Somerset Day

While you are *still* waiting for me to finish my latest post on Warrington, here is a rather nice article I recently found about ‘Somerset Day’ on the engagingly written Zanyzigzag’s Blog, with some interesting bits of information about Somerset’s local history.

Zanyzigzag's Blog

As some of you may already know, despite having lived in London for the past couple of years, I am actually from Somerset, a beautiful county in the South West of England. Although I absolutely loved being in London, a part of me has always felt drawn back to the place where I grew up and I still think of Somerset as my true home.

I read an online article by the Somerset County Gazette a few days ago, which announced that in 2015 we will have the first ever “Somerset Day” – a day to celebrate all that the county has to offer in terms of business, tourism, natural beauty etc. I assume the idea is to make it an annual event from next year onward. I personally think it’s a wonderful idea, because Somerset does have a lot going for it, as a county, and it could be…

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WordPress versus Blogger

Being on WordPress is very different to being on Blogger: there’s none of the log-on-and-write that is so liberating, and comforting, to novice bloggers and techno-phobes like myself. What it does make you realise, though, is that blogging is a serious format, somewhere along the lines of a press-release or newspaper column, with its own style of writing that must be similarly learnt. I think it’s the lack of physical entity that makes many people rather look down on it, but it seems to me that blogs are merely a technological replacement of the ‘zines of the eighties and nineties (or perhaps another facet; do these still exist?) the next generation of self-publishing. It must be enormously liberating now to be a teenager and instead of endless hours with pritt stick and scissors, and then hawking it round, just pressing ‘Publish’. Or did the physical effort involved impose some kind of discipline; did it weed out those who weren’t prepared to put in the time or had nothing to say?

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The Return of the Native?

Perhaps not so very shortly after all.

It is now February and I have just spent most of the weekend transferring all my previous posts across from my Blogger site to here.  I set up this site when I first started having problems trying to post, and have now transferred everything over to WordPress while I try and work out what the problem is.  I’ve been sidetracked by a lot of annoying issues over the summer and autumn but I’m hoping for a month’s break now to catch up.

I started a post on flood meadows during the very wet autumn; with luck and a following wind I will be able to complete it by next weekend.

Here we are again

I don’t know if any of the original gang is still with us – we seem to have picked up France in October and Poland put her head round the door and quickly withdrew – but to those who are, I can only apologise (again). It’s been a long, long while since I last posted and ‘the summer holidays’ doesn’t really justify such a continued silence, seeing we are now in mid November. I did start a post, somewhere in September, but had to put it aside when Life intervened.

So. Onwards and upwards. Normal transmission will be resumed (very) shortly.


‘Building a Community’

One of the things that is continually stressed, in advice on improving your blog for techno-idiots like myself, is the need to ‘be aware of your community’ and to ‘build it up’. To an Englishwoman, and particularly as an Northerner, this smacks of Showing Off and Putting Yourself Forward, both heinous crimes (the Americans are looking at each other in blank amazement here). I suppose it’s the sense of deliberate artificiality, which makes me feel so squeamish about the concept.

However – it may amuse you to know a bit about yourselves and where you’re all from. Perhaps it’s easier if I view it as introducing people at a social gathering.

The largest number of pageviews comes from the UK, as you’d probably expect, though how much of this is me checking paragraph length for smartphone users is hard to say. The USA comes a close second, possibly because there are three towns called Warrington over there, and there was a large American Airbase just outside the UK Warrington at Burtonwood, during the Second World War.

Germany reads regularly, though I think this is just one person, and Russia turned up sometime in June and has stayed with us since. Turkey is the most recent reader – Welcome Turkey! (starting to feel a bit Eurovision here) – but has quickly caught up Russia on pageviews. Spain and the Ukraine browse occasionally and China, Malaysia and the Phillipines have looked in just the once.

So there you all are – scattered across the world, reading about the historic built environment of my home town. It’s a very strange thought, though oddly gratifying.

It would be very interesting to know more about you all; I’m intrigued, in particular, as to what search threw up a blog on regeneration issues in a provincial English town, and what could have led China, Malaysia and the Phillipines to click on one of the posts. Are you ex-pats? Ex-Warringtonians?

I have considered turning the ‘allow comments’ bit on, but not replying to anything posted would be extremely rude and I’m struggling with the correspondence I currently have. So I’m afraid we’re stuck for the moment.

If you’re that interested in the town you may like to look at another blog I came across a while ago – on the Warrington regional dialect. It’s full of all sorts of splendid words I remember from my childhood (‘mithering’, anybody?) which are as incomprehensible as a foreign language to outsiders. (I recall my surprise when my lecturer told the students that ‘slutch’ was an unknown archaic word when we came across it in an 18th century Lancashire text.) For those who want to get an overview of English dialects and accents, as a whole, there is an excellent group of pages on the British Library website that includes audio clips.


An Editorial Apology

It has been a ridiculously long time since I last posted and I hope to get back into the swing of things again soon.

I’ve been looking into the background of the New Towns for the next bit of my book (Warrington was part of the third wave in the late 60s) and it’s very interesting to see the extent to which the policies of the time (out of town sites, prioritising of car travel, separation into zones) have contributed to the problems Warrington is facing today. What is even more interesting, to my mind, is the way in which these ideologies are still informing current thinking amongst the town’s policy makers, and that, despite over a thousand years of existence as a settlement, they continue to define Warrington only in terms of the last 46 years.


Town Centre Listed Buildings – Warrington’s Bewsey Street (Part Two)

I’ve detailed all the buildings in Bewsey Street, because the Conservation Area is so small that those buildings that are unlisted have a considerable impact on the whole.

So to finish off. After the Wycliffe Church, going back down the street towards town on the right hand side, a short terrace of three, very attractive (unlisted), Early Victorian houses has orange-y red, possibly local, brickwork, with bay windows on the ground floor and is forecourted.

A second terrace of three houses joined on (also unlisted) are in a similar style and brickwork, but without the bay windows, and are shown on Streetview as boarded up and derelict. A further terrace of four unlisted houses are joined on to them, but appear to be of a different period: the doors are not as elaborate and the brickwork is darker. These last appear to be residential and have a mix of different window styles – one horizontal – a mix of modern doors, differing coloured stonework and Late Victorian style boundary walls.

Bewsey Street ends with a very nice (unlisted) terrace of five: four paired and one at the end. They are all built of the lovely Cheshire brick with matching paintwork all along and appropriate sash windows. One has a garden wall and is possibly still a house, and the others, which look like offices, have reinstated railings, though these are modern in style.

There is no mention of 14 Bewsey Chambers and I strongly suspect it was located on the other side of the underpass and was therefore demolished.

The whole Conservation Area presents a distinctly uneven appearance. There really are some wonderful buildings here, yet they have nearly all been allowed to change for the worse, in some way or other. It is actually possible to make what is known as an Article 4 Direction, that restricts the alteration of the external appearance of buildings, even if unlisted, if they are situated in a Conservation Area and it is difficult to understand in that case why it was not applied.

Of the nine items for Bewsey Street in the document on the council’s website that gives details of all listed buildings within the borough, six have been altered, some significantly, and one has been demolished.

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