Ashton Moss

Ashton Moss is an area I have known for some fifty years or so, my grandfather was a collier at the Ashton Moss Pit, I worked trains around the triangle of rail that encloses the area – I returned some time ago to take a look at what remained of a once fertile area.

This area of low lying, deep peaty bog, just outside Ashton-under Lyne, was drained in the mid 1800’s to grow some of the best crops – It was world famous for its celery but also grew good cabbage, cauliflowers and lettuce, with cucumbers and tomatoes grown in glasshouses. The ground was apparently fertilised by marl dug from local banks or pits, and by dung brought by horse and cart from the elephant and tiger enclosures at Belle Vue Zoo, down the road.

Four brothers of the Kelly family came from Ireland shortly after the Irish potato famine of 1840’s, settled on the Moss and still have a descendent selling fruit and vegetables on Ashton Market today.

The Moss is also where Bill Sowerbutts, of Gardener’s Question Time fame, learnt his trade. Bill’s first memories were of his Father’s smallholding on the Moss, which had been bought from a market gardener called Tommy Knight in 1892.

The celery is long gone, the land now in use as a retail leisure park, intersected by the Manchester Orbital ring road, a Metrolink tram track, several dual carriageways and the existing rail network.

Its passing does not seem to be matter of record save for this archived account of 1989.

I read today of plans to set the 2025 World’s Fair there.

In January 2009 it looked like this, heaps of spoil, recently relocated slag heaps, frozen lakes and puddles, rough tracks, barely preserved rights of way and restricted access.






















Liverpool – ABC Cinema


The waves of tears rolling down your raked and worn boards, towards.

A shimmering screen no longer lit, by the projector’s luminous fan.


The smoke of a million smoking cigarettes.


Rolling in gales to your rafters.

Long gone.

The six storey exterior was designed by A. E. Shannon and has very little decoration other than motifs over the entrance. Despite this, the building remains a very distinct feature on Lime Street. The building is listed for the grand interior, which is said to remain one of the designers – William R. Glen’s – best. 

The cinema was renamed ABC Cinema in February 1971 and survived intact until 1982 when it was converted to three screens; the additional two mini cinemas were installed under the balcony. It was re-named Cannon in 1986 and remained so until closure in 1998. A building that many in the city remember using, The Forum finally closed its doors on the 28th of January 1998. It remains unused.    

It say so here

Open temporarily to accommodate the 2016 Biennial, working in mixed and low light, this is the current state of affairs. its future however seems to have been resolved and assured as the plans for renovation and reuses as a gig venue are unveiled.

Take a look:

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Blackpool – Deco

In the 1920’s Parisian chic swept across the chintzy wastes and waists of the war weary western world.

Moribund architectural style was alive with its gay geometry.

Look around any town anywhere, it’s there.

Sometimes, somewhat neglected, but it’s there.

Looking back at you.

Blackpool between the wars, expanding and competing with itself and others, was no exception, amusement, diversion and seaside indiscretion.

This is what remains, have a dekko:


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Found Art

For more years than I care to remember I have had an interest in Found Art.

The naturally occurring collision of printed material, the unseen hand and weather.

Our streets are literally littered with the stuff.

Conscious of the work of Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Hoch, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, I’m conscientiously out and about in search of the unconscious.





Here’s a sample of my findings so far:

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Kennet House – Manchester


I’ve been up to my ears in seawater recently, researching and visiting modernity on the coast – when the question was posed, is this particular marine typology to be found inland?

Well, yes it was – in thrall to the work of Bruno Taut’s work at Britz, amongst others, and motivated by a desire for newer, cleaner forms of architecture, often instigated by forward thinking socialist local authorities, the future was built.


As directed by the British Broadcasting Corporation in October 1937.

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The future was subsequently knocked down and put back in its box.

However for a short while it looked like this:

– Kennet House on Smedley Lane, Cheetham Hill.

Many of these photographs were taken by Norman Newsham – who had the foresight to record the passing of this once great building, many thanks Norman.

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Take a walk down there one day, take time to take a look at where the future was.

Beneath the pavement, the pavement.


Archival material thanks to:

Ashton under Lyne – The Dustbin Demolished

For over thirty year you have weathered the storms of public ignominy.

The unloved Dustbin – repository of Tameside Council’s officers and offices.

Last time I was here you were there.

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Then along came the ‘dozers.

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Vision Tameside has left you in tiny pieces.

– poked out your eyes and stamped you into the ground.

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Ashton under Lyne – Civic Offices

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.

Once upon a time there were council offices – then slowly there were not.


Built in the 1980s and met with almost immediate public disdain.


Welcome to The Dustbin.

An octagonal brick face concrete hub, anchoring three six storey walls, which enclose a central open courtyard area. Housing all central local authority offices.

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