Thursday, April 5, 2012

news clips and tidbits

From the newsdesk of Unlacing the Victorians, I will share excerpts of interesting, relevant, irrelevant, somewhat sad, and just plain scary news stories.

image source: The Age
Local communities are trying to save and restore two Victorian era train stations in Australia - the Lethbridge and Lal Lal stations- both of which ahve been out of commission as train stations for decades.

Until 1889, the Geelong to Ballarat line was part of the Melbourne-Ballarat route.

It was an extension of the Melbourne-Geelong railway built in 1857 and linked north-western Victoria and booming Ballarat to Geelong port.

Freight trains still use the line, but Mr Menzies said passenger trains ceased after rail cars wore out and the government saw buses as more economical.

The hopeful part about this article is that the current government is reconsidering the economic feasibility of trains for these lines.  Read more about these two train stations and their potential futures are restored train stations here.

This one is just sad- a boat that was gift from Queen Victoria to Maharaja Ranbir Singh, a monarch who ruled Jammu and Kashmir, has gone the way of thousands of other improperly cared for artifacts:

In today's Kashmir, this royal gift is withering in sun, snow and rain as it remains lying in the open parking lot of the Sri Partap Singh Museum, named after the Maharaja's son.

What remains of the nearly 30-feet-long boat, which is up to eight feet in width, is the rusted decaying structure.

The entire body of the boat is covered with rust, at places several layers deep, and a large hole has damaged the lower frontal part of it. Several smaller holes, of the size of a football, have also punctured the boat at its bow and stern.

Before anyone starts blaming the  Sri Partap Singh Museum , however, I would like to point out that many museums do not have the funding necessary to properly care for every acquisition they receive.  So while they may have wanted to house the boat in a controlled temperature garage or something like it, they may simply have not had the money.

It's still a shame that the boat has not received the care that it should.

BBC News- "Broadmoor: 'Fantastic' views but would people pay to visit?"
image source: BBC News
Want an Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls experience?  An old Victorian mental institution may give you that opportunity if plans to develop it into a hotel go through.

According to the BBC, West London Mental Health NHS Trust is looking for potential developers to turn the Victorian buildings at Broadmoor in Crowthorne in Berkshire.  Unlike the two Victorian relics mentioned above, Broadmoor has been well taken care of and could easily convert to a hotel or housing due to its location near Heathrow and its open-air layout:
One reason Broadmoor Hospital may be more suited to be converted to a hotel lies in the attitudes to mental illness when it was built.

When it opened in 1863 there were none of the drug treatments we are familiar with today.

Victorian patients enjoyed a regime of rest and occupational therapy, and were expected to benefit from fresh air, sunshine and spending time outdoors.

In the early years of Broadmoor, inmates formed a self-sufficient community with a farm, kitchen garden and sports fields.

"The views from Broadmoor are fantastic, across very nice landscape," said Dr Dungavell.
Of course some may not want to stay overnight in a place that once housed infamous criminals such as the Yorkshire Ripper.  But that could just as easily be a draw to tourists who want to stay in historical and unusual hotels.

Finally, as if last month's shooting at Western Psych in Pittsburgh wasn't enough to rattle residents and Pitt students, the fact that there have been a ridiculous number of bomb threats to various University of Pittsburgh buildings in three weeks have certainly not helped.

Below I've posted the most recent article about the threats, "Pitt receives 3 more sets of bomb threats" from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

University of Pittsburgh police, aided by other local departments, swept seven campus buildings during three separate sets of bomb threats on Wednesday.

So far, more than a dozen bomb threats have been made to the Oakland campus since March 14.

The first threat of the day came around 10 a.m., when someone discovered a threat to Thackeray Hall that had been handwritten on a paper towel and placed in a sink in a men's restroom.

The second, which warned of bombs in the Cathedral of Learning, Posvar Hall and Litchfield Tower C dormitory, came to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter and was reported to police around 5 p.m.

Students and faculty members learned of the third set of threats -- to Victoria Hall, the Frick Fine Arts Building and the Music Building -- shortly before 9:30 p.m., when an alert from the school's emergency notification system warned them of a "general bomb threat" to all three locations.

"This is a real twist," Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney said of the now varying locations and means of delivering the threats.

Many of the initial threats were scrawled in restrooms and targeted only one building at a time. Earlier this week, Pitt police began receiving threats via emails sent to reporters, as well as threats that targeted multiple buildings at one time.

Pitt police have enlisted the help of the FBI and a handwriting expert while trying to find the person or people responsible for the threats.

For the first time university officials could remember, the school has offered a $50,000 reward -- enough to cover about three years of undergraduate in-state tuition -- for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone associated with the threats.

N. John Cooper, dean of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, sent an email to some university faculty members this week, urging them to cooperate with investigators should they be asked to provide information about a student.

University officials said they have developed a "person of interest" in the case but have not yet determined how many people might be behind the threats or what the motive might be.

Chief Delaney urged the person or people responsible for the threats to contact him at the station so he could help them sort through any of their issues or complaints.
SERIOUSLY?! Nevermind the fact that it costs Pitt $10,000 every time they have to call the bomb squad and FBI for one of these threats.  It's also disrupting classes and, as many fear, it makes people less willing to take these threats seriously.  One of the theories being tossed around is that the people making the threats are trying to get the police and university to let their guard down and not take these threats seriously.  When that happens, it is speculated, a real bomb will be placed.

As a University of Pittsburgh alum with several family members and friends in and around the Pitt campus, I am very disturbed by it all.  I don't understand the thought process going on behind these threats at all.  Any thoughts on the topic?


  1. um i would like to spend one night in a 'hotel' like this but only in company with friends, with a cam and when it still looks this old and rotten inside :-D

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.