Tuesday, 28 April 2009

"Any, Any, Any Old Iron..?" - Faded Metal Work

This post is dedicated to all those bits of iron and metal work that have somehow managed to avoid falling victim to either rust or re-developers and that somehow cling on in their original settings. I'm not really talking about the ornate or tha particularly beautiful, but the practical and the artisanal. Of course I'm excluding coal-holes and boot-scrapers as well - they've plenty of their own posts.This is more bits of leftovers and old tat...

Wimbledon Village
A small ventilation grille to presumably allow a bit of air circulationunder the rafters. Looks as though it's lasted a bit better than the doorstep has!
Treville Street, Roehampton
Actually this example of an original garden fence was quite striking .There were a few other remnants on neighbouring walls but none in such good condition as this length.
High Street, Wimbledon Village
I'm not sure if this is purely ornamental or also doubles up as a security device but I am intrigued by the missing coat-of-arms in the middle. As you can see by the pillar on the left, it is quite an ornate premises and Wimbledon village was there to cater for the wealthy folk who owned the mansions around the common. Could the original owner have been giving himself a little social cache or was it possibly a Royal warrant?
Creek Road, East Molesey
I assume this iron grill is providing ventilation and light for the cellar and coal store below the shop. Somehow it managed to survive the arrival of the prismatic cellar light but it must be a bit damp down there in winter with such an open and exposed lattice-work.
I can't for the life of me recall exactly where I spotted this one, but I've a feeling it was near Borough High Street. What really attracted me to this one was the fact that it's obviously there for decorative purposes only and there's not a hint of practicality about it. It's almost as if the building is wearing a lace bonnet.
Merton High Street, Colliers Wood
Granted this doesn't look all that exciting at first glance. Or second if I'm to be honest... However a third look will show the remains of a metal frame that was positioned above a Victorian shop-front. Attached to the wall and reasonably ornate in its own right this frame would presumably have provided purchase for a high visibility shop sign.Important at a time when most shops had a roller blind to provide both shade and shelter. If you pulled out your blind it would obscure your name from passing pedestrians on the other side of the stret or locals on the omnibus so best play safe with a large sign above it as well... Putney High Street/ Lower Richmond Road SW15
The next two pictures are from the resoration of an old building where the metalwork was pretty much discovered behind covering boards. The individual detail is pretty decent in its own right...
...but the overall effect is pretty impressive as well. I don't know what the developers plans are but I hope it involves bringing the metal detailing back to its former prominence
The Mews, Cedars Road, Clapham Common
Round the back of what my Nan would have called a 'posh' block of flats overlooking Clapham Common there's the Mews, a Victorian garage where you could park up your horse and carriage. The ornate topping to the fairly high wall might have had a slight deterrant effect but I suspect was really there to show off the quality of the building

And finally, to bring things up to date in Wimbledon Village, it seems that the erection of anything new and modern in iron is worth celebrating in style, hence the elaborate nameplate from Rourkes Ironsmiths, Burnley.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Ghost Doors - A Primer

When you see ghost doors like these it's only natural to wonder what it was that caused that particular entrance to be abandoned. Was it because Uncle Albert died in that doorway after a raucous night at the Dog & Fox and ever since then there was a deathly chill on the threshold? Well, sadly not. Actually there can only be one reason, that internal restructuring - enlarging rooms or removing passageways - must have rendered them either a nuisance or obsolete. The answer is to then brick them in - only some do it with more care than others!

So to help spot the different types of ghost doors placed in descending order of attractiveness (personal opinion only of course) we have

A fine, sensuous arch from just off Tooting High Street. What I think is a really attractive example whose brickwork is beginning to merge into the background. It's not too obtrusive and the setting has been carefully enhanced by the use accessories such as telephone exchange boxes and fire alarms to allow it to nestle comfortably in its surroundings
This example below from Villiers Road, Surbiton looks fairly recent and is a nice example of the sort of thing that intrigues me. An attractive and distinctive piece of ornamentation now cast up on the Beach of Time by the Seas of Fashion. Slightly too angular to take top spot for me though
This is a more typical example from Hawkes Road, Kingston which is typical of almost every corner shop in a Victorian building. It's plain and utilitarian and I assume it used to go to the flat upstairs however extending the shop floor space means it's no longer required, so in go the bricks. Competent but not very inspiring.
Of course there's subtle and then there's subtle. And then there's breize block...
This pretty ugly example on Kingston Road, South Wimbledon comes in way down the field. Enough said really...
... but if they think sticking a totemic head next to such shoddy work can turn it into something post-modern and ironic I'd have to disagree. A gargoyle would have been a far more acceptable choice.
A couple of late examples have recently been spotted in Mitcham, including this fine example of a ghost door and window double. Not only was the door surplus to requirement but it seems that the window was as well. Twice the poignancy...
And finally another example from Mitcham, this time of 'brazen blockage' where not only has a fine and ornate doorway been filled, but those responsible have made no attempt to cover up their handicraft. In fact brickwork and a concrete skim almost make this a statement in its own right and give it air of a 'Lord of the Rings' or 'Harry Potter'. Maybe the muttering of an incantation or the reading of a rune or two might cause it to swing open unexpectedly? In many ways the cream of the crop...

Monday, 13 April 2009

More shops and their signage

It seems these sort of coincidences come along in pairs. First you find one 'Cash Butcher' shop-front and then you spot other interesting and temporarily uncovered shop fronts all over the place. Like this one on Haydons Road, Merton which seems to be awaiting a new fascia. This is a tiled effort and as it's obviously never been a pub I can only assume that it was an off-licence at some time. CHARRINGTON'S is the name of the brewery that also presumably owned the premises. but as Charringtons actually merged with Bass Breweries in 1967 this building would have pre-dated such a merger. It's not all that ornate or particularly stunning in any way but still worth a picture or two, especially as the shopfront seems to be coming more and more bland as time goes on...
You can't really work out what the original shop front might have been, but undoubtedly it was a bit more attractive than the current effort.
It's a pity that the middle section was still covered but there you go...
And as a further comment on the Cash Butcher sign of a few weeks ago, I just found this on my wife's mobile phone. Taken in Molesy as the sun was going down last December and completely forgotten by us both, here's another example of a Cash Butcher. Poor quality I'm afraid and I wouldn't normally have posted it but then what are the chances of coming up with TWO cash butchers in just a few weeks?

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Old Town Gargoyles, Clapham

Gargoyles... you wait for years to spot a good one then loads come along together.

I was up at Clapham Old Town the other week and came across an intriguing back street called Rectory Gardens It's a short L-shaped passageway of about 12 cottages, small but characterful, with some nice bootscrapers and Victorian features. It also gives the impression of being semi-derelict and home to some individuals of a more 'alternative' outlook who have decorated the various houses in a range of individualistic styles (I wasn't too keen on the camouflage netting one though, unless it was designed to provide alternative nesting sites for sparrows). I assume that the area is under threat of development which is probably what led to the current situation

So there I was, admiring the bootscrapers and then this fellow appeared. Looks pretty much at home guarding his own personal Entrance to Hell but I'm guessing that whoever put him in had to break the wall down from the back to do so...

And then a few doors up there's gargoyle heaven (if gargoyles have a heaven). Click on the picture and treat yourself to a close up! Actually the whole street reminded me of some bohemian seaside town settled by a few artists - Dartmouth or some other West Country town and it was a bit incongruous to find it out of context in the middle of London.
I have to say that without knowing what's going on there my sympathies lie on the side of preservation and adaptation rather than having it flattened and a new apartment block built on the site. If it was flattened what happens then to the gargoyles?