Silent Sandy key character of London Hunt history

With the C.P. Women’s Open set to tee off at London Hunt and Country Club August 18-24, the world once again focuses on the Forest City and our golf heritage, which rivals that of any other Canadian city.

When you look closely at the history of London Hunt, one name continues to rise to the surface: London’s own C. Ross (Sandy) Somerville.

The great Bobby Jones once said of Somerville, “If there is anything connected with golf which he cannot do well, I do not know what it is.” Jones invited Somerville to the first Masters Tournament in 1934, and the Londoner recorded the tournament’s first hole-in-one.

Somerville earned the nickname “Silent Sandy” while competing at the 1933 British Amateur, thanks to his quiet, business-like approach to the game of golf. His play spoke volumes, though – especially during his victory at the U.S. Amateur event which was then considered one of golf’s Major tournaments.

Somerville dominated the Canadian Amateur golf ranks in the 1920s and ‘30s, with six titles (1926, ’28, ’30-’31, ’35, ’37), and four runner-up finishes (1924-25, ’34 and ’38). But his win at the 1932 U.S. Amateur tournament (he was the first Canadian to win the event) not only gave him international recognition, but also put London on the golf map.

Born in London in 1903, Somerville was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1971, and the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame in 2000. He died in 1991 at age 88.

A member of London Hunt for more than 70 years, Somerville was an all-around athletic star. A member of the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame, the University of Toronto Hall of Fame and the London Sports Hall of Fame, Somerville also claimed four Ontario Amateur golf titles, and two Canadian Senior titles.

Off the links, “Silent Sandy” turned down offers from both the Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Maple Leafs. But following graduation from U. of T., he decided upon golf, and in 1950 was named Canadian Golfer of the Half-Century in a Golf Canada poll. He served as the association’s president in 1957 – the post now held by London’s Doug Alexander.

London’s George “Mooney” Gibson was voted the Canada’s Baseball Player of the Half-Century 1900-1950, giving London bragging rights on the diamond and the golf course.

With apologies to Canada’s 2003 Masters champion, Somerville was the Mike Weir of his day. In fact, London lawyer David Nash, son of another Canadian golf legend – Jack Nash – once quipped of Somerville’s golf skills that he “was the Tiger Woods of his time. When Sandy won the U.S. Amateur, it was a Major.”

Another famous London HCC member, super senior Ed Ervasti, said of his friend Somerville, “He was such a marvellous gentleman. You don’t see gentlemen golfers like him today. And that’s what made it so nice playing with him, he always observed the rules and etiquette of the game.”

Weir is certainly Canada’s greatest golfer of all. You can make the argument for George Knudson, too. Moe Norman was an incredible ball striker.

One this is for certain: no one’s game spoke louder than that of “Silent Sandy” – a key character in the history of London Hunt and Country Club, once again showcasing London’s golf heritage to the world.



Royal Docks’ rich history to be brought to life with education pack

Early trials of container cargoes at No.4 berth, Royal Victoria Dock in 1964 Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London

Kay Atwal, Chief Reporter
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

10:52 AM

London has been the centre of trade and commerce since its foundation by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago.

RMS Rangitiki is seen berthed at Number 29 Shed, Royal Albert Dock, circa.1955 Picture:PLA/Musuem of London

They chose the site, where the River Thames narrows, as a suitable crossing point for their armies. Soon the river became a vital part of the development of the city as a port.

Now, when children who live and study in the area around the Royal Docks (and further afield) return to school after their summer holidays, they will be learning about both the ancient and the more recent history of the Royal Docks,

They will be using an education pack called Your Royal Docks that has been specially designed for the Key Stage 2 part of the curriculum with the aim of bringing the area’s rich history to life.

The pack has been developed by the Museum of London Docklands in partnership with London City Airport and features cross-curricular links with geography, art, design and technology. Teachers will also be able to cover literacy, numeracy and ICT through some of the activities.

The staves of a hogshead of tobacco being removed before it is weighed at the Royal Victoria Dock, the heart of the Port’s tobacco trade in 1930 Picture: PLA/Museum of London

In addition to photographs, the pack also includes a timeline. It charts the history of the Royal Docks from 1855 when Royal Victoria Dock was built by the London and St Katharine Dock Company. It was for vessels that were too large to use the upriver docks near the Tower of London. The timeline goes right up to the present, as the Silvertown Partnership announces plans to regenerate Silvertown Quays into a waterfront destination with global brands and a residential zone.

As well as background on the development of the area there are suggestions for pupils to learn more about its history.

Kirsty Sullivan, from the ­Museum of London Docklands, said: “I think the history of the Royal Docks is a key part of the new development and focuses people’s minds on the area as an important part of east London, as well as helping people understand why it is still so important to London’s economy even though the commercial docks have closed.

“The Royal Docks are the last great opportunity for ­inner London regeneration; we know this massive area is ripe for ­redevelopment.

Royal Docks historian Kirsty Sullivan at the museum of London, Docklands

“It is the last great space in east London that is open enough to become as regenerated as ­Canary Wharf or Stratford – it’s the gateway to the River [Thames] and from there to the rest of the world.

“It can be a place for Asian businesses to establish key ­import and export bases, and the proposed new housing will be a forerunner in the drive ­towards sustainable cities, especially with the development of the super sewer along the river and improvements in local ­waterways like the Lea. Thinking about the environment is key to what will be happening in London in the future.

“In the post war years, regeneration meant total destruction and building skywards rather than focusing on traditional communities, and these ­experiments in modern building weren’t always a success… and a lot of the past was lost.

“People are a lot more sensitive to the past now so the original character of the area is being included as part of the ­redevelopment – for example, we have the ExCeL centre which is very modern but the cranes are still there alongside it. The Millennium Mills are still there and the beautiful old warehousing is a feature of the destination with bars and restaurants.

Damage caused by a V1 rocket which hit Royal Victoria Dock in 1944 Picture: PLA/Museum of London

“The past has been assimilated into the present incarnation of the Royals and, quite rightly, there is a recognition that the history and development of this part of east London has come out of the Docks.”

The Docks opened in the mid-19th century and the population of east London boomed.

Sailors came from Australia, India, Africa and Canada – from all over the British Empire, crewing ships into what was known as the ‘warehouse of the world’.

East London as we know it today did not develop until the Docks were built.

Mrs Sullivan added: “On the Isle of Dogs and where the Royal Docks are now there was nothing but marshes.

“There was a single man, George P Bidder who built a railway – people called it Bidder’s Folly! People thought he was mad to build the railway in a marsh but he bought up the land around it and made his profits selling it to people like Tate Lyle and the London and St Katharine Dock company.

“The sailors from Pakistan and India formed part of the large population in the mid-1800s and they settled in the Docks, marrying local women in the early days and spreading through the area – the Docks are the reason the area is so diverse, as it was an entry post for people from all over the world. There was also a huge Irish community working on the canals and the railways when they were being built, then they worked on the building of the Docks and finally became dockers.

“As someone who is involved with the past, present and future of the area, I think it is incredibly important that schools and local communities are taught how their population has developed.”



    Crucial day in long history of Kingsmill’s, London

    It’s the big day for Kingsmill’s.

    London’s historic department store, a fixture of downtown for almost a century and a half, is nearing the end.

    Monday, according to reports that those involved h ave declined to confirm, is the deadline for a deal to be signed between the Kingsmill family and prospective buyer Fanshawe College.

    But, with disappointment still stinging after city council’s refusal to support the deal with public money, Fanshawe has said discussions continue.

    Kingsmill’s has a long past, but does it have any future?

    Here’s our look how Kingsmill’s got to this point.


    Sam Leith: Honour history makers, despite their many sins

    The point she makes is that Gandhi — though it’s not usually put right at the top of his CV — was a terrible old perv who used to like to, ahem, test his own willpower by sleeping naked in bed with teenage girls. Without, it seems, all that much interest in whether the girls thought this an agreeable idea. “I find it absolutely disgusting,” she says, “that he used women as specimens for his own experiments.” Given the rape culture that is endemic in modern India, she can’t see a statue in Parliament Square being a positive move.


    We can agree that Gandhi’s sexual conduct was, to say the least, not to be admired. We can — perhaps — draw a wobbly line of affinity between it and the state of gender relations in India. But the ferocity of her objection seems to me of a kind with a curious and, in the long run, dangerously ahistorical puritanism that is starting to creep into our discourse, and which asks that public figures be judged not by the best of their conduct but by the worst.

    Should Winston Churchill’s statue be relegated to the scrapyard for his racism, his willingness to countenance using poison gas on uppity natives and the shocking example he set in units-per-week alcohol consumption? Should TS Eliot be gouged from Poets’ Corner for his anti-Semitism? Should the Albert Memorial be razed on the grounds of the Queen Consort’s profitable complicity in the system of imperial exploitation? Should the murderous anti-Catholic bigot Elizabeth I be torn from St Dunstan’s? There are those who will say they should.

    But that would be not to show ourselves more enlightened, so much as to erase and occlude the past — and in the process add to the sum of ignorance. Even the best people in every generation are consumed by the follies and wickednesses of the cultures that produced them. The ones we erect statues to are those who are remarkable because in at least one area of endeavour — and seldom more — they thought, or led, or wrote, or fought, their way out of a prevailing orthodoxy. It’s that one area that gets them the statue.

    London’s statuary is a way of putting our history into public ownership. Something else we should own — in the word’s other sense of acknowledging — is that the makers of history were human beings: wicked even when they were wonderful. Our statues should be bronze sinners rather than plaster saints.

    A most curious case of sexism

    Commander Sarah West, the UK’s first female captain of a warship, has been demoted amid allegations of an affair with a married male subordinate while on operations. Two members of the Commons Defence Select Committee now complain that her treatment was sexist, with Labour MP Madeleine Moon calling it “a disgrace”.

    It’s odd they should think so. Is there any evidence that a male commander in the same situation has been treated differently? If there isn’t, we should regard Cdr West’s treatment as proper. It’s sexist to assume otherwise.

    Now for the Sloane route to stardom

    Simon Cowell knows a bit about keeping one’s audience on their toes. The latest competitor tipped to become a star of X Factor is less rags-to-riches and more riches-to-ragtime. Chloe-Jasmine Whichello, 24, is a privately educated jazz singer who auditioned with a Forties-style song last heard on the lips of Jessica Rabbit and cites Marilyn Monroe as a role model.

    Power of posh: Chloe-Jasmine Whichello is tipped to be a star on X Factor (Picture: Kypros/Rex Features)

    She has published a coffee-table book of poetry, and gave up plans for a career in law at 18 to work as a model. “One is constantly on the go,” she says, and boasts of meeting people who tell her: “You’re the poshest girl I have ever met in my life.” Coo. In the posh stakes she sends out mixed signals — the double-barrelled first name isn’t trad posh, and using “one” as a synonym for “I” is a vulgarity popularised by the royals. But heavens to Betsy: a coffee-table book of poetry? I’m intrigued.

    Words can be just a minefield

    Great hoo-hah over an update to Merriam-Webster’s New Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary including 5,000 additional words, among them such exotic blooms as “quinzhee” and “qajaq” and — most excitingly — two-letter words such as “te”, “da”, “gi” and “po”.

    I hesitate to poop on the parade but this is a slightly phoney war. Merriam-Webster is the American “official” word arbiter; the UK’s is Collins and most tournament players use SOWPODS, which is a combination of the two — and which has long allowed “te”, “da”, “gi” and “po”. More to the point, all this “official” nonsense is a branding exercise by the makers of Scrabble. You can use whichever word list you damn well like.


    Jays outlast Tigers in longest game in club history 0

    Seated behind home plate at the Rogers Centre on Sunday was an elderly couple with matching white Blue Jays shirts with script on the back that read: “Together Since 1951.”

    By game’s end, it must have seemed to them as if they had met just before the first pitch, after witnessing the longest game in Blue Jays history, either by innings or time.

    Just six hours and 37 minutes (and 19 innings) after Mark Buehrle threw that first pitch, Jose Bautista singled home Munenori Kawasaki from third base to give the Jays a 6-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers in a game they once trailed 5-0.

    Bautista may have been the man of the moment, but the real heroes of this one were the bullpens of both teams. Buehrle lasted just 3.1 innings but the seven-man Toronto relief corps racked up 15.2 scoreless innings, highlighted by Chad Jenkins’ six-inning tour de force that earned him the win.

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    “Buehrle had a tough one today,” said Jenkins. (Todd Redmond) came in and did what he always does. (Aaron) Sanchez came in and gave us three, which was huge. And once we tied the game, I’m sitting there thinking: ‘Oh, oh, I’m the last one. I know I am.’ Nobody else down there is going long so, I guess I’m it. Let’s see what we can do.”

    In the entire month of July, Jenkins pitched four innings. On Sunday, he matched that and then some.

    “I’m exhausted,” he said. “I had two strikes on the shortstop (Andrew Romine) in the 19th. I’m thinking I’ve got about two pitches left in me. Both fastballs and I hope he misses one of them. Sure enough, he swung right through it.”

    R.A. Dickey, scheduled to start Wednesday’s game in Seattle was warming up in the bullpen, just in case there was going to be a 20th inning.

    “I’m glad I wasn’t needed,” he said.

    The undermanned Tigers bullpen, left a man short because of an oblique injury suffered by reliever Joakim Soria, tossed nine scoreless innings before Rick Porcello, a starter, served up the game-winning hit with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 19th.

    “I was just trying to see a pitch in the zone and drive it to the outfield,” said Bautista, who came to the plate in the 19th 0-for-7 in the game with two intentional walks. “I got lucky I connected well enough. Obviously, it was a great win for us today.”

    Four times, from the bottom of the ninth to the bottom of the 19th, the Blue Jays had the bases loaded and couldn’t push across the decisive run. Between the two teams, they left 43 men on base in the game, 19 by the Tigers, 24 by the Jays. Indeed, from the ninth inning through the 19th, Toronto left 19 men on.

    Tigers starter David Price doesn’t normally need any gifts from the Jays. He came into this game with a 7-0 record in eight starts at the Rogers Centre, all of them as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. So, when Toronto handed him three unearned runs in the top of the first, it was almost overkill.

    When Jose Reyes booted a routine ground ball off the bat of Victor Martinez, that should have been the third out in the top of the first. But it opened up the door to a three-run inning that put Buehrle and the Jays in a deep hole, before Price had even delivered a pitch.

    The Tigers scored again in the third, J.D. Martinez delivering his third RBI of the game with a double to left. And when Ian Kinsler doubled to drive in Detroit’s fifth run in the top of the fourth, that was it for Buehrle, who has now failed to get through five innings in three of his past four starts.

    It remained 5-0 with Price on cruise control until the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Danny Valencia drilled a ball right back at Price. It bounced off his body and caromed into right field for a double. After being checked out by the training staff, Price delivered his next pitch and Jose Navarro swatted the high fastball over the wall in left to cut the margin to three runs.

    Already over 100 pitches, Price came back out for the seventh and walked Steve Tolleson, then gave up a single to Colby Rasmus. Kawasaki hit a ground ball to second base, getting the force at second, but beat out the back end of the play. Reyes and Melky Cabrera each followed with RBI singles against reliever Phil Coke to pull the Jays to within one.

    Righty reliever Al Alburquerque came on to face Bautista. With the count full, both runners were on the move when Bautista struck out and Tigers catcher Alex Avila gunned down Reyes at third for the double play to end the inning.

    Toronto’s game-tying rally in the ninth began with an Anthony Gose pinch-hit single. When Rasmus struck out, Gose was on the move. He was initially called out on his steal attempt but, under review, the call was overturned, putting him at second for Reyes who drilled a single to dead centre, scoring Gose without a play at home for the tying run. The Tigers then elected to walk Bautista intentionally to load the bases. Juan Francisco then ran the count full against Chamberlain but struck out to send the game to extra innings where the bullpens and the two defences prevailed

    The previous longest Jays game by time was 5:57 on April 19, 2001 against the Yankees. Twice previously the Jays have played 18 innings, including last year at home against the Texas Rangers.


    Monday, August 11, 2014


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    Row on row, the poppies flow

    When Shaw decided to execute Cummins’s idea, 49-year-old Tom Piper was a
    clever choice to dramatise the installation. He developed an interest in
    theatre design at Cambridge with his friend, later an Oscar-winning
    director, Sam Mendes. Piper swapped from reading biology to History of Art,
    before taking an MA at the Slade in theatre design.

    He then worked with the legendary director Peter Brook on The Tempest at the
    Bouffes du Nord theatre in 1990: ”It was a golden ticket into theatre,’’
    says Piper. Returning to the UK, he worked with Michael Boyd at the Tron
    Theatre in Glasgow, following him to the RSC in 2004, when Boyd was made
    artistic director.

    In 2012, Piper collaborated with the architect Alan Farlie to create the
    acclaimed “Shakespeare: Staging the World” exhibition at the British Museum.
    ”This was very different from designing a theatre set; Alan had the
    detailed knowledge of how an exhibition would work so together we created a

    It was this blend of experience that attracted Deborah Shaw, he says: ”She
    needed someone who was used to big projects, had a theatrical eye, who could
    work with the project rather than running off with it, yet make it bigger.’’

    She knew that Piper is used to working in Thrust theatre, where the audience
    sits on three sides around the actors and so ”imagery has to be
    three-dimensional and sculptural”. And also that he had a natural feel for
    the past: Piper’s work on The Histories – the staging of all Shakespeare’s
    history plays by the RSC between 2006-2008 – won him the Laurence Olivier
    Award for Best Costume Design.

    Piper’s idea for the sweeping installations of poppies falling like
    tears from the stonework was partly inspired by a visit to Flanders

    But he says that each of the trio brought ideas: Shaw came up with the
    ceremonial Last Post being played every night in a raised area where a roll
    of honour would be read out, directly under the Tower and in the midst of
    the flood of flowers. ”Every evening that solemnity contrasts with the
    hammering of poppies into the ground – we did consider having a continuous
    roll of honour read out – all 800,000–plus names, but this has worked out
    better: the public can suggest names of family members as well as plant a
    poppy.’’ Although each poppy-planting shift lasts four hours, many are
    volunteering to take part more than once – up to eight times. ”We’ve been
    touched by the way they have approached it, and some have written beautiful
    blogs about their experiences.’’

    Piper is amazed by the response: ”The number of incredibly nice comments
    we’ve had has been so moving. Theatre is an elitist art form – it can be
    expensive or simply hard to get tickets for – but there’s something about
    the openness of this project; anybody can come and watch it or buy a poppy.
    It has real people power; the public has taken over the project more than we
    ever thought they would.’’ People have flown in from Hong Kong and New York
    to take part.

    Piper’s idea for the sweeping installations of poppies falling like tears from
    the stonework was partly inspired by a visit to Flanders last November to
    gather material for this project and for the forthcoming RSC production of
    The Christmas Truce, which will tell the story of the Warwickshire
    Regiment’s involvement in the festive English–German football matches of
    1914. ”Seeing the major museums and visiting those military graveyards was
    moving in its own way, but I knew our installation had to be more dynamic.’’

    At first, he had hoped to create a wonderful surprise. “In theatre, we are
    used to preparing for an opening night and having a big reveal, but it
    quickly became obvious that wouldn’t be possible. We couldn’t have hidden
    nearly a million ceramic poppies.’’

    Instead, he decided to ”grow’’ it out of his three big installations: the
    Wave over the causeway which leads into the Tower, the Weeping Window and
    the surge of poppies into the dry moat. There is a special symbolism in the
    meeting of the flowers; during the war, this was where regiments met up
    before deployment, and it become the training ground for the first of what
    would become known as the Pals’ Battalions – groups of men united by home
    town or profession who signed up together to fight.

    ”We did explore having poppies inside the Tower itself but that proved too
    expensive; we couldn’t just spike them into the ground as the archaeology is
    too sensitive there. It’s been incredibly hands–on.I’ve spent a lot of time
    up a cherry picker, painting and wriggling poppies into place, as well as
    planting and embellishing the other structures.’’

    The poppies – which come in three heights – have found a natural blend: ”It
    has a sort of organic quality; from a distance that gives it a slight
    shimmer. The taller ones even sway in the wind, and we see birds and some
    rather confused bees flying through it.’’

    The poppies will gradually join up around the 16-acre moat in gently
    co-ordinated swathes. ”Only at the end – on Armistice Day on November 11 –
    will we fill in the edges of the moat, and make a neat finish.’’ At this
    point, the installation’s coup de theatre will be revealed: from above, the
    ancient White Tower, built by William the Conqueror, will be encircled by a
    sea of crimson red, its round black roof marking the heart of the world’s
    most dramatic poppy.

    To plant or buy a poppy or to dedicate a poppy to a fallen serviceman from the
    Great War:


    The Blood


    Lands and

    Seas of Red

    By Anon – Unknown Soldier

    The blood swept lands and seas of red,

    Where angels dare

    to tread.

    As I put my hand

    to reach,

    As God cried a tear of pain as the angels fell,

    Again and again.

    As the tears of mine

    fell to the ground,

    To sleep with the

    flowers of red,

    As any be dead.

    My children see and work through

    fields of my

    Own with corn

    and wheat,

    Blessed by love so far from pain of my resting

    Fields so far from

    my love.

    It be time to put my hand up and end this pain

    Of living hell, to see the people around me

    Fall someone angel as the mist falls around,

    And the rain so thick with black

    thunder I hear

    Over the clouds, to sleep forever and kiss

    The flower of my people gone before time

    To sleep and cry no more.

    I put my hand up and see the land of red,

    This is my time

    to go over,

    I may not come back

    So sleep, kiss the boys for me.



    Academics fear for Warburg Institute’s London library, saved from the Nazis

    Leading academics and artists, including the art historian Martin Kemp, archaeologist Martin Biddle, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, and historian Lisa Jardine, are accusing the University of London of breach of trust over the future of a unique library, smuggled out of Germany as the Nazis rose to power.

    Despite denials from the university, they believe that the Warburg Institute is in danger of losing its independence within the university, and at worst of having its collections broken up.

    Jardine, a former trustee and fellow of the institute, said: “The Warburg Institute is the jewel in the humanities crown of the University of London, which continues to foster the very best of European scholarship. I have been lucky to have worked in the institute since my 20s and the thought of the University of London losing it is heart stopping.”

    Kemp, a world authority on the work of Leonardo da Vinci, said: “I have worked in libraries all over the world, and as a tool of discovery, the Warburg is the most valuable I have ever discovered.”

    Now housed in its own handsome building in Woburn Square, London, the library was originally the vast collection reflecting the eclectic intellectual interests of a German Jewish scholar, Aby Warburg. His treasures were brought from Hamburg to London in the 1930s as the Nazis rose to power, shipped in two small steamers paid for by the textile millionaire Samuel Courtauld, founder of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

    The collection had several temporary homes in London before coming into the care of the university. It is best known for art history books and photographs – one of its most famous directors was the art historian Ernst Gombrich – but it also encompasses science, astrology, magic, the history of ideas and of the classical tradition.

    The emblem carved in stone over the door symbolises the breadth of its interests and collections: taken from a 15th century woodcut of the interactions of the four elements of the world which originally illustrated a 6th century text by Isidore of Seville, which in turn quoted from a 4th century text by St Ambrose.

    The protesters are suspicious of a legal action launched by the university – the result is due in the autumn – seeking to clarify the terms of a trust deed signed in 1944 which committed it to caring for the collection “in perpetuity”.

    Members of the Warburg family are understood to have indicated that they would be happy to return the collection to Germany, or transfer it to the US, in order to preserve its independence.

    The Warburg is believed to be running at a substantial deficit, which critics believe is largely because the university increased the buildings charge for its premises some years ago.

    It is seeking a new director to succeed Peter Mack, who was appointed in 2010 on secondment from the University of Warwick where he is professor of English and comparative literary studies.

    The university, in a brief statement, defended its record and said that it had no intention of breaking up the collection. “The University of London has at no point recommended that the Warburg Institute’s unique collection be absorbed into Senate House Library.

    “Under the university’s management over the past 70 years, the Warburg collection has grown substantially from the original 80,000 volumes to the 350,000 in the collection today. The last thing that the university wants is for this exceptional cultural resource to be merged or absorbed elsewhere. We await the decision of the court in due course.”

    However an online petition pleads with the university “to keep the Warburg just as it is”. It has attracted more than 17,500 signatures, including Kemp, who commented online: “The legal action is a historical breach of trust of the very highest order. The institute is the spiritual home for all who care about the history of culture.

    “For London university to achieve what Hitler could not is beyond belief.”

    Biddle called the Warburg “the world’s finest library for the study of ideas in image”, and added: “As the latest attack by the administration of the University of London on books and print-based research, the threat to the Warburg demands an answer to the question: ‘who guards the administrators themselves?’”

    Ai, currently confined to Beijing by having his passport confiscated, also signed, writing: “Warburg Institute, not only being one of the most important sources of humanist studies, is also an intellectual legacy of great value, a symbol of a memorable history. London university has the duty to protect its integrity.”

    The petition has also been signed by scholars across the world including the US, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, China, Australia and Israel.

    Anna Somers-Cox, editorial director of the Art Newspaper, called the university “Gradgrinds” who did not understand the value of their treasure. “The London university is simply breaking faith. They shouldn’t be destroying something but helping it to raise funds internationally, which given the fame of the Warburg should not be difficult.”

    She said the collection, where almost all the books are on open stack shelving, has unique value as it is. “It does not censor the thought of the past: if Newton was an alchemist as well as the father of experimental physics, you don’t sweep this fact under the carpet, but look to see how it contributed to his thought; astrology may be unscientific, but people in the past believed in it and painted pictures about it,so if you study it you find out what it meant to them.”

    The trust deed, signed in November 1944 by the university and Eric Warburg, then a major in the US army, on behalf of his family, survives on a single sheet of cheap wartime paper, typed on both sides.

    It lists the contents of the library as “about eighty thousand books and a large collection of photographs”. It states: “The University will maintain and preserve the Warburg Library in perpetuity in accordance with this Deed and will accordingly as soon as possible house the same in a suitable building in close proximity to the University centre at Bloomsbury and will keep it adequately equipped and staffed as an independent unit.”

    Apart from the value of the collection, described by Kemp as “the world’s greatest research engine”, many of those who signed the petition feel it deserves specially gentle treatment because of its unique history.

    Amos Benvered wrote from Jerusalem: “The Warburg Institute library is one of the free world’s treasured memorials to its victory over Hitler’s barbaric hordes. Destroying it would be like chopping the head off a major statue that graces one of London’s squares.”


    End of the line: The history of Morden

    5:55pm, Fri 8 Aug 2014

    – last updated Fri 8 Aug 2014

    • Morden
    • End of the line
    The suburban town at the end of the Northern line is situated eight miles south west of central London.
    The suburban town at the end of the Northern line is situated eight miles south west of central London. Credit: ITV London

    Ahead of planned proposals to modernise Morden, ITV London has visited the suburban town which lies eight miles south west of central London, and at the very end of the Northern Line.

    Two buildings dominate Morden’s suburban skyline- Crown house and the much newer Baitul Futuh Mosque.

    The Baitul Futuh Mosque was built in 2003 and is the largest mosque in eastern Europe.
    The Baitul Futuh Mosque was built in 2003 and is the largest mosque in eastern Europe. Credit: ITV London

    The Baitul Futah, which was built in 2003, is the largest mosque in eastern Europe.

    Every Friday 6,000 Muslims pray there while the service is broadcast around the world.

    Away from the hussle and bussle of the town centre, the 125-acre Morden Hall Park is an “oasis of calm”.

    The park, which was donated by a philanthropist in the 1940s, is free to visit.

    Away from the hussle and bussle of the town centre, the 125-acre Morden Hall Park is an
    Away from the hussle and bussle of the town centre, the 125-acre Morden Hall Park is an Credit: ITV London

    A schoolchild who lives in Morden said “there’s lots of things to do” in the area, including visiting the library, the park, the swimming pool and the sweet shop.

    ITV London Reporter, Martin Stew, visited the suburban town:

    “The town could do with some updating but it’s handy for getting into town with the tube station so its not all bad,” one resident said.

    Designs for the future Morden are currently in pipeline to make sure the town at the end of the Northern line is not being left behind.


    The 6-ton Blue whale model at London’s Natural History Museum


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    Tetrapod Zoology

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    August 8, 2014
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    The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


    Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at!

    Nature Blog Network

    Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.

    Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at!

    Nature Blog Network

    Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.

    As close as you can get to the NHM Blue whale model. Such a thing of great beauty. Photo by Darren Naish.

    A series of meetings meant that I found myself in London’s Natural History Museum yesterday, and with my friends and Tet Zoo supporters Dan and Felix Bridel (great t-shirt, Felix) I spent a while gawping at the always fascinating life-sized Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus model that hangs in the Mammal Hall. The Mammal Hall is infinitely better than the dark and horribly designed Dinosaur Gallery, by the way – do yourself a favour and prioritise it when you visit. Anyway, inspired by the discussion I had with Dan and Felix, it seemed like a good time to recycle the following text: it has previously featured on both versions 1 and 2 of Tet Zoo, but here it is again, with a few updates and additional comments.

    Skeleton of the 1891 Wexford Bay Blue whale, as displayed today at the Natural History Museum, London. Photo by Darren Naish.

    Late in the 1920s, plans to replace the old whale hall of the British Museum (Natural History) were fulfilled. Thanks to the new, steel-girdled hall, the Blue whale skeleton – by now kept in storage for 42 years due to lack of space – could finally be put on display. This skeleton belonged to a 25 m animal that had stranded at Wexford Bay, SE Ireland, in 1891. It – as in, the skeleton alone – weighs over 10 tons. But some people at the museum wanted more, and in 1937 taxidermist Percy Stammwitz (1881-1954) made the bold suggestion that a life-sized model of a Blue whale could be constructed for display alongside the skeleton. Later that year Stammwitz and his son, Stuart, began work on the project, their technical advisor being cetologist Francis C. Fraser (1903-1978).

    Scaling up from a clay model, a wooden frame was constructed, and this was then covered in wire mesh and plaster. A trapdoor on the stomach was constructed for (I presume) internal maintenance, though apparently the workmen would sneak inside the model for secret smoking. On several occasions I’ve heard rumours that a time capsule was left inside this trapdoor before it was sealed: Stearn (1981) made no mention of this specifically, but did write that a telephone directory and some coins were left inside (p. 132). The completed model weighed between 6 and 7 tons and, when the time came for the whale to be painted, Stammwitz and Fraser disagreed, eventually choosing bluish steel-grey. Completed in December 1938, it was the largest whale model ever made though larger models, constructed from the same design templates, have since been produced by several American museums.

    Closeup on the whale’s eye. Photo by Darren Naish.

    The model is so big that it’s never really possible to get the whole thing in shot. Here, we see the right pectoral fin, and surrounding skeletons and other cetacean models. Photo by Darren Naish.

    Thanks – mostly – to aerial photography, most of us are now familiar with the true body shape of live Blue whales and other rorquals. Gordon Williamson (1972) was among the first to argue that traditional ‘baggy-throat’ reconstructions failed to show the true body shape of these animals: he approached live, harpooned whales underwater and photographed them as best he could. They are shockingly gracile and incredibly long-bodied, with a shape that (when seen in dorsal view) has been likened to that of a champagne flute. At least some people had known this for a while: Roy Chapman Andrews, for example, wrote in 1916 of the Fin whale’s “slender body … built like a racing yacht”. Basing their reconstructions on beached carcasses, or on rorquals killed by whaling vessels, artists and scientists had, however, previously thought that rorquals were stouter, with fat bellies and flabby throats, and rorquals were still being depicted this way as recently as the 1960s. In view of this, the comparatively slender NHM Blue whale is looking pretty good – I’ve heard people say that its tailstock is deeper and more laterally compressed than is in the case in live animals, and also that its throat is too heavy-looking but, overall, it’s remarkably good-looking for a model made during the late 1930s. [Photo below by Sotakeit.]

    Photos that show the whole of the model are few are far between. This image is my Sotakeit; licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. Subject to disclaimers.

    Incidentally, I was surprised to see that people are still in the bizarre and inane habit of throwing money onto the whale’s tail. Over the years, a series of signs have politely discouraged this behaviour, seemingly to little avail. What sort of person looks at the tail of a model whale and thinks “Hmm, I really must throw some coinage onto that!”.  Weird. Or is there some special whale-tail cult or indigenous belief system that I don’t know about?

    Money on the whale’s tail. Because what else would you do with coins and pennies but throw them there? Photo by Darren Naish.

    For (hopefully functional) links to all of the many Tet Zoo cetacean articles, see…

    Refs – -

    Stearn, W. T. 1981. The Natural History Museum at South Kensington. Heinemann, London.

    Williamson, G. R. 1972. The true body shape of rorqual whales. Journal of Zoology, 167, 277-286

    About the Author: Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at!

    Nature Blog Network

    Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.

    The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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    1. 1. Andreas Johansson 8:31 am 08/8/2014

      At the Natural History Museum in Gothenburg, Sweden, they’ve got an actual stuffed blue whale, albeit a juvenile of a “mere” 16 meters. The head can be swung open and there used to be a mini-café inside! Just beside are the mandibles of an adult, to drive home the relative smallness of the stuffed one.

      No-one’s throwing any coins on it, AFAIK.

      Link to this

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    3. 2. Dartian 9:20 am 08/8/2014

      overall, it’s remarkably good-looking for a model made during the late 1930s

      I agree; it’s simply stunning, especially when seen in close-up. If anything, it’s almost too impressive – it takes the attention away from all the other cetacean and other mammal specimens that are surrounding it.

      Link to this

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    5. 3. JoseD 11:07 am 08/8/2014

      “The Mammal Hall is infinitely better than the dark and horribly designed Dinosaur Gallery, by the way – do yourself a favour and prioritise it when you visit.”

      I’ve heard similar things elsewhere. If their Dinosaur Gallery’s really that bad, wouldn’t there be plans to renovate it?

      Link to this

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    7. 4. BattleMetalChris 11:54 am 08/8/2014

      Why do people throw coins onto the whale? Because it’s a ‘wishing whale’ of course..

      Link to this

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    9. 5. Halbred 12:27 pm 08/8/2014

      The Dinosaur Gallery really is spectacularly horrible, considering. I recall the best-looking piece is a wall-mount of Baryonyx, and that’s only because it’s somewhat well-lit by various lamps. But most of the dinosaur hall is incredibly dark, and the fauna displayed are completely random–most are from North America. I was far more impressed with Bristol’s smaller-but-better-designed natural history museum (the dinosaur part, anyway)–thanks largely to the beautiful Scelidosaurus fossil that was there.

      That said, Britain’s Natural History Museum is, overall, top-notch and I spent most of the day there when my wife and I were there for SVP in…2009?

      Link to this

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    End of the line: The history of Upminster

    10:11am, Fri 8 Aug 2014

    – last updated Fri 8 Aug 2014

    • Countryside
    • Upminster
    • End of the line
    One man who has lived in the area for all of his life said Upminster is a town that
    One man who has lived in the area for all of his life said Upminster is a town that Credit: ITV London

    A mix of London living and Essex countryside, the Suburban town Upminster, which lies 16 miles east of Charing cross at the end of the District line, was once a village under-fire by cannons.

    At the heart of the town, the Church of St Laurence still stands.

    One resident described how the rector of the church would have seen ships on the River Thames firing cannons in the 1700s.

    From the church, ships could be seen on the River Thames, sometimes firing cannons.
    In 1705, ships could be seen on the River Thames, sometimes firing cannons. Credit: ITV London

    It many ways it seems little has changed. The listed windmill still stands but the pace of life remains gentle.

    The listed windmill still stands in the town.
    The listed windmill still stands in the town. Credit: ITV London

    One man who has lived in the area for all of his life said Upminster is a town that “has evolved but still retains a lot of its old character”.

    “It was known as the garden city years ago, Upminster when it first started, and the that extent it has maintained lots of trees”, one resident said.

    Reporter Martin Stew got a feel of the history of the town: