Warrington. A Neglected Corner.

The River Mersey is rightly associated with Liverpool, the port city that stands at it’s mouth. This though is only the triumphant end for the river which starts it’s journey high in the Pennines as the Rivers Goyt and Tame.

As it loops through north Cheshire, heading for the sea, it passes through the town of Warrington, a place with a fine industrial heritage and on the southern bank, just by the bridge over the river, is a quiet, rather forlorn space. This is Marshall Gardens.

The Gardens were opened in 1958 and named after a former Mayor and town Alderman. In there pomp the gardens boasted elegant flower beds and well tended lawns, representing a time when people sat and watched the world go by. A time when birdsong and flowers were real and not viewed via a tablet screen. All now sadly gone. The birdsong drowned out by the increasing traffic noise from the nearby expanding road junctions, the flowerbeds and herbaceous borders grubbed out or overrun by weeds.

Plans occasionally surface to relocate the towns War Memorial to the gardens, it to is currently surrounded by traffic on the opposite side of the bridge from the Gardens. It would be good to hope that at some point fresh life would be breathed into this unhappy little corner.

WARRINGTON. Marshall Gardens. A Bench.

WARRINGTON. A bench in the sadly neglected Marshall Gardens on the banks of the River Mersey.

 

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Preston. A Visit To The Moon.

I’ve recently paid a visit to the moon, I know that sounds a bit extreme so let me explain.

PRESTON. Herris Museum.

Museum of The Moon.

 

My lunar trip took place thanks to excellent Harris Museum in Preston, Lancashire. Until the 24th of February the museum is hosting the stunning art instillation ‘The Museum Of The Moon’ created by the artist Luke Jerram, it’s also accompanied by a soundtrack from the composer Dan Jones.

03-02-19 HARRIS MUSEUM . Museum Of The Moon D

The artwork is a 23 feet high model of the Moon created from NASA survey photographs and is on tour to various locations around the world, both indoors and out. At the Harris it’s suspended in the atrium which runs through the centre of the building which stands on the town’s Market Square and dates form the 1890’s. As well as containing an absorbing collection of items and artworks, as well as the city’s library, the building also hosts touring exhibitions.

03-02-19 HARRIS MUSEUM . Museum Of The Moon C

PRESTON. Herris Museum.

Harris Museum. Museum of the Moon.

If you are in the area and want to meet the Moon close up you have until the 24th February, or you can track it as it travels around.

 

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Chorley. Snowdrops In Astley Park.

The Seasons are turning warm, the days are getting slowly longer and the sun is becoming less shy about being seen out and about. Today started a bit on the grim side with a slow fog lazing about but by the mid morning it had largely burnt away so I decided to make a break for it before the weather closed in again.

I decided to head for the market town of Chorley, about an hour’s drive away, sometimes less if the traffic is behaving itself. When I drive to Chorley I generally leave the car in Astley Park, it’s just off the town centre and it makes for a pleasant walk. The main path is straight and clear from the front of the house, see the headline shot, but there are also paths that wander through the woodlands, over bridges and past burbling streams. These would have been used as an elegant diversion for the occupants of the house through the years.

As is the way with these things, ownership of the house passed through different families, either by marriage or a family line dying out. The Charnocks, Brookes and Townley-Parkers all owned the house at one time, eventually it passed into the care of the council in the 1920’s It’s open now at weekends and contains a fantastically impressive plasterwork ceiling as well as a gallery and exhibition space.

The impressive frontage with it’s lion capped doorway dates from the 1660’s, being built onto the original timber frames house. Alas it was a bit of a rushed job and became slightly detached, the floor of the long gallery now has an impressive set of bumps and hollows as you promenade along it. I’ve also heard that it may be haunted….

On a lighter note the old stable block has a really good cafe.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Hall Snowdrops.

CHORLEY. Snowdrops in Astley Park.

One treat of today is that the snowdrops, Galanthus Nivalis, as my late father’s gardening books tell me are now out in profusion and they added that striking burst of white whenever the sun broke through the clouds that were cartwheeling across the sky. A pleasant bonus on a crisp day, I might try and catch them again before they fade.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Hall Snowdrops.

CHORLEY. Snowdrops in Astley Park.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Hall Snowdrops.

CHORLEY. Snowdrops in Astley Park.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Hall Snowdrops.

CHORLEY. Snowdrops in Astley Park.

14/02/19  CHORLEY. Astley Park. The Hall. Walled Garden.

CHORLEY. Astley Hall in Astley Park. The Walled garden and recentley restored greenhouse.

 

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Birmingham. The Jewellery Quarter, Waiting For A Tram.

I took a trip down to Birmingham a few days ago. It’s a city I enjoy visiting though as yet I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of the place. I’d had a good look around, finding places I had visited before and seeing what changes had happened since my last time there.

I had been using the trams system to speed up getting around, the West Midland Metro, currently it links Birmingham with Wolverhampton with extensions to the system underway or planned.

I was on my way back to the city when I broke my journey at the Jewellery Quarter, the cities famed area for all that glitters and glistens. After a little bit of window shopping, all I can afford at this time of year! I headed back towards the tram station. It was while I was waiting I noticed that the light was beginning to take on that glow that happened when the natural light and the street light start to hit a sort of balance, plus a light fog began to form as the temperature slid down and night time slid in by the back door.

I took this shot just as my tram into the city rumbled into the platform, stations of any kind always have a romance to them for me. Those hints of travel, of other people’s journeys. This was added to as a train pulled into the adjacent rail platforms, full of people being about their business on a cold Saturday evening in January.

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Welshpool. An Unexpected Journey.

It was towards the end of October and the weather had picked itself up from the grey doldrums. Not wanting to waste this bonus of sunshine I took myself off by train. I had decided to go down to the Welsh borderlands and travelled on to Chester and then Shrewsbury. It’s a pleasant, easy journey that I’ve taken quite a few times.

From Shrewsbury I decided to head out to the market town of Welshpool, it sits on the Montgomery Canal and it’s an area I know little if anything about. If nothing else it would be an interesting journey, I would have a meal and pick up ideas for next years when the longer, warmer days return.

The journey out wasn’t a long one and the station at Welshpool is not too far from the town centre. The old station building is no longer in use by the railway but instead is now a shopping centre in the renovated building.

I knew that Welshpool was served by one of the many preserved narrow gauge lines that are a feature of Wales, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, so I made my way over to the station at Raven Square to see what information was available for future planning. The railway has it’s beginnings in attempts to increase access to the farms and villages in the valleys higher up in the hills and at one time it ran right through then town to the station on the main line. Unfortunately between it’s closure and reopening at the hands of volunteers the stretch through the town was lost.

When I got to the station, it’s not a long walk and it was a really pleasant day, I found that I was only fifteen minutes away from a departure so I took advantage of this stroke of luck and had an extremely enjoyable journey along the valley of the River Banwy to the terminus at Llanfair Caereinion and a lunch in the pleasant station cafe.

It’s definitely on my list for a revisit in 2019.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. The Powysland Museum.

WELSHPOOL. The Powysland Museum on the Montgomery Canal. The museum has its roots in the Powysland Club which was formed in the 1860’s by a group of like minded souls who had in interest in the history of the area, since 1990 the museum has been based in the warehouse alongside the Mongomery Canal. the canal is undergoing a proces of restoration after many years of decline where stretches of it became un-navigable through a build up of rubbish or by draining.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. Broad Street.

WELSHPOOL. Looking up Broad Street, one of the main shopping streets in the town. In the distance is the tower of the town hall, the town’s market which is open Monday to Saturday, is housed in the ground floor of the town hall. Up until the early 1830’s Welshpool, four miles from the border with England, was known simply as Pool, the Welsh was added to avoid confusion with Poole in Dorset.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square Station which lie just on the edge of the town centre. Originally when built the railway carried on through then centre of Welshpool to link up with the main line at the Cambrian Railways station on the opposite side of the town. The station buildings were obtained from Eardisley in Herefordshire and rebuilt to form the Raven Square station.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Raven Square station, the two o’clock departure to Llanfair Caereinion gets ready to leave. Because the railway’s guage of 2’6″ is an unusual one in the UK the railway has sourced carriaged from abroad giving the trains an individual and continental look.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square

WELSHPOOL. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Raven Square station, the two o’clock departure to Llanfair Caereinion gets ready to leave. Loco 823 Countess swaps ends for the jopurney back up to Llanfair. The loco is one of the two original locomotives built for the line’s opening in1903, the other being the Earl. Their names are in honour of the Earl and Countess of Powis who were heavily involved in the beginnings of the line.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL. Refilling The Boiler.

WELSHPOOL & LLANFAIR Light Rly. Welshpool Raven Square Station refilling the boiler of loco 823 Countess ready for the next journey out to Llanfair. There’s a lot of heavy work involved in running a light railway.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL& Llanfair Light Rly. Through The Trees.

WELSHPOOL. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, running through the trees near Llanfair. The railway takes and eight mile route from Welshpool to Llanfair Caereinion along the valley of the River Banwy.

20/10/18  WELSHPOOL& Llanfair Light Rly. Lineside.

WELSHPOOL. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, lineside views near Sylfaen.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. 823 Countess at the country terminus and headquarters of the railway.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. loco No 85 a former Sierra Leone Ralways locomotive built by Hunslett of Leeds. The loco is currently awaiting restoration.

20/10/18  LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railwa

LLANFAIR CAEREINION. Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. The station at Llanfair, headquarters and engineering base for the railway. The attractive little village is situated by the River Banwy which can be enjoyed by a series of walks from the station.

 

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RIVINGTON. Sunlight And Old Stones.

High on the sometimes bleak West Pennine Moors in between the Lancashire towns of Horwich and Chorley there’s a hilltop rich in trees, with here and there the remains of buildings showing through. These are the Terraced Gardens, the creation of local businessman William Lever, later 1st Viscount Leverhulme. I’ve been visiting the gardens since my childhood and have seen the ebb and flow of their condition over time. The gardens were an extravagant mix of pathways and follies, the designer was Thomas Mawson. From the top of the gardens there are views right across the plain of Lancashire to the coast.

Leverhulme created the gardens at the turn of the 1900’s, he was familiar with the area from his courting days and the gardens were heavily influenced by his travels. He made his fortune by building on his family’s grocery business, creating the very successful Sunlight Soap brand along the way. His main home was on the Wirral at Thornton Hough, the Wirral is also the location of the garden village of Port Sunlight which he built to house the workers from the adjacent factory. The fascinating Lady Lever Galley which houses some of the art collection built up by him and his wife and opened in her memory can also be found in Port Sunlight.

After Lord Leverhulme’s death in 1925 the estate was sold on to the owner of a local brewery and on his death the estate was bought by Liverpool Corporation who already owned much of the land in the area and had created a series of reservoirs to supply the city. The main house and the estates’ gatehouses were demolished in 1947 and the long period of decline began. Now in the hands of the water company United Utilities a program consolidation and restoration work is underway.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Seven Arch Bridge across the old road from Chorley into Horwich.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge Steps.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The steps leading down from the summer house to the Seven Arch Bridge over the old Chorley – Horwich road. Due to the steep slopes visible in this shot the gardens were laid out in a series of terraces.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Pigeon Tower.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. One of the most striking and visible features of the gardens is The Pigeon Tower seen from the boating pool. The tower was built to take advatage of the views from the highest point of the gardens. The top floor was used as a sitting & sewing room by Lady Leverhulme. as can be seen from the photo consolidation and restoration is work taking place throughout the gardens.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Swimming Pool Restorati

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The the boating pool beneath the Pigeon Tower undergoing restoration. Viscount Leverhulme being a great believer in the benefits of fresh air and exercise would occaisionally swim in the pool. Again the restoration work in progress can been seen with the new lining to the pool and the clearing away of overgrown vegetation.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Bungalow Ruins.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Lord Leverhulme’s house at Rivington was a bungalow by the name of Roynton Cottage. This tiled flooring is all that now remains of the building. Roynton Cottage replaced an earlier, wooden cottage which was burnt down in 1913 by Edith Rigby as a Sufferagette protest. The curve of the tiles runs along the edge of what had been the cicular ballroom, the ceiling of which was dark blue and decorated with gold stars representing the constellations on the night of Lord Leverhulme’s birth, 19th September, 1851.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Ruined Shelter.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The ruins of a garden shelter on the level below the site of the bungalow.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Double Staircase.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. the double staircase which leads up from the boating pool to the site of the bungalow Roynton Cottage.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages above the Japanese Pool.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  The Dell & Blue Pool Bridg

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Looking down the course of the waterfalls in the dell towards the footbridge.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Caves Above The Dell.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The man made caves alos known as The Bear Caves, on the path above the Dell.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool. Inspired by the Willow Pattern design in its heyday the pool as surrounded with tea houses lit by lanterns and was fed by waterfalls and cascades from the upper levels of the gardens.

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SHEFFIELD. Night In The City.

The clocks are changing back and the year is helter skelter-ing its way to an end. Before the days get too short to travel far I took a train trip over the Pennines to Sheffield. It’s a city built on hills with a history built on the steel industry, parts of which still survive today though modern industries are playing a larger and larger part in the local economy.

Though some of the heritage architecture is going there are still fascinating pockets of interest dotted around and about. One of my reasons for this trip was to try out the new tram train which now links Sheffield with nearby Rotherham, its an extension of the city’s existing tram network and is a combination of light rail and a repurposed heavy rail route. One of those good ideas that everybody says in the way forward but then disappears into the swamp of focus groups and consultations etc. Well its up and running now, for a period of evaluation. Go figure. It works, try it, it’s good.

I was making my way back to Sheffield’s railway station when I took these shots. It was a Saturday and in that ghost period between the shoppers having gone home and the party animals not yet arrived for a night out.

Enough words, bring on the pictures.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD. The Peace Gardens. The Fountains.

SHEFFIELD. The Fountains in the Peace Gardens on Pinstone Street by the Town Hall.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD. Tudor Square.

SHEFFIELD. Tudor Square with the Crucuble Theatre and The Lyceum Theatre.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD The Globe Howard Street.

SHEFFIELD. A beacon in the gathering dark on Howard Street stands the Globe Pub, an easy walk down the hill to the railway station and on the edge of the student quarter.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD. Arundel Gate.

SHEFFIELD. A bus speeds the Saturday shoppers home to their warm firesides as the evening closes in.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD Sheaf Square.

SHEFFIELD. A silver water featrure wall, made of the steel that gave Sheffield its fame, leads down Sheaf square to the railway station.

03/11/18  SHEFFIELD Sheaf Square. The Railway Station.

SHEFFIELD. Sheaf Square, blazing with lights, the railway station welcomes the weary traveller on a cold night.

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