This is not the first time that I have crossed the threshold of a hair salon – having done so first in Failsworth, keeping company with Sheila Gregory and her chatty clientele.
Both Sheila and Marilyn preserve something of the past, not just in fixtures and fittings, but also in something of an old world charm. A land of shampoos and sets, lacquer and curlers, conviviality and coffee cups.
On the day of our chance encounter here in East Didsbury, we are all experiencing the first week of Covid lockdown – the salon is ostensibly closed, yet Marilyn was kind enough to allow us a few socially distanced moments to stop, snap and chat.
She has been here since 1963, nothing and everything has changed. She had intended to retire some time ago, but on the death of her husband she decided to continue cutting and curling, three days a week, living above the shop, doing just enough.
The interior is largely as was, mirrored, Formica topped and charming – with a delightful reception seating area.
All so lovingly cared for – Marilyn was using the current closure to keep up with the upkeep, washing towels and sweeping up.
I worked as quickly as possible not wishing to compromise anyone’s well-being. As ever on these occasions it is a privilege to be permitted to spend time in someone else’s world, thanks ever so Marilyn.
Drew up a list of buildings, made plans – dream on.
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.
However, whilst on my 2015 cycle tour of the south west coast I arrived almost accidentally yet serendipitously outside Babbacombe Model Village.
A good place to visit as dogs are welcome and this is important to us. The models were very cleverly designed and each one is recognisable and very funny anecdotes and labels. It was much bigger than it looked but flowed easily and was fun and charming to walk around. There is also a free mini crazy golf room which makes a change to not charge for something like this and a joy to see. I really enjoyed myself and it is all so well maintained you can feel the passion of the people creating it.
I went in – how could I have done otherwise?
Many of the buildings reflect the areas’ Seaside Moderne styles, from the holiday chalets to the substantial Modernist Villa, plus all the up to the minute services and infrastructure one would expect in a modern model village.
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.
Now here I am in Colwyn Bay generally minding my own and everybody else’s business, when all of a sudden I noticed a cast iron glazed awning.
Proudly announcing the proprietors – sadly supported by a distressing modern addition – now I’m not one to decry and debunk the rising tide of modernity, I’m all in favour of unisex clothing and central heating.
But the unchecked encroachment of vacuous vinyl really is the limit.
Businesses displayed a degree of dignified permanence unknown to the current high street trader. So here it is writ larger than life in stained glass and Carter’s Tiles.
Loud and proud.
And as an addendum here are the delightful tiles from the Llandudno branch, snapped two years previously.
High atop West Cliff Whitby is a pale blue imitation of the deep blue North Sea below.
A TG Green Cornishware blue and cream striped pot, reimagined on the distant Yorkshire coast, in paddling pool form.
Scarborough Borough Council has resurfaced the paddling pool, re-concreted and repainted the bottom and the sides. The railings adjacent to the footpaths at Whitby Pavilion have been repaired and re-painted and seating next to the crazy golf has also been improved.
Martin Pedley, Scarborough Borough Council’s asset and risk manager said:
The council has, in conjunction with the voluntary sector, invested both time and money in continuing to revitalise the West Cliff area in preparation for the summer season and the influx of visitors to Whitby.
West Cliff councillor Joe Plant added:
The improvement works that have been done both last year and this year is most welcome. Not only the visitors will benefit, but local people also and it again shows working in partnership with the voluntary sector does make a difference.
The Big Society in action, replacing railings improving lives.
I arrived in late April the pool as yet sans d’eau, more of a pedalling pool than paddling pool as the BMX bandits invaded the space, in direct contravention of the rules and regulations.
The water when present is some twelve inches deep, clearly better suited to larking, splashing and cavorting rather than performing The Twister, a bewildering blur of twists and turns two and a half back-somersaults with two and a half twists during the 1.5 seconds between launching and entering the water at 40mph.
The pool is flanked to the north by a sweeping Lubetkin style, flat roofed pavilion complete with fully functioning toilet facilities.
Turn your back on the Abbey, go wild – take a wet walk on the West Cliff side.
Blimey, I remember the castle and the hamster wheel thing. It was, in those days, as close to you would get to an adventure play park, it was on the same site that is now held by Clambers and it was all outdoors. The Castle, the Hamster Wheel, an army zip slide, seesaws, roundabouts and I think there was a small paddling pool. The Castle stunk of wee, probably where kids couldnt be bothered to get to the toilet. I remember it even had towers that you could go up .
Next to the play park was a putting course and you use to pay where the bowling green hut is now. Then the other side was a crazy golf course and you purchased the tickets from the model village hut. We had some great times up there . We use to spend the morning in the museum and then a snack and a drink at a very small cafe that was just below White Rock Road, in Cambridge Road (since gone) and then off to the putting, the play park and then the crazy golf, in that order
Can you imagine kids being allowed out to do that now ? We were 12 years old in 1973 and use to catch the 433 bus from the Fortune of War (well thats what we called the bus stop anyway) in Priory Road, to the Oval and back.
The Hastings Model Village took three years to build and opened on 19th February 1955. Designed by Stanley Deboo, it featured models of classic Sussex houses including oast-houses and timber-framed houses.
Sadly the Model Village was forced to close in December 1998 after vandalism caused £5,000 worth of damage. It was replaced by a miniature golf course built by Chris Richards.
The model village was replaced by a lazer maze style gaming centre in 2011, but still some of the original model village foundations remain at the site to this day.
I love model villages, the real rendered diminutive in tiny eye bite size pieces. I have a particular affection for lost model villages, and particularly lost model villages which I have never visited. Having discovered a set of vintage images at the Vintage Village – I set out on a virtual journey by postcard, into a collective unconscious, previously uncollected.
Here are the mechanically retrieved lost remnants of a lost world.
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!
I often visit Huddersfield, and I often discover something new, exciting and different.
The Caledonian Café is everything that it isn’t, it’s the slow accretion of time, personal taste and accoutrements. Not frozen but slowly evolving, warm and welcoming. Owners Tony and Claire were more than happy to offer their company, tea and sympathy.
“The students come in to do their projects, sometimes they just ask to photograph the salt pots.”
I was more than happy to oblige and comply.
The prices are more than reasonable, and Tony goes out of his way to accommodate his customers.
” The families don’t always have a lot, so I give them two plates and split the burger and chips for the two kiddies.”
It was still early for me so I settled on a large tea, but I’ll be back before long for a bite to eat.
So best foot forward, get yourself down to the Caledonian, you won’t be disappointed.
For me the Helsinki 1952 Olympics, began in Morecambe 2016.
I was attracted by the stylish cover of this report, in the town’s second hand book shop, the vendor was expecting forty pounds, I exhaled, eyebrows raised and departed.
But my curiosity had been aroused.
Where is Helsinki, when was 1952 – what’s an Olympics?
I was up and running!
To begin, it was the Paavo Nurmi poster, created for the 1940 Games, which were never held because of the Second World War. It was just updated with the dates and the lines around the countries, drawn in red on a globe in the background. 82,000 large format copies were made in nine languages and 33,000 small format copies in 20 languages.
Look there’s Helsinki!
Where they built a stadium.
The Stadium Foundation, established 1927, started to implement that dream, and their first and foremost task was to get a stadium built, which would permit Helsinki to host the Summer Olympics. Building began on February 12, 1934, and the Stadium was inaugurated on June 12, 1938. Since its completion the Stadium has undergone eight important stages of development. The most important was the total modernization 1990-1994. At its maximum, in 1952, the Stadium accommodated 70 000 spectators. Today, the number of spectator places, all of them seats, is 39 000.
The Stadium arena, which has been described as the most beautiful in the world, is the product of an architectural competition. Arhcitects Mr. Yrjö Lindegren and Mr. Toivo Jäntti won the competition with their clearly lined functionalistic style design. The most important events in the life of the Helsinki Olympic Stadium were the XVth Olympic Games, 19. July-3. August, 1952. In the opening of the Olympic Games the spectator record of the stadium was reached 70 435 spectators and the olympic year is still an event which has collected most spectators. Whole year 1952 altogether 850 000 spectators.
The Stadium Building is 243 m long and up to 159m wide. The tower is 72m high. The Stadium covers 4.9 hectares. The Olympic Stadium is administrated by the Stadium Foundation. The Municipality of Helsinki, the Ministry of Education and the central sports organisations are represented in the Board of the Foundation.
The Stadium has been characterized as the world’s most beautiful Olympic Stadium, and what is exceptional about it is the fact that the Olympic buildings are in active use.
It defined the visual culture of the games.
My curiosity was further aroused when I discovered graphic material and images linking Coca- Cola to the games, how long have they been pumping athletes full of pop?
Quite some time it turned out:
The 1928 Olympic Games, which included 46 nations, marked the beginning of The Coca-Cola Company’s Olympic involvement – a presence that would continue to grow to this day, through sponsorships, donations and innovative support programs. That summer, a freighter delivered the U.S. Olympic Team and 1,000 cases of Coca-Cola to the Amsterdam event.
The morbidly obese’s drink of choice was forever aligned with the fleet of foot.
Despite the fact that Finland did not have a local bottler, Coca-Cola still was served to athletes and spectators at the Helsinki Olympic Games. More than 30,000 cases of Coca-Cola were brought to the event from the Netherlands aboard the M.S. Marvic, a rebuilt World War II landing craft, in what became known as “Operation Muscle.” Ice coolers and trucks from the corners of northern Europe also were brought in, turning the ship into a floating stockroom.
Gee thanks Yanks.
Whenever you had done well in an Olympics you would expect some reasonable reward, commensurate with your achievements, wouldn’t you?
What do you want, a medal?
On the obverse, the traditional goddess of victory, holding a palm in her left hand and a winner’s crown in her right. A design used since the 1928 Games in Amsterdam, created by Florentine artist Giuseppe Cassioli ITA -1865-1942 and chosen after a competition organised by the International Olympic Committee. For these Games, the picture of victory is accompanied by the specific inscription: “XV OLYMPIA HELSINKI 1952”. On the reverse, an Olympic champion carried in triumph by the crowd, with the Olympic stadium in the background. N.B: From 1928 to 1968, the medals for the Summer Games were identical. The Organising Committee for the Games in Munich in 1972 broke new ground by having a different reverse which was designed by a Bauhaus representative, Gerhard Marcks.
Olympics are obviously something of a global money spinner for many greedy nations, they will stop at nothing to cash in, producing millions of tiny stamps, at premium prices, to rinse the undeserving and guileless citizen.
Here are a few more examples of the graphic identity with a distinctive modern style:
There we have it, now we’re all ever so slightly older and wiser.
In the heart of Wales, former centre of the flannel industry, stands Llanidloes.
Through civic pride, love and local doggedness, the decorative shopfront prevails unabashed.
The finest selection of carved and moulded wooden filigree, hand painted signs, large open panes, tile work and the odd suspended folk-art sheep, adorn substantial Victorian properties, rich in the market town tradition of controlled opulence. A varied typology, the majority continuing to trade, the odd domestic conversion retaining its retail characteristics, whilst maintaining its modesty, behind tightly drawn net curtains.
Embassy Court has always had a very special place in my heart.
Forty years ago as a young art student attending nearby Portsmouth Polytechnic, we were taken by Maurice Denis in a minibus to visit the modernist buildings in our locale, this was my first love.
Two days ago I returned to Brighton, sprinting spryly along the prom to meet an old friend.
We were ever so pleased to see each other after all these years, I walked around admiringly and smiled.
Embassy Court is an 11 storey block of flats situated on the Brighton seafront on the corner of Western Street and the Kings Road. It was designed by the architect Wells Coates and completed in 1935.
It is amongst of the most outstanding examples of pre-war Modernism in the UK, it has a grade II* listed status and remains a major Brighton landmark. This beautiful, elegantly proportioned block contains 72 flats, with awe-inspiring sea views, is considered one of the coolest places to live in Britain.
Restored in 2005 after a long period of decline, Embassy Court is now owned by a limited company, Bluestorm Ltd., born from a Leaseholders Association which obtained the freehold of thebuilding in 1998.
If you walk far enough away, you’ll find yourself right there.
The sea to your right, Bridlington to your left. You could even catch the Land Train if you are so inclined, I declined and walked wet streets, in ever eager anticipation of my first visit to:
A family run enterprise, tucked just away from the Yorkshire coast nestled in the village of Sewerby. Jan Whitehead and her team of willing helpers kindly allowed me to get a sneak preview of the village, as they prepared for the imminent Easter opening.
This one twelfth scale wonder is filled with everything you might wish to find in an idyllic village – but smaller and made lovingly by hand. Wandering its narrow streets, each tiny turn is a new and exciting surprise, an irresistible vista of diminutive figures, set in a cornucopia of architectural delights.
The trains always run on time, and the trawlers bob merrily in the harbour.
The wedding party remain forever almost snapped by the arched photographer, blink and they don’t move.
So step inside a world of wonder – I’ll be back when the sun shines, I promise.