How to pronounce River Nene

Albert moored on the River Nene or Nen in 2005
As residents of Northamptonshire we are very aware that the pronunciation of the River Nene varies with locality. In most of Northamptonshire it is usually pronounced Nen (- as in hen) but around Peterborough, and further east, it is pronounced more like its current spelling as Neen (- as in bean). 
Our local BBC TV News (Look East), always careful about the pronunciation of place names, appears to be sensitive to this point. When addressing the “west of the region” they use Nen but use Neen when talking about items that concern Peterborough and Wisbech.
It was with some interest that I found an interesting reference to our local river in a copy of Our Waterways by Urquhart A. Forbes and W. H. R. Ashford. Published in 1906, I recently purchased a copy via ebay. It covers the history of inland navigation as part of water conservancy and has an interesting take on how inland navigation could have been controlled for the greater good - shame it wasn't.

In the book the river is spelt throughout as the River Nen. This adds evidence in support of the of the statement in the Wikipedia entry that the old pronunciation was Nen and that in the 20th century  the pronunciation changed from  Nen and Nene and that the boundary between the two pronunciations began moving inland.  It appears that the current cut-off point is around Thrapston.  

The Geographical Magazine 1936

No it’s not the more familiar US-based National Geographic which predates it by several decades but its British-based competitor published by the Royal Geographical Society.  I posted earlier about the UK canal articles published in the National Geographic in the pre- and post-war periods, so when I discovered that a copy of the Geographical Magazine with an article on the Canals of England was available through eBay, I decided to bid. The copy I won was in poor condition, and the price reflected this, but this edition must be difficult to find. This edition is Number 6 of Volume III so since the magazine only began in 1935 it is truly an early edition.
Cover of The Geographical Magazine
(with damage)

The magazine format is very similar to that of the National Geographic with a heavy emphasis on illustrations. Aside from the canal article there is a wonderful article by the famous traveller Freya Stark of a journey to the Hadhramaut and articles about Tehran, New Zealand and an interesting picture essay of the role of women in Japan.

The canal article is by the journalist S.P.B. (or Petre) Mais who had a good reputation for his prodigious output. It is largely historical in its treatment but it is also light-hearted and includes reference to Wigan Pier. Reference is also made to the many derelict canals in England and the Wey & Arun, Kennet & Avon, and Thames & Severn are mentioned in this context. However, Mais does say “make no mistake about it, canals are coming back”. He wasn’t foretelling the post-war canal revival, he was thinking about the modernisation of the then newly formed Grand Union Canal. He describes how much canal traffic could be seen from the railway while travelling from Euston to Rugby, but he describes it as being either horse-drawn or steam-driven. He provides sources of information about the canals and cites Cadbury & Dobbs, who I reviewed some time ago, and he recommends A.P. Herbert’s Water Gypsies and the canoeing reference works of William Bliss.

However, as with all such similar publications, it is the pictures that provide the biggest impact. The many black and white illustrations are excellent and are contemporary to the publication. They are all by the famous social photographer Cyril Arapoff. Some of the images have been reproduced elsewhere and they appear in a number of compilations, but they are wonderful and evocative. The locations range across the canal system but many are from the Grand Union, no doubt reflecting the articles emphasis on the then recent modernisation.

There are also four full page colour prints. Large scale colour printing was in its infancy at this time so these plates were undoubtedly the high spot of this issue. The colour plates were reproduced by the Vivex process and the photo credit is to D.A. Spencer who invented the process.  Vivex was introduced in 1928 by Colour Photography Ltd. who closed down at the start of World War II. The plates in my copy have suffered a little but they are still a delight. I particularly like the family scene at Brentford and the laden horse-drawn barge at Hunton Bridge Lock on the Grand Union.

All-in-all, despite its poor condition this was a good find and, now that I have scanned it, the article should provide me with continuing enjoyment. The Geographical (they have dropped “magazine”) is still published today and continues to provide articles of good quality – both written and visual. I hope you enjoy this snippet.

Lunch at Hatton

We passed Hatton today (by car regretably) and decided to have lunch at the Hatton Locks Cafe. It was very busy in the summer sunshine and doing a roaring trade.

A busy towpath by Hatton Locks Cafe

A Red Plaque or more correctly a Red Wheel has appeared at the Top Lock. We saw one at Bingley Five Rise.

Transport Trust Red Plaque at Hatton

Olympic Rowing Round-up

To round off our last post about the rowing on Monday, I thought I had better add a postscript with the results.

What a week it has been for British rowing with four gold, two silver and three bronze medals! Team GB topped the rowing medal table.

The British Four featured in our last post did beat the Aussies in their much talked-about showdown to retain their Olympic title, and Anna Watkins & Katherine Grainger, who looked impressive on Monday had an equally impressive final winning the gold. After winning three silvers in the last three Olympics, much was made of Katherine Grainger finally getting a gold. The Women's Quad Sculls from Team GB, that did well to reach the final on Monday, came sixth.

British eight winning their repercharge with Canada pressing strongly
in the final Canada got silver and Team GB bronze

We also saw another important Team GB crew perform on Monday, the Mens Eight. They had lost to Germany in their heat on the Sunday but on Monday we saw them ease through the repercharge despite a strong challange from Canada. In their final they again lost to Germany they were also pipped by Canada in a very tight race. They got a very well deserved bronze.

The rowing regatta has certainly played its part in this wondeful London 2012.

Olympic Rowing, 30 July 2012

As I indicated in our earlier post we have just had an Olympic weekend (Torch Relay, Road Cycling & Rowing). On Monday we went to Eaton Dorney to watch the rowing. What seems like ages ago, when we bid for the tickets, we decided to go for the Monday (Day 3) because no medals were being decided and it was likely to be least popular day.

The rowing is a morning event and starts at 9:30. This required an early start. We left Teddington just after 6:30 and caught a train to Twickenham - all very quiet. The weather was kind with bright sunshine. Then the train to Windsor arrived from Waterloo arrived and we had to squeeze into the carriage.  It was not quite as bad as I imagine Japanese commuter trains but there were only a few inches to spare over the rest of the journey. We found ourselves packed in next to a group of Aussies who turned out to be the families and partners of the Australian crews that were competing that day. Maggie had a long chat to the mother of the bow of the Australian four, Will Lockwood. It appears that they will have a showdown with the British four (Pete Reed/Alex Gregory/Tom James/Andrew Triggs Hodge). They beat Team GB at the last 2012 World Cup (III) in Munich but lost to them early in the year at World Cup (II) in Lucerne.

The process of getting into the Eaton Dorney site involved a longish walk. We could have caught a shuttle bus from near the station but with a packed 8 coach train arriving we decided to walk in to avoid the crush. However, passing the River Bus operated by French Brothers moored by the bridge in Windsor, we went for that option. What better way is there to get to rowing than by boat?

Looking down the course and flying camera

Boathouses and camera tower

Camera boats

The "meet and greet" by all the volunteers and staff as we walked through Windsor Race Course was very good and the Army manning the security screening were both efficient and friendly. As some in the queue next to me said "perhaps we should get them to look after our airports". The regiment  we were handled by was the Prince of Wales Regiment. The facilities inside Eaton Dorney were very good with lots of food outlets for breakfast and although there were queues for some loos (caused by spectators going for the first available) there were plenty. The whole place exuded a friendly atmosphere.

We sat in Stand 2 and had good seats looking out towards the finish. A big screen was across the course in front of us providing us with wonderful coverage from the start to the finish. There were cameras on boats, cameras on vehicles and a "flying" camera suspended from towers at either end of the course that covered action over the whole of the 2000m. The commentators were informative and managed to provide both basic and technical information which included, when a New Zealand Quad Sculler had a problem, a description of "catching a crab". They even helped control the crowds as we left.
Stand for crew friends & family
Nearly full  - not like some other Olympic venues

New Zealand Women's Quad Sculler limping home after "catching a crab"

The racing was great. We saw the GB Mens Eight win their repercharge, the GB and Australian fours win their heats convincingly and the Double Scull of Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins very convincingly win their heats.

Team GB Women's Double Sculler
 Grainger & Watkins

Team GB Women's Quad Sculler

Australia Men's Four

Team GB Men's Four winning their heat

Team GB Men's Four
Note they are Italian Rigged

As you can probably realise we had a fabulous day - a day to remember. I see that James and Amy from NB Luck Duck went on the day before us. They watched from the bank near the start, whereas we were near the finish.