One aspect of the urban environment that we find interesting is the establishment of the correct protocol for dealing with public social interaction. Exisitng examples include queuing in a particular way at certain bus stops or adhering to the no talking unless bumped into rules of sharing public transport. The recent smoking ban has offered an opportunity to witness the very quick establishment of a new cultural and social etiquette concerning smoking. Product manufacturers were able to to provide street bins with inbuilt ash trays and the process of stubbing out on the tops of bins has taken so well it is not unusual to see cigarette butts stubbed out of bins that lack the ashtray.
The use of small wall mounted ash trays outside of buildings has also become popular, and judging by the attached photographs perhaps the strength of cultural expectation to use these products has developed a little too effectively. The photos show what were once respectable lighting bollards that have suffered at the hands of smokers who appear to have broadly associated their shape with those of the new smokers bins. They also show how once a practice has been established it is copied and replicated by others, with mixed results!
Railings and bikes go together like England and penalty shootouts but scooters left locked in the street, that’s a bit more like England and world cup celebrations. This one is a regular in Horsforth town centre, it appears in the morning and remains there for most of the day. As its not obviously near a playschool we can only assume that either it is owned by a particularly precocious toddler or a businessman with a liking for regressive therapy.
We come across some interesting signs, but i think this is one of the more unusual offerings. “No sunbathing, para-glider landing area only!”. This is of course a loose translations as the sign was seen on the shores of Lake Garda, in northern Italy. The location would perhaps go some way to explaining the glamorous choice of sunbather, have to love La dolce vita.
H.C. Atkinson, builders merchants are no more. Well they probably haven’t been up to much for a while judging by the state of their building. Clearly they were once prosperous but I doubt if they imagined that the sign would last longer than the business. The buildings three loading doors and the ornate pulley bracket are testament to there previous sucess.
Signs for forgotten businesses, be they carved into the building’s fabric or simply painted on a brick wall are part of the history of a city. They tell of economic success and failure, changing life styles and the nomadic nature of supply and demand. They can be fascinating. Often described as ghost signs the phenomenon is well supported on the web.
Another area that I have been able to find out less about, probably because I have no idea how to frame it as a search term, is something we come across occasionally. It’s the scars or traces of a buildings interiors left when the adjacent building has been removed. I have passed the example below many times over the last few years but I finally stopped to get a closer look the other day. The doors, unlike those in the example above were intended to lead out onto floors in the now missing building. A bit like the old road runner cartoons you can just imagine someone stepping through the door, pausing, and then falling once they realised that they were standing on thin air.
Another example is pictured below, the scars of the old staircases and traces of the hallway paint are left exposed. All that’s missing is a stencil of a confused Dalek on one of the Landings. We will keep our eye out for other examples of this vertical archeology and post any of interest.
Sometimes it’s good to get out of the city and take a stroll in the country. This is especially true when you come across an oddity like the fallen tree trunks on the Bolton Abby trail. They have been covered with coins hammered into their bark and then bent over. The theory is that they are ‘wishing trees’ similar in concept to a wishing well.
There are a number of them at this site and there are reports of other examples throughout Yorkshire and some in Scotland. From a practical point of view the process ensures that the coins remain in place and over the years this has created a very interesting aesthetic. The coins follow the original grain pattern of the wood creating a piece of accidental art. Perhaps it could be entitled ‘Serendipity’.