Category Archives: History

A stroll by the Regent’s Canal

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Steve Taylor has kindly sent over these photos from the Regent’s Canal – like many of us I suspect, he adds variety to the working day by strolling to the nearest body of water at lunchtime to watch whatever’s going on.  (I’ll take a peek at the Thames myself when it comes to my turn.)

One day recently he hit gold – a working scene that could have been shot at almost any time in the past 150 years (if you ignore the welded seams of the lighter), followed one that belongs very much in the modern day.

‘As I’ve been working in Oxford Street I made my way to the Regents Canal and enjoyed a short walk during which I was cheered to see the waterway being used for a genuine practical – and commercial purpose. A building is being partially demolished and rubble is removed using a small steel lighter. This of course is eminently practical, since there is no street access to the rear of the property and no doubt the presence of a skip in the street would be inconvenient.

‘An added bonus was spotting a Banksy piece which can only have been executed from a boat – presumably at the dead of night? A walk along the canal is the perfect antidote to the drudgery of life in an office. The noise and fumes of London traffic are all left behind after a few paces along the towpath and it is hard to believe you are really in the middle of the big city!’

Thanks Steve!

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Victorian racing cutter Leila in the shed

Leila, cutter, victorian, southwold, rob bull, restoration, sail training, appeal, leila trust

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Leila, cutter, victorian, southwold, rob bull, restoration, sail training, appeal, leila trust Leila, cutter, victorian, southwold, rob bull, restoration, sail training, appeal, leila trust Leila, cutter, victorian, southwold, rob bull, restoration, sail training, appeal, leila trust

A kind invitation from Rob Bull of the Leila Trust took us to see Leila in the shed at Southwold where Rob and his colleagues are restoring the old boat to sailing order.* She’s certainly impressive as she towers over visitors with that 8ft keel – the photo at the top of this post tells no lies.

Talking with Rob, one can’t help but be awed by his enterprise and determination, and that of his co-workers. For more about Leila’s story and the appeal, see a previous post.

If you like what you see and can offer the Trust money or help to get her back on the water to begin her new life in sail training, you know what to do!

*Special thanks to Derek Simpson for tea in bed and a killer breakfast.

A Southwold memorial explained

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UK Home Built Boat Rally member John Lockwood has been in touch with a photo of the ship commanded by brave Captain David W Simpson MBE when he met his death.

Captain Simpson is today remembered by a memorial plaque outside Southwold’s Sailor’s Reading Room.

John writes:

‘I know you like following interesting threads. In connection with the memorial plaque included in yesterday’s post, I have attached a picture of the West Isleta, later the Empire Merlin, built in 1919 in Seattle, managed by Ropners Shipping, and torpedoed by U-boat U48 about 190 miles west of Cape Wrath.

‘The thought of a 70 year old captain working on that open bridge in the North Atlantic in winter makes me appreciate what a tough lot merchant navy sailors were in those days.  Incidentally Captain Simpson was previously Master of the SS Wandy, which attacked and sank a German U-boat in WWI.

‘Regards,  John’

I certainly do like a good story! Many thanks for the old photo and information John.