Thursday, November 16, 2017

A visit to Sheffield

We set out on Wednesday morning last week having seen that the weather forecast was good and drove through Leek, Buxton, Castleton and Bamford right into the city centre.  The sun was bright in the sky and lit our way through some beautiful countryside.  The drive down Winnat's pass was wonderful, we've travelled that way many times before but I'm always stunned by the beauty of it.


Sheffield was much as I remembered it, once we had got our bearings as it must be about ten years since we last visited.  It was a regular shopping venue when I was a child and teenager growing up in Derbyshire as the bus to the city passed through our village at five to the hour every hour and the bus stop was opposite our house.  It was quite a long journey, over an hour as the service bus visited every village on the route.

Henderson's Relish or 'Hendos' as it is known locally is one of the icons of the city. There was a whole section of souvenirs dedicated to it in the Millennium Gallery which was where we were headed. We always have a bottle in the cupboard. I've put this photo in for my friend Robert who wrote about 'Hendos' recently in one of his blog posts - link here

 We walked down towards the Cenotaph near the City Hall then round to the Winter Gardens and Millennium Gallery. 


You can see from the photo below what a bright sunny day it was.  Walking was quite hard as my eyes aren't good in low winter sunlight.  I get blinded so easily by it and am always concerned about walking into someone - or a lamp post!

Opposite the Cenotaph is the city hall and in front of the city hall is a fairly new sculpture

Women of Steel by sculptor Martin Jennings commemorates the women of Sheffield and South Yorkshire who worked in the city's steel and munitions works during both first and second world wars.

The statue was commissioned by Sheffield City Council and unveiled in June 2016 with over 100 of the women who worked in the factories present at the ceremony.   This bronze statue has just won a prestigious award, the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association Marsh award for excellence in public sculpture for the sculptor Martin Jennings who is also responsible for the sculpture of Sir John Betjeman at Kings Cross Station.

Into the Winter Gardens where we had a little wander around before going down to the cafe in the galleries for a coffee and sit down before we looked around the exhibition I had come to see.

I loved the light in the gardens streaming down from the arched roof.

I think the flowers above are Bromeliads, they were very colourful.

I was quite anxious to get into the exhibition whilst it was still quite quiet.  Cameras were put away as we wanted to concentrate on the things we saw.  I wasn't disappointed.


The exhibition, on tour from the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, covers the work of Eric Ravilious and his contemporaries and friends from their first meeting at the Royal College of Art, where tutor Paul Nash commented that in those years there was a 'rare outbreak of talent ' amongst the students, to the time he was reported missing in Iceland in September 1942 where he had travelled as a government war artist for the RAF. The exhibition was collated and curated to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Ravilious's death.

Some of the group of friends eventually became known as the Great Bardfield artists.  Eric Ravilious and his great friend Edward Bawden are featured in this wonderful exhibition. There are also works from Helen Binyon, Barnett Freedman, Enid Marx, Thomas Hennell, Percy Bliss, Diana Low and Tirza Garwood who eventually married Eric Ravilious.  I was particularly struck by her wonderful interior works. The exhibition shows how the work of these artists could be found not just as paintings but in fabrics, wallpapers, book illustrations, woodcuts, book covers and end papers, programmes, newsletters, magazines and in ceramics too.  

It is a fabulous exhibition and well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Here are some links to see more

Millennium Gallery exhibition


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Photo Scavenger Hunt - October

It's nearly the end of October so I'm joining in with Hawthorn at I live, I love, I craft, I am me blog with this month's Photo Scavenger Hunt.

The words for October are

Making
Empty
Starts with an F
Paper
Neat
Street
Kettle
Unexpected
Vase
My Own Choice

************


Making - Banana Bread, a recipe from my old BeRo book.  It's a good recipe for using up old ripe bananas, it has walnuts in the mixture too and is definitely a cake rather than bread.  Lovely with afternoon tea.

Empty - a clean, empty drain under the steps up to 13 Oak Cottages, the worker's cottage at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, Cheshire.


Starts with an 'F' - Fungi and Fly Agaric spotted at Trentham Gardens early in October.


Paper - Also at Trentham Gardens a paper notice pinned to a board near where Georgina the gardeners' black cat has her little house.  She was adopted by the workers there and was always on hand to greet visitors who made it up to the top of the Italian Gardens near the ruins of the old house.  She has been taken home by one of the gardeners so that she can enjoy her old age in peace and quiet.


 Neat - a preening Egyptian Goose on the JCB lake near Rocester, it will soon be looking neat and tidy.


Street - Rosslyn Road in Longton lit by morning sunlight. The building just behind the wall is the library.



Kettle - more than one kettle in a display at a kitchen shop in Bakewell.  I think one of these would last for ages.  We use a Le Creuset cast iron casserole which was given us as a wedding present 38 years ago two or three times a week.


Unexpected - last week when I pulled up the blind on the landing window I spotted the above scene.  What on earth?  We get squirrels and foxes in the garden plus cats but non of them would have caused that amount of destruction and anyway they all jump over the fence if they have to.  There were claw marks on some of the shattered pieces of wood and a latrine hole in one of the raised beds.  Got to be a badger,  Bad badger!  There are tons of ways in and out of the garden but you had to fight your way through a solid fence, we've mended the fence but left the runs for now as we don't want the fence to be broken again.


Vase - a vase of flowers at Whightwick Manor near Wolverhampton taken earlier this year when we met friends there for a visit and lunch.


My Own Choice - another goose just because I like them.  This one is a Barnacle Goose, one of many at the JCB lake at Rocester.




Click on the link below to find other bloggers who are joining in this month.

http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Contrasting Lifestyles - Part Two

Quarry Bank House which stands at the side of the mill,  opened for the first time to visitors last week.  We saw it on the second day of opening which was a real treat.  I'd been watching out for when both 13 Oak Cottages and Quarry Bank House would be open so we could visit both at the same time.

I'd often looked at the house as we walked from the mill up into the garden and wondered what it was like inside.  I think it was owned privately until fairly recently when the National Trust were finally able to take it over.  I've just realised that with not going into the Mill itself this time and also with it pouring with rain we didn't take the usual path around the mill into the gardens and therefore I didn't take a photo of the house as a whole.  You can see what it looks like - here

 What impressed me most inside was the symmetry of the design, everything curving with no harsh edges.

In the entrance hall the doors to the rooms of were curved as you can see from the photographs below.

It was light and airy and the softness of the curves felt very soothing and peaceful.

At the moment the house is sparsely furnished which adds to the rather minimalist elegance of the rooms.  It is all very tasteful and very much a Georgian rather than Victorian home.

On the left as you enter is Samuel Greg's office and study, right next to the mill so he could look out over it.  Samuel and Hannah Greg lived in Manchester but spent holidays with their young children at a farm near the mill and Hannah in particular wanted to leave Manchester and live nearby so Samuel began the building of the house near the mill in the neo-classical style.

The first part of the house was completed by the 1800s and in 1803 Samuel had more rooms added to the smaller house.  At the moment there are only the three rooms open to view but they are rather splendid ones.

The volunteer we spoke to said that it had been intended to open the upstairs rooms but the staircase proved to be difficult.  It is a wooden, cantilevered staircase and it was found that even with just a few people going up and down each day cracks had appeared in the structure so it was decided not to allow people upstairs at the moment and as the house is listed a lift couldn't be installed either.

There is a wonderful curved bay window in the dining room overlooking the gardens.

As you can see it was very wet outside!

The drawing room too is light and elegant.  Here Hannah Greg ruled.  According to the volunteer we spoke to Mrs Greg, who was a great believer in education for all and who made sure her daughters were as well educated as her sons set up a literary and philosophical society for her children and as part of this each child had to write and submit a paper which was placed in a box and one chosen at random which would be read and discussed.


Apparently there was a service wing added in 1814 to house servants and also the nursery for all the children of which I think we were told there were thirteen.  This part of the house doesn't exist anymore as it was demolished in 1963.  Still in the cellar of the main house, although again not available to view at the moment, are the kitchens, laundry and other service rooms.

I hope you have enjoyed just a little peep into both  newly opened houses.  I think we will go back again next Spring to see how things have progressed.  I have put links over the names of both Hannah and Samuel Greg above so you can find out more about them.  Hannah in particular is very interesting to read about.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Contrasting Lifestyles - Part One

I promised in my last post to take you inside the two newly opened residences at Quarry Bank Mill.  As we visited the worker's cottage first that is the one I will write about first too.  All information is from my memory of what the guide told us on our tour and from the information boards and film in the hub plus information gleaned from their own website.

The cottages is known as the 'pickled' cottage as it has been kept just as it was found after the last, elderly resident left in the 1960s.   The cottage was one of many built in the 1820s by the Greg family to house their workforce .  Before the mill was built in the area Styal was a small agricultural village. You can see from the photo above that there was a cellar below the main cottage.


 Shall we look inside?  There are only about a dozen people allowed on each tour and only two at a time on the staircase.  We had a lovely guide who told us a lot about the cottage and who had lived there.

 Through the front door and into the living room.  Much of the research done has been into the first occupants of the cottage and I think plans are afoot to recreate the cottage as it would have looked in the 19th century but for now we were looking at the kind of dwelling that was familiar to many of us on the tour, all being of a certain age. Seven layers of wallpaper were found in this cottage showing that the families who lived there cared about how their houses looked and kept them clean and tidy.  An early 19th century wallpaper with bright green patterning was found to have arsenic in the green dye.

 We all remembered gas mantles and meters, coal ranges and lino covered floors. In the early days of the cottage this would have been the room where all the cooking, eating, sewing, darning and mending would have been done.  The first family recorded as living in the house in the 1841 census were Peter and Ann Nicklin a couple in their 50s.  There were no children living with them at that time but there were two lodgers who shared the back bedroom upstairs a Catherine Burn age 26, a dyer at the mill and later a Mary Brown who was a spinner at the mill.  The two women would have shared the bedroom, probably had their meals with the Nicklins but the etiquette of privacy and morality would prevent them from washing and mending their clothes, especially stockings and undergarments or washing themselves when a man was in the house.

 In the scullery was a sink and drainer, there would also have been a copper providing hot water in the opposite corner.  In here was a large hook on the ceiling used for either hanging meat or a dryer for laundry, no one was sure which.  There was also a cupboard under the stairs.  Outside, beyond the window, was an outside privy shared only by the occupants of the one cottage.  This was seen as a great improvement on the housing in the larger towns and cities where one or two  privies would have been shared by lots of families.

 The upstairs back bedroom which was rented to Catherine Burn and Mary Brown in the 1840s was small and had no heating. Whereas Peter and Ann Nicklin's bedroom had a small fireplace.  In the cellar there was a two roomed residence which was, at the time of the Nicklins, lived in by  William and Mary Bradbury and two children.  The cellar was closed as there were still safety issues with it but we could peer through the window and see a large brick fireplace with parts of a black range in it.

If you compare the two photos above and below you can see that over the fireplace new wallpaper recreated from the pattern on the old has been placed on the walls.

 On the floor were the indentations of a where a bed had stood with its head against the wall above.  The window on the opposite wall looks over the small allotments in front of the cottages where families like the Nicklins could grow their own vegetables, usually root vegetables, to supplement what they could afford from the shop which was provided by the Greg family.  This was run on the 'truck' system which meant that everything a family had from the shop during the week was tallied up and the amount stopped from their wages.

 The Gregs also built two chapels and a school for their workers so all of their daily lives were catered for.  Mrs Greg, especially, believed in education for all and later adult classes were available too.  I didn't take a photo of the school as it is still a primary school and children were playing in the playground but it is just a couple of doors away from 13 Oak Cottages.

 
The village shop became a Co-operative Store in 1873 and was run by the workers rather than the owners.
Above is Norcliffe Chapel one of the two chapels (the other a Methodist Chapel) built by the mill owners.  It is still used for services.

 Working at Quarry Bank Mill must have seemed a lot better than working in the huge cotton mills of cities like Manchester, working conditions may have been better and there was less disease caused by insanitary living conditions, plus the fresh air of the country around especially in the early days of the factory when water power was used to work the machinery in the mill.  But, there is always a but isn't there?  As our tour guide pointed out there was also a loss of personal freedom as workers were tied to the mill, chapel and the shop, if you joined any kind of group or society which promoted the rights of workers for example the Chartist Movement you would lose your job and therefore your home as well.  Some people may have found the choices and freedoms of a larger city more appealing. 

Shall we go and visit the owners now? Perhaps as this post is so long we'll visit next time.

Friday, October 20, 2017

New things to see at Quarry Bank Mill

It must be a couple of years since we last visited Quarry Bank Mill in Styal in Cheshire.  I knew that there had been lots of changes since our last visit so we decided to drive up there to take a look.  Road closures and road works made getting there quite difficult but we eventually arrived to find more building work going on in the car park and entrance area.

There was a brand new reception building too.


 It was all very muddy and water was standing in puddles on the new paths.


Our first call was to the Styal Village Hub where we were advised to go first in order to book a tour of the newly opened No 13 Oak Cottages, one of the houses in the village built  by the Gregg family for their workers at the nearby mill.

 We booked on a tour for 12 noon and wandered back along the path towards the garden as we had over an hour to waitIt's not far to walk, less than 10 minutes, from the reception to the village.

 The village is a 'living village' and people have their homes in all the cottages except No 13 which has been opened for viewing by visitors after essential maintenance work.

We passed The Apprentice House along the way back but didn't go in this time. Instead we headed towards the gardens to see the new displays and rebuilt glass house and back sheds there.


Above some aspects of the new displays at the top of the garden in the back sheds of  the glass house.

The original glass house was built in the 1820s  to impress guests and visitors of the family's wealth.  It was built in cast iron and had thousands of panes of glass. 

The back houses were originally used by the gardeners to organise planting, cleaning tools, take deliveries and take care of the heating for the exotic plants in the glass house.  Now there are displays on the history of the gardens and a also shop in there. Here is a link to a short film about the restoring of the glass house.


It was time to go back towards the village for our tour of the workers cottage.  There was a wonderful display and film in the hub and we spent time looking at this before our guide arrived.


After our tour we walked in the now pouring rain back towards the mill for a light lunch of scones and coffee. After a wander around the shop we ventured up to the third new building which had opened  since our last visit.

 Quarry Bank House, built c1798 next to the mill, was the home of its owners the Gregg Family.  It had only opened to the public the day before so it was a treat to be able to see inside.


I'll take you inside this house and No 13 Oak Cottages in my next post.