Saturday, 28 February 2015

Barmy Drain

When applying for planning permission to build anything new  nowadays you have to supply a flood risk assessment, a surveyor, at no small cost, looks at the plot and decides how likely it is to flood and what if anything should be taken into account when drawing up plans. Good job then that such niceties did not prevail in the middle ages else nothing would be standing in these parts. The whole Hull river valley until the middle ages used to be one big marshy malarial infested lake stretching up as far as Driffield with occasional interventions from the Humber to add to the gaiety of nations. But bit by bit and without any help from the Environment Agency river banks were raised and drains put in. The late 18th and early 19th century saw really large investment in drying out the land and bringing it into cultivation. And so here's the Barmston (Barmy) Drain as seen from Clough Road doing what it has been doing since the passage of the Beverley and Barmston Drainage Act of 1798 taking the wet stuff from East Yorkshire's marshy carrs and putting it into the river Hull in a neat controllable fashion. Despite the rubbish piling up on the banks these drains provide a rich habitat for wildlife though it has to be said I only saw two wrens and a depressed looking duck while I was here.

I've posted about this waterway before here.
If you are into the history of drainage (and be honest who isn't?) here's an old pamphlet about draining the Hull Valley.
The weekend in black and white lurks here.
And weekend reflections are hiding here.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

On acquiring the status of an icon

Finally I arrive at the purpose of this long hike or not quite. I'd heard that demolition of the west wharf at Alexandra Dock was imminent so I thought I'd better go take a pic or two before it was too late. Looking at the map there's a public footpath right past this place however the powers that be, ABP, obviously worried that idiots (who you looking at?) might be tempted to go out and have a better view have fenced off access so this was as close as I could get. (However look you here for some views of the place)
The wharf was built in 1911 to export coal from the Yorkshire coal mines, conveyors took coal from trains to waiting ships so there was no mucking about waiting for the tide. It has been out of use for best part of sixty years or so. (Things move slowly in these parts) Though it's an interesting piece of the city's past it is perhaps, as someone once said of somewhere else, worth seeing but not worth going to see.
I suppose I must mention at this point a little local storm in a teacup that has arisen over the demolition. Many years ago, so the story goes, two  local men, somewhat the worse for wear after a night of boozing, took it upon themselves to paint some graffiti on the rusty ware house. The graffiti was no fine work of art merely a dead bird with the words "A Dead Bod" (sic) underneath. Anyhow leave something for fifty years and it'll turn into a 'well-known landmark', become 'cherished' and acquire the status of 'icon' and you try to remove it at your peril. So it has come to pass that a piece of rusting corrugated crap  is to be preserved for posterity. It's a cultural thing don'tcha know? (Read all about it here, yet more garbage here and buy the T-shirt here)

 Below is how it looked in working order in 1924( from Britain from above)

and finally the 'iconic' dead bod.

(Image Copyright Robert Mason. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, US)

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A bit of a wreck

Further along the promenade there's a small graveyard of barges abandoned many years ago to rot by the tide of  Humber.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Riverside Promenade

Saturday saw me venturing into terra incognita that is to say the Riverside Promenade eastwards from the Half-tide basin towards Alexandra Dock. The walk is along the sea wall and is tiresomely straight and direct with views across the Humber on one side and a housing estate on the other but with little of note along the way. The monotony is broken by this sculpture from the workshop of Theo Wickenden and a nearby sign informing us that the sea wall was completed in 1992 and opened by the Burgomaster of Rotterdam, Dr A Peper. 

Did I mention it was straight and unvaried?

Riverside Promenade about halfway along.

Monday, 23 February 2015

and if the worst comes to the worst

I don't know what it is about this particular site on Anlaby Road but it attracts unusual adverts and this, should the barriers I mentioned yesterday fail in some way, could be useful. I checked out the system and it appears to be high-tech sandbags, sorry boxes, but I may have missed some subtle message.

Sunday, 22 February 2015


Half Tide Basin entrance, Victoria Dock

If, twice a day, you have an enemy rising up and threatening to engulf you then defences akin to a medieval castle are appropriate. This weekend there have been exceptionally high tides (8.4 meters at Albert Dock on Saturday evening) and the tidal surge barrier has been doing its job again. Along with that there are miles of sea walls, completed in 1992, keeping the Humber at bay for the time being. Astronomy is conspiring against us with the approach, in September, of that point in the 19 year solar/lunar cycle when their pull on the tides is highest. It's only a matter of time ...

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The round end

I was going to title this "the Stern of the Spurn" but thought better of it. It is, as I'm sure you knew, the back end of the Spurn lightship moored in the marina and given a slight green tint juste pour rire.

Weekend reflections are here.

Friday, 20 February 2015


Well I came to see if was still here and indeed the former Alfred Percy's York Commercial and Temperance Hotel better known as the New York nightclub on Anlaby Road is indeed standing upright and showing all the signs of decay you might expect from a building that no-one wants but no-one can afford to knock down. Four years ago I posted about this and how it was due to make way for a brand new hotel and it's nearly a year since I posted that the Council were demanding it be made good or else. At the end of last month it was reported in the local rag that the Council "could be forced to intervene" after finding that the owners had been leading them a merry dance (who'd have thought it?) and might actually, you know, go ahead and demolish the place and send the owners the bill (well good luck with that!). The Council suffers from a lack of money and political will to take on the owners of places like this so a kind of septic stasis has set in.
This derelict building, which opened in 1880 and has been through two world wars with attendant air raids and numerous economic ups and downs, could still be here in a couple of years time to welcome visitors as they alight from Paragon Station for the delights of the year of the City of Culture. That or a pile of rubble and some homeless pigeons. 

The weekend in black and white is here.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Deep Piles

It's not all falling down in the old town. At the new C4DI site work is underway to put in the necessary supporting piles. It seems a company called Aarsleff have been given the task of ramming steel into the Humber's muddy shore. Pile driving is not something you can do quietly and the noise from the operation nicely echoes off the Deep's walls. I recorded it just for fun. It's really not pleasant but it took me back to when I was a youngster living in Hartlepool and they built an atomic power station across the way, the pile driving went on for what seemed like two whole years; now that was tiresome.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A little support

At the start of this month I posted the back of Humber Street and its somewhat tumbledown appearance. What I didn't mention at the time was how these buildings or what's left of them are still managing to defy gravity. The answer, as you can see, is scaffolding and lots of it and in some places brace that up with large tanks of water to keep it all in one place. Even so one of the buildings has had to be surgically removed leaving a nice little gap. It's easy see how how £4 million could just disappear down this street.

 The street is, of course, not passable to motors

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Humber Street Art

I took these last year but never got round to posting them. These are some of the murals decorating the doors of old green grocers' warehouses on Humber Street. They were painted by schoolchildren as part of a project to raise awareness of marine habitat in the little darlngs (good luck with that!). I'm just posting them for historical record since things down this street are no longer quite so idyllic as I'll show tomorrow.

Monday, 16 February 2015

If a job's worth doing ...

... it's worth doing twice.
This picture of intense activity shows the resurfacing of Bricknell Avenue earlier this month. Tar dragons, as we used to call them when I was young, don't seem to be the impressive beasts of long ago. Anyhow when the job was finished it was found, to no-one's extreme surprise, that it was unsatisfactory and they'll have to do it all over again. If you look real close you can just make out that there's snow and ice on the pavement. Laying tar over wet surfaces that subsequently freeze overnight doesn't strike me as conducive to a fair outcome but what do I know ...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Cecil

I can't believe I haven't posted this former cinema before now. It stands on the corner of Ferensway and Anlaby Road. The Cecil was opened in 1955 with a screening of the Seven Year Itch. It has a rather dull looking exterior perhaps because the architects, local firm Gelder & Kitchen, were more noted for designing flour mills than cinemas.  This was where I saw the last film I paid to go watch, (Splash, since you ask, with Daryl Hannah as a mermaid, yeah I know, pathetic!) and as I'm told it closed as a cinema in 1992 that just shows what an avid film buff I am. The building is now a Mecca bingo hall. The picture is a reflection in a window of Europa House which was built on the site of the original Cecil which stood on the opposite corner until May 8th 1941 when it was destroyed by the Germans dropping bombs on it as was the style in those days.

Weekend reflections are here.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A few trees and things

Here's a sample of some of  Cottingham's many splendid large old trees. These are all on or around Newgate Street/ Priory Road. I'd like to say they are well looked after and protected but I've noticed a few recently in a nearby street being removed to make space for a car to be parked or some such reason. 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Wicstun Express

Newland Avenue, Hull

Here's the bus from York stopping on Newland Avenue, but what all this Wicstun Express malarkey? Well Wicstun is the old name for Market Weighton, a small town somewhere between here and York. Oh verb sap 'Weighton' is pronounced something like 'wheaton' ...
The bus takes two hours to cover the 47 or so miles from York which hardly strikes me as galloping but then it does take the scenic route and stops along the way. As a marketing ploy they've adopted some stylized Viking complete with obligatory horned helmet. I'm not sure a Viking gives the impression of speed, they've more a reputation (thoroughly undeserved of course) for pillaging and general naughtiness. Vikings, of course, wouldn't have been seen dead in a poncey horned helmet and as roads were usually nonexistent or impassable they would have gone by boat up and down the Humber and been in York in a couple of hours with a full flood tide and no stopping at Wicstun or anywhere else for that matter. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Who ate all the pies?

A new shop has opened just down the road, a pie shop. It's the latest in a spreading chain of pie shops; OK it's only the fourth but soon there'll be nothing but pie shops across the land and then we'll all be happy except for Simple Simon ...

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Reflecting on the Anser

There are those who think that Grey Lag Geese get their name from their habit of being the last to migrate in Winter, in other words they lag behind. This makes no sense to this poor fool as other European languages simply call this bird 'grey goose' (Grauwe Gans, Graugans, Grågås, Oie Cendrée and so on). So a little bit of detective work pulled out another derivation that says that 'lag' is an ancient word for goose, a 13th century text refers to 'redlag' which is supposed to translate as 'reed goose', and the lag part reflecting in some way the noise made by these birds. Scientists with no sense of romance simply call them Anser anser or goosey goose if you like. 

Weekend Reflections are here.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Pochard Confusion

Common Pochard ♂

I know you will have been worrying about this all day long and so, by way of clarification, Pochards in this country come in two varieties, common and red crested. In France however pochards are not ducks at all which reminds me à propos de rien that in the Lake District there's a pub called the Drunken Duck. I think that's enough ducks for one day.

Red Crested Pochard ♂ & ♀

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Monday, 2 February 2015


Humber Street

What adjective would you use to describe a collection of derelict old warehouses that no-one has any real use for? If 'higgledy-piggledy' springs to mind and you follow that with 'charm' and then you're well on your way to the grand folly of 'regeneration'. These buildings have been left unloved and unoccupied for ages; by rights they should have been demolished and replaced years ago. But now, as there's a fashion to use the area for 'arts' and other small ventures, it would be unwelcome to say the least to have them falling down on passers-by. Somehow the Council, which never fails to inform us that it's strapped for cash, found over £3 million to throw at the problem which was entirely of its own making. It is the nature of money pits to devour cash and so an extra million or so has been conjured up ... higgledy-piggledy charm, it seems, is expensive.

It being the start of a new month the theme for City Daily Photo is "If you had to leave forever the city from which you usually post, what would you miss most?". I have given the matter some thought and what follows is an exhaustive list ...