Today I am joining my friends Ralph, Susan and Nick on a trip to Cheshire to find out more about some places in England. The journey up the M40, M6 Toll was not too interesting, but we decided to have a lunch break in Stoke on Trent and visit The Gladstone Pottery Museum.
It is the only remaining Victorian Pottery in Stoke on Trent and it was a great surprise that in the past many children were employed in this industry. It was a great visual display of how the conditions were. In every area there were information signs to show what took place and there were videos and demonstrations of throwing a pot on a wheel, moulding figures and making flowers. You could actually go inside the large bottle shaped kilns and you can see the huge size of these ovens. Around the bases were several large entry points to stoke the fires that produced the heat that hardened the pots, cups plates etc.
The item on the man’s head is a saggar. They were very heavy, before you put in the items to be fired. These were made on site and used in the large kilns for 30-40 times before they were replaced. While looking in one store look what I found a plinth with Baden Powell’s name on it. I could not find the mold for his bust though.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable two hour break before we went onto our hotel for the holiday near Knutsford.
To get our holiday on to a good footing we visited Dunham Massey a National Trust House near by and the gardens were so peaceful and quiet for a gentle stroll.
A new Day and we headed to the City of Chester a beautiful Roman fortress from 1st Century. We found this sign and as we were hungry thought coffee or tea and an almond croissant was the way forward but not at this establishment
The city is quite different as all its shops are on two levels around cobbled streets. The city is walled and has a beautiful arched clock as you can see below
The views were interesting, but it was time to get in the car and find the road to Northwich. I was quite excited as we were off to see one of only two in this country.
THE ANDERTON BOAT LIFT
A mechanical device that could lift boats from the Weaver Navigational to the Trent Mersey Canal. A height of 50 foot. There are two caissons (metal boxes with water in them). You steer the vessel into the caisson and then the door at the back is closed. This one goes up as the other one comes down from the Trent & Mersey Canal.
The lift seen from the bottom
The lift from the top with boats entering and leaving the caissons.
Water being used in Industry was the topic of our next adventure. It was the major resource that allowed the Cotton Mills to operate so profusely in this area. We visited a National Trust Property that really gave you a brilliant impression of what the conditions must have been like all those years ago. The water turned the wheel that allowed all the machines to work.
Quarry Bank Mill was operated by Samuel Greg and the property has been laid out so you can see the whole process from the bales of cotton through carding, making into usable thread / yarn setting up the weaving looms and then the finished product.
There was also a large display of a Govenor which control how hard the machine need to work. The faster the engine was working the higher the orange spheres went, but it was still when I was looking at it otherwise it would have knocked me over.
Cadbury Chocolate was sponsoring an Easter Egg Hunt,but while they would let me show you the rabbits for the children who solved all the clues and found the answers they said they could not let me have one as I could not be under 14 if I was the Cub Scout mascot because this is the centenary year for the section so I must be too old.
The machines were so heavy and they cause so much vibrations when they are working the floor has to be propped up with yellow metal supports. The machines were so big and the rooms large so it was no wonder the people lost their hearing working up to 12 hours a day those conditions
The outside beauty though made up for all the noise and dust inside the mill, but did not make the working conditions for the staff in the past good.
My last day in Cheshire started with an early start, so that we could travel to Liverpool’s Albert Dock and the Maritime Museum. This is the famous Liver Bird Building standing at the dock edge. It was very cold.
The Maritime Museum have various levels dedicated to different stories of things like the Lusitania and the Titanic. There was also section on border and Customs and The story of Cunard which was a big ship owner..
There was also a section dedicated to Slavery which was very interesting.
The bells hang in a Portland stone wall above the main entrance.
The design by Frederick Gibberd won a world wide competition. It construction started in 1962 and teh Cathedral was conscrated in 1967. Its structure allows light to flood into the central atrium through beautiful coloured glass. It was so light and refreshing inside and so different from other Churches and Cathedrals around the world
Hanging on the walls between the pillars of glass were beautiful collages which added to the colour.
A real must if you ever visit Liverpool.
There were many steps which were finally completed in 2003.
My final visit was to the third biggest steerable telescope in the world at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre
Jodrell Bank Observatory is the home of three important radio telescopes. The largest and the one many people incorrectly know as “Jodrell Bank” is the Lovell Telescope – which was completed in 1956 with a dish diameter at 76m. There are now two larger, newer telescopes – both have 100m dishes, one in Germany and the other in the USA. Unlike optical telescopes, radio telescopes can see stars night and day.
The telescope has been constantly upgraded over the years with the main dish having a new reflecting surface in 2002 which is accurate to 2mm from the aerial mast in the centre. Despite the size, the radio signals as seen are so weak that special receivers which are super-cooled are used to get the best possible signal.
The telescope can turn to any point in the sky and can move quickly to a new object but then move very slowly to compensate for the earth rotation whilst locked onto an object.
By linking the telescope with others in a Network (such as the 100m one in Germany and the 32 m Cambridge telescope), the detail of what can be seen is greatly improved. In the “Discovery Centre”, they show examples of an image from just one telescope, then how that image is improved as more telescopes (which are all viewing the same object) are linked together. The main network that the Lovell Telescope is involved with is called Merlin.
There are two other important radio telescopes on site – the Mark II with a 38.1m dish built in 1964 and the 42 ft (referring to the dish size of 12.8m) was built in 1982. Each is conducting research into specific aspects of the solar system.
On site there are many interesting exhibits showing the various aspects in very simple ways. One of the best was the “voice transmitter”; one person stood in front of a mini dish and talked into the dish which allowed another person to hear clearly what was said at a second dish some 50m away which showed how a dish could focus / collect sounds.