Varna Street – Rogue Studios Manchester

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Once there was a school – from May 16th 1898, there was a school.

One of many Manchester School Board schools built in an imposing functional, triple storied style, they often seemed several times too big, for the infants which they contained.

With one thousand five hundred pupils, it was dubbed the largest school in Lancashire.

Nestled in a tight corner formed by the Lanky Cut and the train line below, surrounded by the huddled masses, in their manifold terraced homes.

 

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Once home to cheeky monkey, soon to be Monkee Davy Jones.

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His runaway, overnight fame made his humble Gorton home a mecca for adoring fans.

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The school’s interior was a mix of wide open halls and closeted classrooms.

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Archive photographs from the Manchester Local Image Collection

Eventually the school bell rang for the last time, and a newer brighter home was found for the little learners.

Lights were turned off and the doors of Varna Street were closed.

But not for the last time, a new use was found for this recently listed building.

Having lost their city centre base Rogue Studios were offered the site by the local authority, and in double quick time they have created a home for artists, a community resource and project space, which will continue to prosper for years to come.

Many thanks to Ms. Jenny Steele Rogue artist for my guided tour.

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Barmouth Street – Bradford Manchester

Once again I am following in the footsteps of Rita Tushinghan and the Taste of Honey film crew, this time my research has lead me to Barmouth Street, Manchester.

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To the east of the city centre, Bradford Park School was the scene of the opening scene, Jo’s netball match. The school is now long gone, now the site of a much enlarged public park, as can be seen from the map above.

Shelagh Delaney, author of the original play on which the film was based, can be seen fleetingly in this opening scene, appearing momentarily over the games teacher’s shoulder.

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I have found one archive image of the school, as the scholars prepare for the annual Whit Walks, this along with many other community traditions and conventions, have all but disappeared from the streets of the city.

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This was once a tight knit community, surrounded by industry, full employment and a short lived period of post-war growth and optimism.

A corner shop on very corner, though by the time I worked as a Mothers Pride van lad in the late sixties, many were already on their last legs. A lethal cocktail of closing factories, incipient supermarkets, and an urban renewal programme, which lead to slum clearance, would change the character of the area forever.

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I am indebted to the photographic work of T Brooks who seems to have spent much of the mid Sixties documenting the streets, his pictures are now kept here in the Manchester Image Archives. Sadly I have found no further reference to him or his images, but have nothing but admiration for all those who pass unnoticed amongst us, camera forever poised.

Central to the social and sanitary life of that that community were the Barmouth Street Baths and Washhouse, where citizens would swim, wash, dry, iron, chat convivially, and surprisingly – play bowls.

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Now long gone, along with the provision of local authority nursery care. There were similar low level pre-fabricated buildings dotted all over the city. Built quickly and cheaply, to provide for a growing population, of largely working-class families, with no shortage of work opportunities.

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This was a time of great social change, a time which the film attempts to anticipate -a more diverse, and hopefully more tolerant time, a time of possibilities and opportunities for all.

Yorkshire Building Society – Bradford

I don’t know much about the Yorkshire Building Society, I must say I have less than a passing interest in Building Societies generally.

I more of a building societies man myself.

But I do know this

In 1993 the former Hammonds Sauce Works Band was renamed as the Yorkshire Building Society Band. The building society supported the main band and also the YBS Hawley Band and YBS Juniors. The building society ceased its sponsorship in December 2004 although the YBS initials were retained in the band’s name until 2008. From January 2009 the band was renamed the Hammonds Saltaire Band.

Which seems a particularly cruel way, to treat a sauce works band.

Their former HQ has been standing on the corner, watching all the world go by.

For some time now.

Empty.

For sale, to let, facing an uncertain future.

Alone.

Kirkgate Market – Bradford

Yorkshire is a county of market towns – Bradford is no exception, a mediaeval village expanding with the growth of the wool trade and the coming of the Industrial Revolution.

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Flourishing.

The site was originally occupied by an imposing building of 1878.

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Demolished in 1973.

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To be replaced by a Brutalist build in the same year.

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A structure of bold geometry, contrasting brick and warm, raw striated concrete.

The interior has several decorative features, their authorship and origins unknown

Consisting of four 2.5 metre, and one 6.5 metre  square ceramic panels, and three large carved concrete reliefs. They are perched high above the stalls, weighted by several unwanted coats of paint, and obscured by a plethora of amusing detritus.

We all deserve better.

So farewell fair Kirkgate, I love your stairwell.

Well.

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