Sunday, September 3, 2023


 Woke up this morning to this view of Saltaire. Dignified worker's housing from the 1850s in a healthy countryside setting.

Small pane sash windows in the original style frame the view of houses across the street that have been "upgraded"... I think before the current heritage status was in place. All the same it works for me.

A development of this quality is robust enough to withstand a certain amount of abuse. If anything, the scars and blemishes help to tell its story. There is a fine line between maintaining a tradition and ossifying into a stale museum piece.

Saltaire offers a glimpse back in time, but it's still alive. What a privilege to be here again "in the flesh" just for a day.



Disgorged from Liverpool, Lime Street, I bumped into St George's Hall, unawares. I'm not sure what to think. It's almost as if it was assembled like a train. (let's stick on another carriage just for fun)

Then I found out it's the result of the same architect winning two different competitions and persuading the client to combine them into one building. Pevsner was full of praise, and it looked perfectly fine in the history books, so I should reserve judgment perhaps.

But first impressions say it doesn't quite hang together as a composition. The railway hotel, opposite is a little stiff and pretentious for a Waterhouse and it's relationship to the curved platform sheds, half-offset behind, most bizarre. Not helped by the glazed screen with stone arcade notched into the base at random. Presumably a result of modernisation.

Apologies to my scouse friends. I expect this little urban combo will grow on me with time. Perhaps it's the recent exposure to King's Cross / St. Pancras which sets the bar so high. Let's say I was more perplexed than disappointed as I visit Liverpool for the first time in 40 years.



Setting the clock back 55 years to an outing with my A level art group to see this outrageous pairing of religious architecture. This time with my son and grandson, who will carry their own memories into the future, no doubt.

Liverpool's two Cathedrals. Just a short walk apart. Both products of the twentieth century in all its complexity. I see huge contrasts but little by way of contradiction. Two massive statements of belief, confidently stated.

Surprisingly perhaps, there were more people in the Anglican space, with it's uplifting acoustics. Maybe it's different on a Sunday.

Chances are, my second visit to see this pair will be my last. That's OK. It was a splendid afternoon.




Structural expression in two different guises. "which is the most honest? " used to be the question, as if that could be assessed in these chalk and cheese cases.

Looking at them now with a lifetime of studying buildings behind me, I find them both to be remarkably bold, evocative and uncluttered.

I was expecting to like the stone better than the concrete, but now I'm not so sure. They both possess a certain magic, a religious awe to be more precise.

I'm no more of a believer than I was when I confidently called myself atheist, but there are traditions here that command respect, despite the many human failings of adherents.

I decline to ridicule Faiths that build such structures. Better to bow my head in contemplation of the human condition in the vastness of the universe.



Curvaceous clarity in two parallel universes.

Gothic arches by Giles Gilbert Scott who had a remarkable ability to be fresh, traditional and inventive all at once, The mouldings are subtly crisp and modern, almost Doric in spirit and simplicity but effortless too. I almost overlooked them.

Minimalist pews by Frederick Gibberd. Completely lacking in bravado, they simply do the job. But en-masse, the rhythmic simplicity is quite striking. But then I've only seen the space empty. In full use, perhaps they almost melt away.

Impressive clarity unites these two images despite the differences of material, function and style. Anglican and Catholic, singing from the same hymn book, now there's a story. 🎶🤔





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