Bradford? Preston? Wigan?

Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:16 AM
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Bradford? Preston? Wigan?

If you had a day to fill with just one more Northern English city for a day, within easy reach by train of Liverpool or Manchester, which would it be?

This would just be for an easy day's stroll around the center city, or nearby sites famous from an industrial heritage perspective. Please, no castles or stately homes; remnants of feudalism make me want to stab my eyes out. Something to do with canals or railroads or "dark Satanic mills" would be very nice.

Run-down, weedy, and unrestored a bonus. I'm thinking of Manningham Mills in Bradford, though I understand it's being turned into condos. How about Saltaire?
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:47 AM
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Saltaire is far from unrestored.

I haven't been in Stoke for a while - it would certainly have come close to your "run-down" spec once upon a time. It has canals and a fair amount of industrial heritage:

http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/leisure/museums/
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:58 AM
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Ooh, I like the looks of Chatterley Whitfield. Thanks!
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 10:36 AM
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Run-down, weedy, and unrestored a bonus.

i've been thru Preston and Badford and each certainly will more than fulfill you requirements.

I took a train thru Bradford and remember thinking "Ghastly - kind of looks like Berlin after the war"
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 11:31 AM
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Just stay the extra day in Manchester... or York.
Bradford is awful.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:04 PM
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But one person's "awful" is another's treasure, isn't it? What precisely is it that is awful or ghastly?

Concrete buildings with wet grey streaks down the side appeal to me. Long terraces from the 1850s appeal to me. Boarded-up or almost boarded-up shops that still have their 1958 signs appeal to me. Brick warehouses with the windows broken out and shrubbery growing from the mortar appeal to me.

Is Bradford unsafe? Particularly to be walking around with an expensive camera? Is it all Asians now? Surely Asian communities are interesting? If I could find a 1950s cafe or chippie that had been turned into a cheap curry takeaway, but with most of the original fittings, I'd be ecstatic.

On a completely different tack, how about walking the Wigan canal towpath? I've got some pamphlets that make the stroll through the flashes toward Leigh look interesting, and then there's the flights of locks. Wigan Pier looks a bit too polished up.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:04 PM
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what an aspiration!
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:07 PM
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<Concrete buildings with wet grey streaks down the side appeal to me. Long terraces from the 1850s appeal to me. Boarded-up or almost boarded-up shops that still have their 1958 signs appeal to me. Brick warehouses with the windows broken out and shrubbery growing from the mortar appeal to me>

wow you could spend years in UK and never be disappointed. I have similar likes and enjoyed Stoke (one of the best), parts of Glasgow, parts of Birmingham and Manchester, swathes of East London, faded seaside resorts, and most Midlands cities.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:24 PM
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I haven't been back for years but my OH comes from Oldham - his dad was a cotton spinner. Not sure how gritty it is nowadays but it was still pretty industrial with old mills when last I was there. Avoid Chadderton, which is not a nice place any more (that's where OH was born) but the other towns around there were all cotton spinning towns.
Non tarted up industrial heritage is hard to come by nowadays - developers have seen the money in doing up mills, those that are left any way.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:37 PM
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I'm hearing "Stoke" from more than one corner here, that's interesting.

Pal, I've got a lot of that already on the itinerary. Have you ever visited the Flickr group "the seaside town they forgot to close down"? It's wonderful: http://tinyurl.com/35d8av

Sheila, I know it may sound strange, but I have a vigorous antipathy towards anything to do with grand houses, royalty, aristocrats, knights, etc. and can bear castles only so far as they address the question of the common people. And I'm not too fond of overly-agressive touristification; I'll be happy if I don't see a single multimedia touchscreen thingie on my entire trip (unless it's broken, as most of them end up being).

And Britain's industrial heritage is where the modern world began, and is far more interesting and valuable than all the kings and queens and battlefields. Most of the pomp and circumstance is put up for the tourist trade, anyways; it's not any more authentic than the "Scottish" kilt. I'd much rather see where George Stephenson outran the field at the Rainhill Trials, or where real heroes like Darby, Robert Stephenson, Telford, and Hartley did their work.

I also have this crazy idea that you can't really see a country if you look for it directly; you have to catch it out of the corner of your eye. The most interesting thing about most "heritage" sites is the car park.

Speaking of which, where's the best car boot sales in the North?
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Refreshing. Thanks for the insight.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 12:48 PM
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"Refreshing" is code for "complete raving nutter, you should be in a home" isn't it? ;-)
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 01:01 PM
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fnar - thanks for the site!!!

I suspose you may have been to Iron Bridge Gorge - though not rundown, actually a Heritage national park i found the industrial relics at the place of birth of modern iron structure in the actual Iron Bridge itself fascinating.

the old iron smelters, etc.

Stayed in Shrewsbury and took bus there and also on another day train to Stoke - to see the Potteries - Wedgwood is in a particular 'lovely' part of town - just your cup of tea.

enjoy.

also though haven't been to Whiteheart Lane kind of think that area may also fit the bill???
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 01:13 PM
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White Hart Lane is in London, Pal. I'm not going to be in London.

Yes, Darby's Iron Bridge is on our list. We're having a bit of a tussle over the last bits of our itinerary; I'm permitting Mrs. Fnarf to drag me to a LIVERPOOL match (thankfully not against Spurs) where I will have to sit quietly in my non-blue shirt and pretend to enjoy their goals. But for some reason she doesn't think that gives me carte blanche to commandeer every minute of the rest of the trip.

We've also booked a boat cruise down the Manchester Ship Canal. As we pass through the famous Barton Swing Bridge, I will be the one on deck with the wild hair attempting to unfold my OS Explorer map in a driving rain. I've threatened to stop on train platforms and take notes of the locomotives I see in a little book, but if I do she will push me off the platform onto the tracks.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 02:19 PM
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Stoke has got a bit Lego-y. And that's the problem with all the places you're suggesting: there's a ton of money been thrown at them over the past decade, creating acre on acre of Tesco superstore clones: brick-built new buildings housing call centres, management service operations for utilities and all the other unlovely (but also unhideous) accommodation the modern economy needs. Drive the M6 between the M56 and M62 or the parallel A57 - and you'll see what I mean. For all that they all loathe her round there - Thatcherism rampant and at its most beneficial.

You might do worse than take the original Stephenson railway: Lime St to Manchester via Rainhill. St Helens has got a bit up in the world since it's arguably recently had the best Rugby League team anywhere ever, and there are a few concrete and glass new buildings. But last time I had a meeting there (with a company that went bust a few months later, pausing only to pay my bill) the original Beechams Pills building (originally built by Thomas Beecham, the grandfather of the famous orchestral conductor) looked as if no-one had known about its history for a century and hadn't given it a lick of paint for even longer.

I think it's impossible to get to Ironbridge by train.

Or in Liverpool itself, try Bootle. Or don't even go that far. Just walk westward along the Dock Road till you're nackered. Sadly, walking eastward from the Liver Building takes you:
- first past the 1980s statues the state funded to make it look as if they were doing something about the place
- then the Albert Dock, which in the early 19th century was probably the most beautiful industrial building of all time, but now epitomises all that's naffest about the museumification of once-industrial Britain
- then five miles of Legoland new building. The Dingle, sanitised. Ringo must be turning in his grave.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 02:52 PM
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I'm biased but have you considered Sheffield? A little over 1 hour by train from Manchester and just under 2 hours from Liverpool.

Likened to Rome due to being built on 7 hills, Sheffield's history is based on the steel industry - most of which has now sadly disappeared. You will find a vibrant life on the canal, a working industrial hamlet, run down areas, beautiful buildings (the old university being just one), winter gardens, a beautifully restored theatre, entertainment, close to the Peak National Park (5 miles), 2 great football clubs and much, much more.

I'm sure most Northern cities can offer you something but like I said, I am biased. Look on Google for more info
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 03:19 PM
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Sheffield certainly meets the criteria. I'll take a look.

We've actually got a day set aside already for walking the Dock Road, and also along the Leeds and Liverpool canal towpath. We will certainly end up somewhere in Bootle, as we will be visiting a friend there -- or possibly Seaforth -- I'm not exactly sure where the boundaries are. But I know on previous visits we've stumbled into Bootle pubs.

Your description of Albert Dock is perfect. Naff it is, although the majestic power of those pillars still has an echo or two left. Barely. My wife has a ton of photos from before that make me want a time machine.

I've seen some of the miles of shoddy and hideous new housing in Dingle and Toxteth, too. It's tragic. The argument for building it always presumes that it will be to a high standard of art and durability, which persuades some people, but then when they're finished they see the cardboardy fake-brick results, with windows in the wrong places and doorknobs that come off in your hand, and realize they've been had once again.

We will be taking the old rain line. I understand the commemorative plaque for poor Mr. Hutchinson is inconveniently placed for viewing, away from any current station, but I do want to see all the famous stops. Chat Moss! Stupidly on our last visit we only took the more modern southerly route.

St. Helens sounds promising! I think I read somewhere that they had the longest Victorian brick terrace in Britain, but I don't know if it's still there. They've got a canal, too. Maybe I can squeeze the nearby Sankey Viaduct (first railway viaduct in the world) on the list. Will there be any old-fashioned cafes or chippies in central St. Helens?

Ironbridge requires a train to Telford or Shrewsbury and then a bus. From Telford the museum complex runs one, and there are numerous (but very confusing) services in Shropshire. I think I have my timetables all sorted out.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 03:21 PM
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P.S. -- Ringo's not dead.
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Aug 2nd, 2007, 04:01 PM
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I can't help you choose a city but when you do you may find this site helpful in finding an appropriate pub in Lancashire:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/yqr5rg
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