar in Nottinghamshire and I call it My Powerstation, because when I catch sight of it on a journey I know I'm nearly home. It's coal powered and was built in 1968.

They aren't popular. Greenpeace is against coal-based power generation because of its contribution to global warming, not to mention air pollution and health hazards. I prefer wind turbines, though they have some drawbacks and aren't popular with everyone. And there's now at least one solar farm within the area covered by this photo.

But I'm not going to get political. There will be enough of that today when the results of the EU referendum come out.

So don't get wound up about today's potential changes. Go over to see Amy at Love Made My Home and see what other fives people have drawn together this week.


  1. Great collection, thanks for sharing. I've always liked old round buildings. Unfortunately, the historical water towers are demolished now here with us.
    Enjoy your weekend

  2. Five great buildings, although personally I am not a fan of the power stations I find them quite an ugly blot on the landscape. I too love a windmill and go to one in Alford, Lincs on a regular basis to buy my porridge oats and flour, they also have a very nice tearoom. Have a great weekend.

  3. Oh such a fab post! I never would have thought that there would be so many round buildings to choose from, my favourites are windmills and oast houses. I love the play school reference too ha! Have a great weekend xx

  4. Great post! Love the Rotunda Museum at Scarborough and I adore windmills. Since we moved to Staffordshire I've grown fond of the bottle ovens too. The Great Pottery Throw Down was mostly filmed at the old Burgess and Leigh Factory at Middleport. I think there is going to be a second series as I've seen bits and bobs in the local press.

  5. Beautiful pictures. I love the bottle kilns. They are so unusual looking. I don't think I've ever seen one before. Thanks for sharing. You always write such interesting posts.

    Have a great weekend

  6. What fun! I loved this post ... love learning something new!

  7. Fascinating post. I remember the Scarborough Rotunda from holidays when I was small. The brick kilns are amazing, particular the skill it must have taken to build them long before our modern methods of construction.

  8. A lovely five. I have a fascination for round buildings too. But you are quite right , how would the furniture fit! B x

  9. My favorite is the Kilns. Thank you for sharing! Beautiful.

  10. I like wind power and am a big supporter of solar power. Solar is starting to catch on with larger panels now. If we decide to build a new home when we retire it's going to have solar power. And it would be a mill if it were practical as I've always been drawn to them, too. Enjoy your weekend!

  11. I love the look of that windmill. I too have always wanted to live in one but, yes, the curved walls might be a problem. I'd be willing to try it though.

  12. Great group of buildings, love museums of course, though I can't remember the first one I visited. Windmills are wonderful and we always go looking for them when we travel.

  13. Apart from all the historical and industrial applications, aren't the buildings wonderful shapes. I've been to Rye but didn't recognise the tank, how bad is that, we only went a couple of months back! :-)

  14. Your posts are full of interest. Round buildings are fascinating and you've shown ones with a variety of purposes. I like old mills.

  15. You got my attention from your first of five, because it was built as a museum for rocks. My room is in the 1945 built part of our house and it was used as a rock shop! Our fireplace reflects that interest in that it is embedded with split rocks. Thanks for sharing the interesting five round types of buildings.

  16. I love number 5. Just think - in a couple of thousand years, the people will be wondering, "What is this about?". Like a modern-day Stonehenge. And the marks made by coal might make them ponder whether human sacrifices were made here. No, I haven't been tipping the wine glass - just tired and giddy.

  17. I think us Brits can form a society for just about everything, love the idea of a water tower appreciation society!
    Anorak or not - I always enjoy your 5's.
    bon weekend

  18. What an interesting post. I really like your white mill. How lovely if I could walk around there. 9.3m tower is such tall!

  19. Fascinating buildings, thank you for sharing. I think the windmill is my favorite. It looks so different than the big wind mill farms we drive past sometimes.

  20. A great round up of roundness! If you had to list five round buildings off the top of your head it would be difficult, but they are obviously more common than you realise! I am sorry to be so late visiting, we had a minor domestic drama yesterday - nothing serious in the end, all ok - but I didn't get a change to do any blogging. Thank you so much for taking part in Five On Friday, I do appreciate it! Hope you are having a great weekend!

  21. I like the look of the windmill. We have a wind farm not far from home and no, it is not popular with some people. But it is clean.


  22. Really interesting - and neatly done! the Rotunda has been on my list for awhile; I think it was a choice between that or fish 'n' chips..!


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