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.
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.
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.
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.