Easter Island gates look like ours

Blogger Richard Koelher from The Honest Hypocrite has been on honeymoon to Easter Island! Remarkable enough as that is in itself, he has been kind enough to provide some observations on some of the things he found there on his blog. Included is an intriguing photograph of a gate which he kindly drew to the Ranger’s attention:

A gate on Easter Island (c) Richard Koehler

The hinges are on the right (twists of flexible wood), and the fastening on the left appears to be a bit of twine. Richard says:

We found much ingenuity in the use of materials on Easter Island. Everything must be shipped in from the mainland (2000 miles away) with the consequent markup in cost, so they try to get all of the use they can.

Perhaps it is an example of convergent evolution, or maybe some old-time European sailor taught them the trick, or vice versa. But this gate looks remarkably like the traditional rural field-gates of lowland England, and perhaps elsewhere. Now normally seen in England only on more expensive gates, or when specially made for some heritage project, the characteristic raised hinge-post is something once found on many gate styles. It is one time when the normal dictum about the direction of the diagonal is reversed, and in fact the diagonal on such a gate has to run from hinge down to latch, because the gate is hanging from it. This particular example doesn’t look as if it would hold much back – a particularly sluggish horse maybe, or some very dim cattle. But sheep or calves would be straight out, and many horses would kick it to bits soon enough. So perhaps it was just to keep people out rather than stock in. Here is a modern example of the English equivalent for comparison:

A field-gate

Notice that the basic structure is identical, although the Ranger would venture to suggest that while this one might be a little better at stock retention, it probably wouldn’t get very far in a canoe.

It’s raining, and you’re going to Basildon

This weekend The Ranger and his lovely companion were invited to Basildon to attend the 20th anniversary of the Motorboat Museum – the museum, located anomalously in Wat Tyler Country Park, of which the Ranger was once Director when he worked for Basildon Council many years ago. It was one of the strangest, and most enjoyable parts of the Ranger’s career so far and so he was delighted to make the pilgrimage back.

Basildon - the signs aren't good

On the way, the rain came down in torrents. Emerging blinking from the Dartford Tunnel it seemed as though the industrial wasteland of South Essex would never end. But the magic of Basildon prevailed. Passing beyond the urban sprawl, the countryside and landscape of Basildon has a charm and local distinctiveness that is hard to describe. Just a few minutes down the A13, over a soaring flyover, around the largest Tesco in Europe and past a vast landfill site lies Wat Tyler Country Park and the Motorboat Museum. What people simply don’t realise about Basildon is that it has a great deal of really good green space. The people of Basildon really value their countryside and open spaces and look after them well. Visitors may expect to see concrete dereliction. They are more likely to find leafy avenues and lakes, or huge expanses of grazing marsh. It was a real pleasure to return to Wat Tyler and the Museum and see how they were doing. Pretty well, as it happened.

Gate at Wat Tyler Country Park
The Ranger alongside the park gates

Perhaps the nicest moment for The Ranger was the moment when he first saw the gates he designed way back in 1998. Having left the job before the project was completed, he never saw these gates built or installed. These simple but effective gates were designed by him literally on the back of an envelope. The scrollwork at the top faithfully follows his doodles, as interpreted by a skilled metalworker. It’s a rare but very genuine pleasure to actually see and touch such a direct result of your own work. Well worth driving through Essex in the rain.