Rainbow over Knowle Park, Sevenoaks

I had hoped to be able to take some photograph of the trees in autumnal colours, but the weather remained cloudy for much of the afternoon, with occasional spots of rain. Then, towards dusk, the skies began to clear and this fine rainbow appeared, remaining visible for around twenty minutes.

Sound Mirrors of RAF Denge, Kent

The Sound mirrors at RAF Denge are located between Greatstone-on-Sea and Lydd airfield, Kent, on the edge of a disused gravel pit. They were built in the late 1920s and early 1930s as part of an early warning system for detecting hostile incoming aircraft by focusing sound waves onto a central microphone.

The Denge complex is the best-preserved of several along the south coast. It comprises three mirrors:

1) The 200 foot mirror – a near vertical, curved wall, 60 m (200 ft) in length.

2) The 30 foot mirror – a circular dish, 9 m (30 ft) across, supported on concrete buttresses, which retains a microphone pole at its centre.

3) The 20 foot mirror is similar to the 30 foot mirror, but with a smaller dish 6 m (20 ft) across.

The mirrors were capable of detecting the slow-moving aircraft of the period before they came into range, but were rendered obsolete by the invention of radar. They were abandoned and left to decay, though they remain reasonably well-preserved and are now scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

Mayflower pub, Rotherhithe

The “Mayflower” in Rotherhithe, east London is a classic British pub sited on the banks of the Thames. Its name commemorates the departure of the Mayflower from Rotherhithe in July 1620 (400 years ago this month, as it happens). The pub has this splendid sign, which I recognised instantly….

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…the picture is identical to one in my “The Story of Ships: A Ladybird ‘Achievements’ Book’, which was published in 1961 and as a child, sparked my lifelong interest in ships.

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But there’s a slight problem. The ship depicted on the pub sign is NOT the Mayflower….

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…It’s Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind. The Story of Ships was written by Richard Bowood and illustrated by Robert Ayrton. “Richard Bowood” was a pseudonym used by author, historian and journalist David Scott Daniell (1906-1965) and Robert Ayton (1915–1985) was a British comics artist and illustrator who worked for the Eagle and Ladybird Books. As far as is known, he did not make pub signs. Presumably somebody copied the book illustration and hoped that nobody would realise that it was the wrong ship. In fact, the golden hind on the vessel’s stern is a slight hint. As for the book itself, from a modern perspective is is quite amusing to note Daniell’s outrage that the Spanish should regard English privateers like Drake as pirates. How dare they!

The current owners of the Mayflower pub have been in residence for ten years, and apparently the sign was already there when they took over.