A previous powerhouse
It struck me that we have had a Northern powerhouse before.
In 1070 following the harrying of the north, King William installed his vassal lords to take over the best bits of the north and leave the rest as waste.
They then paid homage to the king by passing most of the wealth of the north to the king down south. They used the best horses and oxen to move it south as fast as possible.
We now have King George (of the Osborne) doing exactly the same. He is offering power to local vassals, but only if they obey his rules (elected mayors).
Despite the fact that these rules have been constitutionally rejected, he will still hold the purse strings and woe betide you if you step out of line.
He is also keen on HS2 to get hold of his vassals and the money as quickly as possible.
You may say that we will have a constitutional say in this. Then we look at 1215, the Magna Carta, this was signed by King John but later watered down by subsequent monarchs to such an extent that it was not until the 19th century that the freedoms people thought it embodied actually started to come about.
Do you live in a powerhouse or the waste? What about one for all and all for one?
David Collins via email
Grimsargh as sci-fi hub?
Just in time for Xmas, Episode seven of the Star Wars franchise, sorry, fantasy, is sprung on us with scarcely any warning!
Being of a generation that I would hope is somewhat immune to all this hype, I felt an act of defiance was in order.
As the house was quiet, the occasion called for Jeff Wayne’s 1978 epic, The War of the Worlds, narrated by the legendary Richard Burton of course, and on vinyl – yes vinyl! – for good measure and true depth of sound, turned all the way up to 11. All of which took me back a few years when I had the chance to visit the epi-centre, the ‘ground-zero’ of H.G. Well’s masterpiece, the village of Horsall and the adjacent Horsall Common, south of London, and where first contact with the alien invaders was made, much to humanity’s cost.
So, it came as a complete surprise to find, at the time, absolutely no mention of Horsall’s claim to fame within the bounds of the parish.
No tripod statues, no signposts to where the initial impact would have been, not so much as a blue plaque acknowledging the good burgher’s debt of gratitude to one of the great authors of the 19th and 20th century.
An author who, in the late 1800s, not only predicted inter-planetary warfare, but automated warfare at that, chemical AND biological warfare, laser beams and a flying machine, a good dozen years before this latter item actually got off the ground!
I’d like to think if H.G .Wells had set his classic tale in, say, Grimsargh, with the Martian capsules landing in Cow Hill, the village council would have made more of a deal of its claim to fame than Horsall and, all the aforementioned publicity would by now, be part of the landscape; the paths well worn, the tripod statues perhaps a little ivy-covered but still Martian fighting machines nonetheless.
Indeed, as The War of the Worlds can rightly lay claim to being the genesis of all science-fiction, any upsurge in interest as we are currently witnessing would bring any number of ‘Trekkies’, ‘Who-vians’ ‘Obe-wans’ and ‘Darth Vaders’ (for wont of a group noun for Star Wars fans) to our humble plot to feel the magic, and behold the well-spring of all that they hold dear.
But then, perhaps the worthies on the council at Horsall saw all this coming and decided to hide this particular light under a very big bushell.
Faced with the prospect of a Wookie camped at the bottom of the garden, I can’t say I blame them...
Martin Sutcliffe, Grimsargh
So many people helped us out
At Kirkland Bridge Nursery, at St Michael’s, the recent flooding made us aware of how amazingly wonderful people are in a crisis. We would like to extend our thanks to so many people and organisations.
Firstly to our understanding parents, who’ve been bombarded by text messages, with plans that have changed often with little warning, and to Caroline Walton, her staff and children at Great Eccleston Pre School, who had us billeted on them at short notice and made us all feel so at home.
Sainsbury’s in Garstang gave us lots of plastic trays, to move and store our equipment, and thanks also to Old Holly Farm, who let us use their play barn free of charge for a morning. Michelle and Gary at The Grapes at St Michael’s let us use their pub for some nursery sessions and our Christmas party, and Father Christmas was able to re-arrange his visit at a busy time of year.
From our parents we received many offers of help, and Alex and Annie Hodge not only found us more storage space, but shuttled back and forth with car-loads of books, toys and paints, while sustaining us with delicious cake.
We are very much up and running, with business as usual!
Anne Walmsley, Manager
Kirkland Bridge Nursery,
Searching for the Waltons
I am seeking the whereabouts of Anthony and Keith Walton, sons of Arthur and Marjorie Walton, of Lancaster.
Their father, Arthur, is the brother of my late mother, Emily Walton deceased. I can remember spending time with them at their home in Morecambe/Lancaster in about the late 40s or early 50s. That is the last time I can remember them.
When I was eight and my brother was three, our mother decided that she no longer wished to be part of our family. My Uncle Arthur, my mother’s brother, distanced himself from my mother for what she had done to my brother and myself.
And as a result of those circumstances, I lost contact with Anthony and Keith. I now live in Australia and plan a visit to England next year and would like to catch up with my lost cousins. If you know the whereabouts of Anthony or Keith, can you please advise them of this. I can be contacted through email at
Barry Wilson, address supplied