This is a journey through time and space by bicycle, around the rugged, ragged streets of East Manchester.
Undertaken on Sunday September 2nd 2018.
This is type travel – the search for words and their meanings in an ever changing world.
Devonshire Street North
Former Ardwick Cemetery
Great Universal Stores former mail order giant
The River Inn abandoned pub
All Souls Church – listed yet unloved
Pollard Street East
The Bank Of England abandoned pub
Ancoats Works former engineering company
The Lunchbox Café Holt Town
Upper Helena Street
The last remnants of industrial activity
The little that remains of Raffles Mill
Old Mill Street
Ancoats Dispensary loved listed and still awaiting resuscitation
New life New Islington
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth passed by in 1942
Former School the stone plaque applied to a newer building
The last of the few Blossom Motors
Former fruit merchants – refurbished and home to the SLG creative agency
Marshall Street and Goulden Street area
The last remnants of the rag trade
All that’s left of Alexandra Place
Entrance to the former Goods Yard
Back St Georges Road
Where once the CWS loomed large
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.
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.
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.
When last open it was far from loved and found little favour amongst the fickle footy fans.
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.
Eva Brothers of Crabtree Forge, Crabtree Lane, Clayton, Manchester.
1909 The partnership of James Eva, Archibald William Eva, Victor Eva, Arthur Eva, and Frank Eva, carrying on business as Forge-masters, at Crabtree-lane, Clayton, Manchester, under the style or firm of Eva Bothers was ended. All debts due would be settled by Archibald William Eva, Victor Eva, Arthur Eva, and Frank Eva, who continued the business under the same style.
By 1953 The EVA group of companies was the largest edge tool makers in the world, exporting most of their products. The associated companies included: Chillington Tool Co, Edward Elwell Limited of Wednesbury, A. W. Wills and Son Limited of Birmingham, John Yates and Co Limited of Birmingham, and the Phoenix Shovel Co Limited of Cradley Heath.
1958 Acquired T. Williams Drop forgings and Tools of Small Heath, Birmingham
1959 Planned to convert into a holding company; depressed demand for heavy engineering but continued group prosperity were anticipated.
1960 Eva Brothers paid dividends and made scrip issue; changed the name to Eva Industries as the holding company.
1976: Eva Brothers continued to be a part of Eva Industries.
Graces Guide – for further information.
This is where Manchester’s prosperity was created, engineering along with King Cotton, formed the financial foundations of the city. These industries are now all but vanished, along with the communities and skills that created them, work and wealth are elsewhere.
Years of free-market economics, acquisition, asset stripping, amalgamation and monopoly have bequeathed a legacy of loss.
Once bustling and business like sheds and yards, are now forests of buddleia and bramble. The sound of metal on metal, but a dull memory, amidst the wilder side of wildlife and the gentle whisper of peeling paint.
Come with me now to the Kingdom of Rust.
Formerly an area of high density terraced housing.
Lillington Gardens is an estate in the Pimlico area of the City of Westminster, London, constructed in phases between 1961 and 1980 to a plan by Darbourne & Darke. The estate is now owned and managed by City West Homes.
The estate was among the last of the high-density public housing schemes built in London during the postwar period, and is referred to as one of the most distinguished. Notably, seven years before the Ronan Point disaster ended the dominance of the tower block, Lillington Gardens looked ahead to a new standard that achieved high housing density within a medium rather than high-rise structure. It emphasised individuality in the grouping of dwellings, and provided for private gardens at ground and roof levels.
The estate’s high build quality, and particularly the planted gardens of its wide roof street, blend sympathetically with the surrounding Victorian terraces.
The estate’s high quality design was acknowledged by a Housing Design Award 1961, Ministry of Housing and Local Government Award for Good Design 1970, RIBA Award 1970 and RIBA Commendation 1973. Nikolaus Pevsner described it in 1973 as “the most interesting recent housing scheme in London”.
The site surrounds the Grade I listed Church of St James the Less, built in 1859–61. The entire estate, including the church, was designated a conservation area in 1990.
On the day of my visit, London in the grip of a July heatwave, the open areas, narrow alleys, byways, steps, stairs and roof gardens and play area were largely empty, citizens preferring the cooler interior environment of their homes.
The materials, warm brown brick and sheet-metal cladding, form complex interlocking shapes and volumes, creating a variety of heights and spaces. This makes exploration and navigation of the estate quite an adventure, disorienting at first, until one grasps an overall sense of the development’s structure.
Lillington Gardens provides homes, community, green space and an exciting range of vistas, a prime example of social housing on a human scale. Leafy glades, light and shade, grassy knolls abound.
Municipal Dreams for further reading.
Soft wind blowing the smell of sweet roses to each and every one,
Happy to be on an island in the sun.
An island in Wakefield.
An Island in a sea of dual-carriageways.
Sixties built municipal modernism, hovering on slim stilts above the ground level carpark, complete with pierced brick screen.
The future was bright the future was red – for a short while.
Over the horizon came Sir Ian Kinloch MacGregor KBE.
Lady Thatcher said:
He brought a breath of fresh air to British industry.
The fifth horseman of the industrial apocalypse – bringing pit-closure, redundancy the deindustrialisation of a whole area.
Offices and citizens are tinned-up, brassed-off and abandoned.
This is now the architecture of civic optimism eagerly awaiting repurposing.
There is talk of conversion to housing, talk is cheap.
A planning application has been drawn up requesting permission to change the use of Chantry House from offices to one and two bedroom residential units. The application has been submitted by The Freshwater Group, the development arm of Watermark Retirement Communities.
Currently home to the determined, hardened daytime drinker, street-artist and curious passerby.
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.