Retired Saab Combat Jets Mounted by E4 Road, Sweden

Retired Saab Draken and Viggen jets by E4 road, Sweden (Image: Alan Wilson. Retired Saab Draken and Viggen jets by E4 road, Sweden)

It’s amazing how much history lies alongside the roads and highways of the world. This pair of decommissioned fighter jets from the Cold War period are sure to turn some heads, and passing motorists with a weakness for all things aviation may wish to pull over and take a closer look. The warplanes – a Saab J 35F1 Draken (right) and the larger Saab 37 Viggen – are both former Swedish Air Force machines that entered service in the 1950s and ’60s respectively.

The retired Swedish combat jets, serial numbers 35477 and 37367, are located about five miles east of Linkoping City Airport on the main E4 road. According to photographer Alan Wilson: “The tail codes obviously follow the model numbers, however the Draken carries F3 unit markings and the Viggen carries F16 markings.”

(Image: Albert Jankowski)

Read Next: MiG Monuments: Former Soviet States Commend a Cold War Icon

The Wilverley Oak or “Naked Man”: New Forest’s Mysterious Gallows Tree

Stump of the Wilverley Oak, curiously referred to (and shown on maps) as the Naked Man, a former gallows tree in Hampshire's New Forest where highwaymen, smugglers and other criminals were hanged in centuries gone by.(Image: Jim Champion. The Wilverley Oak is also known as the “Naked Man”)

The Geograph website has long had a habit of turning up myriad oddities, natural and man-made, across the cities, towns and countryside of the British Isles. And here’s another one: the Wilverley Oak, curiously marked on the Ordnance Survey Map as the “Naked Man (site of)”… But what, you may wonder, could it be?

The location, in Hampshire’s picturesque New Forest, features the fenced-off stump of an oak tree adorned with a crown of ivy, its base pleasantly overgrown with ferns. A discrete plaque on the wooden fence confirms it to be the same “Naked Man” shown on the OS Map.

Jim Champion, who photographed the tree, wrote on Geograph: “Beneath the crown of ivy is the weathered stump of an oak tree which is supposed to have been used as a gallows for at least one convicted highwayman. Originally called the “Wilverley Oak”, it stood by the side of the now-disused Burley to Lymington road not far from Wilverley Post (the intersection with the main Lyndhurst-Christchurch road).”

Champion added: “There are various stories that tell how the stump ended up being called the “Naked Man”, for example: one man waiting to be hung was supposed to have been struck by lightning which removed all his clothes. A more likely explanation is that the shattered trunk and two outstretched branches of the tree resembled a man.”

Site of the Wilverley Oak aka Naked Man gallows tree in the New Forest from above.(Image: Google Maps. The Naked Man from above, location here)

Exactly what the origins of the “Naked Man” label are remain uncertain. But its use as a gallows is backed up by the New Forest website, which states: “Not far from Wilverley is the Naked Man, once called the Wilverley Oak in 1759. This is where highwaymen and smugglers were hung from. Little remains today, although the oak stump is fenced off making the tree easier to find.”

Nowadays the area is far less sinister. Those paying the old gallows tree a visit are more likely enjoying a pleasant walk amid grazing ponies than awaiting the hangman’s noose. This corner of the New Forest, including the ‘Wilverley Inclosure’, is steeped in history that spans the centuries, including its more recent role providing much needed arable farmland during the dark days of World War Two.

Read Next: Phantom Settlements: 4 Towns and Villages that Never Existed

The post The Wilverley Oak or “Naked Man”: New Forest’s Mysterious Gallows Tree appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

The Wilverley Oak or “Naked Man”: New Forest’s Mysterious Gallows Tree

Stump of the Wilverley Oak, curiously referred to (and shown on maps) as the Naked Man, a former gallows tree in Hampshire's New Forest where highwaymen, smugglers and other criminals were hanged in centuries gone by. (Image: Jim Champion. The Wilverley Oak is also known as the “Naked Man”)

The Geograph website has long had a habit of turning up myriad oddities, natural and man-made, across the cities, towns and countryside of the British Isles. And here’s another one: the Wilverley Oak, curiously marked on the Ordnance Survey Map as the “Naked Man (site of)”… But what, you may wonder, could it be?

The location, in Hampshire’s picturesque New Forest, features the fenced-off stump of an oak tree adorned with a crown of ivy, its base pleasantly overgrown with ferns. A discrete plaque on the wooden fence confirms it to be the same “Naked Man” shown on the OS Map.

Jim Champion, who photographed the tree, wrote on Geograph: “Beneath the crown of ivy is the weathered stump of an oak tree which is supposed to have been used as a gallows for at least one convicted highwayman. Originally called the “Wilverley Oak”, it stood by the side of the now-disused Burley to Lymington road not far from Wilverley Post (the intersection with the main Lyndhurst-Christchurch road).”

Champion added: “There are various stories that tell how the stump ended up being called the “Naked Man”, for example: one man waiting to be hung was supposed to have been struck by lightning which removed all his clothes. A more likely explanation is that the shattered trunk and two outstretched branches of the tree resembled a man.”

Site of the Wilverley Oak aka Naked Man gallows tree in the New Forest from above. (Image: Google Maps. The Naked Man from above, location here)

Exactly what the origins of the “Naked Man” label are remain uncertain. But its use as a gallows is backed up by the New Forest website, which states: “Not far from Wilverley is the Naked Man, once called the Wilverley Oak in 1759. This is where highwaymen and smugglers were hung from. Little remains today, although the oak stump is fenced off making the tree easier to find.”

Nowadays the area is far less sinister. Those paying the old gallows tree a visit are more likely enjoying a pleasant walk amid grazing ponies than awaiting the hangman’s noose. This corner of the New Forest, including the ‘Wilverley Inclosure’, is steeped in history that spans the centuries, including its more recent role providing much needed arable farmland during the dark days of World War Two.

Read Next: Phantom Settlements: 4 Towns and Villages that Never Existed

The Sighting Towers of Harlaw Muir & Deepsyke Forest (Scottish Borders)

The sighting towers and pillars around Harlaw Muir were used to aid in geographical surveys during 19th and early 20th century construction projects. (Image: M. J. Richardson. Sighting towers and pillars around Harlaw Muir)

Yesterday we featured the abandoned remnants of the temporary Talla Railway, which was built to transport workers and construction materials for a large dam project in the Scottish Borders. But this isn’t the only relic left over from the construction of the Talla Reservoir and its associated pipeline, which ran for 35 miles between Tweedsmuir and Edinburgh.

Across Harlaw Muir, a series of stone pillars are thought to have been used as survey points for the building of the pipeline. One of these pillars, which stands near Nine Mile Burn, is pictured above. Isolated and anonymous, it bears no date or inscription but is thought to be related to the nearby sighting tower in Deepsyke Forest (below).

The Victorian sighting tower in Deepsyke Forest was used for surveys during construction of the pipeline from the Talla Reservoir to Edinburgh. (Image: M. J. Richardson. Victorian sighting tower in Deepsyke Forest)

Another Harlaw Muir pillar is pictured below near Carlops. On the skyline beyond is West Kip in the Pentland Hills Regional Park. Between the two, the wilds of the sparely-populated Southern Uplands give way to the Central Lowlands.

Back in the Victorian age, sighting towers and pillars were often erected to aid in the construction of aqueducts and other major subterranean structures.

(Image: Jim Barton. A historic sighting pillar near Carlops in the Scottish Borders)

In reference to the Talla Reservoir and its associated pipeline, M. J. Richardson wrote on the Geograph website that “…the whole project took ten years to complete and more than thirty men were killed in building the dam, laying a temporary railway and digging tunnels for the water main. Other sighting points are represented by concrete pylons on Harlaw Muir and at prominent hills between West Linton and upper Tweeddale.”

Read Next: Navigation Markers: 7 Defunct Daymarks & Beacons

Talla Railway: Forgotten Reservoir Line in the Scottish Borders

Remains of farm access bridge over the abandoned Talla Railway near the A701 in the Scottish Borders. (Image: Walter Baxter. Remains of farm access bridge over the abandoned Talla Railway)

The UK countryside is crisscrossed by an impressive network of disused railway lines, silent echoes of a golden age in British transportation history. But not all were important routes. Nor were they necessarily intended to operate for more than a few years. Among the abandoned trackbeds are old mineral lines, industrial tramways and contractor railways used in the construction of major infrastructure projects of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

One such example is the Talla Railway, the remains of which are clearly visible to drivers on the A701 road between Broughton and Tweedsmuir in the Scottish Borders. Built between 1895 and 1897, this eight mile-long route branched off the Caledonian Railway’s Peebles Branch (originally the Symington, Biggar and Broughton Railway) at Rachan Junction, and wound its way south through the picturesque Talla Water valley.

Talla Railway map. (Image: John. Map of the Talla Railway heading south from the Peebles Branch)

By the late 19th century, urban expansion and changing domestic habits brought about a high demand for water in Edinburgh and other burgeoning towns. Due to its high rainfall, the valley around Tweedsmuir was identified by the Edinburgh and District Water Trust as an ideal location for a new reservoir. But its remote location meant that a private railway was needed to transport the vast quantities of construction materials and workers required to build the dam.

(Images: (left, right) Walter Baxter)

Land for the Talla Reservoir construction was purchased from the local baronet, Graham Graham-Montgomery, for £20,425 and a deal was struck with the Caledonian Railway to build a line (funded by the Water Trust) that branched off its existing railway near Broughton.

Construction of both the Talla Railway and reservoir would be undertaken by James Young and Sons of Edinburgh. The line was expected to cost £49,113. Once complete, water would be piped 35 miles to Alnwickhill, a suburb four miles to the south of Edinburgh city centre.

(Image: Peter Evans. Abandoned bridge across the Talla Railway trackbed)

Work on the Talla Railway began in September 1895 and was completed by August 1897, including the construction of a wrought iron truss bridge across the River Tweed. The following month, a stone-laying ceremony kicked off the construction of the Talla Reservoir and a special train steamed down the valley from Edinburgh to the Trust’s management building, Victoria Lodge (now a private home, below).

Victoria Lodge on the disused Talla Railway is now a private residence. (Image: John)

But the reservoir construction was plagued by a series of setbacks, including the derailing of the contractor’s locomotive, Talla, and the prohibiting of the engine’s use on the Caledonian Railway due to its technical deficiencies.

By 1899 Young and Sons had gone into liquidation and John Best of Leith and Robert McAlpine & Sons were tasked with completing the work. Around this time a small halt was opened in a siding near the Crook Inn, a popular after-work watering hole, which Best had bought a share in prior to opening the halt!

(Image: Walter Baxter)

By 1905 the Talla Reservoir was largely complete and opened amid much fanfare in May of that year. Its work done, the Talla Railway was abandoned, despite some efforts to maintain a basic passenger service for Tweedsmuir residents. But with the small community already in decline, a business case could not be made. By 1912, the sleepers and rails had been lifted for scrap or reuse elsewhere.

Abandoned for more than a century, evidence of the short-lived Talla Railway lingers in plain sight across the valley between Broughton and Tweedsmuir. Victoria Lodge and the iron truss viaduct survive today, as does much of the embanked railway trackbed that once carried workers and materials from Rachan Junction to the construction site.

The disused Talla Railway viaduct now carries a water pipe. (Image: Callum Black. The disused railway viaduct now carries a water pipe)

So if you’re a fan of railway history, or Victorian engineering and transportation infrastructure generally, keep an eye out as you’re travelling along the A701 towards Edinburgh in the north or Moffat to the south. Even today, the ruins of the forgotten Talla Railway are impressive, and quietly reflect an epoch of construction on an unprecedented scale.

(Image: Oliver Dixon)

Read Next: Rediscovering Scotland�™s Hidden Grouse Moor Railway Line

Fontburn Four-Poster Stone Circle, Northumberland

Fontburn four-poster stone circle near Morpeth in the heart of Northumberland. (Image: Andrew Curtis. Fontburn four-poster stone circle in Northumberland)

Overlooking Fontburn Reservoir in Northumberland, just 10 miles northwest of Morpeth, stands an ancient stone circle that dates back to the Bronze Age. The circle is one of several ancient monuments situated around the 19th century reservoir, and can be reached by a circular path that surrounds the popular fishing spot and nature reserve.

An example of a four-poster circle, the Fontburn stone circle consists – as its name suggests – of four small standing stones. The ‘four-poster’ configuration is relatively common in Scotland and northern England, but less so further south.

Another local example is The Goatstones, which are situated on the rugged upland 2.5 miles north of Hadrian’s Wall in the Wark-on-Tyne parish. The Fontburn four-poster stone circle is decorated with cup marks and a possible ring.

You can find more rock art, including cup and ring carvings which abound across Northumberland, in our feature on the ancient monuments of Neolithic Britain.

Old Meets New at Former Holme Lane Tram Depot, Sheffield

The former Holme Lane tram depot at Hillsborough, now Tramways Medical Centre. (Image: via Google Street View. The former Holme Lane tram depot at Hillsborough)

For the last quarter of a century, Supertram light rail tram cars have cruised the streets of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, transporting some 12.6 million riders annually along three lines serving 48 stations. In the north-west part of the Steel City, Supertram is a regular sight heading along Langsett Road and Middlewood Road toward Hillsborough, and down Holme Lane to Malin Bridge.

It’s a case of old meets new in Holme Lane at the corner of Hillsborough Place, as modern Supertram cars pass by a relic of the city’s original Corporation Tramway. Only the facade remains of the old Holme Lane depot (which closed on April 23, 1954), yet its enough to relate the history of the land beyond (now the Tramways Medical Centre) and add interest to the modern street-scene of today.

Supertram approaches the Malin Bridge terminus today. (Image: P L Chadwick. Supertram approaches Malin Bridge terminus today)

According to Calvin72, posting on the Sheffield History Forum in 2014, “Holme Lane was a horse tram depot for the nearby terminus, however i believe it was substantially rebuilt for the electric era, so may not be the same building at all really.”

Read Next: Subterranean Streetcar: Abandoned Holborn Tramway Station

The Goatstones of Ravensheugh Crags (Northumberland Standing Stones)

The Goatstones ancient monument in Northumberland. (Image: Andrew Curtis. The Goatstones ancient monument in Northumberland)

Situated around 2.5 miles north of Hadrian’s Wall in the Northumberland parish of Wark-on-Tyne, The Goatstones occupy a patch of rugged, windswept upland near the edge of Ravensheugh Crags. Lonely and enigmatic, these standing stones are less than a metre high and a spaced about four metres apart. They’re classified as a four-poster stone circle due to their number and arrangement, and date back to the Bronze Age.

There’s evidence of a low mound and the remains of a stone cairn at the centre of The Goatstones, which may have been used for ancient burials and likely dates to a different period of prehistory than the stone circle itself. Four-poster circles are common in Scotland and relatively so in northern England, but less common further south, as well as in Ireland and Wales.

The Goatstones Bronze Age stone circle on Ravensheugh Crags, Northumberland. (Image: Les Hull. The Goatstones on Ravensheugh Crags)

Like the Fontburn stone circle, also in Northumberland, The Goatstones (understood to be derived from an old Saxon word “gyet stanes”, or “wayside stones”) bear evidence of ancient rock art including cup marks and other carved grooves. The site is now a scheduled ancient monument, and can easily be visited from the nearby Ward Lane (location here). Just be sure to wrap up, because the wind can be bracing in these parts.

Read Next: 10 Historic Landmarks of the Neolithic British Isles

Sunbridge Wells: Bradford Retail Quarter Inside 13th Century Tunnels (Tours Available)

Sunbridge Wells: Bradford's new retail quarter housed inside 13th century tunnels that began life as a quarry. (Image: Basil Parylo. Sunbridge Wells retail quarter in Bradford’s 13th century tunnels)

When it comes to modern city centre development projects, Sunbridge Wells in the heart of Bradford, West Yorkshire, must be one of the most visionary. Occupying medieval tunnels that have their roots in a 13th century quarry, the leisure and retail facility opened last year after a £1.9 million project to breathe new life into its 24,000 square feet.

Bradford's Sunbridge Wells redevelopment. (Image: Basil Parylo)

Over the years the three storeys of subterranean tunnel network have been used as prison cells and an air raid shelter during World War Two, as Luftwaffe bombs rained down on the industrial cities of northern England.

Sunbridge Wells: adaptive reuse of subterranean space in Bradford, West Yorkshire. (Image: Basil Parylo)

The Sunbridge Wells tunnels are perhaps best known for their role as a 1960s nightclub named The Little Fat Black Pussycat, which was owned by professional wrestler Shirley Crabtree, who older audiences many remember by his stage name Big Daddy.

(Image: Basil Parylo)

When the nightclub eventually closed, the underground space was sealed off and forgotten about for almost half a century, until developer Graham Hall came up with the idea of renovating the tunnels some 28 years ago. Thanks to his vision, an important part of Bradford’s history can now be explored and enjoyed by the public.

(Image: Basil Parylo)

Hall told ITV News: “Well I hope it increases the footfall into Bradford, i.e. the night life, and it’s not just this place, the other bars will succeed better because of this because there’s more places to come into Bradford. We’re not in competition, we’re all working together, that’s basically it.”

Sunbridge Wells has been used as a prison over the centuries and later became a wartime air raid shelter. (Image: Basil Parylo. Sunbridge Wells has been used as a prison over the years)

The mammoth adaptive reuse project required the removal of hundreds of tonnes of rubble before work could begin on transforming it into boutique shops and bars. The Sunbridge Wells development, which is accessed via an arched entrance in Millergate, is also home to a craft ale pub called the Rose and Crown.

(Images: Basil Parylo)

The stone-lined tunnels and stairwells have a Victorian feel with displays by the Bradford Museums and Art Galleries. The image below shows the discrete entrance (unless you take into account the octopus) to Sunbridge Wells as it was before redevelopment. Now clean, the masonry bears a sign welcoming customers “to the world of pure imagination”.

(Image: Google Street View; entrance to Sunbridge Wells, in Millergate, during redevelopment)

Basil Parylo, whose photographs are featured in this article, also runs history tours of the Sunbridge Wells tunnels. The next tour will take place today from 2-4 pm. Find out more here.

Read Next: The Strange Tale of New York City�™s Forgotten Cow Tunnels

Forgotten Railway Crossing in Salamander Place, Leith

The abandoned level crossing in Salamander Place, Edinburgh (Images: Urban Ghosts. The abandoned level crossing in Salamander Place, Edinburgh)

Set into the storied cobbles of Edinburgh‘s Salamander Place, a short stretch of forgotten railway lines echoes the rich history of railway activity around Leith’s 19th century docks.

The line, which was built by the Caledonian Railway company during the Victorian era, carried freight trains over a level crossing to the Leith East goods depot.

Disused railway track in Salamander Place, Leith

The goods yard was closed in 1973 and much of the line was later pulled up. The isolated stretch of track across Salamander Place is all that remains of that level crossing.

Though an active railway still flows into Leith docks on the other side of the adjacent Salamander Street, a plethora of disused lines reveals how extensive the Leith railway network once was.

Salamander Place, Edinburgh

A notable example can be seen near the Shore, where abandoned rail tracks have been preserved like time capsules amid the bustling restaurants that occupy former industrial buildings behind Commercial Street. Check out RailScot for a more detailed history of the Leith New Lines.

Salamander Place, Leith

Read Next: Telfer Subway: Sealed Pedestrian Passageway to Abandoned Dalry Road Station