Wednesday, 14 September 2016

My Magazine feature

In the summer my workshop was featured in the Landlove magazine. It was beautifully written by Kerry Fowler and fantastically photographed by Sussie Bell. It's a few months since it was published so I'm hoping that it is OK to show the scanned pages. 
If It's not legible then please  click here for link to The Bothy Shop - Wordpress.
The Bothy Shop -

The Bothy Shop -

The Bothy Shop -

The Bothy Shop -

The Bothy Shop -

The Bothy Shop -

Monday, 12 September 2016

The Demon Drome

Quick update....Last Sunday we had a glorious day at Goodwood Revival,....and were pleased to see the Demon Drome there putting on a great I thought I'd upload the blog that I first wrote in 2011 again.

Today we drove over to Prescott Hill Climb for their last main show of the Season. It was a great day ,Hot rods, Bikes and of course the Famous Hill Climb races. In one corner was The Demon Drome...The Wall of Death.

 You first walk up some wooden steps and enter a circular show, you are basically stood on a wooden ledge at the top of a large 32ft approx wooden barrel. When the show starts motor bikes are ridden up the wall,not only do you find yourself inches away from the wheels of the bikes with the noise and fumes but to add to the excitement the walls move !

The first Motordrome was built in 1911 at Luna Park in Coney Island. It was a board track quite long with sloping wooden sides. Unfortunately as the bikes became more powerful terrible accidents happened. The races also became more predictable with the first bike to lead often being the winner. With this motordromes became less popular..But the riders found that with increased speed ,centrifugal force made it possible for them to ride sideways on a vertical wall. By 1915 the walls had become vertical and were initially known as silodromes, later to become known as The Wall of Death. The first silodrome was based on the dimensions of the diameter of a grain silo which was approx.20 to 36 feet at the time.
The Indian and BSA Motorbike Companies realised that the shows were great advertisements for their bikes, and as you can see The Indian is still used today...a favourite of mine.

George 'Tornado'Smith is credited to have brought the Wall of Death to England from America. The link to George Tornado Smith is well worth looking at. ''Fearless Egbert'' was also one of the earliest riders working in ''Collins Famous Death Riders and Racing Lion'' in the 1920,s and 30's. The tame lions rode alongside the drivers of racing cars...and apparently one lion in particular used to roar if the rider didn't keep going !  An old film of a Wall of Death
Margaret Gast was one of the earliest female stunt riders and was known as the 'Mile a Minute Girl' after a world record in 1900 travelling 1000 miles in 120 hours.

This Demon Drome was believed to have been built in 1927 and was originally ran by Pat Collins Funfairs. There were no lions today but there was a girl rider . The Demon Drome is run by a few families who all 'live' the 1950's

If I heard correctly the one chap bought the bikes first and then bought the show, almost as a paid hobby. Dave 'Dynomyte' Seymour, his son 'Duke' and some more of his family are the stars of the show. The whole set up is great, from the outfits to their outside airstream catering, stall selling shirts etc and their cars.  If you are ever near a show then its well worth visiting. Years ago after seeing Alan Fords show I'd said I'd love to sit pillion, I almost had the chance but I can't remember why it didn't happen, a bit like when I was asked if I'd be interested in being a Rat Girl at a circus sideshow...I'd have had to sit in a large cage letting rats run about...I seem to remember that I had to get on with a painting job, but sometimes now I'm older I wish I had given them a go. There is a link to the Demon Drome Site below below.

They will be performing at Prescott Hill Climb this year on the 1st and 2nd October at the American Autumn Classic.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

A link between the church and the fair at Govan Church, Glasgow

This summer I was in Edinburgh visiting family. I was only there for a short time and really wanted to revisit Glasgow.....a day is not long enough!
As well as visiting Kelvingrove Museum, the transport museum and walking part of the amazing graffiti trail I made a point of visiting Govan Church.

Govan Church, Showman's Yard Glasgow
Govan Church and Showman's Yard

Inside are some of the most striking stone carvings that I have ever seen, The Govan Stones, Viking Hogback stones.  Large black curved burial stones looking like upturned boats or the humps of whales, they gave me goosebumps! I thought they were magnificent....stunning. I would have loved to have seen them all those years ago when they were in their original positions.

viking hogback stones,katie morgan
Three of the five Viking hogback stones in Govan Church.

Whilst walking around I noticed a little galloper painted and part of a stained glass window. The curator said that the fairground families that had the yard next door had paid for the restoration and had added the galloper into the glass. Now that I'm home I'm enjoying trying to find more out ,of the link between the fairground and Govan Church.

katie morgan
Galloper decoration on stained glass in Govan Church.

This area was once the home of Fairfield, a massive shipyard.

Picture by Hawkeye Aerial Photography courtesy of BAM

 When it finished two old fairground families set up quarters but were never allowed to live on them full time. Now the area across the river has had the beginnings of development with the building of The Transport Museum ( Riverside Museum),the land around is starting to be more valuable. Tara S Beall was Artist in residence at Glasgow's Riverside Museum and tried to promote the knowledge, history, culture and modern life of the two local fair families, the Stringfellows and the Johnstones. In 2013 there was a three day event and I think that she is still involved with helping fight the causes of these families.
For over 50 years Govan Church has been important to the show folk holding weddings,christenings and funerals. When restoration was needed the families had six windows restored.. ‘

The inscription added to the base of the St Elizabeth window reads:
Inside Govan Church,Glasgow

It appears that cultural traditional events, lives etc are sometimes classed as intangible which means that they are not protected in the same way as 'tangible' such as buildings etc. In 2013  the UK had not signed a UN charter to help protect cultural heritage and the 'intangible. Social events and craftsmanship is 'intangible' but the vehicles,buildings and tools are 'tangible'. Now that we are heading for leaving Europe will any of this change? I think a big can of worms are being opened. If anyone needs to correct me or knows more, then please comment, Thank you.

There has been a fair in Govan for 260 years, and at some a bit of local folk lore arrived. A sheep's head is carried at the head of the Govan Fair procession every year. The story goes that a young man was once refused permission to marry the ministers daughter so he came back at night, cut the head off the ministers prize ram and carried it through the streets of Govan on a pole. On the first Friday in June this event takes place with the grudge being 'put to bed' with the minister crowning the Govan Fair Queen.

Well I'm not going to delve further in this blog post, but I will say that Govan is worth visiting. There is a huge community spirit and a lot of voices who need to be heard and all care for the area. I loved visiting Govan Church and of course being a fairground decorator/painter, I loved finding the little stained glass galloper.

You can find lovely stories and images on this site -Govan Reminisence Group

Saturday, 13 August 2016

My sgraffitto at the Winchcombe Pottery

Years ago I used to have a painting workshop at The Winchcombe Pottery. I used to chat with Ray and Mike Finch, Eddie Hopkins and visiting potters, but didn't have a go. A few more years later I used to swap eggs for egg cups with Ray Finch......but it was only last year that I started working with clay.
winchcombe pottery
Blackbird by Katie Morgan
Last October I joined a Saturday morning class at the famous Winchcombe Pottery. Matt Grimmitt taught us all and after my many attempts at slip decoration , told me about sgraffito.....I am now completely hooked! I love Thomas Toft slipware dishes but I find that my style of illustration seems to work well on the earthenware pots.

winchcombe pottery
Geese by Katie Morgan
Matt kindly made me some mugs and I decorated them giving them to friends and family as Christmas presents. 

winchcombe pottery
Pigeon by Katie Morgan
This year I am achieving one of my ambitions by decorating platters celebrating Winchombe Potteries 90th Anniversary. They are made by Matt so have three marks, The Winchcombe Pottery, Matt Grimmit and my own.

winchcombe pottery
Pigeon by Katie Morgan
These celebration plates will be available to buy from The Winchcombe Pottery.

winchcombe pottery
Apples by Katie Morgan
All photographs taken by Alison Morgan - AlisonMPhotography

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Rag and bone

We regularly have a scrap van going down our street...shouting out ''scrap iron' through a megaphone, sometimes blowing a very out of tune trumpet. What an old trade, probably started in the middle ages or has there always been people collecting other peoples rubbish so they can put food on their table ?.
The rag and bone man with a horse and cart or old pram used to be a regular feature in cities and towns. The rags they collected were often separated into different colours and qualities. Most were cotton and wool so it was easily recycled. Rags were sold to firms to make a cheap fabric called 'shoddy' hence the phrase shoddy work etc, and some fabric was used to make paper. Bones were turned into glue, knife handles, toys and ornaments. . Bones were also burnt into a powder, called 'Bone Meal' which could be used as a fertiliser. Rabbit skins could be used to trim gloves and hats and empty glass jars were used again by jam producers and other producers.
The name Totter is also used. A tot used to be a slang term for a bone, so a 19th century totter was a bone collector.

Henry Mayhew wrote a report in 1851 called 'London labour and the London Poor'..he wrote ''The bone-picker and rag-gatherer may be known at once by the greasy bag which he carries on his back. Usually he has a stick in his hand, and this is armed with a spike or hook, for the purpose of more easily turning over the heaps of ashes or dirt that are thrown out of the houses,and discovering whether they contain anything that is saleable at the rag-and-bottle or marine-store shop '

The men would sometimes give goldfish, a balloon or simple china to a householder  that gave them a good load. In 1936 a public health act said that they were not allowed to give children under the age of fourteen any article, but goldfish were declared not to be an article.

The trade declined in the 1950's but now the increased price of scrap metal has led to more being collected..some people are complaining of the noise..

The most famous Rag and Bone men have to be Harold and  Steptoe, and their horse Hercules ....from the 1960's TV series.
do you know when I moved in here my neighbour jokingly asked when was Hercules arriving....I suppose it must have looked quite funny. Instead of the usual removals van I had Robs open truck with a sofa, grand father clock and fairground horse on board..! good  conversation for the  for curtain twitchers !

Twenty years ago there was a man near Wigan that drove a horse and cart collecting anything but lately I haven't seen any....Do you know of any?
Here are some lovely old films showing the old Rag and bone man with his horse and cart .
Getty Images

Scrap metal collection and rag and bone man in the 1950's, film

Mitcham Rag and Bone man, Tom, on Magpie in 1979

Dolly The Last Working Horse in Dublin


Blog Top Sites