June 09, 2017

Five clocks (four clocks and a sign, really)

Yes, it's a clock. Specifically it's the clock on the top of Scarborough railway station. It's a symbol from my teen years because it stands opposite the old Odeon Cinema (which is now the Stephen Joseph Theatre where Alan Aykbourn plays are always premiered) and many's the evening or afternoon that I've stood looking at this clock while waiting to meet a date. (You get to know it particularly well on the occasions that said date doesn't turn up.  How much longer do I leave it before I accept that I've been stood up?)

Scarborough station opened on Monday 7 July 1845, following the completion of the line from York. The station clock was added in about 1884, and was built by Potts of Leeds costing £110, or around £10,000 at today's prices.  The whole building is Grade II listed. Interestingly (and something I didn't know until I began my research) it has the longest station bench in the world, at a staggering 95 yards long.
It was needed to accommodate the hundreds of tourists who flocked to the town to drink the spa waters and enjoy the sea air.

You might have seen this wonderful thing before if you read my blogs regularly. It's clearly labelled with its date and purpose. What's a range you ask?  It's the thing you cook fish and chips in, and this was the clock that I used to stare at while waiting for my "six penn'orth of chips and scraps" at my local chippy.

The old range didn't meet modern catering hygiene standards and was replaced by a shining stainless steel construction a few years back. I can still remember the beautiful green and off-white sunray back plate in wonderful art deco style. I'm pleased to say that they kept the clock.

Except it isn't a clock, it's a timepiece. What's the difference?  A clock chimes. It has a bell. Indeed the word clock derives from various old Germanic, Celtic and French words for bell - like clocca and glocken.

Here's one for my transatlantic friends. It is, of course, the clock in the heart of Grand Central Station in New York. Grand Central is a rapid transit railroad station and you can find it at 42nd and Park. They use the word 'iconic' a lot these days but this thing truly is. Wikipedia says: "The four-faced brass clock on top of the information booth was designed by Henry Edward Bedford (1860–1932) and cast in Waterbury, Connecticut. Each of the four clock faces is made from opalescent glass, though urban legend has it that the faces are made of opal and that Sotheby's and Christie's have estimated their value to be between $10 million and $20 million."

You'll need to look very closely at this one even to spot the clock, let alone see why it's important. It's in the Nottinghamshire village of Gotham (pronounced Goat-um. Sorry to disappoint you.) and it's on the side of the bus depot.  Look really closely though......
Yes - it does say Gotham City and that is the bat symbol above the six!

Which brings us to five.
This one is self-explanatory. A horologist is a clock maker and repairer. Literally 'one who studies the hours'. I've always loved this sign. It's in the gorgeous Somerset village of Dunster and it's just so perfect for the shop. A huge pocket-watch hanging over the door.

So there you are.  Now the clocks are saying it's time for you to travel over to Tricky's FAST Blog to see other Fives this Friday.

June 02, 2017

Five from York

The Minster
 Yorkshire's a funny county. They do things slightly differently there. For example, they eat fruit cake with cheese. (Try it before you sneer!) And where everyone else calls the biggest church in an area a cathedral, York (and other Yorkshire towns) has a Minster. Apparently, according to the Internet, a Minster church is one that was established in Anglo-Saxon times and was attached to a monastery. (But that doesn't explain why Peterborough Cathedral isn't a Minster.) Anyhow, one of the most beautiful sights in York is the Minster. It's a lovely church and really is the heart of Yorkshire - a name they have given to one of the Minster's glorious stained glass windows. Only an outside view, I'm afraid, but you can make out the heart pretty much central to the photo.

Bars and gates
Talking of doing things differently - this is Micklegate Bar. It's one of the ways through the old city walls. (Incidentally, York has one of the most complete, original medieval city walls in the UK.) You might think it's called Micklegate because it's a gate, right? Well it isn't. Gate means street. Bar means gate. And mickle means small. So this is Little Street Gate. 

The Shambles
 The Shambles is one of York's best known streets. It has lots of claims to fame: Europe's most visited street; Europe's best preserved Medieval street; and most recently, the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films. In fact you can hear lots of different languages as you walk along the narrow way: you don't understand a word until someone says "Diagon Alley", then continues talking in whatever native tongue they're using.

The word Shambles originates from the Medieval word shamel, which meant booth or bench. The street was the home of the butchers of York and the road has deep channels at each side where water could be sluiced through to wash away the blood and waste.

The street is so narrow, and the buildings overhang so far, that it's possible to shake hands across the road from the upper storeys.

Clifford's Tower
Clifford’s Tower is one of York's best known landmarks. It is part of the old York Castle, once the centre of government for the north of England. It's a motte and bailey structure: the motte being the steep mound and the bailey being the flat area around the mound. Originally there was an 11th-century timber tower on top but it was burned down in 1190, when York’s Jewish community, some 150 strong, was besieged by a mob and forced to seek refuge inside. They committed mass suicide. The present limestone tower dates from the 13th century and was surrounded by a moat

The views from the top are stunning, although tourists don't care about walking in front of you while you're trying to capture it on video. And they seem to ignore the 'one way system' signs on the narrow, spiral staircases. Ho hum.

Lastly we're going back in time and forward at the same time. York was, of course, established by the Romans, who called it Eboracum. There are still remnants of the old Roman town. Stonegate, for example, has the original Roman street below it and anyone having to dig up the road soon finds Roman masonry. There's a Roman pillar stands opposite the Minster, marking the site of the basilica. It was found during repair excavations at the Minster in 1969 and erected nearby. Between the pillar and the Minster is one of my favourite public sculptures in the whole country. It's Constantine the Great by Philip Jackson; a life size bronze of the Emperor sitting in an elaborate chair and holding a broken sword. Constantine was declared emperor in York in the year 306.

OK so now you have to go and visit the wonderful Tricky over at FAST blog to see what other fives people have collected this week.