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.

Ash Hotel – Stockport

232 Manchester Road Heaton Chapel Stockport SK4 1NN

So once there was a pleasure gardens, and then in 1901 a pub.

Wilson’s Brewery built The Ash Hotel, a grand boozer in a Jacobean manor manner, complete with bowling green and billiard room.

It lasted through to the 70’s and 90’s but gradually it became harder and harder to manage and fill a pub of such size and stature.

Closed – standing unloved and unused until it was finally converted into the Ash Tea Rooms in 2011.

Only to be closed again in May 2018.

Once ringing with the chink of glass on glass, songs and laughter it awaits its latest fate – conversion to flats.

One can only hope that much of its architectural detail will be preserved – particularly the architectural type fascia sign.

And the mosaic flooring.

Only time will tell – if you’re passing tip your hat take a look and celebrate a grand old building which somehow will prevail.

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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Three Lost Pubs – Sheffield

A city once awash with industry and ale – a myriad of pubs slaking the thirst of the thirsty steel workers.

A liquid equilibrium flowing and flowering for over a century.

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dusty miller

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The Lower Don Valley once home to a wealth of boozers, tells a different tale today.

A fall in production produced a proportionate reduction in consumption.

The clatter of clogs on cobbles, metal on metal is but a distant memory, along with the sound of pints pulled and hastily glugged.

The architecture of ale still prevails – now purveying pleasures and delights of a different stripe, whatever takes your fancy, as long as it’s not too fancy.

And doesn’t involve taking a drink.

 

The Gower Arms – 47 Gower Street Burngreave Sheffield S4 7JWblanku01838

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I drink down there – top pubs methinks. They are old fashioned pubs with some real characters. Will be there Friday night in the Staff first, Royal Oak, Gower, Grapes and back to the Staff till I drop.

Blade Bloke 2007

From top pub to closed corner supermarket in two shakes of a monkey’s tale.

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The Norfolk Arms Hotel – 195/199 Carlisle Street Sheffield S4 7LJblanku08444

From a Gilmour’s tap, Tetley tavern to a temple of trendy funk.

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Club Xes is a nightclub in Sheffield  described as a vibrant and thrilling, and full of Sheffield’s young and trendy crowd.  The DJs are renowned for providing the newest funkiest records.

Premises Type – This place does not serve real ale.

Premises Description – Gay nightclub.

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The Corner Pin – 231-233 Carlisle Street East Sheffield S4 7QN

 

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First licensed to sell beer in 1840. One of 26 public houses serving the steel industry along a three- quarter mile stretch of Carlisle Street. It is said to have a ghost who likes to turn the lights on in the middle of the night and footfalls can be heard.

The Corner Pin was the last of the Steelmakers pubs in Sheffield and was one of my favourite places to visit for a real good pint! I would come over from Melbourne once or twice a year, still do, and meet up with Chris Payling and many others still left over from the days of Sheffield Steel, but now all gone. 

They even took away your window frames, along with your dignity once a pale green shadow of yourself, stripped back to brick.

Stop dreaming of a foaming pint right now – you’re an office.

Not a pub.

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All B&W photographs copyright Picture Sheffield 

The Bank Of England – Manchester

Standing stately on the corner of Carruthers and Pollard Street, safe as houses.

As safe as the houses that are no longer there, along with the other public houses, along with the jobs, along with the punters – all long gone, it’s a long story.

Look out!

Mind that tram, full of the boys and girls in blue, off to shriek at a Sheikh’s shrine.

The Bank of England was one of Ancoats’ first beerhouses, licensed from 1830 and ten years later it was fully licensed with attached brewhouse.  The brewery did well, in fact it had another tied house, the Kings Arms near Miles Platting station nearby.  The brewery was sold off in the 1860s but continued as a separate business for a few years.

Pubs of Manchester

Bank of Enland 30s

Ancoats, the core of the first industrial city, a dense cornucopia of homes, mills and cholera – its citizens said to find respite from disease, through the consumption of locally brewed beer.

Once home to a plethora of pubs, now something of a dull desert for the thirsty worker, though workers, thirsty or otherwise are something of a rarity in the area.

One worker went missing, some twenty years ago Martin Joyce was last seen on the site, the pub grounds were excavated – nothing was found.

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Manchester Evening News

When last open it was far from loved and found little favour amongst the fickle footy fans.

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To the north a tidal wave of merchant bankers, to the east redundant industry.

The Bank of England has gone west.

So clean the mills and factories 

And give me council houses too

And work that isn’t turning tricks

Like building homes and making bricks.

Danny Moran

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Return To Palmerston Street – Beswick

Having traced a lengthy history of the shortish Palmerston Street – I returned to take a snapshot of the current state of affairs.

So much has gone an Art Museum, Lads Club, churches, homes, schools, industry and pubs – much of this now indistinct scrubland, fenced and walled, neither use nor ornament, save as an unofficial wildlife garden for feather, fowl and flower.

There  are small groups of more recent housing developments with the promise of more on the way, though this as ever is contentious – the story of conflicted interests betwixt and between developer, local authority and the would be affordable homes and their occupants.

The council says – Manchester’s Affordable Housing Programme will ensure more than 2,200 homes by March 2021 through a £250m programme funded through a variety of sources including Homes England grant funding, Council borrowing and land or property sales and Registered Providers. The Council is also backing the programme through the release of suitable council-owned land.

Which seems barely adequate to meet the needs of those on lower incomes.

The Guardian says – Of the 61 big residential developments granted planning permission by Manchester city council’s planning committee in 2016 and 2017, not one of the 14,667 planned flats or houses met the government’s definition of affordable, being neither for social rent nor offered at 80% of the market rate.

Manchester has changed, constantly changed – often overlooking the needs of its citizens to the north and east of the city. The areas crippled by recession, deindustrialisation and demolition have yet to see the benefits of the city’s recent regeneration.

What was once a community overflowing with rough and tumble, hustle and bustle, now seems to have become a contested area for match day parking and non-existent urban renewal.

Let’s take a look down Palmerston Street.

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