Our trip to London on Hull Trains was uneventful and very speedy. Hull Trains have a top 97% customer satisfaction score that make them the top rail company. Something else that Hull can be proud of. We went to see our daughter and have a bite to eat and a drink, and to make plans for the rest of the weekend.
The first visit of the trip was to HMS Belfast. I had been before a good while ago, maybe 1985 as I was on a ship that tied up alongside her. We also made use of a two for one voucher from Hull Trains! Being on board her gives you a good view of the Tower of London too.
These three valves are those that select which set of turbines the steam goes through to drive the propeller. There is the full speed ahead, cruising speed and astern sets. I'm not sure how many of the 760 odd crew were working in the engineering department but there are many and various things to oil and grease and open and shut. She had four water tube boilers that made the steam for the four Parson's turbines. her maximum speed was 32.5 kts. The boilers and turbines were placed such that if one was knocked out they would be able to continue with the other set. The pipework and ancillary machinery made it very cramped and it must have been warm. Maybe the best spot when she was on Arctic Convoy and North Atlantic patrol duty.
HMS Belfast was launched on St. Patrick's Day 1938. By the time she finished her trials and was accepted into the Royal Navy at the beginning of August 1939 it was less than a month to the start of WWII. Her 6" guns could throw a shell over 14 miles so may well not be insight of what they were firing at. The vessel was protected from torpedoes by a 4.5" belt of steel armour at the waterline and the turrets by 4" of steel. But Belfast was just a battle cruiser. The heavy battleships had 15" and 16" guns
We had a good view of the Thames barge 'Ardwina' as she was stemming the tide waiting for the lifting of the Tower Bridge. She is on the historic ships register as she was built in Ipswich in 1907. She was engaged on general trade on the est Coast for many years. She was once abandoned in the North Sea but was salvaged. She later changed to the stone trade from Portland to Greenwich until 1952 and was a house boat off Chelsea in the 1970's. She is not on a long voyage as she is berthed at St. Catherine's Dock just the other side of Tower Bridge.
The bridge finally lifted and she made her way through. You can see that she really couldn't pass with out the bridge lifting as her mast is massive. You can go on line and find the schedule for Tower Bridge being raised if you want a picture of it in that position. We were lucky enough to squeeze under when it was lifted on 'Holderness' the other year when it was the Tall Ships Race in London last and we were heading up to Brentford.
We made our way up to my normal working territory of the past and had a good view from the Admiral's Bridge and the ship's bridge/wheelhouse. A merchant ship of this size would normally only have one man on the bridge in daylight and two at night, but the Royal Navy would have endless numbers. I could never get bused to the crowds when I worked with the Navy. The next bridge up is London Bridge and it certainly doesn't have the appeal of the Tower Bridge.
Helen seemed at home on the bridge and it did seem very familiar to the old ships I started my career on. Another oddity I also thought was that the wheel was not where the ship was conned from and orders had to be transmitted to the helm. I wonder if anybody could work out how long a tiller would have to be to allow it to turn 'Belfast'? She thought she was in the Captain's Chair but it was only the Navigating Officers. Maybe my position is honorary Captain of 'Holderness' will survive a while.
Following our very interesting tour of the battle cruiser we decided to see some smaller ones. Helen had never been to St. Catherine's dock so we decided to shamble over and have a quick look before heading back to the hotel. We spotted the Royal barge 'Gloriana'. Hard to miss with all that gold leaf shinning in the sun. She is propelled by 18 oarsmen (and two electric motors) when on official service. The electric motors are not normally used when rowing but for more mundane passages. She can travel at 3 to 4 knots under oars.
She was built at Brentford and Lord Sterling put up most of the £1.5 million costs. She was officially launched in April 2012 and was designed as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth on her Diamond Jubilee. The cabin has space for 34 passengers, but 20 is a more comfortable number, as well as the oars men. Apparently if you are fit and able you can apply to be an oarsman on her.
Helen's favourite London building has to appear when ever we go to London, so here is today's image.
In the evening we went to see our daughter perform in her choir in an 'immersive experience' It really made you realise that singing as part of a choir is good for you physically and emotional as they thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well as the audience. On the way from the station to the venue we passed the Cable Street Mural. The mural was completed to commemorate the Battle of Cable Street that occurred in 1936. In October of that year Oswald Mosley's British Union of Facists were to carry out a march through the area. Anti Facist protesters, made up of local Jewish, Irish Communists and anti-Facists set up barricades to prevent the march passing.
David Binnington was commisioned to carry out the work and he started in 1979 and it was supposed to take under a year, but it took much longer. Before it was finished, in May 1982, right wing slogans were daubed over the lower part and Binnington resigned in disgust. The work was taken up by several other artists and it was finally completed in March 1983. It has sadly been vandalised several times since but has been coated with special lacquer that protects it and means it can easily be cleaned. You may notice that the protesters are shown full face bu the police and the Facists are not.