Category Archives: building

Essex visit

Mersea Brick detail (1 of 1)

This fine but un-important little brickwork detail is in a garden wall on the Coast Road in West Mersea. I was visiting for a couple of days, as a friend of mine who lived near here, and was an important part of my growing up, recently died. I attended his funeral. It was a warm spring day, and the very small church soon filled up with relatives and local friends. I stood outside and listened to the proceedings that were relayed to the outside world over two small narrow black  loudspeakers on precarious three-legged stands.  

An amusing episode occurred when the vicar forgot the words to a stanza in one of the hymns, and sung ‘ tum ti tum ti tum ‘ instead. It was much more audible to the outsiders than the insiders, as he was all ‘ miked-up ‘, and his voice came over very clear outside, but was muted by the chorus of mumbling inside.Everyone outside sang along and sniggered, looking around at the other visitors.

I took the brickwork detail for granted when I lived in Mersea in 1966, but now I realise how fine it is. A bit like taking friends for granted when they’re immortal and young, and noticing them later on for their worth. I went back to Wales, resolving to pay attention to the detail.

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Showing soon: ” Build It and They Will Come “

Some of my photographs will be showing at Ultracomida in Pier Street in Aberystwyth from the 10th February for six weeks. What happens to the building when ‘ they ‘ leave ?

Burton stores architecture

I have been clambering about on a scaffold which has been erected preparatory to a re-furbishment project on a Burton building nearby. The Burton chain employed a particular architectural style which was a 1920’s and ’30’s  example of very distinct ‘ corporate branding.’

The faience brickwork has endured very well, and generally has only failed where there has been structural movement, or corrosion of the reinforcing steel within the structural framing elements of the building. 

There are some very graceful details to this building, and it is going to be a wonderful and iconic part of the townscape when its fully restored.

Montague Burton was the founder of the chain; he came to England  from Lithuania in 1900, at the age of fifteen. He started the chain in 1903, and by 1929 it consisted of 400 stores, factories and mills.

" The Tailor of Taste",

” The Tailor of Taste”.

Before scaffolding

Before scaffolding

Burton store; pilaster head detail

Burton store; pilaster head detail

Window head view, showing pilaster heads and lintol details.

Window head view, showing pilaster heads and lintol details.

Window head and lintol detail

Window head and lintol detail

Malaga: Muelle Uno

Muelle Uno, Malaga, 2012

Muelle Uno, Malaga, 2012

I have just realised that this time last year I was planning to be on my way to the Gnaoua Festival in Morocco in a couple of months. I stopped in Malaga, Spain for a few days en route, and enjoyed walking around the costly architectural games that had been played down by the old harbour. I wonder how many years it will be before this kind of adventure will be perceived as affordable again. It may be decades, and the experiments like this one, and  those in Valencia, for example, will possibly come to feel less ephemeral as they, hopefully, endure, and are not left behind as the next novelty captures the attention. 

Malaga, June 2012

Malaga, June 2012

Babcock & Wilcox : 10 Tons

Babcock & Wilcox: 10 tons

Babcock & Wilcox: 10 tons

This dependable bit of kit now presumably awaits recycling; this crane and gantry is gently rusting over a wharf on a stretch of the canal network near Wolverhampton. Babcock and Wilcox now seem to be making quite different bits of kit; re-inventing the company to fulfil demand for a new product.