Sunday, 1 March 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly...

First the bad.

I read this morning the latest episode from the Independent Republic of the Canongate, which is in Edinburgh's World Heritage Site. Unveiled in all its ugliness is the latest Allan Murray offering, the new 'boutique' hotel:

I saw it recently while it still had some of the scaffolding around it, and it didn't look too great then, but now it's naked and exposed for all to see I can confidently state that in my view, this will be another Allan Murray blight on the city for decades to come. His SoCo development will be next, followed by the St James' Centre redevelopment. That's to add to the 'delights' of The Omni, The Tun and The Cube, although there are others.

Move along rapidly, avoid looking.

Magnus Linklater in the Times has it about right:

Why leave a city's designs in one man's hands?

Edinburgh's celebrated skyline is threatened by a planning policy that puts mediocrity before imagination or beauty

A bear of little brain blog drew attention to a programme I didn't manage to catch but it sounds fascinating:

This was a programme following a Victorian edition of a Baedecker guide and covered Llandudno (which as he says was very mild last autumn) Penrhyn slate quarry and my little railway - the Festiniog, travelling behind my favourite loco, Merddin Emrys, to my favourite station, Tan y Bwlch. What joy!

As one without the joys of BBC Four thanks for the pointer, I watched the beginning and it looks so interesting a concept I have downloaded the rest to watch at leisure. The problem is that whenever I look at that site I find a number of things which I would like to watch to download, and it's beginning to be a little like my pile of Books I Must Read But Haven't Yet pile.

However, the mention of the Festiniog:
and Welsh quarries reminded me of something else which deserves to be enjoyed, the article by Marcus Binney in a recent Country Life , on the wartime uses to which country houses were put:

From that article:

Saving the nation’s art

Even before war began, large country houses were seen as a safe haven for the nation’s art treasures. Penrhyn Castle was chosen by Kenneth Clark for the National Gallery its doors were the only ones large enough to admit Van Dyck’s vast equestrian portrait of Charles I, although the pictures were later immured in slate quarries near Blaenau Ffestiniog. ‘Bury them in the bowels of the earth, but not one picture shall leave this island,’ advised Churchill. The Gold State Coach was sent to Mentmore Towers. The Tate used Muncaster Castle in Cumbria. The Natural History Museum sent prize exhibits to 15th-century Tattershall Castle, where damp inflicted disastrous damage on the butterfly collection. The Public Record Office sent archives to Belvoir Castle: the Duke of Rutland was enrolled as official curator to comply with regulations.

My pictures today are of Wallington Hall, in Northumberland. Last year it housed an exhibition of photos of the wartime use to which that building was put, when girls from the west end of Newcastle were evacuated there 'for the duration', to board and be educated away from the dangers of bombing raids. As Armstrong's munitions factory was nearby and a possible target for enemy action, removing children from the area was a wise move.

Here are some of the photos:

The Richard Wilson programmes also mentioned in the blog sounds much watch telly also, two progs so far, the Welsh one was in a Ford Zodiac:

Catch them while you can, downloads are available for four weeks.


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