Monday, 31 December 2012

A row of gold coin

A street not far from Stoke town centre is a monument to good fortune, but unless you look carefully you'll miss the fine details - the words between the bricks.

The row of glazed tiles you see in the photo was installed on the exterior of all the houses along Shelburne Street, a row of terraced homes, when the street itself was created.

The story goes that the developer of the houses here had won a considerable amount of money at the races - which he then used the fund the project.
And the name of the winning horse?  Well, the clue is in the tiles... "Gold Coin"!

May we all have such good fortune in the New Year...

This post was featured on the City Daily Photo Theme Day

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Inky blue at Weston

Weston Park is one of those odd English compromises in which the ancient owners give up their rights to a stately home – to pay taxes usually - yet are still involved in its running.
Weston Park, which you see here, is the ancestral home of the Earls of Bradford.

It's in a thousand acres of parkland, which make for good walks and interesting views.

Annoyingly, the main house is not open to the public as much as you might think, so you need to find out exactly when it’s open, which is also not as easy as it should be.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Bleak midwinter

Foggy, misty day today.  I know that we're over halfway through the year (December 21st being the shortest day), and at least we can look forward now, but it still feels bleak when the light starts to fade at half-two or three...

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Ghost story for Xmas

A ghost story for you – seeing as it’s Christmas Day!

In North Staffordshire, the most famous ghost story is that of Molly Leigh (or Lee). 
She was a real person, and most likely was simply just a secretive woman – but she lived alone too, and that was enough to give any credulous eighteenth-century man his suspicions that she was a witch.
Sure enough after her death, she was ‘seen’, as if in life, sitting in her cottage with her pet bird.

And here the real story starts. The local parson, horrified at what had been seen, ordered her tomb to be turned sideways. Unlike all god-fearing folk, who are laid to rest east-west, Molly’s tomb, in the graveyard at St John's Church in Burslem, was now laid on a north-south axis - as you can see in the photo above. Molly's tomb is the big one on the right of the photo.
In fact, this was a very rare occurrence, so the tomb is quite an historical oddity.

Even until recently, local kids would dance around the grave singing “Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh, You can’t catch me” - but… it’s not advised… you never know what might happen...

Related link:
The story of Molly Leigh 

This post was featured on the Cemetery Sunday website

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Chitty Bang Bang for Xmas

It’s the big Christmas rush time. Everywhere – from supermarkets and pubs – is already alive with Christmas consumption (who cares about Monday?)

One of the busiest places – apart from family homes – will be the Alton Towers hotel. What better way for parents to enjoy Christmas than give the kids a huge playground of a place to enjoy themselves in?

This fantastical sculpture-fountain outside the hotel’s main entrance is by a local sculptor, Peter Price. It’s based on the flying car from the book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Bandit on the road

Someone shaping up to shoot you on the public road is not something you see often in as you're driving in Staffordshire – so this sight was a bit of a shock.  I was on the point of swerving (or should I simply have gone straight at him?) when I realised it was…erm… a scarecrow.
It was part of Moddershall village’s scarecrow festival.

Yeh, right... Very funny. Not.

This z-for-zany idea is featured on the ABC Wednesday website featuring the letter Z

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Haircuts - then and now

Seventeenth century coiffure may not be the first thing you look for when going into All Saints Church at Forton - which is one of Staffordshire’s most significant historic buildings. 
However, Sir Thomas Skrymsher of Aqualate, depicted here, has a special haircut.

I’m told that Sir Thomas’s cut was known as a ‘Burton Peak’. (I don’t have actual evidence of this; it was just what I was told by a very knowledgeable man in the church itself, so I hope that's right!).

What is totally bizarre is that the current prime minister, David Cameron, seems to be exhibiting a similar quiff.  Look right - and check it out.
I know Conservatives look to preserve what is best of the past (Sir Thomas died in 1633), but reviving seventeenth century haircuts seems to be going a bit far…erm, doesn't it?

The piece was sculpted by Garrat Hollemans.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Watling Street goes on (and on)

One of the great things about just wandering-where-you-will is that you often come face to face with things you never expect.

Here, in the middle of countryside near Lichfield, I just came up against a modern street sign. There is nothing unusual in that, except that “Watling Street” is a route that is at least two thousand years old, and I'd read about it in history books. This ancient trackway across England (from Dover to Shropshire, cutting through south Staffordshire) was named Wæcelinga Stræt by the Anglo-Saxons; and then the Romans developed it, since when we know it as Watling Street.  Basically, the A5 follows the same route.

It’s weird suddenly realising that you are on a piece of earth that has been tramped for millennia, and is probably full of ghosts. It’s even weirder seeing a modern street-sign … as though history had never happened.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Candy cottage

This might be a good place to be at Christmas!

This house frontage in Tutbury always makes me smile as I pass it – one wonders if there is a gingerbread-man sitting in there behind the door…

However, I’ve never discovered its history, or why it is called this. If you know, I’d appreciate a note in the comments box (below). Cheers.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Nemesis... now

It is very, very dark by 6pm these days, and in some neglected city streets, after workers have gone home, you can barely see your hand in front of your face.

This facade you see in the photo, underlit by strong lamps, gave me quite a shock as I saw it while driving round the back of Longton.  It reminded of that movie where the main character is assailed by ominously-appearing signs in the environment - and I wondered if this sign was intended for me personally in the same way! (Nemesis is of course the revenge of the gods on the over-arrogant...) Hmm.

The phenomenon was made worse by the fact that there is no indication at all on the building as to what Nemesis Now actually is.  It turns out that it's a place that makes Gothic-style figurines.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Rambling footbridge

We've had hard, frosty weather for a week now - but accompanied by bright sunshine. The clear skies have contributed to both conditions obviously.

I've always admired the efforts of volunteers who work with The Ramblers organisation. I'd guess it was they who maintain this footbridge near Winkhill.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The library with its own cemetery

Tamworth must be unique surely in having a library which opens out on to an old churchyard.
This photo is of the main entrance, believe it or not, and the graves you see are part of the churchyard of the parish church of St Editha.

What I am still wondering is whether the library (or its 1905 predecessor) was built over the top of some graves...

There must be some great jokes waiting to be told too!

This post was featured on the Cemetery Sunday collection

Friday, 7 December 2012

Cafe shaped like a Spitfire

The new cafe extension at the Mitchell Memorial Theatre & Arts Centre in Hanley is on a fairly spectacular design.
As the theatre, which is used for amateur performances and youth activities, was named after the locally-born aircraft designer RJ Mitchell, some bright spark suggested the new frontage should be shaped like a wing.
And, I think, it works beautifully.

RJ Mitchell is, of course, most famous for designing the Spitfire airplane which was so successful in World War Two.

The cafe itself is open all day, and the Spitfire theme continues in some of the decoration inside.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

'Ruin porn' in Stoke on Trent

I was reading in a newspaper about the photographers that travel to Detroit in America. They go there to photograph dereliction, because that once-great city is in decline and the scenes of abandoned factories, hopeless streets and decaying architecture make for striking visuals.
The article described this kind of photography as 'ruin porn', making the point that the photos are (paradoxically) attractive as well as disturbing.

Of course, in Staffordshire, you have something similar: poor Stoke-on-Trent offers many such photo-opportunities. It makes one grieve to see how sorry parts of it look.

I mean - whatever happened to this industrial park, rather grandiosely named the 'Lord Nelson Park', which can be found on the outskirts of Hanley?

This post was featured on the City Daily Portal Rust & Ruins theme

Monday, 3 December 2012

Grimy end to pilgrimage path

This rather grimy pool is what is supposed to remain of the sacred 'Saint Chad's Well'. It sits in the churchyard of St Chad's Church which is on the outskirts of Lichfield.

It's a pretty unprepossessing sight, and very disappointing - especially now as it is one end of the new Two Saints Way, a pilgrimage path from Lichfield to Chester.
Saint Chad is the Lichfield connection, being a local saint from the 7th Century. At this site, or near it anyway, he is supposed to have prayed, and pilgrims started visiting it soon after his death.

The present structure around the well is, er, brutalist in style, replacing a rather nice well-house which was pulled down in the 1940s.
It's not worth travelling to see, sadly.

Related link: What Not To Do With A Holy Well

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Best known Staffordshire street (?)

A photo of 'My Street' was what was requested as this month's theme on the City Daily Photo site. I'm a member of the the group, so it got me wondering: what is Staffordshire's best-known street?

Could it be Lichfield's Cathedral Close, or even 'Watling Street' (aka The Great North Road)? 

But it came upon me that, actually, for most people, the M6 Motorway, which bisects the county, is the part of Staffordshire that is most well-known.   And, if you narrow it down, the 'street' that leads one into the interior of the main service station on the M6 in Staffordshire - Stafford Services - might even be best known 'street' of all. Sadly.

You could call it the hub of the county.   In a sort of way...

This post is my contribution to the CDPB December theme My Street.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Tamworth mermaids brave the chill

What do mermaids have to do with banking?  That's the question at Bank House in Tamworth where this pair support a fleur-de-lys and shell motifs.
The former bank (built 1845) was founded by Sir Robert Peel, the nineteenth century politician and town's MP - maybe he had to do with the choice of the mermaids.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Queen makes a face

The face grinning at me from within this car gave me a start when I first saw it. I was just walking along, and then suddenly saw The Queen sitting in this parked car.
At least, I think it's The Queen.

It took me a second to realise that someone had perched a mask on the seat's head-rest.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Celtic cross revival

You'd think the ancient Celtic Cross motif would have had an enduring appeal, as a symbol of Irish tradition at least.  But no: it pretty much disappears from graveyards, even in Ireland, between 1500 and 1850. 
It was only the Irish nationalist 'Celtic Revival' in the nineteenth century that led to its re-appearance. Those of Irish origin, wherever they were in the world, would choose it to mark their last resting-places.

Whether this grave - in High Offley Church - belongs to someone of the Irish diaspora, I can't tell you. However, she is called Eileen, which is an identifiably Irish name.

PS - yes, this gravestone is leaning!

This post is linked to the new Taphophile Tragics website. Taphophiles are cemetery enthusiasts.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Peacock on a roof

The bright blue plumage of a peacock is a welcome sight in these gloomy end-of-November days. This particular bird is perched on the roof of a garden shed in Tutbury. At the time, he was looking askance at a cat below.

I suppose he lives in this garden... but he may have been passing through. It's possible.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Lift a bridge over a canal

Sometimes called a liftbridge, but what I know as a drawbridge, this structure sits on Caldon Canal near Stockton Brook. It enables people from the farm (on the other side to the path) to move their cattle across the canal - while also letting narrowboats through.

I suppose they must be common enough, as it's a straightforward enough piece of mechanics, but I've not seen many.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Lived to be 125...

Yes, according to this old wooden board inside Adbaston Church, one parishioner there, William Wakeley, lived to a ripe old age - better than most of us can hope for even in this hygienic age. He died in 1714, aged 125.  So it says...
The effect of this historical object is a little offset by the wall-heater next to it, but I guess it gets cold in these old churches (St Michael & All Angels is twelfth century).

Funnily enough, his actual gravestone, which is by the church door, is not much to look at.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Medieval artists have a joke

Medieval artists could just as subversive (and as able to insert humour in serious places) as the artists of today.
I say this because, in my previous two posts, I have been writing about a jokey art project which has 'infiltrated' the Potteries Museum - but the long-ago artists who made the carvings in his photo seem to have been of the same mindset!

These carvings - in the chapter house of Lichfield Cathedral - are hundreds of years old, but display exactly the same impish humour.
Quite what the masons who made them were thinking - or what the story behind them is - I just don't know.

But it made me laugh out loud in what is, really, a very serious place!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Nineteenth century punk kitchen

Ah - another "Neo-Dawsonism"!  Yes, this is another barmy, contribution to the current, subversive art project at the City Museum in Hanley.
See my previous post, which explains the background to what's going on here.

This is an exhibit in the Social History section of the museum, which is showing a nineteenth century kitchen - complete with mannequin.
But the artists have artfully added a rocker's leather jacket to this 200 year old scene... thus confusing all visitors to this part of the museum!  Weird.

Incidentally Discharge are a real band - a punk hardcore band, and about as raw as they come, from Stoke-on-Trent.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Freaky species goes on show

This freakish skeleton is in the Natural History section of the City Museum in Hanley, next to the stuffed birds, and not far from the Mammals. As you can see, it has extraordinarily long arms.
When I passed it, more than a few people were scratching their heads. They were wondering: what sort of animal was this? An urban monkey?

Well, after the double-take, one realises it's a joke. Well, sort-of. It's part of a subversive art project in which a number of odd, barmy objects are placed around the museum at strategic points, apparently as though they really are long-term exhibits.  (There's a plane made of pottery in the engineering section for instance...)

The label by this skeleton describes it as Homo Tesco, and there is a completely nutty description of its history - including a comparison with its close species 'Homo Asda'. It explains the waering of the blue plastic bag as an attempt at a 'shirt'.

The art project, which runs at the museum until December 9th, is called 'Neo Dawsonism' - though a quick search on Google only turned up references to the late great Les Dawson's jokes, also known as Dawsonisms.  Hmm.

I must admit that I thought it very funny - and, somehow, very brave of the museum to allow it!

Related Link
The Walter Mitty Archive

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Peace subdues passions in Staffordshire

The War Memorial in Stafford is pretty tall, and this sculpture is high up, on a huge plinth. It must be the height of the Trafalgar Square plinths, if not higher.
That's a shame really, as this sculpture group at the top is pretty magnificent - and it would be good if one could see it better.
One might understand the theme a bit better too - as she is supposed to be Peace subduing war-like passions (as symbolised by the horse). Hmm. Doesn't look like that from the ground...

It is Remembrance Day today, so as the premier war memorial in the county, it will be at the centre of a ceremony today.  It is officially titled not the Stafford War Memorial, but the Staffordshire County War Memorial.
The sad story behind it is that the Earl of Dartmouth unveiled the work originally - and his own son was on the roll of the dead commemorated by the memorial. That must have been tough.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The 'temporary' tin tabernacle

This little church in Draycott-in-the-Clay - Saint Augustine's - is quite an historical curiosity. It goes back over a century to a time when small 'mission' churches were being quickly erected, mostly out of temporary materials, like corrugated iron. Thus, this type of church was eventually affectionately called a 'tin tabernacle'.

But this one, far from being temporary, is still holding services today!
It only holds forty people, and must be cold in winter (surely?) but parishioners would not dream of replacing it now.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Graffiti where least expected

Harston Rock is an outcrop easily reached from Froghall Wharf by public footpath. (The footpath marks the line of the old cable railway to Caldon Low, built in 1847).

Rock climbers use it I believe - even though it is in a heavily wooded area. 

One can scramble up the incline of course to reach it - you don't have to climb the rock - and it looks like some graffiti-artists did just that.  I hope the graffiti was not done by climbers...

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Audley's carving of death

This extraordinary carving at the top of a gravestone could depict a (bearded?) angel reaching down to a skeleton (the one in the grave?). It's very worn - not surprising as the grave is dated 1799 - so it's hard to tell.
The angel appears to be holding something - possibly a sand-timer, or could it be a scales?  To the right of the skeleton's head is a scythe - symbol of both death and time.
Are the two figures fighting? Or is the angel raising the skeleton?

I'd be intrigued to know the story, and will return to the Church of St James at Audley - which opens on Fridays - to find out more from the church-warden.

If you want to take a look, the grave is on the north side of the church, and Thomas & Ann Mellor are buried there.

This post has been featured on Taphophile Tragics (the cemetery-enthusiasts' website)   

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A wallaby in Leek

Wallabies are of course Australian citizens...normally... yet this one was definitely north Staffordshire born and bred.
Its body was found in the 1990s on the wild moors north of Leek, being then stuffed, and then mounted here in the Nicholson Institute, the museum of Leek.

The reason he was there was on the moors was, as you'd expect, that his forebears had escaped in the 1930s from a private zoo on the nearby Swythamley estate, and had formed a small wild colony - from which he is presumably descended.
It does seem amazing that these wallabies should have survived the harsh winters up there though.

Sadly, no other wallaby has been spotted for a while now, so (even though they can be notoriously shy) it has to be assumed the colony has died out.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Dragon-worm at Sinai Park?

This could be a dragon-worm or wyrm (a strange medieval mythical creature), depicted on this beam at the 15th century Sinai Park House near Burton.  Or could it be just a smiling bird?
These restored timbers remind one that the richer medieval houses could be marvellously and colorfully painted indoors. What we see in historic buildings now is only a faint shadown of what things were really like.

The house is open to the public occasionally, even though two thirds of it is still (sadly) derelict.
Another photo I included on this blog about Sinai Park House was one of its swimming pool, which is not quite as salubrious as it sounds.

Link:  Sinai Park House

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Erratic geology...

This glacial boulder is a well-known meeting point on Cannock Chase. It even has a car-park named after it. Many walks on the Chase start here - including the AA recommended one.

It's also called the 'erratic' boulder, not because of its odd, semi-phallic shape, but because, in geology, an erratic is a stone that is quite different from those around it.
In this instance, this boulder is a stranger to those around it because it was swept down from a place hundreds of miles away to the north during the glacier movements of the Ice Age.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Stone's ninety year old man

For ninety years my glass has run
And now my God to thee I come
Receive my soul for sake of him
Who paid a ransom for my sin.

William Lycett lived to a pretty ripe age till his death in 1813 - and is buried in St Michael's Church at Stone.

This post has been featured on Taphophile Tragics (the cemetery-enthusiasts' website)   

Friday, 26 October 2012

Foxlowe - a top community cafe

'Community cafes' have a record of turning out to be dingy, badly-run coffee-and-cakes places in a chilly village hall.
But, that's far from the case with the Foxlowe in Leek. The old building at the top of Market Place was saved after a long campaign, and is now a thriving arts centre.  It relies on donations and ticket sales, so its existence is never far from precarious, but it is successful...

...and classy. Though there are some very good tearooms and cafes in Leek - in fact, this is one of the best towns in Staffirdshire for such - the Foxlowe Cafe (run by volunteers, seven days a week) is up there with the best of them.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Topiary phantasms

In the privacy of their own gardens, some folk will just let rip with their imaginations... going for the bizarre as well as the conventional.

I prefer the bizarre - as in this house-front in Cheadle...  It's all about self-expression...!

Monday, 22 October 2012

No body - no tomb

Less than a month after being 'adopted' by the people of Stafford during World war Two, the submarine Perseus was sunk off Cephalonia (later famous as the site of the book Captain Corelli's Mandolin). Only one man survived - the rest perished with the vessel, which was not re-discovered until divers found it in 1997.

This tribute to the crew can be found in the churchyard of St Mary, Stafford's parish church. Though it looks like a flat tombstone, and is placed alongside tombstones, it is better described as a memorial - because no one is interred there.

This post has been featured on Taphophile Tragics (the cemetery-enthusiasts' website)   

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Confusing the tourist - by turning signs

This signpost in the town of Stone, with its directional signs, looks innocent enough - except that every single sign is pointing in the wrong direction.
Clearly some mischief-makers thought it would be fun to confuse the poor visitor by turning them all the wrong way.

Strangely enough, it's relatively easy to do this, as the collars on most posts like this are not locked into place, and once loosened, can be rotated.

I wonder if town authorities shouldn't consider something more sturdy.
The reason I say this is that I have now realised (after many mistaken, er, misdirections), is that this type of mischief-maker lives everywhere. So much so that I gave up following signs on Staffordshire's rural lanes, and had to buy a sat-nav in the end, as I was continually getting 'lost'!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Marstons beer - and the Queen...

Sixty Glorious Years??? What anniversary could this poster that I saw in the Raddle Inn (on top of Hollington) be referring to?
Surely that of the coronation of our long-lived monarch?

Er, no.  In a slightly cheeky manner ("sixty glorious years" indeed!!!), the beer company Marstons, which is based in east Staffordshire, is reminding us that one of its finest pale ales, Pedigree, was launched in 1952. Just as the Queen was.

Good old Pedigree. Happy birthday.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Donkeys show affection

This affectionate pair are kept as pets I would guess. I came across them on a walk.

Now I think about it: why would one keep donkeys? These two are clearly not working animals. I shall ask around.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Stafford Knot meets deer

The brilliant colours of a russet autumn are upon us - the display this year seems brighter and redder than ever. Walking on Cannock Chase is just a feast for the eyes.

However, this photo is really about the logo in the top right-hand corner of this sign. It's a deer head (symbol of the Chase), which has then been incorporated into a Stafford Knot design. The Stafford Knot is the symbol of Staffordshire county. I like the mix.

Link: Stafford Knot 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Albert's house

Whoever Albert is, I admire him. He clearly has decided that his name is all the explanation that is needed here.

I can't help wondering though if this house - in Oakhill - is a business or a private home.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

New English - hearts in pottery

I was at the London Design Festival last month (Sept 2012) where I noticed a number of Staffordshire firms (High House Wallpapers being another one) had stalls.

This was one of the most dramatic stands, installed by The New English Ceramics, which is based in Stoke-on-Trent.

Basically, New English made sixty pottery hearts - complete with valves, aorta etc - and asked international artists to decorate them and sell them for charity. The proceeds went to the children's medical charity Herz Fur Kinder.
Some of the hearts were quite fascinating...

Link:  New English & Herz Fur Kinder

Monday, 8 October 2012

Rugby - a game for families

The Longton Rugby Club site is not just some muddy field in the middle of nowhere with a tin bath in a shed for a dressing room.  Far from that old cliche, the beautifully looked after pitches here, and the modern buildings, make it look like some corporate outreach job.

However, it's a really family-oriented place. Though the senior team plays at a very high level, it almost feels like the junior teams and ladies teams are as important.
Going to watch the first team on a Saturday (it's free) is a proper day-out, with the clubhouse facilities open during the match. Around 200 or so is the usual gate.

I captured this shot at the end of the game. As the team walked off the pitch (having won the game), many of them stopped to play with their kids before they got changed. I think it's a charming scene.
You wouldn't see that at Stoke City FC!

Link:  Longton Rugby Club

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Crossed love at Ilam

The story of the restoration of Ilam Cross (think Charing Cross but a bit smaller) is quite a triumph.

The monument was built on the crossroads in the tiny, very pretty village of Ilam in north-east Staffordshire in 1841 as a testament of love by one man for his wife (another way in which it pays homage to the Eleanor Crosses - such as Charing Cross).

However, up till recently, it was literally crumbling to bits - and had even become a danger (see photo).
And then some concerned folk formed the Ilam Cross Trust to restore it. It is now back to its full glory, and is yet another reason to visit Ilam.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Princess Royal in Dresden

Princess Victoria? Yes indeed, this pub is named after her; and the pub-sign shows a likeness of this Victoria Princess Royal.
However, this is not the lady whom we know as Queen Victoria, but her daughter - who had the same name.
The man who built this pub (in the 1850s) in the Dresden district of Stoke-on-Trent was clearly of a monarchist turn of mind, and clearly was determined to tie in his fortunes with royalty.

However, the pub (and its sign) only confirm in my own mind that walking through parts of Stoke-on-Trent is like going back in time. Where else would a pub not only retain the name of a long-forgotten princess, but still have her portrait hanging outside?

(If you enjoy such facts, you'll be pleased to know the pub-sign picture is based on the work by the painter Winterhalter).

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Leek's timorous lion

This lion, which stands guard outside Moorlands House (the home of the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in Leek), is probably the most unfrightening lion in history. His gormless and slightly timorous look undermines any attempt by him to be king of the jungle.
It really doesn't matter which angle you look at him from, he always looks rather unhappily startled.

It would be fun to know something more of his history.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Tree monster

This tree-monster reminds me of all those story-book trees that 'come to life' - whether in Lord Of The Rings or as features in a children's playground. It has the right number of arms (two!) and a look to say that it is ready to start walking...
It is now just a silhouette of a tree, as it plainly no longer has growth. The long tendrils that seem to have suffocated it (perhaps they were of tree-ivy?) add to the ghoulishness.

This post was featured on the City Daily Photo Blog (CDPB) Theme Day site

Friday, 28 September 2012

Stafford's Sandonia theatre

The Sandonia - `which was a theatre then a cinema then a bingo hall then a snooker club - is down a back street (Sandon Rd - hence the Sandonia's name) in Stafford, where its grandiose facade stands out among the terraced houses.  When it opened in the 1920s, it must have been a red letter day in those poor streets.

For the last twelve years, it has stood empty, and of its glory only this facade remains. The inside was stripped some time ago, so I guess the Art Deco features inside are barely surviving.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

New arms for Keele University

Keele University (founded in 1949 as the University College of North of North Staffordshire) became a university in 1962 - and so is celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year.

The latest reworking of its coat of arms is seen on the banner in the photo above. The Stafford Knot is pre-eminent, while the open book represents learning, and the scythe is the symbol of the Sneyd family (the family which once owned the estate Keele is now built upon).
Apparently, the green slash marks the university's committment to sustainability, which is very modern of them.

See: Keele's heraldry