For our major trip throughout Summer 2015, we set off for two weeks in the South of England, with one week each in Cornwall, and Hampshire. Of course these made great bases to explore the surrounding counties as well, and on our way down we passed a few places of interest…
Archibald Kenrick & Sons Factory, West Bromwich, West Midlands
We have flown down the M5 many a time on our way to the South, and each and every time we have gone past this fascinating looking red brick building, with a fine Clock Tower looking out across the Motorway. This time, I finally managed to snap a picture of it as we went past.
It is of course Victorian, and the British Listed Buildings website gives the building’s construction date as sometime in the 1880’s, however the GracesGuide website, all about various industrial companies in Britain, states that Archibald Kenrick & Sons built new premises in 1878, so this could be the date I was looking for.
The company itself is far older, founded by Archibald Kenrick (1760 – 1835) in West Bromwich in 1791 as a foundry for the production of Iron. At this time the company was simply titled “Archibald Kenrick & Co”, later changing to “& Sons” in 1827 when his son Archibald Jr joined the business. Kenrick passed away in 1835, and Archibald Jr (1798 – 1878), along with his brother Timothy (1807 – 1885) took over the business, with Archibald Jr’s sons William (1831 – 1919) and John (1829 – 1926) also later joining. John was in charge by 1883, followed by his son, also called John, in 1911. The company worked for the UK Government to produce munitions for the war effort in WWII from 1939 onwards, a major boost for a company that had been faltering at that point.
The company still exists, although many generations down the line, and whilst they no longer use the Foundry, they do manufacture various metal products including Castors, and different items for furniture.
Turners Hill Radio Transmitters, Dudley, West Midlands
Less than a minute further along the M5 from Kenrick & Sons, we spotted the enormous form of Turner’s Hill, the largest hill in the entire West Midlands county, at nearly 900 ft. Atop it sit the twin transmitters of Turners Hill 1 (left), and Turners Hill 2 (right), which broadcast various radio stations across the cities of Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
St Helen’s Church, Alveston, Gloucestershire
Moving away from the West Midlands, we got caught up in a LONG queue on the M5 as we travelled through Gloucestershire, so we tried a detour to skip out the very busy section that runs round the City of Bristol. Our new route was quite rural, and took us through the small village of Alveston, a landmark feature of which is St Helen’s Church, shown above.
This is in fact the second St Helen’s Church to serve the village, as the original was built in the 12th century, and still survives, albeit as a ruin. It lies almost 2 miles away from Alveston itself, in Rudgeway, as at that time both were covered by Olveston Parish. Alveston wouldn’t be split off into it’s own Parish until 1846. Due to the distance needed to travel to the current Church, a new one was built to serve the new Parish, although the name was kept. The building you can see today was completed in 1885, to designs by Henry Lloyd.
Severn Bridge, Severn Estuary, South Wales/Bristol
Alveston and the other villages which surround it lie up an incline, which provides commanding views out onto the Severn Estuary, which separates Gloucestershire, Bristol and Somerset from South Wales on the far side. One of the most famous landmarks in the Estuary can be seen above, the “Severn Bridge”, which opened in 1966, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in attendance.
The grand 445 ft tall towers mark the entrance into either England or Wales, depending on which direction you are travelling, and whilst originally the M4 crossed the Bridge, it was rerouted when the new crossing was completed, and the old section of Motorway renamed M48.
Second Severn Crossing, Severn Estuary, South Wales/Bristol
Continuing on, we eventually rejoined the M5, and finally got the right vantage point to see the “Second Severn Crossing”.
It sits alongside its counterpart, the original Severn Bridge, which lies slightly further North, and was reaching its projected traffic capacity by 1984. Plans were put forwards to supplement it with a brand new bridge, designed by Ronald Weeks, who also designed the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Bristol in the 1970’s. He worked for a firm called the “Percy Thomas Partnership”, founded by Percy Thomas (1883 – 1969) a few decades earlier. Unfortunately they went into administration in 2004, but the Bridge, one of their most famous works, is still a prominent feature of the estuary.
Both bridges are currently Toll Bridges, although payment is only collected on the Westbound carriageways as you enter Wales from England. It currently carries the M4 Motorway, which was rerouted onto the new Bridge from the original.
We left the Bridges behind, and headed for our next stop, in Cornwall…