Saturday, 31 January 2015

Surprising sandstone

Hollington stone

Hollington Stone
(a form of sandstone used in the construction of churches among other buildings) actually comes from quarries in a village called ... Hollington!
(This may not come as a surprise to others - but I'm afraid it did to me...)

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Once were Greats

Facade of the Nicholson Institute in Leek

Times change.  On the facade of the Nicholson Institute in Leek, now also the town's library and Art Gallery, you'll see these four faces.  The four are the Eternal Geniuses of The Arts & Sciences - at least so far as the makers of the buildings were concerned back in the 1880s.
The four are Shakespeare, Newton, Reynolds, and Tennyson - and above their heads is a quote from the poet Milton.

However...  of them all, probably only Shakespeare is the one now whose works are still well-known, loved & appreciated.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Tea vicar? In the graveyard

Colwich Churchyard, 'Cannock Chase View'

People are strange.  At Colwich Church-yard, they have set up a picnic table and chairs, from which they can see southwards over to Cannock Chase.  As you can observe, they have even installed a post - naming the spot 'Cannock Chase View'.

Would I create a picnic-spot in a graveyard, from where I could sip tea and admire a distant view? 
It wouldn't have been my first inclination.

This sense of the eccentric is something I'd miss if I ever had to leave Staffordshire. Somehow, below the surface, there is a definite eccentricity in this county.  (See all my posts labelled 'Odd Staffordshire')

This post was featured on the 'City Daily Photo Theme Days'

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A trio of ovens

Bottle ovens

While we're profiling bottle ovens (see previous post), here are some more.  These three at the southern tip of Burslem stand very much alone and abandoned these days, so they look rather forlorn, but... it was a misty day ... and at least they remain complete.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Relics of the pottery towns

Bottle ovens at the Gladstone Pottery Works

Bottle ovens - the specifically shaped kilns in which large amounts of pottery ware used to be fired in the good old bad old days - are still the symbol of the Potteries towns... even though there is not one left that is still in use.   Bottle ovens are now relics - and listed buildings.

The most famous bottle ovens are the ones left at the Gladstone Pottery Works in Longton. The works is now a much-praised museum.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Home across the water

'The Island' at Oakamoor

When it comes to being quaint - and being in the middle of lovely countryside as well - the village of Oakamoor in the Moorlands is hard to beat.

On the outskirts of the village is a small group of homes, whose address is 'The Island'.  You have to walk the bridge to get to them; like a permanently open drawbridge...   Quaint!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Tommy turned round

Borough War Memorial in Stafford

This 'Tommy' soldier from World War One is facing in completely the opposite direction to when he was first put up on this structure, the Borough War Memorial in Stafford.  He used to face the railway station - but when the law courts were built in the way, he was turned around, and now faces St Mary's, the town's large parish church.
One wonders why he was built facing the station, and not the church, originally.  It could be that the huge County War Memorial is by the station; was he meant to be saluting that?

The story comes from the fascinating booklet Researching Memorials by Staffordshire Archives.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

On the trail of Saint Rufin

St Rufin Chapel in Burston

It's difficult to get back far enough to get an interesting photo of St Rufin Chapel in Burston, and they tiny interior is almost bare... so this is the best I could do.

The chapel, which dates to the 1850s, is built near the (supposed) site of the martyrdom of St Rufin 1400 years ago.  The legend is a pretty one, but completely without foundation (see Legend of Wulfad & Rufin), despite the fact that the area makes a good deal of it, and that The Trail Of The Mercian Saints still takes in Burston.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Impressive, but not impressed

Lady Chetwynd Memorial in Colwich Church

You'll find the Lady Chetwynd Memorial in Colwich Church.  It's impressive enough, being almost life-size, but this mid-Victorian style of relief sculpture does leave me cold I'm afraid.

I think the boy is supposed to be one of the Roman guards at Jesus's tomb, in the act of being surprised by Jesus coming back to life.  His plainly eroticised figure rather distracts from the message, I'd think...

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Boring building

Offices of  South Staffs Council in Codsall

Part of the job of a photo-blog is recording interesting, outstanding or even ugly sights.

However, I had never considered recording boring sights.  Until I saw the offices of  South Staffs Council in Codsall.  Do buildings get more boring than this?

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Beware the scooter

Pedestrianised Cannock

Does Cannock have the most pedestrianised town-centre in the country?  I wonder.  It has an expanse of unbroken re-brick paving (such as above) for what seems could be half-a-mile square...

You'd think that this means that people can wander safely. In fact, the unintended consequence is that riders of disabled scooters can freely whizz all over the place; and one has to be almost as careful of being hit by them as one might be by a car!
Outside cafes, the scooters are lined up by their owners, like horses tied up outside a Wild West saloon.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Stables fit for a vice-chancellor

The University of Keele Clock House

The University of Keele took over the old Sneyd Hall and its estate in the 1950s - and the institution has never looked back since.

This courtyard complex in the picture is a little distance off from the main hall, built as the estate stables in the nineteenth century.  It is named The Clock House.
For some odd reason, it was made the Vice-Chancellor's official residence.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Where Stoke-on-Trent all began

Bridge 129 (Brownhills) on the Trent & Mersey Canal

This is - arguably - the place that the Potteries was launched as a modern industrial centre. 
Here at the very undistinguished Bridge 129 (Brownhills) Josiah Wedgwood made the first cut, in July 1766, on what was to become the Trent & Mersey Canal, one of the great highways of central England.

Without the canal, would the Potteries have been able to develop?

Monday, 5 January 2015

Regina Poloniae

Regina Poloniae, Hednesford Catholic church

This installation in Hednesford's Roman Catholic church neatly sums up the influence of the local Polish population in this former mining town.

The Poles came here to work in the mines after the war, and brought their fervent native religiosity with them: the Black Madonna is a famous icon of Polish devotion.  The shield on the left shows the Polish eagle, and the one of the right shows the arms of the Papacy.  The words Regina Poloniae mean 'Our Lady, Queen of Poland'.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Police set out to impress

Old Leek police station

This grand old entrance is, believe it or not, just the doorway to the old Leek town police station.  However, the huge text and the Latin inscription demonstrates the intention at the time (1891) - to impress (subdue?) the local population.

I also notice the Stafford Knots above the columns...

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New year, new days

Froghall Wood

Welcome to 2015!

In the woods round Froghall, the leaves are bare, but the days are growing longer.  At last.