The area is rich in Quartzite, central to the production of Silica Bricks, which are resistant to high temperatures, much in demand at the height of the Industrial Revolution for lining steel furnaces.
The ore on the headland was first mined around 1850, with the ore being hewn out the living rock by hand.
A little railway brought the ore to the cliff above the brick works, then lowered by gravity to the works below, where the rocks would be pummelled and rendered to a size that could be further processed.
Mining by manual endeavour lasted from around 1850 to 1914, the hazardous harbour and alleged poor quality products hastening the enterprises’s demise.
Porth Wen brickworks was designated as a scheduled monument by Cadw in 1986 and classified as a post-medieval industrial brickworks.
Now let’s turn our attention toward the epic infrastructure which extracted and pumped seawater.
Sea water is sucked in and then lifted 50ft into sea water ponds by huge pumps where any debris is removed. It is then passed to the seawater main where chlorine and dilute sulphuric acid are added which releases the bromine. It is literally blown out of the water. This water is passed into the top of a tower where it drops over 20ft through the packed section of the tower. There it is met by currents of air travelling upwards. Where it meets these air currents the bromine gets stripped out the water, which is returned to the sea. Whilst the wet bromine laden air passes from the top of the tower to be treated with sulphur dioxide and water. This produces mists of hydrobromic and sulphuric acids.
This mist passes into an absorber, and the acid coalesces. From here, it blows to a collecting tank. The bromine free air returns to the blowing out tower and the cycle begins again. The acidic product is referred to as primary acid liquor. This is now pumped to the steaming out tower. It enters the top and is treated with chlorine and steam, which releases the bromine as vapour. It is then condensed to a liquid. The bulk of bromine goes to dibromoethane, whilst the remainder is sold or used to make other intermediates.
It takes about 22,000 tonnes of seawater to produce 1 tonne of bromine. Every minute 300,000 gallons of seawater are drawn in.
This now redundant technology has left a legacy of industrial dereliction amongst the ancient Pre-Cambrian rocks and sylvan seas of the Anglesey Coast.
This is a landscape which induces fear and fascination in equal measure.
Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.
We begin at the beginning of the end – fields full of fields
Dotted with farm buildings – then, along comes an Aerodrome.
A serious problem arose in 1924 when Avro was notified that the current airfield used by the company at Alexandra Park would be closing. After a hurried search to find an alternative location, Avro settled on New Hall Farm at Woodford and completed the move later that year.
In 1999, Woodford became part of BAE Systems as a result of the merging of British Aerospace with Marconi Electronic Systems. Plans to build the Avro RJX airliner at Woodford were shelved in 2001 which left production of the Nimrod MRA4 as the only active project at the site. Woodford Aerodrome finally closed in 2011 when the Nimrod MRA4 project was cancelled, ending almost 80 years of almost continual aircraft manufacture at the site.
Redrow has started construction on the first phase of 950 homes at the 500-acre former Woodford Aerodrome site near Stockport, nearly two years after planning consent was granted.
Preparatory works are underway and sales of the houses are expected to launch in June with the opening of show homes on the site.
The redevelopment of the 500-acre site, which is being brought forward by a joint venture between Harrow Estates, part of Redrow, and Avro Heritage, will also feature a primary school, employment area, pub, shops, community facilities, and areas of open and recreational space.
However, the architectural style owes more to Baron Hardup, than Flash Gordon.
The Tudor-Bethan style of Metro-Land, that oh so very, very English pantomime tradition of the village green, merry boys and girls dancing around Maypoles clutching wicker baskets, full of plastic daffodils.
For every raw obscenity Must have its small ‘amenity,’ Its patch of shaven green, And hoardings look a wonder In banks of floribunda With floodlights in between.
This is progress realised as regression, a pastiche of a pastiche, of a pastiche, of a pastiche.
Finding some small comfort in the imitation game, hurtling along radial roads, encased in the biggest, live now pay later motors, which borrowed money can buy.
Seeking succour in the certainty of an illusory past, whilst peering through the nets and blinds, at a seriously uncertain future.
You’re as pretty as a picture, a picture torn from a yellowing scrapbook, scanned and enhanced, to remove any unseemly rough edges and/or ruffians.
This was tomorrow calling, wishing you weren’t here.
Work is still underway and the surrounding landscape feels raw, windswept and wounded.
All of the plots on this phase are now reserved, but don’t miss out on the available homes on our other phases!
Just minutes from Wilmslow, Poynton and Bramhall, and within easy reach of Manchester for both work and leisure, Woodford is perfectly placed to offer the best of both the thriving city and the glorious Cheshire countryside. This makes it the perfect location for our high-quality Heritage Collection homes, which combine the very best of classic Arts & Crafts architecture with modern, family friendly interiors of the very highest specification.
Water Street, Portwood looking north, taken from Avenue Street. Looking underneath the railway bridge, on the left hand side, the first building used to be a public house called ‘The Beehive’, further along was Kent & Swarbrick’s Tripeworks, now a precision engineers, then North West Concrete Works – Easymix. On the right is Coxson’s Brushworks, then the Portwood Mill, Kershaw’s Tannery and the Meadow Mill at the bottom of the street.
The area was also home to the Blood Tub boxing ring.
Outside the Blood Tub Back Water Street Portwood.
Centre row left to right Billy PittTaylor Micky PelhamJack HulmeJo Moran owner John MorryBobby RileyLaurie Glen a jockey
2nd row from the back – James Jimmy Rose.
Back row left to right – Charlie Dean An ambulance man Ike Irelands horse dealer – Team from Macclesfield.
Extreme right – Jo Mulrooney.
Front row left to right extreme left – Sidney Smith soft Sidney – a simpleton Jo Hulme.
Copied from a photograph lent by Eddie Pitt
Alligator Rainwear – a British company, whose main factory was based in Beehive Mill. It was best known for its 1960s collaborations with Mary Quant in the design and production of her Wet Look collection of PVC raincoats.
The firm was started after the First World War by Reuben Satinoff, who had previously founded the London Waterproof Company – Silkimac. It was taken over by his sons after the Second World War. For decades, it manufactured traditional weatherproof raincoats in black, brown and beige, but the collaboration with Quant led to new fabrics including PVC and nylon, and a range of bright and vibrant colours.
At its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, Alligator had a turnover of £5 million per year and was exporting its products to Europe and North America. It was later owned by Baker Street Brands who describe it as one of their heritage brands.
Viewed from Tiviot Dale Viaduct
Tiviot Dale station was located on the Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) operated Stockport, Timperley and Altrincham Junction Railway line from Portwood to Skelton Junction, a section of what became the Woodley to Glazebrook line. It was situated at the bottom of Lancashire Hill, next to the present motorway bridge. It was opened on 1 December 1865 and was originally known as Stockport Teviot Dale. From 1880, Tiviot Dale was also served by long-distance trains running on the Manchester South District Railway to London St Pancras.
Tiviot Dale remained a part of the CLC, which was jointly owned from 1923 by the London and North Eastern Railway and the London Midland and Scottish Railway, until 1948 when it became part of the British Railways London Midland Region.
The lines through the station remained in heavy use by coal trains heading for Fiddlers Ferry power station near Warrington from the Woodhead Line. These, however, ceased in 1980 when damage was caused to the nearby Tiviot Dale tunnel during construction work on the M63 motorway – now M60 motorway and the line temporarily closed for safety reasons. The closure was made permanent west of Bredbury’s stone terminal in 1982, following the demise of the Woodhead route; the track was subsequently lifted in 1986 and the tunnel partially filled in. The area surrounding the station was further altered at the beginning of the 21st century to allow the construction of a supermarket and office buildings, which now block the old trackbed.
Portwood Railway Station was on the Stockport and Woodley Junction Railway – later becoming part of Cheshire Lines Committee – Glazebrook to Woodley line. According to Bolger it opened to passengers on 12 January 1863, along with the rest of the Stockport and Woodley Junction Railway, although Butt suggests it opened on 1 December 1865 when the Stockport, Timperley and Altrincham Junction Railway opened.
The station opened for goods traffic in 1865, closing to passengers on 1 September 1875, when it became a goods station. It remained in use until 25 April 1966 when it closed except for coal traffic which continued until 27 March 1972 when it closed entirely except for a private siding.
Today no trace of the station remains, the site being buried under a slip road of the M60 motorway.
Monica Clarke on her tricycle in Marsland Street, behind her across the cobbled street is the Sheba Works – 1951.
Marsland Street east, showing the Haymarket Chambers – 1967
The front of Haymarket Chambers Marsland Street.
Boarded up dwellings on Compstall Court, off Marsland Street.
Portwood Cut 1968
James Harrison bought the manor of Brinnington in the early 1780’s – by 1790 Harrison had three factories in Portwood and others were to follow. In 1796, to provide sufficient water-power to this industrial zone he constructed a substancial millrace. Known as the Portwood Cut, it carried water across the Tame, between his Reddish and Brinnington estates. Harrison also planned the construction of factories at Wood Hall but that particular scheme was abandoned after his death in 1806.
Harrison’s Weir still survives on the river. To the south sections of the Portwood Cut also survive within Reddish Vale Country Park, both as a shallow depression and as water-filled, if somewhat silted and overgrown channel.
Kershaws is one of the only original businesses which still trades in the area.
Established back in 1855 by Joshua Kershaw, the company has gone from strength to strength.
Way back then, it was just a tannery. Today, seven generations on, Edward Kershaw heads a company that is known and respected for it’s quality leather in Europe, America and the Far East.
Kershaws also provide white leather for masonics and bagpipes.
Brewery Street – a view of the steps leading to the railway footpath to Tame Street – 1967.
The mill in the foreground is the Portwood Spinning Mill now called Portwood Mill – on the front of the mill it states Sir Richard Arkwright Portwood Mill.
Employees – Portwood Spinning Company
Coal drops and yard at the rear of the Beehive Spinning Mill
Tame Street gave motorized access to the Cut and here the caravans of travelling folk were parked several times a year, usually until the police ‘moved them on’. The men collected and sold scrap metal, the women sold clothes pegs and told fortunes from door to door. Many of the local people treated them with suspicion and some local pubs would not admit them.
Building work on Lancashire Hill can be seen in the background – 1968
Ferguson Pailin Electrical Engineering are established in 1913 on Fairfield Road/Edge Lane.
By 1939 the factory is fully formed and the area a dense warren of industry and terraced housing.
Makers of heavy duty electrical switchgear and general electrical engineers, of Higher Openshaw, Manchester.
1913 Ferranti Ltd sold its switchgear patents and stock to Ferguson, Pailin Ltd. Samuel Ferguson and George Pailin had worked for Ferranti as switchgear engineers. They left in 1913 to set up their own switchgear business at a factory in Higher Openshaw, Manchester.
The company was acquired by Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) in 1928. Following the restructuring of AEI in 1960, Ferguson, Pailin & Co ceased to be a separate subsidiary and was merged into AEI switchgear. Following the takeover of AEI by GEC in 1967, the Higher Openshaw works became part of GEC Switchgear. In 1989, GEC merged its electrical engineering interests with those of Alsthom to form GEC Alsthom. The factory was later closed by Alstom in 2003, with most of the employees finishing on 22 November 2002.
The company has a Facebook page which shares former employees memories – from which these archive photographs were taken.
Notably the firm provided extensive leisure facilities for their employees.
The company acquired Mottram Hall to give employees an opportunity to go on affordable holidays during World War II. The company bought three properties in 1939/40 in order to provide holidays for staff and workers during the war. Mottram Hall was bought for the works, a small hotel in Llandudno for the middle level staff and a property in Criccieth for senior staff. Mottram Hall was sold as surplus to requirements by GEC in 1968 and is now a luxury country house hotel.
Sadly the days when benevolent employers thought to take care of their employees in such a manner, are largely a thing of the past.
For business guests, our sleek and sophisticated conference rooms feature the latest technology to get your agenda off to a prompt and professional start. Plus, catering facilities and a plush break out space for comfortable downtime between meetings.
Last time I passed through many of the factory buildings were still extant though underused. A portion of the site lost to the development of the Lime Square Shopping Centre.
Lime Square is a shopping destination which is helping to put the heart back into Openshaw district centre here in east Manchester. Lime Square is home to the stunning Steamhammer sculpture and a host of great High Street names.
By and large replacing the plethora of busy local businesses which once thrived in the area.
Part of the site became the site of a car park for B&M Bargains.
Empty car parking and to let signs in superabundance.
So there we are the end of an era – the decline in manufacturing, the structure ending life as an empty warehouse.
But wait, what’s all this?
Your Housing Group, the Warrington-based affordable housing provider, wants to build a residential scheme on the site of a former warehouse on Edge Lane, with work starting this summer subject to consent.
The project in Openshaw comprises 216 homes available on a mix of tenures, according to a planning application submitted to Manchester City Council. A total of 72 will be for sale as shared ownership schemes, another 72 will be for private rent, and 72 will be for affordable rent.
So there we are another phase of development for one small area of Manchester, should you change to pass, just spare a moment to recall those thousands of souls that laboured their whole working lives – right here on Fairfield Road and Edge Lane.
The owners of the site, Backer Electric, occupy the adjacent building where they continue to manufacture heating elements, supplying products in high volume to the majority of household brand names. Options to reuse Peck House and the site have been investigated for a number of years.
A structural survey was carried out which found the building to be structurally sound and secure and therefore the Council has not been in a position to insist on its demolition.
In 1985, plans came forward to change of use of the retail/wholesale store to a church. In 2004, outline plans were submitted for a development including a hotel, restaurant, hot food takeaway and petrol station for the wider area. In 2014, Peck House was one of a number of sites discounted as the location for a new £5m primary school.
As of Wednesday 26th August 2020 it’s still there underdeveloped and overgrown.
In the company of local resident Helen Angell and having become aware of the site through the paintings of Mandy Payne and the photographs of Sean Madner – I was eager to pay a visit.
Joseph Peck departments stores originated in Rotherham in the late 1800s and had branches in Worksop, Barnsley and Sheffield.
I have only been able to find evidence of the Sheffield store – which may not be linked.
Though there are references to a Rotherham store on Bridgegate.
Joseph Peck was in Bridgegate in Rotherham, and in the late 40’s at Christmas, they had a grotto and a Father Christmas. The queues of parents and children would go down the yard and up Bridgegate. My mum and dad always took my brother and I to see Father Christmas and get a present from him. The store was a department store selling just about everything that was available just after the war. Mum took my brother and I coming up to one Christmas, she was trying to find a bicycle for my brother and I, but they didn’t have one. As we came out of the store, one of old fashioned three wheel railway delivery lorries was just pulling out of the yard. On the back was a blue bike. Mum stopped the driver and asked him where he was taking it. He told her ‘Redgates at the bottom of Ecclesall Road in Sheffield. She shouted ‘Taxi’, and told the driver to ‘follow that lorry’. Just before the lorry arrived on The Moor, she told the taxi driver to overtake the lorry and go to Redgates. We rushed in, she found the manager and asked him about the bike. He hadn’t known that one was being delivered so Mum told him she’d have it without even asking the price. The lorry driver didn’t even have to take it off the lorry, and delivered it to our house next day.
My elder brother had it first, then me, then my younger brother, and finally our young sister. It was still being used when I flew the nest in 1959.
I live just around the corner and often walk by, intrigued by this small rectangle of rectangular sheltered homes, I chose to take a closer look.
On adjoining Craig Road there are a group of interwar semi-detached homes, social housing built in 1930, facing on to open ground which leads down to the Mersey.
There is an arc of post war social housing on Hamilton Crescent, which surrounds Russell Gardens.
The homes that constitute Russell Gardens built in 1947 were illustrated in the town’s 1948/49 guide book, considered to be something of value.
Designed as a diminutive Garden Village, smaller in scale to those found in Burnage or Fairfield, but based on the principle of shared green space and community services.
In the 1970s the land to the south, now occupied by the Craig Close development, was yet to be built upon.
And the Cadbury Works still stood close by on the Brighton Road Industrial Estate:
Built in the late 1800s this was originally Silver Spoon (Pan) Fruit Processing Works, then in the 1920s was Faulders’ Cocoa and Chocolate Works. By the 1930s it was Squirrel Chocolate Works and in 1960s became a distribution depot for Cadbury’s. A friend remembers playing among the pallets of the ‘chocolate factory’ in the 1950s. Later it was occupied by small businesses. The works comprises a large rectangular block with sawtooth roof, and central entrance house with tall chimney. The adjacent rail line, built in 1880, branched into the site.
Though many of the surrounding homes were sold off during the Right to Buy era:
After the election of May 1979 a new Conservative government drafted legislation to provide a Right to Buy but, because this would not become law until October 1980, also revised the general consent (May 1979) to enable sales with higher discounts matching those proposed in the new legislation. The numbers of sales completed under this general consent exceeded previous levels. Between 1952 and 1980 over 370,000 public sector dwellings were sold in England and Wales. Almost a third of these were in 1979 and 1980 and it is evident that higher discounts generated and would have continued to generate higher sales without the Right to Buy being in place.
Russell Gardens remains the estate of Stockport Homes managed as sheltered housing for the over 60s.
33 one bedroom flats built in 1947
Non-resident part time management staff and Careline alarm service
Lounge, Laundry, Garden
The houses are now some fifty years old and in good order, the residents with whom I spoke, seemed more than happy with their homes.
Would that more and more affordable homes for folks of all ages could be built.
The post-war consensus and political will that created this upsurge in construction, has been swept away by market forces.
Let’s take a look at the vestiges of more enlightened times.
I’ve cycled by here for some fifty years or more – always admiring its serrated roof.
Way back when we would roam around on our bikes, exploring the waste ground adjacent to Jackson’s Brickworks.
Where we would scavenge tape from the Rotunda tip.
I remember it as a Remploy Centre.
My last 13 years prior to retirement last May were spent at the centre, on Windmill Lane, Denton. Just before I left, a lot of demolition work was done, prior to redevelopment of much of the site.
I seem to remember the place always being referred to locally as Th’ Rehab – the Rehabilitation Centre, a Government training centre, where skills were taught, such as joinery, bricklaying etc, and there was also a Remploy Unit housed there.
Local men could go for a free haircut, administered by a well supervised trainee.
Proximity to the M60, seen here under construction is paramount to its future success.
This former production plant for concrete components is now sadly partitioned and houses a number of businesses, only one of which still has a manufacturing base. The engineer for the project was also the client; reinforced concrete engineers, Matthews & Mumby. The intention was to create large floor areas, free from columns, to accommodate fourteen casting beds of about fifty metres in length. The structure of the two sheds was formed from arch units assembled on the ground, jacked into position and post-tensioned to form large tied span arches. Each arch spans approximately thirty metres and was designed to carry up to fourteen one tonne loads along the monorail hangers that ran the length of the factory, centred to each casting bed and suspended from the arches. Lantern section glazing hugs the curve of the arches that act as a reflective surface to provide an even light across the factory floor. The rails and hangers added a further louvered filter to the light, described at the time as ‘the ‘venetian blind’ effect. Originally the elevation between the V shaped columns was also glazed, this has now been filled and significantly reduces the aesthetic presence of the exposed structure and a distinctly ‘modern’ building of the time.
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One of the UK’s largest retail parks, Stockport Retail Park benefits from a strategic location on the M60 Manchester orbital motorway making it one of the city’s most accessible parks. The park forms a natural extension to the town centre, offering a wide range of uses from value convenience to fashion and home as well as a number of cafés and restaurants.
This is the post industrial landscape of consumption and its infrastructure that faces the defunct and mothballed site, whatever next?
The River Irwell bisects Salford and Manchester, joining the rivers Irk and Medlock, and then turns west toward Irlam, as part of the Manchester Ship Canal. Its course ends just east of Irlam, where it empties into the Mersey.
Urban development is ever so often dependent upon rivers – for sustenance, commerce and amusement. The Irwell and latterly the developments of the canal system has provided all of these in superabundance.
By 1870 the Pomona Gardens is thriving , boasting a concert hall and banqueting suite – further details here from Skyliner.
In the summer of 1887, a nearby chemicals factory exploded, damaging the palace – the area was under threat and destined to rot away to obscurity: the following year the gardens closed forever.
By 1900 the Ship Canal, docks and railways had arrived – Manchester and Salford are at the centre of an unprecedented growth in manufacture and trade.
During the 1970’s the docks began a rapid decline, largely due to containerisation. The increasing size of freight-carrying ships meant they could no longer navigate the ship canal and this, combined with increased trading with Europe and the east, saw use of Manchester Docks decrease. In 1982 the remaining docks closed and the area became derelict. Recognising the need to redevelop the area, Salford City Council purchased the docks in 1984 using a derelict land grant. The Salford Quays Development Plan was adopted in May 1985, proposing complete reclamation and development of the area for commercial, residential and leisure use.
Manchester and Salford begin the long haul from post industrial decline to service centred cities – there were even seeds sewn for the development of a luxury marina. When I first visited Pomona the area was seriously overgrown and the underground wiring stripped out.
Remnant of the initial scheme – pedestrian access, balustrade and lighting.
What would poor old Pomona make of all this?
There was a failed attempt to prevent further development and return the area to nature. Peel Holdings prevailed and pressed on relentlessly with their programme of urbanisation.
Having travelled back in time along Ten Acres Lane why not come along with me now and see just what’s left – right?
Each Manchester street tells its own tales of homes and people been, gone, rebuilt and buried – whole industries evaporating laid waste by seismic economic forces, land changing use again and again – shop door bells which are a now but a ghostly tintinnabulation on the wind.
Starting from the Oldham Road end the clearance of older terraced homes was followed by the construction of newer 70s social housing.
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.
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 7JW
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.
Blade Bloke 2007
From top pub to closed corner supermarket in two shakes of a monkey’s tale.
The Norfolk Arms Hotel – 195/199 Carlisle Street Sheffield S4 7LJ
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.
The Corner Pin – 231-233 Carlisle Street East Sheffield S4 7QN
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.
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.
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.
It’s up there somewhere isn’t it, a dark elsewhere, a mythological other place.
I was curious, searching for clues.
I began in a nearby place in a faraway time, my first reference point, the film adaptation of Shelagh Delaney’s play A Taste of Honey.
Set in Salford by Salford born teenager Shelagh.
A teenager becomes pregnant by a black sailor. She leaves her feckless mother and her flashy new boyfriend to set up her own home. She moves in with a young gay man, who helps look after her as she faces an uncertain future.
The film’s release in 1962 broke new ground in terms of its matter of fact depiction of contentious and sensational subject matter. My interest in this instance rests with the visual image of the North that it created.
Larkhill Road Edgeley Stockport
Shot almost entirely on location in black and white by cinematographer Walter Lassally, we are treated to dark treeless vistas, cobbled streets, industrial areas almost perpetually in decline, bleak canals and terraced homes.
As shown in these archive images of the 1950s, illustrating locations that would subsequently be used in the film adaptation.
There is a comprehensive list of locations here at Reel Streets
Cambrian Street Holt Town Manchester
Phillips Park Gasworks Manchester
Director Tony Richardson was a product of the British Free Cinema movement, which had previously produced short, sharp documentary and drama work, driven by a leftist outlook and using a restless, immediate approach, aided by the new lightweight cameras and faster film stocks. This is an ethos and methodology that would be carried over into the feature productions of the Woodfall Films company.
Rochdale Canal Manchester
The film was shot in the flat, low, even light of the Winter which heightened the mildly desolate character of the landscape, though ostensibly Salford set many of the locations are in nearby Manchester and Stockport. An early long and free flowing title sequence and establishing shot, is a bus tour around Central Manchester, a city centre which at the time was still graced by a thick accumulation of dark industrial emissions and miasma.
A soot blackened Queen Victoria mute and imperious in Piccadilly Gardens, the freshly blooming cranes of post-war renewal tentatively appearing in the background.
The skyline punctuated by factory chimneys, the tight huddled streets of terraced houses chuffing billowing great grey clouds of smoke – a view familiar in the work of LS Lowry.
Trafford Swing Bridge
Stockport Rail Viaduct
Phillips Park Gasworks
The location of the home that Jo sets up was ironically the stage set workshop of the Royal Court Theatre (the very theatre where the play was developed and produced) in London – that most northern of cities.
There is a brief respite from this milieu, through a picture in picture sequence based on the image of a suburban bungalow – which along with the coming age of mass motor car ownership, offers the promise of escape.
A giddy day trip to Blackpool represents the temporary release from a contrasting and constricting world, a trip which for Jo emphasises the divide between Mother and her lover.
So we the viewers are left with a cloudily clear, black and white world, a pervasive construct that the North and Manchester is eagerly beginning to casually shuffle off.
Where streets are no longer paved with Eccles Cakes and whippets are hip.
Identity through landscape and location can both define and constrain, but that landscape, its representation, and the identity that it produces are all mutually mutable.
Take some time to watch and rewatch the film, freeze frame where are we?
I set out one morning with a clear intent, to travel.
To travel to see the Warrington Transporter Bridge – of which I had only just become aware. Ignorance in this instance is not bliss, expectation and fulfilment is.
Guided by the detailed instructions on the Transporter Bridge Website I made my way from Bank Quay Station, mildly imperilled yet not impeded by caged walkways, tunnels, bridges, muddy paths and Giant Hogweed!
Finally catching a glimpse of:
Warrington Transporter Bridge, also known as Bank Quay Transporter Bridge or Crosfield’s Transporter Bridge, across the River Mersey is a structural steel transporter bridge with a span of 200 feet. It is 30 feet wide, and 76 feet above high water level, with an overall length of 339 feet. It was built in 1915 and, although it has been out of use since about 1964, it is still standing. It was designed by William Henry Hunter and built by William Arrol and Co.
The bridge in use 1951.
It is till standing today, and was built to despatch finished product from the cement plant that had been built on the peninsula. It was originally used to carry rail vehicles up to 18 tons in weight, and was converted for road vehicles in 1940. In 1953 it was modified to carry loads of up to 30 tons.
The bridge is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building, and because of its poor condition it is on their Heritage at Risk Register. The bridge is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.