Friday, 31 May 2013

Redruth's Transport Heritage: Murdoch Day Celebrates!

The rugged Cornish town of Redruth has strong links with transport history, through engineer William Murdoch and his extraordinary horseless carriage. 

A Scot born in 1754, William was employed by the steam-engine manufacturer Boulton and Watt; during 1779 he travelled to Redruth to work for them. The engines were used to pump water from the area’s mines. In his spare time, William experimented with various inventions and ideas of his own; in 1784 he designed a revolutionary road carriage moved not by the usual horse power of the day, but steam.

William’s vehicle was a three-wheeler, its engine and boiler set over the two rear wheels and the smaller front wheel steered using a long wooden tiller. He built his carriage in model form, running it around the floor of his sitting-room. William carried on with his transport experiments until he married and had twins, when we may suppose his free time became less. But he continued to investigate technology, developing a working gas-light system; decades later, most towns were lit by gas.

These days William’s old Redruth house has been restored and is used by various local groups. Today too you can see the glorious Murdoch Flyer, a full-size working steam carriage based on William’s old model. Created by members of Redruth’s Murdoch Flyer Project, work on the vehicle began in 2003; a first public showing followed three years later.

In steam the Flyer’s truly impressive, the orange glow from its fire-box surmounted by hissing, clanking machinery, an astonishing mix of metal and wood combining with the warm odours of burning coal, oil and clouds of damp vapour. If you miss the working engine’s appearances there’s a full-size static model to admire on the town’s Tolgus roundabout.

Each year William Murdoch’s association and work is commemorated. On Murdoch Day, Redruth’s streets are packed with entertainment and things to do, while the Murdoch Flyer has appeared several times.

This year’s celebration falls on Saturday 15th June. Events will include the children's dance and art procession, all-day live music and entertainment, more than 50 street stalls, an old-time fair and loads of other activities. Locally-themed exhibitions will be held at William’s house,

Nick Thomas is Day Manager for Redruth Community Radio, the not-for-profit online station run by local people for the town and its surrounding villages, which has recently secured a 5-year FM licence. “Murdoch Day works because it’s tried and tested, and has a broad appeal reaching out to all ages. We have market stalls going right through the centre of town and masses of people turn up, visitors as well as locals. The children’s procession is a fantastic show; seeing the kids enjoying themselves is a pleasure for everyone.”

As Nick explains, it’s also a matter of civic pride. “The day’s a celebration of all that’s best about Redruth; our heritage and tradition, as well as people working together to ensure a great time. Whether it’s enjoying the music, browsing our stalls or visiting the exhibitions, Murdoch Day’s become a Redruth institution and everyone looks forward to it.”

Redruth’s big day kicks off at 10.00am, Saturday 15th June. Everything’s free; get along!

To check out Redruth Community Radio, including information on Murdoch Day, go to

Monday, 27 May 2013

Crystal Palace Promoted To The Premier League!

Kevin Phillips' £120-million spot-kick: will Ian Holloway buy him a pint?
Congratulations to Crystal Palace Football Club, promoted today from the Championship to the Premier League. It’s a move reputedly worth a staggering £120 million for the club. I was so pleased; I have happy memories of watching them as a boy, with my Uncle Tom. Old friend Mike Moore, also a CPFC supporter, will be pleased too.

Masterminded by manager Ian Holloway, Palace beat Watford in the Championship play-off final at Wembley, winning 1-0 thanks to a penalty from veteran forward Kevin Phillips. Three times previously Phillips has appeared in play-off finals, but never on the winning side. 

Of his spot-kick, the 39-year-old said: "I had in my mind where I wanted to take it, I was happy to take it. I picked my spot and stuck to it. I don't know if that's going to be my last match, but if it is, what a way to sign off." 

In the Premiership, Palace will be without their young striker Wilfried Zaha, who’s off to Manchester United. Phillips said of Zaha: "This man leaves now with our very best wishes. He's been great for us this season and he really wanted to leave having sent Crystal Palace up to the Premier League.” 

As Palace’s players climbed the Wembley steps to collect their trophy, Irish centre-half Deamien Delaney sat in tears, overcome with emotion. Without a club at the start of the season, and with serious medical problems behind him, he’s now a Premier League player.  Likewise Julián Speroni, the Eagles’ loyal goalkeeper and three times their Player of the Season, will be back in the top tier. 

Ian Holloway summed up: "I've been very fortunate to have worked with some great players and I'm very grateful to this bunch. We're in the Premier League now, and God help us.” 

That’s the spirit Ian!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Charles Causley: My Mother Saw A Dancing Bear

Charles Causley was a poet of international stature, born and bred in Cornwall where he lived most of his life. Today in Cornwall’s old capital Launceston, the Charles Causley Festival takes place annually; this year it’s over the weekend of 7th – 9th June. 

I’m not up on poetry, but I do like Charles. My favourite Causley poem is 'My Mother Saw A Dancing Bear'.

My mother saw a dancing bear
By the schoolyard, a day in June.
The keeper stood with chain and bar
And whistle-pipe, and played a tune.

And Bruin lifted up its head
And lifted up its dusty feet,
And all the children laughed to see
It caper in the summer heat.

They watched as for the Queen it died,
They watched it march, they watched it halt.
They heard the keeper as he cried,
"Now, Roly-Poly!" "Somersault!"

And then my mother said, there came
The keeper with a begging cup,
The bear with burning coat of fur
Shaming the laughter to a stop.

They paid a penny for the dance
But what they saw was not the show;
Only in Bruin's aching eyes
Far-distant forests, and the snow.

 For information on the Charles Causley Festival, visit

Saturday, 18 May 2013

UKIP Wows Scotland!

Nigel Farage, leader of Britain's fashionable UK Independence Party, embraced a centuries-old tradition yesterday when he took part in an Edinburgh pub lock-in! Hilarious eccentric Farage, who often enjoys a tipple, nipped in "just for a quick one" during a visit to raise his party’s profile in Scotland.

As he supped numerous local ales, word quickly spread of the UKIP chief’s session. Outside the Dog and Spanner protesters gathered from Scotland’s widespread teetotal community. Like his companions, to be at the demonstration Angus McProle had booked a day’s holiday from work. “I’m not against them coming here, but they don’t like us and we don’t like them,” he explained. History of Art student Hermione Shrill agreed: “These bastards need knocking up … no, locking up … oh fuck, it’s Daddy …"

After he’d dropped his pint of heavy and been sick Farage was manhandled from the bar by police, shouting: “Bastards, fuckers, I’ll take you all on.” A taxi was called, but refused to carry him because of his slurred speech: “We simply couldn’t understand what the poor chap was trying to tell us,” said C U Minicabs driver Jimmy McKill. Finally, on borrowed bicycles the UKIP leader and his aides wobbled off to their tour’s next activity: a Tea Party.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Spot The Difference (11): Jonah v Nigel Farage!

Leader of the strange UKIP Party, who attracted a substantial 'Fuck The Lot of You' mid-term protest vote at this week's local elections.

Much-loved Beano comic character who everyone's pissed themselves laughing at for more than 60 years!


This STD was first pointed out by a gentleman from Cornwall named CW - brilliant, more please.