Posts tagged ‘mill’
On the first Sunday in October the Manchester Zedders were pleased to join the LRM for a loiter around Didsbury. We had already zedded the gates to hell so no new squares for us, but it was nice to do it as a group.
Fletcher Moss and his haunted house were already known to us, his house had apparently had quite a reputation before he took it on. Servants refused to live in it because of noises in the night. We had heard that this was later shown to be caused by tightrope-walking rats pitter-pattering along the cords for the servants’ bells, but according to Alan, facilitator of this month’s wander, the skeptical Mr Moss found no logical explanation for the strange goings on in the haunted parsonage and concluded that his dog Gomer was freaked out by a spirit.
Alan had some info on the church nearby. In the 12th century it was recorded as having “antiquity beyond memory”. The very phrase just thrills me. Say it out loud to yourself, savour it, whisper “antiquity beyond memory”. I love it. We have good reason to think that a church this old was probably Christianising some ancient holy site. Did the ghost of some spirit, no longer given homage, return to bother poor Gomer? We will never know.
We took a look around the parsonage gardens, we found this stone.
Perhaps another clue about our mill by the Mersey. We told other loiterers about our quest to find a mill which had disapeared from the A to Z between 1997 and 2005.
The parsonage gardens had a lot of yew trees, as is right and proper for a holy site with antiquity beyond memory. As we wandered, the fallen berries mixed with fallen needles to create a substance a bit like…well… jam. It stuck to the sole of our boots in a layer an inch thick and was difficult to remove. Jam Jam Jam. Walking on Jam is a weird sensation and I was glad to scrape the stuff off me and move on into Fletcher Moss Gardens, where we were looking for mushrooms and berries. In France, so I’m told, if you pick mushrooms in the wild you can go to a pharmacy and the pharmacist is required by law to tell you which are edible and which are not. We love that they take their food that seriously, it tells you something about the priorities of a nation. The Germans, bless em, have laws about beer that are older than their country. Anyone want to tell us about any endearing British laws?
it had some lovely detail
Very nice. I like this because of how different it is to other memorial benches. It is a collection of someone’s favorite things, an attempt to hint at a person’s personality and in so doing keep their memory alive in those it delights.
I have a fear of having a memorial bench dedicated to me, and then the inevitable dereliction of my bench as I am forgotten. Liam is going to endeavour to prevent any bench dedications, should he survive me. This will not help, of course, if we are both killed in some horrific zedding-related accident. What disturbs me about some memorials is that they seem to underline the reality that the person has faded from memory. As a student, I lived in William Thompson Halls of Residence and the only time I paused to wonder who Willy Tom had been, was to reflect on the irony that no one seemed to know. No benches please. Not even lovely ones.
It may also be worthy of mention that the café in Fletcher Moss Gardens was once home to the headquarters of the Plumage League. “What was the Plumage league?” we hear you cry. Founded by women in 1889, it campaigned against the slaughter of birds for feathers to be used in the millinery trade. At the time, nearby Stockport was the hat-making centre of the known world, so it is fitting that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds should be able to trace its origins here. Plumage League tho, a better name I think than RSBP.
Having worked up a thirst, we headed to The Didsbury for refreshments.
Marie’s historical research has brought up loads of stuff about Ancoats. This is an area on the outskirts of the city centre which has seen heavy industry, slums, run-down estates and now a big regeneration project. It was apparently ‘the world’s first industrial suburb’. So we thought we’d go take a look.
It being the Mayday bank holiday, though, we first had to go marching with trade unionists and socialists and anarchists (and anyone else who wanted to join in). We were making known our displeasure that destitute people who come to the UK fleeing war and persecution are being expected to find the money from God-knows-where to pay for essential services from our glorious NHS.
Overheard on the march: an anarchist explaining why the communists were a bit too scary for him.
Having done our liberal do-gooding bit, we headed for Ancoats via lunch in the Northern Quarter. We had a debate over zedding philosophy – Marie had a list of historical sites to visit, but I wanted to go to Cardroom Estate in the middle and go down all the little streets called things like ‘Spinning Jenny Walk’ and ‘Bobbin Walk’ and ‘Yarn Walk’. Eventually we set off, and we knew we’d started zedding when we saw a car with antlers:
It seemed to have something to do with a film crew, so watch out for a car with antlers coming to a TV screen near you.
On Great Ancoats Street, there’s a big shiny futuristic building which used to be the offices of the Daily Express.
Marie, who has now become a walking history textbook, explained that despite appearances, it was actually built in the 1930s. If you get up close, you can see the old-school concrete and rivets. There’s an even older building opposite, which you can see in the reflection. This one used to house a night shelter for women needing ‘further care and discipline’, and rooms for servants who wished to avoid ‘the moral peril of the lodging house’. I’ve obviously been staying in the wrong lodging houses.
And some new flats were wrapped up waiting for yuppies to open them up and live in them:
Manchester has a good surplus of identical-looking flats, though, so unless the credit crisis ends soon, we think it may be a while before these ones get unwrapped. Nextdoor we saw what’s happened to a lot of the businesses and homes that used to be around here:
This comprehensive list of dangers has been stuck on all the derelict buildings in Ancoats as far as we could see. Bit of overkill – can they really all have asbestos, weak roofs and the rest?
We liked this example of a business that is new to Ancoats, though. It’s bye bye butty shops, hello flower arrangements carved from fruit :
And further down was this, apparently the ‘classic view’ into Ancoats:
A fine old mill has been turned into flats:
Before being renamed Royal Mills, Marie tells us, these were McConnel and Kennedy Mills. They were an important scene in the account of the Plug Strikes of 1842, protesting against pay cuts and in support of the Chartists. It ended up with 10,000 people on the streets, the Riot Act was read, and they brought in ‘six-pounder field pieces’ to pacify the crowd. Apparently the military presence was ‘restrained’ because they didn’t want a repeat of Peterloo. We wonder what would have been regarded as unrestrained… A bit different from our friendly anarchists of the morning, who were at no point chased down the Oxford Road by dragoons.
The street outside was being carefully recobbled, no doubt to retain the Northern ambience of the area for the new inhabitants. (Presumably this notion of Northernness wouldn’t include the traditions of dissent and organised resistance, which don’t sell flats so well.)
We were very excited to discover, opposite, a small porthole in a brick wall. We’d set out hoping to see some bits of an installation called The Peeps which is scattered across Ancoats. Spaces have been walled up and lit, with peepholes to look through. We’d found our first one, and it was pleasingly mysterious for what was essentially a brick cubicle with weeds growing in it:
Thanks to the artist Dan Dubowitz, who deserves a mention just for his marvellous name. Unfortunately we didn’t find any more of them, though.
There we were, spiritually engaging with the area, enjoying a playful public work of art which could have been designed for zedders, reflecting on history. We were rudely awakened on the other side of the canal:
It may be relevant that this was just down the canal from Canal Street, whose signs are often defaced in a similar manner…
Further on, past a charming retail park (‘The biggest toy superstore in the world’, allegedly), we passed an eighteenth-century lock-keeper’s cottage surrounded by building sites and scaffolding. This seemed to sum up the feel of a lot of the area for us:
Wonder what they’ll catch?
We don’t know what this building was, but it made Marie the history nerd unhappy:
We turned left at the big pencil
and saw some of the bits which haven’t been turned into flats yet:
Further on, a strange road crossed a barren wasteland. It had no clear markings and felt kind of like a pedestrian precinct, resulting in some hairy moments when we forgot we were standing in the middle of a road. It also had some interesting arty lampposts marked ‘New Islington’ (the rebranded Ancoats). The designer had taken to the extreme his attempt to blend in with the surroundings, so they were rusty and depressing. There was also the remains of a hospital which made Marie sadder. (Fortunately, it’s going to be restored. And turned into flats.)
The only signs of humanity were a man drinking Lucozade on a bench, and this forlorn remnant:
On the other side of the road should have been the Cardroom estate. But it wasn’t:
The redevelopers beat us to it. And they must have done it very recently, because that wasteland appears in my 2007 A to Z as a warren of little streets:
I’d heard through work that a lot of the redevelopment in Ancoats was done without consulting local people, tearing down good houses to make way for designer flats that locals won’t be able to afford. Looking at this space where a community used to be, that was easy to believe.
Opposite the desert (an estate agent might say that they benefited from expansive views) were some houses made of giant jigsaw bits:
We rejoined the canal here, and noted the spiral ramp for towhorses at the bridge. Very historical but doesn’t look so dramatic in a photo:
Then there were more mills and warehouses. Most, surprise surprise, becoming designer flats. The old Sankey’s Soap Factory is now a nightclub, though (we detected it because of the loud music and the big bus outside). Marie wishes it to be known that the sign on the tower is the original one from the 1920s, restored.
Opposite was a nice piece of graffiti (probably not from the 1920s):
In the midst of all the building sites stands an old church of the ugly-huge-Victorian-brick variety. Marie was very keen to visit, as she’s seen slides of it being lovingly restored – it’s going to be a community centre or arts space or something, which will be a nice change. But it’s presently completely inaccessible, all the surrounding roads sealed off. Creepy.
The streets were still eerily deserted, but we spotted some little bits of interest:
Then we came upon Victoria Square, a great big nineteenth-century block of flats which was intended to house people after slum clearances. It didn’t work though, because the slum dwellers couldn’t afford the rent and had to move elsewhere. It also can’t have helped that, according to our friend Bazza, the architect ‘must have thought he was designing for an alien race – wooden skirting boards were not provided, since these might have been ripped out and burned!’
Sounds familiar. It appears that city developers learn very slowly…
Opposite Victoria Square were some smart terraces, also originally intended for working-class people but priced out of their reach. Apparently, these were originally named after the wonderful technical advances they contained. But in the 1960s, ‘Sanitary Street’ was not regarded as such an attractive name, and some letters were removed to make it ‘Anita Street’. It’s interesting that today, people are achieving the opposite effect by removing letters just down the road.
Further down, we passed another derelict church – but this one clearly has its defenders:
Researching afterwards, we found that Manchester’s Italian community have been fighting to keep the church open for years, but the Bishop’s having none of it. Marie was very upset to read the story of an ice-cream lady whose dying wish to have her funeral at the church was refused: poor Auntie Vicky. Marie feels solidarity for ice-cream people.
Date zedded: 5 May 2008
A to Z: page 95 squares F3, G3, G4, H4, F4, H3
Getting there: Walk from city centre
Squares this expedition: 6
Running total: 35
We haven’t been zedding for a while because of the inclement weather (except for an afternoon when we walked down some back streets and discovered what appeared to be a mysterious cult, but that’s a story for another time). But yesterday we decided to brave the weather anyway, as there were bits of sunshine in between the squalls of snow.
We had received a challenge from my friend Liz: she’d picked a page number at random and told us to ‘do’ it. It turned out that page 39 is right out in the wilds beyond the outer ring road, so we decided to cheat and go there by car. But it was a green car from Whizzgo:
It has to be said that page 39 didn’t look very inspiring, except for some rather pleasing place names like Back o’Th’Moss and Captain Fold and Hooley Bridge. (It seems that everywhere in the Rochdale area is on top o’th’ something or next to th’ something. There’s a place called Top o’th’ Dog which we’ll have to visit, but it wasn’t on page 39, alas. Another favourite is ‘Summit’. As in, ‘What’s over there?’ ‘Just summat.’
So we weren’t getting our hopes up too much, and were prepared to pay attention to minor details as we entered Heywood on page 39. Like the fact that many of the houses round there have their end wall covered in slate tiles:
Never seen this anywhere else in the UK. Anyone know why they do it?
And we were taking a picture of a picturesque derelict brewery
when we had an exciting surprise. We heard a whistling noise and discovered, a bit further down the road:
Turns out a steam railway runs right through page 39! On its way to Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall. So we got to photograph a big steam engine in amongst the industrial estates of Heywood.
The station consisted of two Portakabins, but they’d painted them in proper period livery and put up old lamps and clocks and everything:
It even had cobbles, which I found very pleasing although Marie is too Northern to be wowed by them. And also a dog on a wall, which she wasn’t too Northern to be pleased by:
To be fair, we could have gone home then, and Liz and page 39 would still have done us proud. But we ventured on. To our first trespass. OK, Marie kind of invaded an office block that once, but it didn’t have a big sign saying ‘Keep Out’ peppered with what might have been bullet holes:
This was Crimble Mill, on the river Roch to the north of Heywood. A spectacularly grim old building with accompanying industrial wasteland:
The road became so bumpy here that I feared for the little Whizzgo car, so we trespassed on foot to take some photos. Turns out it was a good thing we weren’t in a vehicle:
We liked the idea of confiscating someone’s vehicle without warning. Could be a bit surprising if they did it while you were still riding your bike. Fortunately, we didn’t come back to our little Whizzgo car to find a burly copper making off with it under his arm.
We went driving up and down country lanes after that in search of more interesting stuff. There was a nice old chapel with a pretty Easter cross at Bamford – which we mention here not because it’s interesting, but because we want to tick off the square:
You may be bored by now, but wait, the best is yet to come.
We got very, very lost on the lanes. So lost that – shameful to say – WE LEFT THE A TO Z. We figure we’re still allowed to talk about this because we were just off the top of page 25. We eventually realised we were up on Ashworth Moor, where there were some impressive turbines that we’d been admiring in the distance earlier:
There was a pretty reservoir:
There were so many cars parked next to it that we thought we’d discovered an event – a mass ramble, a race meeting, a whippet-fanciers’ club outing, I don’t know. However, it was a traditional Lancashire burger van. Selling mysterious traditional Lancashire delicacies:
Now Marie lived in Lancaster for years and had never heard of black peas, and I was having disturbing visions of League-of-Gentlemen-style local food for local people. But Marie decided to live on the wild side. (She wants it to be known that she is the Trespasser Extraordinaire and the Eater of Black Peas.) There was an exciting tension in the air as we waited by the van, trying not to let on that we had no idea what exactly it was we’d just ordered, in case people realised we were foreigners. (I was watching the woman prepare them, whispering a commentary to Marie: ‘She’s putting them in the microwave… They come with a spoon…’)
As you can see, Marie ate half of a serving of this van’s renowned peas before she even stopped to photograph them:
Googling afterwards, we found a very learned article on Wikipedia which we can report was accurate in every important detail:
Black peas are commonly found at fairgrounds and mobile food counters. They are traditionally eaten from a cup with salt and vinegar. They can be served hot or cold, the former being especially so in the winter months. At fairgrounds they are served in thick white disposable cups and are eaten with a spoon. Many people fail to re-create the same taste black peas provide when bought at a funfair.
On the way back we stopped at Heaton Park, a very pleasant country park in North Manchester, mainly because we noticed in the A to Z that it had a ‘Papal Monument’ and we wanted to know what one of those looked like. And why it was there. Turns out it’s a big rock marking where the Pope came and did some stuff once:
This was a big Mass as part of JPII’s 1982 UK tour. I didn’t see him (I believe he played Coventry), but I do remember having a commemorative Ladybird book about it.
Heaton Park also has a rather large piece of an old town hall, which the good people of Manchester loved too much to get rid of:
And there was a funfair, which was a little melancholy since not many people had braved the icy wind and snow:
Heaton Hall, at the centre of the park, was also a bit sad:
At this point, the snow became too much for us. We headed for home. As a pleasing postscript, we noticed this graffiti just up the road from where we returned the car in the Northern Quarter:
And then we untipped Marie’s cow and went home for tea.
Location: Heywood, Heaton Park
A to Z:
Heywood: page 39 squares G4, G1, H1, H2, E1, E2
Bamford etc: page 25 squares H6, G5, G6
Heaton Park: page 67 squares H5, page 68 squares A5, A4
Getting there: Whizzgo (or get a tram to Bury and a steam train to Heywood!)
Squares this expedition: 12
Running total: 25