Then & Now 1970-2018

The Red Hazels, Prescot. A manor house that stands alone surrounded by what is now a completely unrecognisable landscape compared to when it was built in the mid 1700's. Many wealthy families once lived here, including members of the infamous glass-making Pilkington family. The estate has slowly been consumed and dissected by subsequent owners. The most recent of which acquired what was left of the land and built an extensive business park - with the listed manor house clearly surplus to requirements, allowing it to remain derelict with no future in sight. They have even had the audacity to use it for free advertising.. Having listed protection in the UK is a brilliant thing that we should count ourselves lucky to have, but in my opinion continued ownership should only be granted with proof of intent for restoration and/or maintenance. Until that happens, we're still at risk of losing more and more of our heritage each year.

Northern Monument 24

Delves Hall, Doddington. The first English castle in the series so far - all that remains of which is the formerly moated tower house built by baronet Sir Thomas Delves almost 700 years ago. At one point it was a battlement that was besieged multiple times during the English civil war in the mid 1600's before being extended into a more formal manor house. Eventually the Delves family passed on ownership of the estate to Thomas Broughton, who had it almost entirely demolished, leaving only this 14th Century tower intact as a landscape feature to Doddington Hall, his newly constructed stately home on the other side of the estate which still exists today. Owning battle-worn ruins was massively fashionable back in the day, so this little monument would have been a boasting point and still is despite now having not served any purpose whatsoever for more than 400 years. Enter the tag #northernmonuments on instagram to see the project so far.

Then & Now

1995 - 2018. The once idyllic 'Tots TV' film set was part of a terrestrial TV production for children in the 90's built to 1/3 scale as a replica cottage where three puppet characters lived with their pet donkey. It was a weird show even by today's standards, and it lasted all of five years before being left to the elements in the Warwickshire countryside when the show was cancelled in 1998. If nothing else it's a unique place, and as we visited it on the 20th anniversary of the show ending it made us feel like giants and not just because we've now all grown up, but it was also hard to fit through the door..!

Hidden Tramway

The extremely steep ascent of a narrow gauge tramway left behind in the Cheshire hills. Once used around 80 years ago during the construction of Bulkeley reservoir, a haulage engine lifted locomotives up and down this 45 degree incline which would've been the only way to obtain the required materials at the top of the hill. The line was abandoned after its purpose was served, but the newly connected gravity-fed water main was successful in distributing water to the potteries as far away as Staffordshire.

Derwent Isle

Secluded off the mainland at Derwentwater in the Lake District, it was once used by Benedictine monks when it became known as 'vicars island'. After their worship became illegal in Britain, a new private owner in the late 1700's built a villa, fort, a druid circle folly, a church and boathouse which you can just about see on the far right of the island. It remains largely unchanged from it's original layout and is mostly untouched by modern civilisation. It's still only accessible by boat, and milk is delivered fresh daily from a local farm by canoe.

The ancient chapel of Maghull

A brilliantly preserved little building which has an early history shrouded in mystery - not one record has survived with information of its construction, leaving past generations to identify its Norman/Romanesque columns and conclude that it was built around the 13th century, making it the oldest surviving building in the region and one of the most historic chapels in England. It spends most of its time locked up for preservation, but occasionally a traditional Latin mass is held here as a continuation of its original services.

Last Standing

One of UK's last remaining coal fired power stations. It closed just around two decades ago roughly a century since first being commissioned after it was decided that power for the active site it sits within was to be sourced externally. Back in the day this site and the others surrounding it used to be part of wholly British institutions, but is now owned by Tata chemicals which is part of an Indian corporation of the same name. Over the past few decades they have acquired and dismantled so much of our industry and killed so many jobs that it's nothing short of criminal. They're already in the process of dismantling this derelict section to make way for a new waste-energy plant which will likely enable them to avoid high-tax corporation tariffs on their energy once it goes live. This was obviously a bitter sweet place to visit, but nonetheless I'm glad I got to see it inside before it's gone as it was once vital to the community of the surrounding area near where I grew up.

Then & Now

1892-2018. New Brighton lighthouse in Cheshire sits on the bank of the river at Perch Rock on the Wirral. In 1827 it replaced the original lantern beacon first erected in the 17th century, and is said to be modelled on the trunk of an oak tree. With fog being common on the shipping route where the Mersey opens to the Irish sea, it was installed with three bells under the gallery to act as a signal in both high and low visibility. It was decommissioned in 1973, but restoration work took place in 2001 when an LED lightsource was installed which flashes the names of those lost at sea during its history; including all the 1,517 victims of the sinking of the titanic.

Northern Monument #23

Tŵr Mawr lighthouse on Ynys Llanddwyn / Llanddwyn Island, one of the most beautiful places I've ever photographed in the British Isles. The lighthouse was stripped of its duty in 1976 just over a century after being converted from what was most likely a windmill in 1873. It now stands as a monument that traditionally continues to mark the western entrance to the Menai Strait. The island itself is rich in legends; the name Llanddwyn meaning "The church of St. Dwynwen" the Welsh patron saint of lovers, who retreated here to live a life of solitude to pray for true lovers in the 5th Century. Through these legends this idyllic spot became an important shrine during the Middle Ages, with a holy well in the centre of the island a site of pilgrimage, at which the movement of fish within the surrounding waters was believed to indicate lovers' destinies.

The Library

..at Shugborough Hall, one of just two main rooms to survive from the 1740s period. Formed from a room in the corner of the original house, it has a deep segmental arch flanked by Ionic columns through the former external wall. In this room Thomas Anson built up a remarkable library with a particular focus on architecture and archaeology, whilst the house itself was developed as something of a museum commemorating the admiral's nautical achievements, containing a model of the Centurion, the ship in which he circumnavigated the globe. The entire house is now being painstakingly restored to represent how it existed in its prime - with work having now moved on to the 1st floor of the building.

Standing tall since the middle ages

The 1,000-year-old 'Allerton Oak' in Liverpool is one of the oldest in the country and unsurprisingly has a rich history to tell. Its spreading branches once formed a medieval courtroom long before Britain became the civilisation we know today. A long tradition has seen its leaves and acorns sent as a symbol of love for soldiers fighting at the frontlines of war. It now relies on metal supports to help keep its ancient branches upright, due to having lost much of its trunk at some point during the 19th century when it is said that a shock-wave from an exploding gunpowder ship on the River Mersey caused the tree to split straight down the middle. Despite having been given only a few years left to live around a decade ago, it still shows no signs of letting go and will probably see past us all.

Then & Now

1999 - 2017 St Gabriel's Convent / Knolle Park House, Woolton. Built as a private manor House in 1840 it eventually became home to an order of nuns as part of a catholic institute. Its last year's were scarred by allegations of abuse, and it was consequently forced to close around the time of the above photo due to it going public. After my visit I tried to contact the London House of the 'poor servants of the mother of God' where the order of nuns are based, but wasn't given any access to archive imagery or further insights to its past, so I chose not to put together an article on this one - not least because the photos themselves no longer do the building justice. (They've clearly chosen to forget this place, which has lead to several arson attacks and the entire interior to become trashed beyond recognition)

Nothern Monument 22

Whitby lighthouse (also known as Ellesmere Port lighthouse) at Whitby Locks in Cheshire on the southern side of the River Mersey. The main function of the light was to guide boats into the Shropshire Union Railway and Canal's dock complex from the river. The canal was designed and built by Thomas Telford the renowned canal and civil engineer in 1796, and the light was visible by boats up to 19 miles away as they came up the Mersey with the tide into the docks. It operated successfully until the Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, reached Ellesmere Port in the same year which cut off the river from the port, meaning the lighthouse was made redundant overnight. The lighthouse and the Harbour Master's office is now a listed building and is fitted with artificial lighting as a testament to its past service.

Gaumont Theatre

This pre-war cinema in Liverpool was built at the start of a new era for the film industry. Seating a massive 1500 guests at a time it was the first in the country to use a revolutionary new 'modern' system that automatically changed film reels and controlled lighting systems between showings. Despite its cutting edge design, the industry moved on and multiplex cinemas with more than one screen left places like this with no choice but to close by the time the 60's came along. It has now been derelict for just over two decades after having hosted bingo events in its final years.

Then & Now

1796-2019. Moreton Corbet house. A 12th century medieval castle-turned stately home that was extensively damaged during the civil war in the 1600s as a result of Sir Vincent Corbet fighting for the king, in turn bringing the battle to his own estate. This watercolour was drawn in the last years before the manor was abandoned as a family home, and it soon became roofless and deteriorated into ruin. Although still owned by the Corbet family, it is now managed by English Heritage as a historical monument.

Northern Monument #21

Eglwys bach y mor ( Welsh for "the little church in the sea"). This 12th century monument holds a brilliant story of survival through the ages. A Jacobean map dated 1636 shows the church standing on the mainland of Anglesey, but with approaching roads battered by the coastal weather, it seems to be after that date that sea erosion of the boulder clay cliffs turned Cribinau into an island. By the 19th century, erosion was causing graves in the churchyard to fall into the sea, so a seawall was built around the island to protect the remaining graves and the church itself. Although now isolated it is still accessible at low tides when wanderers can find a donation box which helps the chapel to continue its fight against the sea and open for the occasional ceremony throughout the year.

Northern Monument #20

The 12th century Haughmond Abbey sits on the outskirts of Shropshire and been in a ruinous state since the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid 16th century. The chapter house is the only section that survived with its late medieval ceiling intact, so is likely to have been the only part of the Abbey that had remained in domestic use over the last 400 years. Amazingly after the English civil war the site was primarily used for farmland for more than two centuries until its excavation in 1907 which eventually led to it falling under the permanent care of English Heritage.

P.A.X

Latin for 'kiss of peace' can be found above the names on each of these forgotten crosses marking the graves of dozens of benedictine sisters who occupied the adjacent hall as a secluded place of worship for more than 60 years. This would once have been a burial ground, but the hall is now a private residence and these surrounding woodlands are forgotten, and the life these nuns chose meant that they now have no family to visit them. There are probably hundreds of similar places around Britain just like this where resting places go unnoticed until people like us stray from the beaten path.

Then & Now

1896-2018 Barmouth Viaduct, looking onwards towards Cader Idris. Constructed for the Welsh coast railway some 30 years before the photo was taken, the underwater ironwork became severely corroded not long after, and was extensively reinforced in 1902 whilst adding a swing bridge for passing vessels at the increasingly busy waterfront which explains its altered appearance between images. A flood culvert has replaced the railway arches in the foreground during its conversion from timber railway line to a modern, gravelled track that slightly alters the vantage point for photos but allows the bridge to remain operational to this day as part of the Cambrian coast rail link, allowing passengers to continue northwards towards Pwllheli.

Fruit Exchange

The Fruit Merchants Panel - one of the only sections here at Liverpool's hidden historic auction rooms to have power, this switch panel would illuminate the name of the merchant whose goods were on display for auction at any given time.

In the late 19th & early 20th century exotic fruit from across the Atlantic was reaching British shores, and Liverpool was the port by which it reached our tables. The likes of bananas & pineapples were a sign of wealth and culture, an exclusively elite delicacy that merchants would flock here in their hundreds in order to bid against each other for when the ships unloaded their stock. After all, having it in their stalls and markets to send across the country was worth paying for. The names on this panel were therefore amongst some of the richest in the city, and I'll be delving into their individual history in my article when I eventually get around to it. Until then, the lads at Urbandoned who I explored this brilliant place with have recently uploaded their video so head here to view it.