Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Your Yorkshire Dales

To learn more about the Your Yorkshire Dales campaign currently being run by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, see my posting of yesterday, Democracy in the Dales, at

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Smiling Faces Sometimes

I spotted this in trees next to a scrapyard on the banks of  a canal recently. As I recall, it was the Erewash Canal, between Shipley Lock and Bridge Number 26.

Good to see someone`s kept their sense of humour in these difficult times !

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Campaign for Ilkeston Train Station

A Derbyshire man has called for an "all-party community campaign" for the proposed train station at Ilkeston.

For more information, see `Campaign for Ilkeston Train Station`, posted earlier today at

Heart and Sole ; Best Foot Forward in Heanor and Langley

Best Foot Forward : Short Healthy Walks Around Heanor and Langley Mill  is a free booklet currently available through libraries in the area.

The walks are short and designed to take the flattest route possible. Each walk travels along good path surfaces, including pavements and public footpaths.

The interesting thing about these walks is that, while they look attractive and interesting in their own right, because of the locations involved (Heanor Memorial Park, Shipley Country Park, The Nutbrook Trail, The Erewash Canal, Loscoe Dam and the Godkin reclaimed former opencast site), there is scope for walkers adding their own variations to the route as they see fit.

This area can be overlooked by walkers, even by those born and bred in the East Midlands, but is well worth a visit. 

Heart and Sole is what we used to call an `umbrella group` involving seven bodies, the largest  being Amber Valley Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council and Derbyshire County NHS Primary Health Care Trust.   

Anyone outside the area wanting to obtain a copy of the booklet should probably visit the websites of those organisations, or you could try .

Friday, 2 March 2012

Jonathan Senator Gerber (Jon Gerber)

Time for another musical interlude.

A day or two ago, I mentioned Sylvain Sylvain`s eponymous first solo album.

One of the highlights of that album is the closing track, `Tonight`, a haunting saxophone-led instrumental which in many ways is in contrast with the general mood but in some mysterious way seems to round the collection off quite nicely.

I suppose I first heard that track circa 1979/1980 and I`ve loved it ever since. It does raise one or two questions though.

Firstly, and most obviously, the composer credit goes to Sylvain himself and not to saxophone player Jon Gerber (Jonathan Senator Gerber) - but Sylvain is a singer and player of guitar and keyboards, not a saxophonist. I would think it`s unlikely  he could pen a saxophone piece*. Against that, he doesn`t seem to be the kind of man to take the credit for another man`s work. 

It could be said that the appeal of the piece is as much in the performance of the composition, and certainly the whole piece seems designed to showcase Gerber`s skills. Yet who is that mystery saxophonist ? 

As we`ve established he appears on the first Sylvain solo album. A couple of years later he was saxophonist and horn arranger on the Syl and the Teardrops album, but I`ve never heard of anything he did before or since. It seems odd. Saxophonists and arrangers don`t grow on trees and I would have expected someone at his level of ability to have years of recording behind them, and indeed I always assumed I`d be hearing his name again in connection with music.

All these years later, even with the advent of the internet, our man remains elusive. The only new thing I`ve tracked down on the web is a favourable review of a Muddy Waters album penned by a Jon Gerber of Houston, Texas. Is it the same man ? I`ve no idea.

I can`t claim it keeps me awake at night, but it is intriguing. If anyone can cast any light on the career of this musical man of mystery, I`d be glad to hear from you.

Failing that, if I`ve said enough to interest others in discovering this excellent music, I`ll feel I`ve done a good thing !

*Though I did learn recently that Ian Gomm, a guitarist/singer/songwriter once composed a bagpipe piece for the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, so anything is possible !

The Henry Brentnall Monument

I don`t know what it says about my powers of observation, but I`ve visited Marlpool Cemetery (Derbyshire, UK) regularly over a period of five years and only recently noticed the Henry Brentnall Monument !

In my defence, it is not far from Donovan Monument and the empty Non-Conformist Chapel, both of which are rather eye-catching.

As you can probably see, the monument is in memory of Henry Brentnall of Dunstead House, Heanor who died 6 March 1866 at the age of 68.

The inscription on one side of the base informs us that the monument "has been raised by some of the numerous admirers of his character and works to perpetuate the memory and recommend the imitation of his many virtues. A patriot, philanthropist and Christian, he devoted himself for nearly fifty years with self-denying energy and undeviating perseverance to the improvement and education of the young. "

The inscription closes with the words "He, being dead, yet speaketh". I should be interested to see the reaction of visitors to the cemetery if he, being dead,  did indeed speak ! However, that`s just my typically English irreverence, I presume it means his example lives on.

On the other two sides of the base are listed the names of close family members who died subsequently, which may be of interest to genealogists. I seem to recall a wife, Mary, and a daughter, Mary Anne, but be warned that my memory is not infallible.

I understand that some modern-day Brentnalls may wish to visit the monument, so I am including rather more pictures than are strictly necessary, to make it easy to find. As you can see, it is adjacent to the empty non-conformist chapel, only a yard or two from the distinctive hand-carved 18th century headstone (which pre-dates the rest of the cemetery), and not far from the Donovan Monument (see previous postings).

The cemetery is on Ilkeston Road between Heanor and Ilkeston, with the nearest landmarks being Heanor Fire Station and Heanor Memorial Hospital. It is run by Amber Valley Borough council and the nearest local history groups are Heanor and District Local History Society, Ilkeston and District LHS and Langley Mill Heritage Group. 

It is not a large cemetery and the Chapel, which is next to the Garden of Remembrance,  is the only building on the site apart from some workmen`s sheds. If you can find the cemetery you can find the Chapel, it`s that easy !

For anyone contemplating a longish journey and wanting to make a day of it, the cemetery is well-placed for access to Heanor Town Centre and to Shipley Country Park. The Erewash Canal is not too far away, on the far side of Langley Mill. 

That`s all I have time for now.

I will provide all of these details to Gerry at for him to add to his mailings.