Sunday Walk – Park Hill Sheffield

My thanks to all those happy souls who braved the cold winds, sunshine and threat of snow on Sunday 28th October 2018 – Steve.

Sharing ideas, memories and animated conversation, as we circumnavigated the fenced perimeter of Europe’s largest listed structure. In search of a personal photographic response to the site.

This was the online outline plan.

These are the results.

Lynne Davis


Gary Wolstenholme



Jenny Owen



Peter Clarke



Brian Parkinson



Jacqui Dace



John Gibson



Michael Ford



Julia Beaumont



Ruth Robson



Linus Westwood


Sheffield Photographic Walk

Thanks for coming along, it was a pleasure to meet you.

But how and why did we all get here?

Much is made of Park Hill’s relationship with Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation and there are clear links both visually and conceptually.


The open rectilinear concrete structure and integrated services and surrounding space – replacing a grid-iron of back to backs considered unfit for purpose.

Architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith under the supervision of John Lewis Womersley, Sheffield Council’s City Architect, began work in 1953 designing the Park Hill Flats. Construction began in 1957. Park Hill Part One was officially opened by Hugh Gaitskell, MP and then Leader of the Opposition, on 16 June 1961.

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The initial success of the development was followed by a period of slow decline, mirroring the fate of post-industrial Britain. Unemployment, lack of investment and the public and central government perception of social housing all contributing to Park Hill’s eventual closure.

Despite the problems, the complex remained structurally sound, and was Grade II* listed in 1998. A part-privatisation scheme by the developer Urban Splash in partnership with English Heritage to turn the flats into apartments, business units and social housing is now underway. The renovation was due to start in around 2007 but was put on hold due to the recession with work starting in 2009 with the first phase open to residents in 2010/11.

So today we see a site in transition, partially resuscitated, half tinned up and stripped out.

How then do we photograph present-day Park Hill?

My answer it to walk and look, take time to explore the site and consider your response.

You can approach the project as an entirely formal process, considering:

Viewpoint – where you physically stand and look.

Light – naturally occurring, from the ever changing sun or artificially from flash, its source and your relative position to it and the subject, are of primary importance.

Composition – framing the subject carefully on screen or through the viewfinder, taking care to include only the elements you feel are of consequence.

Are those elements organised in a grid, symmetrical or diagonal?

By changing the camera angle the composition can be radically modified.

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All the visual arts rely on a common vocabulary:

Shape – the physical form both geometric and organic.

Line – the implied or actual path between points that lead and direct the eye.

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Tone – the range from dark to light.

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Colour – the chromatic value from bright primary to dull non-colour.

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Texture – taking the rough with the smooth.

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Pattern – the repetition of shape

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These elements can be composed to form contrast and/or harmony, as straight meets bent, whilst red and grey collide.

Historically record photography has taken such a dispassionate view of a site or subject, and this objective approach was taken up by the New Topographers.

Many of the photographers associated with new topographics including Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Nicholas Nixon and Bernd and Hiller Becher, were inspired by the man-made, selecting subject matter that was matter-of-fact. Parking lots, suburban housing and warehouses were all depicted with a beautiful stark austerity, almost in the way early photographers documented the natural landscape.

Alternate to this formal approach is a more subjective narrative style of photography.

What do you think and feel?

Fashioning a personal response, through that which you choose to include or exclude, in the pictures that you produce.

Roger Mayne in 1961 framing the optimism of the newly opened estate.

Milk delivery, Park Hill Estate, Sheffield

Bill Stephenson in 1988 capturing the later days Park Hill set against a backdrop of decline.


As seen in the recent S1 Artspace exhibition Love Among The Ruins.

Both photographers have chosen to consider the relationship of the residents to the estate, rather than simply make a formal record, theirs is generally considered to be a Humanist documentary position.

This does not preclude the consideration of the formal elements listed above – it is a question of emphasis.

Working with people can be a longer term project – where access and privacy are negotiable – to be handled with care.

We can however record the evidence of where people have been – it just requires a patient and curious eye.

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In building up a personal response consider the use of a wide or establishing shot to set the scene, giving context for that which is to come.

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Moving in ever closer for telling details.

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I’ve been here once or twice before.

Why are all these photographers coming here from Manchester?

Last train to Park Hill 

We’ve all changed.

So ta-ra Sheffield and Park Hill see you again soon.

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Lowry House – Manchester

17 Marble St, Manchester M2 3AW

Situated in a prime location between King Street and Market Street, Lowry House is convenient for Manchester’s main financial district as well as being adjacent to the city’s main retail core. Well-positioned for a range of quality eateries and public transport connections at Piccadilly Gardens, the building is a great choice for businesses looking to create a quality impression.

Part of Bruntwood’s extensive property portfolio across the city.

Painfully modern and anonymous interiors for the modern business – this could be your dream location.

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This area has been at the vortex of power and wealth for over a hundred years.


Manchester and Salford Bank 1866



Marble Street 1909



Marble Street 1970

Narrow winds enclosing light and space.

Controlling pounds, shillings and pence.


The final withdrawal has been made.

The ATM encased in oxidised steel.

The Nat West has gone west.

Rust we are told never sleeps.

Built in 1973 by architects Robert Swift and Partners, renovated in 2006 by Bruntwood, adding cladding and a certain je ne sais pas.

I do admire its precast modular lift and mass almost towering over its surroundings.

The late afternoon sun adds a certain beguiling warmth to the pale pinkish concrete.

Take a swerve off of the hustle and seemingly unnecessary bustle of Market Street and marvel at this Marble Street structure.

Let’s follow in the imaginary footsteps of Manchester man Thomas de Quincey.

No huge Babylonian centres of commerce towered into the clouds on these sweet sylvan routes: no hurricanes of haste, or fever-stricken armies of horses and flying chariots, tormented the echoes in these mountain recesses.





















Clark Brothers – Thomas Street Manchester

Who you gonna call?

0161 834 5880 · 34-36 Thomas Street M4 1ER Manchester – Clark Brothers.

There’s nowhere quite like it – a wonderland of wares from who knows where?

Well mostly from upstairs where they hand print the signs.

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They have everything that you never ever knew that you really wanted.

At prices you just can’t resist.

The finest selection of candy striped bags.

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Things which twinkle and shimmer like no other things could ever do.

Transform your home into a 380 degree 365 24/7 winter landscape or tropical retreat.

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Just to wander the wobbly floorboards, is to enter a palace of variety that fills the senses with pure unadulterated delight.

Step inside love and lose yourself in a garden of artifice, happiness and joy!

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Al Faisal – Thomas Street Manchester

Things, as we know, come and go – by 1807 Thomas Street had arrived.

roper 1807

At the heart of the new Manchester – providing dwellings, shops, pubs and manufacturing premises for the masses.

One of the earliest architectural complexes of the Industrial Revolution.




Pifco – Manchester Manufacturing




The Millstone 1970

bay 70

Bay Horse 1970

Both pubs have survived and the street is home to several relative newcomers, including the Richard Goodall Gallery and celebrated men’s outfitters Oi Polloi.

Also the location of my most favourite shop in the whole wide world.

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From the 70’s onwards the area had been at the centre of the Asian garment trade – and so it came to pass some 26 years ago the Al Faisal arrived, one of several curry cafés, feeding the faces of the passing parade.

I’ve eaten there for most of that time, fed very well indeed thank you very much, for way less than a king’s ransom.

Yesterday I popped in at teatime, for my tea – posters proclaimed an imminent move.


The whole block is to be demolished and a hotel to be built – there is naturally a suspicious resistance to such change, what was a protected area of historical interest, is fast becoming a deregulated playground for the avaricious developer.

A Manchester council spokesman said:

Our building control officers have been engaged with owner of the property on Thomas Street for some time.

The condition of the building means there is an imminent danger of collapse and a potential threat to pedestrians. Unfortunately, the poor weather has only served to add to our concern over the safety of the building.

A conservation specialist will be on site working closely with the building owner to ensure as much of the fabric of the property can be retained as possible, and only parts that are unsalvageable will be removed to ensure public safety.

Manchester Evening News

Rumours have also been rife concerning the fate of the nearby This & That – an essential part of the heartbeat of the city – the affordable independent trader.

I sat and ate happily, and was privileged to be given a tour of the kitchens by owner Tariq, recording for posterity a site of some culinary and social consequence.

Let’s take a look around and look forward to a meal just across the road real soon.