Blank Street – Ancoats

As with all things material and corporeal there was time when you simply didn’t exist.

1860 adjacent to Woodward Street and the Rochdale Canal, a simple agglomeration of loose limbed industrial buildings and such – yet to be christened Blank.

adjective

  1.  Unrelieved by decorative or other features; bare, empty, or plain a blank wall.
  2. Showing a lack of comprehension or reaction – we were met by blank looks – synonyms: expressionless, empty, vacant, deadpan, wooden, stony, impassive, inanimate, vacuous, glazed, fixed, lifeless, uninterested, emotionless, unresponsive, inscrutable.

noun

  1. A space left to be filled in a document – leave blanks to type in the appropriate names – synonyms: space, gap, blank space, empty space.
  2. A cartridge containing gunpowder but no bullet, used for training or as a signal.

verb

  1. Make (something) blank or empty – electronic countermeasures blanked out the radar signals.
  2.  Informal North American defeat (a sports team) without allowing them to score – Baltimore blanked Toronto in a 7–0 victory.

Though contradictorily I have found reference to a bankrupt foundry in the London Gazette 1857.

You appear again during the Manchester Blitz.

By 1960 you are on the map and the area is on the up and up.

Though I have to ask the question of the namers of streets – why so Blank, an off day at the office – we have whole blocks named for poets, painters, and far flung places, so why so Blank?

Hadn’t they heard of nominative determinism – born to be Blank.

Whilst in search of a Brown Cow I found a photograph on the Local Image Collection of 60’s maisonettes in the area alongside Woodward Street.

This Municipal Modernist development seems to have been short-lived and subject to yet more demolition in the area, to be replaced by late 70’s terraced housing.

Blank Street inexplicably became Fulmer Drive.

Which in turn had been tinned up and demolished around 2008.

How did that happen – seemingly viable homes previously changing hands for £100,000 deemed surplus to requirements – land banking, ahead of an as yet unseen masterplan?

Your life was short and sharp – shaped by economic shifts, world war and the local authorities ephemeral housing policies. There is little evidence of your existence, photographic or otherwise, so I want to set the record straight – draw a blank.

Here you are as of July 2019 – tarmac intact, drains fully functioning, pavements paved, awaiting orders. A circuitous run of grassy ridges resembling the remains of some Roman or Iron Age fortification.

Where do we go from here?

Woodward Court Woodward Street – Ancoats Manchester

“What’s going on?”

As Marvin Gaye so succinctly asked.

Why is there just one remaining tower block dancing unclad around Ancoats?

Let’s go back in time and see if we can find out – it seems that back in 1807 there wasn’t a Woodward Street to be found, the ever expanding industrial might of Manchester had not yet reached these particular green fields of Ancoats.

By 1824 it shows a fresh face to the world christened Woodworth Street, sparsely dotted with new development.

Almost fully formed in 1836 and renamed as Woodward Street, the area begins to accumulate the familiar domestic and industrial clutter of a burgeoning Victorian City.

By 1860 the street is fully formed and open for business.

Workers finding homes in austere and functional brick back to backs, typical of the period’s housing.

Fast forward to the early Sixties and the street is showing signs of age – the century old industries are already in decline, steady jobs, mills and factories gone west and east, well-worn housing looking terminally tired and in need of a little care and attention.

But wait what’s this coming around the bend?

The first wave of urban regeneration, post war optimism incarnate, a bright new shiny future – out with the old and in with the new, as Municipal Modernism stamps its big broad architectural feet all over Woodward Street.

Archival photographs from Manchester Local Image Collection

Our story is far from over, this optimism is short-lived the homes, houses and industry are swept away yet again, replaced with two story modern terraced housing and an all too obvious absence of regular employment – yet the tower blocks prevailed.

Former streets were over written and remain as poignant vestigial marks in the landscape.

Grand plans are made for their revival.

Paul Daly

Though their future was built on more than somewhat shifting and uncertain sands.

A tower block has been left lying empty for a whopping 18 years. The 13-storey building at Saltford Court in Ancoats has been unoccupied since Manchester council closed it in the 1990s. It was bought by top developers Urban Splash six years ago but residents have now hit out about it still being empty. Neighbours of Saltford Court say it has become an ‘eyesore’ and magnet for vermin since the firm bought it.

Manchester Evening News 2012

A large group of blocks stood tinned up and unloved, yet owned, for a number of years, victims one supposes of land-bankers, developers speculating on an even better return, as the warm waves of gentrification washed slowly over them, from nearby New Islington.

All but one was refurbished, clad and re-let.

Woodward Court was spared – set aside for the homeless.

A period piece surrounded by Post Modern and Revivalist pretenders.

Why not go take a look.

Doncaster – Modernism

The railway station was built in 1849 replacing a temporary structure constructed a year earlier. It was rebuilt in its present form in 1933 and has had several slight modifications since that date, most notably in 2006, when the new interchange and connection to Frenchgate Centre opened.

The front elevation is realised in a typical inter-war brick functionalist style.

Of particular note are the lobby lighting fixtures and clock, the booking hall and offices are listed Grade II.

There are plans to redevelop the station approach replacing the current car parking with a pedestrianised piazza.

The High Street boast a former branch of Burton’s with its logo intact.

An intriguing Art Deco shop frontage – combining a menswear outlet with a pub.

Further along an enormous Danum Co-operative Store in the grandest Deco manner – 1938-40. Designed by T H Johnson & Son for the Doncaster Co-operative Society Ltd.

Currently partially occupied with no access to the glass stairways.

Following the development of the Frenchgate Centre the Waterdale Centre sunk into a slow decline.

And the Staff of Life has lost a little of its estate pub period charm, following successive typographic makeovers and paint jobs.

There are plans to improve the centre.

A naked couple sculpture which caused complaints went back on display in 2015.

The Lovers statue, depicting the couple embracing, attracted criticism after being installed in the Arndale Shopping Centre in Doncaster in the 1960s.

It was removed in the late 1980s and put into storage before being restored with the help of a local art group.

The designer was architect Eckehart Selke

Moving through to the shiny new Civic Area note the older library and demolished college.

There are further plans to redevelop the Library, Museum and Art Gallery.

Passing through we reach the Magistrates’ Courts and Police Station.

From 1949 onwards plans were afoot to develop the Waterdale area of Doncaster – civic buildings, courts, educational provision and the like, WH Price the Borough Surveyor at the helm. In 1955 Frederick Gibberd was appointed to oversee the site, though many of his designs were unrealised, his Police Station and Law Courts opened in 1969.

The Police Station it seems is to be redeveloped.

Moments away a delightful clinic with a decorative fascia.

Whilst next door is the Museum and Art Gallery.

And finally next door St Peter in Chains Church.

Grey Mare – Longsight

Exeter Close/Warmington Drive Manchester Longsight M12 4AT

Once there was this.

Once there was that.

Then there wasn’t.

That’s just the way of it.

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A dense web of streets awash with back to backs, jobs for all – in conditions perceived to be unfit for purpose.

Of a total of 201,627 present dwellings in Manchester, some 54,700, or 27.1 per cent., are estimated to be unfit. A comparison of slum clearance action taken by six major local authorities, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield and Bristol, shows that for the five years ending 30th June, 1965, Manchester was top of the league, both in compulsory purchase orders confirmed and the number of houses demolished or closed.

Manchester’s figures -13,151 houses demolished or closed .

Alfred Morris MP Hansard
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Along came a wrecking ball and left the pub bereft

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The original Grey Mare on Grey Street

Whenever mass slum clearance was carried out, the pubs tended to remain, often for just a short time  because – the story goes – demolition workers refused to touch them, as they wanted somewhere to drink during and after their shift.

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Then along came the cavalry – the bold boys from Fort Ardwick – Coverdale Crescent Estate

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A new dawn – and a new pub.

This vision of municipal modernity was short lived, the estate was demolished in the 1980s and the new Coverdale Estate was constructed on the site in 1994.

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Image – Pubs Galore

Built in 1972 the pub outlived the system built blocks that surrounded it.

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Another new gold dream, another day.

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Despite the high hopes embodied by the low rise rebuilding of the new estate.

The Grey Mare shuts its doors – forever.

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Park Hill Pubs – Sheffield

I’m a virtual visitor to the four pubs that served the population of Park Hill Estate.

I arrived late on the scene from not too distant Manchester, sadly much too late to stop and have a pint in The Parkway, Scottish Queen, Link or Earl George.

Built in the 1960s when municipal architecture spoke of optimism and innovation, the story of the estate is an oft told tale of decline and renovation.

Grade II* listed the building’s structure has prevailed, the original social structures, tenants and consequently their pubs have not.

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Bewitched by the fragments which I photographed on my belated visits, I have searched the archives of Picture Sheffield, Postcard Cafe and Little Bits Of Sheffield.

Piecing together photographs and the distant reminiscences of those that lived, breathed and drank in their pubs beneath the streets in the sky.

The Link on Park Hill had some colourful characters.

If you want any info on the Link next time you are in town see the man selling fishing tackle outside Castle Market ,he is called Chris Hardy his dad ran the link in the 60’s they used to have the Sun Inn on South St before Park Hill was built, tell Chris that Alan Betty’s cousin told you about him.

I once did a job outside the Scottish Queen and had a lump of concrete thrown at me! it landed about 2m away, that made me jump!

Joe Fox used to be the landlord in the George in the 70s, didn’t stand for any messing about.

Sheffield Forum

Earl Francis! Of course! That was driving me mad; I was just going to ring my mum and ask her if she could remember what it was called. I think it closed in the early 90s, at the same time as the renovations of Hyde Park Walk and Terrace – 1990/1991, if I remember correctly.

The Earl Francis was still open in 1994 – the last time I went in there, but was dying on its feet.

Park Hill is empty, and due to be refurbished.

It’s amazing to think that each complex had all these pubs and people actually went in them! Drove past Park Hill a few months ago at night and it didn’t look like a soul lived in them.

Not surprised the Tavern has closed down. Don’t know whether people are happy or sad about it…They looked like an absolute dive, but I’ve always wanted to go and have a look around them to see what they’re like close up!

Why is it amazing to think that?

Sheffield Forum

The Parkway

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Picture Sheffield 1965

Picture Sheffield © S Cole 2011

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The flats and in particular the Parkway Tavern were used in the 2014 film ’71 – which was set in Northern Ireland.  So this photograph showing the bar with a packet of crisps is actually slightly misleading because the crisp bag was only a printed film prop and what looks like broken glass on the bar is fake! – Mr C

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© Little Bits of Sheffield

The Scottish Queen

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A new pub could open on the site of what was once voted Britain’s second most dangerous watering hole. The Scottish Queen at Park Hill was notorious for violence, with only the most hardy drinkers brave enough to cross its threshold.

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April 2015 saw the launch of a new exhibition space in Sheffield, housed within the former Scottish Queen pub at the Brutalist icon that is the Park Hill estate. The Scottish Queen hosted a temporary programme of exhibitions, events and residencies in partnership with a range of artists and organisations from across Sheffield supported by S1 Artspace.

Possibly the second toughest art space in Britain.

The Link

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Picture Sheffield

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© Matt Surgeon

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Sheffield History

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© Postcard Cafe

The Earl George

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Picture Sheffield

In the 1960s 70s I used to go in the Link pub, I liked the Scottish Queen pub as well.

Do you think they’ll open all the pubs again when all the work is finished?