Thursday, 28 November 2013

Out of control

Yes, I think I know him. Shocking the way he runs round uncontrolled like that.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

As grim as it looks

This is the sign for the men’s toilets in the Stockport Air Raid Shelters. Opened in 1939, at the start of World War Two, they were the largest purpose-built civilian air raid shelters in the country, providing cover for 6,500 people. Nearly a mile long, they were cut into red sandstone cliffs and boasted facilities including electric light, sick bays, bunk beds and, yes, toilets – 16-seater toilets.

You can see the shelters – and their toilets – at 61 Chestergate Street, Stockport. Nicknamed the Chestergate Hotel, it became a familiar haunt for families during the Blitz. It’s open to visitors, and recently refurbished. Hot and moist, you can see the toilets, their cheek-by-cheek seats, flimsy modesty curtains and open flushing system. Thankfully the council stopped short of providing authentic smells, offering instead a rather fab audio tour.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

London and North Western Railway Goods Warehouse

I like Victorian industrial buildings. Victorians loved to make even the most functional structures look beautiful, and sometimes slightly whimsical – decorated temples for the worship of industry or castles to celebrate commerce.

Not far from Stockport’s fantastic viaduct is this rather grand warehouse, formerly the London and North Western Railway Goods Warehouse (and now, appropriately, a Safestore storage building).
Grade II listed, it was built in 1877 in an Italianate style – a style shared by even grander buildings such as Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s holiday home on the Isle of Wight.
Pleasingly, this sign (on the railway side of the warehouse) is one reason the building is listed. The fancy architecture and prominent display of the name did what they were designed to do - a good job of promoting the London and North Western Railway.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Despatch to all parts of the world

This sign in Portugal Street, London WC2, caught my eye. It’s on the old head office building of WH Smith. The sign was damaged by shrapnel from a World War Two air raid on 10 October 1940. The sharp holes are a small but poignant reminder of the destruction of war. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A grave invitation

This spooky sign inviting you to enter a tomb was on a grave in St Paul’s, Shadwell, East London.

The church is close to the docks and is known as the Church of Sea Captains, with over 70 sea captains buried in the graveyard. Captain Cook was a member of its congregation, and John Wesley preached there (- of course he did. It’s a merry day for me if I discover somewhere he didn’t preach). The handsome building is a “Waterloo church”, funded by Parliament to celebrate the Battle of Waterloo victory.

I didn’t accept the invitation to enter the tomb. Nice offer, but I was dead busy, didn’t want to get out of my depth, had a bit more skull-king around to do and, anyway, I’m a lazy-bones.