Questions but no answers….. it’s just not cricket!

This postcard dates from the very early 1900s (the back has a dividing line between message and address sections, which is the clue) but has not been used postally, or written on. There’s no manufacturer’s name either. The image is all we have to go on. The background doesn’t help much – appears more suburban than rural or city/town, but could also be a village pitch. Perhaps the hedges are not well enough looked after for it to be a country house. The pavilion is typically basic, of its time, timber framed on a brick base (thus the steps); the shutters probably made it reasonably secure. Facilities would have been minimal! Can’t decide whether it shows two teams or one, plus umpires/groundsmen etc. Some wearing dark trousers – umpires? The central pair, on the steps, are perhaps captain and maybe a local landowner. But who is the person behind them? Seems, from the spiffing hat and the way the jacket buttons, to be a woman – perhaps there to make the teas? The photo could possibly be the prelude to a gents versus workers type of match, on an estate, but really who knows…. Several of the lads look very like Fred Trueman!

Just add sun!

Wandered down London’s South Molton Street (next to Bond Street tube) recently to see the fantastically coloured benches I’d heard about, and indeed they are fun, multi-coloured and assorted strange shapes. Sadly, being early January, the sun never made it above the rooftops so not many people lingered, but they are a great idea. All the work of designer Camille Walala and installed last year; ten benches of different shapes along with planters. Have to come back in the summer!

The publication process begins!

The co-op architecture book – working title ‘England’s Co-operative Movement: An Architectural History’ – has survived its peer review (thanks to the reader for the helpful comments) and is now starting to wend its way through the Liverpool University Press production process. This is not a quick business, and things happen at about the speed of this horse-powered milk float from the Newport Pagnell Co-operative Society. Current estimate of publication date is late autumn next year, so one for the 2020 Christmas list!

Miner at the Manx Museum

Manx Museum minerBack from the Isle of Man, and many thanks to the island’s Victorian Society for all their kindness and hospitality. This miner, in glass reinforced concrete, is one of several such impressive (and expressive) images by David Gilbert on the exterior of the 1986-7 wing of the Manx Museum. I made it to the top of Snaefell, but can’t wait to go back to the island for more splendid seafood and excellent beer!

Co-op architecture book complete!

It’s taken a while, but the co-op architecture book is now complete and with the publisher, Liverpool University Press, who will publish it under the Historic England imprint sometime in 2020 hopefully. The whole project has lasted about five fascinating years, travelling around looking at co-op buildings and delving into archives. Thanks to all the staff at the many libraries and archives visited, especially the National Co-operative Archive in Manchester, with whom I shared the joys of working while the surrounding co-op estate was being renovated! Never a day without scaffolding….. These two pics, art deco Tamworth and brutalist Aberdeen, show just how varied co-op architecture can be. Can’t wait to see the proofs.

Co-op architecture book progress report

Just getting my head up from writing for a quick progress report – the book is now two-thirds written, so not too long to go. Then I have to write the captions! Enjoyed a trip to sunny Manchester to see the Co-op Quarter looking good, now refurbishment heading towards completion. What makes the area stand out is not simply the height of the buildings, there are many others in the city of a similar or greater height, but their density on the ground; the roads between are very narrow.