Sunday, 24 August 2014

I'm a fire watcher

I was thrilled to find this ghost sign from World War two on a building in China Lane (on the corner of Dale Street), central Manchester.

The fire watcher’s job was to look out for incendiary bombs, and put the fire out before it spread. The Fire Watchers Order of 1940 required factories and large businesses to provide their own fire watchers. Hundreds of incendiary bombs were dropped at a time, and a fire watcher’s equipment included a bucket of sand and a bucket of water.

There’s a good account of what it was like to be a fire watcher in Manchester on the BBC here. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Local hero

Nelstrops Albion Mills in Stockport.

I’ve gone past this mill countless times, and have always admired the white wash of flour up the side of the building. It was only when I saw Nelstrops flour for sale in a local shop that I was prompted to look into its history.

It turns out that Nelstrops is the only independent family miller in the North West. The company was founded in 1820 by an enterprising 19 year old, William Nelstrop, who later became Mayor of Stockport. According to the company’s website, he was offered a knighthood by Queen Victoria for his role in defusing the anti-corn law riots, but refused the honour – partly because he sympathised with the poor who could not afford bread, and partly because the lower wheat prices would benefit his business.

The business is still run by his descendants, and the Albion Mills on Lancashire Hill have survived fires and blitz. The sign on the top says the building was erected in 1820 and rebuilt in 1894.

Read more on the company's website

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Ghost train

You're surrounded by history in Plymouth's Barbican area. This wonderful ghost sign has survived competition, depression, blitz and redevelopment, and happily towers over tourists today.