Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Local Cinema Round-Up for the 7th to 15th September 2016

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

There are six new films released during this period. We have period drama with Ben-Hur (12A); horror with Blair Witch (15) and Don't Breathe (15); animation/adventure in Kubo and the Two Strings (PG); drama with Valley of Loves (15) and finally musical documentary with The Beatles: Eight Days a Week.

Movies that have come to an end of their screening include Asterix: The Mansion of the Gods; Star Trek Beyond and the family adventure Swallows and Amazons. In addition the movies Suicide Squad; The Jungle Book; The Purge: Election Year and The BFG are coming to the end of the screening. We do however see the return of the comedy Central Intelligence.

Movies coming soon to the region include Bridget Jones's Baby, due to be released on the 16th September.

Horror is well represented this period with Blair Witch; Don't Breathe; Lights Out and Morgan. In addition there is science fiction with Aliens and Suicide Squad.

More conventional drama comes with Ben-Hur; Jason Bourne; Love & Friendship; The Commune; The Purge: Election Year; War Dogs and the movingValley of Love.

For adult comedy there is Bad Moms; Central Intelligence; David Brent: Life on the Road; Ghostbusters and Sausage Party.

Once again and despite the loss of Swallows and Amazons family entertainment is will represented with Finding Dory; Kubo and the Two Strings; Nine Lives; Pete's Dragon; The BFG; The Jungle Book and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

For high culture there is opera with Turandot on Sydney Harbour. Also showing is the documentary of the 2003 anti war protest in We are Many and the musical documentaries Nick Cave: One More Time With Feeling and The Beatles: Eight Days a Week.

Finally the Dukes is holding another film quiz on Monday 12th September. In addition they are showing something a little unusual with excerpts from some two dozen silent shakespeare films in Play Out! Shakespeare in silent film.

Reviews

Bad Moms
Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Annie Mumolo, David Walten, Christina Applegate
Amy Mitchell (Kunis) is married with two children and suffering from stress and overwork as she tries to be the perfect mum. After a trying day she makes friends with other mums Carla (Hahn) and Kiki (Bell) at a bar and over a boozy night decides to stop trying to be perfect. Her new attitude angers Gwendolyn (Applegate), the head of the school PTA, who takes her anger on Amy's children. Amy seeks revenge by planning to become the new head of the PTA. This is a sweet but raunchy movie with a strong comic cast. It will resonate with many in the audience and provides comic enjoyment for all.

Central Intelligence
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Dwayne Johnson, Kelvin Hart
Robbie Wierdicht (Johnson) was bullied at high school. On leaving, he changed his name to Bob Stone, developed an impressive physique and became a CIA operative. Calvin Joyner (Hart) was his friend at high school and had a career in accounting. At the time of their high school reunion, Bob starts to work with Calvin to stop the illegal sale of satellite codes by a mystery agent Black Badger. Calvin however is approached by the CIA and told that Bob is actually delusional. Yet Calvin continues to help his friend and the two of them face fights, gun battles and car crashes to track Black Badger. The movie is a fast paced buddy action comedy. Johnson and Hart work well together and the fast talking dialogue from Hart goes a long way to carrying the film. Expect some slapstick and a great deal of humour.

Finding Dory
Director: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Hayden Rolence
Pixar's sequel to the 2003 movie 'Finding Nemo'. Dory (DeGeneres), who helped reunite Nemo (Rolence) with his father Marlin (Brooks) in the first movie, has a flashback in which she remembers her own family. She decides to look for them despite her problems with a faulty memory. Marlin and Nemo agree to help and the three swim to California to start the search. Dory is caught and held in a marine life institute aquarium for shipping to Cleveland. However with the help of Hank (O'Neill), the octopus she escapes back to the ocean and finds her parents Charlie and Jenny. Now she has to come to the aid of Marlin and Nemo who are also imprisoned in the institute aquarium. The movie is essentially the same plot as the original, but provides impressive animation and contains some emotional scenes. However this is ultimately a fun 'happy ever after' sort of film that will delight people of all ages.

Ghostbusters
Director: Paul Feig
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey
It has been thirty-five years since the original Ghostbusters movie. Now, finally there is a remake where women take the leading parts. Erin Gilbert (Wiig) and Abby Yates (McCarthy) are co-authors of a book which postulated that ghosts are real. When supernatural forces invade Manhattan, Gilbert and Yates team up with a nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) and subway worker Patty Tolan (Jones) to combat the malicious demon Rowan (Casey) and a legion of ghouls. The movie pretty much follows the plot of the original, but the actors provide great and extremely funny performances. A terrific movie full of good hearted fun.

Morgan
Director: Luke Scott
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Anya Taylor-Joy, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kate Mara, Toby Jones
Morgan (Taylor-Joy) is a synthetic human being, technically only six years old, but with advanced development and super human qualities. She attacks and injures one of the scientists (Leigh) and so a cold corporate consultant Lee Weathers (Mara) is brought in to decide if Morgan needs to be terminated. The movie is another tale of man playing God and reaping the consequences. It shares much with the recent film Ex Machina. There is little attempt to understand the character of Morgan and thus we are left with a tale of an out of control monster. The film attracted average reviews but despite being low on originality it is a reasonably entertaining movie.

The Jungle Book
Director: Jon Favreau
Certificate: PG Cast includes: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba
Based on Rudyard Kipling's works, this is a reworking of a the well known classic using live action and CGI. Mowgli (Sethi) is an orphaned boy raised by a wolf and thence by Bagheera (Kingsley) a black panther. Mowgli alienates the Bengal tiger Shere Khan (Elba) and so must make his way to humankind for safety, meeting the well known characters Baloo and Kaa on the way. Subsequently he returns to the jungle to face Shere Khan. The movie is a good example a remake that improves on the original. An excellent movie that will entertain all ages.

New Drama Sees Lancaster's Storm Memories Flooding Back

Photo: Cat Smith
“The floods of December 2015 will go down in the collective memory of Lancaster as the days which brought the city together through adversity… Alternative Outcomes’ perspective on that night has come together in a creative expression of community.”
Lancaster & Fleetwood MP, Cat Smith

When the lights went out all over Lancaster in December following Storm Desmond, it brought the community together as rarely seen before.

The atrocious weather conditions put homeless people on an equal footing with others, as thousands faced the kind of adversity and challenges tackled by them on a daily basis.

These experiences will be reflected in After the Floods, an original production by Alternative Outcomes, a theatre company formed at The Dukes in 2013 by a group who access Lancaster District Homeless Action Service.

With familiarity of day-to-day hardships, the group found themselves confidently coping with the challenges of the floods while providing support and assistance to others. During the following week, they also noticed a change in attitudes as they became a part of the community through their shared experiences.

Photo: Cat Smith
Many homeless people’s experiences of Lancaster’s blackout will feature in After The Floods including the father who spent the whole time making up games for his young daughter to play so she wouldn’t be afraid of the dark; the victim of an arson attack who was terrified of using tealights in his flat; the Falklands veteran who was reminded of the weather conditions he experienced there; the man who handed out cups of tea at the Robert Gillow pub which became a temporary shelter for dozens of people; and another man who canoed in the Lune near Sainsburys to keep onlookers entertained.

The Dukes Associate Director, Alex Summers said: “The show will be a celebration of community spirit and of homeless people being part of a society they are often excluded from.”

The audience will be invited into blacked out tents to experience an immersive installation and performance piece exploring all the company’s extraordinary accounts of those 48 hours last December.

Alternative Outcomes Lead Artist, Jon Randall said: “The show will be unlike anything the group have created in the past. We aim to offer an authentic exploration of local stories from the group with a contemporary approach that will blur the lines between performer and audience.”

After the Floods is the brainchild of Dylan Hernandez, an active member of Alternative Outcomes, who suggested the group explore the floods after rehearsals for their 2015 Christmas show were interrupted by the blackouts.

The tent experience is also inspired by the story of one performer’s journey after waking in the night to find the river had risen through his ground sheet whilst camped on the banks of the Lune.

After the Floods has been funded by an Arts Council England National Lottery grant and will premiere at The Dukes on December 5-6 before touring homeless centres in Morecambe, Preston, Blackpool, Liverpool and Manchester.

Schools will be invited to see the show and learn about the experience of street homelessness through secondary school workshops run by Alternative Outcomes.

This project kicks off a broader year-long programme at The Dukes to engage a diverse cross-section of Lancaster’s community in the creation of a second original piece about the floods’ impact called Blackout, scheduled for autumn 2017.


After The Floods is Alternative Outcomes fourth production following last year’s Cinderfella, a successful tour of Ebenezer Dealer in 2014, and a one-off outdoor performance of Twisted in Williamson Park last summer.

The Creative Team are Jon Randall (Lead Artist), Alex Summers (Associate Director), Ric Smithson (Composer & Sound Designer) and Louie Whitmore (Set Designer)

Lancaster District Homeless Action Service, established in 1987, is the leading homelessness charity in Lancaster and Morecambe district, helping homeless and insecurely housed local people to improve their skills, their health and their self-confidence, secure and/or maintain a tenancy, and work towards independent living and the chance to access education, training or employment. LDHAS is funded by several grant making bodies but receives no statutory funding.

According to The Department for Communities and Local Government, rough sleepers are defined for the purposes of rough sleeping counts and estimates as people sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments).

Plus, people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or ‘bashes’).

The number of rough sleepers has increased by 27 per cent in London and 31 per cent in the rest of England since autumn 2014.

According to the Lancaster City Council website, homelessness means not having a home. Even if you have a roof over your head you can still be homeless. This is because you may not have any rights to stay where you live or your home might be unsuitable for you.

The Dukes Creative Learning department works in partnership with Lancashire County Council Young People’s Service to deliver a vast range of creative participatory opportunities in theatre, film, music and mixed media. They devise and deliver innovative programmes to support the creative, personal, social and educational development of thousands of young people from across Lancashire.

Award-winning singer songwriter Jesse Terry heads for Glasson Dock

Jesse Terry. Photo: Eric Gerard

After Jesse Terry's first visit to the UK in 2014, he's back and returns to Christ Church in Glasson

Jesse is an internationally touring, award-winning singer-songwriter and road warrior. His music has been compared to the likes of Ryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon and James Taylor.

Just two months after graduating the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Terry landed himself a publishing deal as a staff-songwriter in Nashville, TN. Jesse went on to write songs professionally in Music City for five years before growing restless and hitting the road full-time. Since then, Terry has toured relentlessly in support of his two full-length albums, including support slots for Darrell Scott (member of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy), Marty Balin (founding member of Jefferson Airplane) Tony Lucca and Liz Longley.


He was recently confirmed to open for Paula Cole in 2013. Jesse has shared festival stages with the likes of Mat Kearney, Dar Williams, David Wilcox, Shawn Mullins and Lori McKenna.

With three full-length albums, The Runner, Empty Seat On A Plane, and Stay Here With Me, this salt of the earth musician’s lyrical mastery, emotional depth, and soothing voice have often been compared to the likes of Ryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Ray LaMontagne, and James Taylor, reaching deep into listeners’ hearts to envelope them in shared joy, sadness, love, and unrelenting hope.

• Jesse Terry  In Concert 7-30pm for 8pm, Thursday 22nd  September 2016 Christ Church Glasson. Lancaster. LA2 0BS. Tickets £8 from Kate 07983442700 or Mary 01524 751236. Refreshments Available

• Jesse Terry online: www.jesseterrymusic.com | Buy Jesse Terry's music from amazon.co.uk

Jesse Terry on YouTube

"Jesse's sweet, smooth voice takes you to another place. You'll come back to reality with his songs stuck in your head and heart."



Castle Hill inspires Dukes "Composite" Exhibition

Bonnie Craig and Jenny McCabe looking at some of their work
Imagery from Lancaster's Castle Hill has inspired the latest exhibition at The Dukes gallery.

"Composite" is a collaborative exhibition by Lancaster-based printmakers, Jenny McCabe and Bonnie Craig.

They’ve used a range of techniques to create their work including drawing, collage, rubbings and photography to produce a series of experimental screen prints reflecting Lancaster’s historic Castle Hill.

Bonnie Craig
Jenny McCabe
Although both use screen printing to create their work, Jennie avoids colour preferring to draw wildlife with scribbly ink lines while Bonnie uses bright colours and abstract geometric shapes to create pattern.

In the future, Jenny and Bonnie hope to recreate their exhibition in different places including a site specific display on Castle Hill itself.

In the meantime, they have been commissioned by Lancaster Business Improvement District to work with schools to create shop window displays for Light Up Lancaster in November.

• Composite can be viewed until 2nd October during normal Dukes opening hours. If you are making a special trip to see it, call the Box Office as sometimes the gallery is used for other activities. For more information, ring the Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Asterix and Tintin head for a clash of the Toon Titans at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal


The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, in partnership with Lancaster University, has announced further details of this year's Festival Weekend Opening Night event on Friday 14th October - "Clash of the Toon Titans", a battle between comic superstars Asterix and Tintin for the hearts and minds of attending comic fans.

The Opening Night will also include the announcement of the new Comics Laureate, taking on the role from artist Dave Gibbons, who will be at the event.

The Beatles or Stones? DC or Marvel? Connery or Moore? Strictly or X Factor?

There are some questions that divide the nation. You cannot sit on the fence. You have to choose. This is the biggie. In the second half of the twentieth century, Francophone comics culture was dominated by two nerdy little characters: a cub reporter from Belgium with an unlikely quiff, and a pint-sized ancient Gaul with an improbable moustache. Between them they have spawned 60 books, 24 movies, dozens of scholarly works, at least one theme park and an entire art style, ligne claire. Their creators have been deified with honours like the Legion d’Honneur and demonised by being banned from libraries over the years. But the weird thing is: few people like both of them. You’re either an Asterix or a Tintin fan.

For the opening event of LICAF 2016, there are people determined to settle this thing for good. The Festival is bringing together two top teams to slug it out on stage – without the help of a magic potion – and establish which character most deserves that cherished place on your oversized bookshelf. Putting the case for Tintin is Benoît Peeters, novelist, philosopher, Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art at Lancaster University, and author of two books on Tintin’s creator, Herge. Holding out gallantly against the oppressors is Peter Kessler, BAFTA award-winning producer and author of ‘The Complete Guide to Asterix’.

Joining them live on stage will be Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, comic book writer Leah Moore, Australian comics scholar and creator Stuart Medley and VIZ artist Graham Dury. On screen will be a host of comics artists, authors and readers with the ever-popular comic creator Hannah Berry acting as referee. To top it all our special festival guests, all the way from Los Angeles, Luke and Steve McGarry, will be bringing their fast-draw cartooning talents to the table illustrating the entire event as it happens.



This opening event is courtesy of Lancaster University to inaugurate and celebrate the appointment of Benoît Peeters as their first Professor of Comics. And, as if all this wasn’t enough, at the end of the evening we will be revealing who will be the second UK Comics Laureate for 2017 with its first incumbent Dave Gibbons handing over the baton.

"On one level this is all for fun, and it doesn’t really matter who is the ‘greatest’ (whatever that means)," says Peter Kessler, "But on a personal level I do feel that over the years there has been a kind of assumption amongst the cognoscenti that Tintin is ‘great art’, while Asterix is ‘just for kids’. Certainly there have been more ‘grown-up’ books on Tintin than Asterix. "I really don't think that is a justifiable state of affairs and in the interest of rebalancing public opinion, I'm sure each ‘side’ will really go out there and try to win the debate."

Lancaster University appointed renowned French graphic novelist and critic Benoît Peeters as its Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, the first ever such appointment in the UK, in 2015. The post represents a significant investment in the academic significance of comic art by the University and has been created in close working partnership with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Additional support has been provided by Wallonia Brussels International.

The three-year appointment will see Benoît deliver a series of lectures, run creative writing workshops, and supervise post-graduate students.

"I am very proud to be part of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival for a second time," says Benoît. "I like the ambition and the diversity of this project, which creates a lot of connections between comics, graphic novels, manga and bandes dessinées. "I appreciate the high quality of the team and the beauty of the region, and I'm sure that the Lakes International Comic Art Festival will become one of the most important Comics manifestations in Europe."

Professor Simon Guy, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Lancaster University said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Lakes international Comic Art Festival and look forward to formally announcing and celebrating the appointment of Benoît Peeters to a Professorship in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art. His appointment is bringing new ideas and insights to our English and creative writing courses and more widely across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.”

• Buy your Festival tickets now from The Brewery, Kendal - www.breweryarts.co.uk 

• For all events information visit the Lakes International Comic Art Festival web site: www.comicartfestival.com | Find the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on Facebook | Follow the Festival on Twitter @comicartfest

• Visit LU News for the latest Lancaster University news


• Follow Lancaster University on @lancasteruni   

• More information about Benoît Peeters at www.benoitpeeters.net | www.altaplana.be

This event is presented by Lancaster University & Supported by Wallonie-Bruxelles International

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Lancaster War Mysteries: Whatever Happened to All Our Railings?

Donated for the war effort: Williamson Park's railings. Photo courtesy Andrew Reilly
A tour around Lancaster, delving into its history, is always interesting - sometimes for what isn't there, rather than what is.

A case in point is the many places where you'll see place where iron railings were once placed - but have now long gone, such as Williamson Park. Not the victim of some modern-day theft, similar to the stealing of public works of art, but the consequence of a genuine public effort to support the fight against the Nazis during World War Two on the home front... that was, perhaps, a little misguided.

First, a bit of a history lesson. When Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940, he installed press baron Lord Beaverbrook (owner of the Daily Express) as the Minister for Aircraft Production.
It was Beaverbrook's responsibility to provide the desperately needed raw materials to help build the Spitfires and Hurricanes, and one way used was to requisition the 19th century iron railings and gates surrounding many of the cemeteries, parks and squares in Britain's towns and cities.

In 1941 the government passed an order compulsorily requisitioning all post-1850 iron gates and railings for the war effort, with a few exceptions made for items of particular historic interest, usually elaborate gates.





All 'unnecessary' railings from public buildings, parks and private dwellings were removed to assist the war effort. The only let-out, as noted here, was to be on the grounds of safety or artistic or historic merit, the latter referring to those railings dating from before 1820.

Protests to save some were not entirely unsuccessful: one lone vicar in Southwark lost his church railings, but not his gates after much correspondence.



Collecting aluminium at Middle Street School, 1940. Photo courtesy Andrew Reilly

Removal of the guns from Lancaster Castle during World War Two. Photo courtesy Andrew Reilly

Locally, railings around Lancaster's Willimason Park were one casualty of the drive, as were railings in residential streets such as Dale Street, Dorrington Road, Derwent Road, Baker Street, Skerton and elsewhere

So did Bulk Mission and even the walls surrounding Lancaster Castle - and even its guns.


Used for Home Guard grenade practice - a World War One tank that used to reside outside Lancaster Castle. Courtesy Andrew Reilly
The remains of Ryelands Park's railings today. These stones originally topped a much higher wall around what was once a private property belonging to Lord Ashton
The railings around Ryelands Park were included, where local residents also pitched in with "Dig for Victory" gardens to grow food.

A World War One tank that used to to be outside Lancaster Castle was not melted down - but it was used by the Home Guard for grenade practice. It was eventually buried on Ocean Edge Caravan Park, and was last uncovered during work there in 1969, according to a report in the Morecambe Guardian back then).

With thanks to David Chandler
"Most of the Victorian terraces had railings round their front gardens," notes Lancaster resident James Mitchell. "Just look for walls topped with limestone rockery and they will almost certainly have had railings removed."

Graham Fraser also notes that if you look along much of the A6 south from the Pointer, you'll see remnants of railings in front of many private houses.

Via the Wartime Kitchen
Many hundreds of tons of iron were removed by the authorities, and the public were also asked to donate aluminium kitchen utensils - although in practice these were only owned by the better off (and an appeal which didn't include shops, where new aluminium pots were on sale, much to the bemusement, and later, fury of housewives at being misled by Beaverbrook's whose excuses got short shrift). The Women's Voluntary Service that largely co-ordinated the collection, which was one million strong by the summer of 1941.

Beaverbrook himself issued a press appeal: "We will turn your pots and pans into Spitfires and Hurricanes, Blenheims and Wellingtons".

Salvage drives for all sorts of materials quickly became part of daily life. Parks, gardens, squares, even churchyards lost their ornamental iron gates and railings, while tins, bones, gramophone records, films, rags, jars, bottles and paper were all grist to the recycling mill. Everyone wanted to be seen doing something to aid the war effort.

In his book Waste into Weapons, Peter Thorseim (soon to be re-released in paperback) notes that, according to one estimate, some 5000 pots and pans were needed to make just one fighter plane.

A boy offers his toy plane to a RAF man after a national request for scrap metal for the making of aeroplanes. Colorised by Jiří Macháček from the Czech Republic

Image: IWM
Children were also encouraged to help the war effort by collecting metal, paper and rags for recycling. In the poster on the right, for example, soap cartons have been used in the manufacture of artillery shells. Children could earn the red Junior Salvage Steward cog badge as shown on the poster for their salvage efforts.

The “Cogs” even had their own song which began “There’ll Always be a Dustbin” sung to the tune of “There’ll Always be an England” which gave them a sense of belonging.

The public responded with vigour, from Aberdeen to Lancaster, to London. In all, by 1942, thousands of tons of scrap metal had been collected, including some 300,000 tons of railings, 485,00 tons of old or obsolete equipment and 90,000 tons of tram rails.

By September 1944, over one millions tons had been collected - apparently far more than than was needed or could be processed.

But since the war, although private donors of railings were eventually compensated for their removal, the rumour has persisted that the iron collected in Beaverbrook's campaign was unsuitable for making planes and instead buried in quarries or dumped in the North Sea and the Thames estuary, and that it was basically just a propaganda effort. The huge underground munitions factory Beaverbook set up at Corsham, Wiltshire ran far below capacity for its short life - so what happened to all that collected metal?

It’s certainly the view of Colin Hyde, from the East Midlands oral history archive, Centre for Urban History, at the University of Leicester, quoted in this article about how surviving railings were painted white to stop people walking into them in a blackout.

"Kerbstones, fences, and railings were often painted white in an attempt to help people see where they were going," he says.

His views are supported by Edinburgh's Gardner’s Crescent resident Derek Ainsley who has long been sceptical of the British scrap metal appeal. “The removal of railings and donation of aluminium pots and pans to be melted down to make tanks was a lot of nonsense, but it boosted morale,” he said, when it was reported the Crescent's railings were to be restored in 2012.

Jeremy Crang, a senior history lecturer at Edinburgh University, agreed, adding: “The pots and pans appeal was a stunt to dramatise the need to accelerate aircraft production in 1940. The amount of high-grade aluminium that could be extracted from pots and pans was negligible.”

John Farr, author of a 2010 article in Picture Postcard Monthly, ("Who Stole our Gates", PPM No 371, March 2010) also agrees. In it, he says that only 26 per cent of the iron work collected was used for munitions and by 1944 much of it was rusting in council depots or railway sidings, with some filtering through to the post-war metal industry. Yet the public was never told this.

Railings being removed from a London park during World War Two - final destination unknown, just like Lancaster's donations to the war effort... Image: London Parks & Gardens Trust 

In Rugby, a World War One tank, presented in 1919 in recognition of Rugby's contributions to ‘National War Savings', was sent for scrap
The Public Records Office apparently does not have detailed records of what happened to the iron collected, it seems the records disappeared or were shredded after the war.

It's claimed London iron was loaded onto barges and dumped at sea in the Thames estuary, the claim made by dockers, which an account which seems to have originated in a letter to the Evening Standard by journalist Christopher Long in 1984.

Long wrote: "I believe that many hundreds of tons of scrap iron and ornamental railings were sent to the bottom in the Thames Estuary because Britain was unable to process this ironwork into weapons of war."

He said this information came from dockers in Canning Town in 1978 who worked during the war on lighters that were towed down the Thames estuary to dump vast quantities of scrap metal and decorative ironwork. They claimed that so much was dumped at certain spots in the estuary that ships passing the area needed pilots to guide them because their compasses were so strongly affected by the quantity of iron on the sea-bed.

People also have claimed to have seen some remains of the dumps at low tides.

However there are those who insist that as we have no evidence to the contrary, the iron could well have been recycled to make planes in World War Two. The iron must have come from somewhere and since iron was a key component in aircraft manufacture it could have been the recycled gates and railings.

So, were kitchen pots made into planes? Or was the drive, in the end, a pointless and sad public relations exercise that helped the public feel they were doing something to support the war effort? Would recycled iron from Victorian gates and railings really have been any use, perhaps in the making of new tanks - and would the authorities have known this at the time if it was suitable?

Perhaps more importantly, given the success of other towns and cities in restoring lost railings, could we get ours back now, too?

Further Reading...


• Waste into Weapons: Recycling in Britain during the Second World War

During the Second World War, the United Kingdom faced severe shortages of essential raw materials. To keep its armaments factories running, the British government enlisted millions of people in efforts to recycle a wide range of materials for use in munitions production. Recycling not only supplied British munitions factories with much-needed raw materials - it also played a key role in the efforts of the British government to maintain the morale of its citizens, to secure billions of dollars in Lend-Lease aid from the United States, and to uncover foreign intelligence.

However, Britain's wartime recycling campaign came at a cost: it consumed items that would never have been destroyed under normal circumstances, including significant parts of the nation's cultural heritage.

Based on extensive archival research, Peter Thorsheim examines the relationship between armaments production, civil liberties, cultural preservation, and diplomacy, making Waste into Weapons the first in-depth history of twentieth-century recycling in Britain.

World War Two stretchers re-used as railings

In Rugby, a World War One tank, presented in 1919 in recognition of Rugby's contributions to ‘National War Savings', was sent for scrap

Railings Restored


Railings lost from one Edinburgh street thanks to the wartime scrap drive mades a comeback thanks to the efforts of a 92-year-old resident

My grateful thanks to Andrew Reilly and other members of the Lancaster Past & Present Facebook Group for their memories and information provided for this feature