Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Magilligan Tramway

A few months back I received a query about the course of what was described as a railway line running to Magilligan Point. I hadn't been aware that there had been such a line and certainly there hadn't been a locomotive line. There had however been a horse drawn tramway, (standard gauge) for a very short period. It ran from the Londonderry & Coleraine Railway Company line, where Magilligan Station was ultimately constructed, to Magilligan Point with an intermediate halt at Drummond.

I would not be surprised if this tramway holds the record for the shortest lived tramway of all time. It commenced operations on 1st July 1855 and ceased on 1st October 1855. Perhaps it was anticipated that the line would attract tourists to the, "Point," and its Martello Tower and the numbers didn't materialise. Somewhat surprisingly this tramway is not mentioned in W. A. McCutcheon's, "The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland."

Friday, 30 October 2015

Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited


I recently came upon certain documents relating to a company by the name of Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited, (Company number NI 00R697). It was only on the 25th May 1987 that this bit player in our industrial archaeology passed a Special Resolution to have itself wound up voluntarily. The Liquidator was Brian A McMullan, accountant of 28 Hawkin Street Londonderry. The statement of assets and liabilities attached to the Declaration of Solvency disclosed that the Company had the then not inconsiderable sum of £56,378 standing to its credit at its Bank. A loan or advance of £620 was the only other asset shown. It did however still own a substantial portion of the by then long since disused Strabane Canal and in November 1988 it sold same to a local farmer by the name of Joseph Edwards for £5000. Why there was no value attributed to this in the statement of assets and liabilities is difficult to know. Perhaps it was perceived as having a zero value. If so then the sum realised must have come as a pleasant surprise.

Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited acquired the Strabane Canal on 4th March 1913 from James Albert Edward Hamilton the third Duke of Abercorn who by then was tenant for life under the terms of the Marriage Settlement of 6th January 1869 which had been entered into in anticipation of the marriage of the second Duke, (then Marquis of Hamilton) to Lady Mary Anna Curzon. The canal lands were one of the properties the subject of this settlement.

The Second Duke had on 2nd December 1912 contracted with one William B Smyth and others acting on behalf of Strabane & Foyle Navigation Limited, (being a Company then intended to be and subsequently incorporated) for the sale of the Canal in fee simple subject to but with the benefit of a lease dated 28th June 1891 whereby the Second Duke had demised the Canal to Strabane Canal Company Limited for a term of thirty one years from 1st November 1890. The Second Duke died on 3rd January 1913 without having completed the sale and accordingly it fell to the third Duke, along with the trustees of the Settlement to complete the transaction. The price paid was £2,000.



Tuesday, 27 October 2015

First Egg of Autumn.

Finally after feeding the chickens for three and a half weeks one of their number has decided to repay me with an egg. About time!
I expect with the shorter days that a certain tardiness in the commencement of their egg laying lives has to be expected. They are supposed to start laying between eighteen and twenty two weeks. With this Friday being the completion of twenty two weeks from hatching it looks as if they might all just about get a handle on their obligations within the expected parameters.
Today's solitary egg is somewhat small. Certainly no danger of it rolling out of the egg cup.



Monday, 26 October 2015

Not so Chilli Jam

The chilli peppers have done surprisingly well this year. Many have already been utilised in currys and chutneys. Others have been frozen or dried. Today I decided that I should utilise some of the remaining chillis in the production of chilli jam. A strange subriquet for something that is not really suitable for spreading on one's afternoon scones. This is more of a fiery jelly or conserve which compliments a salty blue cheese.

The receipe of choice for this savoury conserve came from the, "Nigella," stable. Unfortunately she has succumbed to metrification so I have have had to convert the weights and quantities back Into proper British measure so that I can understand what I am talking about.

The ingredients are not numerous. Five and a quarter ounces of deseeded red chilli peppers; ditto red peppers together with thirty five ounces of jam sugar and twenty one fluid ounces of cider vinegar.

The chillies and peppers require to be finely chopped in a food processor. Thereafter the sugar needs to be dissolved in the vinegar over a low heat. Next the chilli/pepper mix is added to the sugar and vinegar. A ten minute," rollicking " boil is then required after which the pan is permitted to cool. Some forty minutes later the jelly is ready to be decanted into sterilised small jars.

I suppose I had better leave the jelly until Christmas before checking the culinary outcome.






Friday, 23 October 2015

Joseph Young's Charity For Girls

I suppose that this could be described as the distaff side of the Gwyn and Young Endowments. It originated in a bequest left by a Joseph Young upon his death in Decenber 1842 for the purpose of clothing, maintaining and educating female children from the City and Liberties of Londonderry. For some fifty years the Young Estate was under the supervision of two trustees who were also nephews of the deceased, Messrs John and Joseph Cooke. An adherent of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Joseph Young's father acted as stated supply from 1787 until his death in 1794 at Faughan Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Due to the numerous annuitants who benefited from Mr Young's estate the charity was not operational by 1888. In that year on Saturday 19th May the Educational Endowments (Ireland) Commission sat at the Courthouse Londonderry to hear the objections of the Young Trustees to a draft scheme which proposed the amalgamation of Gwyn Endowments and the Young Charity. Mr John Cooke of Counsel who was yet another relative of Joseph Young appeared on behalf of the Young Trustees. Mr J. J. Shaw appeared on behalf of the Gwyn trustees. The latter were generally supportive of the proposed amalgamation. The Young Trustees did not wish to be, as they saw it, subsumed into the Gwyn Endowments charity. Ultimately however this was to be the outcome.

Both John Gwyn and Joseph Young were strong adherents of the Victorian principle of philanthropy. Both gentlemen left substantial monies to assist the impoverished and deserving youthful citizenry of Londonderry. It is perhaps unfortunate that the real value of their bequests has declined with the passage of years and the enslaught of inflation. I suspect that unless there is a marked change in the administration of the Charity that it will not be long before it is the subject of a cy pres application. That would be unfortunate but perhaps inevitable. Yet another footnote in our social history.





Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Cost of Chicken Feed.



I am discovering that there is a considerable discrepancy in the cost of chicken feed. Not surprising really. When I set up my embryonic garden chicken enterprise I purchased 20kg of layers pellets from the suppliers of the coop. The price extracted from my wallet was £11.25. I did know that I was paying slightly over the odds but it was convenient and at least I knew that I had food available for the forthcoming birds.

With eight chickens a twenty kilo bag lasts about 20 days. Pets at Home proffered 20kg at £12.50. No cost saving there. On Saturday I paddled along to the village agricultural suppliers. When I requested a bag of layers pellets I was asked if I wanted it charged up to my account. I admitted that I would be paying for the bag at the time of purchase. The cost was £7.35 for 25kg. I think that I know where my future purchases of chicken feed will occur.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Chicken Feed

The chickens are getting used to their feeder. Rather than have one which was continually open to the chickens, the elements and any vermin I invested in a footplate operated feeder. As the average chicken is not overly bright, pretty thick actually, one has to give them some time to become inculcated as to its usuage. For the first week the footplate was inoperative and the lid to the feeding tray remained fully open. I have now altered the settings so that the lid is only partially open. As a consequence the chooks can still see the food pellets but the lid only opens fully if they stand on the now slightly raised footplate. Next week the lid will be fully closed unless the chickens stand on the footplate.

The sales literature assures me that I will save oddles of money by keeping the food dry and not loosing any to passing rodents. Hopefully this all proves to be correct. The little beggars do manage to guzzle quite a lot of food in the course of a week, about 40p per bird I guesstimate. Garden eggs are not particularly cheap to produce.

As well as providing the chickens with their layers pellets I have been hanging up bunches of fresh nettles for them to peck at and I have also introduced several cabbage leaves to the coop. The latter have proved to be extremely popular. The ribs remain uneaten but none of the greenery remains.

Several manufacturers have poultry feeders of the type that I have purchased. The feeder which I selected is sold under the name or style of, "Grandpas Feeders." It comes in two sizes, a standard feeder which holds 9kg of pellets and a larger version with double the capacity. The latter was more than large enough for my mini flock.




Friday, 9 October 2015

Circuitous Day

Tuesday night's session was tough. Yes I was feeling tired anyway and yes the years do weary one but I still like to think that most of the post session tiredness was the result of my efforts on the track. The normal warmup and drills prefaced the main course of the session - 7 x 800m with 90 seconds jog recovery in between. As usual we were working in groups of roughly similar ability. The target time for myself and my compatriots was 2min 56. We averaged 2min 54s. Eighty seven seconds per lap doesn't sound that fast but it would give me a sub eighteen minute 5k if I could maintain the pace and this was after all a 5k session.



Friday, 2 October 2015

New Home for Chickens.


Today, (Friday), was the day that was pencilled in for me to collect my point of lay, (POL), chickens. I know that I could have purchased stock within a few miles from my newly constructed egg coop but I decided to buy from a registered purveyor of teenage chickens in the south of County Antrim. Accordingly I ventured forth in the horseless carriage this morning to the environs of Larne with three large cardboard boxes. Journey's end was a smallholding run by a middle aged woman. She trades under the catchy name of Fowlplay. Over the course of a year she sells some seven thousand five hundred teenage chickens having grown them on from day old chicks.

The cost of my POL's was £6.00 per bird. They were surprisingly quiet on the drive home and to date they seem content with their new home. One bird declined to jump up into the coop for her nightime roost but she displayed no resistance when I lifted her and pushed her into the coop along with her compatriots and closed the door for the night.



Chicken House Construction.

When the chicken coop and run arrived from Omlet the instructions for its erection assured me that three hours would be more than suffice time to finish the task. Oh that it had been so quick! If I am honest it probably took me closer to twelve hours. I expect that someone familiar with the world of flat pack furniture would have found the instruction booklet with its diagrams and drawings extremely clear. I found it slightly confusing and certain stages had to be reversed and reattemped. Anyhows I finally managed to complete the construction by dusk on Wednesday.

Now for the livestock!