While exploring the area close to the site off Abbeydale Road, I came across Barmouth Road. Although the majority of buildings appear pretty nondescript, it was the eclectic collection of businesses at the end which intrigued me, as shown in the picture above. Each one appeared to have its own intriguing story, such as the large brick chimney left over from the Abbey Glen laundry, or the run down Italianate antiques store, built as the home for the owner of a well-known 19th century cutlery manufacturer. On the building adjacent to the chimney, which I believe to be offices, I found the detail shown below. A fragment of the stone façade had come away, revealing a plain red brick wall behind, giving away some of the secrets to this supposed historic building.
This small detail led me to look into the concept of facades further, as I felt it linked both to this site at Barmouth Road and also to the works buildings at Norton Hammer. The majority of these buildings are inhabited by businesses using them in entirely different ways to their original intended design, and many of these inhabitants have adapted the internal elements of the buildings to suit their needs. One of the main examples of this is the Climbing Works, where almost the entirety of the former factory building appears to have been stripped out and replaced by full-height climbing walls. Despite these internal adaptations, externally the buildings still retain most of their original façades as factories. I particularly like this quote from the manifesto of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings written by William Morris on the idea of restoration:
‘If repairs were needed… that change was of necessity wrought in the unmistakable fashion of the time; … but every change, whatever history it destroyed, left history in the gap, and was alive with the spirit of the deeds done midst its fashioning. The result of all this was often a building in which the many changes, though harsh and visible enough, were, by their very contrast, interesting and instructive and could by no possibility mislead.’ (Morris, 1877).
Although some of the previous blog posts have mentioned that there may be a lack of pride in the area through ad-hoc renovations, I would suggest that the many small interventions by inhabitants of the buildings to ensure they are fit for purpose show the opposite. None of these elements were ‘over-designed’ by architects and as such they are there purely to fulfil a specific purpose.
Finally, I’m adding this picture from the side of the antiques store on Barmouth Road because I love the way that so many remnants of changes are visible on this wall.
Darley, G. (2015). Facadism. Architects’ Journal, 241(7), 70–73.
Morris, W. (1877). Manifesto of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. London: SPAB.