Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Utterley Butterley

Butterley Ironworks is a former industrial site in Derbyshire with a history that incorporates historic events such as the Napoleonic Wars, the Pentrich Revolution and the building of St Pancras Station.

After literally hundreds of years of continued foundry work there, it is no longer in use and the future of the site, with it`s unique underground wharf, has been the subject of some debate.

Fortunately, I have written on the subject before, so I can be lazy and simply direct you to my articles A Tale of Two Ironworks (February 2010) , Ironworks Revisited (February 2010) and Ironworks Revisted Again (January 2011), all of which you will find at http://bookshelvesandbrownale.blogspot.com/ .

I shall, however, attempt to offset my laziness by directing you to a potted history of the site, to be found at www.gracesguide.co.uk/wiki/Butterley_Co and to more history and some sriking images at www.jacksdale.org.uk/pages/JDHeritage/Forge.htm . There are in fact many entries relating to the site online and it does pay to search around a bit. However, these are a couple I thought would complement each other nicely.


Voices for Libraries # 3 : 5 February is Save Our Libraries Day

I had hoped to write at greater length on the subject of the various campaigns against cuts to the library service, but work and family commitments leave me with relatively little time to spend on researching these things, and I`m conscious that others do it better in any case.

One such individual is the writer Alan Gibbons, who has been waging an epic  one-man war on library cuts. Another is Benedicte Page, who has written repeatedly on the subject at http://www.thebookseller.com/. Somerset man Steve Ross has been campaigning for a public debate on the subject and, while the Minister initially appeared to refuse this, he has now granted a debate to Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, whose constituency has seen a 17% increase in visits to libraries, in contrast to a national trend showing declining use.

Without further ado, I shall draw your attention to the proposed Save Our Libraries day being promoted by Mr Gibbons. Details are to be found in his articles ;

`February 5th : A Carnival of Resistance to Closure` (25 January 2011) and `Support Swells for Save our Libraries Day` (25 January 2011), both at http://alangibbons.net/ .

For more on libraries, including links etc, see these ;

Voices for Libraries ( this blog, 29 Sep 2010 ) and Voices for Libraries #2 ( this blog, 9 Dec 2010 ) and Long Eaton Library and a Local Historian`s Legacy  ( 16 Jan 2011 ) at http://bookshelvesandbrownale.blogspot.com/ .

Save Standard Quay

Located at Faversham in Kent, Standard Quay is one of two remaining boatyards where Thames sailing barges can be repaired and restored.

The boatyard is a viable going concern, with orders on the books. Craftsmen and apprentices are employed there, keeping traditional skills alive. The Quay is located at Faversham Creek and has a 300 year history of involvement with boatbuilding.

The threat to the boatyard`s continued existence will come in June when the lease expires and the owner plans to turn the yard into a tourist attraction/nightlife and restaurants type of thingy.

Campaigners are calling on Swale Borough Council to make a compulsory purchase order, which is probably unrealistic and almost certainly undesireable. It would be possible for the Council to rule out the proposed change of use, which is a secondary objective that campaigners have.

The campaign details, including links to media coverage are here ;  


Clearly, no-one is preventing the owner from continuing to own the land and draw revenue from it. The owners of the boatyard business are willing to continue to rent the property, and are equally willing to buy the freehold. They infer that there is a threat to their livelihood if they have to leave the premises to make way for a new development.

It would be interesting to know what arguments the property owners would put forward - presumably the proposed new development would, if viable, be more lucrative for them and would generate jobs.

Ultimately, it does present Swale Borough Council with a decision as to what kind of development they see as appropriate for their area, and how much they are prepared to intervene.  

Save Herne Hill Velodrome

Anyone who`s been watching Ration Book Britain on TV recently may have seen the features on the 1948 Olympics, including footage of Herne Hill Velodrome, a cycling track which was one of the venues for the finals of the Olympics and the only such venue to still be in active use.

The Velodrome - the word `velodrome` is a new one to me, but I quite like it - is threatened with closure due to deteriortation and lack of funding. I think I`m right in saying the threat to the site pre-dates the current round of government cuts. Campaigners hope to save and improve the site, which caters for all levels of cycling ability from beginners to professional athletes, by securing  a mix of corporate and individual funding and the efforts of volunteers.

It`s a site with a great history and it would be a shame if it was lost. To find out how you can help, visit ;



Saturday, 8 January 2011

Resolutions and Revolutions

Made your New Year`s Resolution yet ? It`s not to late to make a resolution with a difference this year.

The British Humanist Association is promoting something they call the `social resolution`. Instead of the usual (and usually unsuccessful) vows to lose weight/swear less/give up smoking or whatever, they suggest undertaking to do something  to help others. This might be something as simple as  helping out an elderly neighbour in some way, or  something slightly more involved such as  giving blood.

Find out more by visiting their web sites ;



BHA advocates "a world without religious privilege or discrimination where people are free to live good lives on the basis of reason, experience and shared human values." Although it is clearly an organisation that promotes a non-religious world view, this initiative is open to all and not restricted to the non-religious.

They explain their decision to run a project of this sort by explaining that individual responsibility, social co-operation and mutual respect are central tenets of humanism, and that this project is clearly in keeping with that.

Allowing/encouraging participation by people of faith is not necessarily as much of a departure as you may think. An entry on the BHA web site states "we campaign on the basis of human rights, including the rights of people with religious beliefs."

There have, inevitably, been complaints that the project could be seen as corresponding with the Tory `Big Society` project.  By the same token, another person might argue that the project is implicitly socialistic, though as far as I know no-one has. In point of fact, humanism is not the sole prerogative of socialists.  There`s certainly a Parliamentary Humanists Group which brings together non-religious MPs from all three major parties, and I for one am glad that it is run on cross-party lines. In any case, principles such as `individual respnsibility, social co-operation and mutual respect` are not the exclusive property of any political group, and are in any case open to interpretation.  As you may have gathered, I`m not a lover of sectarianism !

However, I digress. as you may know, Reggie the Hedgehog was a devoutly non-religious hedgehog and an advocate of  dialectical materialism. Here`s his picture once again !