Tag Archives: Essex

Off the map study by Newcastle University professor highlights secret places

In a city whose story goes back to the Roman occupation there will be many little-known nooks and crannies left behind by history.

From the vampire rabbit opposite St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle to the “plaguey burial ground” at Byker, there would seem to be no spot left undiscovered.

But Alastair Bonnett, professor of social geography at Newcastle University, has laid claim to one.

He came across the city’s “lost island” on his journey to work from his home in Heaton.

The discovery led him to clamber over the barriers on the Central Motorway East – at a quiet time, it has to be said – to investigate.

His destination was a wooded, triangular piece of land left marooned by the building of the motorway and its slip roads in 1975.

Since then, the island has remained unregarded and unnoticed by the thousands who drive past it each day.

“These places are easily ignored, but once you start noticing any particular one it can start to exert a queasy fascination,” says Prof Bonnett.

It’s as if you are seeing a landscape that is invisible to everyone else.

Could I claim this island, become a 30-minute Crusoe amid the din?

Having reached his island, Prof Bonnett found a mix of maple and alder trees and self-seeded shrubbery.

His excursion was part of his interest in an age when Google Earth would suggest that every discovery has been made and every adventure had.

Not so, says Prof Bonnett, who provides the evidence in his new book Off the Map, from Aurum Press at £16.99.

In the book he explores 47 places across the world – and the island on his doorstep – which qualify as being off the map.

It will all be included in his talk on maps and the imagination at the Edinburgh International Book Fair on August 19.

Part of Prof Bonnett’s argument is that places matter to people – where they come from and where they live.

We are, he says, a place-making, place-loving species.

What makes your place special – its diversity and character – is important.

But paradoxically, says Prof Bonnett, was as well as the attraction to place there is also the human need to explore, to discover the new.

That manifests itself from the great voyages of discovery over the centuries to the carrot of exotic destinations dangled by the travel industry.

Our fascination with the hidden, the lost, the secret and mystery is evidenced by the obligatory use of the words in the titles of a certain type of TV programme.

We can develop intense relationships with places,” says Prof Bonnett.

But I have been increasingly concerned about how our sense of exploration and relationship to place has withered away as more places become similar and every high street has the same shops.”

One of the main components of character and specialness is evidence of heritage and history.

When you get rid of the past, it’s like a form of ideological cleansing, where only one vision survives,” says Prof Bonnett.

He is originally from Essex and moved to Newcastle in 1993.

He says: “ I saw that in Newcastle a very distinctive identity and culture had survived, and it was one of the inspirations for the book. The North East has been through the same process as everywhere else, but nevertheless it has retained something special.

“It’s a good place to write a book about the importance of a sense of place.”

Prof Bonnett’s list of Off the Map places includes:

The island of New Moore, which emerged in the Bay of Bengal as a cyclone washed material down rivers into the sea.

It was claimed by both India and Bangladesh. India stationed troops on it in 1981 and erected a flag pole.

But before the arguments could start the island sank beneath the waves.

Zheleznogorsk, 2,200 miles east of Moscow, was established in 1950 to make nuclear weapons. It did not appear on maps and was referred to by a PO box number.

It was only in 1992 that its existence was officially confirmed and entry is still highly restricted.

Derinkuyu, Turkey. A chamber was revealed when a wall gave way.

It led to the discovery of underground rooms large enough to house 30,000 people, wine and oil presses, stables, food halls, a church and staircases, all built it is believed by early Christians living in what was a lawless area.

North cemetery in Manila and the City of the Dead in Cairo. Both are home to thousands who have moved in among the tombs.

North Sentinel Island, 800 miles to the east of India, which has no natural harbour and is surrounded by reefs and rough seas.

The five-mile wide island is home to a tribe of around 100 who fire arrows at anyone who attempts to come close.

Wittenoom in Western Australia, whose only industry was a blue asbestos mine.

The town of 20,000 officially ceased to exist in 2007 because of the levels of contamination.

Kjong-dong in North Korea – a fake place where lights go on and off in tower bocks with no glass in the windows.

There are no residents or visitors. The blocks were built to suggest North Korea’s progress and modernity and to lure defectors from South Korea.

Source – Newcastle Journal,  13 Aug 2014

.

A&A forum banner

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Miscellania

Almanac – April 07

1739 – Dick Turpin executed. English highwayman whose exploits were romanticised following his execution in York for horse theft.

Turpin may have followed his father’s profession as a butcher early in life, but by the early 1730s he had joined a gang of deer thieves, and later became a poacher, burglar, horse thief and murderer. Forget the romantic image, he was just another thug from Essex.

.

.

1836 – William Godwin died.  English journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism.

Godwin is most famous for two books that he published within the space of a year: An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, an attack on political institutions, and Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, which attacks aristocratic privilege, but also is the first mystery novel.

Based on the success of both, Godwin featured prominently in the radical circles of London in the 1790s. In the ensuing conservative reaction to British radicalism, he was attacked, in part because of his marriage to the pioneering feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft in 1797 and his candid biography of her after her death.

 Their daughter, Mary Godwin (later Mary Shelley) would go on to write Frankenstein and marry the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

.

.

1915 – Billie Holiday born. American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed “Lady Day” by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing.

Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Critic John Bush wrote that Holiday “changed the art of American pop vocals forever.”

.

.

1920 – Ravi Shankar born.  Indian musician and composer who played the sitar. He has been described as the best-known contemporary Indian musician.

In 1956, he began to tour Europe and the Americas playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison of the Beatles.

.

.

A&A forum banner

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac

Almanac – March 29

1948 – Harry Price died. British psychic researcher and author, who gained public prominence for his investigations into psychical phenomena and his exposing of fake spiritualists.

He is best known for his well-publicized investigation of the purportedly haunted Borley Rectory in Essex, England.

.

.

.

A&A forum banner

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac

Almanac – January 17

1874 – Chang and Eng Bunker died.  Conjoined twin brothers whose condition and birthplace became the basis for the term “Siamese twins“.

Chang, who had contracted pneumonia, died rather suddenly in his sleep. According to the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum“, Chang suffered a stroke the night that he died.

Eng awoke to find his brother dead, and called for his wife and children to attend to him. A doctor was summoned to perform an emergency separation, but he was too late. Eng died three hours later.

.

.

1881 – Harry Price born. British psychic researcher and author, who gained public prominence for his investigations into psychical phenomena and his exposing of fake spiritualists. He is best known for his well-publicized investigation of the purportedly haunted Borley Rectory in Essex, England.

.

.

1927 – Eartha Kitt born. American singer, actress, and cabaret star. She was perhaps best known for her highly distinctive singing style and her 1953 hit recordings of “C’est Si Bon” and the enduring Christmas novelty smash “Santa Baby“.

Orson Welles once called her the “most exciting woman in the world.”

.

.

1977 – Gary Gilmore executed. An American who gained international notoriety for demanding that his own death sentence be fulfilled following two murders he committed in Utah.

Gilmore had requested that, following his execution, his eyes be used for transplant purposes. Within hours of the execution, two people received his corneas, and the seeds of a UK Punk classic were sown…

.

.

A&A forum banner

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac

Almanac – August 10

991 – Battle of Maldon: an English force, led by Byrhtnoth, Ealdorman of Essex, were defeated by a band of inland-raiding Vikings near Maldon in Essex. One manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle said a Norwegian, Olaf Tryggvason, led the Viking forces, estimated to have been between 2,000 and 4,000 fighting men. A source from the 12th century, Liber Eliensis, written by the monks at Ely, suggests that Byrhtnoth had only a few men to command: “he was neither shaken by the small number of his men, nor fearful of the multitude of the enemy”. Not all sources indicate such a disparity in numbers.

An account of the battle, embellished with many speeches attributed to the warriors and with other details, is related in an Old English poem which is usually named The Battle of Maldon.

1792 – French Revolutionaries imprisoned Louis XVI and the monarchy was suspended.

1842 – The Mines Act came into force in the UK, releasing all women and girls, as well as boys under the age of 10, from underground employment.

1909 – Leo Fender, inventor and musical instrument manufacturer, born.

1948 – Montague Summers died.  English author and clergyman. He is known primarily for his scholarly work on the English drama of the 17th century, as well as for his idiosyncratic studies on witches, vampires, and werewolves, in all of which he professed to believe. He was responsible for the first English translation, published in 1928, of the notorious 15th-century witch hunter’s manual, the Malleus Maleficarum.

1961 – First use in Vietnam War of the Agent Orange by the U.S. Army.
Agent Orange was the code name for one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.

2008 – Isaac Hayes died.  American songwriter, musician, singer, actor, and voice actor. Hayes was one of the creative influences behind the southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a record producer, teaming with his partner David Porter during the mid-1960s. During the late 1960s, he also began recording music and  had several successful soul albums such as Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and Black Moses (1971). In addition to his work in popular music, he worked as a composer of musical scores for motion pictures, probably best  known for his musical score for the film Shaft (1971).

Mr. Frankenstein

*******

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac