Sunday, March 30, 2008

Get Carter

Considering that one of my motives in starting this blog was to prevent open space going under tarmac to make a car park, waxing sentimental over a distant view of one in Gateshead would seem a little odd. But I could not resist taking this shot.

This solid pile (reminiscent, I think, of a castle) has a local fame which rarely comes to any building by virtue of its 'role' in the British cult movie Get Carter (1971). Despite its age, this film regularly wins polls among serious film fans for being the toughest gangster film the UK has ever produced. Its reputation grows year on year, unaffected by a re-make which set the up dated plot in ... Las Vagas! If you have not seen the movie I won't spoil it for you by describing the scene where the then new multi storey is witness to a memorable piece of 'communication breakdown'.

I must confess to actually liking this example of Brutalist 60s ferro-concrete construction. However, plans are moving ahead to demolish it. I regret this move. The Brutalist style is frequently the subject of condemnation and has never been popular in Britain at least; shades of Gothic Revival architecture. Unloved, the building has not been given the kind of care and attention it required.

Battlefield has great views across the Tyne gorge at this point, helped by the bareness of the winter trees.

Information about 'Get Carter' can be found on these web sites (amongst many others).

Details of the plot for those who have not seen the original movie

[Dead link removed 11.2012]

Profile of Get Carter director Mike Hodges

[Dead link removed 11.2012]

Includes a profile of the 'Demon Tower' multi storey car park

For those with an interest in architectural history here are links for Brutalism and the history of the Gateshead multi-storey

[Dead link removed 11.2012]

Footnote 11.2012: Internet links do not stay live for long it seems. However, those of you who are interested can simply search using the same terms I did. Best Wishes, A.D.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Building work

A flurry of building work (to match the recent flurries of snow) has been taking place on the fringes of Battlefield open space. These photographs were taken in the past month.

First, the old 'warehouse' Ouseburn Community Centre was torn down (so fast I could not get photographs of the deed) and work promptly started on its replacement. The Centre had been well used in the past. I hope the new Centre bodes well for the open space. Together they provide vital resources to the local area.

Next, a new push chair and wheelchair friendly pathway has been constructed on the north eastern side of the open space, linked to improvements in the related pedestrian approaches.

However, it is not just human builders who have been busy ...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Spring day

March "like a roaring lion" has come in. Blue skies and high winds over Battlefield. Early flowers are withstanding the pressure in sheltered corners and bring with them a sign that winter is almost – not quite – done. Despite the chilliness of recent nights these plants seem to be thriving.

From top to bottom:

1. Colt's-foot Tussilago farfara
A plant that turns up very early in Spring in my experience, growing in waste and disturbed ground, seemingly oblivious of rubble, litter or anything much. A hero in short.

2 & 3. Lesser Celendine Ranunculus ficaria
Taking advantage of the dormancy of other more vigourous plants this splendid little yellow flowered plant gets in quickly before being shaded out later in the season.

4. Daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus
The Spring cliché, but who cares? These were planted out some years ago and are doing well, establishing swaves of plants along the well drained steep sided approaches to the Lower Ouseburn. (See last pair of photographs below.)

5, 6 & 7. Bird Cherry Punus padus
At least, I think these images are of such. Possibly a self-sown tree. Close by there are excellent Crab apples Malus spp. safely beyond reach on the railway trackside. These produce fruit in most years. These are self-seeded without a doubt.