Whilst cycling twixt Redcar and Newcastle one sunny Monday morn, I espied a tower on the distant horizon.
I pedalled hurriedly along and this is what I found.
Dawson House aka Kingsway.
A fifteen-storey circular tower block of 60 one-bedroom flats and 29 two-bedroom flats, making 89 dwellings in total. The block was built as public housing at the western fringe of the Town Centre development that began in 1952. Approved in 1973, the block is of triangular concrete-beam construction.
The architects were Elder Lester Associates.
The block was built by Teeside County Borough Council.
Stanley Miller Ltd.’s tender for the contract was £778,850.
The tower block was opened on 3rd April 1975 by the Mayor of Stockton Borough Council, John Dyson.
The block is described as ‘gimmicky circular tower block’ in The Buildings of England: County Durham by N. Pevsner.
In November 2013, a time capsule was buried in front of The Family, under a stone with the inscription Forever Forward 30 11 2013.
The capsule is not to be unearthed until the year 2078.
Twenty million pound bid to take back control of the centre of Billingham.
The council says: Proposals include addressing the physical condition of Billingham town centre in support the Council’s ambition to take back control of the centre. Redevelopment would solve the challenges of changing retail trends that are contributing towards excess retail space and high vacancy rates.
This includes exploring options for mixed-use redevelopment and high-quality public spaces that improve accessibility within the town centre and a modern retail offering.
Built in 1968 by local architects Elder Lester and Partners as part of the expansive plans for the town centre along with the Forum, La Ronde nightclub was to form part of the expansive plans for Billingham focused on the pursuit of increased leisure time.
La Ronde’s distinct cylindrical form comes from the car park access ramp that winds around the stair core to the upper floors of the club. The elevated drum-like form inset with cross latticed concrete webs was cast entirely in-situ.
In 2006, the council demolished La Ronde and Forum House at the cost of £500,000 to make way for a supermarket.
In 1960, Billingham Urban District Council, began one of the most ambitious new leisure centres in Europe. The Forum was funded by the district’s new-found wealth – a product of the local petrochemical industry. It was designed by local architects Elder Lester and Partners and brought together a variety of recreational activities including an ice rink, swimming pool, sports centre, theatre, and bar all under one roof. The Forum opened in July 1967 to great enthusiasm. Weekly attendance over the first six months was between 20 000 and 30 000 people, far exceeding all expectations.
The inclusion of the theatre alongside the sports facilities broke new ground in recreational planning and in the shift from sport to the broader notion of ‘leisure’, the Forum predated architectural thinking of the time by nearly a decade. The building’s form is derived from the functions within, expressed in a variety of bulbous elements. The most distinctive is the canopy of the ice rink roof which is hung using steel cables running the length of the roof and cross-braced to achieve a clear 73m span.
Having appraised the exteriors and pumping infrastructure, let us now consider the interior life of the site.
A site where a myriad working lives once unfolded – labourers, technicians, maintenance staff, administrators and managers.
They are now but fleeting shadows, their documents strewn across upturned furniture, empty lockers their standing open and untended, laboratories whose processes have ceased. A chaotic canteen with no-one to cook for, unsafe safety suits and unwashed washrooms.
Amlwch has been the centre of the world’s copper industry, a coastal town on Anglesey with a long history of trade, the coming and going of goods.
Once the site of a processing plant extracting bromine from sea water.
The Associated Octel factory was built to extract bromine from seawater and turn it into an additive for petrol engines. At the time, petrol used in road vehicles contained lead. Engine knocking was a common problem, when the mixture of air and fuel didn’t burn efficiently with each detonation. This could damage engine cylinders over time. The additive produced here reduced knocking and improved engine efficiency.
As the health effects of lead in vehicle exhaust gases became better understood, unleaded petrol was developed. It was introduced to UK filling stations in the 1980s, and leaded petrol was later phased out. As demand for anti-knock additive reduced, the Octel factory diversified into other bromine products and was taken over by Great Lakes Chemical Corporation. In 2003, the corporation decided to close the works with the loss of more than 100 jobs.
A detailed history of the site can be found here at Octel Amlwch.
The site has been subject to arson attacks and partial demolition, the extant buildings tagged, tattered and torn.
Slowly but surely nature breaks through the tarmac and concrete.
The gate is open, the lights are out, there’s nobody home.
Dungeness nuclear power station comprises a pair of non operational nuclear power stations, located on the Dungeness headland in the south of Kent. Dungeness A is a legacy Magnox power station that was connected to the National Grid in 1965 and has reached the end of its life. Dungeness B is an advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) power station consisting of two 1,496 MWt reactors, which began operation in 1983 and 1985 respectively, and have been non-operational since 2018 due to ongoing safety concerns.
There were many problems during construction of the second power station, which was the first full-scale AGR. It was supposed to be completed in 1970, but the project collapsed in 1969. The CEGB took over project management and appointed British Nuclear Design and Construction (BNDC) as main contractor. There were more problems and by 1975 the CEGB was reporting that the power station would not be completed until 1977 and the cost had risen to £280 million. By completion the cost had risen to £685 million, four times the initial estimate in inflation-adjusted terms.
In March 2009, serious problems were found when Unit B21 was shut down for maintenance, and the reactor remained out of action for almost 18 months. In 2015, the plant was given a second ten-year life extension, taking the proposed closure date to 2028. In September 2018, both units were shut down and were expected to restart in December 2020. On 7 June 2021, EDF announced that Dungeness B would move into the defuelling phase with immediate effect.
Pausing for a moment to take a drink, sadly not a drink in the Jolly Fisherman – unlike another comical pair.
During their 1947 UK tour, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were invited to re-open the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway.
After travelling down by regular train, the pair performed a couple of skits to entertain the crowds – and the gathered news crews – before riding the light railway.
The duo then lunched with dignitaries at the Jolly Fisherman, before returning for tea at the railway’s restaurant at Hythe.
On Monday and inquest was held on the body of Mr. John Adams, landlord of the “Jolly Fisherman,” who was found drowned in a well near his house.
From the evidence it appeared that the deceased left home on Saturday morning for the purpose, according to his usual custom, of walking to New Romney, to see if there were any letters for Dungeness. Not returning at the usual time, his wife became alarmed, and a messenger was dispatched to Romney to see if he had been to the Post-office. It was ascertained he had not, and the search was forthwith made.
About 2 o’clock one of the coastguardsmen, Edward Hooker, bethought him to look into the well, which is about 250 yards from the deceased’s house. In doing so he was horrified to find the poor fellow head downwards, partly immersed in water. Assistance was at once procured, and he was removed to his house, quite dead. There was about 4 feet of water in the well.
In the absence of any testimony to establish the inference of suicide, and open verdict of Found Drowned was returned. The deceased was about 50 years of age.
It has been stated that the deceased had of late, been rather abstracted, but no evidence was adduced to establish the truth of this assertion.
The present Jolly Fisherman pub is located in the centre of Greatstone at the junction of Dunes Road and The Parade.
This was built by the brewers Style and Winch Ltd, who owned the old Jolly Fisherman, in about 1935 as a pub and hotel.
The RH&DR was the culmination of the dreams of Captain J. E. P. Howey — a racing driver, millionaire land owner, former Army Officer and miniature railway aficionado and Count Louis Zborowski — eminently well-known racing driver of his day – famous for owning and racing the Chitty Bang Bang Mercedes.
The 120ft Grade II Listed water tower at Littlestone was built in 1890 by Henry Tubbs to supply water to his properties in Littlestone, including Littlestone Golf Club and his proposed housing development.
Henry Tubbs wanted to turn Littlestone into a major resort, and embarked on an ambitious building programme, including the Marine Parade and Grand Hotel. His plans for a pier were not realised, however, and it was eventually built at Eastbourne instead.
The tower is constructed in red brick which shows the external features of the tower very well. It narrows at about the third story and its appearance changes depending on your viewpoint. At the top there is a sort of turret, giving the building a slightly military look.
The military used the Tower during World War Two as a lookout post and they made some changes to the structure, partly the reason for its slightly wobbly look. The Army also added a substantial concrete stairway inside.
Unfortunately the water tower didn’t function properly and the water was found to contain too much salt to be of any use. In 1902 the Littlestone and District Water Company built a tower at Dungeness to supply all of New Romney, Littlestone, Greatstone and Lydd. The tower at Littlestone fell into disuse, but now serves as a residence.
This place has got to be up for Worst Hotel in the UK.
We made the mistake of staying there for our first anniversary, and we sorely regretted it. First, after the initial shock that awaits anyone entering the lobby, we were given probably the filthiest room in hotel history.
It reeked of smoke and urine.
The management’s disorganisation landed us free meals, even if they paid us £10 per person to eat that stuff it wouldn’t be worth it:
Canned fruits, red meat galore with no other option, greasy bacon, value bread, omelet made with the least real eggs possible, all served with the same urine smell in the restaurant and by the most apathetic staff ever.
We left as soon as possible.
Seeing that place in the rear-view mirror was the highlight of our visit.
The current hotel was built in 1984 from the foundations of the Royal Pavilion Hotel, originally built in 1843, parts of which form the new Burstin Hotel, such as the Victorian restaurant.
It’s along climb out of Folkstone, there are no snaps – simply memories of a weary ascent.
Eventually we top out and roll along over the white cliffs of Dover.
Where we discover this delightful concrete listening post.
Abbot’s Cliff Acoustic Mirrors
Before the advent of radar, there was an experimental programme during the 1920s and 30s in which a number of concrete sound reflectors, in a variety of shapes, were built at coastal locations in order to provide early warning of approaching enemy aircraft. A microphone, placed at a focal point, was used to detect the sound waves arriving at and concentrated by the acoustic mirror. These concrete structures were in fixed positions and were spherical, rather than paraboloidal, reflectors. This meant that direction finding could be achieved by altering the position of the microphone rather than moving the mirror.
Descending into Dover, ascending again, hot and weary.
Appreciating the slow traffic free drag down to St Margarets Bay – sadly no photos, suffice to say one of the most elegant lanes of the trip, once home to Sir Noël Pierce Coward.
In Coward’s seven years in the Bay he entertained a large array of famous friends from the arts, film and stage. Katherine Hepburn stayed here with Spencer Tracey and swam daily from the shore. Daphne Du Maurier, Ian Fleming, Gertrude Lawrence and John Mills all came to relax, play Canasta and Scrabble or join Coward in his painting studio where he produced oils of the Bay.
I first came here some twenty years ago or so and on each subsequent visit little seems to change.
The exterior signage and fascia remain intact.
The orange light shades are still hanging limp and bright from the suspended ceiling.
The furniture and scarlet carpet unmoved, as the cheery waiting staff weave merrily in, out and round about with meals and drinks.
The distinctive white relief sits in the same place on the wall.
Almost inevitably I order a mug of tea.
Along with a plate of eggs chips and peas.
Eat and drink the lot and leave happy and contented – who can resist a well run, well appointed classic café?
A well-known and respected figure in the Bradford business world, Mr Paul Georgiou ran Fountains Coffee House in John Street for just shy of 50 years alongside his wife Mary, and has run cafés and other businesses in the city for almost six decades.
Other ventures created by Mr Georgiou include the Hole in the Wall nightclub, which was one of the first underground nightclubs in the city centre.It hosted acts including Sir Tom Jones and rockers Thin Lizzy as they rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970.
Sadly he passed away in 2019.
His main business Fountains Coffee House is now managed by his son Michael, but when it opened it was one of the first businesses to open in the John Street Market, as the Oastler centre was known then.
I was all washed up, rinsed and spun out – I had to call it a day.
Yesterday things changed – I turned a corner in life when I turned the corner into Matthews Road, the familiar aroma, signs and things signified came flooding right back – time stood still beneath a strip light lit suspended ceiling.
Exeter Close/Warmington Drive Manchester Longsight M12 4AT
Once there was this.
Once there was that.
Then there wasn’t.
That’s just the way of it.
A dense web of streets awash with back to backs, jobs for all – in conditions perceived to be unfit for purpose.
Of a total of 201,627 present dwellings in Manchester, some 54,700, or 27.1 per cent., are estimated to be unfit. A comparison of slum clearance action taken by six major local authorities, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield and Bristol, shows that for the five years ending 30th June, 1965, Manchester was top of the league, both in compulsory purchase orders confirmed and the number of houses demolished or closed.
Manchester’s figures -13,151 houses demolished or closed .
Whenever mass slum clearance was carried out, the pubs tended to remain, often for just a short time because – the story goes – demolition workers refused to touch them, as they wanted somewhere to drink during and after their shift.
1 Woodland Rd, West Kirby, Birkenhead, Wirral CH48 6ER
The architect was called Stuart Macauley, a partner in a practice based in Bebington – my thanks to local lad John Feeley who was taught by Stuart at Sunday school.
St Michael and All Angels is a well established Church of England church situated in the heart of Newton, on the border of West Kirby, Wirral.
Our vision is to know Jesus better and make him known to others. We do this by worshipping God, standing up for and sharing the joy of Jesus, loving others and making a real difference in the church and in our community.
What can I expect when I visit St Michaels?
When you come to St Michaels you will find a warm and friendly group of people committed to making church exciting, life-changing, and enjoyable. There are services for the whole family that include contemporary worship (including a café church service), a time of biblical teaching, and an opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus Christ. Each service is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes in length.
We wandered away from West Kirby along the highways and bye-ways to Newton.
Newton consists of a village hall, post office, public house and a general store. The local park, aptly named Newton Park, has a football pitch, outdoor basketball courts and a playground for children. Wirral Council also has several allotments in Newton that are provided for residents to grow their own vegetables and plants.
And a most surprising elevated, elevating and angular church.
Such a revelation following several rows of well behaved semis and open fields, my extensive yet limited research can find no record of architectural authorship or attribution.
Perhaps simply delivered by hand or hands unseen in 1963.
The Beefeater Grill and Griddle is a long established family run grill and coffee house located at George Square Halifax. The place has an old fashioned feel to it and serves typical English cafe food which seems to make it popular amongst its local regulars.
Long may it do so.
Strangers to the town we wandered the streets in search of sustenance.
Bewitched bothered and bewildered – seduced by the tiles and signage, it was love at first sight.
The ability and will to resist the broad brush of regeneration and reinvention is all too rare, the traditional café is constantly under threat – the Beefeater has prevailed.
A stunning tiled exterior, a multi level interior and a menu to match, it’s win, win, win, win all the way.
I’ve been here before to record the beginning the middle and the end of Covent Garden flats – now there is a new beginning, beginning.
If you’re ready to start the next exciting chapter of your life, come and experience Nuvu Living at Covent Garden, Stockport. You will find our stunning new development that sits perfectly in this modern and vibrant community. Ideal for first time buyers and growing families, Covent Garden offers a fantastic collection of 74 spacious and contemporary 2 and 3 bedroom homes and 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.
Nuvu Living for the nuvu people in the cheerful anonymity of none-architecture.
Replacing the old with bigger, better shiny homes at a cost yet to be disclosed.
Another history overwritten.
Goodnight sweet flats.
With the bustling heart of Stockport just a few minutes’ walk away, this contemporary development sits perfectly in this modern and vibrant community. An ideal location for singles, couples and families, all the amenities you will ever need, including supermarkets, schools, bars, restaurants and more are all close to home. Plus, the centre of Manchester is just 7.5 miles away and easy to get to by road or rail. So, if you are ready to start the next exciting chapter in your life, come and experience Nuvu Living at Covent Garden, Stockport.
Life is full of little surprises, to turn from Middleton Road into Milne Street in downtown Chadderton and discover a triangular, blue-grey brick tower soaring into the September sky.
So solid geometries pierced by rectangular, triangular and angular gridded windows, deservedly Grade II Listed in 1998, made all the more extraordinary by its seemingly ordinary surroundings.
The interior mixes tradition with modernity, reusing pews and fragments of stained glass. Restrained natural lighting, complemented by slatted wooden, almost oriental boxed light shades. The furniture, fixtures and fittings bringing together a coherent decorative order.
The whole an uplifting and embracing space, punctuated by the curved y-shaped wooden supports, rising to the timber framed roof structure.
It was a pleasure to meet the current incumbent Father Stephen and a privilege to spend some time exploring this altogether delightful and impressive church.
G.G. Pace 1960-63 – Blue engineering brick; graduated slate to pitched roofs – low pitched to church and entrance and steeply pitched to tower. Concrete dressings around windows. Five sided aisled space, three walls being orthoganal and the liturgical north side being canted outwards to provide room for the choir. Entrance with narthex to west and west also is a small rectangular chapel. Corner site, the corner itself dominated by a low rectangular brick tower with a high gabled roof. Four bay nave, the bays separated by buttresses and with rectangular windows set in varying groups high in the wall. West wall of nave is visible, and secondary glazing has been sensitively installed over the west window between the western buttresses. Thick exposed board-marked concrete beam at eaves. On return elevation, tower is flush with small chapel, with irregular groups of rectangular windows to both. Rectangular leaded lights. Recessed entrance with two doors of timber and leaded-glazing in vertical strips. Liturgical north and south faces of the tower each has a stack of 14 small pointed louvres. Jutting gutter spouts in exposed board-marked concrete.
Internally the bays are divided by three pairs of varnished laminated timber `y’ shaped supports and trusses, supporting timber trussed purlins (with prominent bolts) and timber rafters. Walls are white-painted brick with exposed board-marked concrete bands, which act as bonding strips between brick piers and as lintels for windows. Original altar of limed timber with four pairs of legs, is in original position, set forward from the east wall. Sanctuary raised by two steps. Limed timber pulpit, also chunky and so is altar rail with thick black metal supports and thick limed timber handrail. Priest’s chair to match, against east wall. Black metal crucifix also in characteristic Pace manner. Stone sedilia built into the north and south walls of the sanctuary. East window with stained glass which comprises broken and reset fragments of nineteenth-century glass. Font sited in central aisle towards the west end; this is of tooled cream stone, the bowl comprising a monolithic cylinder, flanked by a smaller cylinder which rises higher and has a prominent spout. Elaborate font cover in roughly textured cast aluminium, rising to flame-like pinnacles. Reused nineteenth-century benches, painted semi-matt black. Narthex and west chapel with limed timber doors, which have decorative nail-heads in rows. West chapel has open truss timber roof, painted white. Sanctuary light and cross are characteristic of Pace’s style.
A fine example of Pace’s idiosyncratic manner, this church shows the influence of the Liturgical Movement, especially in the forward placement of the altar.
The church building, designed by John Mark Mansell Jenkinson, the second generation of a Sheffield firm of architects, was opened in 1971. A steel cross, fixed to the facade in 1989, is a memorial to their work here and in the city.
The church, which stands at the side of a main road, has a grey concrete exterior, once white, which rises like a cliff, echoing the natural cliff face of the rocks behind. Three carved roundels in the lowest quarter of the facade soften the exterior as does a brown brick tower which guards the entrance steps and houses a lift which was added in 2004.
The steps lead into a narthex where two plaques outline the history of the three Congregational Churches which came together to instigate the building of this church. The doors to the left, which lead into the worship area, suggest the influence of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright upon John Jenkinson.
The hexagonal church interior, which is well lit from the sides and the roof, is clad in golden brown stone. There is an air of Puritan simplicity. The tiered seating looks towards the raised sanctuary area which has a stone pulpit, lectern, communion table, and chairs; the font was carved by James Stone. There are stained glass windows, a banner, and a gold cross, designed by David Mellor, above the pulpit. At noon on sunny days the light strikes the top of the cross and brings the building to life. The organ console which is at the side of the churchcame from Zion Congregational Church at Attercliffe. It was originally built for Weetwood, the home of Sir William Ellis, a Sheffield Industrialist.
The banner is one of four fabric collages depicting the seasons, designed by Elaine Beckingham and made by the children of Junior Church. The other three are also displayed in the church
The church area leads into what survives of Endcliffe Park Congregational Church, notably a large hall with an organ to match which, along with the benches which served as pews, are reminders of its former days. It has a gallery divided by moveable partitions to facilitate use as classrooms.
The town of Llandudno developed from Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements over many hundreds of years on the slopes of the limestone headland, known to seafarers as the Great Orme and to landsmen as the Creuddyn Peninsula.
Some years later.
In 1848, Owen Williams, an architect and surveyor from Liverpool, presented landowner Lord Mostyn with plans to develop the marshlands behind Llandudno Bay as a holiday resort. These were enthusiastically pursued by Lord Mostyn. The influence of the Mostyn Estate and its agents over the years was paramount in the development of Llandudno, especially after the appointment of George Felton as surveyor and architect in 1857.
The edge of the bay is marked by concrete steps and a broad promenade, edging a pebbled beach which arcs from Orme to Orme.
Walk with me now and mark the remarkable shelters, paddling pools and bandstand screens, along with the smattering of people that people the promenade.
Mitzi Solomon Cunliffe January 1st 1918 December 30th 2006
American born, resident of Didsbury Manchester, sculptor and designer, responsible for, amongst other things, the BAFTA mask.
Her first large scale commission was two pieces for the Festival of Britain in 1951. One, known as Root Bodied Forth, shows figures emerging from a tree, and was displayed at the entrance of the Festival. The second, a pair of bronze handles in the form of hands, adorned the Regatta Restaurant. She created a similar piece, in the form of knots, in 1952 which remains at the School of Civic Design at Liverpool University, along with The Quickening in the rear courtyard.
Cunliffe developed a technique for mass-producing abstract designs in relief in concrete, as architectural decoration, which she described as sculpture by the yard. She used the technique to decorate buildings throughout the UK, but particularly in and around Manchester.
Particularly this example of four modular panels named Cosmos, set in the wall of the student halls of residence in Owens Park, Fallowfield, Manchester.
The Anglican Church of William Temple was opened in 1965 on the corner of Robinswood Road and Simonsway as the church of the Civic Centre. The mission was already well-established, having begun many years previously in Shadow Moss School Room, latterly operating in a dual-purpose building on Simonsway. The architect, George Pace, agreed with the proviso that he should not design a ‘pseudo’ building, but that it should be modern in concept. This he did and particular attention was paid to the acoustics with a view to music and drama being performed there. One of Pace’s stipulations was that, as with all the churches he designed, there must be no plaques attached to the walls commemorating the dedication of the church or in memory of anyone, for he said he built his churches to the Glory of God. The only lettered stone is on the back wall of the church and it has on it the date of the consecration and a symbol, which is Pace’s original sign for William Temple Church.
The internal supports of the church are black-painted steel girders, not romantically symbolising the industry of the area, as it is sometimes said, but because when it was discovered that the church had been built on swampy ground an extra £2,000 was needed for foundations; the wooden beams of the original design had to be changed for cheaper steel ones. There is symbolism, however, in the placing of the font between and beneath the three main weight-bearing supports of the church.
The pews have an interesting history, having been brought from derelict churches in and around Manchester. The present lady churchwarden said:
“whenever we heard of a church being demolished we borrowed Mr. Owen’s coal cart and went off to see if we could buy any of the pews. Many times I’ve sat on the back of the wagon, in the pouring rain, with the pews, bringing them back to Wythenshawe to be stored until our church building was completed!”
Some time after the building was opened a fire damaged some of the pews. With the insurance money all the pews were stripped and bleached, giving an element of uniformity and a bright welcoming atmosphere in the church generally. An interesting thought was voiced that as many people living in Wythenshawe now had their origins near to the centre of Manchester they may be sitting in the same pews in which their ancestors once sat.
Milton Keynes synonymous with something or other, the town where everything is an off centre out of town centre, where anything was new once.
A broad grid of boulevards, sunken super-highways and an extended series of balletic roundabouts swirls the cars around.
Beneath this merry carbon hungry dance, we find the cyclist and pedestrian, the self propelled underclass passing through the underpass.
During my eight hour non-stop walking tour I encountered several – here they are, home to the homeless – others somewhat desolate and deserted, grass between the paving stones, the occasional casual tag and discarded can.