• Charlton Cemetery under snow.

    I did promise a few days ago a follow up post to my Charlton Cemetery post. Here it is.

    These photos were taken in January 2007. It had been snowing through the night and I just happened to be passing Charlton Cemetery. My camera was quite small so I had it in my jacket pocket as I usually did.

    The fact I had a Digital camera in my pocket at all times and all weathers was seen as quite strange by my friends and coworkers at the time.

    These days of course, I still carry a camera everywhere with me. It’s even better than the one I had then. It also has the added bonus I can make phone calls and receive messages.

  • Charlton Cemetery. 2006

    Charlton Cemetery opened in 1855, originally as “The Gentleman’s Cemetery”.

    The cemetery itself covers 15 acres and the layout is still the same as when first laid out.

    There are some wonderful monuments in the cemetery, I’ve posted a few below. There are also a couple of graves that have a story to tell.

    I posted this photo on MySpace back in the day. Someone mentioned that this statue looks like she is making a phone call.

    The tomb of Jemima Ayley, below, who died in 1860, has this medieval-style effigy on top and with a vault said to be 22ft deep complete with table and chairs! Never quite worked out how it would be accessed though.

    Thomas Murphy (d 1932). He was former owner of Charlton greyhound track. If you look at the base of his headstone you can see two sleeping greyhounds.

    When I’d visited Charlton Cemetery at the time these photos were taken it was a beautiful summers day in 2006. The light that day was wonderful.

    I would return to Charlton Cemetery in January 2007 after heavy snowfall. I’ll upload those photos at a later date.

  • Classic Cinema Sheffield.

    This has always been one of my favourite cinemas that no longer exist.

    On the site where the cinema was built originally stood a place called “Wonderland”. This was a fairground type building which showed animated movies.

    The Classic Cinema was built in 1911 an, on opening, was called the Electra Palace Theatre. The outside of the building was built in 15th Century Arabian style with white terracotta tiling.

    There was seating inside for 670 people and an unusual feature of the cinema was an asymmetrical curved balcony. The auditorium walls were panelled and coloured in ivory and white. The walls and ceiling were rich in fibrous plasterwork with the balcony front embellished with finely modelled cupids. There was a tea room at balcony level and a restaurant in the basement.

    On the 29th of July 1945, the cinema closed for alterations. Reopening on the 9th of September 1945 under the ownership of Capital & Provincial News Theatres. The name of the cinema was changed to “News Theatre” which it stayed as until 1959 when it was renamed “The Cartoon Theatre”. Cartoons and news reels were shown from 3pm until 10.30 pm.

    The Classic Cinema chain bought the building on the 15th of January 1962 and again changed the name. This time to the Classic Cinema. The exterior was covered in metal cladding and the towers removed. For some reason the Classic chain also decided to strip the decorative interior out and reduce the seating to 484. In terms of modern cinemas that would be the same amount if seating for one of your local multiplexes smallest screens. All of the work to change the building at this time was completed overnight while the cinema was closed. There was no period of closure for the work to take place.

    The Cannon Group purchased the cinema in April 1982 but did not hold on to it for long. The cinema closed on the 24th of November 1982 with a showing of Rocky III. For a couple of years the building sat derelict, there were plans to get the building listed but these never came to fruition.

    There was a huge fire at the building and, on the 15th of February 1984, the building was demolished.

    If you look around Fitzalan Square now you won’t find any trace of the cinema. The location can be easily found as the pub that was next door is still standing. It’s now a café and flats.

    Whilst I never saw the Classic Cinema in all it’s glory this is certainly one I would have liked to. It seemed like it would have been what we once called a “Fleapit” cinema. It probably had sticky floors and the popcorn had probably been sitting around for weeks but, it’s these kind of cosy single screen cinemas that I miss the most.

  • City of London Cemetery.

    It’s June, it’s hot. Today I present some photos I took in City of London Cemetery around 2012 on a cold, frosty morning. The sunlight on that day was beautiful though.

    Don’t be fooled by the name, the City of London Cemetery is not in the City of London. It’s a couple of miles outside the city itself in Manor Park. This is actually 7 miles outside the City of London.

    The cemetery was first purchased from The 2nd Duke of Wellington and was originally farmland.

    The Corporation of London purchased the land for £30, 721 and the Cemetery was laid out and landscaped in 1855 by William Hayward and Robert Davidson.

    The first interment was on 24 June 1856, although the cemetery was not consecrated until November 1857, due to legal difficulties (which were solved in the Burial Act 1857). It is estimated that in 1858 around 2,700 interments took place. Approximately 600,000 people have been interred here and with the remains from over 30 London churchyards also placed on the site, the figure is approaching 1 million.

    The cemetery has been in continuous use since its opening. Many of the churches that were demolished in London had their dead reinterred in the City of London Cemetery.

    I’d been to City of London cemetery several times before and a few time since these photos were taken. These will always remain my favourites though as the blue sky, the bright sun and the crisp frost added something I’ve never captured since.

  • Highgate Cemetery 2005

    I recently came across a cache of old photos, mostly taken in the mid 2000’s.

    These photos were taken on my first visit to Highgate Cemetery in May 2005. I started volunteering there pretty soon after as it awestruck me so much and I needed to see and know more.

    When I took these photos I didn’t know as much about the cemetery as I do now.

    For instance, I didn’t know that this was not the original burial place of Karl Marx. I probably didn’t know who Karl Marx was either. This monument was erected in 1954, at which time, both Marx and his family members were reinterred here. The original grave is still viewable, it’s hidden behind those trees at the back, and has a huge crack down the centre where it had been reopened in the 50’s.

    Some of these photos are just of statues and grave markers I thought looked nice. An example of which is the sleeping angel. I probably got some better photos of the angel during my time there but this was the first.

    This huge monument is for Julius Beer, one of Englands first newspaper tycoon. I would, at a later date, be able to get some photos of the wonderful sculpture inside.

    This is what I would eventually come to know as “The tourist shot”, everyone takes this photo of the Egyptian Avenue.

    There’s many, many more stories from Highgate to come but I’ll save those for a later date. Here’s a few more photos I took that day with a cheap, disposable camera I bought in Tesco.

    ….and finally. I only saw this when the photo was developed. Badly wound on film, light flare, reflection of something or something more creepy? You decide.

  • Cannon Cinema, Rotherham.

    I’ve been meaning to come here for a while.

    Opened in 1913 as The Empire. At that time there would have been one huge screen in the same design as a theatre.

    Over time it was purchased by the Essoldo then the ABC (Associated British Cinema) chains.

    In 1978, the top balcony was converted into a second screen. As was the case with a lot of these cinema conversions this resulted two much smaller screens.

    The cinema was acquired by The Cannon chain in 1988 and closed just two years later in 1990.

    This lovely white tiled building still looks pretty much the same from the outside. Inside though has been a pool hall, Snooker club and a Nightclub over the past 32 years. These days though, it’s another nightclub called The Amber Lounge.

    The building is still highly recognisable from the outside. There are some original features including these oddly phallic things.

    There were some offices in part of the building which look a little derelict now. Good to see they were named the Essoldo Chambers.

    It is good to see that a building that’s over 100 years old is still very much in use and still standing. I would have loved to to what it looked like inside, unfortunately it was closed. I could have come back tonight but I’m really not a nightclub type of guy, I prefer cinemas.

  • Some 15 year old photos of Greenwich Cemetery.

    Some 15-16 years ago I started taking photos of London Cemeteries. I probably took thousands of photos over a period of 5-6 years. Not sure what happened to a lot of these photos, they’ve become lost over time.

    These photos were taken with my first digital camera. A rather cheap, Tesco own brand one. It did everything I needed it to though.

    Greenwich Cemetery was established in 1856 and, but oddly enough, is not actually in Greenwich. The cemetery is kind of right between Eltham and Woolwich.

    Due to the cemeteries proximity to The Royal Arsenal at Woolwich there is a large section of graves for World War 1 soldiers and, alongside this, a section for World War 2 soldiers.

    The position of the cemetery on a hillside offers some great views over to Canary Wharf and the City of London on a clear day.

    I’ve not been back to Greenwich Cemetery in 15 years since these photos were taken but I remember the view and thinking it was impressive.

    I also managed to get there one day during a snowfall, these photos were probably taken around 2005-6

    I remember Greenwich Cemetery as being a beautiful place for a walk, a strange calm place, just off a busy A road.

    Maybe, I’ll go back one day. Maybe I’d just like to remember it as a beautiful, serene place on a hill.

  • The statue of Sir John Betjeman, St Pancras Station.

    Let’s start with the who. Who was Sir John Betjeman? Well, he was a poet, the one time poet laureate in fact, a well loved television personality and campaigner to save Victorian architecture.

    Betjeman had a love for Victorian buildings and structures and, as part of the Victorian society, campaigned to save many great Victorian structures. Not always successfully it turns out. Betjeman was part of a campaign to save the Doric arch outside of Euston station. A plan was created to move the arch but eventually these plans fell through and the arch was demolished.

    The demolition of the Doric Arch at Euston.

    When plans were made to demolish London’s St Pancras Station Betjeman and the Victorian Society stepped in and led a campaign to save the station. Betjeman described the demolition plans as a “Criminal folly” and wrote of the station “What [the Londoner] sees in his mind’s eye is that cluster of towers and pinnacles seen from Pentonville Hill and outlined against a foggy sunset and the great arc of Barlow’s train shed gaping to devour incoming engines and the sudden burst of exuberant Gothic of the hotel seen from gloomy Judd Street”.

    Kings Cross station is on the right in yellow brick.
    The Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras.

    The campaign by the Victorian Society was successful and St Pancras, and the attached Midland Grand Hotel, were given Grade I listed status which prevented the build from demolition.

    Sir John Betjeman

    When St Pancras became the new host of the Eurostar International trains in 2007 a statue was erected to the memory of the man who was instrumental in saving the station building.

    The statue was unveiled on the 12th of November 2007 by Betjemen’s daughter Candida Lycett Green and the then Poet Laureate Andrew Motion. It depicts Sir John Betjeman as he was well known, in a scruffy coat with his shirt unbuttoned and his shoe laces badly tied. He’s holding his hat at looking up to admire the glass roof of the station building which is an impressive sight.

    The statue was created by sculptor Martin Jennings and is cast in Bronze. It’s also slightly larger than life. Around the base of the statue reads “And in the shadowless unclouded glare, Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where, A misty sealine meets the wash of air. / John Betjeman, 1906 – 1984, poet, who saved this glorious station“.

    I used to see this statue every day when I worked at St Pancras station. I only ever see him once, maybe twice a year now but I always stop by to say hello.

  • The Buildrager, Antwerp

    Wandering the beautiful streets of Antwerp I encountered this guy with his sassy, defiant stance. The words arbeid vrijheid on his base. A quick Google translate tells me those words mean Labour Freedom.

    I spent some time trying to learn more about him. There was not much detail online or history in regards to the statue and everything I found was sometimes confusing or conflicting. For that reason any glaring mistakes I may have made here, I offer my apologies upfront.

    The statue itself represents a Stevedore. What’s a Stevedore? Well, a Stevedore is someone who is employed at a dock to unload cargo from ships. Looking at him and the clothes he is wearing he would have been carrying sacks or something that he would place on his shoulders or back. This is evident by the hood he is wearing. This hood would have been made of strong, sturdy leather and would stop the back of the Stevedore’s neck and shoulders from cuts and scrapes from whatever he would have been carrying.

    I’ve found several mentions of the statue online, sometimes referred to by different names. In some places the statue is called Débardeur du port d’Anvers, occasionally the Stevedore or, more commonly, The Buildrager.

    The statue is credited to artist and sculptor Constantin Meunier and being created in 1890. The original sculpture was made of wax, was 48 centimetres high and made in 1885 at the art exhibition, Salon des XX in Brussels. In 1889 a plaster statue was presented in Paris at the Salon de la Sociedad Nacional de Bellas Artes. 

    A bronze copy of the statuette was acquired by the French State in 1890 which was also around the time the first full size statue was cast. Since then there seem to have been many copies made. These statues can be found in Frankfurt, Dresden, Copenhagen and Lima in Peru. Though which of these statues is the original casting is something that I have not been able to find out. I’ve added some photos below of these other statues throughout the world.

    Lima, Peru

    Copenhagen
    Dresden
    Frankfurt

    The Buildrager in Antwerp was given as a gift to the city by a grateful American general as thanks for help by the dock workers of Antwerp during World War 2. After Antwerp was liberated from Nazi rule in 1944 the Allied forces used the city as a base of operations. These dock workers would have been unloading weapons, ammunition and cargo from ships while all around them was being being bombed. During this time over 150 dock workers lost their lives but, due to their tireless efforts, were referred to by a US general as “being reponsible for shortening the war by at least one year”.

    In 1950, on the 4th of September the Buildrager was first unveiled by Mayor Lode Craeybeckx in it’s position outside the town hall where it stayed until 2014.

    The statue disappeared from this spot in 2014 where it was then tracked down to a place called Middelheim Park which houses the ominously named sculpture depot. This depot stores statues that no longer have a place in the city, it’s sometime referred to as the Statue Graveyard. At this point it looked like the end of the line for the Buildrager. A petition was created by concerned citizens and dock workers along with their representatives, which then led to an online campaign which was backed by over 1500 people. At this time a protest was organised which marched the streets of Antwerp behind a banner which read “PUT BACK OUR BUILDRAGER!”.

    For a while Buildrager was given a new home on Schengen Square and he was returned to his original spot outside the town Hall on the 1st of May 2022, albeit at the slightly shorter height of 2.2 meters.

    Every year on the 1st of November the statue is the gathering place for current dock workers and their families to remember colleagues and family members who have died whilst working in the docks. It may seem a less risky place to work these days but a worker died falling from a straddle carrier quite recently in September 2021.

    The Buildrager is a perfect example of a statue that a city believes in. Hundreds of people each day pass the statue by not knowing its name or what it means. Buildrager represents the heart of a hard working city that, even though the original meaning of the statue is never forgotten, continues to remain emblematic of the strength and unity of this wonderful European city.

  • Antwerp Bunker Museum.

    Hidden in a park on the outskirts of Antwerp lies this lovely, strange and surprising museum.

    The bunkers here were built in 1943 as part of the Atlantic wall defense shield around the coast of Europe by the German army during World War II.

    The troops which were stationed here in the bunkers and surrounding bunkers was the LXXXIX. Army Corps led by General Werner Freiherr von und zu Gilsa and his staff. Not only von und zu Gilsa, but also General der Panzertruppen Alfred Ritter von Hubicki and even Generalfeldmarschall Rommel spent time visiting the Bunkers. 

    Inside the bunker now is a replica of how General Werner Freiherr Vonn und Zu Gilda’s office would have looked in 1943. His quarters were only one that had it’s own sink with hot and cold running water.

    On the 1 July 1947, all the furniture and equipment from inside and outside the bunkers were sold through auction. This completely stripped everything from the bunkers. On the 19 July 1947, plans were made to demolish the bunkers but the plans were called off on March 20, 1948.

    Everything inside the bunker now is a replacement. Sourced mostly from France and Belgium. There is a switch on one wall that had been removed in 1947 by a souvenir hunter. This switch was subsequently returned in the late 90’s as the person who took it lived just around the corner.

    There are another couple of bunkers but, as they can only be visited on a guided tour which was not taking place on the day I visited, I did not get to see.

    I did, however, get to see them from the outside.

    Here’s a shot of one of the air intake pipes.

    This is a photo of the mess room where troopers would have slept.

    Finally, here is a photo of the recreation of how the gun emplacement would have looked in 1943.

    The Bunker Museum is open on the first weekend of each month. You can get there by taking the from Antwerp Central on the number 6 Tram line (Purple or Dark Pink) then it’s a short walk from P + R Olympiade stop.

    The museum is run by tireless volunteers who have some great stories and only costs €4 entrance.