I was walking back from St Stephen’s Church recently, when I chanced upon a small group of two storey, flat roofed, semi detached social houses.
They were blessed with that post war functionalist brick and concrete chic.
Part of a larger development of homes in the Longford area of the town.
An area which is one of the most socially deprived in the country, with more than its fair share of problems, crack and weed would once have been pressing matters for the Borough Highways Department – these days they are more likely to attract the attention of the boys and girls in blue.
And to cap it all the area is prone to frequent flooding.
There are signs of hope as the housing association and council embark on a multi million pound refurbishment of the estate including:
Replacing fencing around bungalows.
On the day of my visit the chill January streets seemed quiet and ordered, and I was enchanted by the mismatched pairs of semis that I encountered.
I set out one morning with a clear intent, to travel.
To travel to see the Warrington Transporter Bridge – of which I had only just become aware. Ignorance in this instance is not bliss, expectation and fulfilment is.
Guided by the detailed instructions on the Transporter Bridge Website I made my way from Bank Quay Station, mildly imperilled yet not impeded by caged walkways, tunnels, bridges, muddy paths and Giant Hogweed!
Finally catching a glimpse of:
Warrington Transporter Bridge, also known as Bank Quay Transporter Bridge or Crosfield’s Transporter Bridge, across the River Mersey is a structural steel transporter bridge with a span of 200 feet. It is 30 feet wide, and 76 feet above high water level, with an overall length of 339 feet. It was built in 1915 and, although it has been out of use since about 1964, it is still standing. It was designed by William Henry Hunter and built by William Arrol and Co.
The bridge in use 1951.
It is till standing today, and was built to despatch finished product from the cement plant that had been built on the peninsula. It was originally used to carry rail vehicles up to 18 tons in weight, and was converted for road vehicles in 1940. In 1953 it was modified to carry loads of up to 30 tons.
The bridge is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building, and because of its poor condition it is on their Heritage at Risk Register. The bridge is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
As I walked out one morning, up and down the A49 out of Warrington town centre, on the way somewhere else entirely, the sun and I chanced to fall on a tight group of streets and courtyards, constraining and containing an intriguing collection of modern homes.
Competitively priced, well below national averages – the area looks to be getting along.
Incidence of crime is low to almost non existent.
So an illuminated set of buildings with little by way of further illumination, I presume them to be corporation built, late Seventies? A visually exciting set of varied, interlocking geometric volumes – a formalist model that seems to function. On a chill day most residents were hopefully tucked up safe and warm somewhere or other, public spaces rested, bereft of life. The window spaces are pinched and mean, not only of the elevation facing the adjacent main road, but also on the inward faces. An economy of means and a resultant paucity of light.
Arriving in Rochdale in search of something else entirely, it was impossible to ignore seven prominent, as yet unclad tower blocks, high upon a hill. I was informed by a local resident that they were known locally as the Seven Sisters, though variously identified as Falinge B, College Bank, and Holland Street flats.
The area was formerly home to Victorian workers’ dwellings, known as The Paddock – the post-war policy of slum clearance saw them swept away, in readiness for municipal modernity.
Hey presto 1963 and there appears four 21 storey blocks containing 476 dwellings; three 17 storey blocks containing 286 dwellings.
Photograph Mancunian 101
Building contractors were Wimpey and the flats were designed by Rochdale ’s Borough Surveyor, Mr W H G Mercer and Mr E V Collins who worked with George Wimpey and Company’s chief architect D. Broadbent.
Following a thread, a tenuous electrical link that brought me back home, to an all too familiar household name.
A name that has illuminated, vibrated, mixed, measured, massaged, warmed and dried our lives for over one hundred years.
But what does it mean, where does this stuff come from, what’s it all about Pifco?
Pifco of Failsworth, also of Pifco House, 87 High Street, Manchester.
1900 Company established by Joseph Webber to sell lighting appliances and accessories.
1902 Public company formed as Provincial Incandescent Fittings Co. Ltd.
1911 The Filani Nigeria Tin Mining Co was incorporated as a public company.
1949 Name changed.
1954 Incorporated Walls Ltd, of River Street Birmingham, as a wholly-owned subsidiary to manufacture medical lamps, kettles and small cookers.
1957 The last of the mining assets were sold.
1957 Filani Nigeria Tin Mining Co changed its name to Pifco Holdings Ltd and acquired all of the issued share capital of Pifco 1961 Manufacturers and distributors of electrical appliances and accessories.
1970 The Regent Cotton Mill, in Failsworth was purchased by Pifco.
1984 Agreed to acquire Swan Housewares from BSR International, but later the deal collapsed.
1987 Acquired House of Carmen, maker of heated hair rollers; the other important brand was Salton.
1991 Purchased Russell Hobbs Tower.
2001 Salton Group, a US company making domestic appliances, acquired Pifco.
So Provincial Incandescent Fittings Co. Ltd.
We salute you, so much joy emanating from Failsworth Manchester, making the world a warmer, drier, brighter, cleaner safer place.
Always at never less than entirely reasonable prices.
A true friend to the nocturnal cyclist.
Christmas cheer for all!
Those little things that lighten the wearisome load of the daily beauty regime.
The minor essentials of our everyday electrical lives.
The seemingly frivolous rendered material.
We can all sleep ever so easily abed at night, in the simple knowledge that Pifco is still out there working just for us/you!