Mike Wilson

Local Historian and Writer


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Mike Wilson

Welcome to Mike's Blog

mike wilson blog on bridlington.netThis is like jumping into deep, icy water. I've no idea what it will feel like, but am full of anticipation of a shock.

I'm a bit of a writer and I do like to have my say. I think that when one reaches retirement age, but still aware that one doesn't know everything, one has the right to have one's say. We've lived life, endured life, survived life and not yet met death. So we could be said to know what we are talking about (well, in some cases, anyway).

I do have a website (www.freespiritwriters.me.uk) and I have definitely had my say on there. But on Bridlington.net I will confine myself to Bridlington matters, how they affect me and mine and how things should be done in a perfect world - which it ain't.

Three days in Scotland

Shearings Holidays provided us with a fantastic holiday last week. The five-day holidays are actually three full (and I mean full!) days' travelling plus three days at a hotel. We stayed at Dornoch Hotel, opposite the golf course with views (when the sea har allowed) across the loch. The food was fine and we had no complaints at all.

We had trips on the coach to Inverness, Durness and Ullapool. All three places were of interest, although flood work along the banks of the Ness spoiled all the views in Inverness. 

Ullapool was a pleasant spot. The harbour featured ferries to some of the islands, which we would have loved, but we had only a couple of hours there.

Durness beach was beautiful. It is the farthest north I have been on mainland Britain.

There were many stops on the way to and from these places: Smoo caves; Blackwater waterfalls; little tea rooms for comfort and tea.

All in all we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the warm (hot!) summer sun up there.

Another brilliant day


What a fantastic day last Thursday! The Spa Royal Hall was the scene of a second unveiling of a blue plaque commemorating the life a musician who appeared at Bridlington. This second plaque was for Wallace Hartley, who led an orchestra here from 1902 to 1904. In 1912 Wallace lost his life as he played his violin as the Titanic slipped beneath the waves.

My friend Richard Jones instigated this plaque, but he was at sea on Thursday and he asked me to take his place. I was delighted to do so. He deserves the credit for thinking of commemorating Wallace Hartley. We also thank East Riding of Yorkshire Council for allowing both of us to have blue plaques on their building. The chairman of the council, Cllr Patricia O'Neil, unveiled both the plaques, Herman's in pouring rain in June, Wallace's in bright warm sunshine in July.


Here's Wallace Hartley's plaque, below the plaque for Herman Darewski. It could be argued that Darewski made more impact on Bridlington than Hartley, but the connection with the Titanic can only be good for Bridlington. 

Hartley's violin was discovered in a Bridlington attic and was sold for a staggering £900,000. When is it coming back to Bridlington? What an attraction that would be for the Spa! Come on council, do your stuff and bring Wallace's violin back to Bridlington for display next season.

Another interesting day in Brid


It's 15th July at Brid, a warm sunny day, but where the heck is everybody? Don't tell it all depends on the school holidays. Where's all the old folk like me, enjoying a break on the beach? How's Brid's guest houses and other holiday-based businesses going to survive unless this beach is full of holidaymakers? Answers to me on a postcard. Thanks.


I've heard that boys take their buckets and spades on to the beach for fun. But this is ridiculous!


Brid's lifeboat Marine Engineer on the south side waiting for the water development to end.


This is the RNLB Keep Fit Association. What it's doing in Brid I can only guess.



A nice surprise


I had a nice surprise yesterday when I visited the Tourist Information Centre to check on my books. There they were, all in a line on one shelf. From the left: "Full Fathom Five," a novel set in Victorian Bridlington which deals with the lifeboat service; "Little Tyke," tales in verse from a Bridlington childhood; "Herman Darewski," the man who put Bridlington on the map as a venue for dancing between the wars; "Madge Temple," an Edwardian vaudeville singer who married Darewski; "Bridlington Remembered," page after page of photographs and information from the history of the town; "Nothing More To Say," the collated letters of Second Lieutenant T. B. D. Hough, of the East Yorkshire Regiment, written home to his parents.

Coming soon: "Bridlington's Waterloo Pierrots" (this troupe entertained Bridlington holidaymakers from 1893 to 1914), and "Letters To My Catholic Friend" (which offers my friend information about religion, faith and atheism).

And I've started work on "Slecking The Dust," relating stories from the "Bridlington Chronicle" from 1952 to 1954, followed by my adventures in the printing industry. Also included will be my father's history as one of the last hot-metal printers in town. 

Can I help you to get your story into print?

Leisure World - What's left of it!


This a painting of Fort Hall, Bridlington, which is in the news this week. Apparently, some remains of the building have been discovered during the destruction of Leisure World. This painting is by Pat Pinder, of Bridlington, and was copied from a water colour dated 1838. Note the guns.


This is what is left of Leisure World. It was built in 1987 and is now destroyed. Before that, this was the site of the Grand Pavilion, opened in the 1930s by Amy Johnson, who flew to Australia in a single-seat aircraft.


This is (was) the front of Leisure World. I remember it well for Sunday Rendezvous when I was a lad in the Fifties, for the roller skating rink which I thoroughly enjoyed, and then, in 1995, as the venue for the Bridlington Town Play, Come Hell or High Water.


Farther up Flamborough Road, this site sees the construction of yet another supermarket, this time Morrisons. Is anyone actually unable to buy food from the shops currently available? However, on the plus side at least money is being spent in town. Should mean something for the future, surely?


Here in The Attic, you can get away from the bustle and rush in town (whenever that is nowadays) and have a pleasant rest in the new tea rooms. Lovely setting, and very nice scones.


Despite all the advancements, there is still one section of the community who looks backwards. Three reminders here from one of the churches. I object to the first on rational grounds. First God established the rules (to which the vast majority of us are utterly unable to adhere), then he sent his son to save us. Why not cancel the rules and make it easy all round? Or is it God's intention to make life difficult?

I can't disagree with the centre poster, really.

But the third annoys me. I am instructed to love someone with everything I have. Unfortunately I am unable to do so, and therefore this community thinks I deserve to suffer eternal damnation in the fires of hell. Well, that's what I was taught. I've grown up now, thank goodness.


HMS Flamborough Head


This is HMCS Cape Breton at the shipyard quayside in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She was originally named HMS Flamborough Head and served with the Royal Navy in the last years of WW2. When withdrawn from service she took her original name and was scheduled to be part of a new maritime museum in North Vancouver to commemorate the shipbuilding era there.


In May 2007 Diane and I travelled to North Vancouver to see the stern on the North Shore. I presented the project director, Larry Orr, with a map of Flamborough Head so the museum could show where the name originated. 

However, the plans for the museum have not materialised and the city took the decision to scrap the stern. I made my little protest along with others in North Vancouver but to no avail. The stern has now all but disappeared I understand, but a friend in Canada acquired a small piece of the vessel for me.


And this is a steel nut from HMS Flamborough Head. It is 4cm wide, 13mm thick and takes a bolt 23mm wide. I have no idea where the nut was on the ship but am assured that it was taken from piles of scrap metal as the vessel was dismantled. 

I have to thank a lady called Sandra Grant - whom I have never met! - for posting me this small piece of HMS Flamborough Head. 

I have compiled a small booklet about the vessel, but it needs updating now with this latest information on the destruction of history.

Bridlington also seems willing to ignore its history but we are the only place on the planet with our history and therefore we should use it more.


Good deed for the day


Today we visited University of Hull with a appointment at the Centre for Health and Clinical Neuroscience. I'd offered to undergo tests to check my memory with a view to helping a survey to find out how to ward off dementia. Everyone of my age forgets a few things in their normal day to day life. With a family member having suffered dementia, I wanted to help in any way I could.

We arrived early with a view to eating lunch at the University. We went to the Staff House (below).


We ate in the Myton dining room. The self-service meals were attractive and I had a beef stew with a posh name. Diane had sausages and chips. Everything was excellent! Our sweets were tasty and naughty.


On our way back to the Fenner building, we passed this scene. How lucky these youngsters are to study in such an environment, and the workers on the site were able to enjoy a snack in the sunshine.

When we got down to business, the investigator, Evi Zafeiridi, put me through my paces with tests about words, another test about colours and shapes, and a devilish thing called Hanoi Tower. 

There was also a visual list of faces, most of whom I recognised, but there were a few I could not identify. Then there were a few memory tests with numbers, words and shapes.

I have no idea whether I reached any standard or not, but I did enjoy the coffee and biscuits provided. 

This is Evi's appeal: So how good is your memory? Volunteers are required to study ageing.

The Centre For Health and Clinical Neuroscience is recruiting healthy adults over 60 years of age, as well as people who have experienced a stroke or have dementia, for testing memory and language. No expertise is required. Everyone is welcome! For information contact Ms Evi Zafeiridi (PhD candidate): p.zafeiridi@2013.hull.ac.uk (07938 018074) or Dr Chiara Guerrini: c.guerrini@hull.ac.uk.

If you can help them, please do. Let's find a solution to dementia.


More birds

A selection of the best photos over the last week. The starlings bring their young to feed on the fat balls and other food we have put up just outside our back window. I can sit in my chair by the open window and snap away to my heart's content. I have only a little work to do in Photoshop to bring them up to scratch. I have also taken movies and they will appear on YouTube under the heading: "Bridlington starlings 25.6.14."









Big Day for Bridlington



Phil White came to Bridlington today for his programme. Roving reporter Chris Arundel had invited me to join Phil to talk about the coming of the railway to Brid in 1845. Phil found himself a little corner in the Station Buffet where his did his pieces for the live show. He was even kind enough to plug my book about Herman Darewski.


Phil and I chatting about the station.


Spotlight posters (all my own work, as they say) in front of the equipment for the new works on the south side. 


In the middle of photo is the trench into which the new pipeline will be laid later in the day.


Away on the horizon the tugs are hauling the pipeline into position. 


History was being made in Bridlington today, while on the footpath history of years ago tells the tale of "Kit Brown, fisherman, lifeboatman, Swiftsure hero of '93," in which Kit died tried to save his son in the Seagull lifeboat incident of March 1898.




A Day in the Secret Gardens


This was the first house we visited today. The Secret Gardens of Old Town were on display and many visitors enjoyed a beautiful day - sunny for the most part - as they wandered down High Street and South Back Lane before venturing towards the Priory for further surprises. The Bridlington Excelsior Band were playing the theme from Titanic when we were there. I wonder if they know the piece The Army, The Navy and the Air Force. That was written by Herman Darewski while he was Director of Music at the Spa. The Excelsior Band should make it their theme tune because it has strong upbeat music. We enjoyed a lovely apple pie from the Lions' table. It went down very well with ice cream after boiled eggs.


This sight always comes as a surprise. There are geese, cockerels, hens and turkeys here, all wandering freely. We bought some lovely spuds (with mint) and half a dozen eggs. We had the eggs for tea, and will have the new potatoes with gammon for dinner tomorrow. Lovely!


This fine cockerel let us know he was around with a fine loud 'cock-a-doodle-do.'


A third secret garden in Old Town, Bridlington. 


I just liked the way the light seem to concentrate on this headstone against the darkness of the trees.


This beautiful carving is on the stump of a tree at the entrance to Priory Church. Go and see it. It's beautiful. 


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