Cleaning away the tide wrack line; Weston Super Mare beach. Hmm.

Hmm – not sure what to think of this. They have a tractor and machine to sweep away the high tide wrack line on Weston Super Mare beach. I guess they hope to make the beach ‘clean’ and tourist friendly. But this is the Severn Estuary. And exploring the wrack line is always of interest to many.

 

Tide Mills

We are getting more and more interested in tide mills. There are a number – but not that many – around the UK coast. They seem to be a way of harvesting tidal power at the local level which is relatively non-intrusive to the environment in comparison with modern (much larger) plans for lagoons and barrages. The ones that do exist are often rather lovely buildings – in lovely locations. There are a number of ‘lost’ tide mills, as far as we can see.

We are tracking down a copy of this 1994 publication.

We have visted a few in the UK.

Tide Mill at Carew, Pembrokeshire. This is an amazing place, a lagoon, mill and house  linked to the spectacular Carew Castle ruins.

A short stretch of the tidal river Carew was engineered to make a lagoon that fills at high tide so the water could be used to drive the mill after. Much more info here. Here are some pictures.

Three Mills / House Mill, River Lea, East London. 

This is an ancient mill site, located near the mouth of the tidal river Lea where it joins the river Thames in East London. House Mill is reported to be the ‘largest tidal mill in the world’. It is not working, but is open to the public. Info here 

Our interest in Tide Mills was spurred greatly by this passage form the book The Moon: considered as a planet, a world, and a satellite, by James Nasmyth and  James Carpenter (1874)

This seems to be a remarkable, early plea to consider tidal power as a source of renewable energy as compared with coal power – which – although abundant and convenient in the late 19th century –  was regarded as not renewable.

The whole book is online here Guttenberg Project

“In the existing state of civilization and prosperity, we do not, however, utilize the power of the tides nearly to the extent of their capabilities. Our coal mines, rich with “the light of other days”—for coal was long ago declared by Stevenson to be “bottled sunshine”—at present furnish us with so abundant a supply of power-generating material that in our eagerness to use it upon all possible occasions we are losing sight, or putting out of mind, many other valuable prime movers, and amongst them that of the rise and fall of the waters, which can be immediately converted into any form of mechanical power by the aid of tide-mills. Such mills may be found in existence here and there, but for the present they are generally out-rivalled by the steam-engine with all its conveniences and adaptabilities; and hence they have not shared the benefits of that inventive ingenuity which has achieved such wonders of mechanical appliance while steam has been in the ascendant. But it must be remembered that in our extravagant use of coal we are drawing from a bank into which nothing is being paid. We are consuming an exhaustive store, and the time must come when it will be needful to look around in quest of “powers that may be.” Then an impetus may be given to the application of the tides to mechanical purposes as a prime mover. [19] For the people of the British Islands the problem would have an especial importance, viewing the extent of our seaboard and the number of our tidal rivers. The source of motion that offers itself is of almost incalculable extent. There is not merely the onward flowing motion of streams to be utilized, but also the lift of water, which, if small in extent, is stupendous in amount; and within certain limits it matters little to the mechanician whether the “foot-pounds” of work placed at his disposal are in the form of a great mass lifted to a small height or a small mass lifted to a great height. There is no reason either why the utilization of the tides should be confined to rivers. The sea-side might well become the circle of manufacturing industry, and the millions of tons of water lifted several feet twice daily on our shores might be converted, even by schemes already proposed, to furnish the prime movement of thousands of factories. And we must not forget how completely modern science has demonstrated the inter-convertibility of all kinds of force, and thus opened the way for the introduction of systems of transporting power that, in such a state of things as we are for the moment considering, might be of immense benefit. Gravity, for instance, can be converted into electricity; and electricity gives us that wonderful power of transmitting force without transmitting (or even moving) matter, which power we use in the telegraph, where we generate a force at one end of a wire and use it to ring bells or deflect needles at the other end, which may be thousands of miles away. What we do with the slight amount of force needful for telegraphy is capable of being done with any greater amount. A tide-mill might convert its mechanical energy by an electro-magnetic engine, and in the form of electricity its force could be conveyed inland by proper wires and there reconverted back to mechanical or moving power. True, there would be a considerable loss of power, but that power would cost nothing for its first production. Another means ready to hand for transporting power is by compressed air, which has already done good service; another is the system so admirably worked out by Sir W. Armstrong, of transmitting water-power through the agency of an “accumulator,” now so generally used at our Docks and elsewhere, for working cranes and such other uses. And as the whole duty of the engineer is to convert the forces of nature, there is a rich field open for his invention, and upon which he may one day have to enter, in adapting the pulling force of the moon to his fellow man’s mechanical wants through the intermediation of the tides.”

[19] About 100 years ago London was supplied with water chiefly by pumps worked by tidal mills at London Bridge.

Tidal Iterations 3, a string quartet written by Richard Hughes

Tidal Iterations 3, a string quartet written by Richard Hughes, played by Freya Nettlesmith, Leonora Cherniavsky, Size Pole and Kate Fraser, is informed by the tidal movements of water in estuaries. Tickets are £5 and it costs £2 for entry onto the pier. For bookings contact Richard.

We are going to this on Sunday 13th Oct; Clevedon Pier, Nr Bristol

Facebook event and more info Here

A new tidal artwork, or set of artworks, added to our Tidal Arts page: Tidal Timespace and the Palimpsests of Bahía Adair, by Heather Green, Gulf of California, US, (2019).

No 58. Tidal Timespace and the Palimpsests of Bahía Adair, by Heather Green, Gulf of California, US, (2019).

From the project website.

“Description of the audio/visual work:

This mixed-media installation will consist of a series of 9 plaster casts that float on steel pedestals and capture some of the patterns and scripts made from the diverse mudflat textures left at low tide. A sequence of oil paintings hang on the wall, depicting an aerial view of a tidal sequence in the same scale and sizes as the casts. These portray the tide slowly coming back in and covering the mudflats. The sequence starts with intricate moiré patterns in shallow water and slowly gets greener, bluer, ending with a panel that shows the opaque surface of deep water.”

See more on the Tidal Arts page here

 

 

A film of the highest tide of the year at Cresswell Quay in Wales, where people gather to watch. It’s fun – beer involved.

This is a fabulous place. A really local pub on Creswell Quay in Pembrokeshire, Wales; in the National Park on the Cresswell River which is part of the tidal ‘Secret Waterway’ that runs through the Park. People gather at the pub to watch the tide.  Some come on boats, the tide blocks the road, kids run about, sometimes a few people play music. The tide comes to full height as it gets dark. The pub, The Cresselly Arms,  is busy!

Mud Larking! Books, Twitter and BBC Radio programmes

There is a great book “Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames” (2019) by Lara Maiklem  being read on BBC Radio 4 the moment. (Link will only be live for 30 days or so) here. It is inevitably, given that mudlarking is searching for intersting objects at low tide, very much tide infused.

About the book from Amazon

“Mudlark (/’mAdla;k/) noun A person who scavenges for usable debris in the mud of a river or harbour

Lara Maiklem has scoured the banks of the Thames for over fifteen years, in pursuit of the objects that the river unearths: from Neolithic flints to Roman hair pins, medieval buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes to Victorian toys. These objects tell her about London and its lost ways of life.

Moving from the river’s tidal origins in the west of the city to the point where it meets the sea in the east, Mudlarking is a search for urban solitude and history on the River Thames, which Lara calls the longest archaeological site in England.

As she has discovered, it is often the tiniest objects that tell the greatest stories.”

There are in fact a number of books about Thames mudlarking, as the river and its mud does contain and preserve many thousands of archaeological objects, both ancient and more modern.

For example

There is also a very active mudlarking Twitter feed run by Nicola White here 

here she is from a Tweet

Image

This feed has over 19,000 Followers and has done a similar number of Tweets

 

Estuary 2020, calls for participation (Thames Estuary)

Estuary 2020

“Estuary is a festival developed by Metal based in Southend on Sea as a cultural celebration of the spectacular Thames Estuary region across both the north and south shorelines and on the river itself.  The inaugral festival – Estuary 2016 – took place over 16 days in September and  October 2016 with a curated programme of art, literature, music and film. A mix of new and existing works pulled together powerful themes resonant to the place, its landscape, history and communities and were presented in significant, historic and unusual venues along the 40 miles of Essex and Kent shorelines.

“A festival that brilliantly matches the intention to the amazing site and constantly keeps culture and the community / social in perfect balance – so much so that I think anyone who encountered it will now think of the festival as much as the place (as part of the place) when the word Estuary comes to mind.”  Audience Feedback, Estuary 2016 ”

 

Quote from the website – see here

Great discussion on tides in the book, The Moon Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite by James Nasmyth and James Carpenter, 1874

I found this great stuff via

In The Moon: A History for the Future by Oliver Morton

The Moon

See on Hatchette Book Group website here

From the 1874 book  – which is online in full here

“We can conceive no direful consequences that would follow from a withdrawal of the moon’s mere light; but it is easy to imagine what highly dangerous results would ensue if the moon ceased to produce the tides of the ocean. Motion and activity in the elements of the terraqueous globe appear to be among the prime conditions in creation. Rest and stagnation are fraught with mischief. While the sun keeps the atmosphere in constant and healthy circulation through the agency of the winds, the moon performs an analogous service to the waters of the sea and the rivers that flow into them. It is as the chief producer of the tides—for we must not forget that the sun exercises its tidal influences, though in much lesser degree—that we ought to place the highest value on the services of the moon: but for its aid as a mighty scavenger, our shores, where rivers terminate, would become stagnant deltas of fatal corruption. Twice (to speak generally) a day, however, the organic matter which rivers deposit in a decomposing state at their embouchures is swept away by the tidal wave; and thus, thanks to the moon, a source of direful pestilence is prevented from arising. Rivers themselves are providentially cleansed by the same means, where they are polluted by bordering towns and cities which, from the nature of things, are sure to arise on river banks; and it seems to be also in the nature of things that the river traversing a city must become its main sewer. The foul additions may be carried down by the stream in its natural course towards the ocean, but where the river is large there will be a decrease in velocity of the current near the mouth or where it joins the sea, thus causing partial stagnation and consequent deposition of the deleterient matters. All this, however, is removed, and its inconceivable evils are averted by our mighty and ever active “sanitary commissioner,” the moon. We can scarcely doubt that a healthy influence of less obvious degree is exerted in the wide ocean itself; but, considering merely human interests, we cannot suppress the conviction that man is more widely and immediately benefited by this purifying office of the moon than by any other.

But the sanitary service is not the only one that the moon performs through the agency of the tides. There is the work of tidal transport to be considered. Upon tidal rivers and on certain coasts, notwithstanding wind and the use of steam, a very large proportion of the heavy merchandize is transported by that slow but powerful “tug” the flood-tide; and a similar service, for which, however, the moon is not to be entirely credited, is done by the down-flow of the ebb-tide. Large ships and heavily-laden rafts and barges are quietly taken in tow by this unobtrusive prime mover, and moved from the river’s mouth to the far-up city, and from wharf to wharf along its banks; and a vast amount of mechanical work is thus gratuitously performed which, if it had to be provided by artificial means, would represent an amount of money value which for such a city as London would have to be counted by thousands, possibly millions, of pounds yearly. For this service we owe the moon the gratitude that we ought to feel for a direct pecuniary benefactor.

In the existing state of civilization and prosperity, we do not, however, utilize the power of the tides nearly to the extent of their capabilities. Our coal mines, rich with “the light of other days”—for coal was long ago declared by Stevenson to be “bottled sunshine”—at present furnish us with so abundant a supply of power-generating material that in our eagerness to use it upon all possible occasions we are losing sight, or putting out of mind, many other valuable prime movers, and amongst them that of the rise and fall of the waters, which can be immediately converted into any form of mechanical power by the aid of tide-mills. Such mills may be found in existence here and there, but for the present they are generally out-rivalled by the steam-engine with all its conveniences and adaptabilities; and hence they have not shared the benefits of that inventive ingenuity which has achieved such wonders of mechanical appliance while steam has been in the ascendant. But it must be remembered that in our extravagant use of coal we are drawing from a bank into which nothing is being paid. We are consuming an exhaustive store, and the time must come when it will be needful to look around in quest of “powers that may be.” Then an impetus may be given to the application of the tides to mechanical purposes as a prime mover. For the people of the British Islands the problem would have an especial importance, viewing the extent of our seaboard and the number of our tidal rivers. The source of motion that offers itself is of almost incalculable extent. There is not merely the onward flowing motion of streams to be utilized, but also the lift of water, which, if small in extent, is stupendous in amount; and within certain limits it matters little to the mechanician whether the “foot-pounds” of work placed at his disposal are in the form of a great mass lifted to a small height or a small mass lifted to a great height. There is no reason either why the utilization of the tides should be confined to rivers. The sea-side might well become the circle of manufacturing industry, and the millions of tons of water lifted several feet twice daily on our shores might be converted, even by schemes already proposed, to furnish the prime movement of thousands of factories. And we must not forget how completely modern science has demonstrated the inter-convertibility of all kinds of force, and thus opened the way for the introduction of systems of transporting power that, in such a state of things as we are for the moment considering, might be of immense benefit. Gravity, for instance, can be converted into electricity; and electricity gives us that wonderful power of transmitting force without transmitting (or even moving) matter, which power we use in the telegraph, where we generate a force at one end of a wire and use it to ring bells or deflect needles at the other end, which may be thousands of miles away. What we do with the slight amount of force needful for telegraphy is capable of being done with any greater amount. A tide-mill might convert its mechanical energy by an electro-magnetic engine, and in the form of electricity its force could be conveyed inland by proper wires and there reconverted back to mechanical or moving power. True, there would be a considerable loss of power, but that power would cost nothing for its first production. Another means ready to hand for transporting power is by compressed air, which has already done good service; another is the system so admirably worked out by Sir W. Armstrong, of transmitting water-power through the agency of an “accumulator,” now so generally used at our Docks and elsewhere, for working cranes and such other uses. And as the whole duty of the engineer is to convert the forces of nature, there is a rich field open for his invention, and upon which he may one day have to enter, in adapting the pulling force of the moon to his fellow man’s mechanical wants through the intermediation of the tides.”

Tidal Iterations 2. Music inspired by the tidal rise and fall of the Afon Nyfer Estuary (West Wales); composed by Richard Stephen Hughes; performed by Plus Minus Ensemble

Performed by Plus Minus Ensemble in a workshop June 6th 2019

Part of the Bath Spa University MA in Music

Hughes Tide

from the composer

Tidal Iteration 2 – Richard Hughes

I started to write this piece whilst watching the water flow in and out of the Afon Nyfer estuary. When the water was at its smallest flow, I imagined one instrument playing a motif then, as the flow increased causing the water level to rise, I could envisage another instrument joining the first, playing the same motif at a slightly higher pitch and a little later than the first. The motif then came to represent the essence of the water, its molecules perhaps, repeated in different positions to make up its mass and so the whole piece is made up from this single gesture.

I started to experiment with a motif and writing it at different pitches and offsetting it in time to itself. The piece swells and contracts reflecting the mass of the water in the estuary and the pitch range gradually increases as the piece progresses, reflecting the swelling of the body of water.

The piece was performed by members of Plus-Minus Ensemble in a workshop at The Michael Tippett Centre, June 5th 2019.

Richard Hughes – composer

Mark Knoop – piano

Alice Purton – cello

Vicky Wright – clarinet

www.richardhughes.org.uk