This section contains details of ad hoc projects and eclectic matters arising that seemed to defy our efforts to pigeon-hole them under a regular category. Bon appetit.
Entries are updated regularly and all material before the earliest date shown is either archived off-site or deleted. However, in the interests of continuity or maintaining a thread, older items may be retained here.
Extract from Media release dated 19.10.18
A Black Country writer and broadcaster now resident on the Welsh border in Herefordshire has been recognised for his contribution to the airwaves with a certificate for ‘outstanding commitment to voluntary service in Dudley Borough’. Graham Fisher MBE was given the accolade on Thursday 18th October at the annual Dudley CVS (Council for Voluntary Service) awards held in Brierley Hill Civic Hall, where a selection of nominees and organisations representing a wide spectrum of activities across the Borough were acknowledged.
The accompanying citation reads: ‘He is a former Chairman of Stourbridge Radio Group Ltd, the operating company of 102.5 The ‘Bridge, where he also presented the flagship Breakfast Show. In addition to conducting is own independent podcasts he currently broadcasts on Black Country Radio, the successor to 102.5 The ‘Bridge and is ‘the voice of the Black Country’ for History West Midlands’.
Since moving to the Borderlands Graham’s Tales From the Barn (available as a free download from his website) have proved increasingly popular in offering a sideways glance at life in his native Black Country from the perspective of his adopted land.
His work with History West Midlands ( free download at www.historywm.com) offers a picture of people and places around that area, whilst he can also be heard daily undertaking community announcements on Black Country Radio (BCR) together with ad hoclive appearances on both BCR and other stations.
Graham, who contributes to both commercial and community-based radio, says: ‘This came as a complete surprise. Being more usually associated with inland waterways and Stourbridge Glass it is really gratifying to have my broadcasting work acknowledged in this way. It is a great honour and I am much indebted to those who saw fit to nominate and select me'.
GF at Brierley Hill Civic Hall and his certificate for outstanding commitment to voluntary service in Dudley Borough. (see also Pics).
We are saddened beyond measure to learn of the loss of mv Oliver Cromwell, the largest hotel boat operating on the inland waters of the UK, which tragically sank on the afternoon of Friday 25th May 2018.
The former barge was being towed from Gloucester Docks, having served 25 years as a floating hotel, to a new home in Ireland when she went down about 12 miles off Anglesey.
Erstwhile owners English Holiday Cruises Ltd (EHC) have issued a statement clarifying the situation thus far, pending investigation into the incident by the relevant authorities.
GF was engaged with EHC for several years and so this devastating loss is particularly profound to all of us here at GFEnts.
mv Oliver Cromwell 1922 - 2018.
Farewell, ol' friend.
mv Oliver Cromwell at her mornings in Gloucester, 2009.
A clip of this magnificent vessel's final moments - be warned, it is quite distressing - can be viewed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-wales-44263757/paddle-steamer-sinks-into-irish-sea-off-anglesey-coast
EHC's statement, issued by Operations Manage Jay Clements on 26.5.18, is here
'Captain GF' at the bridge of mv Oliver Cromwell on her berth, Gloucester, 2007.
GF would like to express his shared sadness with anyone touched by this event, particularly the Clements family and staff at EHC, the new owners and, of course, all who sailed in her and inevitably enjoyed a wonderful time in her company.
A fulsome tribute to Ollie can be heard at TFTB, Episode 22 Goodbye ol' friend.
Bearing little relation to Tales From The Barn (see TFTB) other than harking back to my musings from a different age - and many years prior to our arrival at The Barn - I am rather delighted that More Ripping Yarns is included here by popular request. This merits an explanation ...
Around the early part of the new millennium I was Review & Special Features correspondent for the sadly now-defunct Canal & Riverboat magazine. During this period my freelance status allowed me to contribute elsewhere but I was particularly fond of C&R which, in addition to publishing my work, also gave me my first front cover image. It's actually the one shown here, captured early one morning at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham, when reflections on the glass-fronted Hyatt Regency created the illusion of the whole building being transparent. Yep, I am grateful to C&R for being a cornerstone for my output of the time, but back to my tale.
After laying out his features, the magazine Editor often had a page left over at the end. Familiar with my mordant wit he commissioned me to write a series of idiosyncratic waterways-themed 'fillers'. In a fit of inspiration he entitled the section Arts, Research & Science, which, being at the back, he mischievously abbreviated to ARSend. Though this was a family magazine, we never received one complaint about its cheekiness and the Publisher himself - a rather serious and upright man - never even commented. So, we got away with it for several editions, during which time I was given a free hand to let my imagination run riot. Happy - and daft - times and naughty but nice, in the true spirit of harmless British double-entendre.
Now fast-forward to the formation of the British Glass Foundation (see Links) and my role as creator and Editor of its email bulletin GlassCuts.
Every edition I am obliged to include a Disclaimer with the small print containing the usual caveats. One day, in a fit of wondering what all this stuff-and-nonsense was about - I mean, just what precisely is a philathropic non-profit glass charity having to disclaim itself against? - I decided to put it to the test and wrote something spontaneously ludicrous that made sense only to anyone who was ever so slightly insane. The result? No-one, but no-one, took a shred of notice. Except, that is, for one or two aficionados who recognised pure silliness when they saw it.
These non-Disclaimers became more adventurous commensurate with them becoming increasingly lunatic. Don't just take my word for it; check for yourself; GlassCuts are all archived on the BGF website. Years down the line, and with editions of GlassCuts now numbering well into three figures and circulation somewhere in the high thousands, the privileged ranks of the Disclaimer's Spotter's Club - small as their number may be they are a dedicated lot - still rank only in the handfuls. It has become a cult and I have created a monster. And it's great fun!
Lo, thanks an evident crossover between my current readership and that of yesteryear, I have been asked to dig into the archives.
Et voila ... More Ripping Yarns, exactly as submitted in their raw-text form to C&R magaizine between around 2002-05. Careful with them, now. Gosh, I can see my reputation disappearing in front of my very eyes ...
A sponsored non-stop walk along the entire length of the Montgomery Canal, at that time virtually completely derelict and abandoned since 1936. Commencing from the disused basins in Newtown, Powys, and heading northwards to Welsh Frankton, a distance estimated at 36 miles 120 yards, it was undertaken, fittingly on St. David's Day in bitingly cold late-winter weather. A larger legible image is in Pics.
Personally sponsored by HRH Prince of Wales , at whose request the amount he donated has never been revealed, the walk established a record in perpetuity that, in view recent restoration work , is unlikely to be replicated under the same conditions. Monies raised amounted to one of the largest single donations ever made to the Trust. A larger legible image is in Pics.
The follow-up project to the walk of 1986, this sought to establish the possible link between Wales and the Black Country in a circular route. With no records of it being attempted previously or since, the event is, as with the walk of '86, unique. A token 'cargo', a lump of coal mounted in a display case, was carried along the entire journey and subsequently gifted to Stourbridge Navigation Trust. A larger legible image is in Pics.
Supported again by HRH Prince of Wales, who has a stretch of the 'Montie' named after him, the event was intended to raise awareness of the waterways, which, at the time, did not enjoy the level of support that they do today and so it was felt on this occasion the generation of interest was more appropriate than raising cash. Whilst the journey received extensive coverage, some finances were also raised. A larger legible image is in Pics.
The Montgomery Canal Sponsored Walk of 1986 and The Circumnavigation Project of 1989 are unparalleled ventures and, in view of the length of time since they were undertaken, are now of historic significance. They will be of particular interest to contemporary enthusiasts and similarly to students working within a curriculum. The author wil be pleased to discuss how these can be of use in your application and attention is drawn to Talks in the navigator bar. Alternatively, click below to contact us direct.