Beyond the Point 2014-2015

Posted: January 1, 2015 by BTP Liam in News, Up-Coming Event
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BTP Liam and Joe wish you a very happy and healthy new year. In 2014, Beyond the Point probably found itself establishing the high quality of content it holds today. Joe’s television-quality video equipment was firmly introduced to make our documentaries as professional as possible. Liam has focused on ensuring a high quality of presentation of our photographs and articles. The top menu bar on the website has seen drastic improvement, with a ‘News’ and ‘General History’ bar added, as well as others in the ‘More BTP section’ to modernise of all our past content, by ensuring it can be accessed readily. Likewise, the ‘Local Heritage’ section, which is pivotal to our site, has been added to and filled out as it lay with many sections blank for quite some time, as well many of our visits now receiving a place on the main website. We also welcomed the introduction of ‘iBTP’ late in 2014 which enables you to discover first hand for yourselves (visit the ‘Interactive Map’ and keep your eyes peeled for tomorrow).

Regarding the future of the BTP boys, we have a prosperous year ahead. Joe will be taking up a lifetime-opportunity apprenticeship at ITN in January, to further his media expertise developed to a professional-level via trial and error in his time at Beyond the Point, and more recently at Canvey Island Football Club where he holds the position of Video Content Manager, creating and running their YouTube Channel. He also passed his driving test and got a car recently, meaning Beyond the Point will be able to have more trips to further locations during the next year. We celebrated this yesterday by taking a drive to visit the site of our very first explore, which was responsible for the creation of BTP months later in 2011. Myself (Liam) will be finishing my A-levels up to completion of the exams in May, and afterwards I hope I will have time for many exciting explores, tours, and more for the website, when I will have a very long Summer holiday indeed! In September I will be moving away and taking a History degree at University where I can further my fascination from BTP, focusing it on areas of interest relevant to the environment that surrounds me today. University life will be more suited for me to carry on BTP however as the longer holidays mean more time to cram in visits, which I can plan and write-up whilst away at the university.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for BeyondthePoint.co.uk.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 48,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Merry Christmas!

Posted: December 25, 2014 by BTP Liam in Various
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   Happy Christmas!

BTP would like to wish you, and your friends and family, a very merry Christmas, and all the best health and happiness. Check below for our Christmas Message giving a glimpse of what’s in-store for the new year…

BTPXMAS

What’s next for BTP 2015?

As for exploration, we have a visit to Rainham Marshes’ Ministry of Defence ruins on its way imminently. This will be continuing our partnership with the Imperial War Museum & the First World War Centenary. We will be visiting further sites relating the Great War such as an archaeological expedition to the site of Coryton’s thought lost munitions factory. We have recently visited Dover Castle and the abandoned former Castle View School; both exclusive permission visits, and are currently processing our content from these trips for release in Q1 of 2015.

Finally we would like to unveil a new innovation – ‘iBTP’.  iBTP will be a way in which you can experience Beyond the Point first hand. Soon as Beyond the Point cannot house its archaeological exhibits in a museum (they might be a little too large!), we are going to be making it easier for you to visit the places we cover. Our Interactive Map has recently seen a major update, and now has a large portion of the places we have visited on, allowing you to find what treasures are nearest to you. Secondly, we will be publishing iBTP Guides with many of our articles; essentially printer-friendly versions of our articles, complete with a map and route plan. Due to the nature of some of the sites we visit, not all places will receive this special treatment, but those found within public, safe grounds will do. Whenever you see the iBTP banner next to our content, you know you can plan to follow in our footsteps with ease.

ibtp

 

Shortly before writing this, I began reading the book ‘Southend at War’ by the excellent local author Dee Gordon. Beyond the Point’s affiliation with the Imperial War Museum Centenary Partnership meant that it would be both appropriate and useful to create a short documentary on Southend in the First World War inspired by the first section of the book. As no real physical evidence exists of the damage done by the numerous bombings that Southend suffered, the 5-minute documentary focuses on familiar locations where destruction, and aid, occurred. 

Did any kind of destruction occur on the home-front in the Great War to the degree of World War Two?

Indeed it did, but unlike during the Second World War and the Blitz, only some places were hit. Southend was one such place. The most notable affair concerning the Great War and Southend-on-Sea was that it saw 100 bombs dropped on it during air-raids from German Zeppelins on the 10th of May 1915. The first of these to find a target landed here in York Road, damaging a house that a soldier was billeted in at the time. Numerous houses along the London Road were hit also.

The Gotha bomber was a German bi-plane capable of longer-distance missions and greater accuracy than previous technology had allowed. Twenty of these hulks were spotted cruising to London on Sunday the 12th of August, 1917, when they unexpectedly made a bee line for Southend. In fifteen minutes, 40 bombs were dropped near the Southend Victoria railway station. Over forty innocent people were injured, and the fire brigade were called in not only to tackle the blaze, but to drag the blasted corpses from the scene as horrified civilians looked on.

 What part did Southend play in the war effort?

The Palace Hotel was built in 1901 and served great use in the war effort. Messrs Tolhurst; the owners of the hotel, were generous enough to offer the building up for free as a naval hospital for the rest of the war. Its glorious five star interior would’ve been quite bizarre with hospital beds placed amongst its lounges and ballrooms. It held possibly the world’s first purpose-made x-ray department. It recently underwent refurbishment by Park Inn to bring it back to its former glory.

In the renown Victorian ‘Kursaal’ amusement centre, Lord Kitcheners’ famous ‘Your Country Needs You’ recruitment campaign enlisted over 1,000 men to be sent off to France. However, between August and November of 1914, 22 Southenders had been killed. Down Victoria Road, captured German officers were held in a prisoner of war camp set up in the building which would later become Westcliff Highschool for Boys in 1920. The school moved to its current site at Kenilworth Gardens in 1926.

To commence Beyond the Point’s coverage of the First World War Centenary, in partnership with the Imperial War Museum, we thought we would visit the museum itself. The museum itself spans Duxford, North London, Cardiff, the HMS Belfast, and the Churchill War Museums, which I must say is a clever way of housing locations themselves as museum artifacts on a large scale. Not only is the museum a vital contributor to historic research, but its roots relate to the First World War. It was founded in 1917 in response to the First World War, as an attempt to record the sacrifice and war effort. It was opened in 1920 within Crystal Palace, moving to the Imperial Institute in South Kensington in 1924. This was a close shave considering the palace burnt to the ground in 1936. The IWM again moved in 1936 to the early 19th Century building of Bethlem Royal Hospital, where it remains today. This displacement saw the hospital demolished except for its central section; the rest becoming the surrounding park.

We took a short walk to the premises from our visit to Big Ben which you can read about here. After admiring some of the more recent architecture,a nd also posing for some grungy tunnel shots in our suits, we entered the museum. The most impressive thing they had here initially was the sheer scale and number of the artifacts suspended in the central lobby. From Spitfires, to V1 & V2 bombs (which landed on Britain in the late Second World War), all the way down to Russian T34 tanks, we felt a sense of awe both at these huge weapons themselves, and at how they had been displayed; some suspended from the ceiling by wire alone. We also payed homage to their poppy display.

There was a large exhibition holding artifacts and information about the First World War. I was pretty good but absolutely packed so it was difficult to have a thorough look. There was everything from very ghastly gas masks and camouflage suits; which captured the peril of the front, down to the hand-painted trench signposts which stood bizarrely in the 21st century environment; looking as if they belonged in hell. We also saw nuclear missiles suspended from the ceiling, an ROC post ground-zero indicator, and a bio-hazard observation shelter; like a modern-day nuclear ROC post. It was certainly time well spent.

We recorded a video of our trip that day to Big Ben, the poppies at the Tower of London, and of the IWM. Much of it focuses on Big Ben although it still compliments this article on the IWM.

The M.V. Bendigo

Posted: November 16, 2014 by BTP Liam in Case Study, Various
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Less well-remembered than the Concrete Barge, another vessel involved in the Second World War marooned on Canvey Island is the M.V. Bendigo. Historian Robin Howie explains:

The M.V. Bendigo was being towed round the island to a new berth on the western side of the bridge,ironically only about a couple of hundred yards away from its existing one.This was necessary due to the new bridge being impassible.
At Hole Haven she started leaking and it was decided to tie her up to the Occidental construction jetty.
There is a photo of her on Dave Bullock’s walk around west Canvey minus superstructure,but I didn’t make the connection until my last trip to Canvey last weekend.
After much poking around and asking questions over some weeks I was at last put in touch with one
of the rare people who live on the marsh still.Following some sketchy directions over the saltings I began to think that I was on some kind of wind up having spent some minutes balancing along rickety planks and jumping ditches.
At last there was his little cabin cruiser hiding between two big wrecks.
I convinced him that I respected his privacy and that I was not from the “social”.
He told me the whole story and it was confirmrd that his word was good by some local characters.
He also told me that Bendigo was her civvy name and she would only have a number in service.
He knew this as he had owned a identical one many years before.
I’m sorry the ending is not a happy one but one plus point is that it gave me an excuse to be a mudlark again for a few minutes.

An image of an MTB firing off its deadly torpedoes. From www.worldnavalships.com

An image of an MTB firing off its deadly torpedoes. From http://www.worldnavalships.com

The M.V. Bendigo saw life as a Royal Navy Motor Torpedo Boat in the Second World War. Motor torpedo boats were fast petrol engine ship-hunting boats used for stealthy low-profile attacks on larger ships with their torpedoes during the Second World War, such as in the ‘Battle for the Atlantic’. It can be seen nearest the bridge to Benfleet on the left side in the 1956 photograph below in an impressive state. Next is it in 2004 moored at the Occidental ‘construction jetty’. The final image shows it rotting in 2011, taken by us. Quite a shame, but at least we can document the ship today.

Beyond the Landmark – V.I.P. Big Ben Tour

Posted: November 16, 2014 by BTP Joe in Event Review
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Big Ben (formally known at the Elizabeth Tower) is one of the worlds most iconic buildings, rating it as the 13th most iconic landmark in the world. Despite being one of the world’s most famous sights, overseas visitors aren’t allowed up due to security reasons as only UK residents can visit by booking the tour via your MP, months in advance. Liam and I headed into London for our tour of the tower and stopped off at the Tower of London first to see the poppies there. Wow. This was an amazing sight to see and is worth a visit. There are 888,246 poppies, one to remember each soldier who has lost their life in World War 1.
Moving on, we went to Portcullis House where we had to meet for our tour. We were joined by about 10 others and headed towards the tower via a tunnel under the road at about 2pm. The tower holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower. In 2012 it was renamed as Elizabeth Tower, from ‘Clock Tower’ to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee however it’s known by everyone as Big Ben, which is in fact a reference to the biggest bell at the top of the tower.

On October 16th 1834, the old Houses of Parliament were largely destroyed by a massive accidental fire. A new Parliament building was needed and was built in a neo-gothic style. Charles Barry  was the chief architect of the Palace, however he turned to Augustus Pugin for the design of the clock tower, which resembles earlier Pugin designs, including one for Scarisbrick Hall. The design for the tower was Pugin’s last design before his death, and Pugin himself apparently wrote, at the time of Barry’s last visit to him to collect the drawings: “I never worked so hard in my life for Mr Barry for tomorrow I render all the designs for finishing his bell tower & it is beautiful.” The tower is 315 feet (96.0 m) high and we climbed up the 334 steps to the top of the building stopping at 3 stops along the way.

Some unlucky people had this job! The clockface is cleaned every 5-7 years and costs "less than you might think"

Some unlucky people had this job! The clockface is cleaned every 5-7 years and costs “less than you might think”

The clock’s is famous for its reliability, always being within a second of the time, although when the tower was first commissioned, this was a problem. Clockmakers were very reluctant to agree to making the clock that precise, saying that they could get it to within a minute to the time although not a second, due to the hands being exposed to wind, rain, ice and snow however it was eventually settled with a new design being made which would ensure that it was within a second of the time. The designers were Edmund Beckett Denison, a company which still exist today. Construction was entrusted to clockmaker Edward John Dent however his stepson completed the work after his death in 1853. The pendulum is installed within an enclosed windproof box beneath the clockroom. It is 4 metres long, weighs 300 kg (600 pounds) and beats every 2 seconds. On top of the pendulum is a small stack of old penny coins; these are to adjust the time of the clock. Adding or removing a penny will change the clock’s speed by 0.4 seconds per day.

The main bell is known as the Great Bell or Big Ben and is the largest bell in the tower and part of the Great Clock of Westminster. It’s not known who exactly is ‘Ben’ although it’s most likely an MP or Boxer at the time however nothing officially says this. The original bell was a 16 tonne hour bell, cast on 6 August 1856 in Stockton-on-Tees and was transported to the tower on a trolley drawn by sixteen horses, with crowds cheering its progress. Unfortunately, it cracked beyond repair while being tested as a hammer was made too big and hence a replacement had to be made. This original bell was knocked down and melted into metal for the new bell.

The bell was recast on 10 April 1858 at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as a 13½ tonne bell. This was pulled 200 ft (61.0 m) up to the Clock Tower’s belfry by several strong men lasting 18 hours. The bell is 2.29 m tall and 2.74 m in diameter. This new bell first chimed in July 1859 although in September it too cracked under the hammer, a mere two months after it officially went into service due to a hammer being used that was more than twice the maximum weight specified. For three years Big Ben was taken out of commission and the hours were struck on the lowest of the quarter bells until it was reinstalled. To make the repair, a square piece of metal was chipped out from the rim around the crack which can be seen today.

Moving to the present, the clock has become a symbol of the UK, particularly in TV shows or Films, with Big Ben being another name for London in addition to a red bus or black taxi passing the tower. The sound of the clock chiming has also been used this way. Big Ben is a focus of New Year celebrations with the BBC filming from London live at new year to show the spectacular firework display and in 2012, the clock tower itself was lit with fireworks that exploded at every toll of Big Ben. Similarly, on Remembrance Day, the chimes of Big Ben are broadcast to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and the start of two minutes’ silence and if you live within a 5 mile radius of Elizabeth Tower – you’ll hear it! On 27 July 2012, Big Ben chimed 30 times, to mark the start of the Olympic games. And a final fact for you – the gold decorations at the top of the clock are real. It is genuine 23 carat gold as as fake gold would wear off more easily, so this is actually a cheaper alternative.