Saturday, 27 October 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Not much of a challenge this week, the Eastender Himself used to live in North London and knows this area well. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be :

Q1. Wood Green

Q2. Alexandra Palace

The initial clues place us in the metropolis, in the north London district of Wood Green (an aborescent sounding  suburb), which was where the late great Jack Hawkins was born (c1910). Hawkins played captain Ericson in a film called 'The Cruel Sea'. There is a 'new river' passing close to the tube and overground rail lines here and according to the references I looked at, it was constructed c 1609, to bring water from Hertfordshire into the city. The Lido referred to is most likely the Park road pool, which used to be called Hornsey Lido and was built c1929 (The Eastender Himself used to go swimming there on Sundays, when he lived in the big smoke).

Not too sure who the author was, Barry Took co authored a radio show/books called 'Beyond Our Ken'  with Eric Merriman (born c1924) and he was born in Muswell Hill c1928 (not sure if Muswell Hill can be considered part of Wood Green). There was also a book about Ken Livingston, also called 'Beyond Our Ken' co authored by Ken Livingston (born c1945) and David Morrison. David Copperfield's aunt, Betsey Trotwood, hated donkeys and I found a few references which claim that her husband was buried in St Mary's churchyard in Hornsey. From the satellite pictures, It looks like you can see St Mary's CE school and a churchyard and church tower next to it, from the train. According to the 'Friends of Hornsey Church Tower' website, this site was called St Mary's.

Walking south west from Wood Green takes us to Alexandra park (196 acres) another favourite with the Eastender, following your Sunday swim, you could get a pint of Guiness at the bar in the Ally Pally and sit out at the picnic tables on top of the hill, enjoying the views of London as you sipped it in the warm sun, IIRC there was also a very nice cafe at the Garden centre there, with a deck, where you could get a piece of cake and a cup of tea and also enjoy a pleasant seat in the sun as you read the papers.

One of the architects who designed the Alexandra Palace was Alfred Meeson (born c 1808). Meeson also did some work on the houses of Parliament. The theatre in the Ally Pally could according to some sources, seat 2500 people and it had a pipe organ in it (The Grand Willis Organ), which was built by a Henry Willis (born c 1821). The organ has had a somewhat chequered history, it had some of its pipes removed by squaddies and refugees (presumably sold for scrap) following the first world war and during world war two, somebody dropped a doodle bug (a type of primitive cruise missile) close to the Ally Pally. The resulting explosion took out the windows and the organ became exposed to the elements and suffered further damage, it was then vaporised in a fire c1980 before being partially restored by a descendant of Henry Willis in the 1990s.

Link to the competition

Where Was I? competition

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Not too difficult this week, no privileged access to restricted databases required to find the most likely answers, which near as I can figure it, seem to me to be:

Q1. Lewes

Q2. Gideon Algernon Mantell

From the initial clues given, it looks like the author is in the town of Lewes, in Sussex. There is a ruined priory there which was built c 11th century and was dedicated to a St Pancras (feast day 12th May, and patron saint of teenagers). I found some references which claim that the nave of the priory's church was 432 feet long and that Anne of Cleves was given a house there (c15th century) as part of a divorce settlement from Henry VIII (he obviously had a keen sense of irony over removing the head of someone called Cleves and decided upon the payment of a domicile instead). The priory of St Pancras according to some sources, was built by an earl called William de Warenne.

An American born art collector who caused a bit of controversy in the town and who lived for a time in Lewes house, was a chap known as Edward Perry Warren, he had lots of bohemians and hippies staying with him and some of the local nosey parkers, led by a Mary Whitehouse type woman called Kate Fowler Tutt, went crazy when he loaned Rodin's statue, 'The Kiss' to the town hall c1913-14 (Philistines, PR stunt to drum up visitors to the exhibition or both, who knows?). A surgeon, who was born  in Lewes c1790 and whose hobby was reconstructing fossilized dinosaurs, including iguanodons, was Gideon Algernon Mantell.

Lewes castle does indeed have two mounds of earth or mottes as they are known in the trade, upon which the fortifications stand and does have octagonal towers (some sources describe them as semi octagonal). It was, according to several references I looked at, built by William de Warenne.

Things were going well for the de Warenne clan and in 1264, they invited King Henry III down from London, for the St Pancras bank holiday weekend. They were in the castle popping a few pills and dancing to The Yardbirds, when someone came running in shouting, "The Rockers are here!". They ran to the northwestern side of the town and charged up the hill to a point about 104 metres (344 feet ) where they clashed with the Rocker hordes, who were steaming down the hill and about half their number. They were led by a guy called Simon de Montford (battle of Lewes). I found a contour line marked 100 metres on the ordnance survey map which shows the site of the battle, which is close enough to be in the right ballpark but I digress, there were beer bottles and deck chairs flying everywhere and during the melee, a policeman's helmet was knocked off and one of the king's team (a prince Edward) decided to pursue a contingent of the enemy, who'd left the battlefield to get some beers. This action caused the king's side to be defeated and his majesty fled and holed up in a night club called 'The Windmill' in a rough part of  town, from which he was later ejected by the bouncers for noising up the bar staff and given a good kicking by the waiting rockers........

Link to the competition:

Sunday Times Where Was I?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

More than a little bit tricky this week, very obscure question about a chocolate marketer which you need acccess to databases to find out about....

Q1. Glasgow School of Art

Q2. George James Harris.

(NB for question 2 I'm not totally sure about this one, there was a George James Harris who was chairman and marketing director of Rowntree and some unconfirmed sources say that he was born in Paisley road west, in Govan c1896)

From the initial clues, the puzzle author is travelling on 'The Clockwork Orange' or 'The Shoogle' as Glasgow's underground railway is better known. Allegedly, it takes 24 minutes to complete a circuit on this particular train set. From the positional information given, he is likely at Cowcaddens station and south west of there lies an art school, 'Glasgow School of Art', which was founded in 1845. The building was designed by a brilliant artist and architect, regarded as the innovative Banksy of his day , Charles Rennie Mackintosh (b 1868). He won a competition to design the art school c1894.  Sauchiehall street means 'Alley of Willows' or 'Meadow of Willows' and it's where Rennie Mackintosh implemented his  'Willow tearooms' project, which I believe are still there, though have not been in them for a few years. The entrepreneur who commissioned Mackintosh to design the tearoom, was Catherine Cranston (b 1849).

Travelling south takes us to St Enoch's underground station, near the river Clyde, which to quote Robbie Coltrane, "is long and wide", around 106 miles long according to some references. There was a large overground station there and what was at one time Scotland's largest hotel. These however, were not demolished until around 1977, to build a shopping mall. Heading west on the Shoogle, brings us to Ibrox, home of the now defunct Rangers football club, which has unfortunately been home to two disasters, in which people were crushed to death, one in 1902 and one in 1971.

Turning north west brings us to Govan, home of Govan Old Church which is the oldest church in the area and which has gravestones with viking carvings on them. I'm not a hundred percent sure about this one but according to some sources, the chocolate manufacturer might be George James Harris, chairman of Rowntree and born in Paisley road west c1896....

North from Govan brings us to the lively and bustling district of Partick, which the famous football club known as 'Partick Thistle Nil' is named after. Partick Thistle Nil, were runners up in the 1953 league cup and their ground is nearer to Maryhill, than Partick. The first international football match, according to some sources, was played at a cricket club ground in Hamilton crescent. Travelling east then south east brings us to St Georges cross station, which is close to the Mitchell Library, which was donated to the city by a tobacco manufacturer called Stephen Mitchell.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Not too difficult this week. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. Dover

Q2. Charles Rolls

(N.B For question 2, it is quite easy to select Sir Christopher Cockerell, pioneer of the hovercraft as the first pioneer, as he made his famous flight almost 50 years to the day that Bleriot made his but since I could not find a significant event which occurred in Dover on 2nd June 1960, concluded that the first pioneer was Bleriot and this indicates that Charles Rolls was the second pioneer, as he performed the first double crossing of the English channel in a powered aircraft, on the 2nd June 1910).

The initial clues place us in the town of Dover, on the Prince of Wales pier (1650 feet and completed 1902). The pier, in some of the photographs I saw of it, did have concrete panels with round windows in them at the landward end, to allow sightseers to view the activities in the hoverport below. A truly great British genius, Sir Christopher Cockerell (gawrd bless 'im leddies ed jittlemen) carried out the first pioneering hovercraft flight from Calais to Dover on the 25th July 1959 and there were passenger hovercraft operating there up until the year 2000.

The 4140 feet breakwater the author is referring to, is most likely Admiralty pier. According to some of the references I looked at, a guy called Matthew Web (b1848) set off from here to become the first person to successfully swim across the English channel without a buoyancy aid, on the 25th August 1875. Admiralty pier was fed with passengers, by a railway station called Dover Marine, which did indeed have a 700ft shed and was used by a luxury pullman train service, called the Golden Arrow which operated from London and Paris and left both cities at 11:00. Presumably, they were supposed to arrive in their respective destinations at 17:35. There was also a Dover promenade pier (900ft and demolished in 1927 from the sources I checked).

Looking about a mile north of the end of the Prince of Wales pier, means that the lighthouse must be on land and there appears to be a roman Pharos around 80 feet high in, the vicinity of Dover castle. The memorial commemorating the historic flight of Louis Bleriot is in the vicinity of the castle too. A brave pioneering aviator called Charles Rolls doubled Bleriot's flight, when he crossed the channel twice, the following year on the 2nd June 1910.

Link to Sunday Times Where Was I? Competition