Monday, 4 December 2017

Chilwell Factory Explosion 1918

This can be found in the churchyard at Attenborough.

The Chilwell Factory Explosion killed 134 munitions workers and injured a further 250*.  

Because of the scale of the explosion only 32 of the dead could be positively identified, the rest were buried in a mass grave at St Marys Church, Attenborough and this blue plaque marks the spot.

There is a second memorial, but that is on MOD property and is only accessible to the public on special occasions.

With most young men away fighting in the war, many women worked in the factory - in fact one of the reasons for choosing the location (though not necessarily the main one) was that there was an existing local tradition of women working in factories, which was not the case elsewhere.

The women were nicknamed Canary Girls as over time their skin would turn yellow/orange due to exposure to TNT. 

I can`t hope to do justice to the subject in this short post, but would urge you to visit the many other sites with information on the Chilwell explosion. 

* I assume some of the injured died subsequently as the MOD memorial apparently lists 141 names (Imperial War Museum - National Shell Filling Factory Explosion - War Memorial Ref 26873).

Friday, 1 December 2017

Richard Dalby (ed) - The Virago Book of Ghost Stories Vol II - Virago - 1991

Richard Dalby (ed) - The Virago Book of Ghost Stories - Virago - 1991

I bought this from a charity shop near my home  recently and a key part of my decision to buy it was that it cost a mere 40 pence !

That said, it was 40 pence well spent.

My own personal preference runs to rather old-fashioned ghost stories but there again half the fun of a collection like this lies in trying stories one might never otherwise have come across.

For me the best of the more modern efforts has to be Penelope Lively`s Black Dog.

For the best of the older stories I would turn to Ann Bridge (The Station Road), Margaret Irwin (The Book) and Edith Nesbit (Number 17).

Inevitably there were a couple I was not so keen on, but the only one I really couldn`t get on with was Elinor Mordaunts` The Landlady.

There is an interesting contrast in the approaches taken by different writers. Ann Bridge in The Station Road leaves much unexplained and ambiguous whereas Ruth Rendell in her The Haunting of Shawley Rectory rather overdoes the after-the-event explanations, taking away some of the appeal of an otherwise excellent tale to my mind.

It`s right that at this point I should pay tribute to Scarborough man Richard Dalby who compiled this and many other volumes of a similar nature and who died earlier this year. 

I hope that reading this post will encourage others to learn more about this man, the many anthologies he compiled and his deep love of supernatural fiction of all types.

This blog will be returning to Richard Dalby at a later date, hopefully fairly soon. 


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Cool Times in Goole

Some years ago a customer emailed  me these rather fine pics from her home town of Goole.

I have always liked them and I think it`s time to share them with the world. 

I believe they depict the offices of the Goole Times. 

Goole Times still exists, though now based in different premises, and, along with it`s sister paper the Selby Times, proudly boasts of being "the area`s only locally-owned newspapers" (both belong to the Goole-based Chronicle Publications). 

I don`t know if the building still exists. If anyone can answer that, I`d be interested to hear from you. 

I`ve noticed a couple of sites online that may be interesting if you want to know more about the history of Goole. One is Howdenshire History, the other is . I expect there are others if you search about a bit. 

Footnote - I`m grateful to Susan Butler of the Howdenshire History web site for answering my question about this building. I`m pleased to be able to tell you that this building does still exist and is currently in use as a Cancer Research Shop. It was the second building to be used by the Goole Times and I would think it was purpose built for them. 

If you have a few spare moments you could do much worse than visit Susan`s site, which is well worth a visit.  

Pat Kelly - Sunshine - Duke Reid

You might think that a reggae version of a John Denver song was pretty much the last thing the world of music would need. 

In fact, this solo recording by Pat Kelly of The Techniques is a very fine thing indeed.

Naturally it has been re-issued repeatedly. 

Here are a couple of unusual and interesting issues. 

Pat Kelly`s version of Sunshine was produced by Duke Reid and this Jamaican issue (above) is possibly the original. Of the various labels run by Reid, Treasure Isle and Dutchess (sic) are probably the best-known. However, there were others,  including  Sure Shot, as in this case. 

 I would think the name of the label refers to Duke`s past career as a Jamaican Police Officer, in which capacity he won at least one award for marksmanship. 

I have also seen pictures of other Reid issues with the same label design but with the company name given as Sure Soul. 

This `70s re-issue is from the UK.  Black Wax was both a record label and a record shop, both based in Birmingham and both run by a man named Keith Thornton. As you can hopefully see, the label design is very `70s. 

I`m by no means an expert on the Black Wax story, but my understanding is that the label was set up to provide UK re-issues of work licensed from a number of different Jamaican producers, it did not specialise in the works of Duke Reid in the way some others did. 

It remains for me to point out that Pat Kelly is still around and I believe is still recording and performing. 

I myself have only recently come to fully appreciate his work but  feel sure his work is destined to give me many happy hours of listening in the future. 

Friday, 24 November 2017

June Thomson - Rosemary for Remembrance

June Thomson - Rosemary for Remembrance - Constable Crime - 1988

June Thomson is an astute observer of people, an ingenious plotter of detective stories and a more-than-capable writer.

Any criticisms I have should be seen within the context that `Rosemary` is a very accomplished piece of work.

One criticism I have is that the author seems to come over all breathless whenever a Policeman hoves into view. Quite early in the book we are told that officers attending a murder scene are in `official Police cars` and that the Officer in Charge of the case is `a professional Police Officer`. In the same spirit another Officer is described as "uniformed" even though it is perfectly obvious without being stated. The sole woman Officer in the book is confined to making tea.

Periodically, the author is overcome by a slightly excessive desire for detail. When the Police visit the home of one character we are treated to something of a guide to interior decor, including the carpet (burgundy) an eiderdown (pink), a suite of furniture (figured walnut)  and a bedside cabinet ("light oak").  

You might think these are rather carping criticisms given the authors` obvious strengths, and perhaps you`d be right. For me personally, these details became a touch wearing, so while overall I enjoyed the book and admired the authors` people-watching skills, I`m not sure I`d read another of her books. 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Whitby Wanderings (1)

On a holiday in Whitby some time ago I came across this rather intriguing building.

Unfortunately it was difficult to get a decent picture without stepping backwards into moving traffic, something I was not inclined to do !

As you`ll see, the building has undergone a few changes of use, as you would expect. 

According to a 2016 article in the Whitby Gazette, based on information provided by Whitby Civic Society, Arthur Sawdon used the building in connection with a carpets and bedding business, whereas Geo Thompson, who named the building Wellington House, ran two business - tuning/repairing keyboards on the one hand and acting as an auctioneer and valuer on the other. 

When I was last in the area it was occupied by a firm of Solicitors.

If you ever feel the need to have your organ tuned by a Solicitor, this might be the place to go !