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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Excitement at the Five Rise Locks

It's been well publicised, so lots of you knew.... This is the answer to yesterday's puzzle - the crowds flocked to Bingley's famous Five Rise Locks at the weekend to catch a rare sight of the locks drained of water.  And not only to look... thanks to some carefully constructed scaffolding, you could actually walk right through the flight, from the top to the bottom.  The locks have been drained in order to allow engineers to replace four of the six huge pairs of lock gates, which are made of solid oak but which inevitably over the years start to rot and leak.  For further information, please take a look at the article put together by our local paper.

The spectacular staircase of five locks, built by John Longbotham, was completed in 1774, enabling boats to make the 60 foot ascent or descent of this stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.  It takes about an hour and a half for a boat to navigate through.

PS I'm still unable to comment on some blogs so if you haven't seen me lately, I'm sorry. 

Monday, 30 January 2012


Here's a puzzle...... where are these people?  And why are they here?

I'll give the answer tomorrow.......

Sunday, 29 January 2012

It's all downhill from here...

Follow the 'yellow brick road' in yesterday's post far enough and you arrive at a viewpoint, from where you can see a vast panorama up and down the valley.  The view down to Saltaire is largely hidden by trees but in the winter they are less dense and I managed to find this glimpse through.  You can see Salts Mill in the foreground, with the houses of Baildon above it on the far side of the valley.  The little hamlet in between is Baildon Green - see here for a photo I took there.

I took the above with my Nikon and at the moment I only have the kit lens 18-55mm, which can often be frustrating.  Compare it with this photo that I took from more or less the same spot in 2010 with my Panasonic, which has a huge telephoto zoom (but a smaller sensor... a case of swings and roundabouts).

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Yellow brick road... oh, OK, grey tarmac then...

Sometimes I start to feel a little confined, hemmed in on the floor of the Aire valley where I live, work and conduct much of my life.  Luckily, it doesn't take long to escape; a brisk up-hill walk on either side of the valley soon sees you crest a ridge and suddenly there's a marvellous view and a great feeling of space and light.  The north side of the valley takes you up on to Shipley Glen and Baildon Moor, a large area of which still feels satisfyingly 'wild' and natural (even though it has been shaped by man's activities for centuries).  The south side, rather more built up, nevertheless has a wonderful area of open parkland, thanks to a benefactor, Sir Norman Rae, who gifted the land to Shipley Council in 1920 for the benefit of the community.  I always enjoy walking through this avenue of trees.  Even though I know exactly where it goes, I still get a childish feeling of adventure, following a path that 'disappears' into the distance.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Fence post

Another experiment in processing, this time a photo of a wooden fence post covered in frost.  I liked the way the frost had formed circles along the growth rings of the wood ... though I don't know why it had.  Close inspection revealed all sorts of subtle colour and texture.  Amazing what beauty there is - not far away, just in the local allotments beside Salts Mill.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Saltaire's historic church

The same frosty, misty morning as in the previous post supplied this photograph of Saltaire's URC church, from the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.  I know I've posted pictures from roughly this spot before (see here and here ) but I really enjoy seeing familiar places in different lights and weathers.   In the winter too, when the trees are bare, you can see much more of the church and fully appreciate its unusual design.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Saltaire mist

A sharp frost one morning - and a line of black-headed gulls (in their winter plumage) seemed almost frozen to the spot on the riverbank.  On the opposite bank you can see the Saltaire Boathouse - originally a Victorian boathouse but now a thriving pub/restaurant.  Beyond that, the metal footbridge connects Roberts Park with the village of Saltaire and behind that the bulky shapes of Saltaire's mills rise through the mist.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Taking shape

Teeth are big business these days.  There was an article in the newspaper recently saying how many celebrities, including the Duchess of Cambridge, are having expensive cosmetic treatments on their teeth.  And what, perhaps you're asking, has that got to do with a half-finished building in Shipley?  Well, this is going to be the headquarters of an orthodontics firm, Ortho-Care (UK) Ltd.  You may recall me showing the skeleton of the factory way back in the spring.   From this to this to the above, in about eight months.  The glazing is in and they are working on the interior now.

The factory has turned out to be much larger than it looked at first - unfortunately for the residents of the cottages behind it.  Furthermore its modern, angular design bears little relationship to anything in the surrounding area, and certainly not to the historic, honey stone mill buildings of Saltaire, which are now hidden behind it.   The wing that you can't see, at the back, is clad in dark grey metal sheeting.  I'm a bit surprised that it got through the planning process - but maybe that shouldn't surprise me really!  It is supposed to be a very eco-conscious construction, so perhaps that triumphed over aesthetics.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Zigging and zagging

When it's cold and dull outside, it feels more enticing to stay in playing with photo processing than it does to go out with my camera.  This started off as a reflection of some houses/apartments and trees in the canal - 'nowt special', as they say in Yorkshire. (ie: Nothing special!)  I took it because I liked the strong zig-zag line and I think this graphic treatment emphasises that.  Perhaps it's still nowt special.  I quite like it, though I'm sure it could be refined further.  It's good to push the boundaries and try something different.  I guess this qualifies as a 'Weekend Reflection' -  though not my usual kind of entry into the theme day.  Do click the link and explore some more of the entries.  There are some great photos this week.

Friday, 20 January 2012


Painting © Jane Fielder and used with the artist's kind permission.

Isn't great when, even though you might have lived in an area a long time, you still discover something new?  That happened to me the other day when I went to Bingley, the next little town up the Aire valley.  I'd seen an ad in the local paper about a sale at an art gallery and thought it would be worth investigating.  It certainly was!  The gallery is owned by an artist called Jane Fielder, who displays her own work and that of other artists.  She is currently (until 26 February) staging 'The Under-the-Bed Sale': "a sort of artistic jumble sale, things that artists have stashed away... work that hasn't had chance to be seen before."  It was a treasure trove of work of all kinds, and all at really reasonable prices.  There were several pieces I would have loved to bring home.... had to make do with some greetings cards, but they're delightful.

I haven't seen Jane's own work before either and was utterly captivated by it.  She produces mainly 'quirky urban landscapes depicting Bingley and the surrounding areas in a humorous and original manner, which have become known as Janescapes.'  They are charming, colourful and optimistic paintings - and it's fun to identify the local landmarks, recognisable even though they aren't necessarily shown exactly as they appear in reality.  I had a quick chat with Jane and she seems exactly the kind of warm, friendly, generous person that her paintings would suggest.  She trained initially as a teacher, and later studied art and she says she always dreamt of becoming an artist - a dream finally fully realised when she left teaching in 1999 to concentrate solely on painting. Her love and enthusiasm for her subject shines through. She says, "On a bright day I can look across the never ending rows of terraces with their chimneys casting black shadows, echoed by the vast mill chimneys, highlighted only by rows of billowing washing and bras the size of windows, and think it is the most wonderful place in the world".  Well, I might not have been able to put it so eloquently but I totally agree!

The Bingley Gallery                Open: Thurs-Fri 12-6; Sat-Sun 10-5             www.thebingleygallery.com
29A Park Road
BD16 4BQ

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Aint nothin but a hound dog..

Another 'looking up' find.... I have puzzled to discover the origins of this dog, perched high up on a building in Bradford's Northgate.  I was pretty sure it was a pub sign and I think I've found the answer in 'Bradford's Timeline', which says in 1893 "The Greyhound Inn, Northgate - closed".  I imagine this building was the Greyhound Inn and, although the inn closed almost 120 years ago, the faithful dog still sits waiting and watching.  What a lot of change he must have seen.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Masonic decay

Bradford is definitely one of those cities where 'looking up' beyond the contemporary or tatty shopfronts is worthwhile.  This building on John Street was originally known as Unity Hall, and was leased by Bradford's German community. The stone head is the German poet, Friedrich Von Schiller.  Later it became a Masonic Hall and later still was used by The Oddfellows.  It is now empty and sadly decaying.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Yorkshire Penny Bank

Although some of Bradford's city centre is looking quite run-down, and well-meaning modernisers in the 70s destroyed some of the lovely old Victorian buildings, many gems survive - none more attractive than the Yorkshire Penny Bank building in North Parade.  Built in 1895, it is now a Grade 1 listed building, though it appears currently to be unused, having latterly functioned as a pub and restaurant.

The Yorkshire Penny Bank organisation still exists, although it is now called simply the Yorkshire Bank.  It was founded in 1859 by Edward Akroyd, a Halifax mill-owner philanthropist in a similar vein to Sir Titus Salt.  He too built housing for his workers around his mills and worked hard as a businessman and MP to improve the lot of ordinary working families.  The Yorkshire Penny Bank was also the first school bank.  I can remember taking my savings to school and giving them to my teacher, who wrote it all down in my own little bank book.

They say round here: "Where there's muck there's brass."  So perhaps it's not surprising that a Yorkshire bank did well.

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Co-op

It's very different from the heavy stone Victorian architecture in Bradford but somehow I've always quite liked this building, Sunwin House, opened in 1936 as The Co-operative Emporium, the flagship store of Bradford's Co-operative Society.  It was designed by W A Johnson, the Co-operative Wholesale Society's chief architect, in the 'International Modernist' style.  It's a Grade II listed building, owing to its intact survival both inside and out.  When the Co-op pulled out in 2004, it briefly became a T J Hughes store.  That also closed down recently and now it's another empty building.  Let's hope it doesn't deteriorate and that someone else is visionary enough to take it over (John Lewis?? hint, hint...)

Generations of Bradford folk must have memories of the store.  I recall in my student days buying my first ever small black and white TV from here, on an interest-free credit deal that I was scrupulous about paying off every month.  I felt very grown-up!  Lots of children must have been brought here to buy their 'best coats' and shoes and to whisper their hopes to Santa Claus in his grotto at Christmas.

(I'm having problems commenting on some blogs, so if that's yours - sorry!  Let's hope Blogger sorts the problem out quickly.  I suspect if you change the comments setting to 'pop-up' it might help.)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Hallé

From 'hole' to 'Hallé'...  It may not have lovely shops to entice me, but Bradford does have some excellent museums (including the National Media Museum), galleries, theatres to be proud of and a good concert hall, St George's Hall, designed by Saltaire's architects Lockwood and Mawson.  It provides the Yorkshire venue for the world famous Hallé Orchestra, based at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester but who have played regular concerts in Bradford since 1865.  And don't they travel in style?  This is one of their smart vans, complete with its personalised numberplate  - HA10 LLE!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Hole


This is the famous 'hole' in Bradford's city centre.  It used to be a concrete shopping centre, built in the 70s and functional rather than beautiful.  That got pulled down and developers (Westfield) were going to build a smart new centre..... They started digging.... and then the recession came along and all work ceased, leaving this very large and ugly hole.  The Council made a big fuss about turfing some of it over to make a 'People's Park' - huh?  Which is not so much a park but more an area of ... well, turf really.  Who knows whether we will ever see a shopping centre.  But for that matter, who wants another one?  There are all the usual chain stores further up in the city centre.  Though actually there are more 'pound shops' and closed-down shops than decent stores.  

Like it or not, most people with the means to do so go shopping in Leeds, which is a much bigger city and much more vibrant, and only 20 minutes away on the train.  (A new shopping centre is under construction there.)  I'd like to be loyal to Bradford, which was once a great city and could still have lots going for it... But the shopping area is terribly depressing.  If a local councillor asked me (and none of them ever have!) I'd say the only thing that would entice me back to shopping in Bradford would be if John Lewis were to open a store here.  They have such great shops and the nearest branch is in Sheffield or Manchester, far too far away for me.  I shop online with them sometimes but it would be bliss to have a local store.  How about it... is anyone listening?  

The buildings on the left in this photo are Victorian buildings, part of Bradford's 'Little Germany' area, so-called because they were built by German merchants in the 19th century. You can also see the tower of Bradford Cathedral, a lovely church that at one time was at the heart of the old city.  This area housed the slums that prompted Sir Titus Salt to build Saltaire, to remove his workers from the dreadful living conditions of the city in the early 19th century.  I would have thought someone could usefully be exploring 'the hole' as an archeological dig whilst it's just empty.

Friday, 13 January 2012

One landscape, many views

I was in Bradford recently and took the opportunity to reconnoitre the new City Park, which has been under construction for a while, around the lovely old City Hall... it's not yet finished enough for good photos, I decided.  (I was wrong - check this out..)  However, I did notice this interesting reflection in a nearby building.

Our local newspaper, The Telegraph and Argus, built an extension to its Victorian headquarters some years ago.  This large glass-clad wing houses its printing presses.  Look carefully and you can see some rolls of newsprint ready to be used.  At present it has this huge banner: "Bradford - one landscape, many views" at the top of the window.  I thought the reflection was a nice illustration of just that sentiment.  The largest reflected building is one of the solid Victorian structures that are scattered about the city and houses the local council's finance department, among other businesses.  The buildings to the left are what remains of some developments built in the 60s/70s, some of which have already been demolished(!)

If I can get round to linking it, this will be a 'Weekend Reflections' post... I haven't done one for a while.... (Later)... OK, I'm linked.  Click here to get access to everyone else's gorgeous and imaginative reflections themed photos for this weekend.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

In search of colour - 10

Rainbow colours in Salts Mill's 1853 Gallery.

That's the end of the colour series for now... but it taught me the value of going out with my camera and holding some kind of 'theme' in mind.  Must try a few more ideas...

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

In search of colour - 9

Soft, muted shades... a grey door and pink blossom.  I'm not sure if this is a winter-flowering variety or a tree that is severely confused by the recent mild weather.  Either way, it's pretty and a pleasant sight on an otherwise grey day.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

In search of colour - 8

OK, here's one that's not red - well, not really!

Cyclamens are such pretty little flowers, but they don't do well indoors.  This one seems to like its position on the steps, cool yet sheltered - and it can see everything that's going on!

Monday, 9 January 2012

In search of colour - 7

Saltaire has managed to hang on to its iconic, old-fashioned red telephone box.  It adds a splash of colour in the middle of the village, in the little square where Saltaire's wash-house once stood.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

In search of colour - 6

A holly bush adds a touch of colour in front of Saltaire's New Mill.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

In search of colour - 5

Hardy little pansies in a bright red pot make an attractive point of colour further along Albert Terrace. I always think it's nice that people seem happy to leave pots outside their houses, right on the street.  I would have thought someone might walk off with it - perhaps they're more interested in pinching the lead off the roof!

Friday, 6 January 2012

In search of colour - 4

This series could just as easily have been called 'Saltaire Rouge', taking a theme from Virginia's wonderful blog 'Paris through my lens'.  This dear lady in red chose just the right moment to walk along Albert Terrace.  Thank you, whoever you are!  (The other couple could be William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, having an incognito break in Saltaire?)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

In search of colour - 3

Red berries - some sort of a pyracantha (firethorn) shrub, I think - make a bright foreground, with Saltaire's United Reformed Church tower behind.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Hmm, start a new series and then a sky like this comes along....  So amazing, I couldn't wait to show you!  I will return to my 'search for colour' tomorrow - though in fact there's plenty of colour here too.

I think J M W Turner, 'the painter of light', might have enjoyed this view over Saltaire, taken on Monday.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

In search of colour - 2

Subtle colour here, in the Christmas wreath, the stained glass and the bright leaves.  Not a standard Saltaire front door (the heritage doors have four horizontal panels, like this).  No doubt it's frowned upon by the planners, but it is quite smart nevertheless.  Note also the difference in colour between the cleaned (sand-blasted) stonework and the original, blackened by soot from the years of coal fires and belching mill chimneys.  Most of the public buildings have been cleaned up but some of the houses have and some have not.  I guess which you prefer is a matter of personal taste.

Monday, 2 January 2012

In search of colour - 1

It may be mild weather here but the downside of that is that it's damp, drizzly and incessantly grey.  Short of photos and short of inspiration, I set off in search of some colour in Saltaire... I found it in all sorts of unusual places.  This abandoned Christmas bauble looked like it was suffering a bad hangover, collapsed among the leaves in the gutter.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2012 dawns

I must admit to being rather envious of the beautiful dawn skies that Vicki often posts on her blog - the backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains is a tad superior to Shipley town centre, it has to be said.  Nevertheless, the sky as I walked to work on Friday was pretty stunning.  And yes, red sky in the morning did result in rain by the afternoon, those shepherds/sailors were right!

This seemed a fitting image for the start of another year.  I'm personally hoping for rather less family drama in 2012... but I give thanks for all my blessings.   'God's in his heaven, all's right with the world. ' Sadly we know all's not right with everything in the world, but sometimes just choosing to focus on the bright side does help, I find.