Monthly Archives: October 2010

Watling Street & Boudicca

I have been reading about Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni tribe who fought for revenge over the Romans after the rape of her daughters at Watling Street, some of the road is still used to this day.

From Wiki:

“Watling Street is the name given to an ancient trackway in England and Wales that was first used by the Britons mainly between the modern cities of Canterbury and St Albans. The Romans later paved the route, part of which is identified on the Antonine Itinerary as Iter III: “Item a Londinio ad portum Dubris” – from London to the port of Dover. Its route is now covered by the A2 road from Dover to London, and the A5 road from London to Wroxeter.

The name derives from the Old English Wæcelinga Stræt. Originally the word “street” simply meant a paved road and did not have the modern association with populated areas.

A Roman road recorded in the Antonine Itinerary as “Iter III” linked London and Dover. The last section of the long Iter II route from Hadrian’s Wall travelled through Viroconium (now Wroxeter in Shropshire), past Letocetum (modern day Wall) in Staffordshire, Manduessedum (modern day Mancetter – possible site of Boudica’s last battle), Venonis (modern day High Cross) in Leicestershire, Bannaventa near Norton in modern-day Northamptonshire, Lactodorum (modern day Towcester – near another possible site of Boudica’s last battle), then through Stony Stratford and Magiovinium (Fenny Stratford) in modern-day Milton Keynes, Durocobrivis (modern day Dunstable) in Bedfordshire (where it crosses the even older Icknield Way), Verulamium (near modern-day St Albans in Hertfordshire) and London (by way of the ford at Thorney Island until London Bridge was finished, and the line of the modern Old Kent Road[ to Rutupiae (now Richborough in Kent) on the southeast coast of England. While another section of Iter II linked Wroxeter to Chester, and other roads were built into north Wales and central Wales, these are not generally considered to be part of Watling Street. Thus the Roman routes which comprise Watling Street are all of Iter III and the middle-southern section of Iter II.

The main section of the road is that from Dover to Wroxeter.

Stone Street ran south for some 12 miles from Watling Street at Canterbury (the Roman Durovernum) to Lympne (Lemanis) at the western edge of the Romney Marsh. Most of it is now the current B2068 road that runs from the M20 motorway to Canterbury.

Part of the route was the site of the Roman victory at the Battle of Watling Street in 61 AD between the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus and the Briton leader Boudicca.

Like most of the Roman road network, the Roman paving fell into disrepair when the Romans left Britain, although the route continued to be used for centuries afterwards. It is likely that Chaucer’s pilgrims used Watling Street to travel from Southwark to Canterbury in his Canterbury Tales.

A paving stone on Kilburn High Road in London commemorates the route of Watling Street

Most of the road is still in use today apart from a few sections where it has been diverted. The stretch of the road between London and Dover is today known as the A2, and the stretch between London and Shrewsbury is today known as the A5 (which now continues to Holyhead). The sections of the road which pass through Central London are known by a variety of names, including Edgware Road and Maida Vale. At Blackheath the Roman road’s exact path is uncertain: either diverting towards Deptford Bridge like the modern A2, or staying on a straight line through Greenwich to cross the mouth of Deptford Creek. Through Milton Keynes, the A5 is diverted onto a new dual-carriageway and Watling Street forms part of the new town’s grid system and carries the additional designation V4.

The use of the street name is retained along the ancient road in many places: for instance, to the south east of Roman London and on into Kent (including the towns of Canterbury, Gillingham, Rochester, Gravesend, Dartford, and Bexleyheath). Within London, a major road joining the A5 in north west London is called Watling Avenue. North of London, the name Watling Street still occurs in Hertfordshire (including St Albans), Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire (including Milton Keynes), Northamptonshire (including Towcester), Leicestershire, Warwickshire (including Nuneaton), Staffordshire (including Cannock, Wall and Lichfield), Shropshire (including in Church Stretton as the residential Watling St North and South) and Gwynedd.

A section of Watling Street still exists in the City of London close to Mansion House underground station on the route of the original Roman road which traversed the River Thames via the first London Bridge and ran through the City in a straight line from London Bridge to Newgate.”

Her statue is by Westminster Pier, ironically in the West End not in the City of London near Watling Street. Her name means Victory. Queen Victoria was named after her.

There have been reports that the restless spirit of Boudicca has been seen in the county of Lincolnshire. These reports, dating back to the mid-19th century, claim Boudicca rides her chariot, heading for some unknown destination, and many a traveller and motorist have claimed to have seen her.

There is also a long-lived urban myth that she is buried under Platform 10 of King’s Cross railway station in London. When I was searching online for Youtube videos, someone said ‘let’s go and grab our spade and dig up Platform 10″.

After reading all this stuff I think I am going to visit the Museum of London tomorrow.. and maybe hunt for Watling Street on the way.

The Celts and Fat People

I am still reading some history books and one thing I learned about the Celts was that they believed in staying fit and slim, and they apparently used to ‘fine’ fat people.

Imagine if they did that now, more people would take care of themselves although wealthy fat people would be able to afford the fines.

What part of the road did the Romans use?

The Romans barged through the streets using the centre of the road. They marched there too, knocking people out of the way with their hob nailed boots.

I wonder when society used the modern day two sides of the road? We take that for granted now.I wonder if the Victorians started to do that when we started to have cars.

In India, however, they say that the biggest vehicle has the right of way, and yet this system clearly doesn’t work as there are loads of road accidents on the roadside.

I think some motorists think they have the ‘right of way’ just like the Romans did, they just haven’t evolved.

Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction to collapse within 70 years

And What about our other flyovers and bridges?

I was on the Spaghetti Junction yesterday and now experts say that there has been a huge amount of traffic on it, and that it’s only designed to last another 70 years, after it was built in the early 70s.

Of course, they will say it will last that long, but I doubt it, with increasing cars and population, and bad weather, it may not last as long. I mean those concrete council estates didn’t last long did they?

It begs you to wonder how long our other London flyovers will last? Some of them also allow cyclists. And as you will see later, just who is building our flyovers and bridges? pa

In India parts of flyovers have collapsed and killed people,

“It was reported that a beam section weighing about 18 mt of the under-construction flyover collapsed on early hours of Tuesday.”

and other people were worried about a particular flyover in Malaysia, the MRR2 which had 7000cracks and was closed 3 times:-

“The Middle Ring Road (MRR2) flyover where fine cracks had appeared will not collapse, said Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

Vehicles passing a section below the MRR2 flyover Monday. The Works Minister has given its assurance that the infrastructure is safe to use.

Assuring road users that the flyover was safe, Samy Vellu dismissed a report in a Malay daily that the flyover was “swinging” and “in its last stage of tolerance.”

“First of all, how can a flyover swing? If the flyover poses a danger to the public, do you think we are just going to watch it happen?” he asked at a press conference yesterday.”

Then a Sri Lanken news source ( collapsed flyovers made by a ‘blacklisted’ British construction company.

“A politician had handed over construction of seven flyovers to a blacklisted UK based company Mabey and Johnson and some of the bridges and flyovers built by this concern collapsed in several countries.

A steelwork structure supplied by Mabey and Johnson to an Italian company and erected in Ethiopia came down in its entirety in 1996.
And, similar bridge structures overseen by this UK-based company in Ghana have also given way, which further highlights with grave urgency, the questionable engineering competence of Mabey and Johnson.

Mabey and Johnson had bribed a top politician in this country into obtaining the contract for building the seven flyovers with three already completed in Peliyagoda, Nugegoda and Dehiwela – and another one to come up in Battaramulla shortly.

This British company has been already accused of influencing politicians and officials in Ghana between 1994 and 1999, to land bridge building or flyover deals.

During the same time documents proved beyond any doubt that Mabey and Johnson were implicated in a bribery and corruption scandal in Britain.

During the trial that ensued in UK, the firm in question had allegedly admitted conspiring to obtain contracts by bribing and influencing Ghanian politicians.

Therefore, Mabey had been fined by the Serious Fraud Office in UK 6.61 million for their corrupt deals.”

and Mabey & Johnson are still in existence in the UK –

and this is on their home page:

“The Mabey Group of Companies is a major British organisation which specialises in bridging, steel fabrication, plant hire and construction products.

The Group employs over one thousand people in around forty locations throughout the world, with an annual turnover of £100 million and over one hundred and fifty years experience in steel bridge building, the Group is one of the leading bridge suppliers in the world. ”

and this is one of the bridges they constructed in the UK:-

” Mabey Bridge – based in Chepstow, Monmouthshire. Their most notable product is the Mabey Logistic Support Bridge, originally developed for the British Army, and now used widely around the world. In January 2010, they purchased an 18acre site with an existing 32,140 square metres (346,000 sq ft) building which will be doubled in size in a £30m investment, to produce wind turbine towers.”

and they were also in talks to provide temporary bridging in Cumbria, after the Cockermouth floods.

Don’t councils do background checks on companies?

With the Tories cutting costs like nobody’s business, I would expect the construction industry to take shortcuts in everyway possible and of course.

and I will end this note from Facebook’s ‘I like’ application on Mabey and Johnson:-

“The Mabey Group has made regular donations to the local Conservative party in Wokingham. John Redwood, the Wokingham MP, was chairman of an associated investment company until March 2008.
Group companies”

I’m a Bronze Blood Donor

I think it means that I have given ten pints of blood. They didn’t have the bronze card as apparently ‘they couldn’t get into the cupboard’,but hopefully they will send one in the mail.

I went last Monday as I received a letter saying they were short of blood donors this month and I was lucky to get a day off work. Even so, when I turned up there were hardly any donors. What I did notice is that there were a lot more older people donating, as they have raised the limit.

They have also raised the Gold card which means that it will take even longer to get the Gold Card and the posh meal and free hotel accommodation. I may only get it when I am 75.

Borisbikes at Night

For several months I haven’t even been to London, missed the Boris bike debacle, and we now have Cameron and Clegg in Downing Street. So, for a long time, I haven’t even seen a real life, touch up close, borisbike – until yesterday evening.

One thing I noticed was that these Borisbikes have snatched the other bike racks. The station racks by Charing Cross have completely gone only to be replaced by Borisbikes.

Where are the station racks now? I have noticed that cyclists who used to park there now park on the rails nearby. The police advise us that we should park in proper cycle racks. When I bring my own bike, I will have to hunt down for a new bike rack. Surely they can’t pinch the original bike racks? Bloomin’ cheek. Bike racks ought to be ‘listed’. Give us our bike racks back!

I had a look at the borisbike rack by Victoria station and the screen was broken ie frozen. How useless is that? Then we went to the Charing Cross one which was working.

I was pleased to see that the bikes had both front and rear lights particularly now nights are drawing in. And the mudguard is bright in the dark. The borisbike bell seems to be pretty useless. The tyres, however, were chunky and rock hard.

I tried to sign up for a Borisbike online but I am not having any luck as tfl have to send me a email for my password. And so far, I haven’t received it yet.

Some pics I took on hols

This road is called The Struggle, really nasty when it snows. We did see a lone cyclist at the top. Unfortunately I couldn’t take a pic of the cyclist and the car was going fast – another downside of being a passenger in a car, you can’t take photos where you want, you are at the mercy of the driver.

I wanted to see a few old mills and this one was recommended to me by J. Saltaire was owned by a wealthy wool merchant, Titus, and he
created housing for his employees, a vast mill, a church, a school and a hospital.

and this is Lake Windermere, in Cumbria

J’s mother took us round the area by car and we had a handful of ‘photographic stops’.

What was most remarkable about my trip ‘up north’ was the sheer lack of cyclists. I think in two days I just saw about four. I saw just one cyclist
in Birmingham, he was wearing Hi-Viz. I saw no female cyclists whatsoever. I don’t think they have even heard of cyclechic. Obviously there are bound to be more but I just didn’t see them. Cycle paths were few and far between. There loads of ugly car parks in the pretty northern towns. Rural areas in the north are clearly pro-motorist but we did see a few country buses going through the moors. I didn’t see any Advanced Stop Lines either. Even telephone boxes were few and far between and if you are a cyclist, how can you be sure your mobile has a signal in the middle of a moor?

Have a holiday in Britain

I went up to Lancashire for a few days to visit J’s mum and we went to Lake Windermere and Saltaire Mills in Yorkshire.

I went by National Express and we were nearly two hour’s late because of the traffic caused by so many motorists, road accidents and road works.

This is my journey to Preston along the M6, fun isn’t it? I am just glad that I was not doing the driving.

I videoed this on my way back from Preston, this is the M6 again. Every day it seemed to be bad.

The jams went on for miles and miles and they were so awful that our National Express driver took short cuts along A roads and even drove through service stations.

No wonder the Tories don’t want speedcameras, they don’t need them anymore in some parts of the motorway.

On the bright side and to control feral motorists, there were loads of 40mph speed restrictions – yes, 40mph and in some areas, the Highways had put ‘white chevrons’ on the roads encouraging them not to tailgate, which I have to say, appeared to work, lots of motorists were not tailgating and there was plenty of space. But as soon as the chevrons had gone, motorists forgot to think and began to tailgate. Even our coach driver was tailgating like mad.

BBC Radio 4 looking for Female Cycling Contributors

Just got a comment fellow readers may be interested in:-

“Hiya, I’m about to embark on the production of a series about the social history of the bicycle for BBC Radio 4 and am looking for some female contributors to talk about cycling. I’m particularly interested in the part that cycling has played in radical politics from the suffragettes to the the broadening of working class horizons and eventually the green movement. Would have sent a private message but can’t see a way so had to join the blog –”


So I will be up in Streatham soon. A bit of a change from East London but I like exploring new places.

I have been there a few times, most recently to help ‘catsit’ J’s sister’s cats.

I used to go there as a child when there was a skating rink. I don’t know the area too well but I think it is fairly near Brixton, ‘Rasta country’ so that will be interesting – cycling with drug addicts:-) It is the kind of place where you want to sit down for a sandwich and drug dealers keep trying to pester you, in other words, you never get any peace and you could be surrounded by ‘negative influences’.

In some ways it will be good as there are more things to do round there, its much more cultural than Leytonstone, but I do want to find a park where I get some peace so I can read a book in. I am not exactly the ‘atypical’ Streatham resident, am I?

What else? The choice of places to eat is good, lots of caribbean eateries but I will avoid the McDonalds as once they had a gunman going mad in there:-)

A few years ago, there was the Brixton riots.. good grief, what am I letting myself in for? I have heard that the area has improved somewhat.

I wouldn’t want to be out too long round there at night and the place could be dodgy for bikes and it may be surrounded by bike thieves.