Tag Archives: Harrogate

Yorkshire – Ripon Cathedral and Tykes on Bikes

Ripon Market Place

“I came around a corner in the road, not thinking of anything other than reaching my destination, miles to the north, in the Yorkshire Dales,  rising up ahead of me… was a gorgeous church, practically towering over me.” 

The website Britain Express awards Ripon Cathedral a Heritage rating of four out of five and we entered through the main doors and waited for a few minutes while prayers were being said and then made a rapid tour of one of the smallest cathedrals in England.

Read the full story here…

 

Yorkshire – Harrogate, The Poshest Town in North of England

Harrogate

Harrogate is a nice town. It is consistently voted as one of the best places to live in the UK and in 2014 a poll of forty-thousand people found that Harrogate was the happiest place to live in the United Kingdom for the second year running. Interestingly the ten most unhappy places were all in Greater London.

Read the full story here…

 

Yorkshire, England – York, The National Railway Museum

The Mallard National Railway Museum York

In my last post I was in the city of York and I made reference to the National Railway Museum.

This is a post from five years ago about a visit that I made there.

Yorkshire, England – York, The National Railway Museum and Speed Records

Number_4468_Mallard_in_York

Weekly Photo Challenge: Time – World Speed Records

The Mallard National Railway Museum York

I suppose I have to concede that the most famous and best loved steam locomotive is the Flying Scotsman, but my personal favourite is  the garter blue LNER Mallard, a class A4 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive, designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built at Doncaster, England in 1938.

I visited the National Rail Museum in York just to see it and was not disappointed when I got up close in the exhibition hall, taking pride of place it gleams to almost impossible perfection along the entire length of  its fashion-model, streamlined body – it must take several hours every evening to get the fingerprints of the admiring visitors removed!

The Mallard is the current record holder of the world speed record for a steam locomotive which it achieved in 1938 by reaching a speed of 126 mph (203 kmh) in Lincolnshire between Grantham and Peterborough.  It is difficult to imagine what this must have felt like as the one hundred and seventy tonne engine and tender dragged its coaches at top speed over railway lines that were designed for much lower speeds, the noise and the shaking must have been unimaginable.  To see what it might have been like I paid £4 to take a ride in a simulator which tried to recreate the record breaking attempt.

In the 1930s some people were obsessed with speed and breaking records.  In the same year that Mallard broke the steam powered record a man called Rudolf Caracciola drove a Mercedes-Benz W125 Rekordwagen at a speed of 268 mph (433 kmh) on a German Autobahn which is a record that still stands as the fastest ever officially timed speed on a public road.

In February 1938 Squadron Leader J.W. Gillan flew an RAF Hawker Hurricane fighter plane from Edinburgh to London in forty-eight minutes and achieved a record land plane speed of 409 mph (660 kmh).  I expect that he was in a bit of a rush to get back to the officer’s mess before closing time!

Also in 1938 Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the water speed record in Bluebird K3 when he achieved a speed of 141 mph (227 kmh) on Lake Maggoire in Switzerland.  In the following year he broke the record again in K4 on Lake Coniston in the Lake District in England.

The Mallard National Railway Museum York

 

Yorkshire, England – York, The National Railway Museum and Speed Records

The Mallard National Railway Museum York

I dedicate this post to the memory of Kate of roughseasinthemed, a woman of spirit who loved everything Yorkshire (and Gibraltar).

In the morning the sky remained stubbornly steely grey and there was a steady pitter-patter of rain against the window and I instantly remembered another reason why I don’t really like going away in England – the weather is just so unreliable!

This presented us with a dilemma.  Our original plan was to drive north to Thirsk and visit nearby Rieveaux Abbey and then drive home on a scenic route through the East Riding but the weather was just so gloomy that this didn’t seem sensible so we debated our options and decided to go to York and the National Railway Museum and after an excellent ‘full English’ breakfast we paid up, said our goodbyes and moved on.

It isn’t very far from Harrogate to York and Kim must have been working on her timing because as we approached the outskirts of the city she proposed that perhaps I would prefer to go and see the National Railway Museum by myself while she went shopping instead.  I was quite unable to understand why anyone would prefer shopping to steam engines but I agreed of course and we set about finding a convenient car park.

And here is another reason I don’t like visiting English tourist cities – £7 to park the car for three hours, which is absolutely scandalously excessive and would probably even have had the York highwayman Dick Turpin blushing with embarrassment. So, car parked, wallet emptied, Kim made for the shops and I went in the opposite direction towards the Railway Station.

There was a long queue at the museum entrance which struck me as strange as there is free admission (it is aligned to the Science Museum in London)* but the reason was simple – there was a registration desk where visitors expecting a freebie were being shamed into making a contribution.  Apparently the Museum is at risk because of under-funding so, here’s an idea, just abandon the stupid free admission to museums policy and charge people to go inside and the funding crisis is solved.  (I should be a politician or a policy-maker, I’d get things sorted out)!

I had wanted to go the National Railway Museum for a long time and I was not disappointed.  I started in the smaller of the two halls where there was a collection of Royal trains and carriages before going outside to the open air part of the museum where there was the chance to take a short steam engine ride.  There was a price to pay so I naturally declined!

After that I went to the grand hall where there is a collection of some of the UK’s iconic steam engines including my personal favourite, the garter blue LNER Mallard (Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive built at Doncaster, England in 1938) gleaming to almost impossible perfection along the entire length of  its fashion-model, streamlined body – it must take several hours every evening to get the fingerprints of the admiring visitors removed!

The Mallard Record Breaking Speed York

The Mallard is the current record holder of the world speed record for a steam locomotive which it achieved in 1938 by reaching a speed of 125 mph (203 kmh) in Lincolnshire between Grantham and Peterborough.  It is difficult to imagine what this must have felt like as the massive one hundred and seventy tonne engine and tender dragged its coaches at top speed over railway lines that were designed for much lower speeds, the noise and the shaking must have been unimaginable.  To see what it might have been like I paid £4 to take a ride in a simulator which tried to recreate the record breaking attempt.

In the 1930s some people were obsessed with speed and breaking records.  In the same year that Mallard broke the steam powered record a man called Rudolf Caracciola drove a Mercedes-Benz W125 Rekordwagen at a speed of 268 mph (433 kmh) on a German Autobahn which is a record that still stands as the fastest ever officially timed speed on a public road.

In February 1938 Squadron Leader J.W. Gillan flew an RAF Hawker Hurricane fighter plane from Edinburgh to London in forty-eight minutes and achieved a record land plane speed of 409 mph (660 kmh).  I expect that he was in a bit of a rush to get back to the officer’s mess before closing time!

Also in 1938 Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the water speed record in Bluebird K3 when he achieved a speed of 141 mph (227 kmh) on Lake Maggoire in Switzerland.  In the following year he broke the record again in K4 on Lake Coniston in the Lake District in England.

Time was passing by now and it looked as though I might have to attempt a speed record of my own if I was to see all of the exhibits in the Museum before returning to the car park for the agreed rendezvous time with Kim.  I failed in this task because there was just too much to see in the memorabilia section of the Museum so I left thinking that one day soon I may have to return.

The journey home was simply awful.  It rained continuously and there were hold ups, road works and diversions for what seemed like the entire drive and I found myself sympathising with motorists trying to get in and out of Gibraltar when the Spanish border police start playing up.

Number_4468_Mallard_in_York

* Other Free Admission Museums in the UK:

  • Imperial War Museum, London
  • Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester
  • National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield
  • National Football Museum, Preston
  • National Maritime Museum, London
  • National Museums Liverpool
  • Science Museum, London
  • Natural History Museum, London
  • National History Museum, Tring, Hertfordshire
  • People’s History Museum, Manchester
  • Royal Armouries, Leeds
  • Victoria & Albert, London

Yorkshire, England – Harrogate

Harrogate

We had arranged an overnight stay in Harrogate because we used to go there regularly every year to the Institute of Housing Annual Conference. This was an annual event when Housing professionals from all over the country would get to together to enjoy corporate hospitality, drink too much and generally collectively misbehave – and to go to some conference lectures of course.

We had regularly stayed in a guest house, the Welford, close to the town centre so we thought that we might reprise our visits.

We drove past Knaresborough which is an interesting place noted mostly for the tourist attraction Mother Shipton’s Cave which claims to be the oldest visitor attraction in England and where visitors leave odd items of clothing, like a tie or a bowler hat or a bonnet and the drip, drip of the limestone infused water eventually calcifies the item and turns it to stone. It takes a long time of course and I have always wondered what the point is of leaving something that you can never go back and collect within your own lifetime! We had been there before so we didn’t feel as though we were missing anything today.

Harrogate is a nice town. It is consistently voted as one of the best places to live in the UK and in 2014 a poll of forty-thousand people found that Harrogate was the happiest place to live in the United Kingdom for the second year running. Interestingly, even with obscenely spiraling property values, the ten most unhappy places were all in Greater London.

And Harrogate is posh, seriously posh. It is the only place north of the M25 where the residents unashamedly (and with some justification) consider themselves to be socially superior to people in the South in places like Surrey and Hertfordshire.  When I was a boy I can remember my Grandmother speaking about Harrogate even then as though it was a sort of mystical Shangri-La!

After we had settled in we sat in our room and watched the sky cloud over, white, grey and then black and then it rained and I remembered that this is another good reason why I generally prefer to go to Spain or Greece for a few days away.

Kim went to a mini-market that we remembered around the corner and I settled down to some research.  Two pieces of trivia lodged in my brain.  In 1926 the author Agatha Christie mysteriously went missing from her home in Berkshire and was discovered ten days later in Harrogate at the Old Swan Hotel where she was staying under an assumed name.  So, posh person from Sunningdale chooses to disappear for a while in up-market Harrogate!

Secondly, and this is my favourite, in 1982 the twenty-seventh Eurovision Song Contest was held and broadcast from the Harrogate Conference Centre.  I had time to do this research because Kim took longer than expected and when she came back she reported that the shop had gone and was now a block of posh flats!

After a couple of hours it still hadn’t stopped raining but we were getting hungry now so there was no putting off going out for something to eat and we stepped out into the dreary streets and made our way to a restaurant we knew and liked. It wasn’t there any more, it had changed hands and anyway it was closed so we walked into the town and I remembered another reason why I prefer to go to Spain or Greece for a few days away. In contrast to a Spanish Plaza Mayor the town centre was deserted, just a few youths on skateboards outside McDonalds and some sad smokers in pub doorways sheltering from the drizzle.

This is a sad feature of English towns where once the shops close at about five o’clock everyone goes home and the main streets are abandoned as though someone has declared a national emergency and everyone has hurried away. In fact, in England most people are suspicious of anyone who wants to stay in a town centre after six o’clock and will happily call the police to investigate if they spot someone hanging around.

Before moving to Grimsby I lived in the small town of Spalding which had a great number of Eastern Europeans living there. It turns out that Poles and Latvians rather enjoy going to the town centre to meet friends in the evening but the residents of Spalding found this difficult to come to terms with and were forever complaining about foreigners in the market place because they considered this to be un-English, unnatural and perverted.

And so we made our way to the Drum and Monkey, a pub with a restaurant that specialises in fish and sea food and we had a fairly good, but rather overpriced meal but they didn’t want us hanging about for too long and after we had finished they declared that they were closing for the night and they would rather appreciate it if we would hurry up with our last drinks and be so good as to move on.

It was still raining outside but this hadn’t stopped the skateboarders from riding up and down or forced the smokers inside and we were left feeling disappointed with Harrogate and made our way back to the guest house and an early night.

Harrogate Spa