Tag Archives: Industrial Revolution

Hetton Lyons to Ryhope (Avoiding Traffic)

Hetton Lyons Country Park, on the outskirts of the town of Hetton-le-Hole, rose like a green pheonix from the ashes of the mining industry – where once people worked and died (there’s a monument to those who perished in a mining disaster) there are now three lakes, woodland, wetland and acres of open space. 

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I had business at the park in the morning, but free by 1 p.m. I thought rather than catch the bus back the 8 or 9 miles into the city I’d walk back, trying to avoid traffic wherever possible (I find the sound of moving traffic increasingly annoying).

I left the country park by another relic of mining days – an old mineral line, now a footpath, which once carried coal wagons.

On the hillsides, Gorse bushes are in flower. Those yellow flowers can be used to make a very nice wine, but you need a lot of them, and Gorse thorns exact payment in blood.

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The footpath climbs steadily in an easterly direction.

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Eventually the footpath intersects with a minor road, and I turn onto this heading north. This  single-track road is called Salter’s Lane, which suggests it may have once been part of an ancient saltway – an old trading route.

The road passes through a farmyard, and then  I’m in a landscape of wind-turbines that’d have freaked out Don Quixote.

4In some areas there is a lot of anti-wind turbine feeling, but I like them, I think they enhance, rather than spoil the landscape. If the hillside was dotted with old-style windmills, that’d be thought scenic. But what’s the difference really ? Both use the power of the wind to create power.

5A little way beyond the farm I leave the saltway and head eastwards again, along a track that leads through fields and woodland before eventually depositing me on another old railway line turned footpath just outside the village of Murton – somewhere along that track I crossed the boundry from the City of Sunderland  into County Durham.

6Murton was a pit village – small town, really –  that for centuries was a small farming community, which grew due to the Industrial Revolution and the need for coal.

Heading northwards again, a little further on I get a first glimpse of the North Sea on the eastern horizon.

7One problem with old railway lines as paths is that they’re often boringly straight. So is this one, but at least most of the way its raised up above the surrounding countryside on an embankment, giving good views to either side.

After a cold Spring, this warm May day has brought out flowers along the way, both wild and feral escapees from gardens. Here’s some Cowslips…

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My only real brush with traffic along the way is when the path crosses the A19 (a motorway in all but name), and I ponder that its predecessor, the railway, is now given over to pedestrian and cycle use (as are the railway’s predecessors, the canals) – will there come a day when motorways too become footpaths ?

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A sign-post along the way. It’s numbered 1, but I passed no others along the way.

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Ah – now this bench is a piece of personal history.  Several years, and jobs, ago I painted this, and its sibling benches along this stretch of the path. I particularly remember this otherwise mundane job because it was a raw Winter’s day in January or February, and a cruel wind was blowing in from the North Sea, giving every impression that the last landmass it had crossed had been northern Scandinavia, and bringing with it gifts of intermittant rain and hailstones.

You might think – and I certainly did – that it wasn’t a good idea to be painting benches in the rain. The paint might not take properly, and, more to the point, people do not do a good job when being subjected to the icy blast of the elements and can no longer feel their fingers, feet and other parts.

But the boss was not a flexible man. Once he decided a job had to be done on a certain day, that was it. I guess we were just lucky it wasn’t under 3 feet of snow – he’d have had us digging them out, then painting them.

Looks like its due for a re-paint. But not by me !

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And now I was approaching the end of this footpath, Ryhope – once a village, now the outer limits of Sunderland.  This last picture is looking back, southwards, along the path…

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After a warm, sunny afternoon, dark clouds were piling up and the first raindrops falling as I walked the short distance to the nearest bus stop… a short distance within which two buses going my way passed me !

Luckily its a route well-served by public transport and so I only had to wait about 10 minutes before another two buses came along, one behind the other ! I caught the first one back into the city centre.

This journey was probably somewhere in the region of 8 to 10 miles. Hard to be sure, because I detour to look at things.

 

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Almanac – March 28

193 – Roman Emperor Pertinax was assassinated by Praetorian Guards, who then sold the throne in an auction to Didius Julianus.

Claudius Sulpicianus, prefect of the city, father-in-law of the murdered emperor began making offers. When Julianus, having been roused from a banquet by his wife and daughter,arrived in all haste, he was  unable to gain admission to the auction, so stood before the gate, and with a loud voice competed for the prize.

As the bidding went on, the soldiers reported to each of the two competitors, the one within the fortifications, the other outside the rampart, the sum offered by his rival.

Eventually Sulpicianus promised 20,000 sesterces to every soldier; Julianus, fearing that Sulpicianus would gain the throne, then offered 25,000. The guards immediately closed with the offer of Julianus, threw open the gates, saluted him by the name of Caesar, and proclaimed him emperor. Threatened by the military, the Senate declared him emperor.

Julianus was killed in the palace by a soldier in the third month of his reign , his last words were “But what evil have I done? Whom have I killed?”

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1871 – The Paris Commune was formally established in Paris.  In a formal sense, it acted as the local authority, the city council (in French, the “commune”), which exercised power in Paris for two months in the spring of 1871.

However, the conditions in which it formed, its controversial decrees, and the indiscriminate violence with which it was brutally suppressed make its brief tenure one of the more important political episodes in the history of working class revolutions.

 The Paris Commune existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists, and is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution.

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1958 – W. C. Handy died.  Blues composer and musician, widely known as the “Father of the Blues”.

Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form.

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1994 – Eugène Ionesco died.  Romanian / French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd.

Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco’s plays depict in a tangible way the solitude and insignificance of human existence.

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