Tower Bridge Sunrise

Been a while since I took anything to post on here. Got loads of Family Snaps, plenty of the kids at the caravan but naff all else.
So I’ve had to resort to digging out one from a couple of years ago. This was taken when I worked in London, and was always up there early to get a head start on the day. During the Auumn, some of the sunrises are quite spectacular, so I took to breaking up the walk to the office by wandering off of the usual route with a coffee and the camera. One of the best places I found to clear my mind, watch the sun come up and just relax for 10 minutes was the middle of London Bridge, looking towards home some 30 odd miles away.¬† Unfortunately,¬† HMS Belfast was shrouded in scaffolding (again), and behind me there were hundreds of people scurrying like rats to their places of work, so it’s not quite a serene and peaceful as you may think from this picture.

Sunrise over Tower Bridge

HMS Belfast is a museum ship, permanently moored in London on the River Thames and operated by the Imperial War Museum. Belfast was originally a Royal Navy light cruiser and served during the Second World War and Korean War.

Construction of Belfast, named after the capital city of Northern Ireland and one of ten Town class cruisers, began in December 1936. She was launched on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1938. Commissioned in early August 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Belfast was initially part of the British naval blockade against Germany. In November 1939 Belfast struck a German mine and spent more than two years undergoing extensive repairs. Returning to action in November 1942 with improved firepower, radar equipment and armour, Belfast was the largest and arguably most powerful cruiser in the Royal Navy at the time. Belfast saw action escorting Arctic convoys to the Soviet Union during 1943 and in December 1943 played an important role in the Battle of North Cape, assisting in the destruction of the German warship Scharnhorst. In June 1944 Belfast took part in Operation Overlord supporting the Normandy landings. In June 1945 Belfast was redeployed to the Far East to join the British Pacific Fleet, arriving shortly before the end of the Second World War. Belfast saw further combat action in 1950-52 during the Korean War and underwent an extensive modernisation between 1956 and 1959. A number of further overseas commissions followed before Belfast entered reserve in 1963.

Expected to be disposed of as scrap, in 1967 efforts were initiated to preserve Belfast as a museum ship. A joint committee of the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Ministry of Defence was established, and reported in June 1968 that preservation was practical. In 1971 the government decided against preservation, prompting the formation of the private HMS Belfast Trust to campaign for her preservation. The Trust was successful in its efforts, and the government transferred the ship to the Trust in July 1971. Brought to London, she was moored on the River Thames near Tower Bridge in the Pool of London. Opened to the public in October 1971 Belfast became a branch of the Imperial War Museum in 1978. A popular tourist attraction, Belfast receives around a quarter of a million visitors per year. As a branch of a national museum, Belfast is supported by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, by admissions income, and by the museum’s commercial activities.

Belfast is a cruiser of the second Town class. The Town class had originated in the early 1930s as the Admiralty’s response to the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Mogami class cruiser, an 11,200 ton cruiser mounting fifteen 6-inch guns with a top speed exceeding 35 knots. The Admiralty’s requirement called for a 9,000 ton cruiser, sufficiently armoured to withstand a direct hit from an 8-inch shell, capable of 32 knots and mounting twelve 6-inch guns. The original proposal included sixteen 6-inch guns, in quadruple turrets, but an effective quadruple turret proved impossible to manufacture, and triple turrets were substituted.[2] Seaplanes carried aboard would enable shipping lanes to be patrolled over a wide area, and the class was also to be capable of its own anti-aircraft defence. The first of the Town class cruisers, the 9,100 ton HMS Southampton, was launched on 10 March 1936.

Construction of HMS Belfast began later that year, with her keel laid on 10 December 1936 at Harland and Wolff in Belfast. Her expected cost was ¬£2,141,514; of which the guns cost ¬£75,000 and the aircraft (two Supermarine Walruses) ¬£66,500. She was launched on Saint Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1938 by Anne Chamberlain, the wife of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. By this point the Town class had evolved into three subgroups; Belfast and her sister ship HMS Edinburgh formed the final group with a displacement of 10,000 tons, the greater weight due to thicker armour.

(Image, copyright Dave Frost 2010, HMS Belfast Historical information from Wikipedia, the free encycolpedia

Planet Canvey – An Island in space

It’s often been said that us Canvey Island residents are on another planet, so I had a bit of a play with a fairly crappy image of the Shell Haven complex taken from the newly opened West Canvey Marsh. A little bit of a play in Photoshop with the distort filter created our very own Planet Canvey.

Planet Canvey

For Comparison, below is the original. A fairly uninspiring shot taken on an overcast and grey day.

Oil City - A view from Canvey Island

Old Leigh Sunset – A Wintery Essex Afternoon

Old Leigh Sunset, Essex

Leigh-on-Sea was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Legra, where it is described as a "one horse town". Located next to the sea, Leigh has been primarily a fishing village for most of its history. However, its sheltered position at the mouth of the Thames gave it some success as a port, with international trade and a shipbuilding business.

Due to its good position on the shipping route to London, it began to grow and by the 16th century had become a fairly large and prosperous port. Ships of up to 340 tons are recorded as being built in Leigh including many that would have been built for the local fishing fleets. With its location at the mouth of the Thames, Leigh was often used by the navy against threats from pirates and the French, Spanish and Dutch Navies.

By the 18th century ships had become larger and trade changed. At this time Leigh’s deep water channel silted up and the importance of the town diminished. It then gradually reverted to a fishing village, supplying the London market by road and barge. When the London to Tilbury railway was extended to Southend in 1856, this split the village in two and many of its timber-framed buildings were demolished

The Mayflower is believed to have docked at Leigh-on-Sea to take on provisions and passengers before its epic voyage to the new world with the Pilgrim Fathers

The fishermen of Leigh are famous for their heroic attempts to rescue British soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk. A memorial in St Clements churchyard stands as a reminder of their bravery and sacrifice.

The arrival of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway in 1854 spurred the town’s development, allowing greater trade with London and the rest of the world, and making it a commuter town for London workers. Leigh-on-Sea railway station is run and served solely by c2c.
In recent years, Leigh-on-Sea has become home to an increasing number of upmarket bars and restaurants such as The Estuary. Cafés such as laid back, hippie-esque The Squeeze who use only organic produce, art galleries and hairdressers also adorn the towns surroundings. Popular hairdressers include Staffords owned by Lee Stafford and Srangeways owned by Ade from the Channel 4 show The Salon. Leigh is also home to a wide range of shops, from clothes and shoe shops selling the latest fashions to more expensive additions such as Bang & Olufsen and Connections who provide the furniture for another channel 4 show, Big Brother. Leigh also has a strict no nightclub policy in an effort to preserve the towns heritage

Old Leigh

Leigh-on-Sea boasts London’s nearest beach, and many visitors travel down at the weekend to the conservation area of Old Leigh with its cobbled streets and clapboard cottages. The area is notable for its shellfish, and there is a small but active fleet of cockle boats, which keep alive the reputation of Leigh as the epicentre of the world cockling trade. The picturesque cockle sheds are home to many old Leigh families who have followed this trade for generations.

Osborne Bros specialises in producing and supplying quality shellfish and fish to individuals and trade customers around the world. Their café is housed in the heart of the Old Town in an 18th century stable mews which was used to house horses and carriages delivering ale to the local public house – The Crooked Billet. The cockle sheds and smoke house are located along Cockle Shed row, which remains largely unchanged since being built in the 19th century.

Image Copyright Dave Frost – www.davefrost.co.uk