Archive for the ‘Gogar Church’ Category

Colin Campbell Mitchell and the Steam Catapult

August 7, 2010

Introducing another of our kirkyards celebrities, the following is an extract from an article on the history of assisted launching of aircraft by Herbert M. Friedman and Ada Kera Friedman on the website

“The hydraulic catapult had reached its limit, but the demand for power had not. The Grumman F9F Cougar, the standard Navy fighter at the time of the explosion, weighed 21,000 pounds fully loaded. The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior, which had first flown the year before, would reach a gross weight of 82,000 pounds, well beyond the capacity of any conceivable hydraulic catapult. Fortunately, the Royal Navy had long recognized the limitations of hydraulic catapults, and by 1950 Comdr. Colin C. Mitchell had designed and built an entirely new type of launcher, based on one of the Industrial Revolution’s oldest motive fluids. Mitchell’s steam catapult, as refined over the next five decades, can still be seen aboard today’s Navy carriers.”

(Only now, after over half a century is it being superceded by electro-magnetic systems.)

Amazingly and only recently discovered (at least by me) , Colin Campbell Mitchell is buried in Gogar Kirkyard; although the local authority in its wisdom and with all due lack of respect has laid his stone down.

Like Thomas Grainger  (and unlike sculptor Pittendrigh MacGillivary, another of our residents, of whom more anon) he was a local lad (from Corstorphine). So perhaps local knowledge can add something to his story?

Slightly more dramatic, I include a picture I took recently at East Fortune Air Museum of a Sea Hawk which, in its day, (the 1950’s), would have been regularly launched by Colin Mitchell’s catapults. It is displayed at the museum with wings folded as would have been the case when stored under decks.


Thomas Grainger and Gogar

June 25, 2010

Our graveyard boasts, at the latest count, some four B-list celebrities(i.e on the scale where Rabbie Burns and William Wallace would be A-list).

Amongst these is Thomas Grainger, a pioneering Victorian railway engineer responsible for the building of many of the earliest railway lines in Scotland and the North of England . I mention this just now because this last week seems to have been THOMAS-GRAINGER-WEEK-AT-GOGAR. On Monday, out of the blue, we had a visit from descedents Paul and Margaret (nee Grainger) Parker accompanied by Prof. Roland Paxton of the Heriot Watt Uni Civil Engineering Dept. Although enthusiastic to have found the graveyard, they were disappointed to discover how overgrown the grave had become ( to the extent that the inscriptions could not be read). I agreed to take my chainsaw to some of the bigger vegetation. The picture shows the state of the grave even after some large limbs have been removed.

It is actually there,looming large in the middle of the frame, but completely obscured by young trees.

Prof Paxton kindly sent me a picture he took in 1983 (when things were black and white, and the grave itself must still have been maintained)

So, as the picture taken this week demonstrates,  turn your back for 27 years and just see what has happened……..

Then on Wednesday, and unbeknown to our previous visitors, another couple of descendants turned up from Ireland (the Kilpatrick branch of descent). Amongst other things they knew that Thomas left £250 in his will (a not inconsiderable sum in 1853) for the maintenance of his grave. Which rather begs the question as to who has been trousering the money these years?

Yesterday I had a real good go at it and this is how it is now looking:-

Thomas Grainger' grave at Gogar 2010

Thomas Grainger's Grave at Gogar

Thanks to Neil Robson’s comment, I looked up Yarm Viaduct and, sure enough, we find some stunning pictures, e.g.

and even due credit to the man himself

Yarm Viaduct, the inscription to its makers


It cost £44,500 and is 760 yards long and was built to extend the Leeds and Thirsk Railway from Northallerton to Stockton and Hartlepool. The viaduct has 43 arches, two of which carry the railway over the River Tees, these are 65ft high and have spans of 67 ft and took 139,000 cubic feet of stone to build.

Over seven and a half million bricks went into the building of the viaduct which was designed by Thomas Grainger and John Bourne of Edinburgh. The official opening was in May 1852.

Three years after the opening, it was to claim the first of a number of fatalities. On an exceptionally dark wet night, a train overshot the platform and an unsuspecting stranger to the area in alighting from his carriage, stepped over the parapet and fell 74 ft. An inquest jury recommended that “some fencing be erected”.

Remarkable what you can find out on the internet! I am already booking next years summer holiday to go and have a look at it. Freda is thrilled (she just finds difficulty expressing it).