It was quite hard to capture, in one photo, a sense of the sheer scale of the Bingley Five Rise locks staircase. This shot, taken from near the bottom looking back up, perhaps comes closest. You can see the 23 foot (7m) high stone walls of the lock chambers and one pair of the huge new lock gates, with beyond that another two pairs. There are four pairs of gates being replaced, out of the six. As part of the project, the stone walls are also being inspected and repaired, using traditional lime mortar to preserve the authenticity of the Grade 1 listed structure.
The new gates were made of solid oak at the Stanley Ferry Workshops in Wakefield, one of only two manufacturers in the UK. There's a photo here of one of the old gates being craned out of the locks; they are being recycled. It's all a massive undertaking, costing around £250,000 and involving the hire of a huge crane. In the old days they simply used ropes, an A frame, blocks and tackles and human strength!
I must compliment those responsible for enabling the public to enjoy this rare insight into our local heritage. Judging by the queues, there were thousands of people as curious as I to see what is normally hidden underwater. (The local press say 7148 people visited over two days.) I was surprised they didn't charge for entry - they could have recouped some of the cost of the project ... but instead there were collecting buckets for the 'Help For Heroes' charity, which aids our armed forces personnel wounded in recent conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.)