Sunday, 19 October 2014

Somerset


Somerset Coleraine, that is, not Somerset as in The Levels, King Arthur and this place, what I used to live near after I left here and before I came back here, if you see what I mean.

I like nature and I like trees.  These were captured on film in late August, on a Sunday afternoon stroll what is known as 'The Trim Trail', in the Somerset area of Coleraine.  Taken on FP4 and printed on MGIV if you're interested.

Somerset Trees in late August afternoon sun
The Somerset area has, like so many places around these parts, a bit of history.  To put it in geographical context, it lies just on the southern outskirts of Coleraine, just across the River Bann from the famous Mountsandel, or Mount Sandy if you prefer - you know, the place what dates from 7000BC and is one of the oldest human settlements found in Ireland.

During the Plantation of Ulster, in the time of King James I, the lands around here ended up in the ownership of the Merchant Taylor's Company of London.  The Somerset Estate, all 18,159 acres of it, was purchased from them in 1727 by The Richardson family, who originated from Edinburgh.  Fast forward a couple of centuries and the land was divided up, the Georgian House (which you can see photographs of here) eventually being demolished to make way for housing and a retail park in the 1980s.  The American firm Chemstand (later Monsanto) built a large facility here in the 1960s, manufacturing acrylic fibre. This was also closed and demolished sometime in the 1980s around the same time the retail park was established.  A bit of a metaphor for 21st Century UK Economy, really - out with manufacturing and in with shopping.

Anyway, today we are left with a pleasant woody area in which to walk.  There actually isn't much of the original 'Trim Trail' left (we're clearly fit enough in this part of the world) - now it's just a nice place to walk around for an hour or two.  Apparently the US Army had a base here during WWII, or so a very nice man told us during our Sunday stroll.  He was complaining about the overhead power lines, which stopped him using his metal detector in the area.  He had, believe it or not, been searching for hidden booty left by the Yanks, who were well known (apparently) for digging a hole and burying valuable consumables that they couldn't take with them - like barrels of whiskey.  There still are one or two old Nissan huts that we came across during our walk, so it seems feasible that the US Army were indeed here for a time.  As for the whiskey, we may never know, but it makes for a good story.

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