Sunday, 24 March 2019

Loughborough Lichfield and Southampton

Well, what a varied week this has been! After a weekend in Birmingham, I was out 'Loughborough-connecting' in a few other places, including Lichfield and Southampton. In both places I found plenty of things to remind me of home - as well as many differences, of course, like a distinct dearth of yachts in Loughborough!

Lichfield public library has undergone a staggering change, moving from an expansive Victorian building on the site of a former friary, to a small church in the centre of the Market Square. In order to fit, they had to withdraw quite a lot of bookstock, and some of the seating is now in a most odd place. However, they haven't gone smart, yet. Loughborough library goes smart at the beginning of April, I believe, so at certain times access will be by library card only, and there will be no staff within to help. 


Study tables in the former altar area



Stained glass in Loughborough library

Upstairs in St Mary's church in Lichfield, now part of the library, used to house the heritage centre. Some of the information boards had been retained, and I was rather interested in this one, and whether or not there was any connection with the various branches of the family with that name in Loughborough.




The view out onto the market below in some ways reminded me of Loughborough!


Stained glass above, bustling market through the clear glass
Looking down on Loughborough market

I have a feeling that all Burtons stores are closing, or already have. There's been a lot of disgruntlement about the Abergavenny store which still had its original 1930s signs, as during the re-purposing of the building, there was a degree of lack of care over the valuable heritage. The Burtons store in Lichfield has been long gone: like Woolworths stores and Co-op stores, Burtons shops are quite distinctive, but the Lichfield one also has definitive evidence of its former life.


Lichfield Burtons



Foundation stone in Lichfield


Best I could do for the moment!

And finally in Lichfield, I spotted trams - ok, toy trams!!! Wonder if they are models of those connected with The Brush?


Trams in the Toy Museum, Lichfield

Meanwhile, down in Southampton, markers on the roadside that I think were to do with water, reminded me of the milestones in Loughborough.





Milestone on Leicester Road

Down towards the Ocean Village we happened upon the former railway station and the former offices for the London and South Western Railway (LSWR). The station has been transformed into a casino, while what was the hotel, Southwestern House, to its right is now luxurious flats. It was in a small upstairs room that Churchill and Eisenhower planned the D-Day invasions of WW2.  The building was once extensively used by the rich and those travelling on cruises. Apparently, the staircase was influential in the design of the stairs in the Titanic. The dining room was known as the Wedgewood, Ballroom and, as the name suggests, was painted in those iconic Wedgewood colours of powder blue and white. The building is still joined to its neighbour by the original steel structure. Inside the building there is an original document relating to George III. I haven't been able to ascertain what exactly this pertains to, but in my quest for information did discover that a statue of George III was presented to the borough of Southampton in 1809, and placed in a niche on the Bargate: some of my readers will be interested to note this statue was made of coade stone. Not entirely sure what the LSWR offices are now, but probably housing. 


The former railway station with the Imperial flats to the right

The inspiration for the stairs on the Titanic


The former LSWR offices

Along the same road there was a branch of the Wilts and Dorset bank, whose construction reminded me of the lodge to Aingarth, on Leicester Road, which was originally a lodge to The Elms. I might be wrong but the construction looks similar - Aingarth is ashlar (although I can't find my photo at the moment).




Wilts and Dorst Bank

The final thing that reminded me of Loughborough was a pub called the London Hotel. Nothing to do with the name, more to do with the construction material again. The upper storeys look like Hathern tiles, but further investigation reveals that both the upper and lower floors are constructed of tiles made by Carter and Co. of Dorset. 


The London Hotel, Southampton

Detail of the London Hotel, Southampton


Hathernware on Loughborough's Lloyds Bank
And there I must stop, otherwise I'd go on all night! 


You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2019). Loughborough, Lichfield and Southampton. Available from: https://lynneaboutloughborough.blogspot.com/2019/03/loughborough-lichfield-and-southampton.html [Accessed 24 March 2019]

Take down policy:
I post no pictures that are not my own, unless I have express permission so to do. All text is my own, and not copied from any other information sources, printed or electronic, unless identified and credited as such. If you find I have posted something in contravention of these statements, or if there are photographs of you which you would prefer not to be here, please contact me at the address listed on the About Me page, and I will remove these.
Thank you for reading this blog. 

Lynne


Sunday, 17 March 2019

Victorian factories

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll probably have picked up that I'm a bit of a fan of our smaller towns and villages, rather than our big cities. Hence, I find Loughborough to be the perfect size, and only tend to visit cities on holiday - apart from Leicester, which I travel to regularly for work. Years ago I used to visit Nottingham, but rarely go these days.

Anyway, my point is that I have avoided trips to the capital as far as possible, and have also avoided trips to England's second biggest city, apart from around Christmas 2003 when I took the oldest child to see one of his schoolfriends dance in The Nutcracker ballet at the Hippodrome, and a couple of evening trips 2014/15 to see the youngest child perform with the Birmingham Junior Conservatoire Band. 

However, I've recently had the occasion to visit Birmingham for work, and specifically to visit the museums. I was quite surprised by what I found, and couldn't help but make some connections with Loughborough.

Ok, so we haven't got anything equivalent to Symphony Hall in Loughborough, unless you consider the interior, which looks very Art Deco to me and reminded me of our Beacon Bingo, which opened as an Odeon Cinema in 1936.


The auditorium at Symphony Hall

One of the doors into the auditorium at Symphony Hall
Beacon Bingo, once The Odeon, Loughborough

The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter involved a guided tour around the factory of Smith and Pepper. The business opened in 1899 and closed in 1981, but the factory was never cleared out and instead has been preserved, like a time capsule, affording a fascinating insight into what it would have been like to work in a Victorian factory. The similarity with framework knitting was obvious really, if I'd stopped to think about it, and then also with the Herbert Morris factory. The buildings had long narrow rooms with very large windows along the long side and having the opposite interior wall painted white - all to bring in and reflect as much light as possible so the workers could see the intricate work they were doing. When the original building was extended, another long, narrow building was erected with windows sloping up to the roof (not a good description, but you'll see what I mean when you see the photos). The walls of the building opposite were then clad in white tiles - were these possibly Hatherware? Buildings that were used by framework knitters in Loughborough would have had windows very close to the roof and there were likely to have been glass globes filled with water hanging in them, which would have spread the light on the work being done. The Morris factory had those sloping windows I mentioned above - maybe they are called skylights (of a sort), and it is believed that these lights attracted the attention of a passing Zeppelin on the night of 31st January 1916. 


White tiled wall and glass roof at the Jewellery Quarter Museum

White tiled wall and ground floor windows at the Jewellery Quarter Museum

Large side windows, roof windows and white tiled walls at the Jewellery Quarter Museum

Machinery at the Jewellery Quarter Museum

I think the slope of the roofs would originally have been glass at Herbert Morris


I also visited the Coffin Works, which was another Victorian factory, frozen in time, started in 1882 and closed in 1997. The guided tour was of the Newman Brothers factory, where they made handles and decorations for coffins, as well as satin interiors, and shrouds (but not the coffins themselves). What this factory had in common with Smith and Pepper factory was that they were both working with metal, and the smell of grease, the sound of the presses was also common to both. In both factories, the guides did some demonstrations of some of the work that the employees would have done. I couldn't help but think of our bellfoundry. It's a working Victorian factory: it's hot; it's noisy; it's smelly and it's blummin dangerous! 


The Coffin works 
Metalworking at Taylors 2017


My final museum visit (can't really count a cuppa in the Edwardian tearooms in the main museum and art gallery in Town Hall Square!) was to the Pen Museum. Well, that was fascinating! So many pen nibs!!! What did they say - 90% of the world's words at one time were written using a nib from Birmingham! Staggering! It was also in this museum that I read a little about the gun factories in Birmingham, which is interesting because Natahaniel Corah, who started Corah's in Leicester, in the mid-1800s, but not before he'd spent his early years as a framework knitter, then at 27 going to work in a gun factory in Birmingham! And, he used to do business in The Globe pub in Leicester, which is so-called in honour of those framework knitters! Two questions arise here, for further investigation sometime, the first of which is was Nathaniel Corah any relation to the builders, and printers of the same name in Loughborough?


Information about the Birmingham gun quarter


The other question concerns one of the Birmingham pen-making firms which was named after the owner - Joseph Gillott: is there any connection with the Gillott's of Loughborough who had the garage of that name?


Gillott's factory

Nibs at the Pen Museum

Joseph Gillott

Gillott's nibs

Picture of the interior of Gillett's factory


A couple of other incidental connections were that at the Coffin Works they had a machine produced by SamcoStrong in Leicester, which the other half used to work for, and all the museums I visited had typewriters, but it wasn't until I got to the last one (the Pen Museum) that I found an Imperial typewriter from Leicester. 


A SamcoStrong hydraulic cutting press

An Imperial typewriter from Leicester

Other connections to Loughborough - like the canal and terracotta buildings - will have to wait for another blogpost now, as I've run out of time.


Canal, lock and bridge in Birmingham

Terracotta building in the centre of Birmingham


You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2019). Plaques. Available from: https://lynneaboutloughborough.blogspot.com/2019/03/victorian-factories.html  [Accessed 17 March 2019]

Take down policy:
I post no pictures that are not my own, unless I have express permission so to do. All text is my own, and not copied from any other information sources, printed or electronic, unless identified and credited as such. If you find I have posted something in contravention of these statements, or if there are photographs of you which you would prefer not to be here, please contact me at the address listed on the About Me page, and I will remove these.
Thank you for reading this blog. 

Lynne