Monday, 22 June 2009

Para Glider over the Severn Vale

Para Glider over the Severn Vale
Originally uploaded by TMR Davies

Summer is here and there are all sorts of pursuits one can enjoy. I enjoyed just watching this one!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Living Memory Passing Into History: Happy Birthday Harry!

Today Harry Patch celebrates his 111th birthday, a special milestone in anyone's book but Harry is the last surviving Tommy who fought in the trenches of World War 1. A very modest man he didn't even start talking about his WW1 experiences until he was over 90. Since then he's achieved celebrity status and been awarded many accolades and medals from admirers.

While not wishing to dwell on the subject of mortality, Harry is at the moment a tangible and living link with the horror of WW1 but in the future there will be no one left who can describe those events first hand. This was reinforced a couple of weeks a go when the last survivor of the Titanic died. Although she was only 6 weeks old on 14th April 1912 she was never the less personally affected by the disaster and again was an actual link with the event and had a story to tell.

Once the "first person" has gone we are left with history or heritage. It is why it is important to glean what we can from the living before they are no longer with us. Once gone only their stories remain, that can be in danger of being amended or suffer from Chinese Whsipers, so losing their validity and reality.

So this is what the title of this post is about, when living memory passes into history.

Let's wish Harry a very Happy Birthday, but not forget that his like will not be seen again. We must honour and remember all our histories and heritage, whether it be personal, regional, national or international.

It's why I do the job I do. It's what makes it so rewarding: and important for future generations who are currently living somebody else's "eventual history".

Monday, 15 June 2009

Friday, 12 June 2009

Sherman Memorial, Slapton Sands

Sherman Memorial, Slapton Sands
Originally uploaded by TMR Davies

A simple yet moving memorial to all those hundreds of US soldiers who lost their lives when a squadron of German E-Boats got amongst the training exercise for D Day, which due to the wrong radio frequencies could not call for support.

This was a "swimming tank", that sank during training and was raised a few years ago.

Pipped by "more interesting news"

Looks as though the news release that Banksy is exhibiting at Bristol Museum has knocked any BBC coverage of the dig due today at Berkeley on the head.

Although I love art it is only because Banksy is a "mythical" figure that so much coverage has been given to him, whereas here we have a story of international importance with a discovery of a monastery enclosure the size of Winchester in Gloucestershire!

So frustrating.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Gloomy Predictions from South West Tourism

I'm disappointed that we are allowing negative publicity to rule our industry again.

To quote from the BBC website:

A stern warning has been issued about the future of tourism in the West.

In a new booklet, Malcolm Bell, Director of South West Tourism, says optimism the 2009 summer will be a bumper year may be misplaced. Assumptions a good Sterling/Euro exchange rate would favour the region may not materialise, he said.

Mr Bell predicts rising unemployment and ongoing economic uncertainty could see visitor numbers drop between three and eight per cent.

He said: "Even if we do get reasonable numbers of displaced visitors, they may just replace losses from loyal customers who cannot visit due to reduced incomes from savings, or lower earnings because they have lost their jobs."

South West Tourism covers Bath, Bristol, Bournemouth and Poole, Cornwall and Scilly Isles, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

Surely it would be better to promote the benefits of the South West's undoubted excellent tourist facilities rather than hint that it will be a bad summer. We are so media driven these days that any bad news means we instantly assume the worst.

Come on South West Tourism, promote us all and be positive! I'm all for being realistic but let's see what happens.

To help make the most of your business in these tricky times see www.copperphoenix.co.uk

Talk by Dr Stuart Prior

Just had a long tour of the University of Britstol's dig at Berkeley. Amazing progress made, medieval buildings uncovered, possibly St Michaels Lane, Roman finds, coins, etc and of course evidence of the Anglo Saxon Monastery they were looking for.

Some bits will be covered over for next year's dig but others will be left open for display for the next few months.

All very exciting and hopefully the BBC will give it good coverage on Friday.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

BBC to Film at Jenner Museum

BBC Points West will film the dig by the University of Bristol and the Saxon Nunnery they've found in the Museum's garden on Friday 12th June.

Hpefully this will further increase the awareness of the Museum in Berkeley so we can continue with the necessary fundraising to prevent its closure.

Copper Phoenix is applying for restoration grants but the Museum will need more assistance from the general public too.

Watch this space.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Friday, 5 June 2009

Ex-GWR Pannier Takes On Water

Ex-GWR Pannier Takes On Water
Originally uploaded by TMR Davies

I have to say I really am proud of this picture. There's just something about it that evokes all kinds of (false) nostalgia. Of course sepia treatment is not historically accurate for a loco liveried post 1948 but there you are....

Just Jane

Just Jane
Originally uploaded by TMR Davies

A sepia version of me in a Lancaster cockpit. One of the many ambitions on my list fulfilled.

Half a William the Conqueror coin

Half a William the Conqueror coin
Originally uploaded by TMR Davies

From the dig at Berkeley in the garden of The Edward Jenner Museum. Half a coin from 1067, cut in half for payment before lower denomination copins were "invented"

Dr Stuart Prior Explains

Dr Stuart Prior Explains
Originally uploaded by TMR Davies

Dr Stuart Prior explaining one of the Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical buildings (7th - 9th Century) found in the garden of the Edward Jenner Museum. This was likley to have been accomodation for the nuns on this site, and several oyster shells were found here too, as oysters were the staple diet of the time.

Saxon Nunnery in Museum Garden

The annual archaeological dig in Berkeley, Gloucestershire by University of Bristol believes that it has found the first ever excavated Saxon Nunnery which was part of a Mynster (Monastery), with domestic buildings in the garden of The Edward Jenner Museum and the remains of the Nun’s Church by the tower in the churchyard at the end of the Museum’s garden.

The Berkeley Project to find Saxon Berkeley and the missing nunnery has been going for five years. This year the Saxon Church has been found at the foot of the Edward Jenner Museum’s garden, by the church tower. The current tower dates from 1753 replacing an earlier tower damaged during the Civil War. The original Saxon Church that was part of the Mynster was recorded as far back as 1541 but had by then fallen into disrepair.

Of great interest to the Edward Jenner Museum was a rubbish pit found at the site of the church dating to the time of Dr Jenner: three broken snuff bottles were found amongst broken chinaware and other domestic waste, which is contemporary with the date that Edward Jenner lived in The Chantry. Sarah Parker (Museum Director) said: In the 260th Anniversary year of Jenner’s birth to find such a personal tangible link with him is a huge bonus on top of the other exciting but much earlier discoveries in our garden.

The remains of a high status Saxon building have been found underneath the Museum’s lawn, complete with a cobbled entrance and a refuse pit with oyster shells, staple food in the medieval period.

Other small finds in this area have included a William the Conqueror coin, a coin from the reign Henry I, and various medieval items from horse bridle furnishings and buckles to clothing pins. Some Roman coins and materials have also been discovered

Dr Stuart Prior of University of Bristol said that if the church was associated to the buildings and they do turn out to be part of the Anglo-Saxon nunnery it will be the first time that a nunnery of this date (7th - 9th Century) has ever been excavated and all the evidence to date including the Anglo-Saxon records support this Hypothesis! Which is very exciting.

With one more week to go it is hoped that there will be more finds and further developments of this fascinating story.

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors:

1) The Edward Jenner Museum & Conference Centre is based in Dr Jenner’s former home, The Chantry, in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Dr Jenner lived in the house from 1785-1823. It was from this (Grade II* Listed) house that he pioneered world-changing vaccination against Smallpox. Joint tickets with Berkeley Castle can be bought at either venue.

2) 2009 is the 260th anniversary of Edward Jenner’s birth and a series of events throughout the year are marking the occasion. See www.jennermuseum.com for more details

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Old Cyder House

Old Cyder House
Originally uploaded by TMR Davies

A Sunny day to show off The Old Cyder House conference centre at Berkeley, which Copper Phoenix is currently promoting for The Edward Jenner Museum.

A Lack of Tourism Support

I've just returned from a meeting of the Cotswold Attractions Group and was horrified to hear the apparent lack of support tourism has in these difficult times.

The Tourism Officer for the Cotswolds has been made redundant, there are funding cuts and the Tourist Information Office in Stow has been closed - mad! How are we supposed to capitalise on what is supposed to be a real chance of attracting more home visitors to our industry if we get no support from the existing infrastructure?

We can see from reports that the hotels and guest houses are suffering from a lack of bookings so the day trip market is up, as well as camping of course! But what good is this increase in potential business if there is no support network for tourists visiting the area, or the attractions and businesses relying on the extra promotion?

Anyway, it just shows how important it is to promote tourist attractions and heritage in general - especially now.

Guess what? We can help! See www.copperphoenix.co.uk and get in touch. Take advantage of this time, protect and build your business.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Cheltenham Racecourse Station: Postcard

Cheltenham Racecourse Station: Postcard
Originally uploaded by TMR Davies

I like this picture too. Copper Phoenix was carrying out a "Mystery Shopper" assignment for the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway and I took some pictures for the report.

In colour the shadow was in the wrong place but now looks very dramatic.

A good day out too, especially on a sunny day.

Driving a Double Fairlie

Driving a Double Fairlie, originally uploaded by TMR Davies.

I've sepiad this picture, I like the effect and I suppose gives a heritage sort of feel. Of course there's no need to prove the heritage credentials of the subject. The Ffestiniog Railway has been a world leader in technology and innovation since its inception in 1832.

Well worth a visit.


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