Sunday, 31 January 2010

2010 RBS Six Nations

I have always followed and loved the Six Nations Rugby or Five Nations as it was. I am not a great follower of sport; I don’t follow a particular regional team and tend to only watch big tournaments, like the world cup in football.

But the Six Nations is very special to me, as it was something as a young boy in the 1970’s the family would come together on the Saturday afternoons to sit and watch the rugby and importantly to watch Wales win.

Proud of my Welsh roots I was lucky to grow up in the 1970’s when Wales just won all the time (ok I know there was the occasional defeat but it was so rare as to not worry about!).  Triple Crowns, Grand Slams and championships abounded, until that dreadful time in the 1980’s when Welsh Rugby took a slide downhill.  We’d lost the household names of Barry John, Phil Bennett, Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams etc and new players were coming in who I didn’t really know. Of course in the 1980’s the pits were closing and the traditional Valley living experience was changing: as the pits closed local rugby teams disappeared and there was not the scope to nurture new rugby talent. We’re talking of a time, as JPR Williams said recently, when the team would turn up on the weekend, play for Wales and go back to their normal jobs on a Monday. The amateur game at its best.

I remember being taken by my dad and grandfather to Phil Bennett’s sports shop in Llanelli to get a Welsh Rugby Union strip for myself and my brother. As a tongue tied eight year old it was an awesome experience meeting one of my heroes, having my hair ruffled by him. I was deeply proud of that rugby strip and wore it for years, even when it was too small for me!

Recently the great commentator Bill McLaren, the voice of my rugby childhood died and I felt another link with that happy time gone.  His voice and unbiased commentary was a fantastic combination and whenever I sit to watch any rugby I automatically think of his voice and wish he was still commentating.

I met my Welsh rugby heroes one last time at a benefit concert in Cardiff, in the early 1990’s. They were much older and less fit, but I still felt the same tongue tied excitement at being in the same room as Gareth Edwards, Barry John and Phil Bennett. I doubt it will ever change.

But this year will be touched with melancholy as it will be the first year I watch the tournament without any of my family who sat around our television in the 1970’s. My father died in the early 1990’s, my brother moved to France 11 years ago and my mother died in October last year.  No more the trip to my parents’ house to enjoy an afternoon of rugby, in companionship and echoes of yesteryear.

So this year I expect Wales to win the Six Nations as a fitting tribute to all our happy years together and to kick off the years to come. I will raise a toast to the past next week when the tournament kicks off and look to the future as I enjoy the classic grudge match of the tournament, in tune once again with the Land of my Fathers: Wales v England.

Tim Davies


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Thursday, 21 January 2010

What has Berkeley Ever Done for Us?



The Edward Jenner Museum


For Immediate Release




What has Berkeley Ever Done for Us?



Tim Davies, of Copper Phoenix Heritage will be giving a talk “Berkeley: A Town that Changed the World” on Thursday 28th January at the Old Cyder House in Berkeley. This will be the first of The Old Cyder House Talks for 2010, on interesting and diverse subjects. Tim Davies will be highlighting Berkeley’s significant contributions to world history in an informal way on a winter’s evening. 


What has the Gloucestershire town ever done for the rest of the World? Well it’s most famous son invented immunology, inhabitants colonised America, started wars and there is an ongoing contribution today through archaeological discoveries. Tim Davies who runs Copper Phoenix, a heritage marketing and business consultancy has worked in Berkeley since 2006 on the Berkeley Estate and at The Edward Jenner Museum. He has put together an affectionate tribute to the town and its significant influence on world events, especially as the Town’s profile will be raised this year, the 30th Anniversary of the eradication of Smallpox, made possible by the town’s most famous son, Edward Jenner. Apart from Jenner, expect reference to the town from prehistoric times, through Roman and Saxons, Vikings and up to the present today


Tim Davies said, There are plenty of historians who can give a more in depth talk on dates, times and events, connected with Berkeley, I want to highlight the vast influence that such a small town in Gloucestershire has over us all. It is really out of all proportion to the town’s size and population!


Organised by The Edward Jenner Museum, the Old Cyder House talks are increasing in popularity, so reserve your tickets soon. The Berkeley talk will cost £8 per person including a glass of wine.


Sarah Parker, Museum Director said: We are proud of Berkeley’s complex heritage and feel that the town should be far better known worldwide. Tim’s talk will hopefully point out the need to highlight Berkeley’s many achievements!

More information can be found on the museum website, www.jennermuseum.com where there is also information on hiring The Old Cyder House and about other events at the Museum. Bookings for all the talks can be made in advance by calling 01453 810631 or emailing info@edwardjenner.co.uk                

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors:


THE OLD CYDER HOUSE, Berkeley, Gloucestershire



1) The Old Cyder House is at Dr Edward Jenner’s former home, The Chantry, in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Dr Jenner lived in the house from 1785-1823, and it was from here that he pioneered the world-changing vaccination against Smallpox.


The Old Cyder House is available for training, conferences, business meetings, product launches and exhibitions throughout the year and is situated in the Old Coach House, where cider was originally brewed, hence the name.


Ticketing details/costs & further information, please see: www.jennermuseum.com


General information and booking: info@edwardjenner.co.uk


For further information, interviews or image requests please contact:


Sarah Parker



Email: director@edwardjenner.co.uk


Tel:      01453 810 631

Fax:      01453 811 690



Copper Phoenix Ltd


Copper Phoenix was set up to specifically work with heritage organisations, museums and visitor attractions of all sizes requiring heritage advice. It offers solutions for businesses that may not be able to afford (or want) a full time marketeer, those that need advice on how their operation is perceived to the public, require guidance and assistance with developing specific projects or simply to increase visitor numbers and awareness.


Contact:          Tim Davies

Email:              tim@copperphoenix.co.uk

Tel:                  07919914512





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Friday, 15 January 2010

Music is the loser in this V&A gallery shake-up | News

Music is the loser in this V&A gallery shake-up

Guy Dammann Guy Dammann

Classical music in the capital is riding high just now. Musical standards among London orchestras and ensembles are arguably higher than ever. And with ticket sales largely bucking recession trends, widespread fears that concert culture would collapse together with an ailing record industry have proved misplaced.

Meanwhile, best-selling books by psychologists such as Oliver Sacks and neuroscientists such as Daniel Levitin seek to ask why our brains and bodies have always found music's abstract play of pitch and rhythm so deeply expressive of our common humanity.

Yet when it comes to the instruments that have allowed musical culture to flourish down the centuries, the outlook is less rosy: the gallery of musical instruments at the V&A Museum looks certain to close next month in order to make way for an expanded display of the museum's fashion and costume holdings.

While a number of the instruments will remain exhibited as part of other sections � such as the Venetian virginals owned by Elizabeth I which now stand in the Medieval and Renaissance galleries � most of them will be placed in storage, available on request, or distributed among other museums and collections.

Unlike Brussels, Paris and New York, where national instrument collections are displayed centrally, London's rich store of instruments is distributed among several smaller collections. The V&A's collection, of international significance purely by itself, gains in importance in this respect because it is the only collection of historical musical instruments to be housed in a major national museum, thereby attracting general as well as specialist visitors.

Besides the virgin queen's sole surviving keyboard instrument � Elizabeth I was a keen amateur musician as well as an active patron of the art � the jewels in the collection include an ivory oboe and tortoiseshell recorder that belonged to the composer Gioachino Rossini and two pianos owned by the Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones, both lovingly decorated by the artist himself.

One of the collection's greatest assets is its visual attractiveness. The V&A was founded as and remains primarily a museum of decorative arts and its musical instrument collection developed around pieces striking for aesthetic as well as historical reasons. As most people visit museums seeking instruction and entertainment for the eye, the collection has for years played a unique role, by appealing first to the eye and then opening an imaginative window on past musical worlds.

There is some good news in the discovery that a proportion of the collection will go to south London's Horniman museum, whose already excellent musical instrument collection will be enriched by the loan. But despite its national status and its considerable charms, the Horniman remains somewhat off the beaten track of London's major visitor attractions.

Music is our common heritage, the oldest and perhaps most deeply engrained form of human culture. The prime physical embodiment of this culture remains the musical instruments which come down to us.

While I understand the V&A's need to keep its focus on its core collections, the decision to close the musical instrument gallery is a mistake. It will deprive many an accidental tourist of past music's rich rewards. Surely our musical heritage deserves better than this.

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Reader views (3)

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Copy of an email sent to the V and A Museum:

I have only just heard of the closure of the Victoria and Albert Museum�s historic musical instrument collection.
I have never been able to visit the collection, and probably never would have been, but this closure is nothing short of outrageous. And, as I understand it, to make space for a pop fashion collection. I would have thought that music, and its history, were of crucial and ongoing interest to the British. Even abroad we show an avid interest in Britain�s rich musical culture and heritage. Apparently not so the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Victoria and Albert Museum management has proved to the international community that, indeed Britain is a nation of shopkeepers, and that the Victoria and Albert Museum management is certainly among them.

- Robert Moore, Melbourne, Australia

Absolutely shocking! Futhermore the notion of splitting the collection its totally non-sensical. Very disappointed with the level of cultural management shown by what I thought was a leading country in cultural matters. I am having a �lucidity moment�...

- Jorosa, Palmela, Portugal

I have visited the V&A Instrument Gallery many times, both in my student years in London decades ago and in my many more recent visits to London. I always quoted it as an absolute must for any musician visiting England. I strongly believe that, no matter how well the instruments are re-distributed elsewhere, closing the Gallery is a mistake and a serious loss for the early-music world, I mean worldwide, not just for London residents or visitors.

Claudio Di Veroli,

- Claudio Di Veroli, Bray, Rep. Ireland

Add your comment

An interesting approach to heritage from the V & A removing the historic music display to replace it with pop culture - is this an attempt to appeal to a younger audience? If so then although display space in a museum is always at a premium, what a trajedy that an existing and historic collection in its own right has to be broken up for a display that may or may not prove popular to passing visitors. It is removing "proper heritage" in favour of a something gimmicky, (which one can argue will become heritage in its own right of course) but I add my voice to the many in the industry who see this as a shocking and worrying decision.

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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Last of the Winter Snow?

As the temperature rises we probably won't see some snow for a while, but with the drifts and volume that fell last night it has been a beautiful day.

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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sanctioned Destruction of our Naval Heritage

Today (12th January) is the 88th anniversary of HMS Victory's move to her dry dock in Portsmouth and the beginning of her restoration. It is amazing to think that this veteran of Trafalgar and the spiritual symbol of Royal Navy was afloat until 1922, after around 157 years on the water. Despite being dry docked she is still the oldest commissioned battleship in the World.
HMS Victory was launched in 1765 at Chatham Dockyard and was commissioned in 1778. She continued in active service for the next 34 years which included her most famous moment - the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 when she was flagship to Vice Admiral Lord Nelson, defeating the Franco -Spanish fleet. In 1812 Victory was retired from front line duty and anchored in Portsmouth Harbour, where for the next 110 years she remained at her moorings fulfilling a combination of practical and ceremonial roles. In 1922, amid fears for her continued survival, Victory was moved into Portsmouth's Royal Naval Dockyard and placed in No2 Dry Dock. Work then began on restoring the Victory to her 'fighting' 1805 condition and continues today.
I have visited the ship many times and always marvel at her size and how she could have held nearly 1,000 people in her cramped hull, including some unofficial passengers such as a few "wives", along with animals providing fresh milk and meat. Victory carried more artillery than the Duke of Wellington had at Waterloo, over 100 guns of varying calibre, including the two giant Carronades on the forecastle which fired a 68lb shot.
That she was rescued for preservation in 1922 is terrific as other  deserving ships have not been so lucky. HMS Warspite a veteran of Jutland in the first World War and a very active player in the Second World War was cut up for scrap (after she seemingly took control over her own fate under tow and beached herself) but in 1947 a real tragedy occur ed when a 74 gun ship, a two decker captured from the French at Trafalgar was sunk in the Channel under the Union Jack and the Tricolour. But this noble sounding act was a disaster for heritage and the preservation of relics from a bygone age. Today the thought of destroying such an important piece of history we hope would not be allowed.
The Implacable started life as a French warship, built at Rochefort in 1797. It was as the Duguay-Trouin that she fought at Trafalgar, part of a squadron commanded by Admiral Dumanoir which entered the fight at a late stage. The Duguay-Trouin was able to engage the heavily damaged Victory with a few broadsides, but Dumanoir soon saw that the battle was already lost, he attempted to withdraw but a fortnight later was intercepted by a much stronger British naval force and battered into surrender.

The Duguay-Trouin was brought back to Britain and renamed Implacable, then sent to fight her builders, the French. In 1842, she was sailed home and discharged from active fighting service, for much of the 19th century she was at Portsmouth as a training ship. HMS Victory and HMS Implacable, as the only two Trafalgar survivors, became famous, but the preservation of “heritage” was not then perceived as part of the state's duties. The cost of conserving cathedrals, castles or old warships was considered to be the responsibility of civil society and to be met by rich individuals or by private bodies and corporations. Nor had anyone appreciated how expensive it is to maintain the complex structure of a large wooden ship, especially one which was already a century old and weakened by heavy seas, extreme temperatures, gunfire and all the other shocks to which a big sailing ship is exposed. The timbers rot, leak, grow insect-infested and warp.

Victory, as Nelson's flagship, had been saved as a memorial to him (and as flagship of the commander-in-chief, Portsmouth), meeting her costs was something the Admiralty could not avoid. But Implacable was another matter. The Admiralty hung on to her for decades while growing ever more anxious about the escalating costs of any repair. During the WW2, Implacable lay at Portsmouth, near Victory - the bombs missed both ships, but Implacable's maintenance was neglected and the hull deteriorated further. The Admiralty now began to claim that her condition had passed the point of no return, and announced that they intended to “dispose” of her.

There were letters to the Times, and appeals (supported  by members of the Royal Family) for funds to save the old ship. But post-1945 Britain was war weary and broke: the Admiralty declined to be moved by patriotic sentiment. In  late 1949, carpenters sawed off the warship's figurehead, then removed the whole ornamental stern - thankfully these are preserved at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. On 2nd December 1949, the Implacable was packed with explosive charges and loaded with 450 tons of iron ballast. Flying the white ensign and the French tricolour she was towed out to sea, escorted by modern warships carrying a party of admirals, sea lords and other senior naval staff, where she was sunk.

This provided a wake up call to those who wanted to save historic ships, who saw that they must organise themselves more effectively. A few years later, they managed (yet again with royal help, from Prince Philip) to save the old tea-clipper Cutty Sark and preserve her in a dry-dock at Greenwich. In 1970 the Maritime Trust was founded, followed in 1979 by the World Ship Trust which is now restoring over 400 historic vessels and has three times as many on its books. The motto of the World Ship Trust is “Implacable – Never Again”.

So we shouldn't take heritage for granted - always be aware of the danger threatening heritage objects, those that are as large as ships to things as small as paintings.

One final personal note about HMS Victory. About 15 years ago I met an ex-Commando who told me of the time he nearly destroyed Victory by mistake during WW2. While heading through the dockyard at Portsmouth passing Victory's dry dock, a satchel of mortar bombs he was carrying broke its strap. As they began to fall onto the dockyard everyone ran for cover and then watched with horror as with a dreadful inevitability they started rolling towards the dry dock and one by one fell in. Wincing at every clang as they hit the bottom the Commandos waited for the explosion that would blow a whole in Victory's hull and possibly break her back. Mercifully nothing happened, apart from a severe punishment dealt out to the Commando!

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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Now is the Winter of our discontent.....

So the UK is blanketed in snow and suffering freezing temperatures more extreme than normal. Or at least the South of the country is, and where I live in Bristol we've had the worse conditions for 30 years. There's 6 inches of frozen snow outside my front door and with sub zero temperatures and more snow due in the next few days I'm not venturing out, mainly because ironically just making the 400 yards to the main road is extremely difficult on sheet ice and once there I'd encounter a lot of drivers who don't know how to drive in bad weather, especially snow, so I'd probably end up involved with a hedge/ditch/other vehicle.
This is not to make light of the winter weather, it is quite serious, having driven from Wiltshire to Bristol yesterday I can vouch for how dangerous it was, and with all my meetings for this week now cancelled I can work from home and not have to venture out. On the down side there is only one onion in the fridge and a small jar of pesto sauce.
It is interesting to see how the snowy weather dominates our National and Regional news. All bulletins focus on the problems, difficulties, British pluck and dire forecasts for the next few days and as a result other news has been dropped from sight. It was only a passing comment at the end of the local news last night that Lady Scott, wife of Sir Peter Scott who founded the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire had died. Her husband Sir Peter was the son of the ill fated explorer Scott of the Antarctic. After his father's death Sir Peter developed a great interest in birds and nature, resulting in Slimbridge being set up and eventually spawning other sites around the UK. After Sir Peter's death, Lady Scott continued to live at Slimbridge and held the position of Honorary Director. As an aside, my grandfather looked after the farms at Slimbridge during WW2 (before the area was leased by Sir Peter), as part of his job with the "War Ag" and could never see the point in "wasting farmland on a bird sanctuary"!
But back to the bad weather. there is criticism about lack of salt and grit for roads and complaints about the disruption to public transport and calls for more snowploughs etc to cope. But this is a very British thing. We're complaining about not having the tools for coping with an event that hasn't happened on this scale for 30 years. The cost to have all the equipment to cope with this weather, bought by councils and local authorities, sitting there doing nothing for most of the time, would generate even more criticism during our more normal and milder winters.
Personally I'm looking on the weather conditions as exciting, photogenic and a bit of an adventure - and wishing I still had my Land Rover from many years ago. Interesting to note too that the usual vitriol aimed at 4 x 4 users has been suspended while they help to get brides to the church on time, deliver milk and other supplies plus rescue stranded motorists of 2 x4 cars etc
Anyway, I'll enjoy the winter of discontent, safe in the knowledge that it will be made glorious summer, eventually, with the news concentrating utterly on the forthcoming General Election. I think by then we'll be looking back at the snow with some fondness and nostalgia.
Although I have to say, nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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