Monday 26 November 2012

Millbrook Floods Help - Thank You!!

UPDATED 7pm Monday 3rd december, 2012

Many thanks to each & every person who kindly donated to the Millbrook Flood Help with monies raised going to Millbrook Village Hall Playgroup that is currently in a temporary home at the Scout Hut. A total of 19 people donated the sum of £190 via PayPal, minus the PayPal fees of 5.4% (£10.26) giving a total sum of £179.74. Although we spoke with PayPal directly again today, they will not remove or reduce their fees unless we are a registered charity which of course, we aren't. However, as soon as we found this out earlier in the week we also made the decision to donate our fees from any photos used in the media to make up for this. We are extremely grateful for your support!!

Final Total Donations £284.74

Thank you all & we hope to bring you photos of where the cash helped soon!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has sent mails of support & donations to those affected in the Millbrook flooding on Saturday night. From launching the PayPal Donation page last night you have raised more than £100 & we hope to raise a little more in the 6 days remaining. With your help we can contribute, even if only a little, toward the fund.

The PayPal Donations will run until 6pm Sunday 2nd December & we will issue a press release of the grand total raised at 7pm & throughout the week you will see updates via the Millbrook Flood Help Facebook Group.

After attending a drop-in session at Millbrook Scout Hut for Multi-Agency Flood Recovery this evening we bring you the following photos taken across the last 48 hours. This was from just one affected area don't forget & we hope that others across the South West are getting the full support required to enable a return back to some sort of normality as swift as possible.

This blog will return back to normality next week when we bring you a feature on one of the Palmerston Forts. Until then we thank you for your understanding, both our cameras took on water damage so we won't be doing photos for a few days anyway!

Please do not copy, use or distribute any of the photos without prior written permission via; 

Deep water spanned the road near Antony House, Torpoint

This best portrays how hard the rainfall was

By this point our camera lens had suffered water damage

King Street, Millbrook

Fore Street, Millrbook

Diverting the water - Millpool Head, Millbrook

West Street, Millbrook

Firefighters from Torpoint Station survey the scene outside the Devon & Cornwall Inn
Inside the Devon & Cornwall Inn

The Morning After

Spar Shop - Millbrook

Quay Garage, Millbrook

Locals worked throughout the night & into the next morning

Sunday Lunch cancelled at the Devon & Cornwall Inn

The scene looking down King Street, Millbrook

Landslide in St Andrews Street, Millbrook

Landslide near Millbrook Surgery
Polbathic Garage under water

Tregantle to Crafthole Road Landslide

Sunday 25 November 2012

Millbrook Flooding -Sat 24th November, 2012

Okay this post should have been a photo reportage of our event at Maker Junction, Maker Heights, but yesterday saw a series of unfortunate events that culminated in hours of chaotic scenes but at the same time, calm & organised. Here's what happened from our perspective....

Firemen from Torpoint checking on residents in King Street, Millbrook with waters fast rising

 Early Saturday afternoon, we were in the midst of setting up for the event at Maker, when a glance at the weather & forecast throwing doubt as to the incoming conditions & concern for people's safety travelling home back to Plymouth with reduced ferry services. After conferring with Simon at Maker Junction, calls were made to the events guest speakers Cyberheritage, & local authors Laura Quigley & Barbara Marlow & by 3pm made the decision to cancel the event...when things go wrong we always say 'In hindsight...' - in this case, hindsight served us well but nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to witness.

 By 6pm heavy rains were battering South east Cornwall, & from 7:30 I headed back into Millbrook greeted by what I can describe as driving down a shallow river into the village littered with debris & rocks washed from the hedgerows. It was only when I reached the Heart & Hand pub that I realised that property was taking on water big time & reaching the market square was just blown away by the amount of flooding within such a short space of time.

 With sluice gates firmly shut the village of Millbrook took an onslaught of water cascading down Hounster Hill branching off down all streets into the village centre, manholes sprouting geyser like flooding the main West Street & engulfing homes & businesses. The Spar shop two feet deep in cold water,the Devon & Cornwall pub more, maybe three, four feet. Quay Garage & Millbrook Petrol Station were getting higher water levels by the minute fromSmall businesses & homes battered with the torrential onslaught with many working throughout the night mopping up the mess. What was great to see was how the community clubbed together to assist wherever they could. With emergency services overstretched & overwhelmed throughout Devon & Cornwall it was down to everyday people who took the situation in hand & tried to protect their's & neighbours property - who said community spirit isn't alive & well.

 Thankfully, to our knowledge, nobody was seriously hurt but people's possessions & livelihoods have been affected badly by this & after speaking with a friend of Hidden Plymouth, Tim Newcombe who has set up a Facebook group for affected Millbrook residents Millbrook Flood Help we have set up a PayPal Donation page to hopefully raise a few pounds for this. We hope you take the time to read this & please, feel free to leave comments & a little moral support.

Please head over to Millbrook Flood Help Facebook Group to see if you can help in any other way.

Many thanks - Hidden Plymouth.

Monday 5 November 2012

Palmerston's Follies

Whether out on a boat in Plymouth Sound, walking the coastal path around Mount Edgcumbe or driving along the A38, you're not too far away from one of Palmerston's Follies, but what exactly are they & what were their purpose?

Picklecombe Fort on the Western Approach of Plymouth Sound

A ring of Victorian era defences surround Plymouth in the form of impressive looking forts & gun batteries, with some sites being remodelled from earlier Napoleonic fortifications. Those built within the era of the Prime Minister at the time, Lord Palmerston, came about after fears of a French invasion as reported in the 1860 Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom. Lord Palmerston championed the idea of strengthening coastal defences & harbours around the UK. It was a costly exercise - the greatest ever spent on building fixed defences during peacetime, & by the time of completion, advances in gun technology had rendered the forts out of date. Hence they became known as Palmerston's Follies.

Tregantle Fort - Still in active military use as a firing range

The Plymouth Defences were built with intention of defending the threat of a Naval assault by the French on Plymouth Dockyard. Any modern visitor to Plymouth via sea will often ask the question of what structures they are seeing as they enter Plymouth Sound. Picklecombe Forts lush apartment conversion greets visitors as they reach the Breakwater, where once inside, the impressive dark & daunting look of Breakwater Sea Fort & the mighty combined fortifications of Bovisand & Staddon Battery at Staddon Heights can be seen at their best. Further inland, Stamford & Staddon Forts complete the south-eastern side Reaching Drake's Island, Palmerston era additions can be seen in the form of an arc of stone casemates with protective iron shields that housed twenty-one 9 inch guns.

Breakwater Fort

Fort Bovisand & the earlier Staddon Heights Battery

Drake's Island Casemates

Plymouth's Northern Defences stretch from Efford Fort all the way to Ernesettle Battery overlooking the Tamar. Sandwiched roughly in the middle is Plymouth's best preserved Palmerston, Crownhill Fort which is now utilised by businesses & wedding venue with occasional open days to the public. All of the Northern Defences are occupied with businesses or Plymouth City Council in-situ with the exception of Ernesettle Battery which is MOD, & Agaton which is a VOSA Test Station.

Efford Fort to the left overlooking the North Eastern Approaches

Cannons in-situ at Crownhill Fort

Murder Hole Ditch at Efford Fort being reclaimed by nature

Agaton Fort Gatehouse - No Access

On the Cornish side around the Rame Peninsula, coastal gun batteries & forts snake the coastline from Garden Battery at Mount Edgcumbe to Scraesdon Fort at Antony & although some were lost to demolition in the 1970's, there has been excellent works to preserve their status from current tenants who look after the structures including the Rame Conservation Trust, Mount Edgcumbe Estate, Defence Estates, Ministry of Defence & all the owners of converted sites such as Cawsand, Picklecombe & Polhawn Forts & Whitsand Bay Battery which is now a holiday park.

Scraesdon Fort from above

The grand stone entrance to Tregantle Fort

Flooded moat at Scraesdon Fort

A handful of forts have suffered vandalism & theft in recent years including Bovisand & Drake's Island, which had renovation & refurbishment projects put on hold due to the recessions, but recent rumblings on the grapevine are positive & look good for the future. One things for sure If we won the lottery jackpot, we would certainly offer to buy it straight from the owner & reopen it to the People of Plymouth....a name? ooooh maybe Cultural Adventure & Heritage Centre of Plymouth....or is it forward thinking enough for the Plymouth vision of a modern city? trips, tourism, local produce brought to the island by boat, open days, jobs with old trade skills brought into much needed use....must...stop....dreaming! Oh & did you know that Drake's Island is actually the cap of an extinct volcano? Awesome history that Plymouth has don't you agree?

Thankfully some of the forts have been much better cared for & the conversions to apartments & holiday homes at Cawsand & Picklecombe Forts are stunning. Okay, so they may be a little out of our price range & we can't even afford a second home but we still appreciate their history & the imposing look these structures have. Polhawn Fort is now primarily a wedding venue, a place we considered for our own wedding, & in our opinion this has to be one of the best wedding venues in the South West. The time, money & priceless effort that has gone into the restoration of the fort is phenomenal & we will feature this in a forthcoming series on the blog.

Inside one of the immaculate bedrooms - Polhawn Fort

TV replaces the cannon - note the original racer rail for the cannon

One of my favourite spiral staircases - stunning workmanship

Over a series of blog posts, we will take a look at each site in detail, including the demolished gun batteries around Plymouth & the surrounding area. A strong focus point of our research will be to build a history of Military Units & stories from personnel who have their own memories of a particular site & we welcome any information of historic value. Graffiti from years back adorn many of the forts with units such as the Royal Marines, Royal Engineers, The Parachute Regiment & even the SAS. Feel free to get in touch if you recognise any of the graffiti featured in the forthcoming gallery -

1939 graffiti from a Commando veteran

Until next time....another spiral staircase in a Plymouth Fort - we're off to see what's down there