V&A Dundee

It’s been a real joy to see Dundee celebrating the opening of its stunning Victoria and  Albert Museum, designed by Kengo Kuma. While the building has raised some questions, it chimes so well with the nautical heritage of the city while also being an engineering tour de force.

Dundee and much of Scotland appear rather excited… and so they should be. There has been little to celebrate culturally in the northern lands in recent years, so this wonderful project really lifts the spirit.

It was nice to see Glasgow band Primal Scream performing at the opening and, with reference to Glasgow, I am especially drawn to the restored Charles Rennie Mackintosh Oak Room from the Ingram Street Tea Rooms in the museum. This is a ‘lost’ Mackintosh work reputed to be the prelude to the destroyed Glasgow School of Art Library. The Oak Room and the recent restoration of the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow are counterpoints of hope to the otherwise unmitigated disaster of the Glasgow School of Art.

The V&A is part of the Dundee Waterfront, a visionary 30 year town planning project, now half way through, and bearing  fruit for its city of around 140,000 people.

Time to drive up the M74, M8, M90 and have a look!

Photo by Ronnie Macdonald

In praise of the Note 4

I want to celebrate the Samsung Note 4 which, though now quite old, is still giving me sterling service. In fact, this post is being written on it, my feet up on the sofa, on holiday in a remote Scottish location with no phone or data signal. If I find an internet cafe (yes they still exist here) later this week, I will upload it.

What makes the Note so good is its unique combination of practicality and flexibility. As its name states, it is a portable notebook and a perfect interface between analogue ‘me’ and the digital ‘out there’. Most functions are replicated on other phones but it is the unique handwriting input with the built in ‘pen’ that sets it apart. The Note means I no longer need a laptop. I go directly from scrawl to blog, email or report. It is all extremely fast, intuitive and effective, especially after several years of use. Continue reading “In praise of the Note 4”

Ken’s Gramophone Workshop

It’s been a pleasure meeting Ken Priestley and seeing his Holmfirth Antiques gramophone workshop. He has just repaired the wind up spring on my 1930s Gilbert gramophone. I have learnt such a lot about these great old music machines.

See this Yorkshire Post article on Ken. https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/what-s-on/music/his-master-s-choice-1-6549208

His website is currently being rebuilt so if you need to contact him, let me know and I will pass your details on.

Burnley Grammar School – a Landmark project

Some buildings have passion… this is one. You can feel the Gothic Revival spirit of Burnley Grammar School. It was the first design of a former pupil, William Angelo Waddington, who went onto great things in architecture. It is listed grade II but could easily be II*.

I was privileged at the end of last year to spend considerable time studying the school. I was  assisting Burnley industrialist and another former pupil, Mark Crabtree OBE, creator of digital sound engineering company, AMS Neve, and Clitheroe architect, Ivan Wilson on a visionary project to convert it to The Landmark, a high-tech/digital collaborative working hub. As a lover of steampunk, just the idea of a High Gothic building becoming a place of digital networking is pretty beguiling!

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Ordnance Survey Road maps… they’re back!

Have you been into W. H. Smiths recently? Popping into my local Blackburn branch, it was nice to see a new Ordnance Survey display, especially because it contained the regional road maps which were discontinued over seven years ago. There was also the classic route planner map for Great Britain, and specialist interest maps like Roman and Ancient Britain – all with new attractive covers and styling.

Continue reading “Ordnance Survey Road maps… they’re back!”

Cannon Street Baptist Church & School, Accrington – George Baines, architect

Cannon Street Baptist Church (1874, listed grade II) is a large but compact building which shoots skyward from Accrington’s tightly drawn streetscape. Its tower and spire are set into the corner of the façade just yards from the street, which gives it great visual impact.

Altogether, it makes for an unusual Baptist Church of the 1870s, a time when the classical was still the ‘go-to’ style. Its predecessor, a Regency chapel rather like a large house, still exists on Blackburn Road adjacent the railway. It is also listed grade II and both are buildings at risk. Continue reading “Cannon Street Baptist Church & School, Accrington – George Baines, architect”

Edna Walling

International Women’s Day is nearly over but, for my contribution, I’ve still got about 25 minutes to write something about Edna Walling (1895 – 1973), a British Australian landscape gardener whose work I find especially interesting. I would also say beautiful except that, since her work is in Australia, I have only seen it in photos, plans and a book about her called, The Unusual Life of Edna Walling, by Sara Hardy.

Edna was born in Yorkshire, lived till her teens in Devon and then moved to Australia via a few years in New Zealand. She developed the ideas of Gertrude Jekyll and others in the very different climate and context of Australia. She is sometimes called Australia’s finest gardener.

Continue reading “Edna Walling”