Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cracks, cracking, and a cracking good time.. Sepia Saturday 167.

Read about Sepia Saturday blogs here


I have lots to write this week. I had never heard of Mosman Bay before this prompt photo made me investigate. What a beautiful bay, and what a shame someone cracked the glass slide. I have never been to Sydney, or Australia for that matter, but I should know more. My youngest daughter Fiona has been there since last October on a gap year before University in Nottingham next year, and is living in a back-packer's hostel a stone's throw from Mosman Bay.

If you sail south for one mile, to the right in this photo, and then turn west again for a further mile, you will come to Sydney Harbour Bridge, probably one of the best known landmarks of Australia.



A cracking good time

I want to share with you a letter written to my late first cousin once removed Victor Sydney (no connection) Smith when he was at school at Abbotsholme, a severe boys' boarding school on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border. It was from his aunts Mabel and Edith Smith of Derby, and they were cruising around Australia and were witnesses to, and enjoyed the party of the opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge on March 19, 1932.

(Own collection)
(Own collection)
(Own collection)

Orient Line SS Orford about to pass under the bridge. (Courtesy Flickr.)


Crack open the whisky!

Next I wondered what my Sydney friend "MS" could tell me about Mosman Bay, by way of anecdotes. I know he has always had yachts when he has lived in Sydney, and pined for sea-water when he lived in Derbyshire. Yes...he writes......... he knew it well from his days at Sydney Amateur Sailing Club just to the right of the prompt image on this side. I then got a totally unrepeatable story of bad behaviour when he took some work colleagues out on his boat, which commenced with .........."and after the race we cracked open a bottle of whisky. Needless to say the skipper fell asleep and the work colleagues chose to depart on the tender leaving me asleep.......on the mooring...no way of getting home......"



This morning this image arrived of "MS" and his wife and boys taking my daughter Fiona sailing shortly before I write this blog, a few bays to the north of Mosman Bay. This photo is about as fresh as you will ever see on Sepia Saturday, and Fiona is the one having a cracking good time.
(Courtesy "MS" collection.)



My poor ancestors

Here are some of my cracked but precious ancestor images:

Granny Aspdin circa 1895, yes, you have seen her before too many times, Evelyn, one of the skating Slater sisters.
(Own collection)


My great great grandfather Thomas Barnes of Ashbourne , 1810-1858. This is actually a tinted ambrotype image of an earlier ambrotype glass. You can see the edges of the original glass when its not behind the mount. So I suspect it was originally taken say circa 1856 when he was 46, and duplicated on his death for family members say 1858+. I have two copies, the other thankfully not cracked.
(Own collection)




A cracked glass plate of a coal fired kiln at my ancestral works of WH&J Slater, salt glazed sanitary pipes and fittings, chimney pots etc, Denby near Derby. Year unknown and difficult for me to date as it still looked like this in the 1950s when I was small, before the kilns were oil fired and salt glazing had to cease due to air pollution.
(Own collection)



I feel sure someone is going to date the kiln image for me now I can show you the box the slides are kept in.
(Own collection)



Cracking the whip!! For those who remember the Skating Slater Sisters of prior weeks, here is Beatrice Slater on horseback in the Derby yard of WH&J Slater, my home, with some of the pipes from the kiln. Circa 1906.
(Own collection)



5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters

Among the papers of my late father Lt Col Geoffrey Aspdin, relating to the capture of the 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters in Singapore in 1942, and time as POW slave labour on the Burma Siam railway, I found this cracked glass negative.

Glass negative (3.25 x 4.25 inches), almost certainly produced in the re-photographing of a positive image made in 1946/7 as the slide is stored in a Kodak bromide paper box with a stamped date of December 1946. The original image is Lt. Colonel Harold H Lilly, commanding officer of the 5th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters. He is photographed in Singapore between 29/1/1942 and 15/2/1942. He is looking very relaxed sitting reading in front of his tent, apparently oblivious of impending fall of Singapore and capture by the Japanese within days. From 1942 to 1945 the battalion were POWs treated by the Japanese as slave labour on the Burma Siam Railway. 450 officers and men of the battalion died in captivity.
(Own collection)
Luckily there is another positive image.
Lt. Colonel Harold H Lilly.

While the CO was reading, my father
 Captain Aspdin was taking a dip in the Straits of Johor




Jungle cemetery of some of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Burma Siam Railway. Photo assumed to be circa 1945 as markers are wooden.
(All own collection)

Lt. Colonel HH Lilly (left) was a well known commanding office on the railway and highly regarded by men and officers of many other regiments with whom he had contact. I have always felt that Alec Guinness modeled his appearance on him when he played the fictional Lt. Colonel Nicholson (right) in  the film Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). For the sake of historical accuracy, however, I have no evidence that this was the case.


Crack-Heads of Derby, Vandals, and Criminals

In Friar Gate, Derby, just round the corner from my home, is some beautiful street art, ceramic heads representing alleged prisoners from the old Derby Gaol, which was originally in Friar Gate. They were made about 14 years ago by artist Tim  Clapcott at a time when pavement renovation works were being carried out. Sadly Derby has its fair share of vandals, and it was inevitable that eventually someone would damage them, as indeed they did in 2010. The good people of the city were outraged at the loss of these much loved icons of our past.


Some cracked heads in 2010. I am too ashamed to show the worst damage.
(Own collection)

I carefully stored the cracked and broken bits wondering what the outcome would be. This weekend Tim Clapcott arrived with a new set of heads and has been working all hours for 3 days to get them installed. It is very exciting to have our prisoners back looking so good.

Artist Tim Clapcott installing his new heads In Friar Gate, March 3, 2013.
(Own collection)


I was able to show Tim an interesting news-sheet purchased by my ancestors April 1847 and carefully put away. More ancestors having a cracking good time, with free entertainment.

The ghoulish news sheet sold to spectators of public hangings at Derby Gaol.
(Own collection)

I will let you read the crimes you should not commit in Derby if you do not wish the hangman to crack your neck.




Finally.............: To the residents of Mosman Bay 
......A warning.........I suggest you continue to give Derby a miss !






The end









16 comments:

  1. Interesting post. Persons Hanged in Derby #60 burning stacks of corn. Who would have thought that deserved the death penalty!

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  2. A wonderful wander and all for the crack, loved the bits about the heads and the hangings (which can't be done without the former)

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  3. A wealth of images this week, cracked or not. I have an ancestor who spent time in Derby Gaol, but I don't recognise him amongst those heads.

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  4. I love how you used the theme in different variations. Wonderful photos. I don't know why people find it necessary to ruin things, such as the head art.

    Kathy M.

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  5. I've sent a lot of time in Derby working so U found this post particularly interesting especially as there was a Scotney transported to Australia. Glad he didn't live in Derby as it looks as if he would have been on the 'hanging' list - he didn't make it back either

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  6. This has been a delightful diversion in my day. Variations on a theme -- just too clever!

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  7. Enjoyed the letter--people don't write letters like that anymore.

    I don't think those heads would last very long here.

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  8. You have some great photos of the skating Slater sisters. A fun post!

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  9. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful, fact filled post of such detail and information. Wonderful photos too. A very excellent post, that you should treasure!

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  10. What a marathon effort. Thanks for the fascinating stories and -photos. That letter is a real gem - a first-hand, eye witness account of the event.

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  11. I think you covered every variation on the theme here. And then some.

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  12. I love the shot of Beatrice Slater; I am amazed that women could actually stay atop a horse riding sidesaddle...how awfully uncomfortable!

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  13. Quite a kaleidoscopic post. My favorite crime in that list is No.39 Thomas Knowles, for uttering a note. A street busker who sang one sour song too many?

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  14. When I saw the first image I said to myself "what's going on here .... and then read on and discovered. It was well worth the journey.

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  15. Looks like punishment was kind of drastic (there could a better word) in those days. You get hanged for forgery and burning stacks of corn - wow! And #66. I thought more of aged 18, not 16. But uttering a note? Really? Great post. The cracked glass slide made me smile. And sidesaddle reminds me of Princess Diaries II.

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