30 April, 2007

The uncompleted parts of the New River Path

O traveller stay thy weary feet,
Drink of this fountain pure and sweet,
It flows for rich and poor the same.
Then go thy way remembering still
The wayside well beneath the hill
The cup of water in his name.

There are a few poems relating to water and some in particular associated with the new river. I started at the wrong end, which means I’m walking uphill, or I was today at any rate. Starting at the New River Head in Roseberry Avenue the new river is a bit of a fiction here. It has not run to the head since 1920 when the Metropolitan Water Board put their new HQ there. They built labs in 1939 and a pipe appears to run through the visible new river possibly taking water to the lab for testing. All these buildings are now, of course, luxury flats. Following the course is not too difficult as the river runs through streets up to Clissold park on large central reservations and even runs exposed through another park called New River Walk. The walk is quite flat as one would expect, first leading me up the back streets of Islington with a dad and his two sons playing with mini motos, which I thought was a bit much in the park, but aren’t they great?

The course then follows a path up Petherton Road, again under a large central reservation and there’s not much to tell until it comes up to the surface again at the Castle, an old pumping station that is now the new New River Head. The path skirts round two reservoirs and then follows the new river round to Finsbury Park. The river flows on an embankment here and it is strange to see houses below a river in this way. When I got to Finsbury Park I decided it was time to go home, although it was so flat I felt I could have walked to Amwell.
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29 April, 2007

Whistle stop tour of Manchester

Another visit to Manchester.
The inside of the Travel Inn was as adequate as they usually are.
The inside of Legends Nightclub was better than last time.
The inside of a flat in Salford was enhanced by 2 African grey parrots.
The inside of the New Century Hall was as expected.
The inside of the Coöperative Insurance Society Building was hot.
The inside of the Crown and Anchor was busy.
What the outside of these places was like, I'm not really sure.

12 April, 2007

A visit to the Peckham Conservation Area

As it's a conservation area the photographs are in black and white using Rollei Retro 400 film - a 1950s or 1960s type emulsion developed in an old fashioned Rollei developer.

Most of the buildings in the area are 19th Century houses - nice enough in their way but not much interest to me. However there are 3 excellent twentieth century buildings that are meritorious.

The first picture shows the Pioneer Health Centre, now converted into flats. Listed Grade II* it was built in 1934. Arthur Mee calls it the Glass House of Peckham, a great modern clubhouse, where the families of Peckham find every encouragement to be healthy, happy and wise. They may dance, fence, play games and swim in a blue-green bath. The debt was lifted by Lord Nuffield and Mr Meyerstein and over 1000 families had been examined when he wrote. The place is now nicely converted into luxury flats and the great floor to ceiling windows survive along with the blue-green bath.

R.E. Sassoon House is also listed grade II and was designed in the international style by Maxwell Fry and built for the Pioneer Housing Society in 1932 or 1934 (sources differ). Elizabeth Denby who was on the Utility Furniture Advisory Committee was also involved in the design.

St Mary Magdalene's Church was built in 1961 and is the most prominent landmark in the Street. It is on a traffic island this and its design emphasise its central importance to the community. The building was designed by Potter and Hare and St Mary Magdalene’s is a good example of their work according to the 20th Century Society. The building has a concrete frame forming a steeply pitched ribbed roof clad with copper that dominates the appearance of the building. The low walls are red brick and the church has a cruciform plan with the ridges of the nave, chancel and transepts sloping up to a central narrow spire with loudspeakers in lieu of bells - this is rather a demerit, although understandable bells are expensive, a hi-fi system isn't. 

08 April, 2007

Easter Day - Church in Harlow

Visited St Paul's Church in Harlow for the Easter Service. The church is in the 1950s style with a good sized congregation. The pulpit, painted lectern font and seating is all in the light and pleasant Festival of Britain style. The pews have heating installed as part of the structure - a good way to keep the congregation warm. I would like to take some pictures in the church but that's for another day. The church also has a mosaic mural of a haloed figure (Jesus?) with two other figures without haloes.
Here is a picture of the church

The service was traditional Evangelival Church of England with choruses and hymns, including 'Majesty', one of the few choruses I know.

The church of St Mary at Great Parndon is older and has a much more rural feel although it looks out over the Glaxo factory.

The picture shows Great Parndon Church porch.

07 April, 2007

The ford on the Chelmer

I visited Chelmsford from Harlow with Mark, travelling by bus via Old Harlow and some little villages in the Essex countryside. Chelmsford is the County Town of Essex and has the Essex County Hall and a cathedral. The diocese had its first bishop in 1914, therefore the cathedral is a former parish church rather than an ancient foundation like St Paul's or Durham. Even though it is on a rather small scale, the cathedral is attractive with a painted roof. It is also very light and airy.

The town of Chelmsford nestles between two rivers, the Chelmer and the Can, but the Chelmer gives the place its name - Chelmer's ford. The town has some good shops and a market, the highlight being the independent Chelmsford Star Coöperative Society Quadrant Department Store. There are pleasant riverside walks, and with beautiful weather, this was a good day out.

05 April, 2007

Highgate and Archway - Maundy Thursday afternoon

Maundy Thursday has come round again and therefore I, in common with all other Civil Servants, have the afternoon off. I'm never sure what to do with this jolly half day, but today I went to Archway and Highgate. Starting off at Archway Station, after the obligatory visit to the Coöp supermarket (which puts some of the others to shame) I walked up the hill past the Whittington stone where Dick Whittington heard the bells of St Mary le Bow calling him back to London. He subsequently made his fortune there as a mercer and banker, becoming Lord Mayor four times (three in the pantomime) and giving money to various charities somewhat indiscriminately.

At the top of Highgate hill is Waterlow Park, given by another Lord Mayor of London out of lands surrounding 5 Houses, including Lauderdale house, where Charles II 'entertained' Nell Gwyn, who threatened to throw her bastard first child off the roof unless the King gave him a peerage! The King begged her to save the Earl of Burford! The other dwellings included one where the poet Andrew Marvell, a friend of Milton, lived. The picture shows Lauderdale House the other houses have been demolished.

Highgate also contains the Whittington Hospital and a fusty old secondhand bookshop with everything priced at £12.50. The crusty old proprietor must love his stock so much he never wants to let it go. The other item of note, for gentlemen only was the spectacular public urinal, from the days when sanitary fittings were big.