HS2 – It’s in a bit of a pickle – But it should still be built

An HS1 train stands at St. Pancras Station in April 2009.

My good friend Phil Holden has recently been commenting at length (Phil is rarely short of words) on the pickle that HS2 finds itself in. Here’s a link to Phil’s blog posting on the matter:-

phlhldn.blogspot.com/2019/09/take-h-out-of-hs2-now.html

And here’s my comment on what Phil has said:-

Well Phil you’ve blown a whistle on HS2 with your full head of steam aimed at the chief promoter. Anyone would think you are trying to shunt him into a siding or even send him to Barry scrap yard where steam engines went to die.

But seriously, I agree with much that you say. HS2 is mainly about capacity, it always has been. Whether it is being poorly managed or not I bow to your expansive knowledge on such matters.

But yes of course it should be built, of that I have no doubt whatsoever. As for significantly high speed, I can live without that.

And finally how come the French, Spanish, Germans etc. can build high speed rail networks (and have been doing for many years) when we can’t without huge delays and breaking the bank?

Edinburgh Tram was another massive failure (in cost terms) and so has been our attempts to electrify rail routes across the UK. Indeed, the Government got so cheesed off with Network Rail’s carry on that they (wrongly in my view) cancelled many planned electrifications rather than sort out the dysfunctional Network Rail. I think a significant part of the problem will be associated with the UK losing too many experienced railway engineers in the years when we (not me I must add) thought railways were done and gone. We then got caught out with folks flocking back to them and having no capacity. Out came the plans for HS2 and electrifications but no one knew how to do it any more.

We should probably have got SNCF or the Spanish/German equivalents to design and build HS2 and it would probably be up and running before your mid 70’s. The birth place of railways has forgotten how to build them I’m sad to say.

Kirkby – ‘Made on Merseyside’ Exhibition

This fascinating exhibition opens at Kirkby Gallery on Monday 23rd September and runs until 16th November. I blogged about it back in August and here’s a link to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/08/05/kirkby-made-on-merseyside-exhibition/

As I mentioned in my original piece the Frank Hornby Heritage Center, which is based within Maghull’s Meadows Leisure Centre, has loaned some items to the Hornby/Meccano part of the Made on Merseyside Exhibition. Indeed, this is the first time we have loaned out items to another exhibition.

The preview opening was yesterday evening and I went along to have a look taking my Merseyside Maritime Museum Assistant Curator daughter with me. We were genuinely impressed with what had been done with the Hornby/Meccano items loaned to Knowsley Council and of the wider exhibition which covers a number of historic and more modern day companies operating in Knowsley Borough and across Merseyside. Here’s a few photos of some of the other displays:-

These photos cover less than half of what’s included in the exhibition I might add.

One of its the aims is to teach local school children about the things that were once made locally and in some cases still are so bookings are available for school visits. All in all a great piece of work by Tina Ball of Knowsley Council and her volunteers.

And to close this posting another Binns Road, Liverpool Meccano factory product photo:-

Yes, it really is my old Meccano set which I donated to the Frank Hornby Trust a few years back. To find it on display at a public exhibition was a strange feeling when all I wanted to do was get into the case and start making something.

If you can get along to this great local exhibition to learn more about what was ‘Made on Merseyside’ then I hope that, like me, you’ll think it was time well spent.

Please click on the photos to enlarge them

Maghull – It’s Hornby Town

Maghull Station

Quite some years ago (February 2015 to be precise) I recall standing on Maghull Station with fellow Frank Hornby Trustee Les French, a rep from the Station Volunteers and a chap from Merseytravel. We were talking about making a story board for display on the station linking it to the life and works of world famous toy maker and Maghull’s most famous resident, Frank Hornby. A bit of back tracking on this blog site and I found what I said at the time. Here it is:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/02/02/maghull-promoting-frank-hornby-the-towns-most-famous-resident/

And the reason for mentioning it again now? Well the plan of February 2015 went nowhere for reasons I am not really aware of but it’s been one of those matters that from time to time I’ve promised to resurrect but then failed to follow through. So imagine my delight when I was contacted last week by a lady who’s one of the Station Volunteers and who’s clearly determined that the story board idea will see the light of day.

History board about Moss Side Hospital on the platform of the new Maghull North Station

I met said lady last Monday at the Frank Hornby Heritage Centre, within Meadows Leisure Centre, so she could photograph some of our display items which are normally behind glass. My understanding is that the plan is to put together boards akin to those at the new Maghull North Station which in that case tell the story of the work of the world famous Moss Side Hospital.

My very best wishes for the project, the Frank Hornby Trustees will be very pleased if it comes off this time around.

Political Cultism – Is it akin to religious cultism?

Jeremy Corbyn is often referred to as having a cult following and the same is said of Nigel Farage of course. Brexit itself seems to be cultish too but our view of cults is often more likely to be connected with religious extremism rather than politics. So the question is do political cults have a commonality with religious cults?

According to Wikipedia in sociological terminology, sects are products of religious schism and therefore maintain a continuity with traditional beliefs and practices, while cults arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices.

Well Brexit certainly fits the ‘novel beliefs and practices’ definition as it is based very much on belief rather than facts/reality and it’s proponents (Brexiteers) can be fanatical in their following of it despite strong evidence challenging their often seemingly emotional based stance.

But what of Corbynism? Is it akin to say Thatcherism or Reganism in that its followers see themselves as the true believers whilst they look upon the scepticism of others who do not subscribe to their beliefs as being, in religious terms, heathens? Certainly, in my experience Labour Party members and supporters who see themselves as Corbynistas will often refer to anyone else, even fellow Labour members who are not in the Corbyn sect, as ‘Tories’, the political alternative terminology to the religious heathen I guess. Subscribers to the political sect known as Blairism are particularly hated by Corbynistas yet both Blairism and Corbynism have both been the majority view within the Labour Party in the past 20 years. I’ve heard it said that some Corbynistas hate Blarites more than their traditional ‘enemy’ Thatcherites!

Interestingly though, Johnson, whilst probably being more of a Brexiteer than any members of the Brexit Party, does not seem to have a cultish following. Indeed, he seems to be widely unpopular other than with extreme right wingers. Is that because he switched from being an EU supporter and because he is seen to be a politician who follows the crowd. In other words not a true believer in Brexit?

What makes some of us look upon Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters as being akin to cultists is that they will back their leader no matter what. No criticism of him is acceptable in any form from any quarter and they ‘know’ that anyone who does question Jez is a ‘Tory’.

As a Liberal who likes to hold a healthy scepticism of all political leaders, often particularly Liberal ones, this defence of ‘The leader’ come what may is hard for me to get my head around. I think I smelled something worryingly like cultism with the people who surrounded Nick Clegg during the Coalition Government days. They, like Jez Corbyn’s backers, were not for hearing the noise outside of their seemingly closed group and the consequences were dire for liberalism as it is now starting to prove for Labour too.

To conclude I think it is perfectly possible for political cultism to exist as an extreme form of the political sects which clearly exist within some political parties. The other interesting point to consider here is that those who look to be backing what seems to others as being a cult will probably deny that they’re cultists. Is that because they don’t see themselves as cultists? Is it only those outside of a cult who can see cultism for what it is?

And finally when does a sect, political religious or otherwise, become a cult?

Altcar & Hillhouse Station

I’ve always been fascinated by the Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway, which ran from Aintree Central Station to Southport Lord Street Station, and I’ve blogged about it many times before.

The other day I had the opportunity to purchase an old and undated photo of the former Altcar and Hillhouse Station on the line. I took the opportunity up and the photo is above:-

I should add that I do not know who, if anyone, holds the copyright to this photo but would be happy to acknowledge them if I receive information.

The station was the next one north of the former Lydiate Station, itself not in Lydiate but also in the Civil Parish of Great Altcar. Just north of the station was the junction with the Liverpool, Southport & Preston Junction Railway in effect a branch of the West Lancashire Railway. The next station on the S&CLER northwards being Mossbridge.

Altcar & Hillhouse Station opened in September 1884, it closed from January 1917 to April 1919 (due to the 1st WW) and closed altogether in January 1952 with the whole line closing in July 1952. However, whilst the line north of the station was lifted shortly after closure rail access from the Liverpool end was retained until 1960 to serve private sidings on the site of the station.

The road bridge visible in the photo is sit in situ and the trackbed is now a part of the Cheshire Lines/Trans Pennine Trail foot and cycle path.

Please click on the photo to enlarge it

Lydiate – It’s called ‘Yarn Bombing’ so I’m told

Yarn Bombing – ‘the action or activity of covering objects or structures in public places with decorative knitted or crotcheted material, as a form of street art’

If you live in Lydiate you may have noticed this:-

As seen on Southport Road, Lydiate

I spotted this on a recently refurbished (by Lydiate in Flower Volunteers) street bench next to a bus shelter. Across the road in the beautifully maintained gardens adjacent to the Nedens Lane junction a tree has also aquired a colourful addition made the same way.

I mentioned this to my daughter and it was she that told me it is called yarn bombing. Well I quite like it, although I have no idea who is doing it.