Author Archives: Backstreeter

Abingdon man killed during Irish War of Independence – 100 years ago

Kilmichael ambush
Saturday 28th November marks 100 years since the Kilmichael ambush – an event in 1920 during the Irish War of Independence.

Cadet Philip Noel Graham from Abingdon was one of 17 men from the the Auxiliary Royal Irish Constabulary killed in the IRA ambush.

Sinn Féin had won a large majority in the 1918 general election in Ireland. The growing popularity of independence led to a war with Britain that began in 1919 and ended in 1921 when leaders of Sinn Féin and the British government agreed to set up the Irish Free State.
Kilmichael ambush
Philip Graham grew up in Abingdon and attended Abingdon School. He joined the army at the outbreak of WWI in August 1914 and became a Captain in the Northumberland Fusiliers. He was wounded in France. After receiving a discharge he, along with other ex-servicemen, joined the Auxiliary Royal Irish Constabulary, a unit set up by the British government as they tried to impose order and counter Sinn Féin’s military wing – the IRA.
Kilmichael ambush
Cadet Philip Noel Graham was buried at Abingdon Cemetery on December 4th 1920.

Thank you to the Oxford Journal Illustrated for the first and third picture and biographical details.

New home of the Kingfisher Canoe Club with canoes and sunset

Stratton Way Square
Recently there has been a piling barge near Abingdon Lock, and it was there again this evening.
Stratton Way Square
The new home of the Kingfisher Canoe Club is taking shape on the land between lock and weir.
Stratton Way Square
Some canoeists were paddling in the surf near Abingdon Weir as the sun went down.
Stratton Way Square
They paddled back towards Abingdon Bridge as the setting sun turned the sky purple and pink.

Land on the north west side of Stratton Way, Abingdon

Stratton Way Square
There is an area of paved land north west of Stratton Way that is owned by Abingdon -on-Thames Town Council and in Feb 2020 (before Covid-19 struck) there was a proposal that the land be disposed of.
Stratton Way Square
The land has a restrictive covenant in place, and is hemmed in by the underpass, and garden walls and so uses will be limited.
Stratton Way Square
At one time people must have parked their bikes here but that does not happen much as it is off the beaten track.
Stratton Way Square
There are a couple of benches: one on the lower terrace, and an old metal bench in a secluded place, up some steps, at the back.
Stratton Way Square
There is a flower bed at the front that has been recently replanted for the winter.
Stratton Way Square
The first pansy has just appeared.

The land does not give the impression of being a well loved or wanted, and it will be interesting to learn if anybody knows any more about it, or whether anybody does love it.

Bird watch sunset at Radley Lakes

Radley Lakes
I went for a walk and reached Thrupp Lake (one of the Radley Lakes) at about 3:30 pm. Going in by a gate next to the cycle track I found the path got very muddy at first.
Radley Lakes
Instead of doing the usual full circuit I stayed on one bank and gazed across the water.

At first all the birds seemed a long way away.
Radley Lakes
In the trees of the central islands some large birds (Cormorants?) were already roosting.
Radley Lakes
Flocks of smaller birds flew around, landing in the high branches above the large birds and then taking off again.
Radley Lakes
Nearer at hand, some ducks drifted by.
Radley Lakes
A Grebe kept diving and reappearing. There were also coots diving but they did not travel such long distances underwater.
Radley Lakes
The sun set behind me and a young swan came up very close. It must be familiar with humans as a source of food and waited in front of me for a little while before drifting away.
Radley Lakes
It went on to join another young swan dipping the lake for vegetation.
Radley Lakes
As the light faded, the moon became clearer. I retraced by steps back across the mud and back on the cycle path.