Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

Palmerston at LLanuwchllyn


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Palmerston at the Bala Lake Railway – 21 June 2018

A quick visit to Llanuwchllyn at the south western end of the Bala Lake Railway. Built on the formation of the old Ruabon to Barmouth Railway, the railway opened in 1972 and runs between Llanuwchllyn and the former Bala Lake Halt. I chronicled a bit more about the history of the Bala Lake Railway follow a previous visit in August 2016.

LLanuwchllyn Signal Box

LLanuwchllyn Signal Box
21 June 2018

Most of the original buildings exist including the station waiting room and signal box. The platforms also remain.

The reason for the visit was a visiting engine from the Ffestiniog Railway – number 4: Palmerston. This was due to all the resident locomotives, Quarry Hunslet locomotives visiting the Ffestiniog Railway for the Hunslet 125 Gala. Upon my arrival, Holy War was sitting loaded and ready to depart.

Holy War leaving for the Ffestiniog Railway

Holy War leaving for the Ffestiniog Railway
21 June 2018

Also in the railway yard was a London Routemaster bus. Looking at the webcam on 17 July 2018 it still is there.

Routemaster RM 2059 at Llanuwchllyn

Routemaster RM 2059 at Llanuwchllyn
21 June 2018

Under the tree as the end of the main station building was an Allis Chalmers tractor.

Allis Chalmers tractor at Llanuwchllyn

Allis Chalmers tractor at Llanuwchllyn
21 June 2018

In due course Palmerston arrived with a train from the Bala.

Palmerston at LLanuwchllyn

Palmerston at LLanuwchllyn
21 June 2018

After taking coal and water, Palmerston ran round the train to take it back to Bala.

Palmerston running round the train at Llanuwchllyn

Palmerston running round the train at Llanuwchllyn
21 June 2018

Although Palmerston has no returned tot he Ffestiniog Railway and the resident Hunslet locomotives are back at the Bala Lake Railway, Llanuwchllyn is well worth a visit, including a ride on the train.

Post box wall


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The Postal Museum – 21 April 2018

Across the road from the Mount Pleasant postal depot is the Postal Museum. Also across the road from Mail Rail, it tells the story of the postal service in the UK.

There are a lot of exhibits, going back around 500 years. The first exhibits you come across are the wall boxes on the side of the courtyard.

Post box wall

Post box wall
21 April 2018

The London Ornate Box was a result of a competition. However the designers initially forgot to include a slot through which to post the letters.

London Ornate Box

London Ornate Box
21 April 2018

An Air Mail Pillar box was painted blue and had two plates with details of collection times and charges.

Air Mail Pillar Box

Air Mail Pillar Box
21 April 2018

Air Mail Box information plate

Air Mail Box information plate
21 April 2018

There are a number of postal delivery exhibits, including a Post Bus used in rural areas.

Post Bus at The Postal Museum

Post Bus at The Postal Museum
21 April 2018

Combined with Mail Rail, this is well worth a vist, and is located only a short walk from Farringdon and Kings Cross stations.

Battlebridge Basin


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London Canal Museum – 21 April 2018

Located to the east of Kings Cross station is the London Canal Museum, situated in the Gatti’s Ice House at Battlebridge Basin off the Regents Canal.

Battlebridge Basin information board.

Battlebridge Basin information board.
21 April 2018

The main entrance is where the ice carts would leave to deliver their supplies around London. THe ice would arrive by canal and be stored in the the ice pit.

Model of an Ice Cart

Model of an Ice Cart
21 April 2018

Acknowledging the storage of ice, an ice cream bicycle is displayed close to the entrance.

Ice Cream Bicycle

Ice Cream Bicycle
21 April 2018

The building was constructed with a ramp to the up level, which was used as a stable. An example stall is shown upstairs.

Example horse stall

Example horse stall
21 April 2018

The museum shows the development of canal transport. On the ground floor, there is the narrowboat Coronis, an example of a butty, which would be paired and towed by a powered boat.

Narrowboat Coronis

Narrowboat Coronis
21 April 2018

Outside in the basin, is the museum’s pusher tug, Bantam. Built in 1949-50 it propelled, rather than towed other boats.

Push Tug Bantam

Push Tug Bantam
21 April 2018

Mount Pleasant Track Diagram


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Mail Rail – 21 April 2018

Any visitor to London will come across the Tube, the underground railway of London. However from 1927 to 2003 there was an underground railway running from Whitechapel in east London to Paddington in the west which carried no passenger. It carried London’s mail on its 2ft (607mm) gauge system.

Although built to provide a means to avoid London’s congested streets, latterly the Post Office identified is cost several times more to operate than using road transport. Ultimately it closed at the end of March 2003.

Tourist train heading into the tunnels

Tourist train heading into the tunnels
21 April 2018

The infrastructure has not been dismantled, and much of the rolling stock is still on the system.

Train graveyard at Mount Pleasant

Train graveyard at Mount Pleasant
21 April 2018

Mail Rail is based around the old maintenance depot at Mount Pleasant. In the area where the trains used to be maintained, various exhibits are provided showing the development of the London Postal Railway, and also other railway mail exhibits, including the mail pouches that were picked up and dropped off by trains on the move.

Mail pouches ready to be picked up

Mail pouches ready to be picked up
21 April 2018

Two specially built battery powered passenger trains have been constructed for Mail Rail, Leaving the maintenance area, then head down the access tunnel to the main network as Mount Pleasant station. During the journey a series of stories are told. Reaching the eastbound platform of Mount Pleasant station, the first of a video displays is shown.

Mail Rail video display

Mail Rail video display
21 April 2018

On the non-platform line, there is an example train parked.

Postal Railway Train at Mount Pleasant

Postal Railway Train at Mount Pleasant
21 June 2018

Leaving the platform, the train takes the turnback line, passing over the ghost train lines before heading towards the westbound platform. This time, the train stops in the passing line whilst another mail story is told in sound and pictures.

The story of a letter

The story of a letter
21 April 2018

The journey is almost complete. There are three routes from the westbound platfrom, west to New Oxford Street, onto the loop to the eastbound platform or up into the maintenance depot. As we returning to our starting point it is the latter route that is taken.

The journey ends and there is a further chance to see the various displays, and to buy souvenirs from the shop. Across the road is the Postal Museum. That is a story for another time.

Dunkeld Bridge over the River Tay


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Dunkeld – 9 June 2018

A sunny day for a visit to Dunkeld. Primarily, the visit was to sing at Dunkeld Cathedral, however Dunkeld has other gems.

Walking from the railway station, which is south of the River Tay and south of the village of Birnam, the crossing of the river is via a bridge designed by Thomas Telford.

Toll House

Toll House
9 June 2018

It was built between 1804 and 1809 by the 4th Duke of Atholl, as part of a project to improve roads in the Highlands and replaced two ferries. Upkeep of the bridge was paid for by tolls until the roads authority took responsibility in 1879. At the Birnam (south) end of the bridge was the Toll House.

In the Market Square is the Atholl Memorial Fountain.

Atholl Memorial Fountain

Atholl Memorial Fountain
9 June 2018

Built to the memory of the 6th Duke of Atholl it was funded by public subscription and built in 1866. The Duke had introducec piped water to Dunkeld, prior to which water had to be drawn from the River Tay.

Detail on the west side of the Atholl Memorial Fountain

Detail on the west side of the Atholl Memorial Fountain
9 June 2018

Around the fountain there are drinking bowls on the north, east and south faces, whilst on the west face there is a larger bowl for animals (including horses).

Dunkeld Cathedral


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Dunkeld Cathedral – 9 June 2018

The fifth and final Saturday Cathedral visit of my mini series in the Spring of 2018. This time it was to Dunkeld Cathedral in the Perthshire countryside. Linking in with last week’s visit to St Andrew’s Cathedral in Dundee, this is the historic seat of the Diocese of Dunkeld.

Dunkeld Cathedral Gateway

Dunkeld Cathedral Gateway
9 June 2018

As with the last three weeks, my visit was part of a singing trip, this time with Glasgow Cathedral Choral Society for our end of season away-day.

The religious foundation at Dunkeld dates back to the 9th century when King Kenneth brought part of the relics of St Columba to Dunkeld which he had made the administrative centre of the Scotland’s ecclesiastical organisations. By the mid 10th century this centre had been transfered to Kilrimont (now known as St Andrews). Following a decline in the Scottish Church, a series of bishops was esteblished in the early part of the 12th century, with the first Bishop of Dunkeld believed to have taken office around 1114.

The building as seen today is almost entirely medieval. The west end (the nave) is partially ruined – without a roof and no glazing. At the time of my visit Historic Scotland had erected scaffolding in the south side of the nave for restoration work. The east end has be developed to serve the Church of Scotland Congregation of Dunkeld.

South West Entrance Porch

South West Entrance Porch
9 June 2018

Construction of the nave started in the early 15th century.

Dunkeld Cathedral Nave

Dunkeld Cathedral Nave
9 June 2018

At the west end is a bell tower with a ring of six bells. In the base of the bell tower, there is a small exhibition.

North side of the Nave and the Bell Tower.

North side of the Nave and the Bell Tower.
9 June 2018

At the east of the nave, there is no sign of the screen which separated the Nave from the Quire. The archway is filled in allowing the Quire to be used by the Church of Scotland congregation.

The east end of Dunkeld Cathedral

The east end of Dunkeld Cathedral
9 June 2018

Looking west in the church is a mezzanine level on which the organ is located.

The Organ of Dunkeld Cathedral

The Organ of Dunkeld Cathedral
9 June 2018

The Chapter House (to the north east of the building) is now in use as a museum. In 1970, the Duke of Atholl granted the Friends of the Cathedral permission to mount a permanent local history. Included in the Museum is a statue of the 4th Duke of Atholl and The Atholl Monument.

4th Duke of Atholl

4th Duke of Atholl
9 June 2018

The Atholl monument is a memorial to John the 1st Marquis of Atholl.

The Atholl Monument

The Atholl Monument
9 June 2018

The choral music we sang was:

  • Cantique de Jean Racine – Gabriel Fauré
  • For unti us a Child is Born – George Frederick Handel
  • Hallelujah Chorus – George Frederick Handel
  • Insanae et Vanae Curae – Josef Haydn
  • If Ye Love Me – Thomas Tallis
  • O magnum mysterium – Toma Luis de Victoria
  • Fill fathom five – Charles Wood, to words by William Shakespeare
  • The Long Day Closes – Athur Sullivan, to words by Henry Chorley
  • Music, when soft voices die – Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, words by Percy Shelley

The choir was directed their Director of Music, James Slimmings and was accompanied by Peter Shepherd, Director of Music at Bothwell Parish Church. In two interludes from the choral singing, Peter played Minuet Gothique by Boellmann’s on the cathedral organ, and James sang two pieces (accompanied on the piano by Peter) Lullabye from Cox and Box and A Tenor All Singers above from Utopia Ltd.

High Altar at St Andrew's Cathedral


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St Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee – 2 June 2018

On the fourth week of my Saturday Cathedral visits with musical connections, Saturday 2 June saw me in Dundee at St Andrew’s Cathedral for the RSCM Scotland Triennial Festival.

St Andrew's Cathedral, Dundee

St Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee
2 June 2018

The building, which faces south and has its main entrance in Nethergate, dates from 1830s and is the cathedral church of the modern Roman Catholic Diocese of Dunkeld, which was restored on 4 March 1878, by decree of Pope Leo XIII.

The high altar is a latter addition, being built on top of the clergy accommodation to the south of the building.

High Altar

High Altar
2 June 2018

A statuette of Pope John Paul II is located on a window sill on the west side of the building.

Statuette of Pope John Paul II

Statuette of Pope John Paul II
2 June 2018

Like many Roman Catholic churches, the Stations of the Cross are on the walls around the interior.

Station of the Cross I

Station of the Cross I
“Jesus is condemned to death”
2 June 2018

Music for the service came from the RSCM Festival Service Book – King of Glory, King of Peace – that had been produced for their 90th Anniversary.

  • O sing to the Lord a new song [Peter Nardone]
  • Hymn – Into the Darkness [Words and music by Maggi Dawn]
  • Responsorial Psalm 145 – [Words from the Grail Psalter; Music by Andrew Reid]
  • The King of love my shepherd is [Edward Bairstow]
  • A New Commandment [Richard Shepherd]
  • Hymn – To mock your reign, O dearest Lord [Words by Fred Pratt Green; Music by Thomas Tallis]
  • Hymn – Crown him with many crowns [Words by Matthew Bridges; Music by George Job Elvey, last verse and descant arranged by Andrew Reid]
  • Te Deum Laudamus [John Ireland]
  • Let all mortal flesh keep silence [Edward Bairstow] sung by RSCM Scottish Voices
  • Hymn – Rejoice the Lord is King [Words Charles Wesley; Music by George Frederick Handel, arranged by Andrew Reid]

The massed choirs were directed by Matthew Beetschen of Dunfermline Abbey, and RSCM Scottish Voices was directed by Frikki Walker, their Director of Music.

Glasgow Cathedral from The Necropolis


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Glasgow Cathedral – 26 & 27 May 2018

Glasgow has four Cathedrals, a Roman Catholic one (St Andrew’s in Clyde Street), a Greek Orthodox one (St Luke’s in Dowanhill), a Scottish Episcopal one (St Mary’s in Great Western Road) and a Medieval one (St Mungo’s at the top of High Street).

This latter is normally known as Glasgow Cathedral, and since it is the only one that is not the seat of a bishop its title is honorific. It is also known as the High Kirk of Glasgow. This is the third of my series of Saturday Cathedral visits (and I returned on the Sunday afternoon).

West End of Glasgow Cathedral

West End of Glasgow Cathedral 26 May 2018

The Cathedral dates from the late 12th Century and is built on the site of where the body of St Mungo was laid to rest.

Looking east from the Nave

Looking east from the Nave 26 May 2018

The medieval quire no longer exists, having been replaced with pews as part of the post reformation adjustments to the building.

Looking west from the Chancel

Looking west from the Chancel 26 May 2018

The High Altar, which includes a carving of the Last Supper, sits on a carpet which depicts the Four Miricles of St Mungo.

High Altar of St Mungo's Cathedral

High Altar of St Mungo’s Cathedral 27 May 2018

St Mungo's Carpet

St Mungo’s Carpet 27 May 2018

Immediately behind the High Altar, a cross is mounted on a pillar.

High Altar Cross

High Altar Cross 26 May 2018

Although the cathedral is built at one of the highest points of Glasgow, on the adjacent hill sits The Necropolis, which is the highest point in the city, and from which you can look down on the cathedral.

Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis

Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis 27 May 2018

The body of St Mungo is interred in Glasgow Cathedral. Previously it had been in the Crypt however they are now located in a shrine in the upper level.

The Tomb of Glasgow's Saint in the Crypt

The Tomb of Glasgow’s Saint in the Crypt 27 May 2018

The reason for both visits was music. On Saturday 26 May I was singing with Glasgow Cathedral Choral Society.

The work by Juta Pranulyté was specially commissioned for the 80th anniversary of the Choral Society and received its Premiere.

The music was directed by James Slimmings, with he organs played by Andrew Forbes (Glasgow Cathedral Director of Music) and Steven McIntyre (Organist at St Mary’s Cathedral). Solists were Ellen Mawhinney (Soprano), Judith LeBreuilly (Alto), Ted Black (Tenor) and Colin Murray (Baritone). RCS Brass provided the accompaniment for Rutter’s Gloria in conjunction with the main Cathedral Organ.

On Sunday 27 May, Choral Evensong was sung by the combined choirs of Glasgow Cathedral, St Mary’s Cathedral and Glasgow University Memorial Chapel.

  • Introit – O Veneranda Trinitas [Jacob Handl]
  • Psalm 29
  • Responses – Radcliffe
  • Magnificat & Nunc Dimmittis – The St Paul’s Service – [Herbert Howells]
  • Anthem – Hail, Gladdening Light [Charles Wood]

The combined choirs were directed by Frikki Walker (Director of Music at St Mary’s Cathedral) and Katie Cooper (Director of Music at Glasgow University Memorial Chapel), with the organ played by Andrew Forbes.

West Towers from the Cloisters


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Durham Cathedral – 19 May 2018

A day with a lot of distractions, including two football cup finals and a certain wedding in Windsor, saw us heading to Durham Cathedral for Choral Evensong, sung by RSCM Scottish Voices.

Situated on promontory high above a loop of the River Wear, adjacent to Durham Castle, Durham Cathedral dates from the late 11th Century under the first Prince-Bishop, William of St. Carilef (or William of Calais), appointed by William the Conqueror. The cathedral is approached from the Durham Market Place, via Saddler Street and Owen Street to Palace Green. On the north side of the green is Durham Castle, and of the south side is the cathedral.

Durham Cathedral from Palace Green

Durham Cathedral from Palace Green
19 May 2018

However, the See of Durham, takes its origins much earlier Diocese of Lindisfarne in the 7th century, although it was translated to York 664 and prior to going back to Lindisfarne in 678. Saint Cuthbert, who was Bishop of Lindisfarne fron 685 to 687, was instrumental in the foundation of Durham Cathedral. As a result of Viking raids, the monks of Lindisfarne left the island in 875, taking the relics (body) of St Cuthbert, initially settling in Chester-le-Street until 995, when further Viking incursions took place. Legend has it that they following two milk maids who were searching for a dun coloured cow to the peninsula of the River Wear. This is where they settled building the initial church on the site made of wood to house the relics, prior to being replace by a stone church, known as the white church, which was substantially complete (apart for he tower) in 1018. The following of the cow is commemorated by a carving in the north east side of the current building.

Carving of Milkmaids and Cow.

Carving of Milkmaids and Cow.
19 May 2018

On the north west door of the cathedral is a knocker. In the middle ages anyone who had committed a serious offence could claim sanctuary by knocking on the door. They then had 37 days to put their affairs in order then stand trial or leave the country. The original 12th century knocker is now on display in the Open Treasure exhibition, whilst a replica is on the door.

Sanctuary Knocker on the North West Door.

Sanctuary Knocker on the North West Door.
19 May 2018

Photography is not allowed in the cathedral, except to a limited number of photography evenings, however pictures can be taken in the Cloisters.

Central Tower from the Cloisters

Central Tower from the Cloisters
19 May 2018

In the cloisters that are a large number of carving on the roof.

Cloister Roof Carving

Cloister Roof Carving
19 May 2018

In some of the corners there are carvings of saints.

Gilded Carving of a Saint

Gilded Carving of a Saint
19 May 2018

Walking to the east end of the building along the appropriately named Dun Cow Lane, the east end can be viewed from North Bailey.

East End of Durham Cathedral

East End of Durham Cathedral
19 May 2018

To the south of the Cathedral, where North Bailey becomes South Bailey, there is a gateway that takes you into a small courtyard called The College, including a property with an Episcopal Crest above the door.

Episcopal Door in Durham Cathedral College

Episcopal Door in Durham Cathedral College
19 May 2018

Walking through the College, takes us back into the Cloisters.

The day was for singing, so some of the back stage areas were seen including the Song School and the Chapter House. The music for Choral Evensong included:

  • Responses: Herbert Sumsion
  • Canticles: Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in B flat (Sir John Stainer)
  • Anthem: Evening Hymn (Henry Balfour-Gardiner)

We were under the direction of Frikki Walker and the organ was played by Kevin Duggan.

A return visit to Durham Cathedral is in order to explore the building further (when not singing), possibly for one of the photographic evenings.

Organ Casing in the Chancel


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Launch Concert for St Mary’s Organ Appeal – 12 May 2018

The organ in St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow was originally constructed by William Hill in 1871. When the building became the Cathedral of the United Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway, the organ was rebuilt and enlarged by Harrison and Harrison (in 1909), become one of the largest organs of its kind in Britain. The next two rebuilds by Hill, Norman and Beard in 1967 and 1990.

Organ Casing in the Chancel

Organ Casing in the Chancel
12 May 2018

As part of the 1990 rebuild, fundraising including a Choir Tour singing unaccompanied in all Scottish Episcopal mainland cathedrals in one day. In 2018, the appeal has been launched by a concert showcasing the talents of the Cathedral Choir and the organ, directed by Frikki Walker and accompanied by Steven McIntyre.

Steven McIntyre on the organ stool with Frikki to the right

Steven McIntyre on the organ stool with Frikki to the right
12 May 2018

The organ is in need of a rebuild to deal with not only wear and tear, but some previous work that was not as optimum as it could have been. One other omission is the lack of an organ casing in the South Transept.

View showing the Organ Casing in the Chancel and lack of casing in the South Transept.

View showing the Organ Casing in the Chancel and lack of casing in the South Transept.
13 May 2018

The 1990 rebuild included the provision of a mobile console which could be positioned in the most appropriate place for the service or concert that it was being used for. For this concert it was position in pride on place so that all could see the organ being played.

1990 Movable Console

1990 Movable Console
12 May 2018

The concert also included contributions from two of the choristers on the organ, one singing the solo in Bob Chillcott’s “The Lord is My Shepherd” (Vicar of Dibley theme) and another (who is now studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) conducted the choir for one item.

Concert Flyer

Concert Flyer
12 May 2018

The concert would not be complete without Frikki playing the organ. he played a piece specially commissioned in 2014 by the young composer Piers Connor Kennedy – A Scottish Fancy.

Frikki playing "A Scottish Fancy"

Frikki playing “A Scottish Fancy”
12 May 2018

The appeal is now welcoming donations and over the coming months there will be further activities which will be publicised on the Cathedral Web Site.

Appeal Concert Programme Cover

Appeal Concert Programme Cover
12 May 2018