Monday, 31 December 2012

Tolkien's Middle-Earth

This sketch called 'Ruins At The West End Of Whitby Abbey' was drawn by the 18 year old student JRR Tolkien when 
he visited the town in 1910.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Danby Beacon

The T/X Aerials with Danby Signal Beacon in the foreground.

The backbone of the radar provision surrounding the UK in the Second World War was the Chain Home System. Two main types of Chain Home System were built - AMES Type 1 (Air Ministry Experimental Station) and AMES Type 2 or the Chain Low System. Royal Air Force Danby Beacon Chain Home Station (AMES Type 1) was located high up on the North Yorkshire moors and was one of twenty built along the eastern coastline. The system was based on the pattern of the experimental establishment set up at Bawdsey in 1936, and in its final form it consisted of equipment housed in protected buildings with transmitter aerials suspended from 107 metre steel towers and receiver aerials mounted on 73 metre timber towers. The system at Danby Beacon was provided with buried reserve equipment which consisted of underground transmitter and receiver block, now only the buried reserves of the transmitter and receiver survive. The station was technically restored in the early 1950s as part of the Rotor programme. In all it comprised three components: the technical site, a domestic site for personnel equipment, and a stand-by set house. 
English Heritage.

CO's house (far left), army billets and one of the R/X Aerials

Now covered over by years of moorland vegetation the remains of the defunct Chain Home System Radar Station on Danby Low Moor seems to sit comfortable within the moor's Neolithic surroundings. The three low mounds - R/X Block, Standby Power House and T/X Block - which stretch across the open land have long since taken on the appearance of the many tumuli and howes that litter the immediate area.

R/X Block - Mound No1

Standby Power House - Mound No2

T/X Block - Mound No3

Concrete Drive

On closer inspection of the site it becomes evident the it’s decommissioning in 1957 may well have been completed with very little ceremony, the smashed up shards of concrete and the twists re-enforcement bars bare witness to the station's seemingly abrupt demise. 

Entrance to Mound No1

Entrance to Mound No2

Interior - Mound No1

Interior - Mound No2

It is interesting to note that the radar station is situated almost on top of the Danby Beacon a much more ancient early warning system.This earlier beacon was just one part of a system of beacon lights that were situated at specific points along the whole coastline. Throughout the centuries they would have been used to quickly alert the entire region of any impending invasions from the numerous enemies England had accumulated over ages. The modern beacon - seen in the photographs below - was erected in 2008, but it is thought that a beacon may have existed on this site since at least the 1600's - although it has to be said that when you stand surrounded by this ancient man made landscape it is easy to believe that the place has possibly been a site of  major importance throughout history.

Aerial view of Radar Station and Beacon

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Ford

Found in Whitby's upper harbour this ancient ford traverses the river Esk from the east side of town at Spital Bridge to the west at Bog Hall. Believed to date back to at least the Roman period the ford is by far the oldest surviving means of crossing the river. Although now in a state of disrepair it would still be possible, with an extremely low tide and steady footing, to cross from one side of the town to the other.

In this detail of the Upper Harbour (taken from a map by Francis Pickernell dated 1841) the ford can be seen stretching from one side of the town to the other.

This modern image of the upper harbour shows quite clearly the ford as it appears today. 

The ford from the West (Bog Hall)

The ford from the East (Spital Bridge)

This view is from the high level bridge looking down into the harbour, the ford can be seen in the middle distance.

Follow the link below to Chris Whitehead's Taphonomy Blog and his field recordings of the ford.