Versailles de Furness

January 3, 2009 at 23:31 | Posted in Barrow, Barrow Island | 12 Comments

Barrow Island Flats

The flats on Barrow Island, cleaned up in recent years (figuratively and metaphorically), look imposing in winter sunshine. Here we look the full length of Michaelson Road; from the Devonshire pub at the top end here to the Majestic Hotel on Schneider Square at the far end is a useful indicator when out running – it’s exactly a kilometre.

Barrow has been unusually quiet today. A significant slice of the population will have made the trip to follow Barrow AFC’s progress in the FA Cup against mighty Middlesbrough. Alas, the Bluebirds’ cup run came to an end, but with dignity and without disgrace as they went down 2-1. Now they’ve shown what they can do, it’s time they stopped playing like numpties in the Blue Square Premiership!



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  1. numpties? what does that mean?

  2. It means that in their usual football competition, the Blue Square Conference, they are not playing anything like as well as they are capable of, as seen when playing Middlesbrough, several grades above them in the FA Premiership alongside giants like Liverpool and Arsenal and the expensive ego-trips of squillionaire oligarchs (naming no names)

  3. Is Barrow the Paris of the North West?

    Ah, yes, funny how so many Russian businessmen who made immense amounts of money at young ages and in less than transparent circumstances during the 1990s suddenly started buying-up British football clubs and other businesses, and no-one appeared to care!

  4. No, but Paris may aspire to be the Barrow of France – but it will never have the distant views. Or should I stop wearing the rose-coloured spectacles?

  5. Well, Peter, there is that big iron tower in the middle for distant views. But that makes Paris the Blackpool of France, n’est pas?

    Alec – I understand that Southport has long claimed to be the Paris of the North West.

  6. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, Peter.

    What about the Paris of the North North West?

  7. That would be Ullapool, would it not?

  8. ~*hearts!*~

    Factoid, Ullapool is one of, I think, just two towns founded during the Industrial Revolution which was not on a river or principle road.

  9. If that’s true then Barrow is surely the other one.

  10. I’ve been living in Versailles, France for the last 34 years, – just opposite the Château – and this doesn’t look anything like the architecture I can see from my windows.

    While the roofs would appear Mansard in style, the buildings are too high for such architecture and therefore have a more Gothic influence than Mansard – and hence they reflect a distinctly N. German influence. Likewise, most of the roofs that I can see in my street are covered with copperised-zinc, not slates. Furthermore, local builders don’t use sandstone to construct the load-bearing walls; many older houses use a regional stone – akin to millstone-grit. Otherwise, in the town itself, buildings are clad in white limestone panels, or painted-over cement.

    In Versailles, we are subject to very strict planning regulations. Any projected building-work in the vicinity (withing a radius of 4 kms) of the Château must be cleared by ‘l’Architecte en Chef des Monuments Historiques’ before being built, restored or renovated – and this includes window frames, doors, and any external features – y compris, facade cleaning with sand or water blasting and repainting or repointing.

    For your information: Versailles is 20kms SW of Paris, so you mustn’t confuse the two.

    Finally, in Versailles, we are definitely NOT allowed to park our cars on tramlines !

  11. Peter – keep your hair on! And know an ironic reference when you see one.

    The Barrow Island flats are blocks of tenements, not a royal palace. For many years they had an appalling reputation, and yet now they have been cleaned up and refurbished they make an imposing sight. Well I think so anyway.

    As for tramlines, I’d love to see trams return to Barrow but trams have not run here for over seventy years now so I suppose it’s safe to park cars there.

    Oh, and I have been to Versailles and it’s undoubtedly impressive but you meet a better class of person in the flats and the way they turn the fountains on every hour on the hour to the strains of 18th century music is just tacky. Vive la révolution!

  12. Dear Enitharmon,

    Sorry, I can’t comply with your admonishment as I don’t have that much hair left to keep on.

    And yes, I do recognize irony. Don’t you recognize a response declaimed with a metaphorical ‘wagging finger’.?

    By the way: I knew these buildings, by reputation, fairly well.

    I was born and grew up on Walney in the late 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s and used to cycle this way to Grammar School every day (when I didn’t take the Low Road: – turn left after the bridge).

    There may not be trams any more, but I distinctly remember Trolley-buses running into the town center – in the artery we can see perpendicular to this one – (where the sun is shining on the tower). In my mind’s eye, I can still see the spider’s web of electric wires spanning the street, and the driver/conductor taking the long pole to switch the contact shoes between the different overhead catenary wires at each terminus.

    ps: “révolution” is not a word one hears very often in this town – so proclaiming ‘qu’elle vive, la révolution’ will lead you to an automatic visit to Mme Guillotine should you ever happen to pass this way again. Schoolkids in Versailles still get into heated arguments (and even the occasional pitched battle) with the ‘pleb’ of other localities about the destitution of Louis XVI.

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