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. A bench in the sadly neglected Marshall Gardens on the banks of the River Mersey.
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Last weekend I went along to one of my favourite events of the year, The Oktoberfest Beer Festival, held annually in Warrington’s Parr Hall on Palmyra Square. The beer festival works on several levels for me, first of course is the beer, while I’m not a big drinker I do enjoy a craft ale or beer, something that’s a little different and stands a little outside the mainstream. All told there was over one hundred ales, ciders, perrys and lagers to choose from this year. I wasn’t heroic enough to try and work myself through the whole list, just a few halves of the darker ales which are a favourite of mine. As well as the drink there’s also live music, which year on year has never failed to impress and adds to the atmosphere where people have come along to enjoy a drink and explore what’s new on the flavour front, and there’s always food. The events are organised by the local Rotary Club with the proceeds going to support local charities.
Enough with the words, on with the pictures, though I would point out that any drops in quality are due to me being there to enjoy a night out and not strictly for blogging purposes.That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 With over seventy ales to choose from making a decision can take a bit of time.
WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 faces in the crowd in the main room.
WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 The reason for the whole event, a pinmt of real ale, in this case it was Rev James Gold from the Brains of Cardiff brewery. I fancied a change from the dark stouts.
WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 As well as the real ales on offer there’s always some food to keep you going. This is my Currywirst & chips. I know that not everyone will find them appealing but believe me they were very good at the time.
WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 Music by The Escape Commitee.
WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 at the back of the main hall by the Cider & Perry bar.
WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 The main hall with the Lazy River Jazz band bringing a taste of New Orleans to downtown Warrington.
WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 No Stamp Required take to the stage on the last night of the event, bringing to life a great selection of 70’s & 80’s hits.
This is The Escape Committee at work.
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Which is what the guy in the header shot was. It was taken in Warrington a little while ago, I had travelled in one Sunday to meet up with friends for coffee, cake and gossip and of course one of my cameras came along for the ride. Coffee etc done I was making my way back to the car when I passed this gentleman sat on one of the granite benches that are a feature of the main shopping area. This area was heavily revamped some time ago with a series of fountains and other architectural features, spotlit colonnades, columns etc. He was sat in a pose of quiet contemplation and seemed completely at ease with the world around and his whole ensemble of stylish hat, denim jacket, rolled up jeans and well worn army boots were just too good an image to miss. I did contemplate trying to grab an image on the sly but the set was just too good to risk spoiling with an inferior shot. So I approached and asked if He minded me taking a shot, and with the bare minimum off effort he agreed with a quiet ‘If you must’. Which was a pleasant change to the omnipresent offer for your camera to go somewhere anatomically tricky. So thanks again and hats off to the cool guy.
I like candids and street photography and I always try and take a few when I am out and about. The puzzle is always do you you move through the crowds and take on the move or take up a strategic position and let the crowds pass you or do a combination of both. I know that Henri Cartier Bresson is claimed the king of candids but I have a great liking for the images of Eugene Atget which are ‘of the street’ and feature very few people. The detail in them is superb but then he was using a plate camera as opposed to 35mm. Atget concentrates on architectural detail and was recording Paris at a time of great redevelopments so a lot of what he captured has now disappeared.
This chimes with another photographer whose work I really like, the Newcastle upon Tyne based Jimmy Forsyth who recorded the changes in and around the city during the upheavals of the T. Dan Smith era when great swathes of terraced housing and other links with the city’s past were swept away. Forsyth was self taught and had suffered an injury which cost him most of the sight in one eye and to earn a little extra money he also took photographs of the people around him and these images also play their part as a social record. In some instances these Forsyth photographs would be the only pictures that a family would have of themselves, owning a camera being an out of reach luxury. So thanks to his efforts , someone’s party dress, new jacket, Christmas cowboy outfit along with the corner shop, visit to the market and the local bus have all been preserved. These things are sometimes written off as the ephemera of life but they are missed when they are gone and as families fragment more these bygone images serve in the place of the oral tradition of tales being passed down from generation to generation.