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.

Central Retail Park – Great Ancoats Street Manchester

Way back when, when the city was a maverick mixed up maze of citizens, industry, pubs, shops and places of worship the world looked a lot like this.

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However the process of clearance and redevelopment radically changed and reduced the population and appearance of Great Ancoats Street and its environs.

The back to backs aren’t coming back and their occupants shifted from pillar to post along with the businesses that served them. Following years of decline Manchester takes a long hard look at itself and decides to modernise.

In 1989 an out of town inner ring road shopping centre in the architectural style de jour is built – the anonymous industrial retail hangar appears.

2018 and the nexus of the city has shifted yet again – Ancoats is designated as the hippest place on earth and has no time for an outmoded shopping experience.

All these developers have a certain sensitivity towards this history of the area without neglecting modern tastes. 

So the Central Retail park awaits its fate.

There was to have been another retail complex.

Henderson Global Investors, on behalf of its flagships £1 billion Retail Warehouse Fund, has received detailed planning permission for a food store led regeneration at Central Retail Park, Manchester, investing £40 million in the scheme.

Though nothing lasts forever and the scheme came to nothing.

The latest proposal according to Place North West is for housing – with the attendant heated debate regarding affordable homes.

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 housesmet the government’s definition of affordable, being neither for social rent nor offered at 80% of the market rate.

Demolition of the former retail units would enable the development of the site by Manchester Life, the city’s joint venture with Abu Dhabi United Group. Previous site owner TH Real Estate, was unable to deliver the project, finally sold the Central Park site to the city council in November 2017.

The long awaited development of the site on Manchester’s inner ring road has edged closer, with site notices posted declaring that demolition is to start on 20 August.

As of last week the lone security guard at home in his brick cabin informs me that demolition has been delayed by the discovery of asbestos on the site.

Watch this forlorn windswept wet space.

Sheffield Streets

I had time to kill – in search of early Sunday morning visual thrills.

I took to the mean streets of Steeltown UK.

Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.

He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him.

The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.

Raymond Chandler 

It was 8am – low bright sun pierced the achingly empty space between the long high industrial buildings.

There was nobody to share the morning – yet the clearly audible kling and klang of work pervaded the air, along with the lingering aroma of engine oil and decay.

This is what I found:

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St James Coffee House – Burnley

124 St James’s Street Burnley Lancashire BB11 1NL

Having never ever been, I thought it time to go.

To Burnley.

Several trains from Stockport later, along the length of the East Lancs Line, I arrived at Burnley Manchester Road Station via the reinstated Todmorden Curve.

Having wandered aimlessly awhile, it was time for a spot to eat – and there it was a vision to behold before my very eyes.

St James Coffee House

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.

I’ll be back – go and treat y’self soon.

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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.

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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?

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

Gates and Doors – Sheffield

Early one morning – just as the sun was rising.

I took to the sunny Sunday October streets of Sheffield, bound I knew not where.

In search of something and nothing, which I possibly never ever found.

Following secret signs, symbols and words, doors and gates shut in my face.

Before I knew it I was back where I started.

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Clark Brothers – Thomas Street Manchester

Who you gonna call?

0161 834 5880 · 34-36 Thomas Street M4 1ER Manchester – Clark Brothers.

There’s nowhere quite like it – a wonderland of wares from who knows where?

Well mostly from upstairs where they hand print the signs.

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They have everything that you never ever knew that you really wanted.

At prices you just can’t resist.

The finest selection of candy striped bags.

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Things which twinkle and shimmer like no other things could ever do.

Transform your home into a 380 degree 365 24/7 winter landscape or tropical retreat.

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Just to wander the wobbly floorboards, is to enter a palace of variety that fills the senses with pure unadulterated delight.

Step inside love and lose yourself in a garden of artifice, happiness and joy!

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