Almost opposite the entrance to the museum, now set in shrubbery, are the foundations, laid in September 1860, of what was to be a forty metre high Observatory Tower. Despite a series of attempts, funds for the tower could not be raised and the ‘Amalgamated Friendly Societies of Stockport’ eventually had to abandon the idea.
Out east and passing alongside the running track.
Lush meadows now occupy the former football field, twixt inter-war semis and the woodland beyond.
Out into the savage streets of Offerton where we find a Buick Skylark, incongruously ensconced in a front garden.
The only too human imperative to laugh in the face of naturalism.
We have crossed over Marple Road and are deep in the suburban jungle of mutually exclusive modified bungalows.
Off now into the wide open spaces of the Offerton Estate – the right to buy refuge of the socially mobile, former social housing owning public.
People living on Offerton Estate have been filmed for a programme entitled ‘Mean Streets’ which aims to highlight anti-social behaviour in local communities.
Precast panelled buildings were pioneered in Liverpool 1905. The process was invented by city engineer John Alexander Brodie, a creative genius who also invented the idea of the football goal net. The tram stables at Walton in Liverpool followed in 1906. The idea was not taken up extensively in Britain. However, it was adopted all over the world, particularly in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
Get down for breakfast – I personally regret the untimely passing of fried bread and the appearance of the so-called hash brown.
Originally, the full name of the dish was hashed brown potatoes or hashed browned potatoes, of which the first known mention is by American food author Maria Parloa in her 1887 Kitchen Companion, where she describes the dish of hashed and browned potatoes as a fried mixture of cold boiled potatoes which is folded like an omelet before serving.
Years later we got them.
Thursday 30th July 2015 and the sun is a shining brightly on the Dart.
Get on the ferry!
We’re off again.
The Monkey Puzzle tree Araucaria araucana is one of the oldest trees in the business – of being a tree.
It is native to central and southern Chile, western Argentina, and a welcome visitor to the English Riviera.
The hardiest species in the conifer genus. Because of the prevalence of similar species in ancient prehistory, it is sometimes called a living fossil.
The refined white rectilinear box shaped houses of the genus Seaside Moderne, are an offspring of the International Style, to be found all over the globe.
The sea covers seventy percent and rising, of our planet.
Seaside shelters are ubiquitous along our coast and form a typology determined by a rich variety of wild and wonderful Municipal tastes – flat, broke, baroque, modern and functionalist, hardly two the same.
Electricity is a popular power source both locally, nationally and internationally.
Model villages originated in seventh century China, there is only one way around a model village.
Laundrettes may be on the way out but this gallant knight of the road continues to record them, both online and in print.
Here in Teignmouth a pier appears not uncommon on certain parts of the coast.
Teignmouth Grand Pier is a great day out for family and friends. There’s something for everyone – from big kids to little ones – it offers you all the traditional attractions and entertainment in the Great British spirit of the seaside.
Time to get on the ferry again Steve – crossing the Exe Estuary on the Starcross to Exmouth Ferry.
Bikes carried for a small additional charge.
No time for Bingo, reading the local paper or the amusements – time for a pint, in the form of two halves.
Then a wander back to the digs – see you all tomorrow.
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.
Watney’s mythical Red Barrel.
Watney’s was the Evil Corporation which sought to crush plucky small brewers and impose its own terrible beer on the drinking public. It acquired and closed beloved local breweries, and it closed pubs, or ruined them with clumsy makeovers.
Its Red Barrel was particularly vile – a symbol of all that was wrong with industrial brewing and national brands pushed through cynical marketing campaigns.
Keeler Productions has taken over Locking Road Car Park, opposite Tesco, and The Regent Restaurant, in Regent Street, to film a BBC period series The Trial of Christine Keeler, based on the Profumo Affair in the 1960s.
Enough of all that period drama, let’s have a look at some period architecture.
Madeira Court – 67 flats built in 1988.
Weekly Social Activities include – coffee mornings, card evenings and occasional days out, organised by social club. New residents accepted from sixty years of age, both cats and dogs generally accepted.
Boulevard United Reformed Church – Waterloo Street
Architects Gordon W. Jackson and Partners 1959
Constructed on part of the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema, the Odeon Theatre was opened on 25th May 1935 with Jack Buchanan in Brewster’s Millions. Built as one of the original Odeon Theatres in the then emerging Oscar Deutsch Odeon Theatres circuit, it was built on a prime corner street position in this sea-side town and was the first of several Odeon Theatre’s to be designed by architect Cecil T Howitt.
The Weston-super-Mare Odeon was built by C Bryant & Son Ltd of Birmingham on the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema. It opened on 25 May 1935, at which time it was described in the souvenir programme as ‘modernity at its best’, with seating accommodation that was ‘luxurious and spaced to give ample room for true comfort’.
A short walk along the prom snapping shelters and the sheltered – no two the same.
I then chanced to fall into a Beer Festival and bad company – the rest is a blur, see you all tomorrow there’s some cycling to be done.
We begin our journey through bricks and mortar, domestic fashions and fads, time and tide in Rainham.
Ward’s Construction, along with many others throughout the country, offer the aspirational suburbanite an opportunity to own the very latest in modern design.
Large open plan rooms lit by large open glazed windows, quality cladding – mixing traditional materials with go ahead get it now design. Double fronted, remote garage, modest manageable, grassed gardens.
For those on slightly more limited means the DH2 offers affordable modernity, along with everything you would expect from a Ward’s Home.
Homes of distinction.
Fast forward to April 2020 – St Ann’s Road Heald Green Cheshire
I have admired the work of Bernhard and Hilla Becher ever since seeing their photographs in the one and only Tate at the time, in old London town.
An early example, possibly twelve small black and white prints of pit head winding gear, assembled in a three by four grid.
I became intrigued by the notion of serial art and typology, later in the seventies working as a Systems printmaker.
Very much in the tradition of Max Bill and Richard Paul Lohse.
In more recent years I have worked as a documentary photographer, at time paying homage to Bernhard and Hilla.
By placing several cooling towers side by side something happened, something like tonal music; you don’t see what makes the objects different until you bring them together, so subtle are their differences.
So on hearing of their exhibition at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, I excitedly booked my train ticket from Manchester.
Saturday 29th February 2020 – an auspicious Leap Year – knowingly taking a leap into the known unknown.
Braving the imminent threat of Storm Jorge.
I was given the warmest of welcomes by the gallery staff, spending a good while chatting to James, a fellow enthusiast.
My first surprise was the Bechers’ drawings, painting and notebooks.
Then onwards into two large, light spaces, with the work – actual Becher archive prints, displayed with the reverence that they deserve.
Given space to breath, in a calm contemplative area.
With a quiet attentive audience.
So here that are in situ – worth the wait, worth the train ticket, worth the two way seven hour rail trip. Seeing the prints close up reading the exposure, the thrill of the dodge and burn, a lifetime’s ambition realised.
This time of year, with limited light and an inclement climate, it’s far easier to travel by picture postcard. Researching and searching eBay to bring you the finest four colour repro pictures of our retail realm.
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.
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.”
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.
Located in a residential area in East Manchester, Abbey Hey Allotment site is an award winning and thriving allotment community with over 100 plots.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.