Eastford Square Collyhurst – Slight Return

I’ve been here before and after.

After now seems further away, forever awaiting redevelopment – waiting.

No more Flower Pot Café and a warm welcome from Lee and the lads.

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Nearly nine years on – the shutters are down and nobody is home, save for the Lalley Centre – offering food, support and care to the community.


Though Sister Rita Lee has now move on to pastures new.

The homes and shops remain resolutely shut, un-lived in and unloved, though the City plans to re-site the resident sculpture, the residents remain absent without leaving.

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R.E & J. Parker Bakers – Leigh

I do have a particular penchant for pâtisserie – though close in spirit to their Euro equivalents, the vernacular bakers of the North are by comparison, sadly now a seldom seen, rare and precious breed.

My dad’s three sisters Alice, Jenny and Lydia all trained as confectioners, and he himself was a van man for Mother’s Pride. In my turn I worked as a van lad at their Old Trafford base.

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Flour, eggs, sugar and fat are in my blood.

In their way the growth of the mass-market bakers, along with the motor car and supermarket hegemony sealed the fate of the local bread, cake and pie shop, along with the demise of the associated skills and attendant early morning work patterns. When I visited Cochrane’s in Audenshaw, it was clear that their youngsters no longer wished to take on the family baking business. So the once unremarkable sight of remarkable rows of fancies, growlers and tarts, is now a thing of familiar folk memory, rather than a sweet and savoury reality.

On both of my visits to Leigh I have passed Parker’s – the windows warm from the freshly baked confectionery – including the almost unique Singing Lily – sweet double crust pies, a large circle of shortcrust pastry folded over dried fruit and rolled until the fruit is visible, sugared and baked.

Next time I’ll go in and try one or two treats – get it while you can.

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Caledonian Café – Huddersfield


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.


































Launderette – Welshpool

When walking the streets of Welshpool, one often finds oneself outside.

Outside a launderette.

I paused.

The porch was decorated by the most enchanting mosaic, Vickery and Co.

Hosiers, Hatters and Outfitters.

Politely, ever so politely, I asked the two local lads if they would step aside from their porch perch one moment, I snapped.

And walked on.

Upon my return, nobody was here, I hurriedly occupied the vacant space, with the expansive volume of my incurable curiosity.

Here is what I found.

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WH Smiths – Newtown Powys

Life is full of tiny delights.

Newtown, a town of tiny delights, my journey through Wales by bike took me there.

None more delightful and surprising than the branch of WH Smiths, its exterior adorned with the most beautiful of signs, tiles and lamps.

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Curious, curiously I  explored further, the porch housed a newspaper and magazine stall with further tiled images.

These tiles were made by Carter & Co. at their pottery works in Poole, Dorset in the 1920s. Commissioned by the retailer, they were installed in the entrance ways of a number of its branches. They were intended to advertise the wide selection of books and other items on sale, however their distinctive Art Deco style and the scenes depicted also expose a great deal about society at that time.

In subsequent decades, particularly during periods of refurbishment from the 1960s, many shops lost their decorative panels, either being removed or covered over. Only seven branches of WHSmith are known to have their tile panels intact, with a few surviving in private collections. Many tiles were rescued by WHSmith and these can now be seen in a museum housed in the Newtown branch in Powys. 

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The staff were typically helpful and accommodating – directing me to the Museum upstairs – just pull the rope to one side.

Go take a look 

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Eastford Square – Collyhurst

Once there were homes, postwar social housing.

Once there were jobs, a measure of prosperity.

A settled community.





Time has not been kind to North Manchester, successive slumps, double-dip depressions, economic downturns, and centrally imposed recession hurts.

The local authority steps in, from 2009 the fate of Eastford Square is sealed.

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Spells demolition.

One wing is already gone, the maisonettes are tinned up.

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The Flower Pot Café, still fully functional, fed me well for £2, Lee the proprietor is living on borrowed time though, hoping for relocation within the new development.

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Other businesses have not survived the transition, awaiting CPO and who knows what.

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The square is blessed with a concrete sculpture, whose fate I hope is secured, somehow.

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Possibly by William Mitchell – possibly not.

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This as ever, is a time of change, I hope that the area and its current inhabitants live to tell the tale, rather than fall victim to the tide of gentrification, forcing them further afield.

O Romeo Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

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Oldham Street – Manchester 2016

Following my previous post of archival images of Oldham Street, I took a walk along its length a week ago, to record what remained of the post war past.

Gone again the blackened façades, exuberant and differentiated signage.

Woolworth’s burnt out long ago, never to return, exit also C&A, don’t forget your coat and hat.

Affleck’s – same name different place.

Yates’s three down none to go, the last all-in is all out.

Three pubs prevail, some serving craft ale to the not so crafty.

Methodist Main Hall is mainly well-used and well, loved.

In low Winter light the upper floors dance in shadow and sun-glow, against a brighter than bright blue sky.

A crazy range of saw-toothed roof tops colliding.

Oldham Street survives.