Tuesday, 29 April 2014

An Urban Wander around Birmingham, part 1

With a lunchtime meeting in Birmingham, this theoretically gave me an opportunity for a bit of a lie-in. Did I take it? No, of course not. Instead I took an earlier train and spent some time before my meeting doing a bit of Urban Wandering. I can't remember the last time I went to Birmingham, probably as a spotty youth when we used to travel up there from Cheltenham for concerts. I certainly had not discovered the delights of Urban Wandering or Psychogeography by then. 

As seems to have happened more and more recently, I ended up with a lot of pictures that I had trouble selecting from to form a single blog post, so this post will be split into separate installments to make it more digestible.

Having previously seen some pictures from Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, I decided to pay a visit there to see for myself. I was quite pleased with my haul for the day, starting off with this canal scene. With more time on my hands I would have tried to walk along the towpath, but I had other intentions. 

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, Birmingham
Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, Birmingham

Of course my ultimate goal was to find as many ghost signs as I could, and to seek out urban abandonment. I was not disappointed.

First up we have a ghost sign for

DERWENT FOUNDRY

Ghost sign, Mary Ann Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham
Ghost sign, Mary Ann Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

and just further down the same road, another ghost sign for

TAYLOR &
CHALLEN 

who were apparently lathe makers with quite a presence in the city.

Ghost sign, Mary Ann Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham
 Ghost sign, Mary Ann Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

Heading towards the western edge of the Jewellery Quarter I came across scenes of urban abandonment, urban decay, and urban regeneration in Legge Lane. Whilst many of the surrounding buildings have disappeared, what is left seems like it is being maintained and will thus be hopefully (tastefully) restored.

Urban abandonment, decay and regeneration in Legge Lane, Birmingham
Urban abandonment, decay and regeneration in Legge Lane, Birmingham

Urban abandonment, decay and regeneration in Legge Lane, Birmingham
Urban abandonment, decay and regeneration in Legge Lane, Birmingham


Urban abandonment, decay and regeneration in Legge Lane, Birmingham
Urban abandonment, decay and regeneration in Legge Lane, Birmingham

Urban abandonment, decay and regeneration in Legge Lane, Birmingham
 Urban abandonment, decay and regeneration in Legge Lane, Birmingham

Derelict building, Legge Lane, Birmingham
Derelict building, Legge Lane, Birmingham

Derelict building, Legge Lane, Birmingham
Derelict building, Legge Lane, Birmingham

Amongst the derelict buildings there was still plenty of signs of life, both past and present, including this ghost sign for

MANTON
SILVERSMITH & CUT GLASS
MANUFACTURER


Ghost sign, Legge Lane, Birmingham
Ghost sign, Legge Lane, Birmingham

Given the number of pictures I still have to post, I think this will almost certainly extend to another three part series, so keep an eye out for parts 2 and 3.


    

Monday, 21 April 2014

A Coastal Wander around Westward Ho!

Having recently returned from a glorious week away in Devon, I have plenty of photographs to share, in fact probably too many, so I've decided to share some now, and save others for later in the year should my real time wanders dry up and I need to resort to archive material. Don't worry though, you're unlikely to find me sharing pictures of the family on the beach, but more of my usual pictures of ghost signs, abandonment and decay found during various psychogeographical wanders.

I'm not completely sure whether this outdoor pool is still in use or not. The surrounds of the pool look fairly well kept and possibly even recently renovated. However, on a bright but fresh weekend in mid April it was certainly not being used.

Tidal, outdoor, seawater pool, Westward Ho!, Devon
Tidal, outdoor, seawater pool, Westward Ho!, Devon

Tidal, outdoor, seawater pool, Westward Ho!, Devon
 Tidal, outdoor, seawater pool, Westward Ho!, Devon

A bit further along the coast is this amazing house, Seafield House, which has seen better days and seems perilously close to falling off the cliff on to the rocky beach below. It would seem to still be inhabited, so these pictures are taken from outside the gates. It does seem to have gone through some attempt at restoration ... it even has its own web site and facebook page !!

Abandoned boat, Westward Ho!, Devon
Abandoned boat, Westward Ho!, Devon

Abandoned cars, Westward Ho!, Devon
Abandoned cars, Westward Ho!, Devon

Seafield House, Westward Ho!, Devon
Seafield House, Westward Ho!, Devon

Seafield House, Westward Ho!, Devon
Seafield House, Westward Ho!, Devon

Seafield House, Westward Ho!, Devon
Seafield House, Westward Ho!, Devon

    

Sunday, 20 April 2014

An Urban Wander from Shoreditch to Hackney (part 3 of 3, Hackney Gasworks)

At last, here's the third and final installment of my, now not so recent, urban wander from Shoreditch to Hackney. Whilst parts one and two covered Shoreditch to Hoxton and Hoxton to Cambridge Heath, this one focuses on a more specific area, the Hackney gasworks. I had no intention of ending up here, must just be remarkable coincidence that my recent passion for power stations and gasworks, inspired by this wonderful book, guided me unwittingly to this location.

With a construction of this size, naturally it was visible from some distance away. Having not been here before I wasn't quite sure how to approach it and whether I could get much closer.

Hackney gasworks, London E2
Hackney gasworks, London E2

As I headed towards it I passed a derelict building in the distance. I was a little nervous of straying into what was clearly someone's property to get a decent picture, so had to make do with a couple of distance shots. With the yellow Ford Capri in the foreground I almost felt I could have been entering the set of an episode of the Sweeney or the Professionals.

Derelict building and Ford Capri, Hackney, London E2
Derelict building and Ford Capri, Hackney, London E2

Derelict building and Ford Capri, Hackney, London E2
 Derelict building and Ford Capri, Hackney, London E2

I was getting closer to the gasworks, but they were still obscured by more modern buildings.

Hackney gasworks, London E2
 Hackney gasworks, London E2

Finally as I neared the canal, I found a much better view, and as luck would have it, was just as the sun was beginning to set.

Sun setting over Hackney gasworks, London E2
Sun setting over Hackney gasworks, London E2

Sun setting over Hackney gasworks, London E2
Sun setting over Hackney gasworks, London E2

Sun setting over Hackney gasworks, London E2
Sun setting over Hackney gasworks, London E2

I would have liked to have had time to cross the canal and see what views of the gasworks there were from the other side, but that will have to wait for another day. As I made my way back towards the city, I came across this tower on the road between Cambridge Heath and Bethnal Green stations. Unfortunately I couldn't find anything about it, either when I was there nor afterwards. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Unidentified tower, Cambridge Heath road, London E2
Unidentified tower, Cambridge Heath road, London E2

Unidentified tower, Cambridge Heath road, London E2
Unidentified tower, Cambridge Heath road, London E2


    

Thursday, 17 April 2014

An Urban Wander from Shoreditch to Hackney (part 2 of 3, Hoxton to Cambridge Heath)

Later than I had originally hoped for, but here at last is the second installment of my Shoreditch to Hackney wander. This part covers the drift from Hoxton towards Cambridge Heath.

Until recently I'd never much cared for graffiti or street art, but often it can brighten up an otherwise dreary area. I particularly liked this hare.

Street art on Hackney Road, London
Street art on Hackney Road, London

Most ghost signs generally are written left to right, so it's always a pleasant surprise to find one with vertical lettering. Unfortunately I am at a loss to work out what this one says, other than:

?? ING ?? ES

Also, and this may simply be my imagination, but there almost seems to be an eerie image of a face in the brickwork to the right of the lettering.

Ghost sign just off the Hackney Road, London
Ghost sign just off the Hackney Road, London

Not quite sure what to make of this next picture. I had half a mind not to include it, but it does hold a certain curiosity. The ornate brickwork around the door frame, the basic graffiti, the more elaborate street art in the centre and to the right of the door, and what looks like a daffodil, lonely discarded in front of the boarded up door.

Boarded up doorway on Hackney Road, London
Boarded up doorway on Hackney Road, London

No doubt about what this ghost sign says:

PLYWOOD
IMPORTERS

Ghost sign on Hackney Road, London
Ghost sign on Hackney Road, London

This next ghost sign is a double, if not perhaps a triple, and appears to have been revealed (not sure how recently) by the removal of a more modern advertising board.

The deeper ghost sign reads

CABINET MAKERS
UPHOLSTERERS

whereas the more recent, red one reads

MODERN ????
???????
UPHOLSTERERS &
????????

Ghost sign on Minerva Street, London E2
Ghost sign on Minerva Street, London E2

If anyone missed the first part of thos urban wander then it can be found at An Urban Wander from Shoreditch to Hackney (part 1 of 3, Shoreditch to Hoxton).

Stay tuned folks, the third and final installment will be posted in the next few days.

    

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