Well not a great deal, it’s 1772 and the Gardens and Plaza, are as yet undreamt of – the area was occupied by water-filled clay pits called the Daub Holes, eventually the pits were replaced by a fine ornamental pond.
In 1755 the Infirmary was built here; on what was then called Lever’s Row, in 1763 the Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum was added.
There were grander unrealised plans.
Including an aerial asylum.
The Manchester Royal Infirmary moved to its current site on Oxford Road in 1908. The hospital buildings were completely demolished by April 1910 apart from the outpatient department, which continued to deal with minor injuries and dispense medication until the 1930s.
After several years in which the Manchester Corporation tried to decide how to develop the site, it was left and made into the largest open green space in the city centre. The Manchester Public Free Library Reference Department was housed on the site for a number of years before the move to Manchester Central Library.
The sunken garden was a remnant of the hospital’s basement.
Towering cranes tower over the town, deep holes are dug with both skill and alacrity.
A Plaza begins to take shape, take a look.
All we need now are tenants.
Piccadilly Plaza now contains the renovated Mercure Hotel it was formerly known as the Ramada Manchester Piccadilly and Jarvis Piccadilly Hotel; the refurbishment was completed in 2008.
The retail units famously contained Brentford Nylons.
The company was eventually sold at a knock-down price and the new owner did not think the name worth having.
The noisy upstairs neighbours were Piccadilly Radio.
The first broadcast was at 5am on April 2nd 1974, it was undertaken by Roger Day, with his first words to the Manchester audience: “It gives me great pleasure for the very first time to say a good Tuesday morning to you… Hit music for the North West…we are Piccadilly Radio” before spinning Good Vibrations.
It was the first commercial radio station to broadcast in the city, and went on to launch the careers of a host of star DJs, the likes of Gary Davies, Chris Evans, Andy Peebles, Timmy Mallett, Mike Sweeney, Pete Mitchell, James Stannage, Steve Penk and James H Reeve.
Waiting for a mate who worked at Piccadilly Radio we ventured down the stairs next door to get a drink and because of our clothes/leather jackets we were chucked back up the steps. We should of stood our ground like one of my mates who was told he could stay if he turned his jacket inside out, thinking he wouldnt do it, but he did and had a drink with his red quilted lining on the outside.
“Food served at the table within ten minutes of ordering and with atomic age efficiency. No cutlery needed or given. Drinks served in a bottle with a straw. Condiments in pre-packaged single serving packets.”
In addition to familiar Wimpy burgers and milkshakes, the British franchise had served ham or sardine rolls called torpedoes and a cold frankfurter with pickled cucumber sandwiches called Freddies.
Even on the greyest days the Plaza was a beacon of Modernity.
Though sadly we eventually lost Bernard House.
However, City Tower still prevails as a mixed use office block, adorned east and west with big bold William Mitchell panels.
Which were to be illuminated by ever changing images, produced by photo electric cells – sadly unrealised.
So goodbye Piccadilly – farewell Leicester Square? – it’s a long, long way to the future, and we’re barely half way there.
While we’re in the vicinity take a quick trip up and down the car park ramp.
Notably the entrance to the Hotel Piccadilly was on the first floor, accessed by non-existent highways in the sky – sweet dreams.
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.
A social history of Wythenshawe and its Civic Centre can be found here at Archives +.
A general history of the garden city’s development can be found here at Municipal Dreams.
Lest we forget, the story begins with a level of overcrowding and human misery that is – thankfully – almost unimaginable in Britain today. In 1935, Manchester’s Medical Officer of Health condemned 30,000 (of a total of 80,000) inner-city homes as unfit for human habitation; 7000 families were living in single rooms.
The estate was always considered to be, in some sense, the realisation of an ambitious vision.
The world of the future – a world where men and women workers shall be decently housed and served, where the health and safety of little children are of paramount importance, and where work and leisure may be enjoyed to the full.
Cooperative Women’s Guild
Work began in the interwar years, and continued following the hiatus of 1939-45. The shopping centre named the Civic Centre was open in 1963, the actual Civic Centre containing a swimming pool, theatre, public hall and library in 1971.
A triumph for Municipal Modernism conceived by the City Architects and realised by Direct Works. This post war development owed more to the spirit of Festival of Britain optimism, new construction methods and materials, rather than the grandiose functionalist classicism of the original scheme.
The Co-operative Superstore was a key element in the provision of provisions.
There still is – The Forum is a bright and modern hub for co-located services used by community and business.
The original Forum opened in 1971. One of Manchester’s largest public buildings, it had a leisure centre, library, theatre, main hall and meeting rooms. By the mid 1990’s it was under used, had deteriorated internally and externally and needed substantial investment.
The new Forum, along with a new police sub-divisional headquarters and improved transport link was designed to help strengthen the town centre, and provide a landmark project to raise Wythenshawe’s profile within Manchester and beyond.
In the 1980’s they put on a superb array of shows including Roll on 4 O’Clock which starred John Jardine, Jack Smethurst and Glynn Owen. Oh What a lovely War; What the Butler Saw and Habeas Corpus by Alan Bennett. Bury’s own Victoria Wood starred in Talent which she wrote. Another Manchester icon Frank Foo Foo Lammar, famous as the top drag queen of the North-West whose club was re-known for its great party nights appeared in The Rocky horror Show.
A land of elegant covered walkways and raised beds.
There comes a time in everyone’s life, when one simply must go to Rotherham, at least once – so I did.
To keep company with my personal town guide, Sheffield Modernist and local resident, Helen Angell.
I arrived early at Rotherham Central, so went for a solo wander.
The station was originally named Rotherham, becoming Rotherham and Masborough in January 1889 and finally Rotherham Central on 25 September 1950.
The newish Rotherham Central station was opened to passengers on 11 May 1987, the present iteration on Friday 24 February 2012, as part of the Rotherham Renaissance plans for the regeneration of the town.
Opened 22 December 1934 as the Regal Cinema with Leslie Howard in Girls Please. Sandy Powell, the famous comedian attended opening night this 1,825 seat. It was designed by the Hull based architectural firm Messrs Blackmore & Sykes for local exhibitor Thomas Wade and was leased to the Lou Morris chain.
By 1937 it was operated by the London & Southern Super Cinemas Ltd. chain. The Regal Cinema was leased to the Odeon circuit in 1946 and was re-named Odeon. It was sold by the Rank Organisation to an independent operator in 1975 and renamed Scala Cinema, by 1981 using the circle only.
Closed 23rd September 1983 with the film Porky’s.
Became a bingo hall initially named Ritz but now Mecca. On 20th February 2020 the building was put up for sale by auction at an asking price of £600,000+, but failed to sell, with the maximum reached £590,000. Mecca bingo continues in the building.
Main contractors J. Finnegan it’s thirteen storeys high – housing forty eight dwellings.
Interwar Technical College – Howard Building
From the 1930s, it provided technical-orientated education from the Howard Building on Eastwood Lane, Rotherham. In 1981, three neighbouring colleges of arts, technology and adult education were merged into one. As a result, the college became known as Rotherham College of Arts and Technology.
Revised plans to convert the historic Howard Building in Rotherham town centre into self-contained studios and apartments have been approved by the planning board at Rotherham Council.
The prominent former college building was sold prior to going to auction last September after it was advertised as a development opportunity and given a guide price of £250,000 by local auctioneers, Mark Jenkinson & son.
A group of rogue property directors with links to a prominent derelict building in Rotherham have been banned for a total of 54 years. The six, of Absolute Living Developments, were found to have misled more than 300 people to invest at least £12 million in residential properties.
The firm was linked through a lender to Avro Developments, which had plans passed in 2015 to renovate former college block the Howard Building in Rotherham town centre.
With a strident high tech canopy, very recently added – though Rotherham’s history stems back 800 years when it is thought that the original royal market charter was granted by King John in the year 1207.
There are traces of the 1970’s rebuild.
Bunker-like The Trades former music venue/pub, which replaced the former riverside Trades Club.
The PA now silenced.
This was an amazing event. The bands were really good and the drinks offers, while limited, were good. The ceiling in the ladies toilets had fallen through and was dripping, presumably there had been a leak from all the rain, but this didn’t lessen the awesome experience.
The cooling towers and flats are long gone – the coal-fired power station operated from 1923 until October 1978.
The Prince of Wales Power Station in Rotherham was located on Rawmarsh Road and was opened by the Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VIII.
The former Grattans catalogue offices can be seen to the left.
Renamed Bailey House and still in use by the local authority, its days it seems are numbered.
The building is named after Rotherham-born engineer Sir Donald Bailey whose ingenious bridge designs played a key role in shortening World War II, the house in which Bailey was born, 24 Albany Street is still standing.
Sadly no longer home to the Harlem Shuffle
No big names – just big sounds.
There are some surviving power station buildings.
Along with electrical infrastructure.
Up the road next, to the former fire station, which now houses J E James Cycles.
It is surrounded by typically atypical inter war housing.
I could make the wild assumption, that these flat roofed maisonettes were originally homes fit for firefighters.
Scarborough TEC formerly known as Yorkshire Coast College, Scarborough Technical College, Scarborough Technical Institute, and Scarborough School of Art is a further education college located on Lady Edith’s Drive Scarborough. It is a constituent college of the Grimsby Institute of Further & Higher Education.
Yorkshire Coast College was originally an independently controlled institution, but due to consistently poor results and long-term financial difficulties was taken over by the Grimsby Institute in January 2010.
In November 2016, the name was changed from Yorkshire Coast College to Scarborough TEC, with the TEC standing for Training, Education, Careers.
Colleges, once under the stewardship of the local authority are now independent businesses and as such subject to mergers and acquisition, for better or for worse.
This is a building of architectural significance, GMW being responsible for several other ground breaking curtain wall towers and blocks – including Castrol House, now Marathon House one of the first curtain wall buildings in the UK, along with the Arts Tower in Sheffield.
In August 2015, GMW was taken over by another business, Scott Brownrigg, “as part of plans to move into the airport sector.”
It represents a time when vocational education was in the ascendancy, building for a manufacturing future with forward thinking, open, democratic and accessible architecture.
That optimism along with the attendant architecture are no longer, it seems – dish of the day.
It was a proud boast for many people in Scarborough that Robert Allen Palmer, the pop music icon, was raised and schooled there. Robert went to Scarborough Boys’ High School and studied art at Scarborough Technical College.
Photograph copyright Brian Cooke 2011
He played in his his first band there, The Mandrakes evolving from a gathering of pupils from the Scarborough High School for Boys during the summer of 1964. Meetings and practice under the work in progress title of The Titans, first in the crypt of a church and then a former chicken hut, took place. Allen – to become Robert in 1969 Palmer, joined after a successful audition and the first gig took place in a local youth club towards the end of the year.
Robert’s Mum says fame never changed him, “He never seemed any different, he took us on Concorde two or three times and the Orient Express and we always celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas, everything, together.”
Monday 3rd August 2015 one finds oneself wide wake in the Rydeview Hotel.
Faced with a breakfast best described as indescribable.
I arose and departed, not angry but hungry.
Made my way to the corner of Southsea Common, where once we drank – Tim Rushton and I were often to be found in The Wheelbarrow together.
A boozer no longer, now named for the city’s long gone famous son.
How bad a pub is this? I walk past it to get to my local. Most nights there are six people max in the bar, all huddled around the bar itself, backs to the door. – this often includes the landlord and landlady. They have live music there once in a while and you can’t get served by the one bloke behind the bar – the landlord and landlady never help out, they don’t seem to give a toss.
Beers crap, not worth a visit.
It was never like that in our day.
Visiting our former abode on Shaftesbury Road – where I once dwelt along with Tim, Catherine, Liz and Trish.
Yet more Stymie Bold Italic.
Back to the front for a peer at the pier.
Clarence Pier is an amusement pier located next to Southsea Hoverport. Unlike most seaside piers in the UK, the pier does not extend very far out to sea and instead goes along the coast.
The pier was originally constructed and opened in 1861 by the Prince and Princess of Wales and boasted a regular ferry service to the Isle of Wight. It was damaged by air raids during World War II and was reopened in its current form on 1 June 1961 after being rebuilt by local architects AE Cogswell & Sons and R Lewis Reynish.
Low cloud grey skies and drizzle.
This sizeable two bedroom apartment situated on the seventh floor of the ever popular Fastnet House is offered with no onward chain and the option of a new 999 year lease as well as a share of the freehold. With panoramic views over The Solent towards the Isle Of Wight and Spinnaker Tower, situated in a central location and close to all amenities, this lovely apartment offers luxury living for any prospective buyer. With lift access, the apartment comprises; entrance hallway, a large lounge diner with box bay window boasting stunning sea views across the city and The Solent, master bedroom with built in wardrobes and sea views over The Solent, a spacious second bedroom, fitted kitchen with breakfast bar and a recently updated modern shower room.
Coal Exchange– Peter and Dawn welcome you to their traditional pub in the heart of Emsworth adjacent to the public car park in South Street and close to the harbour.
Lillywhite Bros Ltd is a family run business established over 60 years ago in Emsworth, which is ideally located between Portsmouth and Chichester. It is currently run by brothers Paul and Mike who continue to keep up with modern techniques and equipment, as well as maintaining their traditional values and high standard of customer service.
Next thing you know I’m in Pagham, having become very lost somewhere between there and here, asking for directions from the newsagents and buying a bottle of Oasis.
The newsagent was mildly amused by lack of map, sense and/or sensibility.
I spent many happy hours here in my youth playing the slots with The King.
We would stay here in Tamarisk with my Aunty Alice and Uncle Arthur and Smudge the cat, an idyllic railway carriage shack two rows back from the pebbled seashore.
We would enjoy a shandy at the King’s Beach with Lydia, Wendy and David.
All gone it seems.
On to Bognor a B&B and a brew – a brief glimpse into my luxury lifestyle.
I’ll take an overcast Monday evening stroll along the prom, where I chanced to meet two landlocked Chinese lads, gazing amazed at the sea – they were on a course in Chichester learning our own particular, peculiar ways.
There was no-one else around.
Who can resit the obvious allure of the novelty item?
Or an Art Deco garage fascia.
Fitzleet House was built in the 1960s architects: Donald Harwin & Partners, it consists of seventy four flats, fifteen of them are in a three-storey block next to the main building.
PS&B are pleased to offer this sixth floor flat which is situated conveniently close to the town centre and within close proximity of the sea front. The accommodation is newly refurnbished and is offered unfurnished with south/west facing lounge with small balcony with far reaching views to the sea. Kitchen and bathroom with shower over bath and one double bedroom. Further benefiting from having modern electric heating and double glazing, telephone entry system, lift to all floors, communal sky dish and white goods. With regret no pets and no children – £685 rental is payable calendar monthly in advance.
For many years, a gentleman called Todd Sweeney collected sunshine statistics from the roof of Fitzleet House, which were then forwarded to the Met Office in London to assist with national statistics, and in 1983 one group of Cubs arranged a special tea party on the roof of the building as part of the national tea-making fortnight.
Sunday 2nd August 2015 – you awake and you’re still in Bournemouth and still in one piece, the possibility of late night stag and hen madness passed over without incident.
A quick look around town, then let’s get off to Pompey – where I was very proud to be a Polytechnic art student 1973/76, in good old Lion Terrace.
Last night’s late night drinking den with its fabulous faience frontage and doorstep mosaic.
Close by this tiled porch at The Branksome.
Built 1932 by Seal and Hardy as offices for the Bournemouth Echo, steel-framed, the main elevations faced in Monks Park Bath Stone.
Plans to redevelop the listed Daily Echo offices in Bournemouth were withdrawn shortly before they were due to be discussed by councillors.
That Group’s application to extend the Richmond Hill building to create more work space as well as a 30-bed hotel, café, gym and events space had been recommended for refusal before it was pulled from the agenda for Monday’s meeting.
The property benefits from modern and contemporary décor throughout, large balcony and views over the Town Centre itself.
This art deco cinema was built for ABC and designed by their regular architect William Glen, it opened in June 1937.
The ABC, originally the Westover Super Cinema, entertained audiences for almost 80 years before it was closed in 2017 – along with the nearby Odeon – to make way for a new Odeon multiplex at the BH2 complex.
In its rejected plans for the site, Libra Homes had pledged to restore the cinema’s original Art Deco frontage, if it survives under the cladding that was added in the 1960s.
Boscombe Pier – is the perfect vantage point to watch volleyball, table tennis and mini golf. If you are feeling adventurous, try scaling the nearby, purpose built boulders next to the pier or have a go at slacklining!
There are nearby are cafés, takeaways and beach shops all within walking distance from Boscombe Pier.The pier is free to enter and has a plethora of activies that individuals and families can enjoy!
Designed by Archibald Smith, the 600 foot pier opened on 28th July 1889. In 1924/5 and 1927, the head was renewed in high alumina concrete and, between 1958 and 1960, the neck was reconstructed using reinforced concrete.
The neck building is a design by the Borough Architects, demonstrating great verve and vivacity. The contemporary style associated with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses and made popular with Californian homes in the 1940s was well suited to the requirements of an architecture that combined ‘sun and fun’. The contemporary style made a feature of expressing different elements or planes of a composition with different materials, and here the combination is honest and each element well detailed. The sweep of the cantilevered, boomerang-shaped roof is a particularly joyous feature. It is a building that would have been despised as being exactly of its date until recently; now it is a building that can be celebrated for that very reason, and a rare example of pier architecture from these years.
San Remo Towers a block of 164 flats, with penthouse and office, over basement garage. 1935-8 by Hector O’Hamilton.
Facilities offered as inclusive in this price included centralised hot water and central heating, an auto vac’ cleaning system, centralised telephones, a resident manager, a porter, daily maid, boot cleaning and window cleaning services. There was a Residents’ club with a reading room card room, billiard room and library, and a children’s recreation and games room. There were kiosks in the ground-floor lobbies selling tobacco and convenience items, where the staff took orders for the local tradesmen. The fifth-floor restaurant offered a la carte meals, which could be taken at pension rates of 38s per week. A simpler dinner cost 2/6d. The use of an American architect, Hector O Hamilton, may be an explanation for the building’s large range of facilities, including the grand underground car park and sophisticated servicing
Carlinford benefits from commanding views over Poole Bay looking to the Isle of Wight across to the Purbecks. Included in the annual service charge is a Caretaker, Gardener & the communal areas are kept in good order. A fabulous location and a great place to call home.
Running the length of the pier to catch the ferry across Southampton Water.
Where one is able to see many large ships.
St Patrick’s Catholic Church 1939
W.C. Mangan’s last church in the diocese, with a moderne Gothic character rather than the basilican style he favoured elsewhere. The design is not without character and is in the mainstream of brick church building around middle of the twentieth century.
First siting of Stymie Bold Italic/Profil since Devon
Sadly the Hovercraft Museum was closed – Founded 1987 as a registered charity, the Museum Trust is the worlds greatest collection of Hovercraft archive, film, and historic craft, dating back to to John Thonycroft’s 1870 air lubricated boat models and the then Dr. Cockerell’s 1955 annular jet experiments.
So excited to be boarding yet another ferry.
Seeing Portsmouth for the first time in a long time.
Finding cheap digs at the Rydeview Hotel.
My partner and daughter stayed here recently and the warm reception we received was great, thought it was going to be real value for money however when getting into the family room, which was a decent size, the curtain was half hanging down, iron marks and stains on the carpet, dirty windows, mould on the bathroom ceiling, hole in the bathroom floor and a very random shower head coming from the toilet that was very unpleasant. When we checked in we asked about breakfast and we were told this was going to be an additional £3 – we thought this was great value for money for a full English only to be left hungry and out of pocket! My daughter had one slice of toast, we asked for the full English what we received was cold and hard beans, and un-cooked egg and a rank sausage, the eating area was dirty – cobwebs everywhere.
I too stayed in the Family room with a delightful mouse for company and enjoyed one of the worst meals I’ve ever not eaten.
I headed for the 5th Hants Volunteers where I formally kept company with Felim Egan, Norman Taylor and Ian Hunter way back when.
Drinking Gales HSB – formerly a local brew now owned by Fullers
Established in 1847 Gales Brewery (George Gale & Co. Ltd) was an old brewery situated in Horndean, on the edge of Waterlooville. It made the nutty HSB – Horndean Special Bitter and the newer Gales Bitter. It took its water from its own well situated under the brewery which is fed from the South Downs, and the yeast and liquor, coupled with the local brewing style, produced beers with a sparse head, quite dark in colour.
In late 2005 Fuller’s Brewery bought Gales for £92 million. In January 2006, Fuller’s began cutting jobs at the Horndean brewery, and it was announced on 27 February 2006 that the brewery would close at the end of March 2006, although distribution and warehousing would continue in the area.
It didn’t tater the same and the pub had been gutted – gutted.
I beat a retreat to the Barley Mow – where I fell in with a gang of former Poly students from the 70s – they had studied and never left.
Leaving the compact anonymity of my B&B for the open road!
Having been unable to sample the joys of the Quality Hotel.
The Quality Hotel closed in 2014 and was demolished two years later after the site was bought by the city council following vandalism and fires.
The ten-storey concrete block was built in 1970 in the 350th anniversary year of The Mayflower ship setting sail from Plymouth for North America.
Plymouth Hoe’s fifty million pound hotel and apartments project appears to have ground to a halt with no building work happening more than a year after developers vowed it would start in 2018.
Henley Real Estate, the firm behind the plans for an 11-story hotel and a 15-floor block of flats on the demolished former Quality Hotel site, has gone silent on plans and not responded to emails and phone calls from Plymouth Live.
When we visited the site the only sign of life was some weeds growing out of the ground.
I’ll leave them to it, I’m off in search of the South West Passage
The South West Coast Path itself is 630 miles long and is the longest established National Trail in the country. Starting at Minehead in Somerset it runs along the coastline of Exmoor, continuing along the coast of North Devon into Cornwall. It follows the entire coastline of Cornwall, goes across the mouth of the River Tamar and continues into Devon. After running along the south coast of Devon it then follows the Dorset coastline before finally ending at Poole Harbour.
However if you follow the Coastal Path you’ll miss this delightful concrete fire station training tower in Plympton.
Along with the longest corrugated iron structure in the West Country.
You’ll miss getting slightly lost and a cup of tea at the Dream Bites roadside café in Modbury.
Dream Bites café, we’re all is welcome, from cars to Biker’s to Ride outs to Puplic and to work companies even you the cyclists!
GREAT FOOD GREAT PRICE.
You’ll miss the deep hedged lanes of Devon.
Where the four x fours force you into the roadside brambles with consummate ease and regularity – even on a designated cycle route.
Respite from such trials and tribulations can be found upon siting a water tower or a deserted butchers – down at Slapton Ley.
Slapton Ley is the largest natural lake in south-west England. Although it is only separated from the sea by a narrow shingle bar, it is entirely freshwater.
Much beloved of my old pal Harry H Potts and family.
Then it’s up a hill down a hill to Dartmouth.
I made enquiries at several sea front hotels – who upon assessing my mode of dress and transport, despatched me to a back street pub B&B, suit y’self suits me, and my pocket.
The Seale Arms was just the job.
Quick change for the artist – let’s have a look around.
It’s full of historical architectural detail.
And slightly more hysterical architectural detail.
Time for a pint – chatting in the pub to yachting types, for it is here that the sense of tradition, the sea, power and wealth traditionally resides.
Tuesday 28th July 2015 waking up early on the outskirts of Okehampton – I went next door to explore – the Wash and Go.
I went back to Okehampton.
Headed out of town along the old railway line to Plymouth – where rests the solemn remains of previous railway activity and Meldon Quarry.
It’s believed that the first quarrying began around the late 1700s when the local limestone was extracted. Over the years this gradually gave over to aggregate quarrying and apelite quarrying until it final closure. The original owners of the quarry were the London and South Western Railway and then came Britsh Rail and finally EEC Aggregates.
Crossing Meldon Viaduct.
Meldon Viaduct carried the London and South Western Railway across the West Okement River at Meldon on Dartmoor. The truss bridge, which was constructed from wrought iron and cast iron not stone or brick arches, was built under the direction of the LSWR’s chief engineer, WR Galbraith. After taking three years to build, the dual-tracked bridge opened to rail traffic in 1874. Usage was limited to certain classes of locomotive because the viaduct had an axle load limit. Although regular services were withdrawn in 1968, the bridge was used for shunting by a local quarry. In the 1990s the remaining single line was removed after the viaduct was deemed to be too weak to carry rail traffic.
The crossing is now used by The Granite Way, a long-distance cycle track across Dartmoor. The viaduct, which is a Scheduled Monument, is now one of only two such surviving railway bridges in the United Kingdom that uses wrought iron lattice piers to support the cast iron trusses – the other is Bennerley Viaduct between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
Architects– Percy Bartlett and William Henry Watkins
Built on the site of the Andrews New Picture Palace, which had opened in 1910, and was demolished in 1930. The Gaumont Palace was opened on 16th November 1931 with Jack Hulbert in “The Ghost Train” and Sydney Howard in “Almost a Divorce”.
The imposing brick building has a white stone tower feature in the central section above the entrance. Seating inside the auditorium was provided for 1,462 in the stalls and 790 in the circle.
It was re-named Gaumont in 1937 currently closed and at risk.
The post war redevelopment of Plymouth produced this sizable Portland Stone Shopping Centre.
‘A Plan for Plymouth’ was a report prepared for the City Council by James Paton Watson, City Engineer and Surveyor, and Patrick Abercrombie, Consultant Architect, published in 1943.
Planning is not merely the plotting of the streets of a town; its fundamental essence is the conscious co-relation of the various uses of the land to the best advantage of all inhabitants. Good planning therefore, presupposes a knowledge and understanding of the people, their relationship to their work, their play, and to each other, so that in the shaping of the urban pattern, the uses to which the land is put are so arranged as to secure an efficient, well- balanced and harmonious whole.
The magnificent dalle de verre fascia of the Crown and County Courts.
having had a good old look around I sought shelter for the night, with some difficulty I found a profoundly plain room. The town seemingly full of itinerant contractors, filling the vast majority of available space.
Not to worry let’s have a look at the seafront.
Tinside Lido by J Wibberley Borough Engineer, with Edmund Nuttall and Sons and John Mowlem and Company, builders, with entrance building of 1933 by the same engineer.
Set in a beautiful location overlooking the sea at the tip of Plymouth Hoe and voted one of the top 10 best outdoor pools in Europe, Tinside Lidois an attraction not to be missed.
Built in 1935, Tinside is a slice of the quintessential British seaside from a bygone era. The Lido is a wonderful example of art-deco style and is Grade II listed.
Time for a timely 99 tub – what ho!
Followed by several pints of Dartmoor Jail in the delightful Dolphin Hotel.
The Dolphin Hotel is a pub on the Barbican , the building, which is known as either the Dolphin Inn or Dolphin Hotel, is a Grade II listed building. It notable as the setting of several of the artist Beryl Cook’s paintings.
The three storey building was constructed in the early 19th century, although it may contain fabric from an earlier structure. It has a slate mansard roof surrounded by a tall parapet with a moulded cornice. The front has white stucco with plaster reliefs of dolphins. The pub is associated with the Tolpuddle Martyrs, some of whom stayed at the hotel on their return from exile in Australia in 1838, when a Mr Morgan was the landlord.
It is a no-frills unmodernised pub famous for its cask ale, draught Bass served straight from the barrel. The sign on the front of the building has always called the pub the ‘Dolphin Hotel’. In 2010 the pub was refurbished, but vandalised in 2014.
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.
Although there is evidence in the local area of occupation since the Iron Age, it was still a small village until the 19th century when it became a seaside resort, and was connected with local towns and cities by a railway, and two piers were built. The growth continued until the second half of the 20th century, when tourism declined and some local industries closed. A regeneration programme is being undertaken with attractions including the Helicopter Museum, Weston Museum, and the Grand Pier. The Paddle Steamer Waverley and MV Balmoral offer day sea trips from Knightstone Island to various destinations along the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary. Cultural venues include The Playhouse, the Winter Gardens and the Blakehay Theatre.
I pushed my bike along the prom heading for my pre-booked digs in a stylish seafront hotel.
Past the Marine Causeway linking the shore to some kind of modern day Post Modern Shangri-La.
A mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains, possibly not.
You can stroll onto Knightstone Island, where you will find some cafes serving light snacks and refreshments, or to the other side which takes you along the causeway, accessible to walk across according to the tides. At the other side of the Causeway you will find a small rocky beach with tidal rockpools ideal for exploring.
Just along the prom stands one of my all time favourite seaside shelters.
Even further along – what’s all this here then?
The foundation stone of the Birch-designed Birnbeck Pier was laid in 1864. It opened on 5th June 1867 and consisted of a 1040 foot cantilever construction to Birnbeck Island and a short jetty extending westwards from the island.
It seems to have changed hands several times in its relatively short life, including the stewardship of the infamous Urban Splash and the mysterious mystery owners, the current custodians it seems, have done little to secure a secure future.
It remains alone and untended, stretching aimlessly out to sea.
In April 2015, Friends Of The Old Pier Society created a novel fund raising scheme in which 1p and 2p coins would be lined up to stretch from the Grand Pier to Birnbeck Pier.
September 2019 Councillor Mr Crockford-Hawley said:
It’s this end of Weston which is the sore, it’s the carbuncle, it’s clearly well past its prime and it needs some serious attention. I mean it would be wonderful if somebody came along with an open ended bank account and said ‘yup, I’d love to restore it for the sake of restoring it’, but quite clearly there’s got to bean economic future for the pier, there’s got to be a purpose for the pier.
Possibly a wealthy Beatle could bail the ailing pier out of deep water?
Next thing I know I’m outside the imposing and impressive sounding Ocean Hotel. Sad to say on the day/night of my visit it wasn’t just this weary traveller that appeared to be over tired, happy to report the the New Ocean Hotel has been revamped and in tip-top condition by all accounts.
Any road up, let’s get out, take a walk up the road – have look at some local type.