Tag Archives: lighthouse

Northumberland island curio goes on show in London

 
The Coquet Island hide and the lighthouse in the background

After months of relative solitude on an island off Northumberland, Wesley Davies has just set off for London.

He is delivering a hide with character, which shelters wardens on the RSPB reserve of Coquet Island off Amble during 24-hour watches to guard against egg thieves.

The hide, which will be re-erected as part of a London festival, mimics the appearance of the lighthouse on Coquet Island.

It was made by award-winning blacksmith Stephen Lunn, from Red Row in Northumberland.

The 6ft by 6ft structure includes a metal wood-burning stove in the shape of a clam shell, also made by Stephen, who is a volunteer on the island.

It replaced a stove in the shape of a puffin, called the puffin puffin.

The disco ball in the hide roof
The disco ball in the hide roof

Since it was built in 2005, the hide has gathered eccentricities, such as a lighthouse top and a glass disco ball.

This reflects the light at dusk and dawn to signal the start and end of the overnight watching shifts.

An old paraffin lamp completes the decor.

The 24-hour watches during the seabird breeding season are necessary because the island is home to the only Roseate Tern colony in the UK.

The hide, which was erected after roseate eggs were stolen nine years ago, is taken down in the autumn and stored until next spring.

But for 11 days it will be a feature of the Migration Festival at The Forge arts and music venue in Camden in London.

One of the festival events will see 11 artists producing work on the theme of extinct birds.

Visitors will be invited to sit in the hide to observe the artists as they create in the Ghosts of Gone Birds event.

Wesley, assistant warden on Coquet Island, said: “What began life as a basic shelter has gradually developed its own unique character and evolved into a work of art. I think it will look very at home in the Forge.

A view of the lighthouse from inside the hide
A view of the lighthouse from inside the hide

“It’s a miniature version of the lighthouse and its character had grown.

“Going to London is a wonderful journey for the hide to go on. It is going to be fascinating for people in London to see it, and hopefully they will love it.”

Chris Aldhous, curator of Ghost of Gone Birds, said: ‘“The Live Art Studio at the Forge offers visitors the perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in the Coquet Island experience, while watching the Ghosts artists in their natural habitat, breathing life back into Gone Birds.”

Charlotte Caird, artistic director of the Forge Venue, said: “The Camden Migration Festival is an exploration into the migration of birds and people through the arts, celebrating cultural expansion but also considering its environmental impact, particularly on bird extinction.

“The bird hide represents the positive impact that man can have on bird populations, as well as being an interesting and rather beautiful piece of furniture, full of weather-beaten stories and a real-life connection to migratory birds and those who choose to protect them.”

The hide’s journey from Coquet Island to Camden has been partly funded by Northumberland Tourism.

It has been a good season for the breeding birds of Coquet Island. The 93 pairs of roseate terns was a 19% increase on last year.

Arctic Terns with 1,464 pairs were also 19% up, and the common terns total of 1.196 pairs was an increase of almost 15%.

It’s been a very good season, with good food supplies and weather, and no disturbance,” said Wesley.

Source – Newcastle Journal, 30 Sept 2014

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Almanac – December 26

1791 – Charles Babbage born.  English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer.Considered a “father of the computer”, Babbage is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer that eventually led to more complex designs.

Parts of his uncompleted mechanisms are on display in the London Science Museum. In 1991, a perfectly functioning difference engine was constructed from Babbage’s original plans. Built to tolerances achievable in the 19th century, the success of the finished engine indicated that Babbage’s machine would have worked. Nine years later, the Science Museum completed the printer Babbage had designed for the difference engine.

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1862 – The largest mass-hanging in U.S. history, resulting from the Dakota Sioux Uprising of 1862,  took place in Mankato, Minnesota, 38 Native Americans died.

The mass execution was performed publicly on a single scaffold platform. After regimental surgeons pronounced the prisoners dead, they were buried en masse in a trench in the sand of the riverbank. Before they were buried, an unknown person  possibly removed some of the prisoners’ skin – small boxes purportedly containing the skin later were sold in Mankato.

Because of high demand for cadavers for anatomical study, several doctors wanted to obtain the bodies after the execution. The grave was reopened in the night and the bodies were distributed among the doctors, a practice common in the era.

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1890 – Heinrich Schliemann died. German businessman and amateur archaeologist, and an advocate of the historical reality of places mentioned in the works of Homer. Schliemann was an archaeological excavator of Hissarlik, now presumed to be the site of Troy, along with the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns. His work lent weight to the idea that Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid reflect actual historical events.

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1900 – A relief crew arrived at the lighthouse on the Flannan Isles of Scotland, only to find the previous crew has disappeared without a trace.  the flagstaff was bare of its flag, none of the usual provision boxes had been left on the landing stage for re-stocking and, more ominously, none of the lighthouse keepers were there to welcome them ashore.

 The only sign of anything amiss in the lighthouse was an overturned chair by the kitchen table. Of the keepers there was no sign, either inside the lighthouse or anywhere on the island. No bodies were ever found.

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1999 – Curtis Mayfield died.  American soul, R&B, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer, best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly, and also a highly regarded pioneer of funk and  politically conscious African-American music. He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums.

On August 13, 1990, Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him at an outdoor concert at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York. He  died from diabetes on December 26, 1999, aged 57,  at the North Fulton Regional Hospital in Roswell, Georgia; his health having steadily declined following his paralysis.

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