“But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”

Umberto Eco

Somewhere between Las Vegas Nevada and Casablanca Morocco lies Southport.

Somewhere in Southport lies Pleasureland.

Separated by oceans and oceans of artifice.

A puzzle wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a wind blown fish and chip paper, tipped lazily onto the edge of Lancashire.

The seaside itself an invention of the railways, and an expanding leisured class.

To begin in the middle, the Hollywood cinema creates an Orientalist mythology around Morocco. A confection of exotic confinement, conspiratorial glances and romance.

Who are you really, and what were you before?

What did you do and what did you think, huh? 

We said no questions. 

Here’s looking at you, kid.


Which in turn becomes parody of itself, constructing an airport that apes its own constructed image, a brash reflection in an eternally wonky mirage of a mirror.


The same mirror that reflects across the Atlantic, to that cap it all capital of Kitsch.


A veritable smorgasbord of visual treats and retreats in Mesquite Nevada.


Or the Casablanca Ballroom Westin Lake Hotel – Las Vegas.


Flying home to the Warner Brothers Stage 16 Restaurant


Or indeed Southport.

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2011 – I had my first close up and personal encounter with the wood frame, chicken wire and faux adobe render rendering of North Africa, on the coast of North West England. It was in a state of semi-advanced neglect, an extraordinary experience. Pleasureland had already faked it’s own demise, a pre-boarded up, boarded up frontier town.

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Where the edges of meaning are blurred beyond belief, take care.

We are dealing with uneven surfaces.

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Who could resist a Moroccan themed crazy golf course?

You are now entering a Scoobidoo-esque scenario, where the mask is never finally removed, nothing is revealed.

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2016 – I returned, the world had turned a revival was in part taking place, some of the pleasure returned to Pleasureland, whilst the seafront facing bars remained empty.

One man holds the key the glue, that bonds these distant lands.

The myth to end all myths.

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For he is forever in his own orbit, omniscient.

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Make the world go away
And get it off my shoulders
Say the things you used to say
And make the world go away

Princes Street – Stockport

There’ll be some changes made.

Over a hundred years or so trams, prams, pedestrians, cars, buses, buildings, businesses, and homes have been and gone, not even the name has remained the same.

Heaton Lane becomes Princes Street.


From decorous Victorian thoroughfare.


To 80’s pedestrianised passageway.


The future is almost here today with the imminent addition of the Redrock Centre.

I walked along today to capture the Princes Street panorama, take a look.



































Parkside Social Club – Bramhall

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Midland Road, Bramhall, Stockport. SK7 3DT

Turn right.

Turn right into a right to buy road, past passed by, sub sub Lutyens semis, to the sublime, sub prime suburban worlds, teetering on the brink of prosperity.

Set back, set against a greying gun metal sky, sits Parkside Social Club.

So there it’s not there.

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A chilling ambivalence that merely suggests occupation, a last grasp gasp.

Tattered flag picnics, burnt out embers, paint peels for want of anything better to do.

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The world’s first un-social social club,

Where Roland Rat dances alone,

Every night, forever.

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It’s not funny anymore.


Manchester – Brunswick Parish Church

You don’t have to go far out off town to discover the unfamiliar familiar.

Tucked betwixt and between Chorlton on Medlock and Ardwick, is Brunswick, so near and yet so far, from the booming cosmopolis.

At its heart, a solid brick modernist church, built to serve the new social housing estates that surround it. Bold curves, angled interlocking volumes, an warmly lit interior space with a dynamic timber roof, and a dramatic arc of tiered seating.

Perhaps you’ve never passed by, perhaps you’ve never noticed.

Operating as a community centre and place of worship, it continues to serve the area well.

I was given the warmest of welcomes by the staff and clerics, thanks.

Simon the vicar says: Please don’t get us grade two listed.

Pop in set a spell.

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Stockport – Stopford House

Famed as an imaginary TV police station, this civic building is a civic building I simply can’t resist. I return on a regular basis to wander and snap. This is an open public space that seems little loved and has few visitors.

It is quite literally concrete poetry incarnate, a careful collision of form, tone, texture and line, softened with sympathetic planting.

There had been proposals to extend the Town Hall provison since 1945, which were finally realised in 1975. Built at a cost of £1,500,000 – to provide additional office provision for the Local Authority. A further two blocks were planned but never built.

Stopford House was built 1975 and designed by JS Rank OBE, Director of Development & Town Planning, Stockport Council.

The main block is clad in 1400 exposed aggregate precast panels and the link blocks have ribbed walls constructed with in situ concrete, bush hammered to expose the limestone aggregate. The precast panels were carefully matched in order to harmonize with the existing Town Hall, the mix contained coarse aggregate from the Scottish Granite Company of Creetown, a fine Leemoor sand from the Fordamin Company, together with white cement.

There are two levels of underground parking beneath the whole of the development. The piazza betwen the blocks was to have had a water cascde falling into a pond running the whole length of the area. Though exciting and expansive in the modern manner the piazza area, sadly, seems little used.

It needs a little love pop by and say hello sometime.

Covent Garden – Stockport

Walk up Hillgate from the centre of Stockport, pass the former Cobden’s, Gladstone, Peter Carlson Furniture, following a former coaching road of former lives, shops, pubs, clubs and factories. This was historically a vibrant area, a crazy mixed up mixed economy, getting by by any means.

Walk a little further, to your right is a small plateau, it leads across to the civic area,  behind the Town Hall, it is known as Covent Garden.

London Square, Massey Street and Banbury Street, once a cluster of terraced houses, never the wealthiest of areas, but typical of the town’s industrial past. The homes growing up around small pockets of industry – foundries, hat making and glove manufacture.


There was a graveyard there, belonging to the Mount Tabor Chapel, which was situated nearby on Wellington Road, a soot blackened, imperious classical facade.


The chapel is no longer standing, and little remains of the graveyard, the foreground shows the site, soon to become a children’s playground for the new flats.


The Imperial Club survived into the 60s playing host to local beat groups, and a significant venue on the local soul scene.


The streets no longer ring with the the ringing guitars of Johnny Darano and the Strollers


The Fairhurst designed flats were a breath of fresh air for the area, slim Crittall metal windows, concrete and brick structure, light and clean living for a new era. Social housing for a new era of social justice, postwar optimism written all over the facades.

Contrasting with the poorly built, stock brick, stolid terraces that they replaced, here was a little of the Modernist Movement for the masses.


Some years ago when I first photographed the area, here were residents, happy to share their thoughts and feelings, at home in their homes. A settled community, whose homes were soon to be central to a masterplan, the very word sends shivers down you spine.

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A redevelopment zone, around Hopes Carr and Covent Garden, saw the flats tinned up, prior to demolition. Homes, though clearly fit for purpose standing empty.

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Several years on, and they are still standing empty.

Save for a handful of protection by occupation tenants, living in a Camelot empty property.

“Our people combine entrepreneurial spirit and a deep understanding of specialist vacant property management with the highest standards of client care. Innovative internationally and well-known locally, Camelot design made-to-measure advice for you.”

“Camelot, located no where in particular, can be anywhere”

A pay to enter theme park with a limited future.

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And so heartbreak at Impasse Pass, another stalled urban redevelopment, awaiting capital in a public private partnership.

Until the next time.

Walk a little further, take a peek, blink and it all may have disappeared.

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Stockport – Grand Central

From coal drops to tear drops.

By Grand Central/Station I sat down and wept.

There’ll be no tear drops tonight.

The site was at the heart of industrial Stockport for a hundred and fifty years.

Goods in goods out, day in day out.


A town and time driven by coal and steam, as a first date with Stockport it was never a love at first sight site, two narrow cobbled access roads, lined with tall blue engineers’ brick walls, arching towards two narrow entrances.


This along with the rest of the area, was a working area, hanging on to the edge of the Mersey Valley, housing and industry cheek by jowl, in one grimy fug.

Time changes everything, by 1990 the site had been cleared and work commenced on a brand new shiny retail, leisure and entertainment complex. The nation had shifted wholesale from manufacturing to carousing.

The clatter of clogs replaced by the squeak of Adidas.

The white hot heat of technology fires Heaven and Hell.


A club, swimming pool, bars, quasar quest, bowling alley, shops and cinema. Open public, private spaces leading from the A6 to the station approach. Concrete paving, brick, steel and glass construction, in a dulling whirlwind of sub-postmodern, cost benefit analysis, mirthless architectural, fun and frolics.


Nothing lasts forever, gradually the fun grinds to a halt, the alluring shimmer of boob tubes and hot pants, quickly fades into a dimly remembered, future passed.


There are more things in Heaven and Hell, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Grand Central Stockport was owned by Norwich-based private property company Targetfollow, who acquired the complex for £10.8m in 2004. In January 2011, after lack of progress on the development scheme, Stockport Council purchased the complex. In December 2011, Stockport Council announced that Muse Developments, the urban regeneration division of construction group Morgan Sindall had been selected as the preferred developer with a report to be presented to the council the following week. The revamped regeneration plans include an office quarter for the town centre, a hotel, public space outside the railway station. In addition, the redevelopment would also include a multi-storey car park and to make the site into a more attractive gateway into the town centre. The new redevelopment plans are valued at approximately £145m.

So the merry dance continues, a brave new world for the bemused citizen to consume and be consumed by, a gateway to speculative development.



The reassuring golden arches await the intrepid voyager, the foundation stone of any civilised civil society, set in terracotta for ever and a day.

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The high vis, high rise, low expectation roller coaster, rolls on relentlessly.

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