Sunday, 28 August 2016

Colchester Town Hall

I was down in Colchester on my way to the Clacton airshow. It is now in its 25th year, but unfortunately low cloud on Thursday severely curtailed the flying display. Even the Red Arrows had to do a shortened programme, but still spectacular never-the-less.

Wandering along the High Street in Colchester, you can't help noticing the scaffolding around the town hall's clock tower.

The town hall was built 1898 - 1902, and was opened in May 1902 by the Prime Minister the Earl of Rosebery. It has been a Grade I listed building since 1968.

Clearly work is now required to repair the clock, including the replacement of glass with Perspex. the following photos show work in progress, with the clock faces (three in total) removed but still up on the scaffolding.

The tower, incidentally, is 162 feet tall. It also houses Colchester's oldest bell (cast somewhere between 1380 and 1405), although not used to ring the hours.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Old Kent Road (Londonopoly #7)

It has been a long time since we last visited the Londonopoly board (based on a well-known game that shall not be named for legal reasons) - as far back as February 2014 in fact.

We have visited some of the posher sites, so now it is time to visit the cheapest square on the board, good old Old Kent Road.

I was half expecting not to find any clocks at all, and this looked likely to be the case half way along the 1.3 km walk, but then Lord Nelson came to my rescue in true British swashbuckling heroic style.

Or rather in the form of the Lord Nelson pub on the corner of, where else, Trafalgar Avenue.

The Old Kent Road is not only the old road to Kent, but it is truly an old road. It is currently part of the A2, but before that was part of the Roman Watling Street, and the Roman's themselves merely upgraded an ancient Celtic trackway.

One upon a time the Old Kent Road had 39 pubs, but the Lord Nelson is the only one surviving (although several others are now bars).

And a fact I hadn't realised is that the Old Kent Road is the only location on the Monopoly board that is south of the Thames.

So good old Lord Nelson on the good old very old Old Kent Road.

I will try not to leave it another two years before another Londonopoly posting.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Maidstone (Part 2)

And now for all of the Maidstone clocks that lie outside of the town centre.

I had seen a picture of a clock in the park, so my mission was to track it down. It is a fair distance to walk to Mote House, towards the eastern end of Mote Park, although it was a pleasant journey in the morning sunshine. Alas, the clock tower of the stable block is currently under scaffolding and the clock has been removed. The stable block is being converted into luxury dwellings.

At least there is a picture of how the clock will look like when the conversion is completed.

The long walk back into town at least afforded me a distant view of the cricket ground's clock.

And enabled me to visit St Philip's church on Waterloo Street.

And finally, St Michael and All Angels (the church that is - it would be pretty exceptional to see one angel in Maidstone, let alone all of them) on Tonbridge Road.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Maidstone (Part 1)

My backlog on posting is getting a bit out of hand now, so lets deal with the latest visits and come back some other day to those in the queue.

Maidstone, proud home of Kentish Men, or is it Men of Kent? Something to do with where you are in relation to the River Medway or something like that. Anyway, it is the proud home of the people of Kent, being the county town of said administrative area. Perhaps I should go back to the backlog. No, push on.

Clock  number one is this unusual tower on Broadway, where the road crosses the Medway.

It is somewhat marooned on what is in effect a large traffic island, made worse by the current road works which prevent a close-up inspection.

You can get a completely different angle of view by walking along the river:

By the way, does this upturned chair effect of the top of the tower have any local significance? The motif is repeated in an artwork by County Hall.

The postcard view of Maidstone is All Saints church by the river on Mill Street.

The clock was made by Gillett & Johnston in 1899.

It was built on the site of a 7th century church, but the current building dates from 1398.

As well as its clock, All Saints also boasts a sundial. Old technology, hah!

I probably should say more about the church, but I am actually more interested in this fabulous building nearby. Originally a Rootes garage, it is still today selling Peugeot cars.

A walk up the High Street brings us to the Town Hall, which dates from 1763.

Before reaching the Town Hall, turn left into Pudding Lane, At the end of the road you can see the clock under the sign of Fremlin Walk.

Fremlin Walk is a shopping centre, albeit quite nice as it is open-air. It was built on the site of the Fremlin brewery, whose emblem was an elephant. This gateway and its clock are all that remain of the brewery, which was once the largest in Kent.

If you walk under the arch and into the shopping centre you can see the other side of the wall - the clock is less impressive from this side, but I assume that it did not originally have a face as it had a rather useful brewery building all around it.

As I have said many times before, when ever you are drawing blanks in the great clock hunt, you can often rely on Marks and Spencer to come to your rescue.

This is the Maidstone store on Week Street (the home of 7 day shopping!). Week Street, so the leaflet "A Walking Tour of Historic Maidstone" informs me, lies along the line of a Roman road to Rochester. Which is somewhat ironic as none of the three clocks on the street has Roman numerals.

Just along Week Street is this clock on the branch of the Halifax.

I am indebted to Sarah P in the Ashford branch of H Samuel for pointing me in the direction of this one - it is on a busy street and is quite easy to miss (as I had done several times already).

The third clock on Week Street is on the corner of St Faiths Street.

It looks like it was originally illuminated, but at the moment is permanently stuck at 2.23.

Turning down St Faiths Street we see the church of the same name.

Next up is County Hall, and wow what a dartboard of a clock.

The building originally dates from 1910 - 13, with later extensions, and has a fine clock tower.

Finally, the large wall gives a clue that this next clock can be found within the grounds of the prison, which dares from 1812 - 1819.

Part 2 will look at the clocks outside of the town centre.