Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A Gurney And A Cinema Inside A Cinema. 5th 6th February

Chester
P1220886smChester Cathedral was extensively rebuilt from 1250 and took around 275 years to complete. The red sandstone gives the interior quite a dark feel, good job there are lots of lights, it must have quite eerie just in candle light.
As we entered the organ stuck up with a very capable organist at it’s helm practicing several pieces, air could be heard circulating up to the pipes from below. Music is always a good thing in such big churches, not only is it nice to listen to (when in good hands), but it makes the place more welcoming and less like you have to tiptoe around so as not to disturb other’s prayers.
P1220917smP1220906smP1220918smWorks were on going on a lego model of the Cathedral, the higher parts of the building either not built yet or just removed to be able to see the interior. For £1 you can add a brick, but there was nobody around to enable us to build one tiny part.
P1220941smDotted around are large black stove like things, radiators. Closer inspection revealed them to have a hinge on the back and the start of a pipe from the rear. The Gurney Stove was developed by a surgeon, Goldsworthy Gurney, who had an interest in engineering. In 1825 he patented a steam carriage, going on in 1842 to patent a system of heat recovery from light fittings. In 1852, Gurney was appointed to investigate the ventilation problems in the House of Commons where he flashed off large quantities of gunpowder in the chamber to observe the motion of the air currents, he was said to have posed a greater risk than Guy Fawkes!
His interest in heating led him to invent a new type of warm-air stove. It was described as a metallic vessel having a number of plates extending from its outer surface, standing with the plates vertical in a shallow trough of water. This provided humidification to counteract the drying feeling caused by the warm air. He soon sold the rights for his invention to the London Warming & Ventilating Company which advertised itself as ‘Proprietors of the Gurney stove’. The largest sized stove was 1 m in diameter and 2.7 m high. It consumed about 200 kg of coke a week and was said to be capable a heating a space of 120 000 ft3. By 1897 an advert claimed ‘over 10 000 churches, schools, government and other public and private buildings successfully warmed by our system’. Some working examples still exist, some in  Chester Cathedral. We considered getting one installed on Oleanna, but that would mean the ballast needing to be altered and the only space big enough would be in the bathroom with both doors open or closed all the time!
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The West Window catches your eye when you first enter with it’s predominant blue, The Holy Family by W.T. Carter Shapland in 1961. The Westminster Windows also stand out. Three windows installed by Alan Younger to mark the 900th anniversary of the founding of the Benedictine Abbey on the site. The windows were a gift from the 6th Duke of Westminster and replaced 19th Century glass that was damaged in WW2.
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In the Chapter House is an installation by the artist Liz West, Our Colour Reflection. This piece takes up the whole room. Over 100 circular coloured mirrors sit at differing heights on the floor, reflecting coloured light from the windows up to the ceiling and in turn showing to the viewer dots of coloured reflection. It’s a rather mesmerising piece and deserves a visit whilst it is here.
P1220975smWe had a second visit to the Storyhouse on Tuesday, this time to visit the cinema to see Darkest Hour. A very good performance from Gary Oldman as Churchill and an enjoyable film. Artistic licence has been used when Churchill uses the tube, which apparently wasn’t the right sort of carriage for the line in question.
P1220982smP1220987smThe cinema itself was interesting. Going into the older part of the building up the original staircase to what is now called the mezzanine, the skirting boards reminded me of what I would have been doing at this time of year in Scarborough over a decade ago, giving the front of house some TLC with a paint brush. I have to say I prefer the colour scheme here to the original Odeon salmon pink. The cinema itself seats 100 and is a pod like box which has been installed where the circle used to be. Walkways for the library curve round it with work spaces retaining much of the feel of the balcony and the restaurant and bar being sited underneath.
P1220984smInside the pod the red theme of the building continues. You enter either side of the screen and step down to your spacious seats. These seats have plenty of leg room and for those with little legs who find their feet dangling there are extra cushions available to assist. By the end of the film I wished I’d picked one up. On Tuesdays and Thursdays before 5pm you can get cheaper seats if you are over 60. Mick decided to age himself by a few months to make use of the saving. With no Box Office as such in the building you purchase your tickets online or at one of the kiosks in the building, so self service really, having your ticket checked in entering.
Sat behind us were two visually impaired people who were being given head sets for the audio description of the film. The staff were setting up their headsets and said to let them know if they had any problems. Sadly and awkwardly we had a problem, the headsets leaked sound. So all the way through the film it sounded like someone was listening to loud music through headphones as they do on trains. At one point I thought that there must have been a technical problem as the noise coming from behind didn’t sync with the film and was getting louder and louder. This of course was actually the very good sound system in the cinema with an effect very similar to the head sets. As we left we managed too have a word with one of the ushers, not a complaint as we believe in accessibility to all, just that maybe someone should look at the design of the headsets. Unless you sit near someone with them on, you’d never be aware of the problem.
P1220990smOur other observation was next time we will book seats nearer to the screen. Because access into the cinema is from either side of the screen you are aware of anyone sneaking out to the loo, ushers checking people are okay and the occasional library user who has lost their way whilst trying to find 851 in the Dewey Decimal Classification. Maybe entrances at the back of cinemas were a good idea after all.
Sometimes post finds us all by itself.
0 locks, 0 miles, 2 loads washing, 18 inches of blanket, 100 mirrors, 6 giant black stoves, 1 not so naughty seat, £1 lego bricks, 500g dried plums, 2 tea balls, £2.50 off for 60’s, 3 stepped skirting, 1 booster block required, 1 blanket also, 851 Italian Poetry,  1 invite accepted, 1 snowy day in Chester.

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