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Rocket again

Only a couple of weeks after I’d posted my Rocket Rant, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has made their archive available on line. There’s a section for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which contains a number of letters by George Stephenson and  lovely set of tinted prints by T.T Bury in 1831. While it’s well … Continue reading

When is a Rocket not a Rocket?

I must have been a precocious child. When small my heroes were the great engineers, men like Watt, Trevethick and Hackworth being held in similar esteem to that reserved by my peers for Superman, Batman and Rocket Robin Hood. The collective company of Stephensons or kingdom of Brunells were the gods themselves having taken on mortal … Continue reading

Rethinking Dominos

At the start of chapter 3 of a once forthcoming second edition of the Routier Gaming Manual[1], I pontificate: There are no references to dominos in western sources before the middle of the 18th century, when domino games appear to have been played in Italy and France. They are kept in this volume mainly so the … Continue reading

Why MCA?

We went to the Museum of Contemporary Art in the city on Saturday. The main exhibition was by a couple of local artists from the Blue Mountains, combining smell, sight, sound and parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that we don’t usually experience. Unfortunately, it’s precisely what I spent 6 years working on removing – we … Continue reading

The Church of St Martin, Exeter, Devon

It’s been a while since I’ve done a church, so here’s a rather nice little one while I build up to Exeter cathedral proper. St Martin’s is a small church structurally of the 15th century, but built on the site of a series of churches going back to AD 1065. Managed by the Churches Conservation Trust, … Continue reading

Mongolian bamboo arows

I’ve been doing a little consulting to my nephew*, who has been making a Mongolian bow for a school history assignment. His theory is that the Mongolian bow gave the advantage to the Mongols during their invasion of China in the 14th century, so he’s making one and testing it out. I disagree in a … Continue reading

In a spin about fletch wrapping

At most find-sites that have arrows there will be a non-equal mix of S- and Z-wrap on the bindings. The dig report will assert that left-handed fletchers were responsible for those that aren’t the majority direction arrow binding, probably without mentioning whether it’s the Z- or S- that they are talking about. I can’t find where it … Continue reading

Archery, 1645 style

Peasants at Archery, David Teniers the Younger, 1645. Click to zoom in and have a look around. There’s enough detail to see that the bows are made from a single stick using the heartwood and sapwood to best effect. The two figures shooting appear to have early recurves with handle binding, the limbs may be spliced within the handle. These … Continue reading

The Black Tapestry of Zamora

The Black Tapestry is the one surviving member of a theoretical series of tapestries illustrating Roman history. This one depicts four scenes of  the history of the Roman king Tarquin the Elder (c 616-c 578 BC). Most likely woven in Brussels around 1425, it is now on display in the museum at the Cathedral of Zamora, Spain, possibly … Continue reading

Was King Charles a Double Armed Man?

The short answer: yes. The long answer: A known sporting archer, in 1637 Charles was coached in archery by the two Williams Nead. William the elder was also a member of the Artillery Company and inventor of the device that enabled the pike to have a bow attached. I imagine it amounted to not much … Continue reading