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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
And to cap it all the area is prone to frequent flooding.
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.
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.
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.
Always at never less than entirely reasonable prices.
A true friend to the nocturnal cyclist.
Christmas cheer for all!
Those little things that lighten the wearisome load of the daily beauty regime.
The minor essentials of our everyday electrical lives.
The seemingly frivolous rendered material.
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!
There is some far-flung corner for Wales, that is forever California.
As the clippers and steamers left the Mersey Estuary for the New World, cram packed with emigres some centuries ago, would they expect on their return, some centuries later, to find this architectural cultural exchange, located sedately on Penrhyn Bay?
This is a typology with a limited vocabulary, but spoken in a lilt, with an ever so slight, polite Mid-Atlantic drawl.
Lightly clad, stone-faced, light and almost expansive the seaside bungalow.
There there are 98 stops on the 192 route, between Manchester and Hazel Grove.
– I know because I walked them all.
Sunday morning roads relatively free of traffic.
Some stops peopled some not.
Zigzagging the A6 to record a consistent sequence.
The bus stops here.