The final day the first sight of cloud and sea mist.
I awoke early and took an amble around Amble.
Then off on the road to Warkworth and beyond to Alnmouth – where I revisited a small group of asymmetric post-war dormer bungalows.
Stopping to view the flood plain of the River Aln, chatting perchance with the local environmental officer.
Who explained how the flood defences had been removed, as this encouraged the natural process of flooding and receding to proceed unhindered, thus preventing property from being interminably sodden.
We also discussed the decline in vernacular architecture and the fashion for all that is New England, much to the detriment of New Northumberland.
One day everywhere will look like a someone else’s vision of somewhere else.
The good folk of Craster have wisely prevented the local bus from entering the North Sea.
The way north took me over a well laid concrete track.
I came upon three wise men from Durham, Rochdale and Doncaster, gathered around a concrete-bag bunker.
The first and last outdoor festival I ever done attended, unforgettable.
Weaving down and around quiet lanes I encountered this Walker Evans workshop.
Armstrong Cottages is an estate originally built by Lord Armstrong for the workmen restoring Bamburgh Castle.
The 1901 Census lists the current inhabitants with their provenance and professions.
114 residents are listed for the 19 cottages, of whom 53 are working men employed in the building trade: their professions include stonemasons, joiners, plumbers, rope & pole scaffolders, blacksmiths, and plasterers.
Many come from Northumberland or Scotland, but a significant proportion are from further afield: Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire, Durham, Yorkshire, Derbyshire – and one from the Channel Islands.
Seven nights in November will now cost you the best part of a thousand pounds.
Temenos is a Greek word meaning land cut off and assigned as a sanctuary or holy area.
Following a 1907 Act of Parliament the bridge was built at a cost of £68,026 6s 8d by Sir William Arrol & Co. of Glasgow between 1910 and 1911 to replace the Hugh Bell and Erimus steam ferry services. A transporter bridge was chosen because Parliament ruled that the new scheme of crossing the river had to avoid affecting the river navigation.
The opening ceremony on 17 October 1911 was performed by Prince Arthur of Connaught, at its opening the bridge was painted red.
In 1961 the bridge was painted blue.
In 1974, the comedy actor Terry Scott, travelling between his hotel in Middlesbrough and a performance at the Billingham Forum, mistook the bridge for a regular toll crossing and drove his Jaguar off the end of the roadway, landing in the safety netting beneath.
The cycle track followed the river, which sports a fine array of industrial architecture.
Tees Newport Bridge designed by Mott, Hay and Anderson and built by local company Dorman Long who have also been responsible for such structures as the Tyne Bridge and Sydney Harbour Bridge, it was the first large vertical-lift bridge in Britain.
In a slightly more upbeat mode St James the Apostle Owton Manor.
I convinced myself that this building on Station Road Seaton Carew was a former pub, I discovered following consultation with the local studies offices, that it was in fact a former children’s home destined to become a doctors.
I found myself looking back across the estuary to Redcar.
Northward toward Hartlepool.
Where the bingo was closed and the circus had left town.
Every Englishman’s home is a bouncy castle.
St John Vianneylocated on King Oswy Drive West View Estate.
Architect: Crawford & Spencer Middlesbrough 1961.
A large post-war church built to serve a housing estate, economically built and with a functional interior. The campanile is a local landmark.
The parish of St John Vianney was created in 1959 to serve the growing West View Estate, on the north side of Hartlepool. The church was opened by Bishop Cunningham on 4 April 1961. The presbytery was built at the same time.
Seeking assistance from a passing cyclist I negotiated a safe passage to Sunderland.
The Sunderland Synagogue is a former synagogue building in Sunderland, England. The synagogue, on Ryhope Road, was designed by architect Marcus Kenneth Glass and completed in 1928. It is the last surviving synagogue to be designed by Glass.
I took a right and arrived in Roker, where I saw these well tanned and tattooed cyclists taking a rest.
Pressed on, largely alongside the coast to South Shields.
Tyne Cyclist and Pedestrian Tunnel was Britain’s first purpose-built cycling tunnel. It runs under the River Tyne between Howdon and Jarrow, and was opened in 1951, heralded as a contribution to the Festival of Britain.
Built in 1928, this church was designed with some care and is an attractive, if fairly modest, Lombard Romanesque-style essay in brick. The use of a semi-circular apse, narrow brickwork and use of tile for decorative effect give it a pleasing appearance, typical of restrained but elegant work between the wars.
I arrived and took a look around, first time in town, here’s what I found.
While working for George Wimpey and Co. Ltd, and together with J E Tyrrell, Chief Architectural Assistant to Gosport Borough Council, Kenneth Barden was responsible for tiled murals on Seaward Tower and Harbour Tower, two sixteen-storey tower blocks built in 1963 on the Esplanade in Gosport.
They really are something they really are.
And so following a ride on the Gosport Ferry we arrive at Portsmouth Harbour.
The land where British Rail signage refuses to die!
I have passed this way before on a Bournemouth to Pompey trip and both Tim and I were students at the Poly here in the 70s – more of which later.
East Didsbury Station was opened in 1909 by the London and North Western Railway and, until 6 May 1974, was called East Didsbury and Parrs Wood.
From 1923, the line was operated by the London Midland and Scottish Railway. Following the formation in 1948 of British Rail, rail services were operated by the London Midland Region of British Railways, then North-Western Regional Railways.
Carrington Moss is a large area of peat bog near Carrington in Greater Manchester, England. It lies south of the River Mersey, approximately ten miles south-west of Manchester, and occupies an area of about 1,100 acres..Originally an unused area of grouse moorland, the moss was reclaimed in the latter half of the 19th century for farming and the disposal of Manchester’s waste. A system of tramways was built to connect it with the Manchester Ship Canal and a nearby railway line. During the Second World War the land was used as a Starfish site and in the latter half of the 20th century, a large industrial complex was built along its northern edge. More recently, several sporting facilities have been built on Carrington Moss. Today, the land is still used for farming and several nature reserves have been established within its bounds.
Parts of Carrington Moss are accessible to the public over several rights of way.
On Carrington Moss 1851 David Cox
Industrialisation of the moss took place from 1947–1952 when Petro-Carbon ltd began to build what would later become known as the Shell Site. The estate was leased on 1 October 1968 to Shell Chemicals, who in 1957 had purchased a propylene oxide plant along the moss’s northern edge. Shell had built an ethylene oxide plant in 1958 and began to produce polyether polyols the following year. Council housing was built nearby, at Carrington and Partington, for workers and their families. By 1985 the Shell plant had a turnover of about £200M and employed 1,150 people, but a major restructuring of the business reduced the workforce to less than 500 by 1986. By 1994, four distinct plants operated on the 3,500-acre (14 km2) site, producing a range of chemicals, and materials including polystyrene, polyethylene and polypropylene.In 2005 it was reported that Shell would close their polyols and ethoxylates units, a decision which came into effect in 2007. The estate is currently managed by chartered surveyors Bell Ingram. Lyondell Basell operate the last remaining chemical plant on site.
Storm Christoph showed that Manchester is susceptible to the adverse effects of extreme weather events, which are forecast to become more regular occurrences.
Greater Manchester Labour for a Green New Deal argue that we must abandon the idea of developing on greenbelt, and instead embrace bold alternatives which reflects the urgency of the climate crisis﹣starting with sites like Carrington Moss.
The company of J. C. Edwards Ruabon Ltd, was based in Ruabon, Denbighshire, and was active from 1903 to 1956 as a brick, tile and terracotta manufacturer from its works at Tref-y-Nant, Acrefair, Albert Works, Rhosllannerchrugog, and Pen-y-bont, Newbridge, Denbighshire.
James Coster Edwards (1828-1896) founded the company; it was sold in 1956.
Water Street, Portwood looking north, taken from Avenue Street. Looking underneath the railway bridge, on the left hand side, the first building used to be a public house called ‘The Beehive’, further along was Kent & Swarbrick’s Tripeworks, now a precision engineers, then North West Concrete Works – Easymix. On the right is Coxson’s Brushworks, then the Portwood Mill, Kershaw’s Tannery and the Meadow Mill at the bottom of the street.
The area was also home to the Blood Tub boxing ring.
Outside the Blood Tub Back Water Street Portwood.
Centre row left to right Billy PittTaylor Micky PelhamJack HulmeJo Moran owner John MorryBobby RileyLaurie Glen a jockey
2nd row from the back – James Jimmy Rose.
Back row left to right – Charlie Dean An ambulance man Ike Irelands horse dealer – Team from Macclesfield.
Extreme right – Jo Mulrooney.
Front row left to right extreme left – Sidney Smith soft Sidney – a simpleton Jo Hulme.
Copied from a photograph lent by Eddie Pitt
Alligator Rainwear – a British company, whose main factory was based in Beehive Mill. It was best known for its 1960s collaborations with Mary Quant in the design and production of her Wet Look collection of PVC raincoats.
The firm was started after the First World War by Reuben Satinoff, who had previously founded the London Waterproof Company – Silkimac. It was taken over by his sons after the Second World War. For decades, it manufactured traditional weatherproof raincoats in black, brown and beige, but the collaboration with Quant led to new fabrics including PVC and nylon, and a range of bright and vibrant colours.
At its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, Alligator had a turnover of £5 million per year and was exporting its products to Europe and North America. It was later owned by Baker Street Brands who describe it as one of their heritage brands.
Viewed from Tiviot Dale Viaduct
Tiviot Dale station was located on 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 was situated at the bottom of Lancashire Hill, next to the present motorway bridge. It was opened on 1 December 1865 and was originally known as Stockport Teviot Dale. From 1880, Tiviot Dale was also served by long-distance trains running on the Manchester South District Railway to London St Pancras.
Tiviot Dale 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.
The lines through the station remained in heavy use by coal trains heading for Fiddlers Ferry power station near Warrington from the Woodhead Line. These, however, ceased in 1980 when damage was caused to the nearby Tiviot Dale tunnel during construction work on the M63 motorway – now M60 motorway and the line temporarily closed for safety reasons. The closure was made permanent west of Bredbury’s stone terminal in 1982, following the demise of the Woodhead route; the track was subsequently lifted in 1986 and the tunnel partially filled in. The area surrounding the station was further altered at the beginning of the 21st century to allow the construction of a supermarket and office buildings, which now block the old trackbed.
Portwood Railway Station was on the Stockport and Woodley Junction Railway – later becoming part of Cheshire Lines Committee – Glazebrook to Woodley line. According to Bolger it opened to passengers on 12 January 1863, along with the rest of the Stockport and Woodley Junction Railway, although Butt suggests it opened on 1 December 1865 when the Stockport, Timperley and Altrincham Junction Railway opened.
The station opened for goods traffic in 1865, closing to passengers on 1 September 1875, when it became a goods station. It remained in use until 25 April 1966 when it closed except for coal traffic which continued until 27 March 1972 when it closed entirely except for a private siding.
Today no trace of the station remains, the site being buried under a slip road of the M60 motorway.
Monica Clarke on her tricycle in Marsland Street, behind her across the cobbled street is the Sheba Works – 1951.
Marsland Street east, showing the Haymarket Chambers – 1967
The front of Haymarket Chambers Marsland Street.
Boarded up dwellings on Compstall Court, off Marsland Street.
Portwood Cut 1968
James Harrison bought the manor of Brinnington in the early 1780’s – by 1790 Harrison had three factories in Portwood and others were to follow. In 1796, to provide sufficient water-power to this industrial zone he constructed a substancial millrace. Known as the Portwood Cut, it carried water across the Tame, between his Reddish and Brinnington estates. Harrison also planned the construction of factories at Wood Hall but that particular scheme was abandoned after his death in 1806.
Harrison’s Weir still survives on the river. To the south sections of the Portwood Cut also survive within Reddish Vale Country Park, both as a shallow depression and as water-filled, if somewhat silted and overgrown channel.
Kershaws is one of the only original businesses which still trades in the area.
Established back in 1855 by Joshua Kershaw, the company has gone from strength to strength.
Way back then, it was just a tannery. Today, seven generations on, Edward Kershaw heads a company that is known and respected for it’s quality leather in Europe, America and the Far East.
Kershaws also provide white leather for masonics and bagpipes.
Brewery Street – a view of the steps leading to the railway footpath to Tame Street – 1967.
The mill in the foreground is the Portwood Spinning Mill now called Portwood Mill – on the front of the mill it states Sir Richard Arkwright Portwood Mill.
Employees – Portwood Spinning Company
Coal drops and yard at the rear of the Beehive Spinning Mill
Tame Street gave motorized access to the Cut and here the caravans of travelling folk were parked several times a year, usually until the police ‘moved them on’. The men collected and sold scrap metal, the women sold clothes pegs and told fortunes from door to door. Many of the local people treated them with suspicion and some local pubs would not admit them.
Building work on Lancashire Hill can be seen in the background – 1968
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.
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.
Having started in the middle, let’s fast forward to the end – the beginning will have to wait.
We take up our walk along Fred’s Way once more by Mirrlees Fields.
Following the brook along the narrow shallow valley, betwixt and between houses.
Briefly opening out into green open space.
Crossing the road and entering the detached world of the detached house.
No two the same or your money back!
Diving feet first into Happy Valley, home to the Lady Brook stream.
And quickly out again.
Emerging once again into the space between spaces.
The suburban idyll of the Dairyground Estate home to very few semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers; those on state benefit/unemployed, and lowest grade workers.
But home to an interesting array of Post War housing.
Including examples of the style de jour, à la mode conversions and updates extended and rendered, black, white and grey symbols of success or extensive extended credit facilities.
Though the more traditional fairy tale variant still has a space and place, in the corner of some well behaved cul de sac.
Under the railway – through a low tunnel darkly.
We struck oil, black gold, Texas Tea – Tate Oil.
The area of Little Australia – so called as all the roads are named after towns in Australia, is bordered by the West Coast Main Line to the north, the Bramhall oil terminal to the east, Bramhall village centre to the west and Moorend Golf Club to the south.
We emerged into a warren of obfuscation, dead ends and conflicting signs, having made enquiries of the passing populace, we realigned with the new bypass.
Passing over the conveniently placed footbridge over the bypass and beyond.
Emerging amongst faux beams and real Monkey Puzzles.
It was at this point that, unbeknownst to us, we followed a twisted sign, misdirecting us along an overgrown path – to Handforth.
We failed, in the end we failed to arrive to arrive at the end.
Heading west like headless chickens towards the Turkey Farm.
Making our way mistakenly to Handforth Dean Retail Park – rear of.
Crossing slip roads with no pedestrian access and the forbidden territory of an industrial sized gymnasium car park.
Woodford will just have to wait, another day another dolorous excursion.
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.
Fairfield is a suburb of Droylsden in Tameside, Greater Manchester, England. Historically in Lancashire, it is just south of the Ashton Canal on the A635 road. In the 19th century, it was described as “a seat of cotton manufacture”. W. M. Christy and Sons established a mill that produced the first woven towels in England at Fairfield Mill.
Fairfield is the location of Fairfield High School for Girls and Fairfield railway station.
The community has been home to members of the Moravian Church for many years after Fairfield Moravian Church and Moravian Settlement were established in 1783.
Also the merchant banker and art collector Robin Benson (1850–1929).
Charles Hindley 1796 – 1857 was an English cotton mill-owner and radical politician the first Moravian to be elected as an MP.
Turning into Fairfield Avenue from Ashton Old Road you’ll find Broadway sitting prettily on your right hand side. It was intended to be an extensive Garden Village but was abandoned at the outbreak of the First World War. The estate consists of 39 houses, built between 1914 and 1920 in a neo-Georgian style. These are a mixture of detached, semi-detached and terraces in a range of sizes.
Broadway is a small scale example of a garden suburb development and is composed of a mixture of detached, semi detached and terraced houses ranging in size and built in a reddish-orange brick with dark brick dressing and patterning. The properties appear to be generously proportioned and they share similarities in design and construction and a unifying scheme of decoration.
It issuggested that the ‘imaginative exploitation of the levels and texture suggest that Woods was responsible for the layout, but the chaste Neo-Georgian character of the houses undoubtedly reflects the taste of Sellers’.
Sneaking through the alley – lined with a Yorkshire Stone fence you enter the Moravian Settlement.
The Unitas Fratrum or Moravian Church is an international Protestant Christian group which originated from the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) during the 15th century. As a result of persecution, the group eventually re-established itself in Saxony in the early 18th century, and it is from there that followers first came to this country in the 1730s, with the intention to go on to carry out missionary work in America and the Caribbean. A decision was taken to establish the first Moravian Settlement in England at Fulneck in Yorkshire in 1744. The first Moravian settlement to be located in Tameside was in Dukinfield during the 1740s. It was there that they laid the foundation stone for their chapel at the top of Old Road in May 1751. By 1783, 40 years after their first arrival in Tameside, the lease on their land at Dukinfield expired, and negotiations for a new one proved difficult. This resulted in the purchase and removal of the community to a 54 acres site at Broad Oak Farm in Droylsden where they established a new settlement known as Fairfield.
As well as providing domestic accommodation, the buildings at Fairfield had industrial functions. During the late 18th and 19th centuries the Settlement would have been a hive of religious and industrial activity, which included the church, schools, domestic dwellings, inn, shop, bakery, laundry, farm, fire engine, night-watchman, inspector of weights and measures, an overseer of roads, physician, as well as handloom weaving and embroidery.
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.