Shrewsbury Steam Rally

Coalbrookdale Engine

This years Shrewsbury Steam Rally takes place Sunday 27 and Monday 28 August (Bank Holiday Monday) at Onslow Park, Shrewsbury. This year there will be over a thousand different exhibits on display including Steam-powered tractors, steam Rollers, Fairground showman engines, Historic military vehicles, Veteran and classic cars and commercial vehicles, Classic motorbikes, Vintage tractors, Vintage fairground organs and other machinery, Plus a range of oil and steam-powered static engines. The Main Arena will play host to a variety of events including a range of ploughing and threshing demonstrations on the working field, showing the history of farming as it has changed through the last century. Teams of shire horses will plough part of the site, as part of the heavy horses display, steam-powered cultivation will also be demonstrated. There will also be a birds-of -Prey display in the main arena demonstrating falconry.

London Steam Carriage

Shrewsbury Steam Rally will also be exhibiting one of the the first railway locomotives in the world, The Coalbrookdale Locomotive in association with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum. The Coalbrookdale Locomotive was originally Designed by Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick and built by the Coalbrookdale ironworks in 1802. Trevithick disagreed with James Watt’s assertion that ‘high-pressure steam’ was extremely dangerous and set out to prove so. However James Watt had taken out many patents on all aspects of steam engines to prevent others even experimenting. Despite this, Trevithick and one or two men (even one of Watt’s staff) began working on small high-pressure steam engines in secret for pumping water and road steam engines. In 1801 when Watts’ patents finally ran out Richard Trevithick took up the challenge in the form of two road vehicles. Then In 1802 Trevithick took out a patent for his high pressure steam engine. To prove his ideas, he built a stationary engine at the Coalbrookdale Company’s works in Shropshire in 1802. The Coalbrookdale company then built a rail locomotive for him. Sadly the only known information about it comes from a drawing preserved at the Science Museum, London, together with a letter written by Trevithick to his friend, Davies Giddy. The design incorporated a single horizontal cylinder enclosed in a return-flue boiler. A flywheel drove the wheels on one side through spur gears, and the axles were mounted directly on the boiler, with no frame. In 1803 Trevithick built another steam-powered road vehicle called the London Steam Carriage, which attracted much attention from the public and press when he drove it that year in London from Holborn to Paddington and back. However It was uncomfortable for passengers and proved more expensive to run than a horse-drawn carriage and so the project was abandoned. In 1989 GKN Sankey in association with The National Vulcan Insurance Company decided to build a replica the Coalbrookdale Locomotive using letters from Trevithick himself and a drawing held by what was the original patents office in London. It was assembled by a team of nine apprentices and was later donated to the museum on the 18th of July 1990.

The Portsmouth Action Field Gun Display Team will also be performing a truly spectacular event called the South Africa Challenge, involving a Command 1 tonne, 12-pounder field gun and limber (a two-wheeled cart designed to support the trail and the stock of a field carriage) which will be raced across the main arena. The display in its present form was started in 1907, inspired by the exploits of the Navy during the Boer War in 1899. From 2001 the Field Gun crews and staff of Portsmouth Action Field Gun (PAFG) have been committed to continue to train for and display these competitive Field Gun runs. In 2001 the ‘field gun run’ was resurrected by a crew and staff comprising ex-field gunners and civilians who wanted to prove that a civilian field gun crew had the ability to perform competitive field gun runs using the same drill and equipment over the same course as the former Royal Naval gunners did for a hundred years. A South Africa Challenge was performed at The International Festival of the Sea (IFOS) in Portsmouth in June 2005. The South Africa Challenge involves two teams racing each other to dis-assemble and re-assemble the Field Gun on the carriage and fire (a blank) at each end of the run. Six full competitive field gun runs were completed with a fastest time recorded of 3 minutes and 33 seconds. In 2010 the crew trained at Mill Rythe Holiday Centre on Hayling Island, and achieved the target of having 2 running crews by the end of 2010 to coincide with the re-introduced British Military Tournament (BMT) at Earls Court.

The Red Arrows aerobatic display team will also be doing a fly-past of the Shrewsbury steam Rally. The highlight of Steam Rally will be the Grand Parade set to nostalgic music and poetry, involving all kinds of other vehicles, from Steam Traction Engines, Showman Engines, military vehicles historic lorries classic motorbikes and classic cars,

Florence Welch (Florence +the Machine)

English musician, singer and songwriter and Lead singer of Indie rock band Florence+The Machine, Florence Leontine Mary Welch was born 28 August 1986. She rose to fame as the lead singer of Florence + the Machine, an English indie rock band. The band’s debut album, Lungs, was released in 2009; on January 17, 2010, the album reached the top position, after being on the chart for 28 consecutive weeks. The group’s second studio album, Ceremonials, released in October 2011, debuted at number one in the UK and number six in the United States.

According to Welch, the “Florence + the Machine” as a band name “started off as a private joke that got out of hand. I made music with my friend, who we called Isabella Machine to which I was Florence Robot. When I was about an hour away from my first gig, I still didn’t have a name, so I thought ‘Okay, I’ll be Florence Robot/Isa Machine’, before realising that name was so long it’d drive me mad.” In 2006 Welch’s performances with Summers in small London venues under the joint name Florence Robot/Isa Machine began to attract notice. in 2007 Welch recorded with a band named Ashok, who released an album titled Plans on the Filthy Lucre/About Records label. This album included the earliest version of her later hit “Kiss with a Fist”, which at this point was titled “Happy Slap” She signed a contract for Ashok with a manager, but feeling that she was “in the wrong band” she resigned, which cancelled the contract Florence and the Machine is managed by Mairead Nash (one half of the DJ duo Queens of Noize), who decided to manage the singer when an inebriated Welch followed Nash into the toilets at a club and sang Etta James’ 1962 song “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”.

Florence and the Machine released their debut album Lungs in the United Kingdom on July 6, 2009. The album was officially launched with a set at the Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley, South East London. It peaked at number one in the UK and number two in Ireland. As of August 6, 2009, the album had sold over 100,000 copies in the UK and by 10 August it had been at number two for five consecutive weeks The album was produced by James Ford, Paul Epworth, Steve Mackey and Charlie Hugall .Welch contributed vocals to David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s 2010 album Here Lies Love, an album about Imelda Marcos As of January 2011, Welch was working with Drake on material slated for his upcoming record.The band’s second album, Ceremonials, was released on October 31, 2011. It debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and number six on the US Billboard 200.On 12 January 2012, Florence and the Machine were nominated for two Brit Awards, with theawards ceremony taking place on 21 February 2012 at the O2 Arena, London. On 26 April 2012, the band released “Breath of Life”, a song which was recorded as the official theme song for the film Snow White and the Huntsman. On 5 July 2012, a remix of “Spectrum (Say My Name)” by Scottish musician Calvin Harris was released as the fourth single from Ceremonials, becoming the band’s first UK number-one hit.

In October 2012, she featured on Scottish singer-songwriter and producer Calvin Harris’s song “Sweet Nothing”, which debuted and peaked at number one on the UK singles chart, marking Welch’s second number one. The song was taken from Harris’s third studio album 18 Months and is the fifth single from the album. “Sweet Nothing” also peaked at number one in Ireland and number two inAustralia and New Zealand. “Sweet Nothing” was certified Platinum in Australia. They made love several times during the recording.Florence has been compared to other female singers such as Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux, PJ Harvey, and Björk. During an interview, Welch cited Grace Slick as her influence and “hero”. Florence and the Machine’s style has been described as “dark, robust and romantic”. Their music is a mix of “classic soul and midnight-on-the-moors English art rock”. Florence Welch stated that her lyrics related to Renaissance artists : “We’re dealing with all of the same things they did : love and death, time and pain, heaven and hell”. Florence and the Machine’s third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was released in 2014.

Hugh Cornwell (Stranglers)

Hugh Cornwell lead singer with English Punk rock band the Stranglers was born 28 August. 1949 He startted his musical career in the band Johnny Sox but after reading an advertisement in the Melody Maker magazine. Cornwell joined Jet Black in The Stranglers in 1974.The Stranglers have had some 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums to date in a career spanning four decades, the Stranglers are the longest-surviving and most “continuously successful” band to have originated in the UK punk scene of the mid to late 1970s. Beginning life as the Guildford Stranglers on 11 September 1974 in Guildford, Surrey, they originally built a following within the mid-1970s pub rock scene. While their aggressive, no-compromise attitude identified them as one of the instigators of the UK punk rock scene that followed, their idiosyncratic approach rarely followed any single musical genre and the group went on to explore a variety of musical styles, from New Wave,art rock and gothic rock through the sophisticated pop of some of their 1980s output.

They had major mainstream success with their single “Golden Brown”. Their other hits include “No More Heroes”, “Peaches”, “Always the Sun” and “Skin Deep”.The Stranglers’ early sound was driven by Jean-Jacques Burnel’s melodic bass, but also gave prominence to Dave Greenfield’s keyboards at a time when the instrument was seen as unfashionable. Their early music was also characterised by the growling vocals and sometimes misanthropic lyrics of both Jean-Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell. Over time, their output gradually grew more refined and sophisticated. Summing up their contribution to popular music, critic Dave Thompson later wrote: “From bad-mannered yobs to purveyors of supreme pop delicacies, the group was responsible for music that may have been ugly and might have been crude – but it was never, ever boring.”His style is usually simple and jazz-influenced, although “Duchess” and “Down in the Sewer” are examples of Stranglers songs that feature more frantic drumming. In the mid-1980s, Black elected to cease playing acoustic drums in the recording studio and used aSimmons kit triggered by pick-ups, most notably on the Feline and Aural Sculpture albums.

In 1990 Hugh Cornwell decided that the band could go no further artistically. He recorded the album 10 with the band before leaving after sixteen years. After leaving The Stranglers, Cornwell worked with Roger Cook and Andy West as CCW. Their self-titled album was released in 1992, with five tracks co-produced by Neil Davidge. Cornwell has released several solo albums including Wolf (1988) produced by Ian Ritchie, Wired (1993), Guilty (1997), Hi Fi (2000), Footprints in the Desert (2002), Mayday (2002), In the Dock (2003), and Beyond Elysian Fields (2004). Wired, Guilty and Hi Fi were released under different names, and with slightly different track listings, in the United States. Beyond Elysian Fields was initially released by Track Records in the UK, followed by Invisible Hands Music in the rest of the world, with expanded artwork. In 2006 a live album in two forms appeared: People Places Pieces, a triple CD box set, accompanied by a simultaneously released mass-market highlights disc, Dirty Dozen. The 12-track highlights disc, Live It and Breathe It, was released in 2005 in advance of the box set.

In December 2006, Cornwell toured with Blondie in the UK, and in September 2007 with Robert Williams. Three new songs were previewed, “Bangin’ On”, “Please Don’t Put Me On A Slow Boat To Trowbridge” and “Delightful Nightmare”. After this tour, the drum stool was taken over by Chris Bell, with bassist Caroline Campbell completing the current trio. In June 2008, Cornwell followed in the footsteps of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails by offering his new album Hooverdam as a free download on his website.. The album was accompanied by a film, Blueprint, which depicted the recording process of the album. Cornwell explained that the film was partly motivated by the risible quality of DVDs accompanying contemporary CD releases. Blueprint borrows from Godard’s “Sympathy For The Devil” and Jewison’s The Thomas Crown Affair”.The film had a limited theatre release in June 2008, with Cornwell attending each screening and taking part in a Q&A session at the end of the film. In February and March 2009, with the rhythm section of Campbell and Bell, Cornwell took Hooverdam on a tour of the UK and France. On 26 June 2009 they played at the Glastonbury Festival. In late 2009, Cornwell and his band toured the US and the UK playing Both Hooverdam and Rattus Norvegicus (album) albums. In 2010, Cornwell toured the US with Steve Fishman on bass and vocals and Clem Burke from Blondie on drums. At the Mercury Lounge they were also joined onstage with Tim Wheeler. Hugh Cornwell’s latest album solo “Totem & Taboo was released 10 September 2012.

John Betjeman CBE

English poet, writer and broadcaster Sir John Betjeman, CBE. Was Born 28 August 1906, He was a founding member of the Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture. He Started his career as a journalist, and ended it as one of the most popular British Poets Laureates and a much-loved figure on British television. Betjeman’s early schooling was at the local Byron House and Highgate School, where he was taught by the poet T. S. Eliot. After this, he boarded at the Dragon School preparatory school in North Oxford and Marlborough College, a public school in Wiltshire. In his penultimate year, he joined the secret ‘Society of Amici’ in which he was a contemporary of both Louis MacNeice and Graham Shepard. While at school, his exposure to the works of Arthur Machen won him over to High Church Anglicanism, a conversion of importance to his later writing and conception of the arts.

Betjeman studied at the newly created School of English Language and Literature at Magdalen College , Oxford University ,where he dedicated most of his time to cultivating his social life, his interest in English ecclesiastical architecture, and to private literary pursuits.He also had a poem published in Isis, the university magazine and was editor of the Cherwell student newspaper during 1927. His first book of poems was privately printed with the help of fellow-student Edward James. Betjeman left Oxford without a degree but he had made the acquaintance of people who would influence his work. After university, Betjeman worked briefly as a private secretary, school teacher and film critic for the Evening Standard. He was employed by the Architectural Review between 1930 and 1935, as a full time assistant editor, following their publishing of some of his freelance work. At this time, while his prose style matured, he joined the MARS Group, an organisation of young modernist architects and architectural critics in Britain.The Shell Guides, were developed by Betjeman and Jack Beddington, a friend who was publicity manager with Shell-Mex Ltd. The series aimed to guide Britain’s growing number of motorists around the counties of Britain and their historical sites. They were published by the Architectural Press and financed by Shell. By the start of World War II 13 had been published, of which Cornwall (1934) and Devon (1936) had been written by Betjeman. A third, Shropshire, was written with and designed by his good friend John Piper in 1951.

Upon the outbreak of World War II In 1939, Betjeman was rejected for active service but found work with the films division of the Ministry of Information. During his time he wrote a number of poems based on his experiences in “Emergency” World War II Ireland including “The Irish Unionist’s Farewell to Greta Hellstrom in 1922″ (actually written during the war) which contained the refrain “Dungarvan in the rain”. After the war Betjaman published more work and By 1948 he had published more than a dozen books. Five of these were verse collections and The popularity of the book prompted Ken Russell to make a film about him, John Betjeman: A Poet in London which was first shown in England on BBC’s Monitor programme. He continued writing guidebooks and works on architecture during the 1960s and 1970s and started broadcasting. He was also a founder member of The Victorian Society (1958). In 1973 he made a widely acclaimed television documentary for the BBC called Metro-land, directed by Edward Mirzoeff. Betjeman was also fond of the ghost stories of M.R. James and supplied an introduction to Peter Haining’s book M.R. James – Book of the Supernatural. Betjeman also wrote a great many poems which are often humorous and in broadcasting he exploited his bumbling and fogeyish image. His wryly comic verse is accessible and has attracted a great following for its satirical and observant grace. Betjeman s religious beliefs come through in some of his poems .Betjeman became Poet Laureate in 1972, the first Knight Bachelor ever to be appointed (the only other, Sir William Davenant, had been knighted after his appointment). This role, combined with his popularity as a television performer, ensured that his poetry eventually reached an enormous audience.

Betjeman also had a fondness for Victorian architecture and was a founding member of Victorian Society and also wrote on this subject in First and Last Loves (1952) and more extensively in London’s Historic Railway Stations in 1972, defending the beauty of the twelve London railway stations. He led the campaign to save Holy Trinity, Sloane Street in London when it was threatened with demolition in the early 1970s. He fought a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to save the Propylaeum, known commonly as the Euston Arch, London. He is considered instrumental in helping to save the famous façade of St Pancras railway station, London and was commemorated when it re-opened as an international and domestic terminus in November 2007. He called the plan to demolish St Pancras a “criminal folly”. ” On the re-opening St Pancras in 2007, a statue of Betjeman was commissioned from curators Futurecity. A proposal by artist Martin Jennings was selected from a shortlist. The finished work was erected in the station at platform level, including a series of slate roundels depicting selections of Betjeman’s writings. Betjeman responded to architecture as the visible manifestation of society’s spiritual life as well as its political and economic structure. He attacked speculators and bureaucrats for what he saw as their rapacity and lack of imagination.

John Betjeman sadly passed away on 19 May 1984, aged 77 and is buried in the churchyard at St Enodoc’s Church. During his life he recieved many honours including the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire), Companion of Literature, the Royal Society of Literature, a Knight Bachelor he was also made an Honorary Member, the American Academy of Arts in 1973 and was made poet Laureate in 1972. To commemorate Betjeman A memorial window, designed by John Piper, is set in All Saints’ Church, Farnborough, Berkshire, where Betjeman lived in the adjoining Rectory and there is also The Betjeman Millennium Park at Wantage in Oxfordshire as well as a statue of John Betjeman at St Pancras station by sculptor Martin Jennings which was unveiled in 2007. In addition The John Betjeman Young People’s Poetry Competition was inaugurated in 2006 to celebrate Betjeman’s centenary. The competition is open to 11–14 year olds living anywhere in the British Isles and the Republic of Ireland. The spirit behind the competition is to encourage young people to understand and appreciate the importance of place.

Pacific Rim

I have recently watched the exciting Science fiction film Pacific Rim again. The film begins in 2013, Where deep beneath the the Pacific Oean, a fissure opens up, which leads to another dimension. Through the fissure, a giant monster referred to as a Kaiju appears, and proceeds to destroy portions of San Francisco. Soon more of these creatures begin to come through the fissure, attacking coastal cities arond the Pacific. The kaijus are all given different names like Trespasser, Scissure, Reckoner, Onibaba, Spinejackal, Bonesquid, Kojiyama, Hardship, Reckoner, Ceramander, Tentalus, Knifehead, Yamarashi, Mutavore, Leatherback, Otachi, Raiju, Scunner and Slattern.

To stop the invaders, Various countries Ally together to create TheJaeger Program: a series ofgiant mechanical Robots, intended to stop the ceatures. These Robots have names like Gypsy Danger, Cherno Alpha Striker Eureka and Crimson Typhoon. The Jaegers are piloted by two people each including Charlie Hunnam, Max Martini, Rob Kazinsky, and Rinko Kikuchi under the unwavering command of Idris Elba. To operate the Jaegers their minds are linked together by “The Drift, ” which synchronizes their movements and enables the pilots to operate the massive machines. At first The Jaegers are able to defeat the Kaiju, and take down the creatures . Pretty soon, the Jaegers and their pilots become celebrities, and even have merchandise made. 

Meanwhile the dead Kaiju soon become a valuable black-market commodity, their parts sold off for various collections and medicinal purposes. One such collector is Hannible Chau (Ron Perlman) a bootlegger in Kaiju corpses. But just as the battle seems to be turning, the Kaiju’s attacks become more brutal. Seven years after the fissure first opened up, one of the more famous Jaeger duos, Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam), and his older brother, Yancy (Diego Klattenhoff) Who Pilot a Jaeger named “Gypsy Danger,”  are sent off to intercept a Kaiju heading towards Anchorage. However the Kaiju severely damages the Jaeger and kills Yancy. Deeply Traumatised by the attack, Raleigh decides that he has had enough of the Jaeger program and leaves, to find work elesewhere.

Seven years later, Beckett has found work along the Western coast of the United States, helping build a giant wall that is meant to keep the Kaiju out and in the 7 years since Raleigh was with the Jaeger program, numerous countries have called for the program to be terminated, assuming that building the walls will make them safe, however the head of the program Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), claims that the World’s Leaders are making a terrible mistake and says the program is still viable, even so the World Leaders remain unconvinced and it is relocated to Hong Kong, and given 8 months of funding, before being termimated.

Back on the West Coast, Raleigh continues to work on the wall, when he sees a television report concerning a Kaiju which has broken through the wall surrounding Sydney Harbor in Australia and is intercepted by the Jaeger Striker Eureka. Thanks to his previous experience in the Jaeger Program Raleigh soon finds himself being flown to a secret Base (known as ‘The Shatterdome’). At the Shatterdome he meets Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), who tells Raleigh that she has studied how to be a Jaeger pilot, Pentecost also introduces Raleigh to two scientist named Dr Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day), an obsessive ‘Kaiju Fanboy,’ who studies the creatures through salvaged organs and other parts, and Dr Gottlieb (Burn Gorman), a more ‘practical’ man, who is using his mathematical skills to try and pinpoint the frequency of creatures coming through the ocean rift and predict when and where they will attack next.

The last remaining Jaegers and their crews are assembled Within the Shatterdome in a last desperate attempt to defeat the Kaiju. They are comprised of The Crimson Typhoon (from China), Cherno Alpha (from the Ukraine), Striker Eureka (fresh from its stint in Australia), and (to Raleigh’s surprise) Gypsy Danger. Raleigh requests that Mako help him co-pilot Gypsy Danger, but his request is refused  by Pentecost, then Raleigh eventually discovers why Pentecost is reluctant to let Mako co-Pilot Gypsy Danger. Unfortunately though Kaiju attacks become more deadly and the situation becomes increasingly desperate so Pentecost reluctantly agrees to let Mako co-pilot Gypsy Danger . Meanwhile Professor Gottlieb discovers that the number of Kaiju coming up through the rift is increasing. Geiszler meanwhile, wonders if they can learn more about the Kaiju, if they are able to make a neural connection with its brain and “Drift with the Kaiju” to find out what their plans are. However making a neural connection with a Kaiju is extremely dangerous as the Kaiju can also read human minds and learn what the humans are planning.

Geiszler then travels to Hong Kong to meet Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman). However they are interrupted when two more Kaiju’s attack Hong Kong intent on clobbering Geiszer, so Pentecost sends out Cherno Alpha and Crimson Typhoon to clobber them. Sadly the Kaiju manage to disable the electrics on one of the Jaegers, so Gypsy Danger attempts a rescue mission. As the Jaegers and Kaiju battle it out in Hong Kong Pentecost outlines an audacious plan which if successful could prevent any further Kaiju from coming through the fissure, however it is extremely hazardous and he will need the full co-operation of all the remaining pilots and their Jaegers if they are to succeed in defeating the Kaiju…