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Sunday 27 July 2014

Fact 29. Actor John Alderton grew up in Hull.

John Alderton was actually born in Gainsborough in Lincolnshire but moved to Hull with his family and attended Kingston High School. The general public first became aware of his talents when he got a good part in Emergency, Ward 10. Where he played Doctor Moone, which must have been the first medical soap in the UK. He actually married his co-star Jill Brown but it only lasted a few years. Emergency, Ward 10 ran from 1957 to 1967.

John Alderton in Emergency, Ward 10.

He then got the lead part in Please Sir! as Mr Hedges. The series ran from 1968 to 72. He also played the part in the feature film of the same name. At this time he married Pauline Collins
John Alderton in Please Sit!

Later in 1972 he had a new comedy sitcom with Hannah Gordon called My Wife Next door. It ran for 13 episodes and it won him a Jacob's Award. His next success was massive as he appeared as the chauffeur in Upstairs Downstairs with his wife having a part too. The series ran from 1971 to 75 ans several spin offs came from it for him. He and his wife had three children, and a step daughter. He also starred in It shouldn't happen to a vet.  from the book by James Herriot. 

John Alderton in Upstairs Downstairs.

More recently he was the voice of Fireman Sam, the very successful children's cartoon that everybody of a certain age will have got to know by heart as their kids watched it over and over again! He also appeared in the very successful British Film Calendar Girls. He has often worked with his wife

Fireman Sam.

He has recently been in the news for fighting planning application near his home in Hampsted that wanted to knock old homes down and rebuild futuristic building of a much larger size and with a swimming pool underground. He actually won the case.

John Alderton in 2012.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Fact 28. The most impressive equestrian statue in Britain.

King Billy, as the statue is affectionately know, sits in the centre of the road of Low Gate in Hull. The place was actually where the bear baiting ring was in previous times. The statue is of King William III, William of Orange. Hull was the first large city in Britain to swear their allegiance to the new King when he deposed James II in 1685. This came about as Parliament thought that James was to change the state religion to Catholic and they wanted to remain Protestant. Williams mother, Mary, was daughter of Charles I and then William had married Mary,  his first cousin and eldest surviving daughter of James II, when he was the Duke of York. She was therefore the next in line to the throne after James II. William refused however to be consort to Queen Mary or only as King during her lifetime and threatened to leave the country. Parliament thought it better to have a Protestant King and so it was the connivance of the Houses of Lords and Commons that declared them joint Rulers but William would exercise the regal power for both of them. They were crowned in April 1689. He died in 1702.

William III and Mary II of England, Scotland and Ireland

The statue was paid for by public suscription and cost £785. Today this would be around £150,000. It was designed by a Dutchman Peter Scheemaker in 1734 and sits on a stone pedestal. The Statue is of William in Roman Emperor costume astride a horse. The statue was gilded in 1768. The Inscription reads; " This statue was erected in the year 1734 to the memory of King William Third. Our Great Deliverer."

Statue of King Billy in Low Gate in late 1800's as there are no toilets but the fountain and lamps are there.

The inscription on the plinth with the water fountain below that no longer is working.

In 1880 a plain drinking fountain was added to the plinth below the inscription and in the late 1800's the four lamps were added at the corners of the plinth. These were made by local firm King and Peach.

Details of horse and rider.

In the Victorian era some public conveniences were built below the statue. They were very ornate and had glass cisterns. I always thought they should have had gold fish in.

Gents loos below King Billy's statue.

It was the only piece of public art in Hull to removed to safety for the Second World War and it was taken to Sancton near Market Weighton. It was reinstated in 1948

Date 4-8-1948
The statue being transported back to Low Gate.

There are several myths concerning the statue. The first is that Scheemaker committed suicide when he realised that he had forgotten the stirups but in fact as he is depicted as a Roman they didn't have stirrups at the time. It is also said that when the clock of Holy Trinity strikes midnight King Billy gets off his horse and goes for a drink in the nearby pub. It is also said that when it strikes thirteen the horse also get down for a pint!

Sunday 13 July 2014

Fact 27. Follow fish for fun. Hull's Fish Trail.

Hull has a unique trail around the 'Old Town' that is marked by forty one sculptures of fish with every letter of the alphabet covered by their initials.

The Fish Trail route.

The Hull Fish Trail was opened in 1992, designed by Gordon Young and was sponsored by Seven Seas that started as the British Cod Liver Oil Producers Company in Hull.  Gordon Young was born in Carlisle and was the curator of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and a Director of the Welsh Sculpture Trust before becoming a full time artist concentrating on public art in 1984. The Fish Trail was his first large scale work (pardon the pun) but since then he was completed many works including the Eric Morcambe Memorial area in Morcambe in 1999, Listening Stones at GCHQ at Cheltenham in 2004 and the Ring of Steel at MK Stadium Milton Keynes.

Cod cast in bronze and chrome and set in Carrara Marble

The A to Z of fish is represented by a sculpture that when followed takes you round the sights of the Old Town and guide you around the significant areas. Each of the sculptures are life size ranging from tiny anchovy to 10 ft rays. The sculptures also display Gordon Young's sense of humour as there is a Plaice outside the Market Place, and Electic Eel by an electric sub station and a shark outside a bank!

Fish Trail, Kingston upon Hull
Whitebait in Ketley Bricks.

There is now a cost of 40p for the leaflet and 400,000 have taken up the challenge of completing the trail and obtaining a certificate for their completion. Equipment for taking rubbings of the fish can be obtained with the leaflet from the Tourist Information.

A Flying Fish set in low relief York Stone.

Fact 26. The only Corporation owned telephone system in the UK.

After the invention of the telephone the building of systems in the UK was piecemeal. United Telephones (a company owned by Bell and Edison Companies of UK) took over a lot of systems by taking them to court when they used their patents illegally. In 1880 tested the legality of their rights and took over the company and handed the regulation to the Post Office. The PO took 10% of the money taken.

By 1889 the National Telephone Company (NTC) had a near monopoly. By 1898 the Government Select Committee looked into the business and recommended that competition be brought in by offering Local Governments Authorities be able to use rates and borrow money to set up their own systems b y obtaining a licence from the Post Master General. 13 Authorities applied for a licence but only 6 actually set up a telephone system. Brighton, Glasgow, Hull, Portsmouth, Tunbridge Wells, and Swansea. Tunbridge and Swansea sold to NTC by 1907. Glasgow and Brighton were bought by the GPO and Portsmouth sold in 1913 leaving only Hull.

Stowager telephone used in Hull after 1934.

Hull's first licence was granted in 1902 and the first exchange was opened in November in 1904. An offer was made by NTC to buy out Hull's business in 1906 and was only declined by the casting vote of the Chairman. The first exchange was at the former Trippett Street baths.

Photo of plaque
The Second Hull telephone exchange.

By 1914 the second licence was negotiated and part of the approval was that Hull Corporation had to by the equipment for £193,000. That would be about £15 million in today's money.

The first automatic exchange opened in 1922 and the first telephone directory was printed in 1947 and in 1952 they started the first information service (other than the speaking clock) in the UK when they started a Christmas Story for children on dialing a certain number and it is still going strong today. As 1954 was the Golden Jubilee of the first licence the company printed the classified pages on Golden paper that was the fore runner of 'Yellow Pages' today. Hull had the first all digital exchange in the UK in 1989 and in 1999 the Hull City Council 'floated' the company on the Stock Exchange and retained a 44.9% stake in the new company. They sold shares at reduced cost to customers and many made a lot of money as the price rose with the dotcom bubble before it burst.

The cream and green telephone boxes are unique to the city, although they are all cream now. I can not find why that colour was chosen.

The K6 telephone boxes that were designed to commemorate the Silver jubilee of King George V and they went into production 1936.

The modern KX100 near Queens Gardens.