Fountains Café – Bradford

17 John St Bradford BD1 3JS

I first came here some twenty years ago or so and on each subsequent visit little seems to change.

The exterior signage and fascia remain intact.

The orange light shades are still hanging limp and bright from the suspended ceiling.

The furniture and scarlet carpet unmoved, as the cheery waiting staff weave merrily in, out and round about with meals and drinks.

The distinctive white relief sits in the same place on the wall.

Almost inevitably I order a mug of tea.

Along with a plate of eggs chips and peas.

Eat and drink the lot and leave happy and contented – who can resist a well run, well appointed classic café?

I can’t.

A well-known and respected figure in the Bradford business world, Mr Paul Georgiou ran Fountains Coffee House in John Street for just shy of 50 years alongside his wife Mary, and has run cafés and other businesses in the city for almost six decades.

Other ventures created by Mr Georgiou include the Hole in the Wall nightclub, which was one of the first underground nightclubs in the city centre. It hosted acts including Sir Tom Jones and rockers Thin Lizzy as they rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970.

Sadly he passed away in 2019.

His main business Fountains Coffee House is now managed by his son Michael, but when it opened it was one of the first businesses to open in the John Street Market, as the Oastler centre was known then.

Telegraph and Argus

Maxine Peake was a recent visitor – filming a sequence for the film Funny Cow, along with Alun Armstrong.

I pop in every time I hit town – often whilst hosting a Modernist Mooch.

So here they are my own observations, brews and grub from the last few years.

Do yourself a favour pop in, if and when you pass, you won’t be disappointed.

The Trawl – Bridlington

5-7 Cliff Street Town Centre Bridlington YO15 2NJ

The best chippy in Bridlington

I first bowled up in 2011 – walking the wild streets of East Yorkshire – eager to eat.

I was instantly enchanted by your fragrant fish and chips, peg board menu and marvellous tiles.

It would have been rude not to walk right in, sit right down and order a Haddock Special with tea – so I did.

Delightful.

Fast forward to 2014 and here we are again, some minor adjustments to prices and layout, but essentially business as usual.

One more time please – a Haddock Special with tea.

2020 and this time it’s serious I’m going in, armed with an insatiable curiosity, a Panasonic Lumix TZ70 and a healthy appetite – in that order.

I ordered a Haddock Special with tea.

The food was as ever superb, served with winning smile and cooked to perfection by the same owner who had dealt a winning hand nine years ago.

Whilst I awaited my food, I sat patiently taking in my surroundings and a few snaps.

Noting the notice my host observed that she loved children but couldn’t eat a whole one.

For the very first time I noticed the illustrative pictorial panels adorning the range counter.

And the menu above the entrance.

Replete, enough is as good as a feast – I complimented the chef, thanked all and sundry, exited stage right.

Once out on the streets once more, I surveyed the fascia, its tiles and newish fascia.

One thing is for sure I will return, if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creeks don’t rise.

So a big Bird goodbye from the old fish.

And hello to the new.

Fred Perry Way – 2009

Some time ago in Stockport Fred Perry was born, lived and moved away – in pretty rapid succession. Nevertheless the Borough claims him as their own and to celebrate the fact, they have devised a Way.

Not the way or an away day but a named way, the Fred Perry Way.

Stretching from North Reddish in the north to Woodford in the south – zigging and zagging through and across highways and byways, avenues and alleyways.

Combining rural footpaths, quiet lanes and river valleys with urban landscapes and park lands.

For the long distance walker it may be useful as a link route. The Fred Perry Way provides a link between the Bollin Valley Way, and through that, the North Cheshire Way, and via a short link between Mottram & Woodford, the Tame Valley Way and Etherow Goyt Valley Way at Stockport. A full crossing of historical North Cheshire could be devised, linking Black Hill & Crowden on the Pennine Way with Hilbre Island, utilising also the Wirral Way/Wirral Shore Way.

LDWA

Which seems like a whole heap of Ways.

Anyway this is what I saw way back when, but I’ll be back again in a bit!

Bridport to Bournemouth

Grub up at the Lord Nelson and saints preserve us, the first sighting of fried bread – not a single hash brownie to be seen. The square plate very much in keeping with the naval nomenclature.

This ‘square plate’ theory is one of the best-known examples of folk-etymology. The phrase exists, the square plates exist, and two and two make five. To be more precise, what we have here is a back-formation. Someone hears the phrase ‘square meal’ and then invents a plausible story to fit it.

Spoil sport!

Anyway it’s Saturday 1st August 2015 and time to make tracks another sunny day in prospect, so much to see and do in Dorset!

The White Horse is a Dorset country inn located in the picturesque village of Litton Cheney in the heart of the Bride Valley. A warm welcome awaits at this traditional rural pub with a roaring log fire, with honest home cooked food using seasonal, locally sourced, produce. Popular with walkers and cyclists, families alike. A perfect place to enjoy good food, great ales, wines and even better company.

My lamb was average but the vegetables were very, very poor, some of the peas were stuck together with ice.

Trip Advisor

Steady rolling hills, I’m a steady rolling man.

The Hardy Monument stands on an exposed location above the village of  Portesham in Dorset. It was built in 1844 in memory of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Flag Captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Amongst other things, Hardy became famous as it was in his arms that Nelson died, saying the immortal words ‘Kiss me Hardy’.

Contemporary historians argue that this explanation is a Victorian invention, since the earliest recorded use of the term ‘Kismet’ in the English language does not appear until after 1805.

Others also claimed that Nelson had said “Kiss Emma, Hardy”, referring to his mistress and lover Lady Emma Hamilton.

Thomas Hardy was unavailable for comment.

There’s a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing
And the white moon beams.

A song my dad would sing me to sleep with, one of my earliest and sweetest memories, his lullabies were often those songs he remembered from his army days.

Following a morning of historical and linguistic conjecture we enter a land of architectural and historical conjecture, right here in Poundbury.

Poundbury is an urban extension to the Dorset county town of Dorchester, built on the principles of architecture and urban planning as advocated by The Prince of Wales in ‘A Vision of Britain’.

Poundbury, the Prince of Wales’s traditionalist village in Dorset, has long been mocked as a feudal Disneyland. But a growing and diverse community suggests it’s getting a lot of things right.

Poundbury should be completed by 2025, by which time it will be home to an estimated 4,500 people, increasing Dorchester’s population by a quarter. Then the Duchy will leave it to run itself. Krier, who is writing a book on Le Corbusier, says he and Prince Charles will then embark on their ultimate project: “We are going to build a small modernist town and show them how to do it.”

Guardian

Fake, heartless, authoritarian and grimly cute.

I myself cycled through in stunned silence, there was nobody about and the overall feel was one of a living filmset, opinion is deeply divided, I remain impartial – ride on.

Dorchester ghost.

Tiny vernacular bus shelter awaits bus and the sheltered.

Woodsford Castle is the surviving range of a 14th-century fortified manor house. King Edward III granted William de Whitefield a licence to crenellate in 1335. The house has the largest thatched roof in the county and has been restored by the Landmark Trust. 

One of our favourite Landmarks, love the table-tennis, the new decor and carpet, spacious but warm.

The house is a Grade I listed building.

I passed by a delightful café – sorry to say that the name escapes me, and ate the most tasty cheese scone with chutney and cream and a brew, thank you ever so much nameless café.

Well let’s go to Wool via Giddy Green.

I live here

St Joseph’s RC Wool

An impressive 1960s church design, responding thoughtfully to the needs of the post-Vatican II liturgy. The function clearly dictates the form, resulting in a building that is visually memorable as well as fit for purpose. Little has been changed since 1971. The Triodetic spaceframe roof structure is not generally associated with churches but enables a large uninterrupted space for the celebration of the Mass. The interior furnishings and fittings are essential to the totality of the design.

Taking Stock

The Roman Catholic Church of St Joseph of 1969-71 designed by Anthony Jaggard of John Stark & Partners is listed at Grade II – a bold exterior employing exposed brickwork, a mineral render, vertical glazing and sparse ornamentation.

Historic England

I fell in love the very moment what I saw it, having climbed over a fence by the railway, as I remember.

Next ting you know I’m in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Cycling down yet another leafy lane.

Catching the ferry with several other cyclists on our way to Poole.

Walked the bike along the crowded promenade into Bournemouth.

Passed the Grand Cinema.

Located in the Westbourne district of Bournemouth, the Grand Cinema Theatre opened on 18th December 1922 with a production of Anthony and Cleopatra performed on the stage. The following day it screened its first film A Prince of Lovers plus a Harold Lloyd short comedy.

It had a facade coverted with Carter’s Architectural Tiles, manufactured at the Carter pottery in Poole. There was a central bay over the entrance which was topped by a revolving globe, which was illuminated at night. The auditorium had a sliding roof which could be opened in hot summer weather. There was a lift which could be taken instead of the stairs to the balcony level and the cafe. The front of the orchestra pit barrier was also covered in Carter’s tiles.

It was taken over by an independent Snape Entertainments from 21st December 1953 and they operated it as a full time cinema until 8th October 1975 when the film They Love Sex was the last regular film shown. It went over to become a full time bingo club, until a mix of part week bingo and films were introduced from 27th March 1976.

The Grand Cinema is a Grade II Listed building.

Cinema Treasures

Finally found, following another find a room farrago – a less that grand tiny room in a big hotel, full of stag and hen parties – as was the whole town.

Seeking solace in the Goat and Tricycle – a beer house that boasts a huge range of hand pulled cask ales including Wadworth classics: Horizon, 6X, Swordfish and Wadworth IPA. The pub also has up to six Guest ales which change every few days, so there is always plenty of variety to choose from.

I would have chosen to keep the original names, the recent trend for the comic rebranding is quite literally ridiculous.

It was originally two separate pubs The Pembroke Arms to the left, it’s old Marston’s Dolphin Brewery tiles intact. The Pembroke Shades where the bar is now, was on the right. The Shades ran a boxing club where Freddie Mills, who lived opposite, is said to have trained, he went on to win the World Light Heavyweight belt.

I worked in the Shades on and off for 8 years. I still see a lot of the old crew, I am about to set up a Shades Re-union – we had one some years ago it was fab!

Do you remember John Bell, he was part time glass collector, full time alcoholic. Mary the Irish Landlady – she ‘s still going strong, unfortunately John Bell passed away.

Cheers Linda Jones

With a pint of beer.

I walked up the road aways for a pint elsewhere.

Finally returning to the Triangle.

Enough is enough it’s been another long day.

Night night.

Plymouth to Dartmouth

Wednesday 29th July 2015 – eastward ho!

Leaving the compact anonymity of my B&B for the open road!

Having been unable to sample the joys of the Quality Hotel.

The Quality Hotel closed in 2014 and was demolished two years later after the site was bought by the city council following vandalism and fires.  

The ten-storey concrete block was built in 1970 in the 350th anniversary year of The Mayflower ship setting sail from Plymouth for North America.

Gilpin Demolition

Plymouth Hoe’s fifty million pound hotel and apartments project appears to have ground to a halt with no building work happening more than a year after developers vowed it would start in 2018.

Henley Real Estate, the firm behind the plans for an 11-story hotel and a 15-floor block of flats on the demolished former Quality Hotel site, has gone silent on plans and not responded to emails and phone calls from Plymouth Live.

When we visited the site the only sign of life was some weeds growing out of the ground.

I’ll leave them to it, I’m off in search of the South West Passage

The South West Coast Path itself is 630 miles long and is the longest established National Trail in the country. Starting at Minehead in Somerset it runs along the coastline of Exmoor, continuing along the coast of North Devon into Cornwall. It follows the entire coastline of Cornwall, goes across the mouth of the River Tamar and continues into Devon. After running along the south coast of Devon it then follows the Dorset coastline before finally ending at Poole Harbour. 

However if you follow the Coastal Path you’ll miss this delightful concrete fire station training tower in Plympton.

Along with the longest corrugated iron structure in the West Country.

You’ll miss getting slightly lost and a cup of tea at the Dream Bites roadside café in Modbury.

Dream Bites café, we’re all is welcome, from cars to Biker’s to Ride outs to Puplic and to work companies even you the cyclists!

GREAT FOOD GREAT PRICE.

You’ll miss the deep hedged lanes of Devon.

Where the four x fours force you into the roadside brambles with consummate ease and regularity – even on a designated cycle route.

Respite from such trials and tribulations can be found upon siting a water tower or a deserted butchers – down at Slapton Ley.

Slapton Ley is the largest natural lake in south-west England. Although it is only separated from the sea by a narrow shingle bar, it is entirely freshwater. 

Much beloved of my old pal Harry H Potts and family.

Then it’s up a hill down a hill to Dartmouth.

I made enquiries at several sea front hotels – who upon assessing my mode of dress and transport, despatched me to a back street pub B&B, suit y’self suits me, and my pocket.

The Seale Arms was just the job.

Quick change for the artist – let’s have a look around.

It’s full of historical architectural detail.

And slightly more hysterical architectural detail.

Time for a pint – chatting in the pub to yachting types, for it is here that the sense of tradition, the sea, power and wealth traditionally resides.

A short walk home.

Night night.

Okehampton to Plymouth

Tuesday 28th July 2015 waking up early on the outskirts of Okehampton – I went next door to explore – the Wash and Go.

I went back to Okehampton.

Headed out of town along the old railway line to Plymouth – where rests the solemn remains of previous railway activity and Meldon Quarry.

It’s believed that the first quarrying began around the late 1700s when the local limestone was extracted. Over the years this gradually gave over to aggregate quarrying and apelite quarrying until it final closure. The original owners of the quarry were the London and South Western Railway and then came Britsh Rail and finally EEC Aggregates.

Crossing Meldon Viaduct.

Meldon Viaduct carried the London and South Western Railway across the West Okement River at Meldon on Dartmoor. The truss bridge, which was constructed from wrought iron and cast iron not stone or brick arches, was built under the direction of the LSWR’s chief engineer, WR Galbraith. After taking three years to build, the dual-tracked bridge opened to rail traffic in 1874. Usage was limited to certain classes of locomotive because the viaduct had an axle load limit. Although regular services were withdrawn in 1968, the bridge was used for shunting by a local quarry. In the 1990s the remaining single line was removed after the viaduct was deemed to be too weak to carry rail traffic.

The crossing is now used by The Granite Way, a long-distance cycle track across Dartmoor. The viaduct, which is a Scheduled Monument, is now one of only two such surviving railway bridges in the United Kingdom that uses wrought iron lattice piers to support the cast iron trusses – the other is Bennerley Viaduct between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Wikipedia

We’re off across the edge of Dartmoor.

On an old railway line with prefabricated concrete railway huts.

And a bus stop at Mary Tavy a village with a population of around 600, located four miles north of Tavistock.

And a population of one delightful litter bin.

And CJ Down Coach Hire – the pride of Dartmoor.

Don’t the road look rough and rocky, will the sea look wide and deep?

Time for a timely tea and flapjack stop.

So far so good the nicest weather of the tour, shortest yet most amenable distance through moorland, upland and downland – with a final traffic free descent into Plymouth.

Back in the land of the tower block.

Chichester House Citadel Road The Hoe Plymouth PL1 3BA

  • Spacious One Bedroom Apartment
  •  Good Size Living Room
  •  Modernisation Required

Lang Town and Country

Past the former Odeon

Architects Percy Bartlett and William Henry Watkins

Built on the site of the Andrews New Picture Palace, which had opened in 1910, and was demolished in 1930. The Gaumont Palace was opened on 16th November 1931 with Jack Hulbert in “The Ghost Train” and Sydney Howard in “Almost a Divorce”.

The imposing brick building has a white stone tower feature in the central section above the entrance. Seating inside the auditorium was provided for 1,462 in the stalls and 790 in the circle.

It was re-named Gaumont in 1937 currently closed and at risk.

Cinema Treasures

The post war redevelopment of Plymouth produced this sizable Portland Stone Shopping Centre.

A Plan for Plymouth’ was a report prepared for the City Council by James Paton Watson, City Engineer and Surveyor, and Patrick Abercrombie, Consultant Architect, published in 1943.

Planning is not merely the plotting of the streets of a town; its fundamental essence is the conscious co-relation of the various uses of the land to the best advantage of all inhabitants. Good planning therefore, presupposes a knowledge and understanding of the people, their relationship to their work, their play, and to each other, so that in the shaping of the urban pattern, the uses to which the land is put are so arranged as to secure an efficient, well- balanced and harmonious whole.

The Civic Centre soon to be redeveloped.

The magnificent dalle de verre fascia of the Crown and County Courts.

having had a good old look around I sought shelter for the night, with some difficulty I found a profoundly plain room. The town seemingly full of itinerant contractors, filling the vast majority of available space.

Not to worry let’s have a look at the seafront.

Tinside Lido by J Wibberley Borough Engineer, with Edmund Nuttall and Sons and John Mowlem and Company, builders, with entrance building of 1933 by the same engineer.

Set in a beautiful location overlooking the sea at the tip of Plymouth Hoe and voted one of the top 10 best outdoor pools in Europe, Tinside Lido is an attraction not to be missed.

Built in 1935, Tinside is a slice of the quintessential British seaside from a bygone era. The Lido is a wonderful example of art-deco style and is Grade II listed.

Time for a timely 99 tub – what ho!

Followed by several pints of Dartmoor Jail in the delightful Dolphin Hotel.

The Dolphin Hotel is a pub on the Barbican , the building, which is known as either the Dolphin Inn or Dolphin Hotel, is a Grade II listed building. It notable as the setting of several of the artist Beryl Cook’s paintings.

The three storey building was constructed in the early 19th century, although it may contain fabric from an earlier structure. It has a slate mansard roof surrounded by a tall parapet with a moulded cornice. The front has white stucco with plaster reliefs of dolphins. The pub is associated with the Tolpuddle Martyrs, some of whom stayed at the hotel on their return from exile in Australia in 1838, when a Mr Morgan was the landlord.

It is a no-frills unmodernised pub famous for its cask ale, draught Bass served straight from the barrel. The sign on the front of the building has always called the pub the ‘Dolphin Hotel’. In 2010 the pub was refurbished, but vandalised in 2014.

A wobbly walk home and a good night’s rest

Night night.

Weston super Mare to Ilfracombe

Following a sound night’s sleep, courtesy of the Ocean Hotel, I set out on my Ridgeback World Voyage – purchased through the Cycle to Work Scheme, I have essentially used it in order to cycle away from work.

My dream had always been to devise a way of life, where the lines between work, leisure and culture disappear, where such tiresome social constructs have finally become redundant – let’s go!

Having failed to learn from my previous jaunt, that a map is a handy aid to successful travel, I set off merrily without one – on Sunday 25th July 2015.

Following Sustrans’ signs will suffice, says I to myself.

I arrived safely in Brean, as the rain began to fall with a deeply disheartening enthusiasm.

The signage indicated a route across the beach – I quickly learnt that heavy rain and sand do not produce a sufficiently solid surface for cycling, when push comes to shove, there’s only one way forward.

Push.

There was no escape to the left, the extensive run of caravan parks and private leisure facilities having erected attractive razor wire topped barriers and locked gates – I pressed on.

With every arduous tortured sandy step, I developed an even deeper antipathy towards Pontin’s Brean Sands.

Here at Brean Sands we have been busy getting ready to welcome guests to our park. We have painted all our apartments, we have fitted over 10,000 metres skirting board throughout the apartments. All external soffits have been painted along with all the Double Decker apartments and main buildings. The QV Bar, Restaurant and also the Fun Factory have all had new flooring fitted. Our Restaurant bays are now refitted as well as improvements to our till area & reception desk.

Free at last from the sandy hell of the shore, I sought succour in this seaside café – where panoramic views of the sea come free.

Having enjoyed the multiple benefits of a breakfast not included tariff at the Ocean Hotel, I was now very, very hungry indeed – I made very, very short work of egg and beans on toast.

I briefly kept company with a Swiss couple, who were on an extensive motor car tour, I quickly became something of an apologist for the day’s foul weather.

It’s not always like this you know.

Stating the obvious, yet thinking the converse.

The panoramic view through the other window – a delightful row of rain soaked, link low rise maisonettes – nirvana!

I was arrested by this arresting wayside shelter/art gallery facility commemorating the Coronation of 1953, in the village of Chedzoy.

The village is at the western end of King’s Sedgemoor and lies on an ‘island’ of Burtle marine sands, close to King’s Sedgemoor Drain. The area was settled possibly in the Mesolithic period, and timber trackways from the third to first millennium B.C. provided routes to other settlements on the Somerset Levels. Roman artifacts have been found in the parish.

The name of the village is pronounced Chidgey or Chedzey, and derives its name from being Cedd’s Island. The zoy part of the name being derived from eg or ieg meaning island.

The shelter stands at the corner of Front and Higher Streets – it would appear that the Burghers of Chedzoy had exhausted their inexhaustible font of creative naming resources, by the time that streets had been invented – the Mesolithic fools.

The village people seem to be suffering from some collective false memory syndrome recollection of a fabulous Mer-family past.

Improving weather in the Bridgwater area, as we languish in the cool shade of the by-pass, beside the River Parrett.

The River Parrett has its source in the Thorney Mills springs in the hills around Chedington in Dorset in England and flows west through the Somerset Levels. The mouth is a Nature Reserve at Burnham on Sea where it flows into Bridgwater Bay on the Bristol Channel. The river is tidal for 18.6 miles up to Oath; and, because the fall of the river, between Langport and Bridgwater is only 1 foot per mile, it is prone to frequent flooding, in winter and high tides.

The River Parrett is 37 miles long and its main tributaries include the Rivers Tone, Isle and Yeo. The River Cary drains into the Parrett via the King’s Sedgemoor Drain. The River Parrett drains an area of over 652.5 square miles – comprising around fifty percent of the land area of Somerset.

Somerset Rivers

Here we are in Williton – where the modern world is ready to sweep in unannounced as announced in the Somerset County Gazette.

Plans to build a new supermarket, retail units and health centre in Williton have been resubmitted this week. J. Gliddon and Sons Ltd. has put forward new plans for the redevelopment of land off the A39 Bank Street in Williton, behind its existing store.

The shop will be demolished to create the access road, with the company expected to occupy a new unit fronting onto Bank Street once the mini-roundabout has been built.

Well so far so good – I arrived in Minehead in one piece – bike intact.

Having only the vaguest notion of where my onward route lay – I hastened to the Tourist Information Office. Having carefully explained my malaise the helpful staff gazed at me with mild amazement, liberally mixed with slightly perplexed eye-rolling and the odd tut.

Having received quite detailed instructions, I was almost immediately lost, following a road that abruptly ceased to be a road. Reluctantly I picked up a woodland path, rutted with tree roots and certainly not a suitable cycling route.

It fell away sharply, as I careered out of control down the precipitous slope.

On reaching the end I discovered that my new rain jacket had also fallen away, along with my treasured Casio watch, which was tucked safely in the pocket.

I lightly bit my lip and reflected that climbing back up the precipitous slope, which I had only too recently incautiously careered down, was not an option – onward ever onward.

In my mind the younger me looks at the older me – having lost all faith in my ability to manage my life with even a modicum of honesty and integrity, or at best a basic grasp of reality.

O ye of little faith – he seeks sanctuary in Church of All Saints Selworthy.

A whitewashed Grade I Listed 15th-century Church, with a 14th-century tower.

Welcome to this outstanding Parish Church, which, thanks to it’s distinctive white appearance stands as a beacon on the hills of Exmoor. For centuries Selworthy Church has been a focus for residents and visitors as a place to experience the power and presence of God. We hope you find peace of God here and leave uplifted, refreshed and inspired.

Further on down the road somewhere or other I had a cup of tea and piece of cake.

Had I carried out even the most basic research, I would have known that the ups and downs of Exmoor are no easy ride, particularly in heavy rain without a rain jacket.

As the sky darkened I was heartened by the sight of the light’s of Ilfracombe, twinkling star like in the distance – following eighty six miles of toil and a measure of trouble, I finally arrived at the pre-booked digs. They had been concerned by my no-show, relieved when I finally arrived, incredulous when I told the tale of the day’s travails. The lady of the house ever so kindly washed and dried my sodden clothing.

I showered and hit the town – eschewing food in favour of a pint, chatting to a garrulous gang of solar panel cleaners from Cornwall.

Returning merrily to the B&B and the prospect of slumber.

Night night.

Weston super Mare

Although there is evidence in the local area of occupation since the Iron Age, it was still a small village until the 19th century when it became a seaside resort, and was connected with local towns and cities by a railway, and two piers were built. The growth continued until the second half of the 20th century, when tourism declined and some local industries closed. A regeneration programme is being undertaken with attractions including the Helicopter Museum, Weston Museum, and the Grand Pier. The Paddle Steamer Waverley and MV Balmoral offer day sea trips from Knightstone Island to various destinations along the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary. Cultural venues include The Playhouse, the Winter Gardens and the Blakehay Theatre.

Wikipedia

I arrived mid-morning on Saturday 25th July 2015 – having travelled some two hundred miles or so from Stockport by train.

The Iron Age seemed to be over and regeneration slowly but surely under way.

This marked the start of another coastal tour, following last year’s epic which began in Hastings.

This time I was heading for Hastings – but that can wait until tomorrow, let’s have a look around town.

Directly opposite the station is a group of Seaside Moderne homes in various states of whiteness – standing in line along Neva Road.

Reasonably priced, cheaper than Frinton – check it out

I pushed my bike along the prom heading for my pre-booked digs in a stylish seafront hotel.

Past the Marine Causeway linking the shore to some kind of modern day Post Modern Shangri-La.

A mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains, possibly not.

You can stroll onto Knightstone Island, where you will find some cafes serving light snacks and refreshments, or to the other side which takes you along the causeway, accessible to walk across according to the tides. At the other side of the Causeway you will find a small rocky beach with tidal rockpools ideal for exploring.

Just along the prom stands one of my all time favourite seaside shelters.

Even further along – what’s all this here then?

The foundation stone of the Birch-designed Birnbeck Pier was laid in 1864. It opened on 5th June 1867 and consisted of a 1040 foot cantilever construction to Birnbeck Island and a short jetty extending westwards from the island.

National Piers Society

It seems to have changed hands several times in its relatively short life, including the stewardship of the infamous Urban Splash and the mysterious mystery owners, the current custodians it seems, have done little to secure a secure future.

It remains alone and untended, stretching aimlessly out to sea.

In April 2015, Friends Of The Old Pier Society created a novel fund raising scheme in which 1p and 2p coins would be lined up to stretch from the Grand Pier to Birnbeck Pier.

September 2019 Councillor Mr Crockford-Hawley said:

It’s this end of Weston which is the sore, it’s the carbuncle, it’s clearly well past its prime and it needs some serious attention. I mean it would be wonderful if somebody came along with an open ended bank account and said ‘yup, I’d love to restore it for the sake of restoring it’, but quite clearly there’s got to be an economic future for the pier, there’s got to be a purpose for the pier.

Possibly a wealthy Beatle could bail the ailing pier out of deep water?

Having made a bob or two since they appeared here in 1963.

Next thing I know I’m outside the imposing and impressive sounding Ocean Hotel. Sad to say on the day/night of my visit it wasn’t just this weary traveller that appeared to be over tired, happy to report the the New Ocean Hotel has been revamped and in tip-top condition by all accounts.

Any road up, let’s get out, take a walk up the road – have look at some local type.

Watney’s mythical Red Barrel.

Watney’s was the Evil Corporation which sought to crush plucky small brewers and impose its own terrible beer on the drinking public. It acquired and closed beloved local breweries, and it closed pubs, or ruined them with clumsy makeovers.

Its Red Barrel was particularly vile – a symbol of all that was wrong with industrial brewing and national brands pushed through cynical marketing campaigns.

A page-spread from Design Research Unit 1945-1972 – Koenig Books 2011 via A Practice for Everyday Life via Boak and Bailey – who examine the truth behind the myth.

A palimpsest ghost within a ghost.

A seaside outing for dear old Brush Script – a casual connecting script typeface designed in 1942 by Robert E. Smith for the American Type Founders.

The face exhibits an exuberant graphic stroke emulating the look of handwritten written letters with an ink brush.

It came third as a Least Favorite nomination in a 2007 designers’ survey.

It was rated fifth in The Eight Worst Fonts In The World list in Simon Garfield’s 2010 book Just My Type.

Why have just one identity when you can have two, welcome to the 21st Century schizoid Savoy – don’t it jus’ make you want to stomp?

First but surely not the last sighting of Profil aka Stymie Bold Italic – in a none inline variant.

Classical kerning down at the local estate agents, tasteful Gill Condensed Bold – from the hand and eye of the far from tasteful Eric.

Ay up it’s a launderette that almost thinks it’s a scooter!

Cheap beer, raffle, singer and bingo on a Wednesday afternoon.

Amazing and great atmosphere with friendly service staff and atmosphere, love it, real nice people

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Russell Davies Flickr

Keeler Productions has taken over Locking Road Car Park, opposite Tesco, and The Regent Restaurant, in Regent Street, to film a BBC period series The Trial of Christine Keeler, based on the Profumo Affair in the 1960s.

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Enough of all that period drama, let’s have a look at some period architecture.

Madeira Court – 67 flats built in 1988.

Weekly Social Activities include – coffee mornings, card evenings and occasional days out, organised by social club. New residents accepted from sixty years of age, both cats and dogs generally accepted.

I can find no reference for this dalle de verre stained glass window.

Boulevard United Reformed Church – Waterloo Street

Architects Gordon W. Jackson and Partners 1959

Constructed on part of the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema, the Odeon Theatre was opened on 25th May 1935 with Jack Buchanan in Brewster’s Millions. Built as one of the original Odeon Theatres in the then emerging Oscar Deutsch Odeon Theatres circuit, it was built on a prime corner street position in this sea-side town and was the first of several Odeon Theatre’s to be designed by architect Cecil T Howitt.

The Odeon was Grade II Listed on 21st August 1986.

Cinema Treasures

The Weston-super-Mare Odeon was built by C Bryant & Son Ltd of Birmingham on the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema. It opened on 25 May 1935, at which time it was described in the souvenir programme as ‘modernity at its best’, with seating accommodation that was ‘luxurious and spaced to give ample room for true comfort’.

A short walk along the prom snapping shelters and the sheltered – no two the same.

I then chanced to fall into a Beer Festival and bad company – the rest is a blur, see you all tomorrow there’s some cycling to be done.

Night night.

Holt Town – Part Two

Here we are again in Holt Town, back in 2017 the area was in transition, its past almost erased and its future somewhere, over some far horizon.

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Cambrian Street seems to have been known as Gibson Street until 1960.
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Things have changed, the trees are taller, the buildings decayed – the cafe closed, and the Corporation Manure Depot long long gone.

Plans have promised new affordable homes as part of the Eastlands Masterplan.

Things have changed since A Taste of Honey was in town.

Nothing now remains of this mill complex on Upper Helena Street
The homes on Upper Cyrus Street are long gone
Cyrus Street now over grown and Big Bertha demolished
The New Inn now the Hong Kong Funeral Home
St Annes School and the shop now closed
It had become the Luchbox Café now also closed
Still standing

Archive images – Local Image Collection

The area was my playground. Holt Town was always a but scary, there were old factories along the opposite side with wartime helmets in. A scrap yard under the arch. I remember sucking up mercury off the floor with a straw obviously from a spillage, no thoughts of danger, I’m alright now. The Seven Wonders, as we knew it, River, canal, railway, road, waterfall all crossing each other, not sure why? A fantastic industrial area to grow up in. The Don Cinema at the top corner at Mitchell Street and Ashton New Road.

I could go on.

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Time’s up for the tiny urban cowboys.

Let’s see what’s going on.

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Cecil Cinema – Hull

Anlaby Road and Ferensway Hull HU1 2NR

After you, Claude – no, after you Cecil

The Theatre De-Luxe was built in 1911 at the corner of Anlaby Road and Ferensway with its entrance in Anlaby Road and its auditorium along the side of the pavement in Ferensway. Kinematograph Year Book of 1914 lists 600 seats and the owners as National Electric Picture Theatres Ltd.

In 1925, the theatre was rebuilt to a radically altered ground-plan and renamed the Cecil Theatre. The opening night was Monday 28th September 1925. The entrance was in a curved façade at the Anlaby Road/Ferensway corner. The alignment of the new, larger, auditorium was at right angles to Ferensway, and parallel to Anlaby Road. Effectively, the length of the Theatre De-Luxe auditorium became the width of the Cecil Theatre’s. Seating was 1,700 with 700 of those in the balcony, according to the Hull Daily Mail. The Cecil Theatre was originally designed for silent movies with a full orchestra pit. KYB 1931 lists it having Western Electric sound installed; and a 1931 aerial view shows that a brick horn-chamber had been built onto the wall at the rear of the stage. It had a 35 feet wide proscenium. The cinema also had a café attached.

The Cecil Theatre’s demise came during bombing on the night of 7/8 May 1941 when German incendiary bombs reduced the building to a shell; and it remained like that until demolition in 1953.

Cinema Treasures

Work on the new Cecil Theatre was begun in April 1955 and it was opened on 28th November 1955 with 1,374 seats in the stalls and 678 in the balcony.

At the time of opening it had the largest CinemaScope screen in the country measuring 57 feet wide, and the first film shown was Marilyn Monroe The Seven Year Itch. The proscenium was 60 feet wide, and the cinema was equipped with a Marshall Sykes 3Manual/15Ranks organ, which was opened by organist Vivian Newall.

There was also a 100-seat restaurant & bar which in 1971 was converted into a second screen seating 137 (Cecil 2). The following year the main auditorium was spilt into 2 smaller cinemas in the balcony (Cecil 1 & 3 each seating 307) and an entertainment hall in the former stalls which became a Mecca Bingo Club, with Mecca also operating the cinemas.

In the 1980’s it was taken over by the Cannon Cinemas chain. The cinema operation was closed on 23rd March 1992 and the cinemas were ‘For Sale and/or Lease. It was taken over by Take Two Cinemas and renamed Take Two Cinema. It was closed on 27th February 1997 and the two screens in the former circle were stripped out and converted into a snooker club.

Whilst bingo continues in the former stalls area of this post war 
cinema, the former mini cinemas in the circle still contain the snooker tables, but the space is unused. The screen in the former restaurant/cafe area remains basically intact, but is unused.

Cinema Treasures

I worked at the Cecil in the three years before it closed in the 90’s. MGM owned the place before the Virgin group bought it and closed it. It was a good place to work and an interesting building. Behind the scenes had remained unchanged since Anna Neagle first opened it. The organ had been removed however but the organ room was still in tact in the bingo section of the building. The fire exits led to long dark corridors that were always being infiltrated by kids sneeking in for a free shows. I understand that this was always the case. The resturant kitchen was fully intact and resembled something out of a Kubrick film – very spooky place!

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And so the projectors whirr no more, house is called at the Cecil – possibly the most oddly named cinema in the land.

Happily it remains an imposing presence in the centre of the city – a mammoth modern temple of entertainment – reflecting the ever changing tastes of the day and the morning after.

Neaverson’s – Huddersfield

Kirkgate Buildings Byram Street

Commercial building with ground-floor retail units and offices to the upper floors, c1883, by W H Crossland with sculptural work by C E Fucigna. Sandstone ashlar, slate roof, substantial ashlar ridge stacks. C19 Queen Anne style with French influences and classical Greek sculpture. One of the ground-floor shop units was remodelled in 1935 by Sharp and Law of Bradford with Moderne shopfronts and interior fittings.

The cultural and visual collision is immediate – the pairing of Huddersfield’s grand Victorian manner with the latest of European Moderne.

Neaverson’s – purveyors of pottery and glass began life in 1893 in premises on Cross Church Street, before moving to the Grade I-listed Byram Street building in 1935.

Set to the ground floor of bay 4 is a 1935 Moderne shopfront by Sharp and Law of Bradford. The shopfront is of grey and pink/beige marble with unmoulded windows that are curved to eliminate reflection, and has a glazed door set within a recessed porch. Set below the top of the shopfront is a ribbon window with dark tinted glazing and slender vertical and horizontal muntin bars arranged in a geometric pattern. The original metal signage in stylised sans-serif relief lettering reads ‘NEAVERSONS’, ‘pottery’ and ‘four’.

Thought to echo Susie Cooper’s London shop and unswervingly now – the fascia must have been something of a shock to the taciturn Tykes.

Neaversons glass and china shop closed in 2007.

Gerry’s Tea Rooms occupied the building for less than two years.

There is not a day goes by when I don’t see some of my customers asking what went wrong. They think I was a failure and that is so not the truth.

Along came a restaurant:

The Grade II 1930’s interior has been refurbished by the new owners and exudes understated sophistication.

“Wow, I feel like I’m in London,” said Trish as she stepped into the newly-opened Neaversons restaurant, having just arrived on the train from the capital.

It closed not long after.

Currently home to the Zephyr Bar and Kitchen

A prohibition stylised venue offering a selection of drinks, food and an environment that really sets us apart from the crowd.

The listed frontage has survived intact – let’s take a look.

Minerva Café – Doncaster

A Doncaster town centre cafe, once used by former pop star Louis Tomlinson to film a pop video, has closed after trading for more nearly 50 years near the market. The Minerva Cafe has closed down after trading sine the 1970s offering breakfasts and lunches to shoppers.

The shutters are now down on the shop, which has not now been used for two weeks, say neighbouring businesses. Minerva was well known for its big breakfasts which often earned rave reviews on the internet. It also had a celebrity link, having been used by the former One Direction star Louis Tomlinson for the shooting of his Back to You video, last year. Doncaster Council town center bosses confirmed they understood the cafe had closed down, but did not know the reason. Long serving Doncaster market trader Nigel Berrysaid he had seen no sign of activity at the cafe for two weeks. He said: It has been here in the market for such a long time. It’s been there since I first started on the market in 1971. People have commented to me it feels like it has been there forever. 

“It is a shame to see it closed. It has been a bit of an institution round here.”

Doncaster Free Press

I came here on the 8th of February 2016, hungry but no alone – unaware of the Minerva’s popular cultural significance.

I just wanted a pie.

It came with chips peas and gravy – proper chips, proper tinned peas and an authentic plate pie pastry top and bottom, meaty minced meat filling.

My partner in crime had the full breakfast

We drank hot tea, chatted sporadically and ate the lot.

Table 16 aka table 22 – was more than satisfied.

The table was more than satisfactory a pale leatherette seated booth, with erratic homespun wood grain effects.

This was a place with hidden depths receding back from the entrance into deeper and deeper space.

And a proper regard for tea service etiquette – with no room for poor pouring stainless steel pragmatism.

But where are we now?

I returned on February 9th 2019 and the M was missing the Minerva was missing the shutters were down – ain’t nobody home.

No more pie, peas, chips and gravy no more full up upon full breakfasts.

No more Minerva, no more.

Fusciardi’s – Eastbourne

Antonio Fusciardi emigrated in the 1960s in search of a better life. He opened a number of businesses in Ireland. In 1965 he met Anna Morelli at an Italian wedding and romance blossomed. The couple married and set up home in Marine Parade, Eastbourne. They worked very hard in establishing the business and attributed their success to ambition, dedication and the family.

It say so here

30 Marine Parade just set back from the seafront, selling the most delicious ice creams, decorated with the most delightful tiles.

I have seen similar in Hanley

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And Halifax

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These being produced by Malkin Tiles

But neither of the former are anywhere near as nice as these Eastbourne examples.

So get yourself down there feast your eyes on these beauties.

Treat y’self to an ice cream too!

Fusciardi’s – often licked never beaten!

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St James Coffee House – Burnley

124 St James’s Street Burnley Lancashire BB11 1NL

Having never ever been, I thought it time to go.

To Burnley.

Several trains from Stockport later, along the length of the East Lancs Line, I arrived at Burnley Manchester Road Station via the reinstated Todmorden Curve.

Having wandered aimlessly awhile, it was time for a spot to eat – and there it was a vision to behold before my very eyes.

St James Coffee House

We’re situated in the town centre on St James’ Street, just a little bit further down from DW Sports – the old JJB store and next to the entrance to the old Empire Theatre, when you get to the art gallery you’ve gone too far!

The menu had caught my eye – pie!

To get in and get some grub was my sole and urgent imperative.

A warm welcome awaited, and even warmer food, served with alacrity and aplomb – tasty homemade meat and potato pie, chips, peas and gravy. A soft light crust and mushiest mushy peas – a real delight, seen off in no time and all washed down with a piping hot mug of tea.

£4.40 all in – service with a smile, in cosy, comfortable, traditional café surroundings.

I’ll be back – go and treat y’self soon.

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Al Faisal – Thomas Street Manchester

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

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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.

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Pifco – Manchester Manufacturing

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1970

The Millstone 1970

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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.

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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.

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The Beefeater Grill – Halifax

1 George Street, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 1HA

The Beefeater Grill and Griddle is a long established family run grill and coffee house located at George Square Halifax. The place has an old fashioned feel to it and serves typical English cafe food which seems to make it popular amongst its local regulars.

Long may it do so.

Strangers to the town we wandered the streets in search of sustenance.

Bewitched bothered and bewildered – seduced by the tiles and signage, it was love at first sight.

The ability and will to resist the broad brush of regeneration and reinvention is all too rare, the traditional café is constantly under threat – the Beefeater has prevailed.

A stunning tiled exterior, a multi level interior and a menu to match, it’s win, win, win, win all the way.

We went inside and ate.

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Harbour Bar – Scarborough

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1-3 Sandside, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1PE.

Do you remember the first time?

Sometime around 2011, I fell in love with the Harbour Bar Scarborough.

A family business serving home made ice cream since 1945.

It’s a magical world of mirrors, melamine, signs and ice creams.

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Since then I’ve been back for a banana split and take the opportunity to take a few more snaps, I never leave anything less than overwhelmingly happy and full.

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Linda’s Pantry – Manchester

Turn off London Road and into Ducie Street, it’s just around the corner from Piccadilly Station.

Enter a world of warehouses, homes and industry.

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Return some fifty years later and you’ll find a café on the corner.

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Return last Saturday you’ll find that it’s gone.

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No more of this.

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Top class scran at prices to suit all pockets.

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Linda and her crew have packed up the pans and scrammed.

Read all about it – Manchester Evening News

The face of the city changes, as one by one faces and places disappear, new build and mass tourism making ever new demands on space.

The rag trade is in tatters and the tatters are long gone.

It would seem that there is no place for the traditional café or its customers.

So thank you and goodnight, the last pie, chips and gravy has left the counter.

Shut the door and turn out the lights.

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Brucciani’s – Morecambe

Brucciani – 217 Marine Rd Central, Morecambe LA4 4BU217

Built on the eve of war in 1939, the local paper feared that Brucciani’s might not be good for the sedate Victorian image of Morecambe and that its presence could be positively harmful to young people. Originally a milk bar, Brucciani’s typifies the simple, geometric ‘high street deco’ styling popular at the time. The brown wood and chrome exterior has black lacquer base panels to the street, porthole lamps above the doors, ziggurat pattern doors, classic deco handles and original menus. The interior preserves extensive wall panelling, a slightly reworked counter, red Formica tables, red upholstered chairs, wall-to-wall etched glass of Venetian canal scenes, mirrors, deco clocks and even the original penny-in-the-slot cubicles in the cloakrooms.

Classic cafés

I’ve been coming here for over ten years now, alone or in company, come rain or shine and without fail, as sure as ice is nice, I have a banana spilt – or to be more precise a Banana Royal.

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Jenny Steele 2015

This is a café with a café menu, café furniture, café staff and service.

It only ever wanted and wants to be a café, unchanged by the uncaring winds of vicissitude and fashion. To tread the turquoise and tan linoleum, ‘neath the period lighting fixtures and fittings, to be seated on the warm red leatherette, one elbow on the circular Formica table is to enter into into a pact with a perfect past.

It’s on the front you can’t miss it – overlooking the Sunset Bay.