Locality Workshop 3 – Developing a Dual Approach

Our final Locality workshop, let by Lindsey and Chris, was a lively and good humoured discussion about how best to develop the potential at the Long Street School. Building on the previous two sessions, we agreed a dual approach where some of the buildings, principally the main hall, would be best used for commercial functions to generate income. However,  other parts would be best developed for community uses and activities, like an ‘urban village hall’ which could assist community engagement.  This part would also embrace the heritage centre idea. We also discussed applying for an Awards for All Scheme to get such a ‘village hall’ moving.  We retained the nursery idea as a ‘Plan B’ for the main hall.

We covered a lot of detail and how the timeframes for each might work in 2015 and 2016, and the likely timing of the conservation grant scheme.

We set a tentative date for our first meeting of 2016 as January 15th, 5-7pm.

Many thanks to all who have contributed.

Locality Workshop 2 – Getting Down To Business

The second Locality workshop was taken by Zoe Goddard on Thursday 4th December. Eight people came, the same folk as last time, so the team seems to be shaping up.

020_procIt was an excellent session where we began to ‘get down to business’ regarding what social enterprises are, how they differ from one another and how the particular type needs to fit the activities and objectives of the specific group.

We also made good progress on the possible future uses for the Long Street School buildings. We found that one use possibly has a ‘strategic fit’ with our longer term aims for Edgar Wood and Middleton Heritage.

Everyone left the meeting encouraged (and well fed!). Zoe went away to investigate further the pros and cons of our shortlist of potential uses.

The next meeting is this Thursday 11th December, 5-7pm and will be led by Lindsey. Come along and join us!

All Soul’s Bolton… Now Open

B4GXZXVCcAApueyThe Arts & Crafts Church conservation surveyor, Alan Gardner, recently attended the re-opening of the magnificent All Soul’s Church, now converted to multi-faceted community uses. Alan was responsible for the conservation of this enormous Paley and Austin church. Can you spot him in the team photo? (back row third from right).

Another, Arts & Crafts Church favourite, photographer Andy Marshall, has been commissioned to record the restored building and it’s ultra modern ‘building within a building’. See Andy’s photographs here.

Congratulations all round!

Edgar Wood Society meeting follows Locality Workshop 1

It was a double bill for some as, yesterday, the first Locality workshop session with Arts & Crafts Awakening and Greater Manchester Building Preservation Trust was followed imediately by the first committee meeting of the new Edgar Wood Society (pic above). However, Geoffrey, Christine, Maureen and the gang put on a great buffet so we managed to keep going from 5pm through to 9.30.

It was a busy day at the Arts & Crafts Church with an afternoon consultation about Tonge Hall in the Ladies Room and another group cleaning and organising the Lecture Room for the evening’s event.

Beginning at 5pm, Locality had a great session lined up for us, helping us think through both the recent past and the future. First, we looked back at how Middleton Heritage and Edgar Wood had evolved over the last ten years and then peered forward with ideas for the future. We brain-stormed some exciting new uses for Long Street School. We are building up our timeline and its milestones at each meeting.

It was good to have Greater Manchester Building Preservation Trust with us. If you are interested in Middleton’s heritage or Edgar Wood, you are welcome to join us. Our next meeting is 5-7pm next Thursday, 4th December.

Please note that the third session is no longer Tuesday 9th but Thursday 11th.

However, the session ran over so as the Edgar Wood Society committee members arrived they mingled with the Locality meeting. There was a good sense of common purpose and fun.

Like these meetings, the aims of Arts and Crafts Awakening and the Edgar Wood Society overlap and an early part of the Edgar Wood Society committee meeting discussed this as people tried to get their minds around how things evolve in the future. The committee also discussed the winter lecture programme, the new Society web site (thanks Lee!) and developing a Middleton and Edgar Wood narrative, based on recent research.

One the research front, we agreed to invite members and non-members to join the Edgar Wood Research Project so that in 2015, the Heritage Initiative’s ‘Year of Edgar Wood’, we will be able to use everyone’s research activities for maximum effect.

Arts and Crafts Awakening meets Locality

Arts and Crafts Awakening is being set up as a social enterprise to promote Middleton Heritage, including Edgar Wood, the Parish Church and Long Street Methodist Church and School. This evening we met our advisors for the next few months, Zoe, Lindsey and Chris from Locality, the nationwide network for community-led organisations.

465_procWe had a very friendly and worthwhile time showing them around, then had some tea before settling into a relaxed discussion of what we were seeking to achieve.

Zoe, Lindsey and Chris are helping us think through how best to set up the group and find the right balance of community activities and businesses for the Long Street Edgar Wood buildings.

We planned three workshop days between now and Christmas –

Wed 26th November 5-7pm,

Thursday 4th December 5-7pm and

Thursday 11th December 5-7pm.

If you are interested in Middleton’s Heritage generally or the Parish Church, Long Street Methodist or Edgar Wood specifically and would like to know more, drop us a line at artsandcraftsawakening@gmail.com


Autumn Clean-up

IMG_4216 IMG_4215 IMG_4218

Today Friday 7th November Christine had a birthday party putting the garden to bed for the winter. The moss was raked out of the grass – mainly moss and not much grass! The bushes and lavender hedge was trimmed, the several bags of spoil were removed to the waste disposal plant.

James Smithies and Middleton Arts and Crafts Workers

The Middleton Heritage Film Group and the Edgar Wood Society have joined forces to research a new film to follow Enlightenment Middleton, tentatively called Romantic Middleton and the Modern Era.  We are studying a group of Middleton Art Workers, initially associated with Edgar Wood, who then developed their own careers but are now largely lost in the mists of time.

James Smithies (of 9 Cheapside) and his son, Herbert, and Tom Wellens (of Back James St., Middleton) were metal workers and furniture makers.  They eventually moved their workshop to Wilmslow. James made various pieces for the Parish Church, including the Robert Catterall plaque (illustrated). Here is a superb Arts and Crafts cabinet made by them.

There also was James Lenagan, a wood carver and furniture maker, who taught at Middleton Technical Classes and worked with Edgar Wood and a J. T Tetlow, who had five exhibits at the Manchester Arts & Crafts Exhibition of 1891.

If you have any information on these people or any others, please let us know by emailing middletonheritage@gmail.com


Arts and Crafts expert visits Long Street…

The Arts & Crafts academic, Stuart Evans, visited the Long Street Methodist Church and School on Friday. Travelling up from the east of England, he was given a tour of the buildings  by David, followed by lunch with  at the Boar’s Head P.H. with Geoffrey and Christine.  Stuart is also meeting Nick over the weekend to discuss the importance of Middleton’s Edgar Wood and Arts & Crafts heritage. Stuart is completing a book on the Century Guild of artists and craftspeople who were influential in the Manchester area at the end of the nineteenth century. He is an expert on Edgar Wood and, Wood’s colleague, J. Henry Sellers.

Go ahead for Middleton Heritage Lecture Room

The go ahead has been given for turning the Lecture Room at the Arts & Crafts Church into a  venue for the groups which make up Middleton Heritage.  The first stage is to clear out and clean the room and Nick volunteered to organise this. We will then introduce chairs, a kitchenette, for cups of tea and coffee, and a large screen for speakers and films. Next year, there are plans for the Lecture Room to be fully restored through a conservation grant from the Edgar Wood and Middleton Heritage Initiative. The room, which was originally designed as a lecture room, will be made available for meetings, talks and functions in 2015/16.

BBC comes to Long Street Arts & Crafts Church…

Yesterday was one of those special days…. With just a few hours notice, BBC Radio and TV turned up to film the church and school. Why? Because English Heritage has just added the Long Street buildings to the national Heritage at Risk register, which is updated and published every year.

BBC Radio Manchester - photo by Nick BakerFirst off, was BBC Radio Manchester and the Allan Beswick morning show – we were on towards the end and at 8.30am a presenter and radio technician came knocking at our door. Nick, David, Nick (from the Council) and Tim (from English Heritage) were there to welcome them and quickly show them around. Michelle, the presenter decided to have a live description from the Lecture Room looking into the garden and then a walk into the church via the vestry. We were all very nervous but they quickly put us at ease and it was a great experience being with such professional media people.

BBC North West Today - photo Nick BakerHaving relaxed from our radio experience, TV came knocking at our door at 11am with Mark Edwardson, the NW Tonight presenter and cameraman. They wanted to do a slot for NW Today at lunchtime and a longer slot for the early evening NW Tonight. Again, we all gave them a tour round and they quickly got up to speed. They chose the corner of the School Hall stage for the shorter NW Today shoot as there is a good bit a grot there! As this was not live, they did three takes and then disapeared to edit and upload the film, while we had a sandwich or two.

By now, Mair from English Heritage had replaced Tim and it was decided that three of us would be interviewed for the NW Tonight shoot. However, when setting up on the Hall balcony, Mark, the cameraman, got a large carbon fibre spinter in his finger from his tripod. This requires hospital A&E treatment so he had to go off imediately leaving Mark the presenter having to do the whole thing on his own, with a small backup camera he had in his car.

We now experienced BBC professionalism at its best as Mark Edwardson worked out a new 1 minute 45 second shoot in his head and then set-to using his little camera and a tripod.  All the professional tricks came out – off-camera interviewing of Mair and Nick, Mark speaking to the camera on the tripod (he did six takes of the introduction in front of the crumbling wall of the stage), distant shots in the garden of David and Nick and a walk past with David, all blended together with stills of the building and its materials. It was a tour de force of improvisation.





‘Arts & Crafts Awakening’ for Long Street Methodist Church – Give us your views…

A new social enterprise may be formed to help save Edgar Wood’s Arts & Crafts Church at Long Street.

Christine Grime, Lee Wolf, Nick Baker and David Morris, two Middletonians and two ‘Wood-ies’ from further afield, have temporarily called it Arts & Crafts Awakening while they consult local people and visitors on the best way forward.

For years many have been almost ‘asleep’ to how special Edgar Wood’s buildings make Middleton. Arts & Crafts Awakening refers to Middletonians now ‘waking up’ to their wonderful Arts & Crafts heritage, not least to secure the future of Long Street Methodist Church and School, the finest in England.

What does the future hold for this Arts & Craft Church? If you have more time, let us know what you think by completing this short survey .

Jubilee Library – 1889 – Architect Laurence Booth and Edgar Wood

Long Street looks lovely in spring with the Jubilee Library cherry blossom out and the trees coming into leaf. This panorama shows how Middleton’s Jubilee Library was designed to respect the timber-framed Old Boar’s Head. The library is an early and unusual Arts & Crafts design and there is only one other listed Arts & Crafts library in England of such an early date.

The official architect was Laurence Booth of Bury who won the competition for designing the library. However, he built nothing like it before or afterwards. Instead, the building is in Edgar Wood’s early Arts & Crafts style (he was aged 29 in 1889).

Edgar Wood’s father and his main client (Schwabe) were the two principal funders of the library and many of the other large funders were also Edgar Wood clients. We think that Laurence Booth was a front to hide Edgar’s involvement as he could not have fairly competed and it would have have been controversial for him to do so. There are many clues in the surviving records that this was the case and that Edgar Wood was indeed the true designer.

In this way, Edgar Wood appears to have designed the town’s first public library creating a state of the art design some ten years before Arts & Crafts architecture began to take off. Consequently, the Library is now firmly on the Edgar Wood heritage trail!

Edgar Wood’s avant garde buildings were very contentious locally and he had to take a very low profile in the design of publicly funded buildings. Similar methods were used to hide his involvement in the design of  Long Street Methodist, the Arts & Crafts Church, when he was only revealed as architect at the last minute in December 1898 after all the decisions had been made. Likewise, he was hidden from view in the restoration of the Parish Church and, as one of the leading town planners of England, we also think he was the hidden designer of Alkrington Garden Village. The official designer, Thomas Adams, would have known Edgar as they were both involved in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire.

The Library is full of Arts & Crafts features, like the traditional pegged oak construction used for the timber work (which Mr. Booth complained about!). The reinforced concrete construction of the first floor is another Arts & Crafts experimental feature.  Blending traditional handicrafts with modern methods like reinforced concrete were very much Edgar Wood’s approach. Later on, he became famous for his flat concrete roofs and for pioneering modern design.

CLICK HERE to enlarge the photo.