architecture buildings Church architecture Herefordshire town gardens townscapes

The Little Town of Ledbury

We have driven through the Herefordshire market town of Ledbury, which nestles below the Malvern Hills, many times over the years and as we drive along its long wide main street we always vow to stop and have a wander around one day.

Well in early September we did just that and we were so glad we did! Interesting buildings, old and new were to be found round every corner, down every alleyway and in every narrow street. There was an amazing sense of pride in the town and a sense of creativity to be found in the galleries and design shops. This pride was not just of the town’s past but in its present.

Even as we got out of the car after parking up, there were signs of the town’s rich architectural heritage and indications of the town’s pride in it.

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Once on the main street which runs through the centre of the town the huge range of ages and styles of architecture was obvious in whichever direction we glanced.

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Occasionally we came across a sign of modern architecture glued to the old and it looked refreshing and sat comfortably alongside its elders.

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Luckily for us if we wandered behind the main street frontage and searched its alleyways and malls we found plenty of coffee shops to choose from. Suitably refreshed after our usual coffee and cake we continued our voyage of discovery.

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Wandering down a narrow side street we found ourselves looking into a garden, a place presented to the town as a place of peace and quiet with attractive, colourful flower borders and several benches to rest on and appreciate the attractive surroundings. We wandered through the “Walled Garden” and found a narrow walled walkway which led us to the church.

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After a wander around the church we continued our walk around the streets of this historic town discovering even more architectural gems. This town is so photogenic!

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But within, inside, below, above and behind all this architecture hides some beautiful little details, which I discovered through my viewfinder. Please enjoy this gallery of close-ups, secrets and details.

The best place to find these details was by getting away from the shoppers and the business of the main streets and looking into the alleyways and behind doors and gates. I shall finish this celebration of the character of the Herefordshire market town of Ledbury by sharing the photos I took looking into such places.



architecture buildings canals Church architecture outdoor sculpture photography renovation sculpture townscapes

Gloucester Docks

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We had a weekend away recently and passing near to Gloucester on our way back decided to drop into the city and make a return visit to its historic docks. We had not been there for about 30 years and even then it was at the start of a rebirth. A few of the old dockside warehouses had been restored and given a new lease of life. We had gone specifically to see the “Opie Collection” which was an amazing collection of old packets and packaging. we were wondering how the development had fared and if it had an air of rebirth and vibrancy such as developments at Cardiff Dock and Merseyside’s Albert Dock had managed to achieve.

Trying to park was not easy – they hadn’t got that right! And the road signs all around were dreadful but we did manage to park and found our way to the dock area. It was definitely worth the effort. It seemed at first glance to be lively and well-used with little sign of the dereliction that curses most dock areas. On the walk from the car park to the docks I spotted these red poppies bursting with colour and energy through a crack in the pavement. They glowed against the black fence. I loved the image of nature breaking through the concrete and adding a touch of softness to the rigidity of man-made structures.

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As we entered the docks themselves after a short walk we were instantly amazed by the lively feel of the place. New life had been given to dereliction and what once were working docks and warehouses had been given a second chance to burgeon as leisure, retail and new homes.

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As usual in these reborn docks plenty of coffee shops beckoned. In the evening there are also plenty of restaurants to entice the evening visitors.

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While we turn to restaurant and cafe for refreshment today, in times gone by when the docks were places of strenuous often dangerous labours the dockworkers and bargemen would have turned to religion so all of the larger docks provided a chapel. Gloucester was no exception.

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The craft that moor here now are are barges converted for leisure and pleasure and the odd tourist boats offering regular trips. It was hard to imagine the noise and constant movement of barges and their cargoes that must have moved through here every moment of every day when the docks were fully working.

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A favourite building of us both is the new Gloucester College of Art which sat in its blue and white crispness as a compliment to the blue of the sky and the white of the slowly passing clouds. When seen through the original dockland warehouses the college presented hope for the future.

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Signs of its bustling past remained and had been lovingly restored as sculptural memorials to its past and to the men and women who toiled there. They have a beauty all of their own.

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New pieces of sculpture commissioned as tributes to the docks’ past sit alongside the remnants of its earlier industriousness. Some thrusting into the air indicating power while others subtly placed where feet trod and the occasional eyes fell to spot them.

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The lift bridge was still toiling away lifting the road to allow water craft to enter or exit the docks. Where once the bridge would have lifted to give passage to working barges now the vessels passing below are pleasure craft manned by weekend sailors or tourists on trips along the waterway.

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After dropping into a retail centre for coffee we wandered into an area of the docklands still undeveloped and this area presented a stark contrast to the newness we had been enjoying before. They seem to be patiently waiting their turn for fresh breath to be breathed into them them as thoughtless vandals paint graffiti on their doors and throw bricks through their windows.

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This final trio of photos illustrates the sharp division between the developed and the symbols of the past.

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As we took the path back to the car we stopped to get a close up look at this sculpture shooting skyward when we noticed a fingerpost directing us to the cathedral and, as we had never visited it, we naturally followed its invitation. We were impressed enough with a quick view of the outside to think we must come back for another visit.

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architecture buildings renovation Shropshire

Exhibition in The Old Flax Mill

Our daughter, Jo, occasionally shows some of her jewellery at exhibitions. The latest was in an amazing venue, an old and unique building in Shrewsbury, the Flax Mill.

Sadly this special building is little more than a wreck but at last it is being renovated and given a chance of a new life. What makes it unique is that it is the first ever skyscraper in the world. All the earliest skyscrapers in Chicago were based on the construction used here. It is hard to comprehend how the current state of this building has been allowed to happen.

Anyway at last things are looking up. To help launch the redevelopment local artists and craftspeople were invited to exhibit some of their work based on the theme of “regeneration”. Jo showed some of her silver jewellery designed around the theme of the structure of plants that first regenerate a destroyed habitat.

The photos can only give a clue as to their quality as I had to photograph them through the glass of the show case.

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The exhibition gave a rare chance to see inside this building prior to the builders moving in. Signs of old energy supply and structural materials gave glimpses into the previous lives of the building as a flax mill and as a malt house.

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This unusual venue for art works to be shown presented strange juxtapositions.

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There wereinteresting textures, shapes and colours wherever the camera lens roamed. Click on the “Flax Mill” photo and then follow me and my camera around using the arrows. I hope this helps you experience the strange atmosphere this building evokes.

buildings photography Shropshire

The Architectural Heritage of Shrewsbury – Part 1 From Station to Castle.

Back to some Shropshire architecture for this posting as promised. At the back-end of 2012 I posted a couple of articles based around the market town of Ludlow after being challenged by some followers to feature architecture photos. So here is another batch of posts on the architecture of Shropshire.

Just ten minutes up the road we find the county town of Shropshire. It is not a large town but its ambition is to become a city. Shrewsbury is famous for its historical buildings, for being the birthplace of Charles Darwin and for being the friendliest, most well-mannered town in England.

We don’t go into our shire capital often for the usual reason ie shopping. We avoid shopping whenever we can and try even harder to avoid shopping in town centres. Too much noise, too many people, too much traffic!

But we love Shrewsbury for its buildings and the entertainment it provides for us. Theatre, cinema, jazz club and coffee houses.

This series of posts feature the buildings of our town. They will not follow a chronological order but we shall explore streets, alleys and lanes in bite-sized chunks of town, chunks just the right size to explore in a half day. It would be all too easy and obvious to present the architecture in historical order but I really want to give you the atmosphere of patches of the town. Sometimes the selected areas will seem random but that is how my mind works.

The starting point for today’s random collection of buildings is the coffee shop in Marks and Spencers. After a latte (Malc) and cappuccino (Jude), we are suitably refreshed and warmed up.

First stop is the school attended by Charles Darwin, where we find a big, bronze statue of the great man himself sat outside, while inside on one of the windowsills is the scratched signature of his brother. The building now houses the town’s public library and this famous graffiti is in between the book cases. Darwin is often described as the town’s most famous son, but he is more than that. The most intelligent person ever to have lived for example?



The building displays interesting detail in its stonework and a wonderful big sundial with two faces sits astride the one corner.





The cobbled lane leading to the library is overlooked by an interesting row of town houses and a beautiful gateway.



We walked on down Castle Street towards one of Shrewsbury’s most photographed buildings. It appears in many books about railways and about the Victorian era. The railway station. How can a railway station look so good?



To the left of the station forecourt we spotted a real “Mary Poppins” balustraded roof garden constructed in wonderful shades of red.



From the railway station we see hints of the castle, so we made our way towards it.









As we walked around this small corner of Shrewsbury town little details attracted my eye and my camera lens.

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