21 October 2016

Archway Market – a colourful gem on Holloway Road every Saturday

Archway Market comes alive every Saturday on the wide pavement at the corner of St John's Grove and Holloway Road, two minutes' walk from Upper Holloway Station. Market hours are 10-5pm [approx].
For a small market the choice is wonderfully varied – organic vegetables, hand-crafted cheeses, meats, pastries and cakes, a hog roast, plus a great second hand book stall and greeting cards & prints.

A diversity of delights
the wonderful colours of nature
Yummy!  But by the time I thought to take these photos, at approx 3.45pm on Saturday 8th Oct, most of the cakes had gone and the hog roast was almost a carcass (see bottom right).
I would also recommend the grocer/convenience store on the corner where you can get good cheap proper coffee.

And now for the personal promo bit...
Find me selling my cards and prints of local images and montages every first and third Saturday (plus more dates if possible).
This weekend (Saturday 22nd) sees the launch of my locally-themed Christmas cards – nine options to choose from – come and place an order (free local delivery).

10 October 2016

Bernard Morgan House, Golden Lane Estate, Barbican

After delivering some of my cards to Exhibit on Goswell Road last month, I went for a walk around the Barbican complex and then to the Golden Lane Estate.
The marvellously colourful tiled entrance of Bernard Morgan House caught my eye:

Wonderful colors and images
Walking anti-clockwise around the building in to Golden Lane itself I noticed that all was not well; the garden area was in a terrible state and plants had been allowed to climb up the building. It was obvious that no one was living there now.

Taking the concept of urban meadows to a new level
 And then I spotted the demolition signs attached to the building.

The cobbled ramp that leads from the street, more fab tiles on the northern end of the building and, at the rear, specific signs of how the prep for demolition was underway
These pics were taken a month ago. The building may have gone completely by now. I know it's not a pretty structure but the whole of the Golden Lane Estate was constructed in the 1950s to bring social/affordable housing in a harmonious open plan environment to this area of London. It seems a shame that this building has not stood the test of time like so many similar structures in the area.
What will happen to the tiles? Can I have them please...?

7 October 2016

Signs of the times

Today I bring you some lovely old shop signs, most of which have since been removed.

Row by row: Soho, Holloway, Barnsbury, Clapton, Smithfield, Deptford, Lambeth, Piccadilly and Muswell Hill
And here are some others that please me:

New Oxford St, Belgravia, Fleet St, Gospel Oak, Fleet St and Finsbury Park

4 October 2016

The Alexandra Palace Theatre

On Tuesday 27th September I went up to Ally Pally for a tour of the old theatre that has lain unused and dilapidated for decades.
Ally Pally, The Peoples' Palace, opened in opened in May 1873 and the first theatre within it was built to stage "operatic and dramatic performances". The theatre was, at that time, a state-of-the-art venue special safety features by Grieve and Son including "lavish back-stage facilities" all new to the country at that time.
1) The Transmitter Tower steps feature lovely decorative AP-themed handrails; a device that is echoed all over the complex. 2) The frontage of the building displaying a poster for the theatre renovation. 3) The theatre reception hall (which will be converted into a foyer with a bar area to the rear). 4) Entrance to the main auditorium.
A few weeks later, on 9th June 1873, Ally Pally burned down caused by "a morsel of red hot charcoal" being dropped by workmen repairing the lead on the Great Dome. Despite the theatre's safety measures it was destroyed along with the whole complex in a fierce fire that took hold rapidly.
A meeting was called on the actual day of the fire to discuss rebuilding whole site. The second theatre, the one we see today, opened in 1875, although not to the same design. It had even greater fire and safety measures again designed by Grieve and Son.
On entering the auditorium that used to seat 2,500 people, I couldn't help but imagine how marvellous this use space must have been in its Victorian heyday with its decorative mouldings and fabulous curved upper balcony.
Details and traces of paint remain intact – these will be sympathetically restored in the same way as at Wilton's Music Hall.
Damage has set in over the years and, sadly,  a lot of the deterioration was exacerbated by the BBC using the space as a store room for heavy props.
Restoration work began in 2011. A lot of work has already taken place but, as you can see, there's so much more to do and this will need in excess of £1million funding in order to get this beautiful old interior ready for the public.
Moulded arched sections on each side may not have been original – it's suggested these may have been part of an old theatre set. The ceiling is at the moment secured with rows of batons and tape which will be removed at a later date.
The venue was subsequently used to show films. The projection room, a much later addition, is still there, jutting out into the curved upper level.

The stairs that lead down from the projection room, the room itself, the view from it, and a pencilled "wot no..." Kilroy-esque cartoon on the wall nearby.
The backstage area is exceptionally large for its type. Sadly, we were not able to view the under stage area to see where all the special lifting and shifting stage mechanics were housed.

The corridor to the left of the theatre borders what is now the ice rink. From the stage there is a great view of the 2,500 seat auditorium. Old curtains were still in place, hanging torn and dirty. Three different conference chairs amused me as they looked completely out of place amongst the old wood and Victorian fittings. 

On the day I was there the vast Great Hall was empty as it was between exhibitions so we popped in for a closer look and clearer view of the Willis Organ and Rose Window. It was really strange to see the place so empty as I have only been in there for live gigs and exhibitions.

More info about Ally Pally on the website

3 October 2016

Two closed pubs in Smithfield

Walking around Smithfield last month I was saddened to see that two of the characterful pubs I used to sometimes drink in are closed and awaiting development.

I hope there is hope for The Hope on the corner of Cowcross Street
The Smithfield Tavern in Charterhouse Street
In the last decade many of the pubs in this once vibrant meat market district have either been closed completely or have been gutted and remodelled resulting in the loss of all the old fittings including etched glass and carved wood. Let's hope these two establishments will be revived with their historical details intact.

28 September 2016

Classic Car Boot Sale, Kings Cross 1&2 October 2016

Another colourful weekend coming up at Kings Cross – bric-a-brac, clothes, household, crafts, cards, and more. Plus cars, food, music, drink and dancing.
This time I will be in the covered area. Do come and say hello.
Here are some pics from previous events:

More info here

22 September 2016

Shopicide – memories of an old fishmonger's shop

What is the word for destroying and 'modernising' something and replacing all that was historical, handmade and interesting with nothing of any style or class?
In January 2009 I took some pics of the old fish & chip restaurant and fishmongers at the northern end of East Acton Lane near Savoy Circus.

As you can see, the shop frontage was lovely with a hand-painted sign by Brilliant Signs Ltd of W12 (Permenart) and the little panels in the windows had decorative glass panels and ventilation inserts. Along the bottom there were lovely hand-fired green tiles with five fish motifs at regular intervals. For some reason I only took photos of three of them.

The shop was clearly closed for business. Peering in through the window I could see the lovely old seating was still intact. However some kind of renovation was underway there were paint pots on the counter which was covered in a cloth.

I haven't visited the area since and so last weekend took a short detour to go and check out what has become of the place.
But, oh dear, what a disaster – everything shown above has gone. And I mean everything. I didn't get out of the car to take photos because it was just too much.
The google streetview screengrabs, below, show that absolutely nothing is left of the old shop.

How is this allowed to happen? I have tried googling for other images of the old shop but the only pics I can find are my own – there must be some in an archive somewhere...?

Sad face.

15 September 2016

The Artizans, Labourers & General Dwellings company, Noel Park, Wood Green

The Artizans, Labourers & General Dwellings Company was a not-for-profit company that built social housing in areas of London with good rail links to the city, keen to promote good health and well-being in the poorer classes.
Ambling along Wood Green High Street yesterday I spotted one of their monograms above a branch of Subway on the east side of Wood Green High Road just north of the modern shopping mall. The building continues south housing thirteen shops but unlike the terrace on Harrow Road here in Wood Green most of the logos on the dividing columns at street level are now either missing, damaged or indiscernible.

Top left shows the unpainted terracotta relief above Subway. Top right shows another cartouche/monogram further down the terrace. I could find only three dividing columns that retain the complete ALGD monogram (the one not shown here is totally painted black).
Further down the road, on the same side, I found another two terraces bearing the same marks on either side of Dovecote Avenue which, despite its evocative name, these days leads to nowhere.

Top left shows the three monograms on the buildings either side of Dovecote Avenue
These terraces were part of the company's Noel Park estate built between 1883 and 1929.  I have not yet accessed any old maps or archives of the area but it's fair to assume that the company probably had more buildings along the Wood Green Road that may have have been demolished to make way for Wood Green Shopping City in the 1970s.
The Wikipedia info on the Artizans, Labourers & General Dwellings Company also lists ALGD sites at Battersea, Queens Park and Streatham – info and pics welcome.

6 September 2016

Holloway Road Old and New – nos.171-185

The changing face of the Holloway Road*.
Today I am looking at the section that ends at the junction of Palmer Place and Drayton Park.

As you can see from these pics comparing the 1970s with 2013 not much has changed really.
Aha! But don't be fooled into thinking this stretch has been cared for over the years, because about five years ago this whole terrace and parade was cleaned up to remove all the graffiti and layers of unnecessary paint where shop owners had applied the "this is my have of the dividing column, so I will paint it" rule.
I get disheartened every time I see that beautiful old tiles on delineators between shops have been painted over. And on pubs too. What's the point of that? Tiles are almost self-clening and they don't need painting.
Oops, I digress... back to the pics...
Most of the shops along this stretch are now food outlets of some description; take aways, fast-food chicken, restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. So it's great to see that Bartlett's the hifi store is still trading at the same location after all this time. I have lived in Holloway almost 30 years and this is one of a only a few shops that has been a constant during this time.

See all the posts in this occasional series about Holloway Road here

Also see this old post about painted shop dividers

*This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend recently about how some roads have an extra 'the' put in front of them as in The Strand, The Aldwych, The Old Kent Road, etc.

2 September 2016

The Great Fire Of London – started 350 years ago today

On September 2nd 1666 a fire started at a bakery in Pudding Lane and spread rapidly, blazing away through the neighbouring streets and eliminating away a great swathe of the city.
The event was commemorated in the 1670s by the erection of The Monument on the site of St Margaret’s, the first church to succumb to the flames. The doric column with a golden urn of fire at the top. It's height of 62 metres echoes its distance from the source of the fire.  
Commemorative events and activities throughout the city this weekend. Find out more here.

Greeting cards featuring some of my photos above and many other London landmarks and observations can be found here.

26 August 2016

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2016

Last Monday, prior to the RA Summer Show, I spent a lovely birthday day in glorious sunshine Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and got to see Bjarke Ingels' marvellous pavilion outside the Serpentine Gallery.

This one is particularly good I think. It's a beautiful, yet simple, structure and has a function – there is a cafe within it.
A short stroll away there are some other smaller pavilions worth checking out:

Until 9th October.
More info here.

23 August 2016

M F Tarling/C&S Electrical, 48 Blackstock Road – Old shop sign reveal

These photos taken earlier this month (5th August) show the burnt old shop header panels for "M F Tarling" and, underneath on the windows, the gold lettering for C&S, Electrical Fittings & Installations.
if I was a proper sleuth I would have found out what Tarlings sold. But I am lazy and just wanted to share the observation.
I very much doubt this is still there – these things get covered or painted over fairly quickly.

18 August 2016

Royal Academy Summer Show 2016

On Monday I went with a friend to this year's Summer Show at The Royal Academy. It's an annual tradition; every year we I try hard to choose our favourite pieces in each room, money and space no object. This year we found it harder than ever to fill our large imaginary houses.
Every year I hope the selectors, judges, curators or whatever they are called might have removed themselves from the kindergarten our out of the arses of the RA artists, but no. This year seemed to be full of more poor stuff than ever before.
It's arranged differently. That seemed to good on first impression but our optimism subsided. Rooms that used to be jam-packed floor to ceiling have gone, one room is totally filled with not for sale works by the same artist like some kind of showcase for them, there are hangings for artworks high above the doors when I doubt they are even noticed, and as mentioned lots of super-expensive pieces with silly price tags on them.
Rows of dots on some artworks begged the question, was this a named artist like Tracey Emin or something so cheap (i.e. under £400) that people who go there intent on buying something have scant choice?
Sigh. There's always next year...
Here's my account from 2013
Below are some of the things I did like including, at the centre, one of the metal grilles on the floor:

The orangutan's face sort of says it all – furry muff, egg on his face, screw it!
Hurry hurry hurry... see for yourself – ends next weekend!!! More info here.

One of the best things there is in the courtyard off Piccadilly and is free to see – Ron Arad's "Spyre' – a marvellous and mesmerising tall metal kinetic sculpture.

9 August 2016

Holloway Road; Then and Now – No's 108 and 140

Please compare the black and white photos on the top with the colour ones on the bottom taken in 2013.

Such a change, yet in my opinion, not for the better; in a visual and architectural sense we clearly have not improved on what was there before.
When asked about time travelling, I usually reply that I would like to go back in time to the Late Victorian / Edwardian era in order to see first-hand the high streets and their shops; the pride taken in the splendid shop windows, the shapes of windows, the displays within them, the doorways with their mosaic'd floors, the hand-written or gilded signs, the merchandise, the uniforms worn by the staff. etc.
These two archive pics explain that effectively.

See all the posts in this occasional series about Holloway Road here

2 August 2016

Ideals in Industry – a book about Burton's

Delivering my cards to Oxfam bookshops is a dangerous process – shelves of delicious old antiquarian titles are always beckoning me. Keep away from the books Jane; keep away from the books!!
Last month I was in the Crouch End shop with a friend and he* found for me a wonderful little book by and about Montague Burton and Company telling us how bloody marvellous they are/were.
It's a fabulous bit of self promotion:

That's Monty on the top row next to an aerial shot of the Workshops Estate at Hudson Road Mills, Leeds, showing how big some of the factories were
Benefits of being a Burton's employee included; sing-songs while during work hours at the factory, dentists, doctors and nurses on site, morale-boosting visits by VIPs and royalty, plus social events, outings, theatre and dramatic associations, indoor sports facilities at work, a variety of external sports clubs, and much more.
The clothes were then distributed to Burton's distinctive and imposing shops. Their store at 118-132 New Oxford Street (end of Tott Ct Rd) was, in its day, the largest tailoring establishment in the world. Oh yes; this was a big company, make no mistake.
The back section of the book shows page after page of illustrations of all the Burton stores. I can see this is going to keep me quite absorbed for some time yet.... :-)

*Luckily I found him Pevsner's Middlesex Guide in the same shop.