Wednesday, 31 March 2021
A lick of paint?
I took this picture because I liked the way the sunshine was picking out Saltaire URC church against the backdrop of heavy storm clouds. It's only in the winter that you can really see this view of the church. Foliage gets in the way in the summer. It wasn't until I was processing the image afterwards that I noticed the peeling paint on the old lamp-post. Time for a fresh coat of black, I think...
Tuesday, 30 March 2021
Spring comes to Shipley
Beyond that is a building worthy of noticing too. Now housing a portrait photographer's studio, a hairdresser, a furniture store and our local Conservative MP's constituency office, it was at one time Shipley's Public Baths, with a swimming pool and slipper baths. The date stone on the building says 1906. It has an interesting corner, where the ground floor is rounded to allow more room to pass and the upper floor juts out square above. I also found a fascinating website with information about Shipley during WW1 (HERE) that had the following rather amusing snippet:
Beyond the old baths is Shipley Town Hall, still used for that purpose. This Edwardian complex also at one time held Shipley's Fire Station, which was then moved to newer premises up Saltaire Road, and recently again to a brand new building on Valley Road.
Monday, 29 March 2021
More men at work
I found I was unable to continue my walk along the canal towpath last week, as a section was closed - yet again. I think it is at least the third separate week that it's been barred off. At one point I noticed this stretch of water, between Hirst Lock and the Aquedect, had been almost drained too, though it was filled up again quite quickly. I'm not exactly sure what they are doing. The notice said something about 'essential investigations to support future plans' or words to that effect. The CRT website suggests that they are investigating how to stop leaks from the canal along this stretch.
I had to reroute along the river and then back through Hirst Woods. From the river path I could see a group of workers in the distance (above). Coming back through the woods, I still couldn't really see what they were doing, though there is a kind of pontoon on the canal itself.
As you can see, the canal runs at a significantly higher level than the river just here, along the steep hillside. The paths through Hirst Wood are higher still. I imagine leaks from the canal could destabilise the whole slope, with potentially nasty consequences.
Sunday, 28 March 2021
Sunday meditation: Ivy
Saturday, 27 March 2021
Friday, 26 March 2021
Thursday, 25 March 2021
Little yellow suns
Our first spring flowers to appear are the lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) - bright little suns with heart-shaped leaves that grow in damp and mossy places. As well as being uplifting to human spirits, reminders of spring after a long dark winter, they are important nectar sources for bumblebees and insects coming out of hibernation. The poet Wordsworth was so fond of them that he wrote three poems about them.
'But the thrifty cottager
Who stirs little out of doors,
Joys to spy thee near her home;
Spring is coming, Thou art come!'
Wednesday, 24 March 2021
The beauty of a newly dug patch
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Blue sky thinking
A recent sunny, blue sky day with a noticeable uplift in the air temperature had me reaching for my big camera, feeling that spring was on its way. Sadly, I proved to be well out of practice with my camera skills and I was disappointed with all my shots. I suppose it doesn't help that, despite the spring-like intimations, nature has barely yet started to slough off the winter. Paths are muddy, trees still bare, grass worn and scruffy, even the river looks messy with debris brought down by the winter floodwaters. But still, I will hold on to those intimations of better things to come.
These pictures were taken down by the Aire in Myrtle Park, where the river is joined by Harden Beck and the waters swirl round an island, over a series of small rapids.
Monday, 22 March 2021
Hirst Wood Recreation Ground
Sunday, 21 March 2021
Bold mallard, shy swan
My photo makes it look like there was only one duck on the Coppice Pond up at Bingley St Ives. It's deceptive. It's such a large area of water that the birds spread out. There were actually lots: mallards like this one, tufted ducks, black-headed gulls, geese, at least two swans and probably more if I'd stayed still long enough to study them all.
Further round by the jetty, a lady was trying to entice a swan to eat grain from her hand. The swan was definitely interested but not quite brave enough to reach out. It was a strangely intimate little scene.
Saturday, 20 March 2021
I walked past Salts Mill yesterday and noticed they are busy constructing what appears to be a film set in the alleyway. The Mill is currently closed to visitors anyway, although there are several businesses that also work out of the buildings, so they may be affected. Hard to tell what exactly it will be - clearly a street scene of some kind. There appear to be steps on the right, a shop window, half-timbered walls? I shall have to go down again to see what it looks like in a few days. I've no idea what they will be filming, though someone told me they have been shooting 'All Creatures Great and Small', the TV series about James Herriott, the Yorkshire veterinary surgeon, in Bradford this week. I know they were shooting 'Gentleman Jack' in Bingley not long ago too. They go to such lengths for what may be really very short burst of action in the end product of the whole film.
No doubt all will be revealed in due course. I'll keep my eyes peeled for some more action.
Friday, 19 March 2021
Loitering in the graveyard
Thursday, 18 March 2021
There are some moves towards a greener, cleaner transport system. They've provided bike racks in this car park (confusingly illustrated with a car shape...) and are improving cycle routes. A few electric vehicle charging points have been installed throughout the district. There's a long way to go.
The Bingley Bypass and other 'improvements' further up the valley have speeded up traffic, which then gets severely snarled up coming through Saltaire and Shipley. The main route through Saltaire is (apparently) one of the most polluted in Britain, and regularly has traffic jams. It has, of course, been a little better during lockdown but the traffic density at certain times of day hasn't seemed to drop very much. You kind of get used to it.
There's a significant divide between the planning rhetoric and the actual decisions that get made. We have recently been granted a local Shipley Town Council, which perhaps means the lobbying voice will be stronger and also means certain funds are available to spend locally. The trouble always seems to be that what suits some folk harms others. Perhaps it always been like that but it feels more than ever that we need to come together with a significant effort to protect our beautiful planet and at the same time enhance our local areas to make them healthier and greener places to live. Seems that lockdown has proved we can pretty much do without our city centres but everyone wants some green space to help us hang on to our sanity.
Wednesday, 17 March 2021
Sunshine and daffys
Recent rain had swelled the river again. In fact, as I walked round the park I realised part of the path was under water (a HUGE puddle), meaning I either had to retrace my steps or attempt to step up onto the cricket pitch to avoid the wet. The boundary wall at that point was about half a metre high, rather a steep step up - so I was glad of the gallant gent who offered his hand and pulled me up! Who says chivalry is dead?
Tuesday, 16 March 2021
I'd like to be here... #4
I'd love another wander round the grounds of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, near Ripon in North Yorkshire. It's a National Trust property and a World Heritage Site. It gets packed with visitors so winter is the best time to visit - and there are masses of snowdrops along the banks of the River Skell. It's sadly off limits in this current lockdown, though I think it remains open for local people to visit.
The Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1132. The Cistercian order was an austere and devout order that originated in France. A large lay brotherhood, working alongside the monks, cared for the buildings and farmed sheep and soon the Abbey was wealthy and influential. It seems, however, that the enterprise grew too large for its monastic roots and economic collapse in the 14th century saw the monastery decline and some of its lands sold off. A brief period of revival was cut short in 1539 by King Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries (when he made himself the head of the Church of England and severed ties with the Roman Catholic Church). In 1540 the estate was sold to Sir Richard Gresham and became the property of a succession of wealthy families, who built Fountains Hall in the grounds and landscaped the gardens.
Monday, 15 March 2021
A sudden shower
Sunday, 14 March 2021
I 💛 Saltaire
Saturday, 13 March 2021
I must be a bit weird but I get as much pleasure from seeing something like this as I do from a good landscape. Such mini 'urban landscapes' are all around us if we open our eyes to see them. I pass this metal door, in a wall in a little alleyway in Shipley, every week on my church newsletter delivery round. Most weeks I've walked past it without really noticing and then one day - maybe through a trick of the light - I suddenly saw that wonderful patina and colouring. I don't know what the door is for. Why it's so ornate, how old it is and what actually lies within, I have no idea. It is locked and looks like it may be one of those electrical junction boxes or even some kind of a safe, though it is outside. They don't usually use elaborate mouldings on junction boxes. So it's a mystery - but rather a beautiful one.
Friday, 12 March 2021
Around the Almshouses
A few cheery crocus bulbs have come into bloom on the grass in front of Saltaire's almshouses, the small homes provided by Sir Titus Salt for the frail and elderly from the village. The flowers weren't what I was intent on finding though... I was looking for the memorial plaques that I'd read were hanging in one of the porches. Normally I'd stay on the pavement and I wouldn't walk up so close to the houses. (I wouldn't like people coming right up to my front door!) It was, however, quite early in the day and there were few people around so I walked around the drive and found the plaques. They commemorate some of the earliest residents that lived there, giving their names, the dates they were admitted to the almshouses, the dates they died and their ages. One has the inscription: 'Here (ie: in death) the wicked cease from troubling and the weary be at rest' and the other says "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord'. Very Victorian!
Thursday, 11 March 2021
The Rosse and a ghost
The corner plot was sold to Charles Edwin Rhodes in 1869 for the pub. Originally a butcher, by the late 1860s he was a beerhouse keeper at The Beehive, down Saltaire Road (later The Shipley Pride). His three brothers were builders and it was Rhodes Brothers that did much of the building in the area over the next few years. The pub would have drawn its trade from Saltaire, situated on the hillside below and famously kept 'dry' by Sir Titus Salt. Later the new housing that grew up around the pub would have provided plenty of clientele.
On one of the houses you can see just behind the pub, you may be able to see on the end wall there is a ghost sign: an old hand-painted advertisement, now faded and unreadable. The reason many of these still survive may be that the oil paint contained lead and adheres strongly to the masonry. I can't really discern what it says apart from 'For All Glas...'.
Up the hill beyond the houses is St Peter's Church, Shipley, consecrated in 1909, which was built as a sister church to St Paul's on Kirkgate, to cater for the growing population at this end of Shipley.
Apart from the modern signage (Sky Sports!) you could almost believe little has changed in this corner of Shipley since Edwardian times. Of course, there was for a long time the notorious Saltaire roundabout in front of the pub, a fairly scary feature to negotiate, from whichever direction you approached, and now replaced by much safer traffic lights.
(Some information garnered from a fascinating little booklet 'In the Shadow of the Rosse' written by local historian Ian Watson. (See HERE). I hope he will forgive me repeating it here.)
Wednesday, 10 March 2021
Little Horton Green conservation area
Behind All Sants Church (see yesterday), the hamlet of Little Horton Green, despite being surrounded by the city, has retained some charm. It has several listed buildings that still have some authentic features, and it's now a conservation area. The mid-17th century yeoman's house ( above) was divided into smaller tenements to house textile workers in the late 18th century. The cottages below, including the little Brick House were, I think, built for textile workers around 1800.
Unfortunately the manor houses of Horton Hall and Horton Old Hall were demolished in the 1960s, after lying empty and then one being damaged in a fire. Such a shame. These days they might have been restored. I think we generally have a greater respect for historic buildings than they did in the 60s and 70s.
Having read the conservation area documents, I realise I ventured only part way into the hamlet and there is more to see further on. I may have to go back!
Tuesday, 9 March 2021
All Saints Church, Little Horton
It was built in 1864, designed by Francis Healey for the Lord of the Manor of Little Horton Green, Sir Francis Sharp Powell who lived in Horton Hall (now demolished). When the church was built, Bradford was rapidly expanding and nowadays the church is hemmed in by the city, not far from the University and right opposite one of the main hospitals (some of whose original Victorian buildings used to be a Victorian Workhouse). At one time though, this was a small farming and cotton weaving hamlet; some of the old buildings still survive behind the church.
Monday, 8 March 2021
There is currently a lovely display of crocus blooms in Saltaire's Roberts Park - though they did look to have been trampled a bit, either by idiots or idiots' dogs. Some people just can't bear things looking nice, can they? I was bored so I ran the image through some filters to intensify the colours. Just playing... The flowers actually form a rough heart-shape, with yellow in the centre and a purple edge, though the purple runs out at the front, again probably due to people walking over the plants when they are pushing up. There's a railing but it doesn't stop people taking a short cut down to the river. The colour is a nice reminder that spring is on the way.
Sunday, 7 March 2021
Sunday meditation: The temple in the water
Saltaire's URC church, glowing in late afternoon sunshine, looked like a golden temple reflected in the canal.
Saturday, 6 March 2021
Waste is big business
An odd thing to photograph, I suppose, but I find our local waste and recycling centre quite a fascinating place. There's usually a queue of cars waiting to get in and dump their stuff so, when I happened to walk past and there was hardly anyone there, I was a bit surprised. The staff were using the lull to compress the waste in the big skips, using that big JCB. Everything has to be thrown into the correct skip - some for general waste, some for garden rubbish, some for recyclable items. When you're in a queue of cars it can be hard to spot the right bit and even harder to park up near enough to be able to carry your heavy bags of waste from the car to the skip. Thankfully the staff are mostly quite helpful. For a while during lockdown, the site was closed, until they realised that everyone wanted to use the time at home to manicure their gardens and clear out household clutter. (Not that I've made much progress on either front, personally!)
I may be weird but actually I'd love to learn how they operate a site like this and what happens to all the waste once it leaves here. I think as a nation / world we are going to have to get much cleverer about how we deal with our waste. As it is, there is frustratingly little information to help us. I had to change an LED lightbulb last week. (Grr, I thought they were supposed to last almost forever!) Anyway, it proved difficult to find out how to dispose of the faulty one. It seems they CAN be recycled here. (I should have popped it in my pocket and called in with it, I realised afterwards!)
Apologies for the rather distanced photo. The tip entrance is on a bend and it wasn't safe to stand in the road or the entrance. I had to stay on the opposite pavement and I couldn't zoom in with my phone.
Friday, 5 March 2021
A country churchyard is possibly the one of the best places to go looking for snowdrops. I happened to mention to a friend that I was seeking to find some within reasonable lockdown travelling distance. Consequently, we arranged to meet for a pleasant walk over the other side of Bradford, around Tong village. The churchyard didn't disappoint, having a rather lovely display of the flowers around the mossy old gravestones. Snowdrops are aptly named, aren't they? From a distance the drifts do look like lying snow.
St James' Church, Tong, dates from 1727, though evidence of earlier Saxon and Norman churches have been found on the site. It was built by local landowner Sir George Tempest for his estate village and survives largely unchanged within and without. Of course, the church was closed but I enjoyed exploring the grounds, which have been developed into a Spiritual Garden for quiet contemplation. There is a progressive walk around the outside of the church through Celtic style prayer circles of stone engraved with quotes. There are several wooden benches, also carved with Bible quotes, set among some carefully considered planting. It's affiliated with the Quiet Gardens Trust. Despite the strong wind and dull skies, it still felt a very peaceful place to linger.
It's quite amusing to note, from a monument close to the church door, that one of the church's vicars was in ministry there for 53 years! He apparently lived in a grand vicarage along the lane, was father to 13 children and refused offers of a Bishopric, no doubt deciding he was better off in a very small parish with relatively few demands. Even now, Tong village looks like a lovely place to live, set among fields and with many attractive and historic properties lining the main street. The village stocks (in front of the church, see above) don't look to have been used lately!