Saturday, 27 December 2014

Going nowhere

I love this redundant sign. It’s at the back of a building in Salford which has reinvented itself several times over. Starting as a Scottish Presbyterian Church in 1846, it was given a new life in 1912 as a cinema. It closed in the 1950s, and reopened in 1967 to serve as a bingo hall for 18 years. Now, it’s a church again, home to the New Harvest Christian Fellowship. You'll have to go in at the front, though. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Withy Grove Stores

I love this decrepit old Manchester building and its once-fine sign. And its history is more colourful than the sign suggests. In 1723, a group of Spanish steel workers were working their passage to New York. They stopped in Liverpool and put their steel skills to good use, joining a company which supplied the maritime trade with iron clad strongboxes and seaman’s chests. When the Leeds and Liverpool canal was opened, the business expanded with this store in Withy Grove, Manchester, which opened in 1850, and in Leeds. The business is still trading today.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Liberty of Norton Folgate

A Liberty was an area in London considered independent of the city’s normal administration. They tended to attract people eager to be unrestricted by the usual rules and regulations – actors, writers and criminals, for example. Norton Folgate, in Spitalfields, was home to Christopher Marlowe in 1589, and later boasted a playhouse which specialised in Victorian melodrama. The Liberty ended when it became part of the borough of Stepney in 1900.

The land for these Norton Folgate almshouses in Puma Court was bought in 1851 and the houses were built in 1860. Recently modernised, they are governed by Church trustees and Tower Hamlets council.  

Saturday, 6 December 2014


Brave little sign at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Completely ineffective, of course. 
And all the better for it. The courtyard was full of tourists and children expressing delight, and the atmosphere was really rather nice.