Top Five Industrial hero’s

This is a weird one, but I write this as I was watching ‘Great Railway Journeys’ and see a images of ‘Iron Bridge’ and as I’m bored I thought why don’t I share my boredom with you lovely people.

Earlier I bought you my top five bridges, well today it’s the turn of historical figures who played a key role in the industrial revolution of England. Many of you may now know that I like my history especially the medieval period. But I also love the agriculture, industrial revolution and transport. So with that love still deep in my heart I now bring you my heroes. As before with the bridges I will be including more than five and they won’t be in any order, apart from the fella who is number one.

So who is first on the list…. Well without this guy the whole factory process might not of happened, as just after half past five John Kay came up with a shuttle that could fly. That’s right 1733 saw

Kays Flying Shuttle

Kay’s Flying Shuttle that speeded up the process of weaving dramatically. John Kay may have come up with a quick way to now weave, but the weavers needed the cotton, and it wasn’t till 1764 that James Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny, or should that be his daughter as the clumsily bitch had knocked their spinning wheel over which gave James the idea.

However James didn’t think it was important to copyright the machine until the 1770’s so lost a lot of money has people nicked his idea. Samuel Crompton used the Spinning Jenny as his inspiration for the

Spinning Jenny

Spinning Mule in 1779.  All of these men from Kay who made the old fashion loom twice as productive to Crompton who’s machines were responsible for hundreds of child deaths in the cotton and wool mills owned by Arkwright and Gregg make it into the number five slot.

But while the women were handing over the needle and thread to the men and moving into the factories, and mill owners were popping up left right and centre over the country none of it would be possible without transport. So thank god that James Brindley was born and he met up with the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater who asked James to build him a canal so he could transport all his coal that he was digging up. James was of course only to happy to assist as he knew it would annoy Thomas Telford

Thomas Telford


and John Mcadam who had spent several years trying to improve the road network in Britain. I also have a love for Telford as he also built several good canals but also built some very nice bridges, but none as nice as the Bridgewater Canal.

Now all this transport was getting out of hand, and the factory owners and coal-pit managers needed a quicker way to transport their goods. It was very luckily for them that James Watt came along with his steam engine, but at first it was not used to get you to London in under two hours, its first duty was to pump water out of mines. What the miners use to do before James came along I’m not really sure, maybe they used Thomas Newcomen Steam engine instead.

Newcomens Steam Engine

This is the one little thing that annoys me about history, and I am glad I had a proper tweed and leather patches history teacher. A lot of people often think James Watt invented the Steam engine, where he only improved on the original concept by adding a separate condenser.

Richards Machine

While all of this was going on a very clever man in Cornwall hit upon the idea of mounting this steam contraption onto wheels which would run on a track, and once again thank you to Mr Clark for teaching me that Richard Trevithick should be credited as the father of the Railways, but he isn’t. Instead it goes to George Stephenson whose first locomotive was not the best, but manged to win the Rain-hill Trails (by running over and killing an M.P) and therefore he won the contract to build the locomotives for the Manchester to Liverpool Line. That Steam engine was of course the Rocket, but it was the Planet that ran on the Line. This was not the first time he had built engines. Stephenson was responsible for the first Railway line from Stockton to Darlington used to transport coal.

The Planet

However the number one person who is at the top of my list did it all. He standardised time across Britain, with his railway. He built Canals, boats, and bridges and the longest train tunnel at the time. Even now there is only one day of the year, where the sun shines through Box tunnel It is of course Isambard Kingdom Brunel. That is the person who is at number one, not the day of the year where the sun shines through the tunnel.

I will one day speak about all these people’s work in more detail, but in case you can’t wait I have linked their names to their Wiki pages, but I should imagine that most of you should know everything about them already. The only person who didn’t make it on the list and that is only because I could not find a link from his invention to the Factories is Jethro Tull and I don’t mean the band or the Cornish comedian. I’m talking about Jethro Tull as in the one who made the seed drill that allowed the  sowing of seeds in nice little straight lines to happen.

I hope you have enjoyed another look into my geeky nature. I also hope you enjoy reading up on some of these important historical people I will wait for the comments to come flooding in.

Shin Splints

Well this is coming to you as I am not at the gym. Why? Well it’s because I went out for my run the other day. The first time on the road before Christmas, and today I have what they call Shin Splints. Basically it is the muscles and tendons behind the shin that give off a very intense pain. Meaning I am out of training for a while.

So I had to come home after work, and eat instead of letting off steam, which today I desperately needed. I can’t even go for a walk around Manchester in this evening, as after a while it gets really quite painful.

I’m hoping at some point it will die down, and I can once again hit the road, or the mill, or even just go for a cycle.

Let us know if any of you have had the horrid splints and how you have coped and recovered from them. I’m hoping it will be good old rest for a couple of days, as I have probably been over doing it. But I know it will be worth it in the end


Weighing Scales

With dread we stand on them, and with bated breath we wait.

Yes today is about the humble bathroom scales. What we expect to see from them never appears. We stand on them and as the numbers swing back and forth we hold our breath until a number decides to line up under the red line. Of course it is never the number we wish to see. Maybe its our Jumper, or our slippers and so begins the routine of slowly stripping down to your birthday suit, but yet the red line hovers over the incorrect number. Then you have an idea of what it may be. Yes of course the scales are not set properly. The Red line is not exactly over the Zero. And so it begins. You bend down and move the dial a little to the left then back to the right and then to the left until you are satisfied that the line is now over the zero. Once again you stand on the blue area upon the scales and look up nervously. You can hear the disc spinning from right to left and once it has settled you look down to see that the adjustment of the disc only helped you to gain three pounds.

The type of scales at the gym

Right… Boots it is, I will pay a pound and use an electronic machine you think, and with that you get dressed in a little black number feeling depressed and fat and head for work. There you begrudgingly refuse any chocolates or crisps and ask for skimmed milk in your coffee. You are counting down the hours till you can have your Boots Meal Deal Shape Sandwich and pay that pound at the machine which will tell you your BMI is too high.

You approach the scales dreading the stepping on and hearing the words ‘One at a time please’ you wait for the bit of paper which informs you that you are over weight to be printed, and so begins the three-day ritual of eating rabbit food, until you get bored and cave in to the chips or the Chinese on a saturday night.

The reason for this tale is that I weigh different amounts. My Bathroom scales like the picture above tell me I’m 14 stone, The ones in the gym which are a balancing acts of knobs and maybe I’m not using them correctly inform me that I’m 93 or  94Kg  and if you do the maths that turns into 15 Stone. So Which one is correct??? Should I pay my pound to go to Boots and be told that my BMI is too much, or should I not care. After all the weight is built up of muscle and fat. I’m not for minute suggesting I am over 90Kg’s of pure muscle, but I am saying that I am not 90Kg’s of fat.

I have always been fascinated with my weight, as there are people who are larger than me that claim to weigh only elven or twelve stone, I know I am tall, but the only bit of fat that I own is around the belly. It is all beer. But yet I feel that I should have lost some weight with all the gym work I am doing, and I am not exactly over eating. I still it my chocolate and I am getting thinner. My new selection of clothes is evidence of that. So what is weight, is it really a scale of how heavy or healthy we are. A Rugby player can have a BMI of over 30, most of it will be muscle and he would be able to out run skinny Jim with a BMI of twenty odd. I know BMI is not weight, but weight helps calculates your BMI and therefore is an important factor.

But yet I will still step on the scales to see what the outcome is, and whatever the number my mood and approach to life for that day will change. So should be take it at face value. After all our weight can change several times through the day and even if i tell myself it is only a number I know deep down I will always want to know those digits.

When to go outside?

Well the old weather is warming up in Blighty now, and not before time. But with the warm comes the rain.

I need to get out and hit the streets. If I’m going to complete the Bupa 10K Manchester run in one piece I need to start training on the streets, but the warmth of the gym is to nice at the moment. So my question is when do I go out and pound the streets of Manchester? Do I do it today, or do I retire to the comfort of the gym? Should I do it next month, or should I mix it up?

The trouble with street running is you don’t know what you are doing! not in the sense of knowing whether you’re running, skiing, biking like it’s obvious you’re running I mean in terms of distance. I could run round my park for 30 minutes and at the end I could have barely ran a mile. This of course leads to more equipment. A nice watch that tells you your heart rate, my steps per minute, the distance you’ve covered. I could get apps for my phone that map my run in case I can’t remember the route I took. Running on the street seems to be a serious hobby and I don’t know if I am ready for this yet, I know I don’t need all this stuff – but I think I need it and therefore I want it.

Anyway… unless it starts to rain I am out for a jog on the streets without all the James Bond gadgets. I also need to do another post about raising money. I think my grand sum at the moment is £30.00, so I have a long way to go till I reach my £500,00. If you would like to donate and it does not matter how big or how small then you can do so online at If you would like to know more about chosen charity then I have written a page. But in short it’s for the Big C. Cancer. I am sure we have all known some one who has been affected, I know I have, and for that reason as well as a personal one I am supporting Christies Hospital in Manchester.

Right I’m off to do some stretches and go for that run and no doubt I will be back here in a couple of hours doing a nice short blog of the events through my run.

New People

Just a short one. I went to the gym last night, only to undo all my good work by ending up diverting my route home past a tesco’s where I purchased several food stuffs that I didn’t require.

Anyway, when I got to the gym it was packed. Busy would be the word. Not a single treadmill or bike spare. One can only hope that people’s resolutions of wanting to loose weight and become healthier will soon die away and I will have my gym back to myself in the evenings.

Don’t get me wrong, people are entitled to exercise, but I wish they wouldn’t choose to do it when I am, if they do then I may be training for the run on the street quickly than I thought.

A Castle fit for a King…. Well at Least a Prince!

So the grand castle I went to, and the one that is still in my top castles is based in the Royal Town of Caernarfon, on the West Coast of Wales above Snowdonia and below the Island of Anglesey. An excellent location with two very good holiday destinations on your doorstep. Edward I did not need to be told anymore, he grabbed at the opportunity to buy this once in a life time investment. His wife being the typical wife was a little concerned about the money, and whether they needed yet another home. “I thought we were going to get that Chateau this year”    “Don’t worry we’ll make it back in entrance fee’s” that was Ed’s answer to convincing her to buy Conwy and Beaumaris. “What about all the locals?” “Oh those we will destroy the town and build a complete new English settlement” And that is what he did. Fact, he had the settlement of Caernarfon destroyed and rebuilt the town and to add insult to injury to the natives he renamed it Caernarvon ‘Swopping the ‘F’ for a ‘V’ should trick those locals’

The title of my blog comes from the fact that it is used, and was used recently… Well within the last 30 years to crown the Prince of Wales, or as we call him down the ‘Old Nags Head’ Charlie. I can tell you that we don’t let old Charlie forget that day. The stuff he had to wear and the people who came out to see him, there were cousins he didn’t even know he had. It was quite annoying really as I wanted to go to the butchers but the town was packed. Anyway, Caernarfon Castle was a castle that was built not to be attacked ‘I’ve just painted and worked on the Rockery so I want you to play nice with Owen, none of this war business’… or any road at least built not to be penetrated.

You can't see the Stone Circle, but this is where Prince Charlie was Crowned


It wasn’t built like Edwards other castles down the road, oh no Caernarfon was built to be a seat of power over the Welsh and if today was anything to go by I really wouldn’t have bothered. There was nothing there, nothing open, apart from the KFC and Subway… like come on Ed if you were going to build a big house to control the people then you could of picked a town with people in it. Instead what you had was a giant Town Square that seemed to be a road, and race track. Now maybe in it’s day it was a town that was asking to be ruled but the sleepy town looked like it couldn’t give two shits now. ‘We have a castle so sod you world’

Anyway Ed decided that this was to be the place he wanted a new house and with walls 15 Meters thick he was certainly thinking of low electricity bills, Mrs Ed was a little concerned that with walls that thick Edward wouldn’t hear when he was being called for tea and all that effort sweating over a pig for it to go cold because the King wanted to keep the cold out was not a good enough reason. Of Course by the time the kids had become teenagers Mrs Ed was glad of the walls, there was nothing worst than having the latest Mistral song thump thumping through the walls.

In fact Eddies new home was one of  the last of the Norman Castles in Wales and was designed not so much as a fortress but as a home it takes it’s design from a lot of the French and European Castle designs of the day. When Edward saw the plans he was delighted. ‘Lets see the Jones’s try to keep up with this’ he thought. The truth of it was the Jones’s were quite happy with their two up two down cottage and were getting quite annoyed that these planning permissions were getting through even with there objection of ‘It will block all out light’  ‘I know his the King, but who does he think he is?’

In 1284 Edward gave birth to the Prince of Wales. Well Eddies wife did. As the boy was born, his father King Edward went off to consider a name for the young chap and after a long and hard council he fell upon the name of Edward. ‘It’s a good name’ he said to his wife, ‘plus when he comes to being King there won’t be much paper work… they could keep most of it and just add another I after my title’.

Edward has been the only ever ‘Prince of Wales’ to be born in the country of Wales and soon this caught on as his Nickname, as the people of the court needed a name to tell the two Edwards apart but it seems to of stuck to this very day. Edward never like the nickname and as soon as he was old enough changed it to Edward II however the telling them apart was no longer an issue as Edward I (previously just know as King Edward until his son took the name King Edward) had died, and Eddie baby never returned to the Castle walls in adult life.

“Have you heard that Edward I has died?”


“Edward the First?”

“Who’s he?”

” Not sure but his dead… Well he must be as now we have a 2nd Edward on the Throne”

Seen from the Film 'Monty Python and The Holy Grail'
Me and Me Mate recreating the Iconic scene. Hard to tell them apart isn't it?

This is one of my best castles, and once again, I left my friends to go running round the fort and finally got to shout from one of the torrents‘You mother is a Hamster and your father smells of Elderberries’ Running round these castle walls I often think about what it would be like to live in this time and it is the one section of History I want to re-train in, not that I have trained in history, but I have my Cord Jacket with elbow patches sat in the wrings. What I mean is if I ever give up Theatre and I think all who knows me, know that it won’t happen then I would gladly train in being a medieval historian, looking at the Normans in close detail.

I should point out at this point, that while this blog is based on the truth, some of it has been fictionalised for the enjoyment of the reader which I hope you have.  I think the next road trip I will do, is yet another Castle in Wales, and i might venture into the wonderful park of Snowdonia to see Electric Mountain.

Being that this is a New Year and Christmas is now over… well will be once the stupid 12 days has finished I will be going back and hitting the track to train hard. With a little short break in a couple of weeks for a friends wedding I am now off the booze. I will be mixing my weekends with training and road trips like these, so stand by for plenty more History Lessons along this line.

See you around

How do people know?

Well I wasn’t going to write another moaning blog entry, well not straight away anyway.

But last night and today I am bombarded with fortune tellers! Everyone thinks it is perfectly acceptable to wish me ‘A Happy New Year’ this is causing me a great deal of inconvenience as I am now having to make notes of who wished me a happy year so I can inform them in 364 days if there wish came true for me.

I don’t understand what the big event is for. Let’s get pissed to forget one miserable year and now that we are so trollied and off our tits on cheap fizz we can guarantee that the start of the New Year will start painfully and continue along that road.

I’m glad that I didn’t and don’t extend to wishing people a happy year, I didn’t even extend the words to my house mate as big ben was struck and my hopeful delight of seeing the British screw the fireworks display exploded in front of me, as even I have to admit it was better than average however I feel ten minutes may have been a little over kill and the cynic in me feels they may have had a crisis meeting at three 0’clock after they saw what Sydney had thrown together.

Now I have that of my chest I will be able to lay back and see what the baby of 2011 brings me, and I know it won’t be any of the elements I require to make my life better, or further my career. After all the last couple of years never bought me any thing so I don’t see why 2011 would have the foresight.

Any ways I best get back to work and reading my book along with planning the trip to Wales to see one of my favourite castles. Stay tuned to see which one it is tomorrow!!!