Gates and Doors – Sheffield

Early one morning – just as the sun was rising.

I took to the sunny Sunday October streets of Sheffield, bound I knew not where.

In search of something and nothing, which I possibly never ever found.

Following secret signs, symbols and words, doors and gates shut in my face.

Before I knew it I was back where I started.

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Sheffield Photographic Walk

Thanks for coming along, it was a pleasure to meet you.

But how and why did we all get here?

Much is made of Park Hill’s relationship with Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation and there are clear links both visually and conceptually.

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The open rectilinear concrete structure and integrated services and surrounding space – replacing a grid-iron of back to backs considered unfit for purpose.

Architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith under the supervision of John Lewis Womersley, Sheffield Council’s City Architect, began work in 1953 designing the Park Hill Flats. Construction began in 1957. Park Hill Part One was officially opened by Hugh Gaitskell, MP and then Leader of the Opposition, on 16 June 1961.

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The initial success of the development was followed by a period of slow decline, mirroring the fate of post-industrial Britain. Unemployment, lack of investment and the public and central government perception of social housing all contributing to Park Hill’s eventual closure.

Despite the problems, the complex remained structurally sound, and was Grade II* listed in 1998. A part-privatisation scheme by the developer Urban Splash in partnership with English Heritage to turn the flats into apartments, business units and social housing is now underway. The renovation was due to start in around 2007 but was put on hold due to the recession with work starting in 2009 with the first phase open to residents in 2010/11.

So today we see a site in transition, partially resuscitated, half tinned up and stripped out.

How then do we photograph present-day Park Hill?

My answer it to walk and look, take time to explore the site and consider your response.

You can approach the project as an entirely formal process, considering:

Viewpoint – where you physically stand and look.

Light – naturally occurring, from the ever changing sun or artificially from flash, its source and your relative position to it and the subject, are of primary importance.

Composition – framing the subject carefully on screen or through the viewfinder, taking care to include only the elements you feel are of consequence.

Are those elements organised in a grid, symmetrical or diagonal?

By changing the camera angle the composition can be radically modified.

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All the visual arts rely on a common vocabulary:

Shape – the physical form both geometric and organic.

Line – the implied or actual path between points that lead and direct the eye.

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Tone – the range from dark to light.

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Colour – the chromatic value from bright primary to dull non-colour.

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Texture – taking the rough with the smooth.

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Pattern – the repetition of shape

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These elements can be composed to form contrast and/or harmony, as straight meets bent, whilst red and grey collide.

Historically record photography has taken such a dispassionate view of a site or subject, and this objective approach was taken up by the New Topographers.

Many of the photographers associated with new topographics including Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Nicholas Nixon and Bernd and Hiller Becher, were inspired by the man-made, selecting subject matter that was matter-of-fact. Parking lots, suburban housing and warehouses were all depicted with a beautiful stark austerity, almost in the way early photographers documented the natural landscape.

Alternate to this formal approach is a more subjective narrative style of photography.

What do you think and feel?

Fashioning a personal response, through that which you choose to include or exclude, in the pictures that you produce.

Roger Mayne in 1961 framing the optimism of the newly opened estate.

Milk delivery, Park Hill Estate, Sheffield

Bill Stephenson in 1988 capturing the later days Park Hill set against a backdrop of decline.

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As seen in the recent S1 Artspace exhibition Love Among The Ruins.

Both photographers have chosen to consider the relationship of the residents to the estate, rather than simply make a formal record, theirs is generally considered to be a Humanist documentary position.

This does not preclude the consideration of the formal elements listed above – it is a question of emphasis.

Working with people can be a longer term project – where access and privacy are negotiable – to be handled with care.

We can however record the evidence of where people have been – it just requires a patient and curious eye.

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In building up a personal response consider the use of a wide or establishing shot to set the scene, giving context for that which is to come.

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Moving in ever closer for telling details.

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I’ve been here once or twice before.

Why are all these photographers coming here from Manchester?

Last train to Park Hill 

We’ve all changed.

So ta-ra Sheffield and Park Hill see you again soon.

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Type Travel – Manchester

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.

 

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Hyde Road

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The Star Inn – former Wilsons pub

Devonshire Street North

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Former Ardwick Cemetery

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Great Universal Stores former mail order giant

Palmerston Street

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The River Inn abandoned pub

Every Street

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All Souls Church – listed yet unloved

Pollard Street East

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The Bank Of England abandoned pub

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Ancoats Works former engineering company

Cambrian Street

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The Lunchbox Café Holt Town

Upper Helena Street

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The last remnants of industrial activity

Bradford Road

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Brunswick Mill

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The little that remains of Raffles Mill

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Old Mill Street

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Ancoats Dispensary loved listed and still awaiting resuscitation

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New life New Islington

Redhill Street

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Former industrial powerhouse currently contemporary living space

Henry Street

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King George VI and Queen Elizabeth passed by in 1942

Jersey Street

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Former School the stone plaque applied to a newer building

Gun Street

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The last of the few Blossom Motors

Addington Street

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Former fruit merchants – refurbished and home to the SLG creative agency

Marshall Street and Goulden Street area

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The last remnants of the rag trade

Sudell Street

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All that’s left of Alexandra Place

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Entrance to the former Goods Yard

Back St Georges Road

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Sharp Street

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Simpson Street

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Where once the CWS loomed large

Charter Street

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Ragged but right

Aspin Lane

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Angel Meadow 

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Chantry House – Wakefield

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.

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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.

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Currently home to the determined, hardened daytime drinker, street-artist and curious passerby.

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Hill Street to Ashton Brothers

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This a journey to work, my mam’s first day at work, cycling from her family home in Hill Street Ashton-under-lyne, to Ashton Brothers Mill Hyde.

Clara Jones was born in 1924, daughter to Nelly and Sam. She grew up in the west end of Ashton, tough and bright – an eldest sister who stood up for her own and looked after herself. On passing her entrance exam to grammar school, she was then denied entry, the family having little or no money for the expenses of uniform and books.

So in 1938 aged fourteen, she found a job and a second hand bike, found herself on the way to work. So in 2017 aged sixty two I followed her, the three miles along the very same roads, the very same roads that had not remained the same.

Hill Street was a mix of poor quality two up two down terraces, industry and pubs. There are no archive photographs to be found, an area thought too unremarkable to record. There remains traces of that industry and newer dwellings.

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Above is the site of her former home.

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The view at Hill Street’s junction with Cavendish Street would have taken in the Brougham Inn, where her father drank and I would later play in 1970 with our band, along with Clive Gregson.

Once a Gartsides Ales pub, my father Eddie Marland had worked at the nearby brewery as a drayman, and told tales of deliveries, where Neddy had much more horse sense, than the drunken drivers.

It closed in 1972 under the auspices of its last landlord Arthur Davies.

All archival photographs from the Tameside Image Archive

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Today all thoughts of horse drawn drays, bands and draught bitter have been washed away by progress, pampas grass, by-passes and ASDA.

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From here we turn right towards Dukinfield, moving from Lancashire into Cheshire, under the railway and over the Alma Bridge – named for the Battle of Alma in Crimea and the local men who served.

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Ahead on the left is the site of Greens Cycle Shop, I bought my first touring bike from Laurie Green, a Dawes Galaxy – he and his partner Eileen were and possibly still are members of one of the oldest cycling clubs in the country, the Dukinfield CC. The shop was once announced by a sign written gable end, now all that remains is this sad fragment.

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Up the hill along King Street she would have passed shop after shop, long established businesses, serving a local community that neither drove or travelled too far, in order to sustain their everyday needs. Broad open-eyed windows displaying varied wares, unhindered by intrusive steel shutters.

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On her left was the Princess Cinema, which can be seen to the right of the photograph below. Opened as the Princess Picture Theatre with 700 seats, the proprietor was W.B. Holt. Later it was operated by Ashton New Theatre Ltd and became part of the H.D.Moorehouse circuit. Its final years were under the operation of Orr Enterprises Ltd of Coventry. Dukinfield was once home to two other cinemas the Palladium and the Oxford – both long gone, swamped by the unstoppable stampede of bingo and telly.

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It currently trades as the Pyramid Snooker Club, there are small remnants of its former self visible to the right and left of the building, unhidden by the tastefully intrusive red and green cladding.

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Today’s fascias exhibit the final, vital, vinyl abandon that characterises the contemporary visual environment of the high street, along with a kaleidoscopic array of international  fast food outlets.

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The Town Hall still stands tall, its clock chimes, boinging down on the diminutive figure of Sir Robert Dukinfield – conqueror of the Isle of Man, the tiny fellow also defended Stockport Bridge against Prince Rupert and conducted the Siege of Wythenshawe.

The constituent parts of the almost recently created Tameside, were once independent UDCs, all with their individual civic pride and unique identity, before that the fiefdoms’ of local dignitaries, afore that just there.

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What were once mighty boozers overflowing with customers and kindness, are now dwellings, overflowing with cold comfort and UPVC windows. When cotton was king, her route would have been peppered with pubs, slaking the thirsts of thirsty workers, hot footing it from the surrounding places of industry and commerce.

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There were once well appointed post offices their architectural type formed in the kilns from local clay, the wholesome white-hot, fired earth technology of the nineteenth century.

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The road now crosses rail at the White Bridge, to the right is the site of the former Dewsnap Yard, where my grandfather Sam and I found work as plate layer and freight guard respectively.

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A view down Victoria Street opens up on the way to Hyde, everywhere, in industry, street and pub names we find evidence of queen and empire – an age of empire, industry and deference that did not survive intact.

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On the right stands the refurbished Newton Hall:

This cruck-framed buildings, stands on the corner of Dukinfield Road and Dunkirk Lane in Hyde, Cheshire. Carbon dating placed the construction of this building to c.1370 and it survived because much later it was encased in a brick building having a blue slate roof. By the 1960s it was in a ruinous condition and in 1968 Sir George Kenyon, the Chairman of William Kenyon & Sons Ltd of Dukinfield, Cheshire, rescued it. Browns of Wilmslow undertook the restoration work and this was completed in 1970.

During the Roman era, a track connecting the Roman garrison town of Mamucium (Manchester) and the fort of Ardotalia (long known as Melandra at Gamesley near Glossop) crossed the river Tame hereabouts and passed close by the site of the future Newton Hall. To cross the Pennines, the Romans then made use of an ancient British ridgeway from Ardotalia. This track was in use until medieval times as a packhorse road.

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An finally here we are at the Ashton Brothers‘ factory gates mam, you along with hundreds of others, would walk on through. She doubtless, with no small sense of trepidation, entering into the whirring world of cotton spinning.

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But it’s all gone, long gone – all that remains is a rusty A and the dusty footings.

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But I remember,

I remember you Clara Jones,

Your bike, your journey to work,

Your kind  smile.

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Bury – Police Station

Unfortunately, the retail market has changed quickly and dramatically and there is now no demand from the retail sector to meet the original plan, which was for a large supermarket to take over the sites of the former police headquarters and the Castle Leisure Centre, with the proceeds going towards building a new leisure centre on top of the Q Park in Knowsley Street. However, we are still determined to fulfil the potential of the old police headquarters site, where the building is now nearing demolition.

In 2010, Bury police’s headquarters in Irwell Street relocated to a brand new facility at Castlecroft Road, leaving the old site derelict.

Bury Council owns the site and had intended to sell it to a supermarket firm as part of an £8 million project.

That deal fell through in January last year when the supermarket chain suddenly decided to scale back its expansion plans.

Almost a shadow, a shadow of it’s former self, the police station in Bury – a concrete gem by Lancashire County Architect Roger Booth, is in the slow process of absenting itself from the material world.

Closed since 2010, on the day of my visit the podium tower, surrounded by rubble, was little more than a playground for the local kids and urbex intruders. A vista of broken windows, distressed prestressed concrete and tortured steel.

Hurry along nothing to see here – soon.

Other Roger Booth cop shops are available – in Morecambe and Blackpool

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Galt Toys Exhibition

The Manchester Modernist Society are proud to presents an exhibition of Galt toys, games, puzzles, catalogues and books.

At the Manchester Central Library

Commencing Tuesday 4th April running until  Wednesday 31st May 2017

St Peters Square, City Centre, M2 5PD

  • Monday: 9am-8pm
  • Tuesday: 9am-8pm
  • Wednesday: 9am-8pm
  • Thursday: 9am-8pm
  • Friday: 9am-5pm
  • Saturday: 9am-5pm
  • Sunday: closed

Entrance is free.

Launch – Wednesday  12th April  6.00 -8.00.

There will be nine cases on the library’s first floor, by the entrance to the reference section, literally filled with fun and games, which were produced by Galt Toys of Greater Manchester in the Sixties and Seventies.

Under the direction of Ken Garland Associates they rebranded, designed and produced an innovative range of modernist educational and entertaining products, using a simplified, graphic, bold and colourful approach to children’s play.

Come along and take a look!

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