On my previous visit I was in fact apprehended by a uniformed officer, perturbed by my super-snappy happy behaviour. Following a protracted discussion, I convinced the eager young boy in blue, that my intentions were entirely honourable.
Themed bar and event restaurant concept with roller coaster service, hourly special effects shows and exploration tours.
The £300m Blackpool Central development will bring world-class visitor attractions to a landmark site on the famous Golden Mile. Along with new hotels, restaurants, food market, event square, residential apartments and multi-storey parking.
Chariots of the Gods inspires the masterplan for the long-awaited redevelopment. It’s the global publishing phenomenon, written by Swiss author Erich Von Däniken. Exploring alien encounters and unsolved mysteries of ancient civilisations.
Chariots Of The Gods will be the main theme for Blackpool Central. Including the anchor attraction – the UK’s first flying theatre.
A fully-immersive thrill ride that will create the incredible sensation of human flight.
Time it seems changes everything, stranger than fiction.
The Bonny Street Beast’s days are numbered – your local Brutalist pal is no more, wither Wilko’s?
Your piazza planters are waterlogged.
Your lower portals tinned up.
Your curious sculptural infrastructure sunken garden neglected and forlorn.
Your low lying out-rigger stares blankly yet ominously into space.
Likewise your tinted windows.
Your subterranean car park access aromatic and alienating.
So farewell old pal, who knows what fate awaits you, I only know you must be strong.
Not until we have taken a look into the future shall we be strong and bold enough to investigate our past honestly and impartially.
How often the pillars of our wisdom have crumbled into dust!
It’s remarkable – here are my photographs from February 2020.
I advise you to get along and take a look, just as soon as humanly possible.
Recently John Mann was granted permission to snap the deserted interior.
The ghostly gasps of the exercising public exorcised forever.
Eileen Ayres, who has worked at Richard Dunns from before it even opened to the public said:
When I came here this place was super, super modern – state of the art. Now we’re moving to Sedbergh it is great to be in a state of the art facility again. The younger staff are so excited about the move to a new, modern sports centre.
I have a lot of memories of here, a lot of staff I’ve met and become friends with over the years. We’ve had a lot of events here, international events that have taken place here over the years. When Richard Dunn was new a lot of people wanted to hold these events here. Now we have a new leisure centre I hope some of these events come back to Bradford.
I started at 23, I said I was just coming for a year. Here we are 41 years later.
When asked if she thinks it is right to be closing down Richard Dunn she said:
In my heart no, but realistically it has to go. It is run down – it would be way too expensive to run or refurbish. You can’t keep putting money into old things.
The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.
Italo Calvino – Invisible Cities
Paul Dobraszczyk posted this Shirley Baker photograph, he was puzzled by its exact location, it puzzled me too.
For nearly all that is depicted here, is now no longer extant, save one hopes, for the group of playmates.
All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
Shirley Baker was a renowned documentary photographer, who worked extensively in Greater Manchester.
I love the immediacy of unposed, spontaneous photographs and the ability of the camera to capture the serious, the funny, the sublime and the ridiculous. Despite the many wonderful pictures of the great and famous, I feel that less formal, quotidian images can often convey more of the life and spirit of the time.
I am grateful to Stephen Bann who has identified the monument as the Bann Family vault:
Stephen Bann and his younger brother – many thanks for the text and photograph Stephen.
We had people from all parts of the country turn up on our final day,some of them brought their children who wanted to come because they remember the pub so fondly from their childhood. It was really humbling to see that our pub had touched so many lives.
I remember this pub as a Boddingtons house in the 1970’s. Excellent bitter served by handpump from small vault at the front and a larger “best room” behind, both very narrow given the width of the pub. The landlord employed an unusual method of ensuring everyone got a full pint; a half pint glass of beer was kept between the pumps and your pint was topped up from the half which was constantly replenished to keep it fresh. I have not seen this practice in any other pub.
When’s the next tram due?
Millgate Power Station operated until 1976.
At the adjacent gas works – gas holder number three was dismantled in 1988, gas holders one and two were removed in 2019.
The nature of infrastructure, housing and industry has changed radically.
Lancashire Hill flats were built in the 60s, designed by City Architect JS Rank, two seven storey blocks containing 150 dwellings; two six storey blocks containing 120 dwellings.
Replacing tight rows of terraced housing.
They themselves clad and revamped.
The Nicholson’s Arms built to serve the flats closed and currently empty, signs say to let – replaced an earlier pub, sited on the corner of long gone Nicholson Street.
Today from the road there’s simply no trace of the site’s past purpose.
At the centre of what is now a compact civic grassed area – a trough.
Incongruously in memory of Elizabeth Hyde of Tufnell Park Road London.
The dense stand of trees is impenetrable – no longer a view of the non existent power station and beyond.
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.
As a footnote I did meet brothers Stephen, Derek and Peter who appeared in this Shirley Baker photograph 55 years ago – she promised them an ice cream each – they never ever received an ice cream.
They are seen in Sunnyside Street Ordsall – long since demolished.
There comes a time in everyone’s life, when one simply must go to Rotherham, at least once – so I did.
To keep company with my personal town guide, Sheffield Modernist and local resident, Helen Angell.
I arrived early at Rotherham Central, so went for a solo wander.
The station was originally named Rotherham, becoming Rotherham and Masborough in January 1889 and finally Rotherham Central on 25 September 1950.
The newish Rotherham Central station was opened to passengers on 11 May 1987, the present iteration on Friday 24 February 2012, as part of the Rotherham Renaissance plans for the regeneration of the town.
Opened 22 December 1934 as the Regal Cinema with Leslie Howard in Girls Please. Sandy Powell, the famous comedian attended opening night this 1,825 seat. It was designed by the Hull based architectural firm Messrs Blackmore & Sykes for local exhibitor Thomas Wade and was leased to the Lou Morris chain.
By 1937 it was operated by the London & Southern Super Cinemas Ltd. chain. The Regal Cinema was leased to the Odeon circuit in 1946 and was re-named Odeon. It was sold by the Rank Organisation to an independent operator in 1975 and renamed Scala Cinema, by 1981 using the circle only.
Closed 23rd September 1983 with the film Porky’s.
Became a bingo hall initially named Ritz but now Mecca. On 20th February 2020 the building was put up for sale by auction at an asking price of £600,000+, but failed to sell, with the maximum reached £590,000. Mecca bingo continues in the building.
Main contractors J. Finnegan it’s thirteen storeys high – housing forty eight dwellings.
Interwar Technical College – Howard Building
From the 1930s, it provided technical-orientated education from the Howard Building on Eastwood Lane, Rotherham. In 1981, three neighbouring colleges of arts, technology and adult education were merged into one. As a result, the college became known as Rotherham College of Arts and Technology.
Revised plans to convert the historic Howard Building in Rotherham town centre into self-contained studios and apartments have been approved by the planning board at Rotherham Council.
The prominent former college building was sold prior to going to auction last September after it was advertised as a development opportunity and given a guide price of £250,000 by local auctioneers, Mark Jenkinson & son.
A group of rogue property directors with links to a prominent derelict building in Rotherham have been banned for a total of 54 years. The six, of Absolute Living Developments, were found to have misled more than 300 people to invest at least £12 million in residential properties.
The firm was linked through a lender to Avro Developments, which had plans passed in 2015 to renovate former college block the Howard Building in Rotherham town centre.
With a strident high tech canopy, very recently added – though Rotherham’s history stems back 800 years when it is thought that the original royal market charter was granted by King John in the year 1207.
There are traces of the 1970’s rebuild.
Bunker-like The Trades former music venue/pub, which replaced the former riverside Trades Club.
The PA now silenced.
This was an amazing event. The bands were really good and the drinks offers, while limited, were good. The ceiling in the ladies toilets had fallen through and was dripping, presumably there had been a leak from all the rain, but this didn’t lessen the awesome experience.
The cooling towers and flats are long gone – the coal-fired power station operated from 1923 until October 1978.
The Prince of Wales Power Station in Rotherham was located on Rawmarsh Road and was opened by the Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VIII.
The former Grattans catalogue offices can be seen to the left.
Renamed Bailey House and still in use by the local authority, its days it seems are numbered.
The building is named after Rotherham-born engineer Sir Donald Bailey whose ingenious bridge designs played a key role in shortening World War II, the house in which Bailey was born, 24 Albany Street is still standing.
Sadly no longer home to the Harlem Shuffle
No big names – just big sounds.
There are some surviving power station buildings.
Along with electrical infrastructure.
Up the road next, to the former fire station, which now houses J E James Cycles.
It is surrounded by typically atypical inter war housing.
I could make the wild assumption, that these flat roofed maisonettes were originally homes fit for firefighters.
I was on my way to Intake by bus so it’s off on the 66 from the Frenchgate Inetrchange.
An urban environment so anonymous, that it can only just recognise itself. I was helpfully informed by two radio controlled security guards that photography was illegal.
More Interzone than Interchange.
Here are my transgressive snaps, I made my excuses and left – on the next available 66.
Decanting from the single decker I made my way across the way to All Saints, a George Pace church of 1956.
Built on the foundations of an unrealised Neo-Romanesque church of 1940, but reorientated east/west.
I legged it back to catch the bus back, the returning 66, much to the surprise of the surprised driver, making his return journey.
Jumping the 41A to Scawsby, displaying my risible home-printed map to the driver, requesting a shout when we arrived at the indicated destination, which he was unable to discern, and which I had failed illustrate.
I had contrived to arrive at the end of the line, a bit part player in a non-existent Béla Tarr film.
Following a thorough tour inside and out, I returned promptly to the town centre, on the limited stop express X19.
And hotfooted it to the Waterdale Centre, a work in progress, the CGI figures being as yet, a mere figment of the development officer’s fevered dreams.
Doncaster Council documents from the planning application for the demolition say, that while the exact project is not yet fully in place, discussions are taking place with the council on the project and grant funding is being sought to help the future regeneration scheme. But the council has said it supports schemes that would revitalise the Waterdale Centre area for retail, leisure, and tourism uses.
The centre is now owned by the Doncaster-based property firm Lazarus Properties, who bought it from the Birmingham firm St Modwen.
Lazarus director Glyn Smith said his firm had faith in the local economy of Doncaster town centre, even though larger multinationals seemed to be shying away.
The ABC was built by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) as a replacement for their Picture House Cinema which had opened in 1914. It opened on 18th May 1967 with Omar Sharif in Doctor Zhivago presented in 70mm. Designed with 1,277 seats arranged in a stadium plan by the architectural firm Morgan & Branch, with input by architects C. ‘Jack’ Foster & Alan Morgan. It was decorated in a modern 1960’s style.
Closed in January 1981 for conversion into a triple screen it re-opened on 9th April 1981 with seating in the 3-screens.
The Cannon Group took control in the mid-1980’s and it was re-named Cannon and it closed on 18th June 1992, screening its opening film “Doctor Zhivago”.
The building has stood empty and unused since then, but in 2007, it was bought by Movie World for just £150,000. It is reputedly being re-modeled with extra screens added, however by 2009, only a clean-up of the interior has been achieved. The building sits empty and unused in 2020.
The delayed opening of the new Savoy Complex will no doubt inform the future of the Cannon.
It’s a familiar tale of the local authority, developers, leisure and retail outlets chasing dreams, cash and hopefully pulling in the live now pay later public.
I noted the restrained Modernism of the National Spiritualist Church.
The service begins with a short prayer. The congregation sings three songs during the service using music that most people would recognise. There is usually a short reading or lesson on something to do with spiritualism or events in the world. There is also a talk by the guest medium who use their inspiration or intuition to compose an uplifting address.
Then the business of contacting the spirit world begins.
Along with its curious relief panels.
Back around to the back of the Waterdale and the surviving former bank fascia, civic offices and library.
Back through the Waterdale to discover the saddest of retail archeology.
The long lost tiled café wall and a mysterious porch.
Scarborough TEC formerly known as Yorkshire Coast College, Scarborough Technical College, Scarborough Technical Institute, and Scarborough School of Art is a further education college located on Lady Edith’s Drive Scarborough. It is a constituent college of the Grimsby Institute of Further & Higher Education.
Yorkshire Coast College was originally an independently controlled institution, but due to consistently poor results and long-term financial difficulties was taken over by the Grimsby Institute in January 2010.
In November 2016, the name was changed from Yorkshire Coast College to Scarborough TEC, with the TEC standing for Training, Education, Careers.
Colleges, once under the stewardship of the local authority are now independent businesses and as such subject to mergers and acquisition, for better or for worse.
This is a building of architectural significance, GMW being responsible for several other ground breaking curtain wall towers and blocks – including Castrol House, now Marathon House one of the first curtain wall buildings in the UK, along with the Arts Tower in Sheffield.
In August 2015, GMW was taken over by another business, Scott Brownrigg, “as part of plans to move into the airport sector.”
It represents a time when vocational education was in the ascendancy, building for a manufacturing future with forward thinking, open, democratic and accessible architecture.
That optimism along with the attendant architecture are no longer, it seems – dish of the day.
It was a proud boast for many people in Scarborough that Robert Allen Palmer, the pop music icon, was raised and schooled there. Robert went to Scarborough Boys’ High School and studied art at Scarborough Technical College.
Photograph copyright Brian Cooke 2011
He played in his his first band there, The Mandrakes evolving from a gathering of pupils from the Scarborough High School for Boys during the summer of 1964. Meetings and practice under the work in progress title of The Titans, first in the crypt of a church and then a former chicken hut, took place. Allen – to become Robert in 1969 Palmer, joined after a successful audition and the first gig took place in a local youth club towards the end of the year.
Robert’s Mum says fame never changed him, “He never seemed any different, he took us on Concorde two or three times and the Orient Express and we always celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas, everything, together.”
The owners of the site, Backer Electric, occupy the adjacent building where they continue to manufacture heating elements, supplying products in high volume to the majority of household brand names. Options to reuse Peck House and the site have been investigated for a number of years.
A structural survey was carried out which found the building to be structurally sound and secure and therefore the Council has not been in a position to insist on its demolition.
In 1985, plans came forward to change of use of the retail/wholesale store to a church. In 2004, outline plans were submitted for a development including a hotel, restaurant, hot food takeaway and petrol station for the wider area. In 2014, Peck House was one of a number of sites discounted as the location for a new £5m primary school.
As of Wednesday 26th August 2020 it’s still there underdeveloped and overgrown.
In the company of local resident Helen Angell and having become aware of the site through the paintings of Mandy Payne and the photographs of Sean Madner – I was eager to pay a visit.
Joseph Peck departments stores originated in Rotherham in the late 1800s and had branches in Worksop, Barnsley and Sheffield.
I have only been able to find evidence of the Sheffield store – which may not be linked.
Though there are references to a Rotherham store on Bridgegate.
Joseph Peck was in Bridgegate in Rotherham, and in the late 40’s at Christmas, they had a grotto and a Father Christmas. The queues of parents and children would go down the yard and up Bridgegate. My mum and dad always took my brother and I to see Father Christmas and get a present from him. The store was a department store selling just about everything that was available just after the war. Mum took my brother and I coming up to one Christmas, she was trying to find a bicycle for my brother and I, but they didn’t have one. As we came out of the store, one of old fashioned three wheel railway delivery lorries was just pulling out of the yard. On the back was a blue bike. Mum stopped the driver and asked him where he was taking it. He told her ‘Redgates at the bottom of Ecclesall Road in Sheffield. She shouted ‘Taxi’, and told the driver to ‘follow that lorry’. Just before the lorry arrived on The Moor, she told the taxi driver to overtake the lorry and go to Redgates. We rushed in, she found the manager and asked him about the bike. He hadn’t known that one was being delivered so Mum told him she’d have it without even asking the price. The lorry driver didn’t even have to take it off the lorry, and delivered it to our house next day.
My elder brother had it first, then me, then my younger brother, and finally our young sister. It was still being used when I flew the nest in 1959.
The Cheshire Lines Committee CLC operated Stockport, Timperley and Altrincham Junction Railway line from Portwood to Skelton Junction, a section of what became the Woodley to Glazebrook line.
It remained a part of the CLC, which was jointly owned from 1923 by the London and North Eastern Railway and the London Midland and Scottish Railway , until 1948 when it became part of the British Railways London Midland Region.
Closed in 1982, following the demise of the Woodhead route; the track was subsequently lifted in 1986.
What remains is a triangular island faced in glazed and blue engineer’s brick, topped out with trees.
I have entertained the idea of accessing the area by ladder, exploring and possibly setting up camp – though I think the proximity to an almost constant flow of traffic, would prove less than commodious.
It evokes for me an elevated affinity with Ballard’s Concrete Island.
He reached the foot of the embankment, and waved with one arm, shouting at the few cars moving along the westbound carriageway. None of the drivers could see him, let alone hear his dry-throated croak, and Maitland stopped, conserving his strength. He tried to climb the embankment, but within a few steps collapsed in a heap on the muddy slope.
So here it is as is complete with tags, signs, cracks and all.
It remains as a monument to those who built and worked on the railway.
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.
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.
Early morning passing by the yet to be reopened Dreamland, back then just a work in progress, it has had a more than somewhat chequered past.
Dogged persistence has assured its future:
Just before Christmas 1919, and almost exactly one year after the end of the Great War, John Henry Iles purchased Margate’s The Hall By The Sea, thus initiating the history of what would become Dreamland.
The Dreamland cinema replaced a smaller cinema on the site, with this modernist masterpiece opening in 1935. The super-cinema, designed by architects Julian Leathart and WF Granger.
After several years of campaigning to save the Dreamland site from redevelopment, and successful funding bids to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Department for Culture Media and Sport’s SeaChange Scheme, the Dreamland restoration project went live in January 2010, appointing a professional team to deliver The Dreamland Trust’s vision for a reimagined Dreamland, however, the battle was not over.
After a long restoration project, Dreamland opened its doors to the public on June 19 2015. The park was further reimagined and expanded in 2017 following additional investment, with new thrill rides, a much bigger events space, fresh designs, and a new welcome for a new generation of visitors.
Along the long straight coastline the distinctive and distinguished silhouette of Reculver Castle can be seen in the distance.
Two thousand years ago the geography of this area was very different. The Wantsum, a sea channel up to 3 miles wide, cut off the Isle of Thanet from the mainland, and the Roman fort of Reculver stood on a promontory at the north end of the channel where it joined the Thames estuary. Today the Wantsum has silted up and become dry land.
By the 5th century the Romans had abandoned their defence of Britain and the fort at Reculver had fallen into disuse.
An Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded on the site in 669, reusing the existing defences, and the church of St Mary was built near the centre of the earlier fort. Documentary evidence suggests that the site had ceased to function as a monastic house by the 10th century, after which time the church became the parish church of Reculver.
Remodelling of the church in the 12th century included the addition of tall twin towers.
The medieval church was partly demolished in 1805, when much of the stone was reused to construct a new church on higher ground at Hillborough, but the twin towers were left. They were bought, repaired and underpinned by Trinity House in 1809.
Further along the unstable concrete coast we approach Whitstable.
With its chi-chi cafes and bars, tastefully ramshackle shacks and snacks.
Profil fronted fascias for family run department stores.
Whites of Kent is a family company now into the third generation of close family members. The original story begins with a young ambitious girl of 18 who knew all about stocking repair machines. She travelled to Australia by boat then on to Switzerland and Paris where she trained women and gave demonstrations on the stocking machines.
In 1954 the retail side commenced again with a ladies underwear shop in Faversham’s Market Street, followed by a fashion shop in Market Street and then our current shop in Court Street.
We have in the past had shops in Sandwich, Sittingbourne, Herne Bay, West Malling, Folkestone and Cliftonville. Currently we have Whites of Kent shops in Faversham, Whitstable and Dover selling lingerie, linen, hosiery, underwear, slippers and more. See our Shop page for addresses, phone numbers and opening times.
The road winds through the low marshes, across estuaries and inlets, between Seasalter and Graveney.
Home to a down home, home made fishing fleet.
On September 27 1940 – a Luftwaffe bomber was shot down by two Spitfires over Graveney Marsh after a raid on London. This was the last ground engagement involving a foreign force to take place on the mainland of Great Britain.
Dulled by dual carriageways and the dirty urban dust of a sunny late summer’s day – I was more than happy to discover this Modernist church in Rainham.
St Thomas of Canterbury RC
A modern church of 1956-58 by Eduardo Dodds. The atmospheric interior is decorated with fine sculpture by Michael Clark, and ceramic panels by Adam Kossowski. The tower is a local landmark. The former temporary church of 1934 survives as the Parish Centre.
Followed by another brick behemoth the Gaumont Chatham.
The Palace Cinema was built by a subsidiary of the Gaumont British Theatres chain, and opened on 30th November 1936. The exterior had a tall square clock tower, which was outlined in neon at night – Architect Arthur W. Kenyon
Re-named Gaumon from 18th December 1950, closed by the Rank Organisation on 2nd February 1961 with John Gregson in The Captain’s Table.
It was converted into a 24-lane Top Rank Bowling Alley, which opened in December 1961. Eventually, this was the last of the Top Rank Bowls to close, closing on 31st October 1970.
The building was converted into a B&Q hardware store, and the interior has been gutted. It was later in use as a camping centre, which remains open in 2010 as Camping International. The building is now known as Clock Tower House.
Designed by German civil engineer Hellmut Homberg, the two main caissons supporting the bridge piers were constructed in the Netherlands. ] The bridge deck is about 61 metres high, and it took a team of around 56 to assemble its structure.
The bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 30 October 1991. The total cost of construction was £120 million. The proposed name had been simply the Dartford Bridge, but Thurrock residents objected and suggested the Tilbury Bridge, leading to a compromise. At the time of opening, it had the longest cable-stayed span of any bridge in Europe.
I arrived at the Dartford Crossing hot and hungry – wandering towards the tunnel entrance, only to be apprehended by the authorities.
What are you doing here?
I pleaded for a glass of water and directions, happily I received both from a friendly member of staff.
Picked up by Range Rover and driven over to Essex free of charge.
Wearily I made my way across the county, no time for snaps it seems, simply wishing to hit town before nightfall. None of my B&Bs were booked ahead of time and I’ve never had a ‘phone. Finding a bed for the night proved troublesome – knocking on the door of a minor hotel, I was rebuffed by a Beatle suited, be-wigged figure:
Are you to take the vacancies sign down then – says I.
No – says he.
Under cover of darkness I holed up in a contractors’ flop house on the front, no-frills communal showers, short shrift and cold linoleum, but a welcome repose none the less.
Some pints don’t touch the sides – this and several others didn’t, ‘neath the flickering lights of Southend by night.
A wobbly walk along the prom.
Fetching up with pic of the Kursaal.
The Kursaal is a Grade II listed building in Southend-on-Sea which opened in 1901 as part of one of the world’s first purpose-built amusement parks. The venue is noted for the main building with distinctive dome, designed by Campbell Sherrin, which has featured on a Royal Mail special edition stamp.
Though remnants remain – this is a short journey through a hole in fence, down into the warren of power station offices past.
They have been stripped of their former use and meaning, transformed into a transitory art performance space, paint and plaster now peeling, appealing to the passing painter, partially reclaimed by nature.
A Grade II listed country house, now divided into two dwellings. c1812. Ashlar gritstone. Hipped slate roof with leaded ridges. Various ashlar triple stacks with moulded tops. Moulded cornice and low parapet. Two storeys, central block with recessed long wing to east, orangery to west.
This Grade II listed manor house is set within 14 acres of natural grounds, together with the occupied adjoining servants’ wing, and has been sympathetically converted, retaining many original features to provide comfortable accommodation for families wishing to meet up for that special family occasion, and wi-fi is available in the living room.
Then came a pool:
Previously a private pool belonging to a country club in the 1930’s it later opened to members around 1938 who paid a small fee for its use. The pool is fed by a mountain stream and the water is reported to remain cool throughout the year. In the 1940’s/50’s locals recall the pool being open to the public where it cost a ‘shilling for children and half a crown for adults’ entry. During storms in 1947 the pool was badly damaged and reportedly ‘never the same again’ but postcards in circulation in the 1960’s provide evidence that the pool remained open at least until then.
Now it sits abandoned and hidden in the woods.
I went there in my early teens late 60’s the pool was still intact, well used and well cold. I remember chilly changing rooms with duckboards on concrete floors, a small café with pop and crisp if you had the pennies.
Most of all the simple joy of emersion in clear moorland water, on long hot summer days long gone.
Revisiting in April 2014, following a misguided scramble through brambles, it was a poignant reunion. The concrete shells of the pillars and statuary crumbling and moss covered, the waters still and occluded.
It sure it has subsequently been the scene of impromptu fashion shoots and pop promo videos, possibly a little guerrilla swimming. Though sadly it largely sits unused and unloved – let’s take a look around:
Charles Dreyfus was a French emigrant chemist and entrepreneur, who founded the Clayton Aniline Company on 29 May 1876. The company obtained a lease on a parcel of land in Clayton, Manchester, sandwiched between the Manchester and Ashton Canal and Chatham Street – later known as Clipstone Street.
At its peak in the 1970s, the site occupied over 57 acres and employed over 2,000 people. However, due to the gradual demise of the British textile industry, most textile production shifted to countries such as China and India with the textile dye industry following.
In 2002, the company made 70 members of staff redundant and in 2004 the announcement was made that the site would be closing with the loss of over 300 jobs. A small number of staff were retained to assist in the decommissioning of the plant. The last workers left the site in 2007 and the remainder of the buildings were demolished shortly afterwards.
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.
The River Irwell bisects Salford and Manchester, joining the rivers Irk and Medlock, and then turns west toward Irlam, as part of the Manchester Ship Canal. Its course ends just east of Irlam, where it empties into the Mersey.
Urban development is ever so often dependent upon rivers – for sustenance, commerce and amusement. The Irwell and latterly the developments of the canal system has provided all of these in superabundance.
By 1870 the Pomona Gardens is thriving , boasting a concert hall and banqueting suite – further details here from Skyliner.
In the summer of 1887, a nearby chemicals factory exploded, damaging the palace – the area was under threat and destined to rot away to obscurity: the following year the gardens closed forever.