Category Archives: Architecture

Liverpool trip

Although I’m originally from Liverpool, I hadn’t been back for over twenty years, ever since a disastrous visit in about 1995 when the streets were piled with filth and everything looked so scruffy it broke my heart.

That all changed yesterday, when a sudden realisation that my passport had expired meant a hasty trip to the passport office for a renewal – and that’s our nearest branch.  We got the train down from Windermere, got the paperwork lodged with them, and then had four hours to kill in the city while they prepared the actual passport.  So we set off to explore… pretty much everything!

We must have walked over 4 miles, from Lime Street Station to the waterfront, to the business district, to the huge new shopping area of ‘Liverpool One’… and then back again.  On route we saw lots of interesting ‘things’ including the famous Beatles statue (I queued up for a photo), some of the original old buildings, new venues like the museum on the waterfront (where we had a really good and cheap lunch), and lots of new bits of sculpture, art, and heritage trails.

It’s changed out of all recognition from that scruffy place of the mid-90s into an incredibly smart, cosmopolitan, bustling city that beats Birmingham, Manchester and even Glasgow into so many cocked hats, in my opinion.  In fact, wandering the streets, the feel was far more of a London of the north than any other city I’ve visited in the last 20 years.  Even on a drab, wet day of constant spattering rain, it was vibrant and interesting, and we’d have loved to stay and see more.

Sadly, we couldn’t as we had things on over the weekend, but we’ve made a mental note to go back soon and stop over a few more nights so we can visit some of the new museums, get up the hill to the cathedrals again and generally mooch around more.

Here’s a few photos I managed to grab in spite of the drizzle, including some rather damp pigeons… and that Beatles statue, minus John’s foot.

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Arts & Crafts

Bank holiday weekends in the Lakes can be a tad hectic, especially when the weather is as nice as it was last weekend.  So we tend to try to get ‘off the beaten track’ and steer clear of the main tourist hot-spots.  Luckily, there are still plenty of places to choose from.

P1020630One we keep for just these occasions is Blackwell, an amazing Arts & Crafts house just a couple of miles south of Bowness.  Built as a holiday home for the Manchester brewing family the Holts in 1901, it was designed by the well-known architect M H Baillie Scott in a [ ] Arts & Crafts style where everything from the structure to the interior décor and furnishings adds to the overall design.  The result is stunning.

The house sits on a terrace overlooking Lake Windermere, but unusually the main rooms face south, away from the best views, in order to catch the sun.  There are odd glimpses of the fells from some of the windows, making sudden dramatic ‘statements’ as you move around the house.  And if you like Arts & Crafts, then the interiors are to die for.  The main living room resembles a medieval great hall complete with vast inglenook fireplace and minstrels’ gallery, while the smaller drawing or sitting room is a confection of delicate white pillars and foliage, more like some of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic designs.

And although most if not all the original furniture has vanished, the new owners Lakeland Arts have done an amazing job of filling the house with appropriate and complementary pieces by the likes of Knox, Voysey and Benson, as well as furniture designed by Baillie Scott himself, and other pieces by local Arts & Crafts designer Arthur Simpson of Kendal.  It all fits remarkably well and gives a good indication of how the house would have looked in its heyday, while still giving plenty of free space for visitors to wander about.

My own favourite bits are the fireplaces in the main rooms, all built as inglenooks with stained glass windows overlooking the garden, and beautiful tiles.  The garden, although comparatively small, is pretty, and then there are those amazing views.  It must have been a stunning place to live (even for part of the year) and it’s still a lovely place for a mooch.

Here’s a selection of photos I took on Saturday including the windows in the main reception hall, the impressive south-facing “back” of the house, a detail of the garden, and the spectacular view across the lake.

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Beautiful buildings

There are some stunning photographs of architecture in this gallery from the BBC web page yesterday.

I particularly like the one of the Flatiron Building in a blizzard, but each one demonstrates a clever eye for spotting the unexpected view or the strange beauty in artificial, built environments. I just wish all the captions explained where the various photos had been taken.  I’d love to know where that very Starship Enterprise style control room was, for example!

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