Category Archives: photography

History of the Shipwreck on Rhossili Beach, South Wales

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When I was living in the Swansea Valley, one of my favourite walks was the 3 mile length of Rhossili Beach, on the Gower Coast.  The remains of the shipwreck are often submerged by water, but when the tide is out they are a reminder of the dangers that often occurred during the days when wooden ships sailed the seas.  

The Gower Coast, just a few miles outside of Swansea, is a very popular tourist area, and I’m sure some of my readers will have visited it.  I have never heard the full story of the shipwreck so when I found this article on Wales Online,  I thought you may like to read it too!

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Almost completely submerged in the heavy wet sand, the rotting timbers of the Helvetia shipwreck rise out of a Gower beach like ribs from an unknown animal.

Helvetia was once a proud ship: her sails billowing as she scudded across the Atlantic Ocean and her deck a hubbub of activity as sailors shouted to each other in the winds.

Now all that remains is a carcass, visible only at low tide, as the ever-hungry sea tries to reclaim her timbers to the deep blue.

The remains of the Helvetia, a Norwegian oak barque, have become a landmark of Rhossili, attracting photographers from all over keen to catch a glimpse of the relic from a bygone era.

(Image: South Wales Evening Post)

Standing high on the cliffs looking down on the bay, the shipwreck is the only thing that punctuates the golden sands, which stretch for three miles into the distance.

But what is her story, and how did a ship, originally from Horten in Norway, come to rest on Welsh sand?

Stormy seas

On a stormy evening on October 31, in 1887, the Helvetia arrived off the coast at Mumbles.

Captained by a man named Stevenson, she had sailed from Cambeltown, New Brunswick on the east coast of Canada, loaded with 500 tonnes of timber and bound for Swansea Harbour.

According to the late Ron Tovey, in his “Chronology of Bristol Channel shipwrecks”, the crew were five miles from her final destination, where Stevenson ordered for “signals to be burnt” to guide them into the harbour.

But a “fresh breeze” sprang up from the South East, forcing the crew to stay where they were for that night.

Abandon ship

By the next morning, the winds had grown stronger, blowing the oak-constructed barque of the Helvetia down the Bristol Channel.

Disaster struck as she hit the dangerous sandbank of Helwick Sands, a good 10 miles away from the harbour.

With the next turbulent swell, she escaped the shallow waters, but was swept around Worm’s Head and into Rhossili Bay.

Stephenson took the decision to drop anchor here and was taken ashore by the coastguard.

He refused to abandon his ship altogether, fearing looters might try to strip her of her cargo. He ordered his crew to stay aboard the barque for the night.

But by nightfall, as the incessant wind reached galeforce, the Helvetia could not be stayed and her anchor was ripped free from the sand.

(Image: South Wales Evening Post)

As she strayed perilously close to the expansive sands of Rhossili beach, the decision was reluctantly made to abandon the ship.

Shipwreck

The next morning, when Stephenson and his crew returned to the beach, they discovered the tortured wreck of their ship.

She had come to rest upon the sands, the remains of her wooden cargo scattered all around her on the beach.

During the following weeks, the timber was collected from the beach and gathered for auction sale.

South Wales timber merchants bought it at a bargain price, planning to take it off Rhossili by ship in the summer months.

The wreck was sold cheaply to a local man, who intended to strip the precious copper keel from the vessel.

But before he got the chance, the Helvetia had already sunk into the sand. Local rumour suggests he had to settle for salvaging the ship’s deckboards, which he used for the floor in his kitchen.

(Image: South Wales Evening Post)
(Image: South Wales Evening Post)

Anna Stevens, who lives in Llangennith and works at the King’s Head Hotel, has collected a whole file of information on the Helvetia.

“I started to research the history of the King’s Head, and that’s when I came across the stories about the Helvetia shipwreck,” she said.

“I have never heard about whether wood from the Helvetia did ever end up in the local buildings. I don’t know if that is merely rumour or local hearsay.

“I do know that wood from another shipwreck, the infamous Dollar Ship, was used when that ran aground off the Llangennith coast. The spoils were used to build Dollar’s Cottage, a small cottage in the village.”

Unceremoniously stripped of anything that had any value, the Helvetia has lain on Rhossili ever since.

A tragic sequel

In the springtime after the disaster, a steamboat from Llanelli called The Cambria was used to retrieve the timber.

A big ocean swell, combined with low tides, almost caused the boat to capsize. Only escaping certain wreckage with help from the coastguard, The Cambria lost her anchor which was dragged back over the sands to the corner of the bay at low tide.

Returning some months later to retrieve the lost anchor, The Cambria’s master, John Hopkins, sent a boat ashore with some day-tripping landlubbers.

After spending the day at ‘The Ship Inn’, they finally retrieved the anchor.

Unfortunately, the weight of it, accompanied by the weight of the six rescuers, proved too much for the boat. It capsized and all six men were thrown into the ocean. Only one of the men made it to the shore alive.

The shifting sands and relentless tides on Rhossili Beach still do their utmost to reclaim The Helvetia.

One day, she won’t be there.

But as long as her prow continues to rise high and proud out of the sand, she will always attract photographers from far and wide.

Sheep Shearing in the UK

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Following on from my previous post – the video of shearing a shetland sheep in USA – I thought I’d add a couple of my old photos of sheep shearing, taken about 30 years ago!  I can’t remember where I took them – somewhere in South Wales.

 

 

These are scans of the A6 sepia postcards I published of the original photos – which is why they aren’t very sharp.  The sheep were being sheared in a field, and they were penned to make it easier to do the shearing as quickly as possible.

I did a search for shearing in the UK, to get a bit more info on when shearing is done here, and found this useful piece, oddly enough, published under the name of Sheep Shearing in the UK by Indie Farmer.

 

 

These are a couple of colour photos from that site.

And this is the first part of the blog – written in July 2014

The sheep shearing season in the UK (roughly mid May to mid July) is pretty much finished now, so farmers will be pleased that one difficult and time consuming job is over for another year, and the sheep will be happy to have got rid of their thick fleeces in this hot weather.

Shearing requires both skill and a lot of hard, physical work in hot summer conditions.  Some farmers shear their own sheep but many, especially those with large flocks (anything over a few hundred sheep) hire specialist shearing gangs to do the work for them.  Shearing gangs typically have three to eight members, and travel the country going from farm to farm, shearing every day during the season.  It is a hard life but pay can be good, about £2 a sheep and a good shearer can shear 200 sheep per day.  When the UK shearing season is over, the shearing gangs often travel to other countries where the shearing season is at a different time of year, in what is known as ‘the shearing circuit’, travelling from the UK to Norway, the USA, the Falklands, New Zealand, Australia, and pretty much anywhere that you can find plenty of sheep!  It is a very tough, hard working and hard drinking lifestyle, but it’s a good way to see the world, have fun and make some money.

Wool used to be where the main profit was in sheep farming, with meat as a useful sideline.  Many of the great Cathedrals and castles of the middle ages were built using the profits from the wool trade.  The Lord Speaker in the House of Lords still sits on a ceremonial Woolsack to represent the importance of wool to the economy in former times.  Now, however, sheep farmers make their main profit from meat, with wool being a very minor sideline.

It’s always useful to know a bit more about where your wool comes from!  Especially for spinners who are carding and spinning the raw fleeces!

PS. PLUG!

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pair of standard hand carders – 72 pt

I sell hand carders that can deal with raw fleeces and all types of wool fibres – and also are quite useful as brushes for sheep and other animals if you are tidying up your stock for Agricultural Shows.  The current listings can be found if you click on the links below.

Listed on julzcraftstore.com here

USE THE COUPON CODE  customer10%off  at the checkout to get 10% off your order.

Listed on etsy here

Listed on ebay here

Easter Eggs

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Happy Easter/Passover

6 buff/speckled sussex eggs – Version 2

I keep Buff Sussex & Speckled Sussex Chickens – these are some of the eggs laid over Easter.

Its the Easter weekend, which also happens to coincide with the week of Passover this year. Both Festivals feature eggs in some way.

Chocolate eggs of all sorts are given to the kids for Easter – which is actually nothing to do with the message of Easter, but is a remnant of the pagan festivities around the Spring Solstice.  They symbolise new life.  I’ve no idea how they turned into chocolate eggs.  I looked it up in Wikipedia, but this is all they say!

In 1873 J.S. Fry & Sons of England introduced the first chocolate Easter egg in Britain.

In Western cultures, the giving of chocolate eggs is now commonplace, with 80 million Easter eggs sold in the UK alone.

It’s a bit more informative about the festivals of Easter, and the Passover Seder which is a long family meal, during which the story of the EXODUS is told.

In some traditions, hard boiled eggs are served in a bowl of salt water at the beginning of the meal. The symbolism is also ‘new life’ but the salt water is added as a reminder of the tears of sorrow shed by the Hebrew Slaves in Egypt, before they escaped.  Led by Moses, who brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai, they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness of the desert, before they were deemed reborn and ‘given’ the area of land now called Israel.

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Buff Sussex hens

I have kept chickens for many years.  When I moved to the cottage after the landslip, one of the joys was to have more space to keep them, as I have a large garden here, in West Wales.

They live in the old garden shed I inherited, but during the day, they enjoy the luxury of being free range chickens, and are tidying up the garden for me, which as you can see, needs a lot of work! So far I haven’t had any foxes in, cross fingers!

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Speckled Sussex cockerel with Buff Sussex Cockerel and one of the hens

I have a glut of eggs at the moment – my hens started laying a few weeks ago – and the yolks are bright yellow!  The colour comes from eating the grass – which I haven’t needed to mow, so far!  If anyone reading this lives around Lampeter, I’m selling the eggs for £2 a dozen, if you’d like to get in touch – smile – just leave me a message on the Contact Me page.

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The Speckled Sussex hens are really pretty!

 

Puppy sees his first Snow

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Actually, I’m copying this from my other blog ‘the spare’, cos I couldn’t find a re-blog button!

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Took this picture this morning – yes its snowing in West Wales.  Yes its my puppy – I’ve had him since 1st November, and I’ve resisted the impulse to put pictures of him up until now, but I think I can share this one!

Some thoughts on “A Gallery of Your Work”

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This is a follow up to the GALLERY OF YOUR WORK, that appeared on 31 May 2015.

this beautiful summer dress was made for Val's holiday - we had a bit of a panic, because it seems Royal Mail lost her package - so I sent her another 4m of this very popular red poppy material - listed in julzcrafts supplies shop on etsy - and on the 85solway account on ebay.

this beautiful summer dress was made for Val’s holiday – we had a bit of a panic, because it seems Royal Mail lost her package – so I sent her another 4m of this very popular red poppy material – listed in julzcrafts supplies shop on etsy – and on the 85solway account on ebay.

I have just updated it to include this lovely dress that a customer of mine made out of one of the fabrics that I sell.

This was the first GALLERY  that I have tried putting together, and it has given rise to various comments from readers, and the information from the POLL I put up, has been useful.

I have been mulling over the idea, and the problems with it – smile.

It takes quite a lot for people to send it photos of their work, and actually, I am as shy about showing some of mine, especially when I don’t think I’ve got it quite right!  I’m not sure I would immediately think – oh what a great idea, I’ll send a picture to this blog – and if I didn’t know the writer – I’d be uncertain about how they would use the pictures.

So, let me try and reassure you – smile.

My intentions are nothing but honourable!

The idea was simply to give people a place to showcase their work, to give encouragement and to perhaps inspire others.  You see a great idea and it creates a spark that leads to you using some element of it to improve the work you do yourself.  It may not even be in the same medium, or directly comparable!

Now, a long time ago, I briefly started degree in Photography – this was after I had already been working as a Photographer for quite a while, and had initially trained with a quite well known commercial advertising photographer in London, so I was a mature student, and joined to see if I could improve my work – and well, to be honest, to get my hands on the large format cameras the college had, which I couldn’t afford!

Not for the first time I was subjected, along with the others on the course, to the vicious system of ‘crits’ – supposedly creative criticism of your work by the tutors.  With everyone else standing by and watching, and waiting for their turn.

I don’t know why these supposed ‘teachers’ thought it was fun to rip people’s work apart – the same happens in art colleges and other creative courses.  At best it might give you some idea of how others view what you have done – at worst – it totally destroys your enthusiasm for the subject!  Makes you feel worthless, and want to give up – even if you are incredibly talented!  And all abilities should be nurtured and encouraged by tutors – that’s what their job is supposed to be about.

this is a standard advertising still life I took years ago!

this is a standard advertising still life I took years ago!

Well I might not have been the best photographer around, but I knew that the course wasn’t going to give me what I wanted after the first term – so I left!  (OK – the courses were free at the time and I didn’t need the degree.)

The point is – besides me having a chance to show off some of my old work – smile – (you can see a selection of some of my other photos on “the spare“)

– that, if you were subjected to that kind of criticism in the past, you probably don’t want to put up a photo on a GALLERY HERE!

On the other hand, if you want to promote the work you sell, you might well be interested in getting some FREE PUBLICITY!

But the idea of the Gallery is not just for those few who, rightly, take any opportunity to publicise their work – it is for EVERYONE!

I am just as interested in seeing your first attempt at something, with all its faults, as the work with the professional finish that comes with years of experience.

You may find that someone who sees it can help you out with any problems you are having – and certainly, anyone who puts up their work here is not going to get ‘pulled to pieces’ – I moderate all comments, and will not allow any nasty ones to see the light of day!

It also seems that I have not made myself clear enough about what kind of work I will put up in a GALLERY.

THE ONLY STIPULATION IS THAT IT IS CRAFT RELATED – ANY CRAFT –

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A TEXTILE CRAFT.

There are too many crafts to mention, but I will mention a few, just to make it obvious – there’s pottery, sculpture, glass work, ironwork, jewellery work, leatherwork, paperwork (not your accounts tho – smile), woodwork, re-cycling projects, mixed media etc etc – and of course anything to do with fabric, fibres and yarns.

What doesn’t qualify as a craft for the purposes of this exercise, is art work as in paintings etc (there are plenty of other places to show those) and videos – simply because they take up too much of my storage allowance!

And talking about storage space – please just send in ONE PHOT0. 

If you do send in more, I can, if I think it will show your work better, create a grid to put the other shots into the format of one image.  If you are not sure which photo will be best, you can send in more and let me choose which one to use.

THE PHOTOGRAPH CAN BE OF WORK YOU HAVE DONE IN THE PAST OR JUST RECENTLY.

NB:  If you would like to be featured in a SHOW & TELL you can send in as many photos as you like!

If you look at the bottom of the current GALLERY OF YOUR WORK, you will see that there is a note about copyright.  You own the copyright of the work and the photograph.  By sending the picture to me, you are only allowing me to use it in the Gallery, and I will ask your permission if I want to use it in any other way – as should anyone else that sees the blog – I strongly disagree with the idea of ‘stealing someone else’s work’.  However, it happens, so please don’t blame me if your picture appears elsewhere.  See my copyright info at the end of the blogroll on the right hand side of this page – and all pages!

this useful widget at the end of the said blogroll shows where the viewers come from

this useful widget at the end of the said blogroll shows where the viewers come from

The joy of the internet is that people from all over the world can see this blog and do! – I just took a snapshot of the latest figures for this blog – the widget here tells me where you all come from – and if you click on the actual widget at the end of my blogroll – you can see the that you are a truly INTERNATIONAL lot!

So – of course – the offer to host a picture of your work is open to anyone who reads this blog, or is a customer of mine and doesn’t bother to read it (smile), all over the world.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS IDEA?

How about I keep this GALLERY IDEA GOING?

I am thinking about having constant open submission, without any deadlines.

(Open submission means that anyone can send in a photo of their work – and anything you send in gets published, unless we have agreed that this photo is not suitable for any reason)

However, the current gallery is now closedBUT as soon as I have at least 10 photos waiting to be published, I will create a new gallery and then the next set of photos will form the basis of the next gallery – with any luck this could run & run!

Your comments & ‘likes’ would be greatly appreciated – I am not on twitter or facebook, but would be happy if you would spread the word for me!  I will direct my mailing list of customers – who are several hundred in number – to this blog in my next “newz from julz” – so hopefully we will find that there are enough people interested in this idea to start the ball rolling!

(If you would like to join the mailing list – please fill in the form at the bottom of the SHOP TALK PAGE)

I LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING YOUR PICTURES!

If you don’t have my email address – I took it off the site because I was getting too much spam – please either fill in the form on the SHOP TALK PAGE or the one on the CONTACT ME PAGE – and I will reply to your email address so that you can send me some pictures!

THANKS

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