GLW1904 : Samboo and the Horizon Line Chamber

Wednesday 11th April 2019

According to his gravestone, Poor Samboo was "A  faithfull negro who (attending his Master from the West Indies) Died on his Arrival at Sunderland".  We are talking about Sunderland on the River Lune near Lancaster, not the one on the River Wear.

I first heard of Sambo's Grave* (the OS map drops the second "O") several years ago and had it in the back of my mind to visit someday.  The memory faded but then was revived when Timothy West and Prunella Scales related the story in the episode of their barge series that featured the Lancaster to Kendal Canal.

It was a glorious day but very cold with a bitter easterly wind.  Our initial idea of climbing Man Crag, as featured in the Westmorland Gazette, quickly vanished. Samboo was calling to us.

You have to be a bit careful.  He lies near Sunderland Point.  The direct road to this once flourishing port, now a tiny hamlet, floods at high tide.  That, I learned, is why it is called Sunderland: land put asunder by the tide.   This would be in mid-afternoon, just when we expected to arrive.  A different line of attack was needed.

We drove through Middleton and multiple caravan sites eventually to reach a lonely parking area on the coast at Potts Corner.  Here is a wide land and seascape. West of the Lakeland hills, you can see just the Vickers submarine yards at Barrow in Furness.  Panning round Morecambe Bay , on the south side is the Knott End coast.

Across the land, to the right of a small hill could that be....... is it really......yes, it's Blackpool Tower!!

Walking south along the coast had the great merit of not being able to see the Heysham Nucelar Power Station!

As we approached where we believed Samboo to lie, we came to a strip of land where a magnificent new wall had been constructed.  On the other side of the wall was a strange stone igloo or egg-shaped building.  Weird.  What could it be?  A nuclear fallout shelter in case Heysham goes ballistic?  

More importantly, where was Samboo?

It transpired that Samboo now lies inside the walled area, at its far end, but this is not his mausoleum.  His 18th century grave lies pretty much as I had seen it in photos.  Two plaques and lots of floral and painted tributes, mostly from children.

Returning to the igloo, a plaque called it an Horizon Line Chamber* but adds no further information about its purpose.

The door was open so we went inside.  It is a very confined space, lit only by a strange porthole.  

We looked through but couldn't fathom out its purpose.  It was weird.  There was no lighting so we kept the door open. I now know that this was exactly the wrong thing to do.

It is a camera obscura, the porthole serves to throw an image of the horizon onto the walls. Unfortunately we were not aware of this. It is brand new; in fact I suspect it is not yet finished.

The rest of the outing was simple in comparison.  We walked down a narrow, shrub lined lane to emerge on the other side of the peninsula, in the hamlet itself.

Turning right, we passed the old houses then continued along the pebbly beach with its ancient posts being the only visible reminder of its erstwhile existence as a port.  

Across the river, Glasson Dock could be seen.

Round the corner were more old jetty posts.

The salt marsh had formed into topiary like shapes.

We passed Samboo's resting place and the Igloo once again.  On the horizon were the Lakeland Hills, a Dublin Ferry and, yes, Heysham Nuclear Power Station.

Poor Samboo having that for company.  But at least now his ghost can wander free to haunt the chamber that stands near his grave.

Don, Wednesday 10th April 2019

* You can read more about these features at: Samboo and Horizon Line Chamber



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