The Anonymous Widower

Did The Tailor Of Bexley Come From Koningsberg?

My paternal great-great-great grandfather; Robert, was a tailor from Bexley, who I wrote about in The Tailor Of Bexley. I said this in that post.

My father once told me, that his grandfather, who must have been William, once told him, of a first hand account of Robert the tailor of Bexley, who was his grandfather.

He said that he was German and that he didn’t speak any English. Because of my coeliac disease, which is quite common in East European Jews and his profession, we can probably assume that Robert; the tailor of Bexley was Jewish. My father also told me that the family name was Müller, which had been Anglicised.

 

I know little more of him and his place of birth is not known to me. All I know is that he had a son; Edward in 1816, so that would put his birth in the late eighteenth century.

My trip to North-East Poland got me thinking, as I saw the branches of the Prussian Eastern Railway and discussed the history of the area with Piotr; our excellent Polish guide from Gdansk.

I also searched the Internet for Koningsberg and learned more details of its history in the late eighteenth century, with the Napoleonic Wars and the various partitions of Poland. I also read how Koningsberg was a large and cultured city. Wikipedia says this.

A university city, home of the Albertina University (founded in 1544), Königsberg developed into an important German intellectual and cultural centre, being the residence of Simon Dach, Immanuel Kant, Käthe Kollwitz, E. T. A. Hoffmann, David Hilbert, Agnes Miegel, Hannah Arendt, Michael Wieck and others.

But with the Second World War, the elimination of Jews from the city by the Nazis and the eventual takeover of the area by the Russians, the recent history has been less than a happy one.

Knowing myself, it sounds like the sort of city that I like, as my three favourite cities are Hong Kong, Liverpool and of course London.

Hence the question that is the title of this post!

My family is very ambitious and opportunistic and as Koningsberg was a major port, exporting goods from the area all over Northern Europe, I can imagine Robert deciding in his twenties to get out of the city to avoid yet another war or partition and taking a ship to London to find fame and fortune. He might even just have finished his apprenticeship as a tailor.

From arriving in the London Docks, he didn’t need to go far to end up in Bexley. A few years later he moved to Shoreditch, just a mile or so from where I live now!

I think Robert could have given me two characteristics, other than the ambition and the coeliac disease.

  • His Jewish religion, but not its philosophy and values, seems to have been abandoned. I am very much a confirmed atheist with what I think, are fairly sound moral values, shared with most mainstream religions.
  • He also endowed me with genes that enable me to endure the cold.

It may not be a correct tale, but even so, isn’t it a reflection down the centuries of today’s streams of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and other places.

Nothing changes!

Except the religion!

January 29, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Aberdeen Gets A City Deal

Yesterday as reported in this article on the BBC, Aberdeen got a City Deal.

Acording to the BBC, the funding will be used as follows.

  • An initial £200m to improve journey times and increase capacity on key rail links between Aberdeen and the central belt, upgrading the rail line in the Montrose basin
  • £24m for the trunk roads programme to support improvements to the key A90/A937 south junction at Laurencekirk
  • £10m for extension of digital infrastructure in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire area above and beyond the commitment through the City Deal
  • £20m in infrastructure funding to unlock housing sites that are of strategic importance to the local authorities as well as five-year certainty on £130m of affordable housing grant.

It all seems good to me, given the problems of the oil industry.

I gained a unique perspective to the North of Scotland, when I travelled from Edinburgh to Inverness, a few years ago. I wrote about the trip in Edinburgh to Invernesss In The Cab Of An HST.

InterCity 125s may be iconic transport, but Scotland’s two Northern cities and the surrounding areas need many more quality services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The rail part of the City Deal talks about dualling the railway line from Aberdeen to the South.

I would go further. Consider.

The Aberdeen to Edinburgh Line is a 100 mph railway.

The Aberdeen to Glasgow Line branches off at Dundee and goes to Glasgow via Perth and Stirling.

Important communities are served all along the railways.

Services are every hour, but some are slow, as there are a lot of stops.

In my view Scotland North of the Tay, is ideal IPEMU country. I would run services between Edinburgh and Glasgow and Aberdeen using 125 mph electric trains with an IPEMU capability. These would shorten journey times, not just because of their speed, but because electric trains, stop at stations and then accelerate away in a reduced time.

Obviously, there would need to be some electrification.

  • Across Aberdeen, Aberdeen Crossrail could be built between Dyce and Stonehaven, so that Aberdeen could have an electrified cross-city service.
  • Around Dundee and Perth. This would come with the aspiration of connecting these two cities to the much-delayed Edinburgh to Glasgow electrification with electric trains. These trains could have an IPEMU capability.

It would give the Eastern side of the North of Scotland the railway links it needs.

To provide electric services to Inverness would be trickier, but as support for IPEMUs gets even more innovative, I suspect that Perth and Aberdeen to Inverness could be bridged.

I think IPEMUs are one area, where engineers will be able to marry all sorts of disparate technology together to give improvements, others would think impossible or even downright silly.

The main northern routes and their approximate distances are.

  • Dundee to Aberdeen – 70 miles
  • Aberdeen to Inverness – 100 miles
  • Perth to Inverness – 110 miles

The only route that could be served by an IPEMU at the present time is Dundee to Aberdeen. But this would mean that creating an electric service from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Aberdeen is not the major engineering project that many believe it to be.

It would need.

  • Creation of an electrified Aberdeen Crossrail from Dyce to Inverurie.
  • Electrification from Stirling to Dundee via Perth.
  • The purchase of some suitable trains with an IPEMU capability.

Get the railways to the North of Perth and Dundee right and the benefits to the North of Scotland could be immense.

  • An improved rail service would increase tourism, with all the benefits that brings.
  • Aberdeen Airport would get a proper rail service.
  • Edinburgh to Aberdeen by train is now well over two hours. Steam trains in the 1895 Race To The North did it in only an hour longer.
  • 125 mph trains with an IPEMU capability could break the two-hour barrier.
  • Ferries for the Orkneys and Shetlands leave from a port near to Aberdeen station. so those islands could benefit.

I also believe that if the lines are improved in the North, then connectivity in the South of Scotland should also be improved.

Scotland needs to get its railway improvement plans into shape.

January 29, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment