AAAARGH! I was so preoccupied with various things yesterday that I completely forgot to post! Did you miss me? Do I get my wrists slapped?
Never mind. On with the show.
The Duke of Edinburgh stands opposite the railway station and what is now becoming known as Crazy Horse Corner after the statue of the late Emlyn Hughes. A railway town needed a railway hotel and when Barrow Central station replaced the old station in St George’s Square the Duke appeared. Once it was Barrow’s smartest hotel (for certain values of ‘smartest’, and as such no doubt housed dignitaries attending big launches in the days when launches were on the telly with commentary by Richard Dimbleby.
The hotel has, however, had a mixed history. When I returned to Barrow two years ago it had sunk to being an unsavoury joint called “The Duke”, decorated in headache purple and a venue for headache-inducing music. Now, I claim no credit for this but hardly had I unpacked my bags than the hotel underwent a long and painful refurbishment, to reopen once more as a hotel and upmarket (for some values of ‘upmarket’) bar. You can even get draught beer there, although it’s a tad pricey for Barrow.
The refurbishment included a good sandblasting, something that has happened to many Barrow buildings blackened by the long years of steelworks grime. Mostly this is for the better (Barrow is now as clean and wholesome a town as you’ll find these days) but with the Duke I can’t help feeling something precious has been blasted away. I remember it as black, with the hotel name in white lettering along those balcony railings you can see at the front. I stayed there once – it would be in the late sixties when my Nanna had one of her strokes. I can clearly remember lying on a high bed in a cavernous Victorian room, reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It seemed entirely appropriate.
The old Co-op in Abbey Road – retail emporium, meeting place and venue for funeral teas like my Nanna’s in 1972 – has been defunct for a long time now but the building, with clock for meeting under, remains. The ground floor is occupied by the Furness Railway pub, which has the virtue of being one of the few places in the town centre that serves draught beer, but in common with all others in the Wetherspoon group it has all the atmosphere of a Methodist Sunday school beetle drive.
It’s a new day now so I can post, for Monday, the fireworks for the birthday of the Walney Bridge.
Oh, I love fireworks! I’m lost for words – let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves.
Today is the birthday party for the Walney Bridge, although it’s not the actual 100th birthday which is officially on Wednesday of this coming week.
The parade en route to the Ferry Hotel for liquid refreshments. Note the “Love Barrow” emblem which has recently appeared on the Trident shed.
There will be fireworks tonight. I love fireworks!
Now what (meat and potato pies aside) could be more evocative of this part of the world than a brass band? Or silver band as I suppose this one is. Barrow Steelworks may be a distant memory now, but true to type the band plays on. They were playing to shoppers in Dalton Road this morning.
It’s been a gorgeous, warm day today and I’ve been making the most of it, unfortunately without my trusty Nikoff. By the time this evening came, and I was really looking forward to fish ‘n’ chips on the beach, it was raining.
Ah well! Here’s some more Walney beachlife – never unwelcome I think.
The spread of the personal computer over the last thirty years has been revolutionary, but it has done no favours for graphic design in the environment. First, it was that anyboy could churn out leaflets and newsletters they designed themselves, using every font available to them just because they could (the result being similar to mixing up all your coloured Plasticene into one murky brown blob.) Then is was one of my pet peeves, the laser-printed shop sign. Kebab houses are the worst offenders it seems but all our High Streets are being blighted by them
So, it’s good to see the traditional signwriter still plying his trade. Ian Whiteoak’s van can be seen all over Barrow at times. I caught it in the Furness Golf Club car park as I was on my way for a swim this morning. I’ve watched him in action before, too. There aren’t many people whose jobs I envy, but Mr Whiteoak is certainly one. I wish I could do that!
Here’s a crime in the course of being committed, in the oldest part of Barrow at the junction of Salthouse Road and Rawlinson Street.
This building, which as you see is of Barrow’s natural materials sandstone and red brick, is receiving a layer of mortar in readiness for being pebbledashed. Pebbledashing is the scourge of Barrow. It looks bleak and grey, especially in wind and rain, and it’s alien. Look closely and you see that the small stones include pieces of flint, which belongs to the chalklands and there are no chalklands closer than the Yorkshire Wolds. This here is a particularly vile act of vandalism and the planning committee which allowed it should be lined up and shot!
Leave the centre of Barrow on the coast road, the scenic route to Ulverston that hugs the shore of Morecambe Bay, and you come to Roose. Roose was there long before Barrow was, but it got swallowed by the rapid growth of the new town. Still, it likes to regard itself as a village in its own right, and it does have some attractive sandstone cottages as well as its own railway station. It’s a lost cause though; you can’t really see the join.
The corporation buses that went there had blue destination blinds with white lettering.
Roose is pronounced to rhyme with booze, and not (as train announcers are wont to do) loose.
The allotment is as much a part of the Northern English way of life as are pigeons, meat-and-potato pies and brass bands. In a region where many houses – perfectly good ones – have no garden, and there has long been a culture of vegetable growing. And then there was the war, and Digging for Victory, in which spare land was turned over to those willing and eager to grow food on it. My Uncle Frank used to grow onions the size of footballs on his allotment on Walney.
Allotments are still very popular in Barrow, and getting hold of one is pretty hard – there was a three-year waiting list for all areas when I enquired. This is a shame, as it’s difficult to get decent fruit and veg here, and I’d love to grow my own (I have loads of wormery compost to put on one though). Veg you grow yourself tastes like no other, and I’ve even managed home-grown brussels sprouts which otherwise I detest. I get angry when, as seems more and more common, allotment holders plant grass and garden chairs instead of food. And of course, those vermin of our time the property “developers” love allotments almost as much as they love bowling greens.