Stockport – Pillar Boxes

I’m ashamed to say I pass by you almost every day, yet never even break step to say hello.

On occasion I’ve paused to post a card or letter, yet never let-on.

Things are about to change.

Today I stopped, stared and snapped – hot footed it home to read all about you, yes you.

Just you two.

A pair of Type G EIIR pillar boxes – it say so here.

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Developed from an earlier design of 1968 by David Mellor, so he’s almost your dad!

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He has a shop, factory, heritage installation, exhibits in the Design Museum and a well kept grave, sadly he passed in 2009, I don’t suppose anybody bothered to tell you.

Wallpaper (asterix) magazine wrote all about him and his Hathersage Heritage.

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They even make mugs to commemorate you and your kind, you and your British Colour Colour Council BS538 post office red complexion, don’t look so embarrassed.

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The British Colour Council was founded in 1931 in an attempt to standardise colours in use by government and industry throughout the UK. Official indexes of British Standard colours, each given its own colour name and number, began to be produced.

So here you are, my two new friends, ignorance is not bliss.

Posting is.

 

 

Water Towers

There are vertical features in our landscapes.

Prominent architecture, largely functionalist.

We can travel from pylon to pylon, spire to spire.

I espy water towers, and espouse the recording thereof.

I was first aware of the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher  many years ago, as a young art student I developed an empathy for their matter of fact photography, and a warm sense of the familiar with the largely industrial, everyday subject matter.

I have often made light hearted reference, to their austere conceptual grids.

The bungalows of Humbertson Fittes Lincolnshire

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The British Rail freight van stables of Greater Manchester

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And of course water towers, some are familiar to me in the areas around south Manchester, easily accessibly by bicycle across the Cheshire Plain. So over time I have set out with a clear intent or serendipitous disposition, a modern day Don Quixote, sans Sancho Panza, tilting and snapping at towers.

Access is not always easy, or permitted for that matter – there are gates and fences to overcome, brambles and barbed wire to catch yourself on, but it’s always worth it. As a typology they are various, in design, structure and materials.

Summer 2014 I cycled from Hastings to Cleethorpes, following where possible a coastal route, in search of nothing in particular. Needless to say I found several water towers, eight of note – amongst other things.

Ghosts – Blackpool

“Each time he took a walk, he felt as though he were leaving himself behind, and by giving himself up to the movement of the streets, by reducing himself to a seeing eye, he was able to escape the obligation to think, and this, more than anything else, brought him a measure of peace, a salutary emptiness within…By wandering aimlessly, all places became equal and it no longer mattered where he was. On his best walks he was able to feel that he was nowhere. And this, finally was all he ever asked of things: to be nowhere.”

Paul Auster – City of Glass.

 

Blackpool – repository of ghosts, dreams, closure, openings, opaque glass.

They come and go on the tide, swept aside before they’re built.

Lost, amongst the listless signs of disappearing possibilities.

There’s no time to bury the past.

Unjustly, it just weathers wearily away.

 

 

Wilko’s – Blackpool

Formerly the site of a much larger, much busier Blackpool North Station – a time when trains arrived sixteen coaches long.

As seen in this archive film of the 1940s.

Cars and closures caused the station to withdraw up the road, to its current much smaller site.

Subsequently Fine Fare arrives with a fanfare of fibre glass panels, and cast concrete walls.

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Superseded by Food Giant, Gateway, Dunnes Stores, Kwik Save and Somerfields – possibly others, currently Wilkinson’s Wilko Superstore and Age UK, retaining at all times the attractive integral car-park.

Wilko is now to be relocated and the site redeveloped as part of the second phase of the £220m Talbot Gateway – whereby trams will link the promenade with the Station.

Possibly.

The tale is the typical mix of Council, Developer on/off, binary obfuscation, secrecy, smoke and mirrors.

Councillor Fred Jackson says:

“We are in talks with our development partner Muse but there is a confidentiality agreement so there is very little I can say.”

Whatever the outcome I do hope the panels are saved, having notified Historic England several weeks ago, I eagerly await their hurried and considered response…

In the meantime get y’self on the choo-choo to Blackpool North toot sweet, and have a gander at a fine Fine Fare fibre glass panel or two, before you can’t.

 

Preston Bus Station – Step Inside Love

Much has been written, snapped and said about the exterior of this fine building, so much so that its primary function is often forgotten or overlooked.

Architectural tourism aside, day in day out, people and things are moved from here to there, shelter and information are provided as standard.

Sustenance is offered, in one form or another.

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After all’s said and done, and snapped it is a bus station.

What do you expect?

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Burnage – Garden Village

Spring’s in the air, let’s take a walk down leafy lanes, far from the traffic’s roaring boom and the silence of my lonely room – well not that far.

Burnage.

 

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The housing estate of 136 houses known as Burnage Garden Village, a residential development covering an area of 19,113sqm off the western side of Burnage Lane in the Burnage ward. The site is situated approximately six kilometres south of the city centre and is arranged on a broadly hexagonal layout with two storey semi-detached and quasi detached dwelling houses situated on either side of a continuous-loop highway. The highway is named after each corresponding compass point with two spurs off at the east and west named Main Avenue and West Place respectively. Main Avenue represents the only access and egress point into the estate whilst West Place leads into a resident’s parking area.

The layout was designed by J Horner Hargreaves. Houses are loosely designed to Arts and Crafts principles, chiefly on account of being low set and having catslide roofs.

At the centre of the garden village and accessed by a network of pedestrian footpaths, is a resident’s recreational area comprising a bowling green, club house and tennis courts. The estate dates from approximately 1906 and was laid out in the manner of a garden suburb with characteristic hedging, front gardens, grass verges and trees on every street. 

 

A rare and almost perfectly preserved example of Edwardian Mancunian suburban architecture, save a uPVC epidemic of identical doors and window frames. On a sunny day the variegated brick and render simply sings, like so many chirpy sparrows.

These homes are a variation on a theme, a fugue of tile, brick, pointy counterpointed gable, light and shadow – linked by scale, style and well laid wide concrete roads, filled with good intentions and cars.

Take a hike or bike south of the city, now that Spring is here.

 

Police Station – Blackpool

I’ve been here before, innocently snapping – without incident.

A super-large Roger Booth cop shop and courts, concrete combo.

So why not go back just one last time, prior to demolition and redevelopment.

So I did.

Following the acquisition and demolition of Progress House the Bonny Street Station is to be relocated, and the former site, under the ownership of Blackpool Council, set to become who knows what – who knows?

Progress House, Clifton Road, Marton.
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The Council knows, it plans to develop a new site for the defunct Central Rail Station

A giant of the steam age that became a car park

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It is 50 years since Central Railway Station closed with the land being used for a car park ever since. It was proposed as the site for the super-casino until that bid failed to win government backing. Since then plans for an indoor snow-based attraction have also failed to make any progress.

Today happily, snow-based attractions are still failing to make any progress.

Blue skies and chill early March air greeted me, across the wind swept, precast concourses and piazzas – warmish grey, against brightish blue.

I simply didn’t expect the boy in blue – ten minutes of light/half hearted interrogation.

“Who, what, why, where are you?”

Responding in a clear concise and non-confrontational manner, I was free to go about my legal business, taking these pictures for you.

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