They don't seem to have private entrances to banks any more. Or rather they do have, but they just don't advertise them. They are no longer carved in stone for all to see but are hidden in the shadows of the internet. It's what they call transparency.
Thursday, 26 February 2015
Why bother with subtle when you can be brash? Why mess around with a finely tuned logical argument when you can shout loud. Shout in 500 point block capitals. Shout with an arrow sharp enough to cut your skin. And pointing your product straight into the rubbish bin.
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
There are some fine works of art in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Works by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and a host of great modern artists grace the country park in West Bretton, Wakefield. But in so many ways West Yorkshire itself is one magnificent open air sculpture and architectural park. You can be buying a meat pasty in Gregg's in Cleckheaton and turn 180 degrees and see this magnificent building. You can touch it, go in it, and eat you meat pie whilst leaning against its walls.
Monday, 23 February 2015
When they built Huddersfield Co-op they must have thought it would last for years. Solid stone. The kind of carved lettering that was so quintessentially nineteen thirties, the date was almost unnecessary. The lettering of Stalin statues and Mussolini Railway Stations. Both now gone, as is Huddersfield Co-op. But I miss the co-op.
Sunday, 22 February 2015
The poor lad has been sat on the roof of the pub for decades; probably centuries. Held down by cables and arthritis. Keeping an eye on the Beast Market, keeping a light burning. Some say he is a sailor boy, others say he is Bacchus. After all these years he has a right to be who he wants to be.
Saturday, 21 February 2015
Buxton is a lovely Georgian spa town set within the beautiful Derbyshire Peak District. So what better name to give to a 1960s concrete canyon in Huddersfield town centre than Buxton Way? It is nice to think that town planners had a sense of humour back then.
Friday, 20 February 2015
The first mill is now a climbing gym. The second is an apartment block. And the River Calder still flows past them both. At one time, the dyes and the bleaches bled into the moorland water. Now it is shower spill and dishwasher waste.
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Monday, 16 February 2015
When built by the local corporation - whose municipal motto was memorably "nil sine labore" (nothing without labour) - this fine building served as both a public baths and a fire station: an unusually symbiotic relationship. Now - like so many fine buildings in Heckmondwike - it is a Tattoo Parlour ("nil sine picturae").
Saturday, 14 February 2015
Shops like R B Stead (Ironmongers) Ltd of Market Street, Heckmondwike are fast becoming an anachronism. A few decades ago they were the very building blocks of our small towns; treasure galleries of pots and pans, paints and pliers, padlocks and pins. Now they have become so rare that you stop in the street and photograph them, like some near extinct moth or a fading memory of yesterday.
Friday, 13 February 2015
"This fountain was erected by voluntary subscription of the inhabitants of Heckmondwike as a token of their loyalty and to commemorate the marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales with HRH The Princess Alexandra of Denmark, March 10 1863"
Poverty was widespread in West Yorkshire in the 1860s. The workhouses were full and bellies were empty. Infant mortality was high and wages - where work could be found - were low. So what did the burghers of Heckmondwike do? They built a fountain to celebrate a royal wedding.
Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Other towns may have their St Peter's and St Paul's: marble domes, precision-built prospects of pleasure. Halifax has a cupola, framed in cast iron and sooty glass, hung like some metallic tea-cosy over the market clock. A temple of trade, a cathedral of commerce.
Monday, 9 February 2015
You need powerful leg muscles to get up a street like this: muscles trained in factories and mills, honed to perfection carrying sacks and bales. It is the kind of street that would have made my old aunties shake their Yorkshire heads and mutter "wouldn't fancy pushing a pram up here".
Sunday, 8 February 2015
How can you incorporate so much character into a stone carving? This architectural afterthought of a carving looks out from the bank building in Commercial Street, out towards the Old Cock Yard, dreaming his masonry dreams of a pint of black and tan followed by a whisky chaser. Forever wanting to get stoned.
Saturday, 7 February 2015
Opened in 1861, Branch No 8 of the Halifax Industrial Society still exists although the industrial society itself is long gone. Even the building now looks tired and slightly unwanted. But if you squint against the winter sun you can be transported back to the days when a committee of Victorian co-operators were inspecting the architect's plans and nodding approval to the scalloped motif and the carved stone name.
Friday, 6 February 2015
Burdock Way cuts a swath through Halifax, sometimes flying high over the town, other times cutting deep into its flesh. Towards its western end it seems to peter out like an afterthought unsure as to whether to return to the sky or to skim the surface. What I never understood until I checked to see the date of the construction of the road (which was 1970-1973) was that only part of the original design was built; there was meant to be a whole third section that would eventually sweep to the south and the road to Huddersfield. It's taken me 45 years to discover that.
Thursday, 5 February 2015
The mill used to be that of Martin & Sons who, according to my old Halifax Almanac, were worsted coating manufacturers. By the middle of the twentieth century, like so many similar establishments, the weaving sheds had become silent and abandoned invoices were blown in the breeze that broke through the tired windows. Verdigris lay siege to the nameplate and the proud letters fell exhausted to the floor.
Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Some 160 years ago a group of workers living in Rastrick near Brighouse decided to establish a local co-operative society. Originally known as the Brighouse Flour and Industrial Society, over the decades the name morphed into the Brighouse Co-operative Society and by the 1970s it had lost its local identity and become absorbed into the national Co-operative movement. It left, however, a lasting legacy in its buildings, many of which still exist today and can be identified by the beehive logo carved into the stone pediment.