A Scottish wheatsheaf

wheatsheaf-stonehavenIn Scotland last weekend to take various co-op photos (although really Scotland won’t feature a great deal in the co-op architecture book) as well as looking round the Verdant Works in Dundee. So here is doubtless one of very many wheatsheaves which I expect to see over the next few years, this one indicating the lovely art deco former co-op bakery at Stonehaven, near Aberdeen. Not sure if this is ceramic tile or enamel, probably the former. Similar signs show a cow or bull’s head, a basket of grocery and a pestle and mortar. The little row of shops connects with the even more wonderfully art deco Carron Restaurant to the rear, originally opened by the local co-op in 1937 and now functioning again (privately) after restoration. The second photo relates to my last book on industrial architecture, and shows the huge Cox’s Stack at Dundee’s Camperdown Works (jute of course) seen from above at the Law, a volcanic plug which looks down over the city. Quite a treat to see the chimney from above after staring up at it when trying to fit it into a photo from ground level. Liverpool next for more photos.


Unity in Wakefield

dsc01202aThis is the first of what I hope will be many blogs on the architecture of the co-operative movement; the image is a detail of the Unity Works in Wakefield, as it is known in its newly (mostly, work is ongoing) restored state. It was built by Wakefield Industrial Co-operative Society from 1876 onward as Unity House, and came to include several shops and a splendidly large Great Hall with wonderful stained glass including pics of beehives. The wheatsheaf and the beehive constantly crop up in co-op imagery. Co-op buildings ranged from the better known shops and emporiums through warehouses and many factories to mills and much more. There’s still interest in these buildings now, especially the shops (just look on any photo sharing website), but the loss of most of the factories and warehouses has left the retail premises without the distribution network which supplied them. Fortunately there are many fine buildings still with us, not just in what might be called the co-op’s northern heartlands, but throughout the country. As for the Unity Works, lovely architecture aside it is well worth a visit, with a great café.

Edinburgh mural

City Art Centre muralBriefly in Edinburgh this week, I enjoyed tea and cake at the café in the City Art Centre, with its lively mural (1980) by William Crosbie (1915-99). The design is perfect for its setting, and Crosbie himself supervised the mural’s restoration in the late 1990s. Sadly, as you can see from the photo, the mural is now in rather a sorry state, with parts blistering and paint coming off. It is certainly a difficult environment for a mural, with lots of steam and similar tea-making activities taking place. Let’s hope it can be re-restored and last for at least another couple of decades.

Industrial architecture book published!

IndustArch cover smallUpdate: the book is published! Pleased to say I now have an advance copy of Victorian and Edwardian British Industrial Architecture, published by the Crowood Press in June 2016. I hope you’ll agree the cover looks good, even at low resolution! The front cover shows Paine’s Mill in Thetford, what remains of a former flour mill, a lovely gothic monument now serving as housing. Now available from the Crowood Press website, and soon elsewhere.




IndustArch back cover small

Southern infrastructure

Newhaven incinerator Shoreham Cement WorksJust completed walking the South Downs Way, and aside from the stupendous rural and seaside views, there were some really juicy bits of infrastructure. Probably the newest was the highly controversial incinerator at Newhaven (far left). Not having seen this before, it looked like a rather handsome winter garden, shining in the sunshine albeit sprouting a huge chimney. Probably looks a lot better from the Downs than it does on the ground, although I think it adds to the view, doesn’t detract. Same goes for the stadium at Falmer, which is a real eyeful from Ditchling Beacon and then slowly disappears as one walks east. In reality it is pretty large and looms above people arriving at the station. Near left is Shoreham Cement Works, actually nearer Upper Beeding. There’s been a quarry on the site since the mid-19th century, and production at the plant stopped in 1991. Since then several attempts at redevelopment have been postulated, usually involving housing, though one of the latest is an eco-park with homes for hobbits….. Back down south for the Victorian Society’s Study Day ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ on Saturday 7 May, see http://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/events/roll-out-the-barrel-beer-brewing-and-buildings-study-day/

Line shafting heaven in Bradford

DSC00754Made my first visit to Bradford Industrial Museum recently, and what an excellent place it is, packed full of working (check before you go, as they say) textile and other machinery. The line shafting on the ground floor of the mill is the best display I’ve seen, while the assorted weaving and spinning machines upstairs are brilliant, really make the process come to life. Indeed, one of the machines is so complex, bits of metal ‘arms’ waving in all directions, that it almost seems alive. It is a huge place, with lots more to see, including some good enamelled metal adverts. It was originally Moorside Mills – congratulations to Bradford Council for keeping it open and retaining the free admission policy. Well worth a visit.




Beer and heraldry

robinsons unicornThis unicorn from Robinson’s Brewery in Stockport features in a paper I gave on beer and heraldry almost two years ago, to a conference partly organised by the Heraldry Society in London. It has now been published on the web, part of a wide-ranging collection of papers from the conference. It is an illustrated pdf available at Beer and heraldry.