Sheffield Streets

I had time to kill – in search of early Sunday morning visual thrills.

I took to the mean streets of Steeltown UK.

Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.

He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him.

The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.

Raymond Chandler 

It was 8am – low bright sun pierced the achingly empty space between the long high industrial buildings.

There was nobody to share the morning – yet the clearly audible kling and klang of work pervaded the air, along with the lingering aroma of engine oil and decay.

This is what I found:

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Three Lost Pubs – Sheffield

A city once awash with industry and ale – a myriad of pubs slaking the thirst of the thirsty steel workers.

A liquid equilibrium flowing and flowering for over a century.

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The Lower Don Valley once home to a wealth of boozers, tells a different tale today.

A fall in production produced a proportionate reduction in consumption.

The clatter of clogs on cobbles, metal on metal is but a distant memory, along with the sound of pints pulled and hastily glugged.

The architecture of ale still prevails – now purveying pleasures and delights of a different stripe, whatever takes your fancy, as long as it’s not too fancy.

And doesn’t involve taking a drink.

 

The Gower Arms – 47 Gower Street Burngreave Sheffield S4 7JWblanku01838

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I drink down there – top pubs methinks. They are old fashioned pubs with some real characters. Will be there Friday night in the Staff first, Royal Oak, Gower, Grapes and back to the Staff till I drop.

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From top pub to closed corner supermarket in two shakes of a monkey’s tale.

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The Norfolk Arms Hotel – 195/199 Carlisle Street Sheffield S4 7LJblanku08444

From a Gilmour’s tap, Tetley tavern to a temple of trendy funk.

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Club Xes is a nightclub in Sheffield  described as a vibrant and thrilling, and full of Sheffield’s young and trendy crowd.  The DJs are renowned for providing the newest funkiest records.

Premises Type – This place does not serve real ale.

Premises Description – Gay nightclub.

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The Corner Pin – 231-233 Carlisle Street East Sheffield S4 7QN

 

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First licensed to sell beer in 1840. One of 26 public houses serving the steel industry along a three- quarter mile stretch of Carlisle Street. It is said to have a ghost who likes to turn the lights on in the middle of the night and footfalls can be heard.

The Corner Pin was the last of the Steelmakers pubs in Sheffield and was one of my favourite places to visit for a real good pint! I would come over from Melbourne once or twice a year, still do, and meet up with Chris Payling and many others still left over from the days of Sheffield Steel, but now all gone. 

They even took away your window frames, along with your dignity once a pale green shadow of yourself, stripped back to brick.

Stop dreaming of a foaming pint right now – you’re an office.

Not a pub.

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All B&W photographs copyright Picture Sheffield 

Canyons of Industry – Sheffield

Obviously, stating the obvious in Comic Sans on a shocking pink ground may ease the pain of industrial decline and its attendant social and economic ills.

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Sheffield along with the majority of  British manufacturing towns and cities, has seen the wealth created by over a century of hard labour spirited elsewhere, and the means by which that wealth was created shipped overseas or overwritten by new technologies.

This has not been an accident or unfortunate consequence of global trends, it has been government policy.

It has not been government policy to regenerate these towns and cities.

So Sheffield has taken the initiative to become – The fastest growing British city outside London.

With areas of new and arresting development.

Though that may do little to redress the structural economic divides within the city.

 

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So I walked the avenues and alleyways of the Lower Don Valley, early on an October Sunday morning, mourning the passing of the clang and clamour that once fuelled the city and the nation.

An aroma of engine oil and the sound of metal on metal still permeates the area, and the low autumnal sun warms the long straight streets.

 

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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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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 

Corporation Street

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Macclesfield Railway Station

Where the Victorians modelled their stations on cathedrals, temples and palaces.

Modern Man models his on shopping centre and office blocks.

Richards and MacKenzie – The Railway Station

Though it seems to me that Macclesfield Station, in its earlier and current states, refuses to dovetail neatly into either of these sloppy binary paradigms.

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The former – single storey buildings, fitting unostentatiously into the topographic and practical constraints of the site. A neat, tightly packed rhythm of brick arches with a compact and bijou porch welcoming the expectant traveller.

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The latter a functionalist block, fully utilitarian crossings with lift access columns, embodying a particularly industrial demeanour.

From the golden age of steam to the moribund years of diesel, Macclesfield sits comfortably somewhere, betwixt and between ugly duckling and fully fledged swan.

Nestled in the lea of the East Cheshire Highlands, offering practical everyday transport solutions to the beleaguered commuter.

No frills, no thrills.

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The London and North Western Railway opened the line between Manchester and Macclesfield on 19 June 1849 – Macclesfield Central was born. Later it would become a key station on the Stafford branch of the West Coast Main Line, remodelled in 1960 and rebranded as the much snappier Macclesfield Station.

Which it proudly announces topically and typographically to the world.

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Welcome to Macclesfield a town that is clearly going places, and so are you.

The station won the Best Kept Station in Cheshire Award for 2007, but was reported in summer 2011 to be distinctly shabby, with peeling paintwork.

And yet there is something in the constituent Platonic steel, glass and concrete forms that never ceases to amuse and amaze me, this is Brutalism on a human and provincial scale.

The raw concrete softened with three or four shades of grey, as a concession to the delicate suburban sensibilities of this once silk-fuelled town.

Take a trip with me – join the Cheshire train set.

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Heaton Mersey Vale – Stockport

A mighty river valley was formed in the second Ice Age, as the glaciers receded and rushed seaward.

The mighty River Mersey was formed on the eastern edge of Stockport, at the confluence of the Tame and Goyt/Etherow rivers.

Thousands of years in the making, as the water-powered mills of the adjacent Pennine Hills migrate to the lower reaches of the towns, in search of water, workers and steam, the full force of the Industrial Revolution takes shape in the west.

The mixed farming of the alluvial valley, which opens up onto the Lancashire and Cheshire Plains, meets and greets the incursion of dye and brick works, mills and manufacturing.

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Fred Schofield’s farm 1930

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View towards Stockport from Heaton Mersey Park

Serviced by a complex and competing rail system based around Heaton Mersey Shed.

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Opened in 1889 and served until May 1968 operating steam locomotives to the end -Coded 9F.

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Here we were at the centre of a rail hub spreading out in all directions, to and from the ports, cities and resources of the country and beyond.

Great movements of steel, cotton, coal, people and manufactured goods.

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Fireman Eddy “Ned” Kelly

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Heaton Mersey railway station was opened on 1 January 1880 by the Midland Railway and lay on the newly opened line which ran from Heaton Mersey East Junction to Chorlton Junction and on to Manchester Central station.

The station was situated at the southern end of Station Road which still exists. The station was later operated by the London Midland and Scottish Railway and was closed by the London Midland Region of British Railways on 3 July 1961.

The area was criss-crossed by railways – its bridges traversing the roads, fields and river, dominating the landscape in a wild flurry of steam and smoke.

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Further photographs from Grip 99

Crossing the Mersey – the link between Gorsey Bank and the Shed

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Surviving until 2007

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B&W photographs Stockport Image Archive

The end of steam – as drivers, fireman and staff were transferred to Newton Heath, was followed by the slow demise of the rail network, freight moved to road and passengers purchasing their first cars and a passport to illusory freedom.

The mighty Mersey is now flanked by newer neighbours, a shiny blue administrative pyramid, business park, car showrooms and nature reserve, the only certainty is change.

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Great volumes of earth are moved to from a new topography a topography of leisure – the gentle stroll, jog and cycle replaces the clank of fire doors and shovel on coal.

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But take a look around you and you will see the remnants of the industrial age, shrouded in fresh hawthorn and enshrined in birch and beech.

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To walk this landscape is to traverse geological, agrarian, industrial and post-industrial time – they all coexist and coalesce. Have an eye, ear and heart open to their resonance and presence, transcend time and space in the Mersey Valley today, you’re part of the leisured generation.