26 November, 2010

Gosport and HM Submarine museum

My best mate used to work building submarines and I'm pretty curious about these ultimate stealth weapons. So a visit to HM Submarine Museum at Gosport was called for during a recent visit to Hampshire. Gosport is a bit chavvy being just across Portsmouth Harbour from Portsmouth but has an art nouveau/arts and crafts former grammar school and a reasonable bus service to Southampton.
However the submarine museum took up most of my day there so only got a glimpse of the discovery centre (which I think was really the town library) and the tiny art gallery. The high point of the submarine museum was HMS Alliance, which had been built for the war in the pacific and is the only submarine from that era still existing.

The guide was an ex submariner who had worked loading torpedos and knew his stuff.
The cramped quarters were something to behold but there were thankfully, four 'heads'.
The museum also had the first ever navy submarine - the Holland 1. This had been dredged up from the bottom of the sea off Devon and was displayed in its existing condition. Much smaller than the ALliance it was kept in a special atmosphere controlled environment, although as it survived at the bottom of the sea for eighty years one might assume it can survive in a shed for quite a long time. All in all not bad for a tenner.

05 November, 2010

Woodcote - homes for heroes?

A suburb of Purley hides some very exclusive developement- the Webb Estate. Said to be a garden village before the time of the Garden cities it hardly carries the radical message of the real garden cities and suburbs - Freedom and Co-operation are not represented here. It is an exclusive development for city men and the unfriendly notices forbidding all kinds of activity including driving tuition and frequent gates deter all those who might even walk here. I am undeterred by such notices and claim the right to walk. I came here to see the Promenade de Verdun, a memorial To the French soldiers who died in glory during the Great War. The road is planted with poplars and they are planted in soil from the battlefield of Armentieres.

This soil (ten tons of it) had to be sifted in order to remove bullets and shrapnel to prevent damage to the trees by souvenir hunters. The sifters found 2 sacks full.

The memorial is a simple granite obelisk from Cornwall with lettering in French.

A short walk brings one to the heart of the Estate, the Village Green complete with stocks (installed in 1937 presumably). I shouldn't think they've seen any prisoners.

It's unlikely anyone would be in the stocks after an evening at the Lord Roberts Temperance Inn either.

I wonder what Bobs would have made of that?
The village green was intended to be inhabited by the men working on the estate but they proved too expensive for the working men.

All in all the Webb Estate did what it set out to do - an exclusive home for city men, and now no doubt houses similar people, TV and film stars and perhaps government ministers all in leafy exclusivity.