Posts by stepheng
7 February 2011 by stepheng
My first construction kit was of a galleon with a solid balsa wood hull and colourful cardboard cabins and sails.
All the later ones were plastic. I have fond memories of making a big model of HMS Hood with The Searchers on the radio in the background singing ‘Ain’t Gonna Kiss Ya’. Strange how music can imprint pictures in the brain.
My favourite aircraft construction kit was a Swordfish – I marvelled how this hugely-successful biplane was put together, with a lethal torpedo slung beneath its fuselage.
Among the measures used by Britain to protect beleaguered convoys in the Second World War was a unique type of ship which catapulted fighter aircraft into action. Read more…
31 January 2011 by stepheng
The Victorian child’s brass telescope attracted my eye in the cluttered window of the old junk shop in Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. After some cajoling, it was mine and I was soon down at the river scrutinising the great ships coming and going from the docks.
I still have the little telescope bought all those years ago and continue to be fascinated by the hidden worlds revealed by lenses.
The invention of the telescope helped transform safety at sea as mariners could now see distant shorelines and other vessels not easily visible to the human eye. Read more…
I am interested in how families have helped shape our world through business, politics and other forms of human endeavour.
Sibling rivalry can cause great competitive energy but I’m more concerned about how relatives work together to do great things.
One prominent family that springs to mind are the Holts – several Liverpool brothers who helped transform shipping. The Booker brothers are another shining example.
These three sons of a Lancashire miller ran a sugar plantation in South America and set up their own shipping company which prospered and became Booker Brothers, McConnell & Co.
Josias Booker had emigrated in 1815 to Demerara (now Guyana) as one of the first British settlers. Booker Brothers was formed after he was joined by brothers George and Richard. Read more…
17 January 2011 by stepheng
Many years ago I splashed out and bought some expensive copper-plated saucepans which are still used regularly. I’m told these are the best because the copper distributes the heat evenly – an important factor even with a meat and two veg man like me.
A lot of people swear by copper for all sorts of things, including warding off the effects of arthritis and other aches and pains. However, it was in the seafaring world that the metal took on almost magical qualities and literally speeded up progress. Read more…
10 January 2011 by stepheng
I like rocky cliffs and crags, especially those descending straight into the sea – a mysterious meeting of rock and water. These are places not only of beauty and inspiration but also danger and death where many a ship has been wrecked.
South Stack island off Anglesey has always been a favourite where the Irish Sea crashes in, foaming and writhing. As a teenager I walked along the coastal paths of the South Hams in Devon and was mesmerised by crystal clean waters revealing the marine world. The tang of the sea coupled with sun-drenched light was incredibly stimulating. Read more…
4 January 2011 by stepheng
I am interested in Liverpool’s many exceptional bank buildings from the classical Bank of England in Castle Street to the bizarre Adelphi Bank nearby – my favourite city centre edifice. The port has always had notable bankers, many of whom amassed huge fortunes out of trade and commerce.
Two I admire are Sir William Brown, who paid for the World Museum building, and William Roscoe – arguably Liverpool’s greatest citizen. Roscoe was a successful poet, social reformer, politician, art collector, author and historian but failed as a banker. His contemporary was Liverpool merchant Thomas Leyland who was one of the wealthiest people in the town. His fortune at the time of his death in 1827 was more than £736,000. Read more…
27 December 2010 by stepheng
As the freezing weather continues I can understand why people want to get away to warmer climes over the festive period.
However a permanent move is a different matter. I am told homesickness really kicks in at Christmas and New Year – we often have rosy memories of Christmases past, in particular.
Someone celebrating Christmas in the tropics may long for the ice-cold weather of home and vice versa.
Liverpool helped change the world by providing the means for millions of emigrants to settle in distant lands. Read more…
20 December 2010 by stepheng
I’ve always been conscious about the way I dress and admire the way our ancestors took such care over their appearance.
Over the Christmas and New Year periods passengers on the stylish liners would have packed extra clothing to make an impression.
This would have certainly been the case in First Class but all passengers would have dressed up for festive occasions. It might be a new gown or suit to mark the occasion. Poorer people made their own.
It was, and maybe still is in some families, a tradition to have a complete new set of clothes when travelling or on holiday. Read more…
13 December 2010 by stepheng
I am an amateur cartoonist and caricaturist – all right, a doodler – who’s also very interested in the development of this art form since it emerged about the time of the English Civil War.
The Second World War inspired some classic newspaper and magazine drawings which kept up morale and were sometimes also used on propaganda posters and leaflets.
This cartoon (pictured) is not particularly well drawn but it captures perfectly the mood of the time and one man’s brave determination to have a go.
6 December 2010 by stepheng
In 1986 I went on a facility trip to Singapore with journalists, MPs and airline officials.
It was five days of amazing variety – gin slings and lobster at the Raffles Hotel, rides on rickshaws, visits to Sentosa Island and the National Museum plus an extraordinary variety of restaurants and other attractions.
We went up the world’s highest hotel and even got to see the Sultan of Brunei’s house and the legendary Singapore Cricket Club. However, despite exploring the port and lagoons I failed to see a single Chinese junk which was a great disappointment. Read more…