Category Archives: Photographs And Images
Liverpool Edge Hill was the location, along with its Manchester, Liverpool Road counterpart, of the first public railway station, opening on 15 September 1830. More recently this historic site was marked by a large mural of the ‘Rocket’ steam engine invented by George Stephenson (1781-1848) – an interesting vision in the grimness of our own contemporary Edge Lane access route into the city.
Fifteen years ago today, this time capsule was ‘planted’ in Ness Gardens on the Wirral; and now we see sitting by it a little person who will be 35 years old when the capsule is opened. What will her world be like? Will we have made it a good and safe place for her and her own children to live in? And are we moving in the right direction, now, to ensure this will happen? Do we now understand what ‘sustainable’ living entails? Can we ensure that future generations – not the ones who felt obliged to ‘apologise’ in the time capsule letters – will manage to live sustainably and well?
Sustainability As If People Mattered
Here’s the text on this time capsule plaque:
Ness Botanic Gardens
World Environment Day
The Time Capsule placed near this plaque in June 1994 contains letters and objects linked to the many environmental concerns felt by the children of today.
Letters from the adults apologise for the overcrowding, pollution and resource scarcity we fear we will leave behind. They also state our commitment to overcome these problems through individual and concerted action, so that all species may share life together on a safe and sustainable planet.
Our goal is to make the apology unnecessary by the time the capsule is opened on 5 June 2044.
It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
And so, indeed, it is…..
Read more about Sustainability As If People Mattered and Wirral’s Ness Gardens, and see more photographs at Locations & Events
Ardnamurchan, the most westerly point of mainland Britain, is not the first place most of us would look to find the dramatic Shenandoah ‘Red Hot Poker’ or ‘Torch Lily’ in bloom; after all, the Kniphofia group of plants to which Torch Lilies belong originated in Africa. But the remote north-west UK location around Loch Sunart has been showing these spectacular flowers off in profusion during the amazingly hot (up to 24 degrees C) first weekend of June this year.
In the garden in early May last year, a broken piece of ivy jutting out from the hedge caught our attention.
Then a thrush darted into the greenery, and we realised this was in all probability the site of a nest – as indeed it turned out to be, a neatly solid little structure with three beautiful blue eggs in it.
Waiting patiently, carefully positioning the camera well away and using a zoom lens, this is what we then saw emerging, almost at our back door….
The other eggs hatched later, and we saw the adult birds going about their parental duties forseveral days thereafter, flying to and fro with titbits for their young. And perhaps the process is being repeated again this year, now the gap in the hedge has covered over, for the garden thrushes seem to be very active once more.
Read more articles about Living Things, Nature & The Seasons and The Philospohy Of Hedges, and see more photographs at Calendar & Camera.
For more information on thrushes, their nests and eggs, click here.
The past few days have convinced us that Spring is finally on its way.
The daffodils in Sefton Park are a glory all of their own – the focus of hope in so many ways, at the equinox when people begin once more to populate our park’s wonderful space, strolling by in chatty groups, with prams, on bicylces, running to raise funds for charity or simply stopping to enjoy.
And then, as the daffodils begin to fade, we see the promise of the next great gift of nature, the delicate blossoms of almond and cherry to delight us yet a while….
The 8th of March is International Women’s Day, an occasion to look both back and forward. We have here some photos and text reminding us gently how grim life was for working class women and children in the mills (and often for their mining menfolk too) a mere century ago. Happily, Wigan Pier and the canals are now a tourist destination alongside a modern Investment Centre; but around 1910 a different story – not least about the uses of water – was being told. The challenge remains to secure the same progress as we’ve seen here, in ensuring healthy and constructive lives for women and their families everywhere across the globe.
Here’s the text of this notice, displayed by the towpath at Wigan Pier:
When cotton was king
as told by a cotton worker circa 1910
It’s hot int’ mill wi’ lots o’ noise. On a nice day, we’ll take our lunch ont’ towpath an’ eat snaps* from’t snaps tins.
It’s a 5-and-a-half day week for us cotton workers, that’s 12 hours a day and half a day on Saturday.
We’ve all got nimble fingers , especially the Piecers’. They’re mainly children, who nip under the spinning machines to tie the broken cotton back together again.
Some of us work on the spinning machines and some on the carding machines. The mill takes a raw bale of cotton, cleans it, twists it and spins it into fine yarn.
The humidity in the mill keeps the cotton damp so it’s easier to spin without snapping.
There are five floors of machinery – all powered by the Trencherfield Mill Engine.
The noise is deafening – we stuff cotton from the floor in our ears to protect them. We communicate using ‘Me-Mawing’ – a mixture of sign language and lip reading.
We work in our bare feet because our clogs could spark on the concrete floor and set the cotton bales alight.
We wake early doors to the sound of the Trencherfield steam whistle summonin’ us t’mill for another day. But as they say – England’s bread hangs on Lancashire’s thread.
[* a snack favoured also by the men of Wigan, many of them miners, usually bread-and-dripping, with cold tea, carried in a flat tin called a snap-can – see George Orwell‘s The Road to Wigan Pier]
And here is the towpath which a century ago provided fresh air and respite for those mill workers as they ate their lunch-time snaps:
[Public display boards by Wigan Heritage Services]
The power of water
And so, strangely, we come full-circle.
Water – the canals, the steam – was the power behind the early production of textiles, employing many women and children in horrendous conditions, as the full logic of the Industrial Revolution took its vice-like grip on the emerging economies of what we have come to know as the ‘developed world‘; but even now in other parts of the globe water remains both a critical force potentially for good, and often an almost unattainable resource.
Women as water workers
Vast numbers of women and children in the developing world continue to toil many hours a day just to obtain water to sustain their very existence.
Life in places like Wigan was harsh and short for women and men, alike, a century ago. It remains, as Oxfam tells us in the topical context of International Women’s Day, particularly harsh even now for women in places such as Iraq, where water continues to be inaccessible for many.
The gendered meanings of sustainability
This is where we begin to understand what ‘sustainability‘ is really about…. the just and equitable distribution of basic physical resources and accessible socio-economic opportunities, for everyone, women as much as men, the world over.
In terms of future global sustainability and equity, as the Gender and Water Alliance also reminds us, water remains a critically gendered issue.
Read more about Gender & Women and about Sustainability As If People Mattered and Water; and see more photographs of around Liverpool & Merseyside.
Josephine Butler House in Liverpool’s Hope Street Quarter is named for the famous social reformer, and the site of the first UK Radium Institute. Latterly an elegant adjunct to Myrtle Street’s The Symphony apartments, it sits opposite the Philharmonic Hall. But the intended ambiance has been ruined by a dismal failure and omission on the part of Liverpool City Council, who have permitted Josephine Butler House to be grimly defaced with little prospect of anything better, or even just intact, taking its place.
It happens every day, and each time it is the greatest and most wonderful gift: the miracle of the birth of a baby. Nothing compares with the arrival of a new child, every one of them the most beautiful and precious blessing it’s possible to receive.
Here is the loveliness which the parents of this tiny, serene new miniature person will now awake to every morning.
So it’s all over, for now. Liverpool has handed on the European Capital of Culture title to Linz and Vilnius, after a rollercoaster year on Merseyside. There have been highlights and muddle, fun, exasperation and exhaustion. The debates and analysis will start soon enough – and we need them, to learn what worked and what didn’t – but tonight the thing everyone, people in their thousands and from many communities, came into town for, was a party….
Read more about Liverpool, European Capital of Culture and see more photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside.
We’re at the longest night and the shortest day – the Winter solstice. But that doesn’t stop the goodwill shining through, as citizens of Liverpool get together to raise money for worthy causes. Every year at this time the Santa Claus wagon trundles past, tannoy blaring out the carols and youngsters running from house to house as they collect for charity. And private festive collaborations are evident too, with neighbours sharing brilliant illuminated phantasies to cheer us all up.