Bear-baiting, bull-baiting and cock-fighting were once popular sports in St John’s Square, Burslem, shown above, fresh off my drawing board. Residents of perhaps one or two of these buildings would have had a prime view on a Sunday morning, when these activities were likely to happen. All banned by law in 1837, thank goodness.
Interesting clues of what went on remain in place and pub names though.
There’s a great old photo of the square which predates the arrival of the red brick building above ‘New Era’ Barbers shop, with the gable and brickwork bearing the date 1884.
It looks like a thatched cottage stood here before this building
I love discovering little bits of our history and thank you Geoff Barnett, for introducing me to the world of Burslem. Before I sign off, I was chatting about this drawing to Terry Hunt in Jollies Art Shop, Newcastle-under-Lyme. It turns out he was once the landlord of the Duke William!
So this post is for Geoff and for Terry.
And here’s Terry outside his shop on Liverpool Road. Good to see that my drawings have got a bit more colourful over the last couple of years.
It’s almost two years since I first sketched out this drawing. It all began with a coffee at the Pig and Pastry and somehow the word has got around that this is one extraordinary street. Hearing that Bishy Road has been awarded the honour of becoming Britain’s No 1 Great British High Street was such good news today.
That’s a huge amount of community effort, dedication and commitment spent over many years, led by Johnny Hayes of Frankie and Johnny’s cookshop and with a whole raft of participation in and beyond this remarkable street.
Congratulations Bishy Road! Enjoy your big moment. You show how it is possible to turn the ordinary into extraordinary.
A couple of weeks ago, my car broke down in the midst of a tailback after a pile-up on the M6 northbound. It’s an alarming experience to be stranded in the central lane as the rest of the traffic began to surge ahead around me. As I rang the emergency services, a chap leapt out of his car beside me, beckoned to a few others and they pushed me over to the hardshoulder. It happened so fast that they were back in their cars and gone in a matter of seconds.
My heartfelt thanks to these strangers.
Safely off the road, I had my handbag, sketch book and pen so I got stuck into a few sketches. I never travel without these thanks to Sketchbook Skool.
Eventually, the recovery vehicle towed me back to the garage shortly before closing. The AA man and Kwik Fit lads pushed my car into shelter in pouring rain ready for Ryan of Rytech to work on it the following week. Thanks lads.
I was supposed to be collecting my American family from Manchester Airport and my husband was supposed to be going to his friend and colleague’s funeral, but none of this went to plan. This day could have felt a write-off but with the kindness of strangers and a sketchbook and pen, I can reflect on it in quite a different light.
I have returned to drawing Holloway Road, the Great North Road – and paused to draw Dorset House in more detail. It caught my eye as it is quite small compared with its neighbours yet with a few faded classical details, it quietly holds its own.
Here it is in context with its neighbours:
I have tried to find out a little bit of the history of the building but not got very far until today perhaps…
We have been down to London to join today’s walk in support of Crohns and Colitis UK. The walk takes place every June, and around a thousand supporters walk through the City as a fundraiser and to raise awareness of this disease.
Walking has a lot in common with drawing as it allows you the time and space to enjoy details in the landscape and architecture you might otherwise miss. In this picture, we are walking along South Bank towards Southwark Bridge and you can just make out its trident lamposts above a band of green; here’s part of the bridge in detail:
Having only just finished drawing Dorset House, I immediately recognised the balustrade detailing and couldn’t help but wonder if it is by the the same architect. looking at the plaque, I see that Sir Ernest George designed this bridge.
I love finding little details like this. If you know anything about this architect, or Dorset House, I would be delighted to hear from you.
I have been drawn back to the Great North Road, this time up in York. The Roman road from London can be traced closely beneath the present day A64, entering York just a little north of Blossom Street and Micklegate and neatly illustrated on the British History Online website (scroll down on the link site for the map).
I mentioned in an earlier post that I went to school in York and Micklegate was my cycle route into town. Of course, much has changed and I see that the first building on the street is now occupied by Bike Shed, hopefully ready to greet the forthcoming Tour de Yorkshire. Brilliant! I will be there in the crowds again this year.
Micklegate is a long street and this drawing is only about a third of one side but I have discovered that there are seven Grade I, 26 Grade II* and 117 Grade II listed buildings in Micklegate alone!
Having made a great journey north himself, my father would often speak of the ancient roads in and around the city and how in the past, convicts would have been taken from York Castle prison along Micklegate, then Blossom Street and out along what is now the A64 to Tyburn, on the Knavesmire. Dad had been given a very old book ‘the Criminal Chronology of York Castle‘ which is a register of all those unfortunate souls executed at Tyburn since 1379 with many awful insights into life and death within the city. Dad passed the book on to me and it’s a sobering read.
Events don’t seem so long ago when I think that most of these buildings would have been extant on ‘Saturday 6th March 1761, when Ann Richmond, a fine young girl, was executed at Tyburn Without Micklegate Bar, for setting fire to a stack and barn belonging to her mistress’. The buildings on Micklegate would have been some of the last that she saw.
I got lost in thought whilst drawing Micklegate. I kept thinking of my parents, John and Mary Sharp (nee O’Donoghue), who lived in York for over 50 years and I took the liberty of drawing them in, looking into Brigantes window – which incidentally is the name of a Celtic Romano tribe – apt for my English dad and Irish mum. Our much loved old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Arran is included, no shadows of course!
Micklegate holds many names which have gone – the Blake Head is one that I really do miss when I visit York. I don’t like seeing buildings unused so it is great to hear that this is now home to the BlueBird Bakery and the Rattle Owl. With great names like that, I hope they go a long way – best of luck to you!
I gather from the York Press that ‘Plans have also been submitted to the council to excavate the cellar of the property which is believed to be sitting on top of a Roman road, with hopes of incorporating it into the current building design and allowing it to be displayed.’ Exciting! Look forward to hearing more of this!
Micklegate House (c1752) below, was the former town house of the Bourchiers of Beningbrough.
The drawing stops at the point where it meets Barker Lane, hopefully to be continued. To see all the drawing scanned in full length, please visit www.drawingthestreet.co.uk
Limited edition prints will soon be available at Blossom Street Gallery and Framing. Please email me directly and I will happily reserve one for you. A small number will be available to buy from me directly.
I am gradually picking up from where I left off before my recent accident. I am much more mobile now and keen to get back to normal activities so settling down to draw the second stage of Eccleshall has been a tonic.
This is a wonderful street to draw as it is full of life, colour and history.
As an example, London House was once the shop and home of a ‘mercer’ – a dealer in textiles, built for £50, and is now home to a restaurant.
Eccleshall High Street lies in the heart of the conservation area where there are 61 listed buildings. Further descriptions of these buildings can be found on British Listed Buildings Online. The timber framed building now occupied by Wines Etc was originally built as a market hall in 1884, and is now listed grade 2 along with the others in this cluster.
The 1.6m long drawing is almost complete with some finishing touches to add along with the lettering. Once finished, I will scan and load the finished image on to the website Drawing the Street.
Limited edition, (set of 60) signed, fine art quality giclee prints will soon be available to buy at three different sizes: 30 small prints (60 cm) at £65 each, 20 medium (1.2 mm) at £125 and 10 large (1.5m) at £195, including postage and packing. Please contact me at RonnieCruwys@drawingthestreet.co.uk if you would like to reserve a print. If you are a trader who would like to stock these prints, or licence parts of the image for merchandise, I would be delighted to hear from you. Last of all, something for Cherry of Mercian Scribes:
This post is dedicated to my new Twitter Buddies: @The Hornsey Road @Holloway Life @RuthRobinsonLon and AmySmith@Art_Press – a lively bunch!
Walking out of our son’s home on Windsor Road one day last year, I turned right to nip to the corner shop. It wasn’t until I stood at the crossing on my return, that I looked up to take in the sight of Albermarle Mansions. These buildings stand on what is the Great North Road, an old coaching route from London to York and up to Edinburgh. Follow this road into York and you will go past my old school on Blossom Street, through Micklegate Bar and down Micklegate, another York street which I have begun to sketch. I went on to University in Edinburgh so I am curious to know the exact route of the Great North Road. I have sent off for a book on this subject by Frank Morley – so more on this another time.
Back to Holloway Road. I began with a few sketches of the windows which I shared on social media. Much to my delight I had some more feedback from @TheHornseyRoad with a glimpse into life here over a century ago. There must be more insights into the former life of these buildings – if you know anything, I would love to hear from you.
One of the reasons that I like to draw full length street scenes is to show buildings in context to illustrate what happens when good but ordinary buildings disappear and they are replaced with buildings of a completely different scale and proportion.
Much as I love old buildings, I do love well designed new buildings too, but know only too well how hard it is for architects to see their great ideas watered down to meet budgets. It is interesting to see how the oldest buildings (Kale Food Centre) have been dwarfed over the course of the century by the most recent bookend ‘Bloomfield Court’.
I will be scanning the drawing and adding it in full to my website next week and will also be running off a limited edition set of fine art prints. Watch this space and thanks for reading!
The last few days have been spent mostly on trains and buses and taxis – no bicycles other than the above. I have only caught a passing glimpse of the awful events that have happened in Paris, but am heartened by the response of seeing so many drawings and cartoons appear online with ‘Je Suis Charlie’.
Drawing has become so much part of my life that I would now feel quite lost without pen and paper and I think the best tribute we can make to the lives lost is to pick up our pens, so much mightier than any sword or gun for that matter, and write, draw and give thanks for their lives lived to the full.
So a couple of drawn days in my life – collecting my son on his return form Hong Kong – our first Christmas without him – shhh… he missed a good one!
All this sketching needs fuel – found at the pre-sketched Golden Croissant on the Holloway Road!
May the souls of the French artists rest in peace and thanks for reading.