Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Radical Gloucestershire Camp, June 14th-16th

Radical Gloucestershire Camp in the Forest of Dean, Friday 14th, Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th June.
This will happen only if there is a dry weather forecast. Camping near Drybrook at Greenway Farm Caravan and Camping Site.  See www.greenwayfarm.org
Please book in. We’d be delighted to see you. There is a flexible programme but people are free to ignore the suggested schedule. Even if people follow the schedule, some may wish to cycle, some may wish to walk. Bicycle hire is available after a short car drive from the camp site.
Arrive on the Friday – Cannop Colliery trail and visit Saint Andrew’s Well (5 flat miles).
Saturday – 2nd colliery trail (either New Fancy (5 and a half flat miles) or Speculation (8 and a half) or bike both )and a visit to the unique cider house and curry house in picturesque Newnham.
Sunday – 3rd colliery trail and/or visit to Colliery Museum.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Stroud Spring, Stroud Summer 1825; May 19th 2013

The Spring and Summer of 1825?
Nothing here about the weather, I’m afraid,
 Instead, anonymous letters portending
Murder, mayhem and machine-breaking,
 With arson and mill destruction
Thrown into the pot for good measure;
Silent shuttles, strikes, mute looms,
Bosses’ men and strike-breakers
Ducked in the various brooks and waters
In acts of summary Christian justice;
Mass meetings on the hills and in the valleys,
On the commons and in the streets of Stroud,
The Riot Act read, with gallant hussars
Riding down would-be trade unionists,
(“We accomplished this with…slash of the sword only”)
The street-seller of “The True British Weavers”
Thrown into gaol without trial, or jury.
This was the spring and summer of 1825,
When thousands fought the market place,
In the hills and valleys of the Cotswolds;
This is our unmarked Radical Heritage,
But your sixth sense can secretly sense it:
Create theatres of memory in your mind,
Invoke Stroud's Spirit of Place,
Then invite spectators to their seats.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Weavers and Workhouse Walk, Sunday May19th, High Noon

Before I give details about the next walk, I do recommend a visit to ‘Water - The Miniature Museum of Memories’ at Stroud Museum (throughout May) and also ‘Walking the Land: River’, discussion 10-noon at Stroud Brewery, Thrupp, Saturday 18th May.


Meet mid-day in front of the cinema.

We then look at the 1825 weavers’ riots whilst meandering along the canal to Cainscross.

We then ascend to Ruscombe, where we look at poverty in the 1830s and the local alternative to a cash-economy.

We descend via Callowell, so as to amble along the Slad Road with the intention of reaching the top of the town via Libby’s Drive and Baxter’s Field.

We discuss the workhouse and the 1839 Miles Report about the poverty of the handloom weavers whilst at the cemetery.

We then skirt the Heavens to descend to the canal.

We walk back into town to look at the poor law guardians’ plaque in the Ale House and have a chin-wag.

No charge – hand-outs provided – mystery guest - please bring own victuals.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Finding the Source of the Frome by Bike

I can’t recommend this enough. Have a look at the pictures that will eventually appear on www.radicalstroud.org.uk in the Landscape section, but here is a recommended route from Stroud. This ride obviously involves quite a few climbs, but get off and push along the quieter lanes when you fancy it and that should provide variety. I took about four hours there and back from Stroud, with breaks for walking, eating, photographing, musing and so on.
I went along Bisley Road to climb up to Stancombe and then past Camp and Foston’s Ash, to turn right towards Brimpsfield. Keep your eyes peeled for Climperwell Farm; just past that is a footpath into a clearing on your right. Here you find a well and a spring – one of the sources of the Frome. It is an absolutely exhilarating sight, for when you glance at the map you notice that there are tumuli in the fields above this spring. You have bicycled through time into a landscape with prehistoric meaning.
Brimpsfield is a medieval delight: a church set well away from the village, next to a motte, once the site of two separate castles. You can see water down in the valley below the motte and the map indicates springs down there. If you walk to the wall behind the church, then you are looking towards Nettleton, where springs also issue and feed the eventual Frome.
It seems a bit of a shock to see traffic hurtling along the road, when standing in such a medieval spot – but that road is, of course, the old Roman Ermin Street, running between Gloucester and Cirencester. There is a footpath going down towards the valley bottom in the direction of Watercombe farm, but I chose to bicycle – I think I might walk it next time. There are springs down there  - the other source of the Frome.
These two sources merge and the waters at Caudle Green are christened, as it were, the River Frome. Caudle Green is another delight – it was interesting to see how puddles were standing in the road below Spring Cottage, even though the recent weeks had been so dry. (I made this exploration on May Day - Underneath the Pavements, the Beach!) A climb up through Caudle Green (Stroud ‘bus service once a week, on a Thursday) took me back to the Stroud-Cranham road; I then descended towards Slad for Stroud. I think it better to return to town on this route: it is such a sustained and unrelenting drag up to the top through Slad; the Bisley climb is more abrupt, but shorter, and then you have the free wheeling freedom of the long drawn out downward ride to Slad and Stroud.
A great day out.