Friday, 29 November 2013

Rampant credit, a lack of care, the loss of corporate Christianity create Britain 2013.

In Britain we live in one of the wealthiest countries of the world. Only in debt due to individual and national rampant stupidity.  We are also all living a lot longer and there are a lot of us and our population having been stable is rising again. One consequence is a health service under immense strain and talk of rationing. That health service is run by the best paid professions in the land: NHS admin, lawyers and doctors. Who wonders whether this rationing is coming to past? You smoke (I don't), we asked you to quit. We helped you, but you still smoke. We're warning you. You will not be prioritised for cancer treatment. You drink - a lot (I don't, hardly ever). You're under 40 with a fucked up liver. You won't kick the habit. Why should the NHS care after it has tried for a while? Your enjoyment of chocolate and 21st (and 20th) century eating habits has headed you to Type 2 diabetes, along with millions of others. Will we the NHS start rationing and prioritising treatment according to how good you are at self monitoring and providing the figures to prove it?

I don't precisedly know if we are going this way but I have a hunch we are. And I have a punch line. The day any doctor tells me I am not as important for treatment as anyone else because of health service rationing this will be my answer. Said person will almost certainly be a very well paid person (were this not Britain, were this Syria in a civil war, I can understand how the health service cannot do everything for everyone, although the very opposite of the case would apply in America). This then is my answer, my stupidity, my lack of discipline, my indulgence, my sin, all this did not stop my God and his Son putting their lives on the line and carrying the burden of our foolishness (possibly their's as well) to Death by our hands, beyond into Hell before arising again. We corporately as a nation need the Risen Life of Christ, to inform us from top to bottom. In the health service the decisions which may manage us to rationing care are the same principles that created Stafford. Not only are we heading to rationing but we are losing the very basics of Care (something which my mother's death in Norwich in 2005 informed). Numbers count more than people. And what is so sickening about this, is that it is the wealthy people who make these decisions. The bankers who led us astray, even the politicians, all speak from comfort. And when you talk about taxing the rich more, it is Schhhhhush, you may not do that. Whilst all the figures reveal that the gap between rich and poor in this nation in my life has grown.

Rampant credit creating boom and bust, a failing care system and the loss of corporate Christianity create Britain 2013. This makes me sound like a Marxist, Class War, a Communist. I am none of these things. I believe in Capital. I think the Bible shows a God who believes in Capital, in creation, in abundant wealth. But I also think the Bible says that good stewardship has to be the guardian of Capital. Personal morals and faith all connect intimately to the management of capital and care in a nation under God.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Dr Who

I know a Roman Catholic priest whose PhD was on the religious nature of the Apple computer brand.  Surely even more powerful and popular for the Brits is Dr Who? One man in multiple bodies. One God in three persons. A supreme being who takes human form and can suffer but who is largely concerned with helping despite a few temper tantrums and doubts. Does he have sex or not? He does form close relationships with special friends (his disciples). And above all there is mystery in Dr Who! Doctor who helps (is'nt that the Christ thing, he healed and helped?).

This could simply mean that the Christ story, Dr Who and many other such phenomena are literally myths relating to the deep human needs for help and answers to our condition. And if you're too big to recognise your need for help ponder on why Dr Who is so appealing.

Or it might mean that our God is so supremely awesome that not only did he create and sustain the universe but having finally got thoroughly browned off with the performance of those who claim his name facing the modern world, that he did the only sensible thing, rebrand himself as Dr Who and then over the next fifty years evolve a highly morally nuanced piece of television for his gospel.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Wikimedia at the Mining Insitute

This post was first published here (and has photos there)

Mining information at the Mining Institute


This post was written by Robert Forsythe, former Wikimedian in Residence at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

For fans of the Victorian Gothic and Dr Who’s Tardis, a visit to Newcastle upon Tyne’s North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers (also known as “The Mining Institute”) is a must. The building is an outstanding creation in the Victorian Gothic style and, as with the Tardis, it is much more spacious than the outside might suggest.

Robert Forsythe began talking to the Mining Institute about a relationship with Wikimedians in the summer, a relationship cemented by a visit from Harry Mitchell – which itself was a direct result of the first Newcastle meetup in September. The outcome was a very successful editathon at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers on 6th November. Harry Mitchell led the event and 12 people attended from the North East of England. Four Wikimedians (Peter Gans, Dan Garry, Chris McKenna, and Harry Mitchell) travelled to Newcastle to assist. One newcomer to Wikimedia travelled all the way from Plymouth and was so impressed by the day she requested an editathon for her institution. At least five new accounts were created on the day (several people had already created accounts in anticipation of the event) and the new editors, helped by the experienced Wikimedians, made edits to multiple articles relating to the Mining Institutes’s collection and uploaded a couple of images to Wikimedia Commons.

The exercise was designed to develop relations between the staff and volunteers of the institute and Wikimedians. It was a great success in this, partly because some of the Wikimedians who travelled in came the night before and attended a lecture by Bill Lancaster in the Mining Institutes’s lecture theatre. The lecture revealed that key contributors from the North East have not been well served by classic academia despite a wealth of information existing about them. Bill Lancaster expressed the hope that Wikimedia could be a tool to pay people like Christopher Blackett and Edmund Mills Hann their due.

A number of the institutes’s trustees and management team spoke directly about the opportunity they saw over the two days the Wikimedians were in town. As part of the learning curve, Jennifer Hillyard, the institutes’s librarian took everyone on a tour of the institute. This included seeing a very early painting of the coal industry whose uploading to Wikimedia Commons she suggested. The Institute has always had an excellent library. However in recent years some very significant collections threatened by the implosion of Britain’s coal mining industry have arrived. All of us were somewhat stunned by 16 roller racked rows of material which had arrived. One whole row contained 16,700 pamphlets from the Coal Research Establishment in Stoke Orchard (near Cheltenham). Another massive rack is full of German mining resources. The institute is therefore in pole position in terms of providing an authoritative view into the mining world of Britain and further afield. And it wishes to see Wikimedia Commons, Wikisource, Wikipedia contributions as routes whereby its increasingly very rare holdings are made available to the world wide audience.

Discussions are ongoing about the possibility of a follow-up event and about other projects which can be undertaken with the Mining Institute so watch this space.

Robert Forsythe was previously the first Wikimedian in Residence in the North East of England, serving with the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums service. Since the summer he has been assisting the Mining Institute develop its Wikimedia relationship. Along with  Harry Mitchell, Robert ran the event.


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Children in Need

It is often said that the UK is addicted to the cult of the amateur (my wife shouts loudly the "hamster"). We would both argue that the National Lottery and Children in Need showcase this. The ruling elite (at least in England) have worked out that clever use of the media holds the mass in the perpetual grip of a sop culture (completely eclipsing anything the Church or the Commies ever achieved). Who noticed last night being hailed as "the greatest night of the year"? Of course these were all deserving causes. But our filthy rich nation has decided these good causes should not be funded by taxation but by charity. A whole series of essentially short term fixes which do help people but also enable the population to feel good and to have a good night out. Why is'nt everything Children in Need achieves being quietly funded by the nation without any fuss? Because in British mentality, government is to be distrusted and individual amateurism and voluntary effort applauded. So because the nation was busy texting funds to CIN (that was the Twitter hash tag (THINK ABOUT IT), I pay palled the Red Cross in respect of the Philipines.

I guess many might be upset to read all this but please answer this simple question: was there anything in Children In Need which was a luxury and not a neccessity? Was the project to give British childen decent beds to sleep in dispensible? Do you want a wealthy country were we need volunteer effort to give our children the most basic of necessities? Someone will say "what were you doing watching this you grump"? I have a 13 year old daughter for whom it was indispensable viewing.

Thursday, 10 October 2013


I was at a Friends of Prudhoe Woods lecture this evening. The subject was the Kielder Observatory. This led into a beginner's level exploration of space. Never one of my strongpoints although I have read some Hawking. The lecturer did successfully make it easy and I got it into my head that our sun is one of a vast number in our galaxy. At the centre of the galaxy is a black hole and our location is in some spiral arm almost in the sidelines of a big disc which approximates to the galaxy i.e the whole galaxy is circular but does not have much height relevatively speaking. Get to the edge of it and then somewhere out there is the next galaxy and a lot of galaxies makes a universe. Practically just one of these galaxies, apart from our own, we can "readily" see from earth: Andromeda.

At the level he kept it to it was almost simpulls and the simple point was big, vastness beyond our easy comprehension. I never understand why evangelical Christians struggle with evolution. It enhances the glory of faith, it does not undercut it and if it asks one to re-evaluate Biblical truth this is about an evolving faith. So astronomy, Big Bangs, awe inspiring universe, roll it on. In inspires me to humility and a thought wells up, facing up and outwards, I don't struggle to believe in a creating being.

Now the lecturer did not move into a different direction, but one when faced with the universal bigness, I often turn to. A human being aware of his finite life is an interestingly scaled being for appreciating existence. Although galaxies are big, we are hacking them. So also are we hacking things in the opposite direction. In the news today Alzeimers and Higgs Boson's. The idea that drill down into our being, into our brains, into the atomic world and the more you get smaller, the more amazing and complex it becomes. Is'nt that interesting that the size paradox expands in both the expansive and reductionist directions?

With my faith, this does not surprise me, instead it seems a paradox of faith and as a Christian I believe in the Trinity. So far we have gone in two directions, out and in. I can see a third, a lateral tangent which is congruent to the first two paradoxes. That tangent is the incarnation. The impossible to know God, the one who should be impassive, the one who we should not  name nor gaze at, has in my faith done all this. Because the paradox is that the Almighty became one man. Jesus is in my faith God and His at times absurd and sad life show a God who can handle everything, takes His share of the creative responsibility and rise again out of all defeat. This to me is a miracle just as the examination of the universe, its origins and our molecular and cellular matter also verge or even enter the miraculous.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Wikimedia at the Mining Institute

Harry Mitchell's Wiki Commons image of the exterior.
Earlier in 2013 Wikimedia (parent to Wikipedia) was engaged in North East England through Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums. This was with the first Wikimedian in Residence in the region. I was the fortunate candidate and very fascinating it proved to be. An interesting follow on has been arranged for the 6th November 2013. An editathon is being held in the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers just a very short walk east of Newcastle Upon Tyne Central station. I will be participating and it ought to appeal to a wide spread of people. It is a magnificent venue, a major piece of Victorian gothic revival. Lunch and a guided tour are part of the package provided. There is already Wikimedia content but once you see the collections, you will understand just how much connectivity between the Institute and Wikimedia there might be. If you feel you are a Wikimedia beginner, there will be experienced editors on hand. And if "mining" phases you reflect how much local and regional social history runs with the subject. Additionally the library hosts the collections of local Stephenson Locomotive Society and Railway Correspondence & Travel Society branches. It has become a place where many volunteers interested in industrial heritage in the region gather (not least because it has a license and offers excellent coffee). More details from,_North_of_England_Institute_of_Mining_and_Mechanical_Engineers .

14 sign ons at 4th October.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Great British Model Railways Volume 1

Kind folk do send me books for review (any reader able to do so is most welcome to).
Edited by Ben Jones and the Modelrail Team
Bauer Media

Volume 1 first published August 2013, 128 pages paperback.

Through your reviewer's door in early September there dropped two worthwhile new model railway publications. The larger is a cross between a magazine and that now popular bookazine format. Volume 1 implies there may be more. Detail aside, the simple and very worthwhile objective is to showcase a lot more of Chris Nevard's outstanding model photography. More about Chris can be learnt here . 

Largely unencumbered single page or double spreads energise this work, One of my favourites is Bulleid Q1 33030 on shed at sunset at Hectorage Road. Layout names covered include St Merryn in P4, Pete Waterman's Lemington Spa in O and Pendon for EM. The narrow gauge scene showcases Ddault in 009 whilst Irish broad gauge has Ballyconnel Road in 3mm (yes 3mm and by three Kentish gents). A trip to France takes in the metre gauge Reseau Breton at Pampoul. This is not intellectually demanding material (unless you intend to emulate these in which case your brain and your fingers will certainly have to work); it is however a very delightful flick through and a snip at the price for what you get.

At roughly the same time the September dated Model Rail dropped in. This carries a loose A5 28 page supplement, densely tabulated, called "Who does what? The definitive model and kit directory 2013". It costs £2.50 bought solo. It will carry a lot of appeal to Train Collector readers. There are horses for courses and the point of this production is to tabulate every current model commercially available, be it a kit or ready to run, covering locomotives and traction inherited or built by British Railways and successors. The design is such that classes with no coverage also stand out.

 Inevitably in such a production there will be a few wobbly edges. Metropolitan locomotives are included, quite some number including the ACE Bo-Bo, but there are no EFE LT EMU sets. Certain narrow gauge  engines manage to qualify and are included like Beeston sleeper work's 3' gauge Bagnall 0-4-0ST and Lynton & Barnstable Manning Wardles. Within a budget production, some passing by the way is inevitable. Many smaller but high class ranges are in like Golden Age and Masterpiece Models. What cannot be gainsaid is that no-one has attempted to combine in one listing on a prototype driven basis RTR and kits before. Right at the end is a helpful manufacturer address and website listing. Applause is due although I will close with a paradox, sticking to their guidelines as they do, there is no Stephenson's Rocket (Dapol kit C046)! The editors must also be rather glad MTK is not in business any longer.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Carrick City of Adelaide leaves Irvine 9th September 2013

Carrick ARRIVED in Irvine 30th May 1993

Back in about 1988 when I was curator at the Scottish Maritime Museum, I took part with Campbell McMurray in the first steps that moved the Carrick/City of Adelaide. In the event in 1989 both of us moved on from the SMM but not before (and receiving from both of us a lot of time) the Linthouse Building was on the move. The latter despite one or two ups and downs must be judged a complete success for the museum. Without such a display building, I cannot see how the museum could have continued.

Carrick/CoA should have been a great success as well. But Carrick had been neglected well before the SMM came on the scene. Carrick (as I remember her) is actually an index of British attitudes to maritime preservation. Everyone wants it done but the serious money required tends not to appear or only after a great deal of painful head banging.

Carrick could have been to Irvine what Trincolmalee is in Hartlepool but somehow or other the deep political drivers that would be needed never appeared. Indeed the museum has had several dices with death in the meantime. Braehead has been an up and down saga. Dumbarton has been a consistent star. I believe the museum is much healthier now than say 10 years ago. Sam Galbraith is a chair of trustees of great ability. And can the museum be blamed that its neighbours in power chose to spend £14.8 million of Millennium money on The Big Idea? That was a project that spectacularly bombed and whose legacy is an unwanted bridge across Irvine Harbour being one of the three main obstacles to City of Adelaide's exit. Imagine the result if that money had gone to the clipper.

In the end Sunderland and Adelaide (with no real direction from Scotland beyond the sense they wanted it far away and the land back for its owner) had to compete. Adelaide has de facto won and I wish them well, although I don't imagine it will be easy. Why did Sunderland lose? Because in the end it is a political game and Sunderland's politicians were not fired up. Somehow not enough of them could see the big picture. But may I suggest this fits in with another related agenda. Sunderland has taken its museum service out of the Tyne & Wear joint service this spring. It has in its patch Washington F Pit museum which hardly ever opens. There is the Air Museum now NELSAM (easy to understand, not). Just follow the SIGNS to that operation to get an index on the matter. The lads there have a wonderful collection, a lot of ambition (thankfully a load of sheds) but they are tucked out in the Sunderland sticks and as I know from attending an open day this summer, the resource they would need to be viable will be considerable. And viability is important, if something is restored but cannot earn its keep (allowing that a trust's fund raising may balance the books) it can't work. I grew up with the Norfolk Wherry Albion which remains a success story but the Trust there has managed to keep things in balance. To have made Carrick work in Sunderland would have demanded her being part of a historic quarter redevelopment like Trincolmalee. I wonder to what extent Sunderland's leaders looked down the road at nearby Hartlepool and thought is there room for two?

The preserved railways of the North East show the same process. The Weardale is a big project with ambition, a good intellectual case, Look at in 2013! It has become a disaster. Look at the Bowes Railway in SUNDERLAND's patch. Again the intellectual case is unarguable. It is a major monument. Has it flourished in this time span? No it has struggled from crisis to crisis. So the story of transport based heritage in Sunderland in the last two decades is not a flush of successes.  

Nor should it be forgotten that for many of these last 20 years Sunderland did have an historic ship to attend to? Do not forget the Manxman and its stay at the Pallion Shipyard and how through 2011-12 it was scrapped there ( Does it surprise Carrick is not going to Sunderland? Disappointed yes, surprised no.

Where do I plan to be on Monday? Irvine with my wife Fiona (who I met at the SMM) - god willing. It will be a very historic moment, I hope it is not the end, I hope Carrick does reach Adelaide and that they love her in abundance! If anyone from the SMM recognises me on Monday, I shall smile and offer my handshake.

Robert Forsythe  

My FB album

Photos also at
and its neighbours. 

Twitter feed of the move of Adelaide Carrick is at 

The ship finally left Irvine 20th September and reached Chatham on the 25th. Only to find it was still not plain sailing . This link is also very pertinent .

Money wasted which could have been spent on the clipper. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

NELEP Adonis conference Newcastle

Back through the rain from NELEP conference Twitter #NEgrowth13. Transport including Rail certainly gots its mileage. The business angle is probably driving an into and out of region connectivity agenda more than the perils of local rail franchise (even though I had confirmation no wires to Middlesbrough at the moment). Told that the rail TOCs and Network Rail were invited and they did not bother to come. It was a high powered packed out house, though with Labour MPs mocking from the front page of the Journal. Behind the scenes some delegates convinced me that a lot about Ashington Blyth & Tyne, Leamside and Peterlee is going on although I still need to wave a flag that it all needs connecting region wide and publicising.
Two supplementaries: we were given the text of a Lord Adonis speech (not what he actually said to us). He speaks up for Metro on Ashington Blyth and Tyne, Leamside and even Consett!
Contrast: not many friends here A few MPs turned out including Guy Opperman.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Putin, Pope Francis and Syria

How to make a muddier situation muddier (or how to really pile the pressure on Obama)  . I see a world in which using chemical weapons is banned, a rather nasty regime then uses them repeatedly. The world mithers about what to do and the Pope gives Putin a large stick with which to beat Obama. But then the Syrian Orthodox Church and Assad seem to be on one side. It is I know difficult to know what to do but say you see two groups of bullies in the playground having a fight in which a load of innocent girls are caught in the middle, to use Jesus' words spoken in the same area, do you walk on the other side? If the POPE can bring peace to Syria it would be a miracle worthy of the vicar of Christ.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Gays in Russia

Russia is and always has been a great country. However at numerous points in its history it has been managed by what can only be called institutionalised thuggery. Now with a former KGB officer managing to adroitly maintain power, I fear the same process is at work and if it continues for decades it will threaten British interests. Support of the Assad regime is an example. Another index of institutionalised thuggery are attitudes to homosexuals. Hitler's Germany demonstrated this. So it is with considerable concern I read this .

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Cyril Coltart RN

My Uncle Cyril was a very respected naval commander with years in the submarine service in both World Wars. Because I now find that the National Maritime Museum Greenwich has an album from him I have used Facebook to pull together many of the leads and I clip in this post below. Hopefully it will work for you. Buried in it is a photo of Uncle Cyril wildfowling in Iceland in 1941 from HMS Hecla!

Today is for Uncle Cyril: Cyril Coltart RN. Why? Because I wised up to
and then found many internet references including
(second Captain of HMS Glasgow in 1938. Dotted around our Military Matters album here and also the Railway Philately page are other links to him.