More recently it has had a renaissance under the stewardship of local lad Louis Beckett.
The community centre now provides space for local bands to rehearse, local artists to exhibit their work, a community cafe and larger function rooms that are available for events.
A wide range of events takes place here through the year including live gigs, pantomines, Halloween parties, cabaret nights and art exhibitions, and since 2012 it’s been home to the Moston Small Cinema which screens a range of films and sporting events.
I popped by a couple of weeks ago and was given a terrific tour by Paula and Lou, along with a competitively priced tasty brew and breakfast.
Work was underway for the current Art Show and evidence of the club’s affable affiliation with FC Unitedof Manchester, along with the results of the previous week’s art activities for the local youngsters.
Let’s take a look around outside and in.
Keep an eye and ear out for forthcoming events – get y’self up there soon!
Welcome, at the Kardomah Cafe we have a long history of excellent service, great food and wonderful coffee. We are an independent, established, family run business of nearly 50 years. Traditional values are important to us and have helped us create a warm and friendly atmosphere, which is seen by many of our customers as an important part of their lives, a place to meet their friends, whilst enjoying quality food and drink.
The company that created the Kardomah brand began in Pudsey Street, Liverpool in 1844 as the Vey Brothers teadealers and grocers. In 1868 the business was acquired by the newly created Liverpool China and India Tea Company, and a series of brand names was created beginning with Mikado. The Kardomah brand of tea was first served at the Liverpool colonial exhibition of 1887, and the brand was later applied to a range of teas, coffees and coffee houses. The parent company was renamed Kardomah Limited in 1938. The brand was acquired by the Forte Group in 1962, sold to Cadbury Schweppes Typhoo in 1971, and became part of Premier Brands some time between 1980 and 1997. The brand still exists, selling items such as instant coffee and coffee whitener.
The Kardomah Cafés in London and Manchester were designed by Sir Misha Black between 1936 and 1950.
The original Swansea branch was at 232 High St, and known as ‘The Kardomah Exhibition Cafe & Tea Rooms’, moving to the Castle Street in 1908.
The Castle Street cafe was the meeting place of The Kardomah Gang, which included Dylan Thomas, and was built on the site of the former Congregational Chapel where Thomas’s parents were married in 1903. The cafe was bombed during WW2 and was later replaced by the present Kardomah Coffee Shop Restaurant in Portland Street.
I’d never had the pleasure of visiting a Kardomah before, imagine my delight when I was directed there by local artist, activist and archivist Catrin Saran James, during our delightful Swansea Moderne tour!
Following an extensive walk from one end of town to the other, I returned there for a late midday bite to eat and a sit down – it looked a little like this:
Many thanks to the staff and customers for putting up with me wandering around for a while with my camera, whilst they worked and ate.
The building was originally developed by C&A and it is thought that funding for the reliefs might have been provided by the store and/or Northern Arts. It became BHS which subsequently closed, the building is now occupied by Primark, C&A estates still own the site.
A simple three-arched entrance had been built facing the seafront and the area was now completely enclosed within a boundary. In 1909, large rides appeared, including a Figure Eight rollercoaster and a Water Chute. Elderton and Fail wanted to make a statement and create a new, grand entrance to the fairground. They hired the Newcastle architects Cackett& Burns Dick to survey the site and begin drawing up plans for new Pleasure Buildings.
Building began in February 1910 and the construction was completed by builders Davidson and Miller 60 days later. The use of the revolutionary reinforced concrete technique pioneered by Francois Hennebique was perfect for the job, being cheap and fast. The Dome and surrounding buildings – a theatre and two wings of shop units – opened on 14 May 1910 to great fanfare. Visitors marvelled at the great Spanish City Dome, the second largest in the country at the time after St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, which provided a spectacular meeting place with uninterrupted views from ground level to its ceiling, 75 feet above.
Telegraph-wire cyclists, acrobatic comedians, singing jockeys, mermaids, they all appeared at the Spanish City during its first decade. One of the wings hosted the menagerie, where visitors could see hyenas, antelopes and tigers! This was converted into the Picture House cinema in 1916.
A little further along, a selection of Seaside Moderne semis in various states of amendment and alteration.
Before I knew it I was in Blyth.
The town edged with military installations
Gloucester Lodge Battery includes the buried, earthwork and standing remains of a multi-phase Second World War heavy anti-aircraft gun battery and radar site, as well as a Cold War heavy anti-aircraft gun and radar site. The battery occupies a level pasture field retaining extensive rig and furrow cultivation.
827 men of the 225th Antiaircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion of the U.S. Army, arrived at this location in early March 1944 and were attached to the 30th British AAA Brigade. Here they sharpened their skills in the high-altitude tracking of aircraft.
The cycle route took me off road along the estuary and under the flyover.
Encountering a brand new factory.
And the remnants of the old power station.
Blyth Power Station – also known as Cambois Power Station, refers to a pair of now demolished coal-fired power stationsThe two stations were built alongside each other on a site near Cambois in Northumberland, on the northern bank of the River Blyth, between its tidal estuary and the North Sea. The stations took their name from the town of Blyth on the opposite bank of the estuary. The power stations’ four large chimneys were a landmark of the Northumberland skyline for over 40 years.
After their closure in 2001, the stations were demolished over the course of two years, ending with the demolition of the stations’ chimneys on 7 December 2003.
UK battery tech investor Britishvolt has unveiled plans to build what is claimed to be Britain’s first gigaplant at the former coal-fired power station in Blyth in Northumberland.
The £2.6 billion project at the 95-hectare Blyth Power Station site will use renewable energy from the UK and possibly hydro-electric power generated in Norway and transmitted 447 miles under the North Sea through the ‘world’s longest inter-connector’ from the North Sea Link project.
By 2027, the firm estimates the gigaplant will be producing around 300,000 lithium-ion batteries a year.
The project is predicted to create 3,000 new jobs in the North East and another 5,000 in the wider supply chain.
We awoke, we dawdled around Deal, prior to our delightful breakfast.
Though the pier appeared to be closed.
Extending elegantly over a still, still sea.
The present pier, designed by Sir W. Halcrow & Partners, was opened on 19 November 1957 by the Duke of Edinburgh. Constructed predominantly from concrete-clad steel, it is 1,026 ft in length – a notice announces that it is the same length as the RMS Titanic, but that ship was just 882 feet, and ends in a three-tiered pier-head, featuring a cafe, bar, lounge, and fishing decks.
The lowest of the three tiers is underwater at all but the lowest part of the tidal range, and has become disused.
Pausing in Ramsgate to admire Edward Welby Pugin’s Grade II Listed – Granville Hotel.
The Granville development, so named after George Leverson Gower, second Earl Granville (1815-1891), was a venture undertaken by Edward Welby Pugin, together with investors Robert Sankey, George Burgess and John Barnet Hodgson on land acquired from the Mount Albion Estate in 1867. The scheme was to be an important new building in the eastward expansion of the town and the emergence of a fashionable new suburb. At the outset, the intention was to build a relatively restrained speculative terrace of large townhouses with some additional facilities. However, as the scheme progressed and it became apparent that buyers could not be secured, revised plans for an enlarged hotel complex were adopted in 1868 and brought to completion in 1869. These plans, which added a series of grand rooms including a banqueting hall, receptions rooms and an entrance hall in addition to a tunnel to connect to the railway line on the seafront, gardens, a complex of Turkish baths and a vast landmark tower (originally 170ft high, although truncated at a relatively early date), were remarkably ambitious. Ultimately, as it would transpire, the scheme was rather too ambitious on Pugin’s part; with his increasing reliance on loans eventually culminating in bankruptcy in October 1872, an event which precipitated his demise as an architect, tragically followed by his death just three years later.
Overlooking the sea, the ornamental gardens were laid out and presented to the Borough of Ramsgate by Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills in 1920 and opened to the public in June 1923 by the Mayor of Ramsgate Alderman A. W. Larkin. They are maintained by Thanet District Council and were Grade II listed on 4 February 1988.
The gardens were designed by the architects Sir John Burnet & Partners, and constructed by Pulham and Son. The main feature of the gardens, is a semi-circular shaped colonnade carved into the pulhamite recess.
On the upper terrace, approached by broad flights of steps, the gardens proper are reached. In the centre, and immediately over the shelter, is a circular pool enclosed on the north side by a semi-circular Roman seat.
On leaving the town we encounter this engaging flint church – Holy Trinity
Erected 1829-1830. David Barnes Architect, extended 1925.
Built of flint and rubble.
One of the first visitors to this church was Charles Dickens who offered a very unflattering description in his work, Our English Watering Place:
We have a church, by the bye, of course – a hideous temple of flint, like a petrified haystack. Our chief clerical dignitary, who, to his honour, has done much for education, and has established excellent schools, is a sound, healthy gentleman, who has got into little local difficulties with the neighbouring farms, but has the pestilent trick of being right.
In Margate the tidal pools are full of waveless sea water and kiddy fun.
The former crazy golf course is undergoing an ongoing programme of involuntary rewilding.
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?
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.
When World War II broke out, Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea were considered vulnerable to attacks and invasion from abroad. On the night of Saturday 29 July 1944 a doodlebug was hit over the English Channel. Damaged, it nevertheless continued to fly towards the coastline of St Leonards-on-Sea. It was approaching Marine Court which was hosting a servicemen’s party – but it veered and crashed in front of the doors of St Leonard’s Church, making a deep crater. The tower fell into this, and the rest of the church was brought down as well. Although there were no casualties, the church was completely destroyed. Although the problem of rock falls and subsidence associated with the cliffs had continued throughout the life of the church, the War Damage Commission would only pay for it to be rebuilt on the same site. The architectural partnership of brothers Giles and Adrian Gilbert Scott were commissioned to design the new building.
Patrick Reyntiens stained glass
The unique features were inspired by Canon Cuthbert Griffiths, rector from 1929 to 1961. Following a dream, he went to Israel and had the prow of a Galilean fishing boat constructed to form the pulpit.
Marble work on the floor depicts locally caught skate and herring.
Beyond the communion rail are loaves and fishes set in different marble patterns bordered by scallop shells, a copy of the Byzantine mosaic in the Church of the Feeding of the Five Thousand in Galilee.
The structure set into shifting cliffs is subject to subsidence.
Procedures have been completed for St Leonard’s Parish Church on Marina to be closed for worship.
The service will be next Saturday August 4 2018 at 3pm.
Because the building cannot be used the service will be at St Ethelburga’s in St Saviour’s Road.
St Leonard’s has been called the church with an inbuilt message. Even the very stones cry out to those who have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand and accept the Good News of the Gospel.
Get down for breakfast – I personally regret the untimely passing of fried bread and the appearance of the so-called hash brown.
Originally, the full name of the dish was hashed brown potatoes or hashed browned potatoes, of which the first known mention is by American food author Maria Parloa in her 1887 Kitchen Companion, where she describes the dish of hashed and browned potatoes as a fried mixture of cold boiled potatoes which is folded like an omelet before serving.
Years later we got them.
Thursday 30th July 2015 and the sun is a shining brightly on the Dart.
Get on the ferry!
We’re off again.
The Monkey Puzzle tree Araucaria araucana is one of the oldest trees in the business – of being a tree.
It is native to central and southern Chile, western Argentina, and a welcome visitor to the English Riviera.
The hardiest species in the conifer genus. Because of the prevalence of similar species in ancient prehistory, it is sometimes called a living fossil.
The refined white rectilinear box shaped houses of the genus Seaside Moderne, are an offspring of the International Style, to be found all over the globe.
The sea covers seventy percent and rising, of our planet.
Seaside shelters are ubiquitous along our coast and form a typology determined by a rich variety of wild and wonderful Municipal tastes – flat, broke, baroque, modern and functionalist, hardly two the same.
Electricity is a popular power source both locally, nationally and internationally.
Model villages originated in seventh century China, there is only one way around a model village.
Laundrettes may be on the way out but this gallant knight of the road continues to record them, both online and in print.
Here in Teignmouth a pier appears not uncommon on certain parts of the coast.
Teignmouth Grand Pier is a great day out for family and friends. There’s something for everyone – from big kids to little ones – it offers you all the traditional attractions and entertainment in the Great British spirit of the seaside.
Time to get on the ferry again Steve – crossing the Exe Estuary on the Starcross to Exmouth Ferry.
Bikes carried for a small additional charge.
No time for Bingo, reading the local paper or the amusements – time for a pint, in the form of two halves.
Then a wander back to the digs – see you all tomorrow.
Today Monday 27th July 2015 – leaving Ilfracombe the royal we head south along the Tarka Trail, giving Cornwall a swerve.
Though first we feast on a slightly out of focus fry up at the digs.
Inspired by the route travelled by Tarka the Otter, this 180 mile, figure eight route traverses unspoiled countryside, dramatic sea cliffs and beautiful beaches. The southern loop incorporates the longest, continuous off-road cycle path in the UK. Walking or cycling, you can experience the best this beautiful area has to offer.
Then away we go following the former train line out of town.
The Ilfracombe Branch of the London & South Western Railway, ran between Barnstaple and Ilfracombe. The branch opened as a single-track line in 1874, but was sufficiently popular that it needed to be upgraded to double-track in 1889.
The 1:36 gradient between Ilfracombe and Mortehoe stations was one of the steepest sections of double track railway line in the country.In the days of steam traction, it was often necessary to double-head departing passenger trains.
Named trains such as the Atlantic Coast Express and the Devon Belle both started and terminated at Ilfracombe.
Despite nearly a century of bringing much-needed revenue into this remote corner of the county, passenger numbers dropped dramatically in the years following the Second World War, due to a massive increase in the number of cars on Britain’s roads, and the line finally closed in 1970.
Much of the course of the line is still visible today, and sections of it have been converted into public cycleways.
We leave behind – theshadowy world of secret handshakes, favours for friends and strange initiation ceremonies.
For the equally shadowy world of military installations.
The water tower at RAF Chivenor.
Originally a civil airfield opened in the 1930s, the site was taken over by the Royal Air Force in May 1940 for use as a Coastal Command Station. After World War II, the station was largely used for training, particularly weapons training.
In 1974 the station was left on care and maintenance, in 1994 7 FTS left Chivenor, merging with No. 4 Flying Training School RAF at RAF Valley, and the airfield was handed over to the Royal Marines.
A most delightful cycle path alongside the estuary of the River Taw.
The River Taw rises high on the slopes of Dartmoor and together with its tributaries, the River Mole, Yeo and little Dart, runs north through beautiful rolling countryside down to Barnstaple and into the Bristol Channel.
Passing under the Torridge Bridge at Bideford – a 650 metre long concrete structure built in 1987.
Three piers are in the river. Each of the piers in the water is protected by concrete fenders twenty four metres long by eight metres wide by eight metres high. The concrete piers of the bridge are around twenty four metres high.
It was designed by MRM Partnership.
Here we are in Barnstaple by the Civic Centre.
It’s described as an ‘iconic’ building, but not many locals would agree, this huge building widely considered to be one of the ugliest in Devon could soon be under new ownership.The council has confirmed that following a tender exercise, it is working with a preferred bidder to finalise the details of the sale.
In 2014Barnstaple based Peregrine Mears Architects believed the civic centre could provide up to 84 modern apartments.
Artist’s impression by Peregrine Mears Architects – looks a little too wobbly to me, Peregrine Mears Architects should get right back to the drawing board, where they started from.
The Neo-Classical facade restrained Deco of The Venue.
Formerly The Regal Cinema – opened on 30th August 1937
Architects – BM Orphoot
Revellers dancing at The Worx nightclub– as The Venue was to become.
The building in Barnstaple is for sale with Webbers estate agents for just £225,000. The striking building in a prime position on the town’s Strand was originally opened in 1937 as the Regal Cinema.
The building will probably be best known under the guise of Kaos, the name it was given during the 1990’s and at the height of its popularity.
Other nightclub incarnations at the premises included Babylon, Rockabillies, Coco, Club Tropicana and of course The Venue.
The Tarka Trail crossing the River Torridge, just south of Bideford, utilising the former railway bridge.
The old home town looks the same as I step down from the bike, and there to meet me is – well nobody.
And I realise, yes, I was only dreaming.
I’ll go to Okehampon then – take a look at the lovely tiled Post Office, whilst completely ignoring one of the oldest Norman castles in the country.
Walking around town in search of a B&B proved fruitless, though I was directed to an out of town Roadhouse aways away.
Welcome to Betty Cottles Inn – land of the lost apostrophe.
Rooms are not as photos/described on hotel booking sites, wi-fi hardly ever works. I prepaid/booked for nine nights, I checked out after two days. Needless to say I didnt receive a seven day refund. Owner with attitude problem, he had my money, and was not keen on helping with my concerns about the property. Musky smell to carpet in bar and restaurant areas. Not been cleaned for a long time. Rooms unsafe and not private, with curtains not long enough, lock on room doors inadequate.
Neil H – July 2109
You sneaked in a female into your single room without paying for her and got caught so obviously you have retaliated by way of a negative review. You were probably the most rude and hostile guest we have ever had and have had to report you to booking.com for guest misconduct and also banned you from being able to book here again.
Matthew owner at Betty Cottles Inn
I ate a reasonable meal in the Carvery and chatted amiably with a representative salesman on the move, whilst seeing off a few pints of Guinness – any port in a storm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I ride a bicycle, which seriously restricts my access to the world of the M – one and six or otherwise. Having a more than somewhat ambivalent outlook on motor cars and their ways I have nevertheless written a short history.
So to satisfy my idle curiosity, and fill the damp wasteland of a Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon, let’s go on a little trip back in time by means of archival images.
What of your history?
Tendering documents were sent out in 1962 describing it as a 17.7 acre site, requiring at least a £250,000 investment, including an eastern corner reserved for a picnic area, and an emphasis that the views to the west must be considered in the design, and facilities must be provided on both sides. Replies were received – from Telefusion Ltd, J Lyons, Banquets Catering Ltd, Granada and Rank
Top Rank’s plan came consistently highly rated by all the experts it was passed between. It showed a restaurant and a self-service café on the west side, the restaurant being at the top of a 96ft (29m) tower. At the top of the tower was a sun terrace – a roof with glass walls, which they had described but hadn’t included any suggestions for how it could be used, adding that maybe it could form an observation platform, serve teas, or be reserved for an additional storey to the restaurant.
Including a transport café on each site, seating was provided for 700 people, with 101 toilets and 403 parking spaces. A kiosk and toilets were provided in the picnic area.
“The winning design looks first class. Congratulations.”
Architects T P Bennett & Sons had been commissioned to design the services, along with the similar Hilton Park. At £885,000, it was the most expensive service station Rank built, and was considerably more than what had been asked of them.They won the contract, but on a condition imposed by the Landscape Advisory Committee that the height of the tower was reduced to something less striking.
Lancaster was opened in 1965 by Rank under the name ‘Forton’. The petrol station opened early in January, with some additional southbound facilities opening that Spring.
The southbound amenity building had a lowered section with a Quick Snacks machine and the toilets. Above it was the transport café which had only an Autosnacks machine, where staff loaded hot meals into the back and customers paid to release them. These were the motorway network’s first catering vending machines, and the Ministry of Transport were won round by the idea, but Rank weren’t – they removed them due to low demand.
In 1977, Egon Ronay rated the services as appalling. The steak and kidney pie was an insult to one’s taste buds while the apple pie was an absolute disgrace. He said everywhere needed maintenance and a coat of paint, the toilets were smelly and dirty, and the food on display was most unattractive.
A 1978 government review described the services as a soulless fairground.
The Forton Services and the typology generally have had a chequered career, rising and falling in public favour and perception. Purveying food and facilities of varying quality, changing style and vendors with depressing regularity – knowing the value of nothing yet, the Costas of everything.
Ironically the prematurely diminished tower has taken on iconic status in the Modernist canon – listed in 2012 yet closed to the public, admired from afar – in a car.
The Pennine Tower was designed to make the services clearly visible – the ban on advertising had always been an issue, and the previous technique of having a restaurant on a bridge, like down the road at Charnock Richard, was proving expensive and impractical. Rank commissioned architects T P Bennett & Sons to capitalise on the benefits of exciting design while trialling something different. The tower resembles that used by air traffic control, summarising the dreams of the ’60s.
The central shaft consists of two lifts, which were originally a pentagonal design until they were replaced in 2017. They’re still in use to access the first floor, but with the buttons to higher floors disabled. There are then three service lifts, and one spiral staircase – satisfying typical health and safety regulations.
At the top of the tower stood a fine-dining waitress service restaurant, offering views over the road below and across Lancashire. Above the restaurant the lift extended to roof-level, to allow the roof to serve as a sun terrace – although Rank admitted they weren’t sure what this could be used for, suggesting serving tea or eventually building another level.
In reality social changes and cost-cutting limited the desirability of a sit-down meal, and this coupled with high maintenance costs made the tower fall out of favour. The ‘fine dining’ restaurant became the trucking lounge that had been on the first floor, before closing to the public in 1989. It then soldiered on for another 15 years, partially re-fitted, as a head office, then staff training and storage, but even this became too impractical, and the tower is now not used at all.
Although the tower is unique to these services, the concept of large high-level floors can be seen in many Rank services of the era, the idea of each one being to have a visible landmark and a good view of the surrounding area, such as at Hilton Park. The lower-level restaurant at Forton sticks out over the first floor, and partially in to the road, to give an optimum view. Toilets and offices were in the ground floor buildings below.
There are lots of myths flying around that the tower was forced to close by safety regulations, and that it is about to fall down. Like any building which hasn’t been used for 30 years it would take a lot of investment to get it open again, and with roadside restaurants across the country closing due to a lack of trade, nobody has come up with an convincing plan to justify investing in the Pennine Tower.
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.
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.
From the 70’s onwards the area had been at the centre of the Asian garment trade – and so it came to pass some 26 years ago the Al Faisal arrived, one of several curry cafés, feeding the faces of the passing parade.
I’ve eaten there for most of that time, fed very well indeed thank you very much, for way less than a king’s ransom.
Yesterday I popped in at teatime, for my tea – posters proclaimed an imminent move.
The whole block is to be demolished and a hotel to be built – there is naturally a suspicious resistance to such change, what was a protected area of historical interest, is fast becoming a deregulated playground for the avaricious developer.
A Manchester council spokesman said:
Our building control officers have been engaged with owner of the property on Thomas Street for some time.
The condition of the building means there is an imminent danger of collapse and a potential threat to pedestrians. Unfortunately, the poor weather has only served to add to our concern over the safety of the building.
A conservation specialist will be on site working closely with the building owner to ensure as much of the fabric of the property can be retained as possible, and only parts that are unsalvageable will be removed to ensure public safety.
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.
Sanremo or San Remo is a city on the Mediterranean coast of western Liguria in north-western Italy. Founded in Roman times, it has a population of 57,000, and is known as a tourist destination on the Italian Riviera. It hosts numerous cultural events, such as the Sanremo Music Festival and the Milan–San Remo cycling classic.
Rochdale is a market town in Greater Manchester, England, positioned at the foothills of the South Pennines on the River Roch, 5.3 miles north-northwest of Oldham, and 9.8 miles north-northeast of the city of Manchester. Rochdale is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, population 211,699. Rochdale is the largest settlement and administrative centre, with a total population of 107,926. Home to the Cooperative Movement, Rochdale AFC and a redundant cotton industry.
The two towns come together at 27 Drake Street, Rochdale, Lancashire OL161RX, home to a fine café and Italian born Tony and family. It has a well preserved menu that reflects industrial Lancastrian tastes rather than flavours of Liguria. It has an internal decorative order that is pure mid century a la mode – Pennine Style. Several more than several signs leave you in no doubt as to the availability of pies, pies with chips/potatoes, peas, gravy, veg – pies of all varieties, pies.
So pie, chips, peas and gravy it was, with a mug of tea – it always is.