A further period of change - and of loss.
HOLIDAYS:1990- Bridlington- first visit, excellent place with lots of really good walking.
1991- Skegness. First visit. Nice place with a miniature railway along the front; fruit stalls by the beach; great sand dunes; George has his first flight in a small plane from the nearby Ingoldmells airstrip. More like flying in a small plane than a big one! The end of the holiday was not so good- major problem with Skegness- the railway station- where trains are late and unreliable and very overcrowded; where you are not allowed onto the platform until after the time the train should have left... very bad, and nothing the resort can do about it.
1992-Paignton-Torbay, fictional home of Fawlty Towers and our hotel met that reputation head on. A place to avoid in future- residents hate tourists who are their livelihood. Bad place.
1993- Back to Skegness, still quite civilised, despite the problems leaving the place by train. Many changes over the two years- a newly laid promenade to the South; the Council had closed the miniature railway down; and no more trips by plane.
1994-Bridlington, excellent walking. Nice place. At this time it had a nudist beach along the then undeveloped south beach. Really nice place to visit. Visited Sewerby Hall and also Burton Agnes Hall
In April 1990 we visited Lyme Park and saw some of the damage done to the woods by the great gale of October 1989 - the one where only hours before BBC weatherman Michael Fish had told everyone not to worry about the wind it was going to pass us by. Then... wham!
We also visited Etherow Park and Ernocroft Woods, rich with bluebells. Also Lyme Park, Bramall Hall,
23rd February 1990 saw our first visit to the East Lancashire Railway in Bury, taking a trip to the then end of line at Ramsbottom. Engines on duty were 76079 and 75078. Later the line would be extended to Rawtenstall (total distance 8 miles) and two new stations built. And we would visit many times again.
May 1990 saw us visit the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port. Nice place but we haven't been inclined to revisit.
2nd September 1990 saw George and I riding in a Steam Train operated by British Rail themselves, in a short lived experiment to run regular steam services from Crewe to Holyhead. George and I visited Rhyl travelling behind Princess Elizabeth, 6201. We saw a snake with rudimentary rear legs. And -in 1990- we took a ride on Rhyl's skytower, then fairly new having been imported from a Glasgow festival. Since then Welsh newspapers have published a 1993 date for the tower opening and this is repeated on Wikipedia. All these sources are wrong. I was there and have photos to prove it. Unfortunately the constant repetition of incorrect data on the Internet means it is impossible to get any of them corrected- the record will now remain incorrect forever. By 2016 the tower was unused and looking for friends.
Other 1990 visits included a day out in York; a visit to the Bradford Museum of Film, TV and Photography where we saw the Imax movie about Beavers
George's handwriting did not improve over the years and he found it increasingly difficult as more writing was required of him. He also had difficulty with sports, had a speech difficulty, and could not ride a bike. He was also bullied at school.
It took a little time, many visits to therapists and considerable effort and frustration on George's part, but ultimately George was diagnosed as having dyspraxia (clumsy child syndrome) his writing was unlikely to improve.
With school work increasingly needing written work, the local authority fortunately supplied George with a Tandy word processor and from then onwards his school work improved no end, and he forged ahead.
1991- Celebrated George's birthday with a visit to Chester Zoo.
George and I took a rare train ride along the railway line between Stockport and Stalybridge- usually only one train per week (3pm Friday) in one direction only. In 1991 a service from Manchester to Glossop was diverted down this longer route to allow track maintenance work to take place.The Manchester to Bury and Manchester to Altrincham railway lines were to close for a period for conversion to a new Tram system. George and I took rides along each line in the final days of British Rail operation (the class 504 EMU's, unique to the Bury line, last operated in August 1991)
And also for a day Heaton Chapel station became an "Inter City" station, for which a special ramped entrance was built on the Northern end of the Southbound platform- which a few years later became the only way onto the platform in the afternoons and evenings as the station was "unmanned" except in the mornings (in order to discourage people from using the railway...) and the South exit was padlocked.
During 1991 we visited Styal Country park; Crewe Railway Heritage Centre (where steam engines Flying Scotsman, Bahamas and Green Arrow were visiting); Bradford Museum of film tv and photography- where we saw the Imax films To Fly, Niagara, Blue Planet; the East Lancashire Railway (Bury-Rawtenstall); Prestbury- where we visited the new church- 12th Century- and were amazed to find the older church still there!
George and I took a trip "on the main line" with Steam Engine Green Arrow (4771) from Crewe to Colwyn Bay and back.In September 1991 our beloved cat Chloe became very ill and the vet could do nothing. She was buried at the bottom of the garden.
We "rescued" a little tom tabby whose owner "couldnt afford to feed him" anymore, who George called Paws. This was the first member of our family to appear on the Web, on the site operated by the excellent Cat's Protection League (of which I am a life member).
15 Feb 1992- visited London for the day and went to the Natural History Museum, and on 22nd March 1992 went back to London to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
During the year we also visited the Manchester Museum; went for a day's walk along the coast path between Liverpool and Southport; enjoyed a tour around Cadbury World at Bourneville; visited the Children's Museum (Eureka) in Halifax;
August 1992- a new experience for us: a Star Trek convention. As this was held in Manchester we had no excuse for missing it- and we do enjoy classic Trek. The convention was held in two adjacent hotels, and had five video rooms - as there were no leading actor guests we spent most of our time watching videos!Yep we all managed to attend in uniform- George and Cathy in Next Generation Season One uniforms and myself in a blue classic top.
The principal guest was Dorothy Fontana, and I now have one of her books autographed. A major innovation at the Con was a private showing of Japanese animation, which I attended. I bought the tape afterwards (charity auction) and from then onwards started collecting and watching Japanese animation.
My personal preferences in Anime are cute and kids, I really dont like the heavy violence which you might think Anime was all about when looking at the UK video store shelves.
In the UK the leading video producer called itself MANGA which in Japan refers to the telephone directory size "comics" which are so popular - and cheap. The animation is called Anime (ann-im-ay).My favorites, since discovered, include Nadia, Maison Ikkoku, Uresai Yatsura, Totoro, and many others, all with great character definition, superb drawing and animation, and real story lines.
11 April 1992
Day trip to Blaenau Ffestiniog to visit the Llechwed Slate Mine.
25 & 26.4.92- British Rail Longsight celebrated its 150th anniversary as a Motive Power Depot with its one and only Open Day- with visiting steam locos.
23 5 92- Visit to Delamere Forest to celebrate George's birthday, with George's friends Stella and Lauren
6th June 1992- steam traction rally at Heaton Park, Manchester13 6 92- walked along Hope Valley to Stannedge Edge
September 1992- A visit to Heaton Park for a fairground organ rally, our first. Lots of organs and our opportunity to hear Whites Mammoth Gavioli organ in pristine unmodified chromatic form. I bought a number of cassettes and as Dad was now blind, I took along a tape recorder to share it with him- I recorded 25 tracks! George- now 8 - had a go turning the wheel of a smaller organ.
In later years we went from time to time to the North West organ rally at Urmston, and then later at Widnes. Alas by 2015 there were NO large (built into an articulated lorry) organs at Widnes, and only six medium sized organs. The many organs we had enjoyed over the years had gone- some abroad (one to Australia!), some into fixed museums, and alas many never to be played again. The White's organ was rebuilt as a smaller organ, in an unsatisfactory manner- and the original layout and spec of the organ was not documented, the old music lost. My collection of recordings is all that remains of a once proud heritage.
1992- H M Queen opens Metrolink tram system in Manchester. Take her photo...
Around this time I was engaged in the analysis of company accounts for the bank.
Manchester was the Bank's largest office outside London, and had a very large portion of the
larger company banking business. It got so I could tell how old the directors were from
looking at the accounts....
As the bank had made such a great success of personal credit scoring, I looked to see if company accounts (often already ten months out of date) were capable of objective analysis. I used the services of Marian Bell in the Bank's Economics Library to obtain some prints of relevant articles. Marian later went on to the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee, to set base rates.
After a bit of work I had a spread sheet that would take input from company accounts and indicate with 100% precision if the company would still be trading in 12 months, or if there was a risk of loss. There were some specific types of trading that gave false negatives, easily identified. This objective scoring drove my comments on the accounts.
My analysis skills were used by an outside company producing a training program for
the management of potential bad debt- they gave me a set of accounts, and I forecast the
company was going to go bust soon. When the training material came out, the accounts were
genuine, and were indeed from a company that had failed. The training material analysed
the things the Bank could have done, having seen the risk, to prevent the loss. The Bank
made a bit of money by buying in high risk loans and turning companies back to
I put up my suggestion for accounts analysis to the bank's head office.
And for some time I received notes that they were considering my idea. Then these stopped. By the time I left the bank, the bank was using the automated analysis of company accounts to good effect, with the accounts data much augmented by sector and economic analysis from the Economics Dept. The result was automated risk rating and pricing. Did my suggestion have anything to do with this work? Who knows! But I did it first.
1992- Car accessory shop near George's school burned out.
Towards year end Mum was quite poorly, spent some time in hospital before Christmas, and returned in 1993.
30 1 93- visited East Lancashire Railway, Bury20 2 93- same again, the famous loco The Flying Scotsman (4472) was visiting.
Train services were getting pretty unreliable, and after 25 years of commuting by train I regretfully took my custom elsewhere, and started to commute by bus, showing quite a saving in cost due to increased competition. Over the 25 years I had seen Heaton Chapel station downgraded by: closure of an entrance; closure of the toilets, removal of the platform clock; removal of the public telephone; removal of the waiting room heating; by 1996 demanning of the station had led to the closure of the main station entrance, requiring a half mile walk (along 16 carriage lengths!) to get into the station; and then in Winter 1998, the long held 4 trains an hour service was reduced to three. Later even the bridge connecting the two platforms was demolished.
29th May 1993, visited Delemere Forest with three of George's friends, Stella, Belma, and Melanie. Stella and Melanie were both very clever girls- Stella has since gone to Stockport School (a private school- on a scholarship). Melanie is still in George's form and still clever! Belma was a refugee from Slovakia, living temporarily in Heaton Moor, (in a building where my father was later to stay when it became a nursing home) before finding their own home and moving from George's school.
5th June 1993- another visit to the East Lancs Railway
Mum returned to hosital for surgery to explore a large lump in her abdomen. When mum left hospital after the exploratory surgery, she and dad moved into sheltered accomodation (Hyde House) and in February 1993 solicitors were asked to act in the sale of 15 Gower Road.
On 7th June George and I went for a walk along the Longdendale Way, formerly a main rail route between Manchester and Sheffield, through the Woodhead Tunnel(s).
Mum died at Hyde House in my sisters arms, about the time that George and I arrived home.
In the intervening years we visited Dad every Wednesay and I visited every Saturday. Initially he was able to go out on a bus shopping, then by taxi, then just local walking and finally not at all. We spent many hours talking together, and he enjoyed the cups of tea I made for him.
It was difficult for Dad living alone even in sheltered accomodation, being completely blind, and relying on others for his blood tests and insulin injections. We did get him a talking blood test meter which helped a little but there was still the problem of getting the blood to the right place- not easy when you can see nothing.
We bought him a microwave to make cooking a possibility, but his diet cannot have been very exciting. He had talking scales, talking kitchen scales, talking watches and clocks and talking books. Life was still restricted and became more so as his body and mind aged.
25th July 1993- George and I took a day off in Blackpool, visiting Fleetwood also.9th August day trip to Blaenau Ffestiniog to visit the Gloddfa Ganol slate mine. When we visited again in 1998 the tourist facilities had just been closed as the tips were being use to extract road hard core. The excellent shop, galleries and tourist facilities, including a fine collection of slate trains, had all been scrapped.
10th August 1993, day trip to Bradford to visit the Museum of Film, TV and Photography.
13th August- day off work to visit the East Lancs Railway mid week steam festival (25 years after the official end of steam passenger services on British Rail). Lots of visiting trains including Burton Agnes Hall (6998)- the only engine whose footplate George has visited, whilst in steam.
Visited Tatton Park and Wythenshawe Hall Park.
In 1993 we found a small hedgehog, whose body weight was too low to survive the winter, and took him in. He was fed and watered, and in Spring 94 released.Finally, early December 1993, after thirty years in the Shaw name, 15 Gower Road was sold for 54,500 pounds.
On 8th January we took a rare railway trip on a passenger service from Stockport to Manchester Victoria- the service was being terminated on 22nd January, as the rare track it used was being taken out of service. Used part of the Stockport-Stalybridge line to get to Manchester.
22nd January was a double end-of-service day on the Railway, and on the 22nd itself we took the last train from Manchester Victoria to Ashbury's (and from there a service train to Manchester Piccadilly). Quite a fun occaision on a crowded train.
Several trips to the East Lancs Railway, Bury. We spent a day clearing up the Heywood link (Bury-Heywood) which it is hoped to open to passenger traffic in the year 2000. By joining the workers we were able to take a ride along the track six years before then! Just picked up junk and threw it onto a long wagon. About this time a new restaurant was being built on Platform 2 at Bury.
28th May 1994- visit to Delamere Forest with George's friends Becky and Stella.
29th May 1994- during a visit to Manchester Museum of Science and Industry we caught a vintage bus for a quick visit to the Manchester Transport Museum- full of old busses, from a horse drawn tram to the prototype of the Metrolink Tram.
30th May 1994- visit to Manchester Victoria Station for its 150th birthday. Two steam engines from the East Lancashire Railway were visiting- 5407 (45407) and 46441.
5th June 1994- first (and only so far) open day for Manchester Metrolink. Interesting visit. We also visited Heaton Park, and a quick visit to the East Lancs Railway in Bury.
9th June 1994- day off work for a mid week visit to the East Lancashire Railway, running special diesel services including freights. Rained most of the time but took some nice photographs.
3rd July 1994- day trip to Castleton, visiting the closed road (A625) along Mam Tor , and two Blue John Mines and an old underground lead mine.
10th July 1994- visit to Tatton Park, and especially the gardens.
7th August 1994- visit to Lyme Park