Archive for June, 2008

The Folkestone Saga – Triennial Precedes Demolition of Victorian Landmark

June 24, 2008
There has been good media coverage (BBC Culture Show and the Architects Journal to name but two) of the current Folkestone Triennial.  What has seemingly escaped most reporters is that the same organisation sponsoring this contemporary art-fest will shortly be responsible for the wholesale destruction of Folkestone’s spectacular harbour bridges, and railway link to the rest of the UK.  Laughingly, the Triennial bills itself as “Sculpture, photography, film, installations, sound-work & performances inspired by Folkestone’s past, present and future” the very “past” that is planned for annihilation, and a “future” that will be much the worse for the loss of historical perspective.


The railway viaduct and swing bridge cross the inner harbour.  The infrastructure may need a refresh but in my opinion it is an attractive and functional element that should be retained.

Roger De Haan’s Folkestone Harbour Company purchased the harbour in 2003 using funds from the sale of his family’s Saga travel business; that’s the one specialising in vacations and financial services for the over-50s.  As part of the redevelopment Master Plan, as prepared by Foster+Partners, the 159-year old branch line railway will be totally demolished.

De Haan’s philanthropy is surely well meaning and generally to be applauded, especially by the inhabitants of the seaside town.  However, Foster should know better than to propose a purely clean-sweep approach that will deny the town of an important part of it’s heritage; prevent the development of a useful transport corridor; and the retention of what should be a much loved tourist asset.



The Folkestone Harbour branch railway curves gracefully through the town and across the harbour.  De Haan and Foster propose ripping up the railway and replacing it with a significantly widened road so that cars can flood the harbour redevelopment.  The area may well need some selective pruning during the redevelopment and application of new love but the railway branch line does not strike me as the visual offender.

There may still be a last-minute reprise for the railway and its infrastructure as the operators of the Venice Simplon Orient Express (the British part of the train runs from London to Folkestone Harbour where passengers are detrained for a bus connection to the Eurotunnel Shuttle terminal in Folkestone ) are believed to have made a formal objection against closure.

Let us hope that sense prevails and alternative schemes for reuse of the railway are part of the final redevelopment plan.  Apart from the ongoing use by the Orient Express and occasional steam hauled enthusiast trains (which could be linked with future editions of the Triennial for one) could a park-and-ride scheme not be operated using the likes of the Parry People Mover; there is even ample space for an edge-of-town car park off Western Road, where the harbour branch railway connects with the mainline between Dover and Ashford. <BIPS © 2008>

Tinsley Towers

June 22, 2008


“Tinsley Towers” – more correctly the cooling towers of the long closed Blackburn Meadows power station  – on a grey and drizzly Saturday evening.  This view from the end of Petre Street looking east towards Rotherham. <BIPS © 2008>

Steel City Signage

June 21, 2008


A brilliant logo on the front of the Starweld building on Harleston Street, a short crawl from The Crown Inn on the corner
with Petre Street.

While many seem happy to disassociate Sheffield from its heavy industry, steel and machining history there are fortunately many small businesses that are proud of this heritage.  A short walk around the Lower Don Valley one drizzly Saturday evening found the following examples of Steel City Signage.


The small foundry of Durham Foundry, also on Harleston Street.  Check out their website for some atmospheric shots of a real, small industrial concern.


Don’t underestimate the company with the cute “floating” bucket in front of their building on Petre Street.  Daver Steels have supplied specialist  structural products to numerous major new building projects, including: The Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, Aintree Racecourse, New York Times Tower, and Paddington Station in London. 
<BIPS © 2008>

Wicker Riverside – Sheffield

June 15, 2008


Not exactly on my top favourite list of new architecture but this development fronting the River Don, in the Wicker district, is at least one of the more interesting recent Sheffield developments.  The mixed-use building by Aedas was built by developer Artisan.  The curve-fronted tower under construction (to the left) is the 16-storey iquarter residential development by urbani.  This is on the site of the former Hancock & Lant carpet and furniture warehouse which was unfortunately demolished to enable this project; it would be very nice to see more adaptive reuse projects in Sheffield city centre.
<BIPS © 2008>

Monsal Dale & Millers Dale – A Light Peak Walk

June 10, 2008

Map of this Walk

Weir on the River Wye just southwest of Monsal Head.

A second beautifully sunny and hot day so another walk, this time further south into the Light Peak area of Monsal Dale.  From Monsal Head down into the valley of the River Wye and south towards the end of Monsal Dale where it meets the A6, northwest along High Dale to Litton, then southeast along the high southern edge of Millar’s Dale and Monsal Dale, down onto the old Midland Railway trackbed and over the Headstone Viaduct, and finally up the steep path back to Monsal Head from the end of the viaduct.

“Are you quite sure you want to take this path?” Heading north towards Litton at the end of High Dale.
Litton and Millar’s Dale from the south.
Looking east along Millar’s Dale in the direction of Monsal Head (out of view).  7.5 miles (12km), approximately 950ft  (290m) total vertical climb, 3.5 hours elapsed. <BIPS © 2008>

Derwent Edge – A Dark Peak Walk

June 9, 2008
Looking down Grainfoot Clough towards the northern arm of Ladybower Reservoir at the beginning of the climb up to
Derwent Edge.

Beautiful weather for an evening walk in the Dark Peak, along the eastern shore of Ladybower Reservoir, up onto Derwent Edge via Grainfoot Clough to Wheel Stones, then north/northeast along the Edge to Black Tor, back down into the valley and along the shore of Derwent Reservoir to the car park at Fairholmes.  Encountered three cyclists early in the evening but after that I had the Edge to myself for nearly 3 hours till past sunset; something you will not normally experience around here in such great weather!


The smaller rocks at Wheel Stones.

Derwent-3-9-6-08 Reservoirs in the valley through Wheel Stones.
Derwent-4-9-6-08 More of Wheel Stones.
Derwent-5-9-6-08 Black Tor looking south.


Black Tor approaching sunset.


The sun has set over the end of Howden Reservoir so time to finally get off the hills. 8 miles (12.9km), approximately 1,050ft  (320m) vertical climb, 3.5 hours elapsed. <BIPS © 2008>

Haddon Hall – Tudor Cookery Weekend

June 8, 2008


Over the weekend of  7/8 June Haddon Hall (a glorious fortified medieval manor house dating from the 12th Century) held a Tudor Cookery Weekend.  Members of a Tudor reenactment society had travelled from near and far to prepare, serve, and devour food of the period.  The privileged few took their places in the Banqueting Hall where they were served in style with all the pomp and ceremony expected in 15/16th Century England.



Tudor food in preparation: plenty of dates and pieces of crumbled egg garnish these sweet/savoury dishes.



Near the entrance to Haddon Hall, just after one crosses over the River Wye bridge, is the Gardener’s Cottage with some excellent topiary.

A hidden door from the side of the Hall leads into the Elizabethan gardens. Haddon-Door-1-8-6-08

Haddon Hall from within the main courtyard.
<BIPS © 2008>

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

June 7, 2008

Photographs from a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park in mid-May.

Sitting Lady Hare in 2 sections.  A galvanised wire sculpture by Sophie Ryder.  This reminded me of another great sculptor with a love of hares, Barry Flanagan, some of  whose work can normally be seen at the Roche Court sculpture park near Salisbury.



The excellent visitor reception/gallery space/cafe designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley (FCB Studios), completed in 2002.



Looking west through the reception centre and gallery towards the Underground Gallery.


Part of a  sculpture by Nigel Hall in COR-TEN weathering steel  in front of the   of the Underground Gallery (FCB Studios, 2004), looking towards the west end of the visitor centre.  Most of Hall’s work, including a lot of sketchbook doodling,  left me singularly unimpressed although I did feel slightly more sympathetic to some of his recent steelwork that is exhibited in the grounds of the YSP.




Another COR-TEN  sculpture by Nigel Hall in the grounds of the sculpture park.

Looking in through the entrance to James Turrell’s Deer Shelter
<BIPS © 2008>

Magpie Mine – Peak District Lead

June 6, 2008

Magpie Mine Derbyshire

The remains of Magpie Mine, near Sheldon in Derbyshire, are probably the most complete example of a 19th century lead mine in the UK.  Lead was mined here from c.1740 until final closure in 1954.  The extensive remains include: the Cornish Engine House (in ruins) from 1869; a circular chimney from 1840; a square chimney, also from 1840, with the flue that connected it with the 1869 horizontal winding engine; a replica horse gin, and the steel headgear and cage from the final mining operations in the early 1950’s.  At the entrance to the site are the Agent’s House and Smithy, built in the 1840’s, which is used by those that now care for the remains of Magpie Mine.

Magpie Mine Derbyshire

The site, which is a Scheduled Monument, is under the care of the Peak District Mines Historical Society who also operate the excellent Mining Museum in Matlock Bath. 

Magpie Mine is easily reached with a 5-10 minute walk over one of a number of footpaths running from nearby roads, or from Sheldon village.  The site is 2.5 miles due west from Bakewell, 16 miles southwest of Sheffield, and 22 miles northwest of Derby.  <BIPS © 2008>

Yorkshire Chemicals, Leeds

June 4, 2008

Demolition of the former Yorkshire Chemicals plant in the Hunslet area of Leeds is almost complete.  This photograph, taken in mid-May, shows the final remains of the factory, between Cudbear Street and Black Bull Street, adjacent to Hunslet Lane.

Yorkshire Chemicals - Leeds - Demolition

The company was a manufacturer of dyes for the textiles industry but went into liquidation in January 2006.  Yorkshire Chemicals had a second, much larger site, on Kirkstall Road, Leeds which is also to be demolished.  <BIPS © 2008>