I am interested in the stories behind the people commemorated in memorial benches.
I come across these benches in different places and they always make me wonder.
Do get in touch if you have any stories.
This is surely one of the most attractive police stations you have ever seen. The old police station on Chapel Street in Salford is near to the junction with Blackfriars Road and on the junction of Chapel Street and Salford Approach. The latter went to the former railway station. This is the historic core of Salford and at one time this police station would have faced the busy Flat Iron Market place, a bustling area of second-hand clothing stalls and auctioneers with lively patter and a fairground with roundabouts, shooting galleries and a boxing booth. A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4 originally published by Victoria County History, London in 1911 described the market as a ‘sort of rag fair.’
This charming red brick building was built in 1888 and above the door you can still make our the ‘Police Station’ sign. The single-storey building has an unusual curved end with a short spire above it and a decorative baluster around the roof line.
For a time the old Police Station was boarded up and its future looked dismal. Today, despite being surrounded by new build offices and flats the building appears to be safe at least in the short-term, it is listed and is now used as offices. Apparently between its life as a police station and its current use it was also used as a tram ticket office.
Salford City Council plan to improve this part of Salford, known as Greengate, in their Chapel Street East Scheme. The proposals include cycle and pedestrian friendly routes which can only be an improvement on the area which is currently a nightmare for those on foot and two wheels. The Greengate Regeneration Strategy states:
‘The Vision of the Strategy is to deliver a dynamic residential and commercial place with an exceptional public realm. Greengate will be a focus of cultural activity for both residents and visitors alike, building on the current strong brands within the area and developing new exciting opportunities. The area will witness the regeneration of important historical aspects of the Collier Street Baths and the Market Cross.’
I’ve chatted before about the fun of going to a cinema matinee now we are retired and the thrill of this simple pleasure that feels almost illicit hasn’t worn off despite it being two years since we last went out to work! But an 11.00 showing at the cinema, that felt like a whole different experience. We had never been to the cinema so early before, would this feel even more sinful than watching daytime TV? Would the people of Salford and Manchester judge us harshly? It turns out it doesn’t really matter what time of day I go to the cinema, once those house lights are down I am immersed in the world of the film with no distractions and the hour is pretty irrelevant.
The Odeon Cinema in Manchester has a Silver Cinema deal on a Tuesday morning. For just £3 you get to see a film, get a free cup of tea or coffee and a couple of custard creams! What’s not to like. The only hurdle is that you have to be there at 11.00. On their website the Odeon note that these showings are for over 55s and we were somewhat disappointed when no one checked our ID! I reckon anyone in their 50s could sneak in and enjoy an affordable cinema trip.
It was a wet and blustery Tuesday morning when we turned up to see Bohemian Rhapsody. We had intended to see this film anyway but hadn’t got round to it and spotting that we could get to see it for £3 each was a real frugal bonus. It turns out we aren’t the only retired people in Greater Manchester that can get their act together by 11.00 in the morning and there were a few of us shaking the rain off our raincoats and queuing up for the drinks and biscuits as the staff members woke up the cinema for another day.
Of course, we knew this film was never going to have a happy ending but a few hours later we emerged red-eyed from so much weeping into lunchtime Manchester. The movie was occasionally uplifting and funny but ultimately sad and, of course, is packed with good songs.
‘Any flying is good flying,’ the paraglider pilot told me when we both stopped to talk about his sport. He had landed below Beachy Head and was wrestling with ballooning fabric to fold away his kit, a task that looked trickier than packing away a tent or an awning. Jumping off Beachy Head, even with a paraglider strapped to your back looked terrifying to me as I peered cautiously over the 550-foot high chalk cliffs.
It was the hottest February day on record and really a perfect day for my first visit to Beachy Head. We had walked up the cliffs from Eastbourne, a town that turned out to be much nicer than I had been led to believe. On the seafront we had chosen All Decked Out cafe, after walking by a couple of seafront cafes that only provided disposable cups; nothing spoils a mug of coffee as much as that plastic taste! The friendly owner at All Decked Out not only had china cups but good coffee and delicious cakes and we sat enjoying these with a sea view over the shingle beach from their outdoor terrace. It was an idyllic start to a splendid day and hard to believe it was February.
We walked along the tidy sea front to Holywell, passing the Martello Tower on the way. Called The Wish Tower we learnt that this is number 73 of 74 Martello Towers on the south coast built in the early 1800s to defend the country against Napoleon. We also read information boards about the devastation of the bombing of Eastbourne during the Second World War. From Holywell we were soon in the countryside and the South Downs National Park. Climbing and contouring around the cliffs through yellow flowering gorse bushes and holm oak trees on paths through the cropped grass we met the happy paraglider. Every time we stopped to rest I could enjoy the stunning views back to Eastbourne with its shining white pier in the brilliant blue sea.
We found the sobering memorial to Bomber Command that reminded us how dangerous it was to be part of the crew in a plane during the Second World War. The memorial, unveiled in 2012, is dedicated to the 55,573 airmen who lost their lives.
At Beachy Head we could see west to Seven Sisters and the red and white striped lighthouse was far below us. The ideal spot to take your photograph on the edge of the cliffs was eroded, this is such a popular spot. We were not only lucky with the weather, we also had a close encounter with a peregrine while we had our picnic lunch.
Heading inland on the footpath towards East Dean, with views to Birling Gap. We turned right too soon, having misread the map, and so lengthened our walk by a mile or so as we had to retrace our steps. No one else had chosen this route and we were accompanied only by sheep in the green fields; this wasn’t the crowded south of England that I had imagined.
Back in All Decked Out the friendly member of staff remembered us as she served us ice-cream and we chatted about how good the walking is from the heart of Eastbourne. What a memorable day!
This Lansdowne Wilton 7′ 11″ x 8′ 7″ rug was bought from the fantastically named Connoisseur’s Corner in 1984. This carpet shop was something from another era and a shopping experience like no other. Two young newly weds, we nervously browsed the piles of rugs in Connoisseur’s Corner, discussing the merits of each one, admiring the different colour schemes and patterns. This was an old fashioned sort of shop, even then, and we were made welcome with relaxed and courteous customer service. Once we had made a choice we sat with the salesmen having tea in china cups while he completed the sale, how often does that happen today? It was a civilised and special shopping experience.
This rug cost £120 which was more than our household weekly income at the time and a massive purchase for two people with little money who had just started paying their first mortgage. This is a hard wearing wool rug from Wilton in Wiltshire and with a traditional design with a floral centre. We bought it because we knew we wouldn’t be staying in the house we were living in for many years [less than two as it turned out] but wanted something to cover the worn living room carpet we had inherited from the previous owners. We decided a large rug would cover the awfulness of this carpet while we needed it to and we could take it with us when we moved, therefore not wasting the money. A good call as it turned out!
Our next house had new carpets, thanks to a generous re-location grant, but we still used the rug in the living room. In our next house the rug looked great on the old wooden floors that we tirelessly striped with a hired industrial sander and varnished. The rug was really in its element here on the honey-coloured boards. Today the rug is under my feet as I type. It sits on cork floor tiles that always remind me of Portugal and keeps our dining room / study cosy and warm.
This cherished rug has moved with us to four houses, each time it has fitted in and has been something consistent among the change. Nowadays the fringe looks somewhat bedraggled but I’m pretty sure this rug is something that we will be using until we die!
I have baked my own bread for a long time, mainly at home, although in the campervan I occasionally knock up some pitta bread. I became a bread maker in the days when we lived in a semi-detached house with a good-sized kitchen and I had room to leave a worktop covered in flour for a few hours while the dough proved. When we moved to our flat I still wanted fresh homemade bread but there was hardly enough space for kneading dough on the worktops of our tiny kitchen. We don’t have a good bakery nearby and shop-bought bread was so awful, buying a compact bread maker was an option that has worked well for us.
We have owned our Morphy Richards compact bread maker for nine years now. We have had to buy a new pan and paddle over the years but it has given good service, is easy to use and makes affordable fresh and tasty bread that we love. I particularly like knowing exactly what has gone in to our bread and just love the smell of bread baking.
We use the bread maker two or three times a week while we are at home. I would estimate before we retired we used it around 100 times a year and now we are away on campervan trips more we use it around 70 times a year. In nine years that is a lot of bread-making cycles!
WHAT DOES MAKING BREAD AT HOME COST?
Morphy Richards compact bread maker £46.50
Replacement bread pan £25.99
Replacement kneading paddle £8.99
TOTAL £81.48 [£9.05 per year / approx £0.10 per use]
BREAD INGREDIENTS [for one loaf]
500 gms of mixed strong white and wholemeal flour £0.28
Allinsons Easy Bake Yeast £0.08
Olive oil, salt and water cost pennies
Electricity approximately £0.12
TOTAL INGREDIENTS [for one loaf] £0.48
These calculations are rough and ready [our bread maker might last a few more years for a start] but show that the cost of a loaf and the bread maker over nine years comes to around £0.60. While you can get a sliced white loaf in a supermarket for around this price, the taste of this is no match for homemade bread. Buying a good loaf from a bakery would cost much more, so a frugal and tasty win!
The corner of Salford where you find Sacred Trinity Church has been a special place for many years. Hard up against the railway line and towards the end of Chapel Street, this lovely and well-proportioned church was originally built in 1635 and was the first church in Salford. The tower was added later but it is said the vibration of the bells affected the church’s integrity and most of the building, with the exception of the tower, was taken down in 1751 and rebuilt the following year. The tower was largely rebuilt in the middle of the 19th century and a clock added on each face. The church is built in a Gothic-classical style.
The money to build the church came from Sir Humphrey Booth [1580 – 1635] a local wealthy Salfordian and benefactor. Humphrey Booth was a church warden at what is now Manchester Cathedral but he was keen for the people of Salford to have their own place of worship. Although the town by then had a borough charter and market charter and was a growing town, there was no place of worship. Humphrey Booth laid the foundation stone in 1634 and the church was completed a year later, after Humphrey Booth’s death. At this time the church was on the edge of Salford and it stayed that way until the industrial revolution led to the huge expansion of the city. Humphrey Booth’s grandson left land in his will to ensure the upkeep of the church and asked if there was any surplus that it should be distributed among the poor of Salford. This ensured Sacred Trinity was maintained and rebuilt but it also led to the creation of Booths Charities which continues to fund many good causes in Salford.
The Flat Iron conservation area centres around this listed building and the plot that the church sits on is triangular in shape, resembling an old flat iron. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the area around here was fashionable residential streets but through the 19th century commerce and industry moved in. Today the area is once again seeing an increase of residential properties with the building of blocks of flats. The Flat Iron Market was held in front of the church until the 1930s and LS Lowry painted this scene in 1925.
Walk through the grid of terraced streets in the Yorkshire village of Saltaire and you will pause frequently to admire a decorative window, catch the rhythm of the rows of houses, appreciate a well-tended front garden or just chat to a friendly cat. Certainly, every now and then you will stop when a glimpse of the impressive Italianate Salt’s Mill appears between the houses, takes you by surprise and makes you gasp.
Saltaire is a fascinating purpose built village and textile mill. Built on the outskirts of Bradford in the middle of the 19th century and set on the river Aire, the name Saltaire comes from the river and the mill owner, Titus Salt. The huge mill is a masterpiece and the neat rows of terraced houses were a cut above other worker’s housing, having fresh water and sanitation. The self-contained village was furnished with a hospital, alms houses, an institute, church and shops.
I first visited Saltaire in the 1990s, not long after the abandoned mill had been bought and renovated by a local entrepreneur, Jonathan Silver. Jonathan Silver was successful in saving and reinventing this beautiful building, creating a retail, cultural and commercial complex that continues to be run by his family and to thrive. Today Saltaire is a World Heritage Site and is a popular destination for visitors as well as somewhere people live and work.
In 1995, as a geography student, I was fascinated by Saltaire and keen to use this urban landscape in an assignment but struggled to get a handle on a narrative focus for the essay. On a February day I took the train to Bradford and decided to walk the six kilometres or so to Saltaire, thinking this would give me a chance to visit Titus Salt’s statue in Lister Park and maybe find inspiration. As I was photographing the Victorian statue on the edge of the park it began to snow, huge flakes that were soon covering the roads and pavements. My feet were soaked and I was cold to my bones by the time I reached Shipley but my best ideas come when I am walking. Chancing upon the view looking down on the mill and the village I had an epiphany. Even though I had visited before at that moment the scale and the grace of Salt’s Mill blew me away. Seeing the mill facing the rows of terraced streets and the moorland beyond, its position in the landscape fell into place and I knew what I was going to write. If you want to read my undergraduate ideas about the two contrasting authors of the landscape of Saltaire, I have shared my essay here but please remember I was a young 35-year old and this was written early in my writing journey.
Last week we decided to recreate what had become for me a legendary trip in better weather. After catching the Leeds train from Victoria railway station in Manchester we were soon walking between the grandiose Victorian buildings of Bradford in the sunshine. Lister Park was full of people enjoying the unseasonable weather. When we reached the viewpoint where I had experienced my inspiration I stopped and thought about the younger me and how important that moment had been. Despite quite a build up the view over Saltaire was even more amazing than I remembered.
Much has changed in Saltaire since the 1990s but what hasn’t altered is the quality of the sticky toffee pudding in Salt’s Diner, an interesting and charming cafe inside the mill. On that cold snowy day I warmed up in the Diner with a bowl of this wonderful sweet pudding in a pool of toffee sauce and for old time’s sake I did the same again last week. Today diners can admire David Hockney prints while they eat from crockery that depicts a David Hockney sketch. Just eating at Salt’s Mill is an experience! After tea and cake we browsed the books in the bookshop, had a look in the gallery and merely admired the expensive home ware.
Keen to get out and enjoy the sun, we explored the rows of terraced streets, walked by the canal and through the tidy Robert’s Park colourful with crocuses. I stopped to take a photograph of the noble alpaca statue looking back to the mill and the village. Titus Salt has alpaca wool to thank for his enormous wealth; he used it to weave fine cloth for luxury clothing. By deciding to create an industrial community in Saltaire, rather than spending his wealth on an estate with a mansion, Titus Salt ensured he is remembered as a Victorian philanthropist. Although he was foremost a successful and wealthy businessman who may have seen the mill and village as a way of maintaining paternalistic control, he certainly also had a sense of duty that led him to build an infrastructure that would help workers and their families to thrive.