May we be the first to wish you a Happy New Year with the hope that it proves to be a great improvement over the one just gone! We would also like to say thank you to all who have supplied us with articles for the newsletter.
However the breaking news, as I am typing this, is that Walsall and its surrounding areas have been moved into Tier 4 Covid restrictions. This does certainly curtail our options as the main instruction under Tier 4 is to stay at home. You should only go outside your home or garden when you have a ‘reasonable excuse’; such as Work and volunteering, Essential activities (buying food or medicine, collection of items order through click and collect or takeaway, obtaining or depositing money) etc. The full details of the governments rules and restrictions are available on line at www.gov.uk
Looking on the bright side the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use by the UK regulator and should be less difficult to deploy as it does not require the same level of refrigeration as the Pfizer vaccine.
After the virus: Part 2
It seems a long time since I sent the first short break idea on our newsletter but with a vaccine in the offing I thought I could offer another for an early break away.
This time we are off to my home county, Lancashire, although the authorities have renamed some bits as Merseyside and Greater Manchester. What self-respecting inhabitant of Wigan would admit to living in Greater Manchester?!
First stop is Speke Hall, where a Tudor Manor house lies on the banks of the river Mersey, with pretty gardens and an interior restored in the Arts and Crafts style, with original William Morris wallpapers.
If you intend to arrive in the afternoon I can recommend a stop on the way at the Glass Museum in St Helens, which has a lovely place to have lunch and where you can buy a range of attractive glassware.
Before you do the next part of the trip get out your smartphone. We are going to visit Antony Gormley’s “Another Place” at Crosby. Check the tides so you don’t make the same mistake as we did and see them completely submerged! This is a group of 100 male statues made from cast iron stretching for 1.5 miles along the estuary. Definitely not to be missed.
Nearby you will find the National Trust area of Formby with 3 miles of shifting sands and dunes, where you might be lucky enough to spot 5000 year old footprints or, at the very least, red squirrels playing in the pine woods.
Our last stop is Rufford Old Hall, a Tudor building with a Jacobean wing with an awe inspiring Great Hall. It may be (or it may not), that Shakespeare and his troupe played here.
Hope you have a great time. Eat Lob Scouse in the ‘Pool, Lancashire hotpot and Eccles cakes, or, if you get close to my home, a Chorley cake. Enjoy !
Andrew Carnegie’s Local Legacy
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was a Scottish American industrialist and one of the most important philanthropists of his era. Born in Dunfermline he emigrated with his parents to the US at the age of 12. His first job was in a bobbin factory but shortly afterwards he became a messenger boy in a telegraph company, progressing rapidly through the ranks of the company through his drive and enterprise. He made investments in railroads, bridges and oil derricks and finally built up Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company into the US’s largest integrated iron and steel concern. It later merged with several smaller companies to create US steel, which was sold to JP Morgan for over $400million in 1901, (worth over $6billion today).
With his fortune he devoted the rest of his life to large scale philanthropy with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research. His article, written in 1889, entitled “the Gospel of Wealth” called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society and this stimulated a wave of philanthropy which we still see today in such persons as Bill and Melinda Gates. In 1913 the charitable Carnegie UK Trust was established and still operates today.
Libraries created through his largesse number over 3000 and ar to be found in the US, Great Britain, Canada and other English speaking nations, with Carnegie providing the funds to build and equip them only on condition that the local authority matched the commitment by providing the land and a budget for operation and maintenance.
Several hundred were built in the UK, including a number of local examples, many grade II listed, in a variety of architectural styles left to local discretion, including Italian Renaissance, Arts and Crafts, Baroque, Classical Revival, Beaux arts, Spanish colonial and in the town of his birth, Scottish baronial. Some remain as libraries and others have found other uses.
Enjoy this tour of local libraries and I hope there are not too many mistakes!
While I have been pottering I came across this photograph of what is known in the USA as the most expensive bit of real estate in the country. It’s a nice field near some place called Yorktown in Virginia. It’s called Surrender Field and where the British Forces under Lord Cornwallis surrendered to the American /French forces under General George Washington. The British marched out of their defences with their standards furled, and their band playing The World Turned Upside Down.