Posts tagged ‘park’

In which they trespass upon the Taj Mahal of Manchester

by marie

It being a lovely day, we both thought that it would be nice to do a zedding. I thought our public deserved an extra installment as you are always so appreciative.

We headed out to Purcell Street, it being one of the selection of options we have lined up for ourselves. We picked this because of the random connection with Liam’s name rather than because of any charm inherent in the location itself so we didn’t know how this expedition would turn out

There is a moment in every zedding when you know you’ve started. It comes not when you set out, or when you arrive, but when you know. This time it was a bit of graffiti which called to Liam from across the road. “Big ideas need big spaces” We approve of ideas. And spaces for them to happen in. We found our bus eventually, and the nice bus driver was very helpful as we thrust our A to Z under his nose and said “We want to go here” He said he could take us near there and that was good enough for us.

Following advice from the mother of zedding, who has been providing zedding guidelines to students and corrupting their minds, we were alert on the bus to the messages which were present on the route, chief of which was that without facebook on your mobile you would be missing out on life to a damaging degree. Also, it’s good to raise your heart rate (with a car), it’s all good (chips), It all adds up (units of alcohol). And the slightly more positive, “Ideas that make your garden grow” – more growing ideas.

We were headed first to Gorton Monastery as it is described in a book of mine as “The Taj Mahal of Manchester”. And if you are on page 110 anyway then it sounds like a must see. Along with the railway depot and the biggest car auction site in Europe (lucky us, we also have the biggest Next in the world).

The bus dropped us in a suitable spot so we could approach the Taj Mahal via a little park. The park was a bit run-down and disappointing, but did contain some neglected roses which were so gorgeous it was like they were showing off. While I was appreciating them, Liam found an impressively eroded stone which told us that this was Gorton Open Space, opened by the mayor and an entire committee of aldermen in 1893.

Nice old trees in Gorton park pretty tree Pink Rose Gorton Park Pink Roses Gorton Park Roses Gorton Park

There were also some goalposts that, in our sporting ignorance as the nerdy kids who always got picked last for teams, we thought were for footballing gnomes. It turns out they’re for five-a-side football
Gnome football

But that paled into insignificance beside the Taj Mahal: Gorton Monastery looks like someone got hold of a church and held it by the roots of its hair until it stretched very tall and thin indeed. Lots of buttresses like Pugin was afraid that his church would fall down after standing on its tippy toes and streeeeeetching reeeally tall. Zedding fans will be pleased to hear that there were gargoyles, no photos tho.

There was someone photographing it when we got there. I want flickr badges. I want to be able to spot fellow flickrers. I was too british to ask him tho, but because I heard the tell tale whir of film I surmised he knew what he was doing. Once he moved I went and stood where he was and got what would have been a nice angle but with the back of a sign in. On my own initiative, I got a better shot. Have I told you about my developing hatred of lampposts? I hate em. I hate the blighters, they wander into shots. After taking pics of the outside, we crossed the road and went trespassing.
Gorton Monastery 2 Gorton Monastery 1 Gorton Monastery 3 Side view walled garden & church

Gorton Monastery has been restored from the ruins it was allowed to fall into when abandoned by the Franciscans in 1989. When we arrived, there were event men sitting on boxes and getting things out of vans. So I followed them inside while Liam trailed along slightly reluctantly. They were setting up for some sort of banquet for Barclays. Yup Barclays. The Bank. It seems the church is now a conference venue and you can tuck into your sushi by the light of gothic candles in front of the glittering altar. They don’t seem to mind you wandering in and taking pics tho.

Event men on boxes walled garden inside Gorton Monastery Inside Gorton Monastery Monastery Corridor

Outside there is a lovely little courtyard which Liam was happy to venture into. I left him there having seen signs for the loo. After using the facilities, I had a little explore. I opened the door to a lovely dining room. and another lovely conference room off that which had pictures of the ruined monastery ready to to be hung. I snapped these quickly as I knew Liam would be fretting outside. He thinks I’m going to go with him to the Loiterers Resistance Movement but he needs to practise his trespassing first.

St Francis Friary Gorton conference room fireplace pictures

Outside there was this sculpture to Mother Teresa and Interfaith niceness. And a sign pointing to ‘The Angels’. We found some boards explaining what the angels were so we didn’t go find them. As well as soulless corporate bashes, the Monastery Trust are setting up a local community centre called The Angels. I like to think of this as quite Robin Hood of them, taking Barclay’s money and putting it into Gorton. Which is nice and more encouraging than the last encounter we had with urban development.

Spirit of Love sculpture the angels Pugin Centre Gorton Monastry

For those of you with a little extra cash lying around, you can adopt an angel for £50, restore a stone carving for £20 or sponsor a saint for £5000. Yup, I said Sponsor a Saint. The saints disappeared from the church during the derelict years, turned up at auction as garden furniture and are currently being looked after by Manchester City Council.

We went off through the barren wastes of industry, risking our lives to cross the urban streams of HGVs. At one point Liam veered off course yelling “stairs to nowhere! stairs to nowhere!” There were indeed stairs to nowhere. Here he is at the summit of them, nowhere, pointing out where once playground furniture stood. Here I am, twirling in memory of a roundabout.

stairs to nowhere in memory of a roundabout

We passed the beautiful Beswick Cooperative Society building, founded in 1912. It was pretty cool.

Door to Coop Co op Beswick Cooperative Society Tower Beswick Cooperative Society

Carrying on down the street we found a pub which had found a creative solution to the problem of outdoor smokers needing shelter from the Manchester climate, by acquiring some trolley parks. We think the Post Office should watch out in case they decide they need two cylindrical red ashtrays.

pub with trolley park

Having plucked Purcell Street from obscurity, not far from obscurity but still, we are pleased to report that it is pleasing in its own right. It is part of a Home Zone where the streets have been redesigned so cars can park outside but children can play in safety. And it has pretty patterns in the road with some interesting white balls.

pretty road in purcell st Purcell at Purcell St purcell street purcell street

We spied a park and I wanted a closer look at the willow tunnel. Liam made me squeal like a girl by running into shot as I was taking a picture in it. We passed a nice manor house which I didn’t want to trespass in to photograph as there were girls on bicycles in the grounds (I have my limits).

tunnel nice mosaic in Collyhurst park tunnel Liam in tunnel

I was all zedded out with achy feet and a plan had been hatched to visit an eating and drinking establishment with a roof terrace. On the way however, we passed the inviting grounds of Manchester Grammar School, it being 7pm it was fairly quiet and good trespassing practice for Liam. He was shocked I walked on the grass to get the owls tho. MGS (as its old boys must affectionately call it) has its own cricket pavilion, with the flip floppy numbers like all is well in England. And lots of posh looking stuff. I found a stick which some small boy must have spent ages stripping of bark to make smooth – it’s mine now.

Manchester Grammar School owls big pencils MGS shield Cricket pavilion at Manchester Grammar school Manchester Grammar Owl
There were owls on the fence, which we like.

We found this notice too. Liam stood next to it but you will observe he was allowed to at that time.
Liam Standing there
And to Trof for Frulli and Halloumi, cos I like my food to rhyme.

Vital statistics
Location: West Gorton, Longsight & Fallowfield
Date zedded: 10 June 2008
A to Z: page 110 squares D2, D1, C1, B1, B2, C2, C3, C4, C5, B5, A5
Getting there: Bus from city centre stop Eo, Picadilly
Squares this expedition: 11
Running total: 46

June 10, 2008 at 8:26 pm Leave a comment

In which they are challenged to do page 39, and discover a new food

by Liam

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:

A greener way to travel

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:

Slatey wall in Heywood. Why?

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

Phoenix Brewery in Heywood

when we had an exciting surprise. We heard a whistling noise and discovered, a bit further down the road:

East Lancashire Railway sign in Heywood

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.

Steam train at Heywood railway station Steam train at Heywood railway station Steam train at Heywood railway station

The station consisted of two Portakabins, but they’d painted them in proper period livery and put up old lamps and clocks and everything:

Portakabins meet Pullman carriage Heywood station on the East Lancashire Railway East Lancashire Railway Clock at Heywood railway station

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:

Cobbles at Heywood railway station Dog on a wall at Heywood railway station

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:

Crimble Mill warning sign

This was Crimble Mill, on the river Roch to the north of Heywood. A spectacularly grim old building with accompanying industrial wasteland:

Crimble Mill River Roch by Crimble Mill Crimble Mill Crimble Mill Crimble Mill Crimble Mill Reception

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:

Warning to bikers around Crimble Mill

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:

Easter cross at Bamford Chapel Bamford Chapel

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:

Turbines on Ashworth Moor

There was a pretty reservoir:

Ashworth Moor Reservoir Ashworth Moor Reservoir Ashworth Moor Ashworth Moor 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:

Food van by Ashworth Moor Reservoir. Black peas £1.

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:

Black peas

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:

Liam with Papal Monument Papal Monument in Heaton Park

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:

Old Town Hall Colonnade plaque Old Town Hall Colonnade, Heaton Park Old Town Hall Colonnade, Heaton Park

And there was a funfair, which was a little melancholy since not many people had braved the icy wind and snow:

Funfair chair swings. Zippy at the funfair, Heaton Park

Heaton Hall, at the centre of the park, was also a bit sad:

Heaton Hall. Has seen better days.

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:

Northern Quarter graffiti poetry

And then we untipped Marie’s cow and went home for tea.

Vital statistics
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

March 26, 2008 at 12:51 am Leave a comment

Running Total

135 squares

Follow the Manchester Zedders


July 2020