Sheffield – Gallery Shops

Once part of a larger retail complex, embracing the Castle Market area – regrettably demolished in 2015, the Gallery Shops are themselves, but a wrecking ball away from nothingness.

Linked by walkways, once populated by a multitude of rosy-cheeked, cheery shoppers, independent units and stalls operated in what was the better end of the High Street.

Over time, like many modern city the axis of energy shifts elsewhere, to newer more shiny developments – leaving hollow shells, echoing only to the footsteps of long gone ghosts.



Lift receiver and dial.

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Wilko’s – Blackpool

Formerly the site of a much larger, much busier Blackpool North Station – a time when trains arrived sixteen coaches long.

As seen in this archive film of the 1940s.

Cars and closures caused the station to withdraw up the road, to its current much smaller site.

Subsequently Fine Fare arrives with a fanfare of moulded plastic panels, and cast concrete walls.

fine fare

Opened on May 22nd 1979 by the Goodies.



Superseded by Food Giant, Gateway, Dunnes Stores, Kwik Save and Somerfields – possibly others, currently Wilkinson’s Wilko Superstore and Age UK, retaining at all times the attractive integral car park.

Wilko is now to be relocated and the site redeveloped as part of the second phase of the £220m Talbot Gateway – whereby trams will link the promenade with the Station.


The tale is the typical mix of Council, Developer on/off, binary obfuscation, secrecy, smoke and mirrors.

Councillor Fred Jackson says:

“We are in talks with our development partner Muse but there is a confidentiality agreement so there is very little I can say.”

Whatever the outcome I do hope the panels are saved, having notified Historic England several weeks ago, I eagerly await their hurried and considered response…

In the meantime get y’self on the choo-choo to Blackpool North toot sweet, and have a gander at a fine Fine Fare plastic panel or two, before you can’t.

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Best Launderette – Brunswick Street Manchester

I was out walking on the corner one day.

I spied some old washing.

In the doorway it lay.

Well there was a doorway, but no door.

There was a door, but not attached to the doorway.

Well there was washing, I had inadvertently found the Best Laundrette.

Unattended, seemingly unloved, washing spinning happily, unobserved.

Guantanamo orange walls, stormy petrol blue sky linoleum floor.

Lit by several stark, bare fluorescent tubes.

I quickly went about my business, made my excuses to myself and left.


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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.




Oldham Street – Manchester

In the early 18th century, Oldham Street was apparently:

“An ill-kept muddy lane, held in place on one of its sides by wild hedgerows”.

In 1772, a privately owned track which is now known as Oldham Street was given to the public. The road took its name from Adam Oldham rather than from the place name. He was an acquaintance of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, which could account for the Oldham street location of the Methodist Chapel, opened by Wesley in 1781. Central Hall replaced the Chapel in 1885.

The area around Oldham Street became more affluent, with warehouses and shops, many of whose merchants lived within their shop premises. This is described by Isabella Varley, Mrs. Linnaeus Banks, a resident of Oldham Street, in her book The Manchester Man.

One Oldham Street shopowner mentioned by a number of writers is Abel Heywood, who spearheaded the mass distribution of books, supplying the whole country not only with penny novels, but also with educational books and political pamphlets. Heywood went on to become Mayor of Manchester.

The general well to do, mix of hustle and bustle, pubs, warehousing, grand stores, smaller specialist shops and services continued into the 1970’s. Woolworths, C&A, Affleck and Browns, Cantors, Dobbins attracted a steady flow of happy shoppers, I loved the mongrel nature of the mixed use architecture.

The focus if the city centre then slipped away to the newly built Arndale and pedestrianised Market Street.

Oldham Street awaited a new sense of place and purpose.

With thanks to



























Market Street – Manchester 2016

Following my previous post on Market Street, using archive material from the 60s and 70s, I was prompted to record the current state of the street.

To the east is the Arndale, I chose to concentrate on the western elevation and the extant facades that chart a story from Victorian to Moderne – with a little rebuild, pastiche and grandiose Classicism in between.

See what you think, the sooty deposits have long been sandblasted away, much of the previous exciting noise and clutter, of above eye level signage ceases to shout, from just below the rooftops.

It’s a cleaner, leaner and possibly meaner world.

It always pays to look up – just don’t inadvertently bump into things.

Market Street – Manchester


City streets are by their nature subject to movement and change, things literally come and go – in milliseconds, days and decades. People and places are shaped by the forces of function and fashion, economics and history.

Before the Arndale,  pre-pedestrianisation, Market Street, from the Fifties until the Seventies, was one of Manchester’s key arterial, retail thoroughfares. Mixing mixed traffic, shops, cafés and restaurants, bars, cinemas, offices and administration.

The architectural skyline, had the raggedy silhouette, of a century of build and rebuild.

Lower your eyes, there’s Classical, Gothic, Baroque, local Rococo, Deco, Moderne and Modern – that’s right Madam no two the same, four for a pound, get it while you can.

Lower still, things are still never still, a riot of colour in black and white Vitrolite.

Neon abounds, the names are never changed to protect the innocent.

Local traders are slowly replaced by national and international multinationals.

You have nothing to lose but but your chain-store now.




Henry Cohen came to Manchester around 1880. In 1910 he opened a men’s clothing outlet at the corner of Market Street called the Smart Outfitting Company. Having turned down a chance to join Marks and Spencer, he eventually built his department store in Market Street which opened in 1923. Henry’s Stores was redeveloped in the early 60’s acquiring an extension and a unifying Modernist façade, the site and store was acquired by BHS in the mid 60’s.

Rylands Building is a Grade II listed building in the building was originally built as a warehouse by the Rylands textile company which was founded by John Rylands. The building was designed by the eminent Manchester architects, Fairhursts, in an Art Deco style. It is clad in Portland stone and features a decorative corner tower and eclectic ‘zig zag’ window lintels.

Following a fire, in 1957, which totally destroyed the premises of Paulden’s Department Store, in All Saints, the company acquired the Rylands warehouse building and converted it to a store. This was then a direct rival to the Lewis’s store, on the opposite side of Market Street. In 1973 Debenhams, the owner of Pauldens rebranded the store in their name. Since that time it has remained Debenhams.

Marks and Spencers and Burton’s both undertook extensive Modernist building in the early 60’s on on the Corporation Street site, neither have survived. The Chelsea Girl steel frontageUCP Restaurant beloved of the Manchester Modernists, Kardomah Café and countless other landmarks are long gone. Lewis’s has become Primark.

The double indignity of the Arndale and a bomb have changed things forever.

Nothing stands still – this is Market Street.

With thanks to




















































Chelsea Girl







Precinct – Stalybridge

The dissipated filling, in an Aldi and Tesco sandwich, a flat roofed, concrete and brick sixties shopping development, a precinct.

Small towns typically comprise of several retail developments, of various vintages, chasing diminishing returns, in ever expanding rectangles.

Stalybridge is no exception, once a bustling mill town, it sought salvation in a hedonistic mini-break by the River Tame, party industry.


The bright lights of the society of the spectacle, now extinguished, burnt brightly in Bar Liquid, Club Rififi, H2O and Amber Lounge.

Walking the streets today, a meagre spread of shoppers, hardened daytime drinkers and lost souls.

Bids were made for a Portas Pilot, Mary contrarily resisted.

The Northern Powerhouse hits the buffers.

The Buffet prevails.

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Launderette – Stalybridge

Tucked away in an arcade, far from Arcadian – not far from Baz’s Off Licence.

The launderette.

Yet another testament to the partial persistence of industrial technology.

No Longer in Use.

A happy hotch-potch of signs, surfaces and sixties design.

Informal formica, stripped bare strip lighting, wobbly laminate walls.

Watch and wait, whilst the World and your washing whirl.


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All 98 #192 Bus Stops

There there are 98 stops on the 192  route, between Manchester and Hazel Grove.

– I know because I walked them all.

Sunday morning roads relatively free of traffic.

Some stops peopled some not.

Zigzagging the A6 to record a consistent sequence.

The bus stops here.

Castle House – Sheffield

I want it.

Historic England want it.

Hopefully you and the people of Sheffield want it,

– anyway it’s listed.

“1964 by George S Hay, Chief Architect for CWS, with interior design by Stanley Layland, interior designer for CWS. Reinforced concrete with Blue Pearl granite tiles and veneers, grey granite tiles and veneers, buff granite blocks, glass, and brick.”

The Liberal Democrat Council objected,  saying

“It could be a major barrier to regenerating Castlegate.”

There is now the possibility of redevelopment as a creative hub.

It was a Co-op on the grandest of scales.

It has it all, public art, monolithic proportions and finish, bags of detail and scale in abundance. A fascinating building to explore and certainly one that fills my little heart with joy in superabundance

A building of period distinction, it deserves its preservation.

We do not require another patch of steel and wilfully wayward clad nowheresville non- architecture, replete with aspirational retail agogo.

Go see it soon!

The Tudor Café – Stockport

On Lower Hillgate, almost next door to where it used to be, there stands The Tudor Café.

Almost where it has almost always stood.

Other businesses have come and gone, happily it prevails.

The cheapest tastiest grub in town.

An interior festooned with tea towels.

Tables polka dotted, teas hot.

Signs inside and out, some of them inside out.

Greetings from Gdansk.

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Washeteria – Hastings

Don’t forget to forget.

Big is not large, not small.

This is a dirty blue,  washed-out pale yellow, Alice in Wonderland un-wonderful land.

Time will not stand still – you’re in a spin, oh what a spin that you’re in.

Walk in, wash and wish.

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Hastings – Arthur Green’s

Facing happily out to sea, hard by Hastings promenade, sits Arthur Green’s, former menswear shop of some considerable distinction. Currently operating as an antiques centre, the whole of the perfectly preserved, period interior is now listed by English Heritage.

A mosaic porch and glass lined vestibule, invite you into a palace of dark hardwood fittings, capacious drawers, glass fronted cabinets, and an ornately carved cashiers booth, all topped off and lit by crystal chandeliers.

Few such example still exist intact, their contents usually ripped out, ripped off and reinstalled in chi-chi overpriced, cosmopolitan boutiques – suits you sir?

I think not!

My thanks to the helpful and patient staff who informed and facilitated my mooching.

Take a walk along the front – pop in.

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Launderette – London Road St Leonards

Mid blue linoleum tiles, patched here there.

And everywhere.



In an uncertain universe, you can almost always rely on the launderette, to guide you on life’s soapy journey, through a complex series of immutable do’s and don’ts, arrows, slots, buttons and bows.

Giant is the new big is the new large.

I feel so small.

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The Wash Inn – Hastings

Standing alone in an unattended laundrette can be a chilling experience, a heightened state of awareness abounds, accentuating that all pervasive absence of presence.

The unseen hand, that write the notes, that speak to you in emphatic hurried caps, pinned or taped precisely on the walls.

The ghosts of clothes, still warm, now gone.

A Proust defying amalgam of aromas, that almost fills the air.

Just you and a series of slots, demotic instructions, care worn utilitarian surfaces and time.

Wash Inn get out.

Llanidloes – Shopfronts

In the heart of Wales, former centre of the flannel industry, stands Llanidloes.

Through civic pride, love and local doggedness, the decorative shopfront prevails unabashed.

The finest selection of carved and moulded wooden filigree, hand painted signs, large open panes, tile work and the odd suspended folk-art sheep, adorn substantial Victorian properties, rich in the market town tradition of controlled opulence. A varied typology, the majority continuing to trade, the odd domestic conversion retaining its retail characteristics, whilst maintaining its modesty, behind tightly drawn net curtains.

Go take a look.

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Margate – Batchelor’s Patisserie

Idly meandering through Cliftonville, along Northdown Road, I chanced upon the most delightful of cake shop windows. Being something of an aficionado of cakes, shops and windows it seemed like an ideal opportunity to snap away, with customary broad-smiling, wide-eyed enthusiasm. Furthermore why not go in? I was met with the most charming of receptions from the patron Stuart Turner and staff – not unreasonably inquisitive regarding my impromptu picture taking, I explained my particular interest in the patisserie. The interior of the 50’s bakery, shop and café is perfectly preserved, with a little sympathetic restorative work. Well upholstered and formica topped the furniture is the finest of its kind, each table graced with fresh flowers, condiments and loving care and attention. An exquisite array of breads, pastries and cakes, resting on delicate doilies, displayed in glass fronted cases. I encourage you to visit, take tea, take cake, take away the fondest of sweet memories.

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Pottons – Cliftonville Margate

Should you, as I did wander down Northdown Road, Cliftonville, you will chance upon Pottons at 262.

By now however, ingress is more than somewhat inhibited.

It’s closed.

The most exciting and extant period fascia, once gave way to oak fittings and fixtures festooned with all manner of menswear, exotic and plain accoutrements, now inaccessible.

It’s gone.

A few sad remnants were on sale, administered in their final days by Lorraine, employed for 35 years in a family business, whose trade had once included made to measure, fine millinery and quality accessories for the discerning gent around town.

No more.

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