Abbey Walk Car Park – Grimsby

I was in town, just looking around, just looking for modernity, just looking.

I found you by chance between the railway and the high street, so I took a good look around, fascinated by the concrete sculptural panels on your fascia columns, those facing Abbey Walk.

Research tells me that they the work of Harold Gosney – born in Sheffield, he studied at Grimsby School of Art and London’s Slade School of Fine Art.

The majority of Gosney’s early commissions were collaborations with architects and he has made a significant contribution to public art in Grimsby. He is the artist responsible for the reliefs on the Abbey Walk car park, the large Grimsby seal by the entrance to the Grimsby Central Library and the Grim and Havelok themed copper relief on the side of Wilko store in Old Market Place.

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The car park has been the subject of some speculative repairs and refurbishment:

In total, the scheme will cost the council £1.54 million.

The authority will borrow £1.34 million to fund the project with a further £200,000 coming from a local transport grant. But the council said that the improvements made could help increase revenue from the car park of around £34,000 a year.

Councillor Matthew Patrick, portfolio holder for transport at the council, said that the work is essential to “brighten up” the building and attract people into Grimsby.

“It’s one of the largest car parks in the town,” he said.

“It will attract more people into the town centre and help to improve the offering of the car park.”

Lincolnshire Reporter

So here we are faced with a rare, precious and beautiful example of municipal modernism, a bold and brave attempt to decorate what is often the most functional of functional structures.

Owing something to the work of both Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso the imagery is derived from automotive parts, along with it seems to me, vague intimations of figuration.

Let’s talk a look!

Penrhyn Bay – Again And Again

Here we are again again.

Baby it happens when you’re close to me
My heart starts beating – hey a strong beat.
Oh I can’t leave you alone
Can’t leave you alone

I walk over the Little Orme and there you are so well behaved – trimmed topped and tailed polished window washed windswept so sub-urbane.

Nothing ever happens here or does it?

The highly popular singing duo Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth retired to a small bungalow in Penrhyn Bay.

It provided a location for an episode of  Hetty Wainthropp Investigates

Originally a small farming community, Penrhyn Bay came to rely heavily on the employment opportunities of the limestone quarry operating since the mid-19th century, and served by its own narrow gauge railway, but quarrying ceased in 1936.

However, Penrhyn Bay expanded rapidly in the 20th century to become a desirable suburb of Llandudno – my you’re a hot property.

Almost half a million pounds and counting as the ever mounting mountain of retiring and retired knock upon your over ornate uPVC doors.

So here we are, as the rain clears and the sun almost breaks – your carefully rendered and stone clad walls, not quite awash with a golden midday glow.

Just like Arnie and General McArthur I’ll be back – I shall return.

Allotments – Abbey Hey Manchester

Located in a residential area in East Manchester, Abbey Hey Allotment site is an award winning and thriving allotment community with over 100 plots.
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I have to admit that not for the first time and certainly not the last, I was slightly lost. On my way to nowhere in particular via somewhere else, I cycled down a dead end track, along the wrong end of Ackroyd Avenue.blank
Allotments have been in existence for hundreds of years, with evidence pointing back to Anglo-Saxon times. But the system we recognise today has its roots in the Nineteenth Century, when land was given over to the labouring poor for the provision of food growing. This measure was desperately needed thanks to the rapid industrialisation of the country and the lack of a welfare state. In 1908 the Small Holdings and Allotments Act came into force, placing a duty on local authorities to provide sufficient allotments, according to demand. However it wasn’t until the end of the First World War that land was made available to all, primarily as a way of assisting returning service men (Land Settlement Facilities Act 1919) instead of just the labouring poor. The rights of allotment holders in England and Wales were strengthened through the Allotments Acts of 1922, but the most important change can be found in the Allotments Act of 1925 which established statutory allotments which local authorities could not sell off or covert without Ministerial consent, known as Section 8 Orders.
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Humberston Fitties

Betwixt and between the two world wars, the shortage of housing for the homeless, hopeless and dispossessed lead to an acceleration in the building of an informal architecture – the so-called Plotlands.

One such area and precious survivor from the last century is the Humberston Fitties – situated to south of Cleethorpes, preserved in time by the happy homesteaders.

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Though under threat from Local Authority negligence or intervention, three hundred and twenty chalets prevail – against the incursion of planning regulations, building specs and a lack of respect.

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I feel a real affinity for all Plotlands, having spent many summers in the converted Pagham railway carriage, belonging to my Aunty Alice and Uncle Arthur. They relocated to the south coast seeking cleaner air for Arthur’s ailing, industrialised northern lungs, thus prolonging his life.

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Tamarisk – Pagham

So here are the photographs I took on a visit to The Fitties in July 2008, I walked the home made roads, amazed by the vigour and variety of shape, size, personal affectation and practical pragmatism, of this all too human architecture.

This is a particular form of independent minded Modernism – hand-forged from the vernacular.

It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are, than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.

Henry David Thoreau

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Ghost Signs – Scarborough

All towns have ghosts, none more so than Scarborough.

High atop a castle topped, wind whipped promontory, lies Anne Bronte, overlooking the harbour below, wayward Whitby whalers wail, lost fisher folk seek solace.

Its walls ache with traders past, scissors that no longer snip, click-less shutters, unlettered rock and loaves that no longer rise.

Layers of sun baked, peeling paint on brick, rendered almost illegible.

As Alan Resnais would say Scarborough, mon amour!

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Semi Detached – Warrington

I was walking back from St Stephen’s Church recently, when I chanced upon a small group of two storey, flat roofed, semi detached social houses.

They were blessed with that post war functionalist brick and concrete chic.

Part of a larger development of homes in the Longford area of the town.

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An area which is one of the most socially deprived in the country, with more than its fair share of problems, crack and weed would once have been pressing matters for the Borough Highways Department – these days they are more likely to attract the attention of the boys and girls in blue.

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And to cap it all the area is prone to frequent flooding.

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There are signs of hope as the housing association and council embark on a multi million pound refurbishment of the estate including:

Replacing fencing around bungalows.

On the day of my visit the chill January streets seemed quiet and ordered, and I was enchanted by the mismatched pairs of semis that I encountered.

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Pifco – Manchester

It began with a ray gun.

Following a thread, a tenuous electrical link that brought me back home, to an all too familiar household name.pifco-copy

A name that has illuminated, vibrated, mixed, measured, massaged, warmed and dried our lives for over one hundred years.

But what does it mean, where does this stuff come from, what’s it all about Pifco?

 

Pifco of Failsworth, also of Pifco House, 87 High Street, Manchester.

1900 Company established by Joseph Webber to sell lighting appliances and accessories.

1902 Public company formed as Provincial Incandescent Fittings Co. Ltd.

1911 The Filani Nigeria Tin Mining Co was incorporated as a public company.

1949 Name changed.

1954 Incorporated Walls Ltd, of River Street Birmingham, as a wholly-owned subsidiary to manufacture medical lamps, kettles and small cookers.

1957 The last of the mining assets were sold.

1957 Filani Nigeria Tin Mining Co changed its name to Pifco Holdings Ltd and acquired all of the issued share capital of Pifco 1961 Manufacturers and distributors of electrical appliances and accessories. 

1970 The Regent Cotton Mill, in Failsworth was purchased by Pifco.

1984 Agreed to acquire Swan Housewares from BSR International, but later the deal collapsed.

1987 Acquired House of Carmen, maker of heated hair rollers; the other important brand was Salton.

1991 Purchased Russell Hobbs Tower.

2001 Salton Group, a US company making domestic appliances, acquired Pifco.

 

So Provincial Incandescent Fittings Co. Ltd.

We salute you, so much joy emanating from Failsworth Manchester, making the world a warmer, drier, brighter, cleaner safer place.

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Always at never less than entirely reasonable prices.

 

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A true friend to the nocturnal cyclist.

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Christmas cheer for all!

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Those little things that lighten the wearisome load of the daily beauty regime.

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The minor essentials of our everyday electrical lives.

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The seemingly frivolous rendered material.

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We can all sleep ever so easily abed at night, in the simple knowledge that Pifco is still out there working just for us/you!

Nighty night.

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