Unity Hall – Wakefield

Wool, wool, wool I do declare – Westgate Wakefield the worse for wear, warehousing, banks and halls in a state of transition. The enormous wealth created by the local textile trade and associated industries, has left an architectural legacy that permeates the wide street, with a more than somewhat faded grandeur.

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Laying the Foundation Stone

The Co-operative Unity Hall has seen better days – opened in 1902 and offering extensive retail space, along with a concert and dance hall, echoing to the sound of silent films, all-in wrestling and a fine array of music.

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Sadly, as the post-war boom becomes an ever distant, sonic shadow of its former self, the hall closes. Listed yet unused, it stood aloof and alone, unloved. The Beat were on, sadly the beat no longer went on.

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Derelict Places 

Happily a corner has been turned and under new management:

Unity Works is a stunning grade II listed multi-use space, where modern meets state-of-the-art. Unity Works is a great space for work and play, from 1:1 meeting areas, to large conferences, office & work space, to live events, comedy, music, theatre and film screenings.

There’s something for everyone!

More than 400 people invested in a community share scheme to help fund the refurbishment, which began in January. Continuing the tradition of a movement in this architectural gem, which was established as the Wakefield Co-operative headquarters in 1867, a building alive with rich detailing, signage, architectural type and mosaic.

Get gone take a look, listen and dance.

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St Marks Broomhill – Sheffield

The church was originally built in 1868–1871 to a standard neo-Gothic design by William Henry Crossland. This building was destroyed by an incendiary bomb during the “Sheffield Blitz” of 12 December 1940, only the spire and a porch survived (they are now Grade II listed structures). The remnants of the bombed church were used as the basis for a new church designed by George Pace and constructed 1958–1963. This new building is of a Modernist design but is also sympathetic to the Gothic spire and porch. It is a rubble-faced concrete building with striking slit windows of varying numbers and locations around the building. There are also two notable stained glass windows: the Te Deum window by Harry Stammers and the west window by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens.

Wikipedia told me so.

Welcome to St Mark’s – an open, welcoming church for people from all walks of life who wish to learn more about Jesus and Christian faith and seek the freedom to ask the big questions. We have strong engagement with Christian communities and other faith traditions. People come from all over the country to participate in our Centre for Radical Christianity, where a lively climate of debate and learning can be found.
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Their website told me so.
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This a remarkable building staffed by remarkably welcoming people, it’s exterior betraying little of the wonders within. Divine stained glass, brut concrete structures, pale limed wood, sculptural forms – full of light and warmth.
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Tudor House – Wakefield

You wouldn’t ever want a bad case of the cladding, the triumph of the expedient over the purist aesthetic. We all may wish to be warm, dry and free from unwanted ingress, whilst exercising a degree of discernment and restraint, regarding the manner in which we are clad.

In Wakefield and in local authorities throughout this fair land there seems to have been a distinct lack of discernment and restraint, regarding the manner in which modern tower blocks are clad.

Cloaking concrete in coloured surfaces better suited to Toytown than our town.

Four twelve-storey H-plan tower blocks built as public housing as part of the central area development of lower Kirkgate. The blocks rise out of other low-rise development. Each block contains 44 one and two-bedroom flats, providing 176 dwellings in total. The consulting architects for the development were Richard Seifert & Partners. Construction is of concrete frame with brick infill panels. The blocks were approved by committee in 1964.

Tudor House aka Lower Kirkgate Comprehensive Development area as was:

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Photographs Tower Block

Ain’t it funny how time and integrity slips away?

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Photographs Alan White Design

Gone the bold flat roofed, cuboid contrasting concrete and brick towers, whilst confusingly the ground floor retail development remains untouched.

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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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Subway – Scarborough

When is a subway not a sandwich?

When it’s a doughnut!

Hard by the seafront linking Foreshore, Cleveland Way and Valley Road sits a neat little tight little island, giving pedestrian access to almost everywhere – and a car park.

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As with every other torus worth calling a torus, at its very centre sits the presence of absence, darkened concrete subterranean causeways, linking everything to nothing.

There’s a world going on underground.

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Paddling Pool – Whitby

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.
1033839943West 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.

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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.

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St Catherine of Sienna – Sheffield

Sir Basil Spence 1958-62. . Brown brick. Roof not visible. Slate cladding to entrance block of parish hall. Rectangular nave sweeping around into a semicircular apsed sanctuary .

EXTERIOR: entrance to liturgical south-west and parish hall to liturgical west with vestry. Carved words “The Church of St Catherine” to left of recessed entrance. Tower linked to liturgical south-east, and comprising two convex slabs forming a sacristy at ground level and linked by concrete beams above. Patinated bronze sculptural group with crucified Christ affixed to its east side.

INTERIOR: aisleless with vertical slit windows to north and south walls and roof sloping upwards towards chancel, on laminated timbers beams, so that roof deck is separated from the walls by a narrow glazed strip. Light is thrown onto the east wall by a concealed window at the east end of the nave. Sanctuary is raised two shallow steps, and altar was originally raised on two further steps against the east wall. It has now been moved forward. Altar is a black painted metal framed table with a varnished timber top. Font of polished limestone with fossils is in the original position to liturgical south side of sanctuary. Timber lid with schematic metal dove. Large timber cross behind altar, comprising two pairs of overlapping beams, penetrated symbolically by large nails. Timber sedilia on metal supports. Laminated timber pews. Organ above entrance to sacristy . A strongly sculptural design with a powerful presence.

British Listed Buildings.

St Catherine Sienna is a fine church, sited impressively and standing imperiously on the Sheffield outer ring road, high above the city. Brick curves, a tall detached tower and open for business, serving the outlying post war housing estate of Woodthorpe with regular services and a firm foundation of community activity.

Lit delicately from side slatted windows and higher apertures, the main body is calm and assured, the scale and proportion in harmony with the simple Spence seating and slightly raised altar. The detail of the wooden roof grid perfectly balancing the warm austerity of the walls.

My thanks to Father Phillip for his time and a fine cup of tea.

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