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April 22, 2008


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Cypher Sunday

I was fascinated by the mention of Joseph Williamson, the tobacco merchant from Edge Hill. I know it's near Ormskirk, in Lancashire. I can testify that this is true because I once lived in Ormskirk. I believe that the Williamson tunnels may have been used for the smuggling of the Ormskirk King cabbage, a variety grown across the area. The terrain is totally flat, from the coast for miles and miles inland. It smells of cabbage. Everywhere and all the time. Delicious to those habituated.
The Ormskirk King was indeed the king of all cabbages, and very sought after nationally. Local Lancastrians prized their harvest, which they guarded jealously for their own consumption. However, such was the reputation of this special brassica, particularly at the end of the 19th century, that hoteliers and restaurateurs went to extraordinary lengths to serve an Ormskirk King to clients. This was probably because the dish 'Roi de Ormskirk aux lardons' was reputed to have been served to Queen Victoria when she visited Liverpool in 1899. She demanded a regular shipment of cabbages to her residence thereafter.
I believe Williamson's claim to have been a tobacco merchant may well have been his cover. He was nothing more, in fact, than a cabbage smuggler.

Paul St George

This story of Cabbages and Kings is fascinating. It shows how priorities have changed. Nowadays a cabbage farmer might smuggle tobacco. Do you have a recipe for the dish you mention ("Roi de Ormskirk aux lardons")?


You could probably get by with a frisee aux lardons recipe.

Here are a couple from a quick run at Google:


Great on a hot day.

Tunnels are awesome, and this project is quite fascinating.


I visited the Telectroscope on June 11. It was fun. I had questions that weren't answered, such as the cost of the 2 installations in the UK and in the States. Why they are closing so soon (on June 15) and what will happen to the installations after then? Will they be placed in art museums? I hope they are not destroyed. They can't be used in other cities as there is no "tunnel" linking those cities. As I was standing there a kid tried turning a small wheel on the installation and the part broke-off. Boy was he embarrassed. The attendant wasn't able to fix it. Hope the wheel can be re-attached. It was a brass wheel. I hope to return before closing. I had hoped that brochures or postcards would be sold but none were; no souvenirs at all.



Thanks for this story. My daughter fiddled with a lever on the Telectroscope and images of Chicago appeared until we were shooed away and the lever re-set.

Paul now openly admits that there *are* other tunnels. Lots of them. Which means each Telectroscope can offer a view of many of the world's great cities. All we need to do is keep tinkering with the controls!


I visited the Telectroscope here in Brooklyn several times and loved it. It is a work of art that is functional,too. It has been removed so I am saddened, just like when Concorde stopped flying. I hope to see it again. On its last day on exhibit, I had the honour of meeting Paul St. George and his charming associate. They were very cordial. We had a nice discussion about the exhibit. Hopefully, it will return to New York; maybe to Central Park or at Rockefeller Center. Cheers!


how can i build a tunnel just to transport stuff back and fouth between me and my neighbourgh

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