04 March 2018

Karan Anne Porter

Thursday 4 March 1965 to Wednesday 4 February 2009.
Photograph: Berwick-upon-Tweed, September 1991.

28 February 2018

Modern Leaded Lights

Leaded lights are commonly seen as an art only of the past. Indeed, the vast majority of the work undertaken by Jonathan Lill, owner of Harlequin Leaded Lights, of Oswestry, is restoration of old lights. Just two or three projects per year are new work. One such is a light to mark the anniversary of YMGW and partner - conjoined initials and a Roman X, signifying ten years. Leaded lights are formed of small pieces of stained (as in this case) or painted glass, supported by lead cames joined together with a mixture of tallow and tin solder. Tin is the traditional tenth anniversary gift.

12 February 2018

St Joseph's, Wigan

The current incarnation of St Joseph's was designed by George Goldie, who specialised in Roman Catholic churches. He was of Mssrs. Goldie and Child, of Kensington, London.

The construction contract was awarded to Mr J. Wilson, of Wigan. The foundation stone was laid in 1877, and the church completed in 1878. It opened on 30 June of that year. Music hall star George Formby, denizen of Wigan, attended here, perhaps admired the windows.

The church was de-consecrated and sold in 1995. Planning permission was granted in 2014 for conversion into an indoor rock climbing facility, but the building remains derelict. The only holy ghost now in residence is in the form of hundreds of pigeons.

06 February 2018

Holy Trinity, Newcastle-under-Lyme

The Church of the Holy Trinity, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, is a glorious architectural oddity. It was designed by its first priest, Father James Egan, and built 1833-34. The style is Gothic, common for the period, but it is the materials used that are unusual.

Following an offer from a local brick maker of all the bricks that might be required, Egan undertook the design work, right down to the moulds for the shaped bricks. The fa├žade is constructed of Staffordshire blue vitrified brick, made from the local Etruria marl. As is the case for all engineering bricks, Staffordshire blues are fired with limited oxygen, which produces a hard brick with a high resistance to water penetration.

There are tiers of blind arcading, moulded bricks, embossed bricks, and bricks laid in diaper formation. On completion, the church was described as "the finest modern specimen of ornamental brickwork in the kingdom" (White's Directory of Staffordshire, 1834). First listed in 1949, the church now boasts Grade II* listed status.

20 December 2017

Wavox - Milk Monitor

Manufactured by Truvox, of Wembley, London, the Wavox is an Art Deco-esque extension speaker of the 1950s. Truvox manufactured public address systems, cinema speaker systems, industrial cleaning machines, and heaters. In 1949 it acquired Rola Celestion, but disappeared in 1969 through a reverse take-over. Celestion Industries Plc now uses Truvox as a brand name for loudspeakers.

Housing a Merco speaker, the case is made of a casein-based polymer. Casein is a phosphoprotein present in milk, more commonly used in making cheese. Casein polymer is these days used in any volume only for making buttons. Wavox extension speakers were available in a small range of rather unpleasant colour-ways, including blue/pink. This example is a much more sedate combination of gloss black and matte off-white.

07 December 2017

Ekco Radio Stands

Ekco is known to have produced stands for just five of its iconic Bakelite radios of the 1930s and 1940s. There is direct contemporary evidence, from an Ekco leaflet of 1935, for stands for two of the company's five round radios - the AC/AD76 and the AD36, both inspired by Wells Coates' 1932 styling for the AD65 - and for the AC/AD86 'Dougal', styled by Serge Chermayeff. All three of these radios were released in 1935.

There's also photographic evidence of contemporary Ekco stands for the AC/AD85 of 1934, inspired by Wells Coates' design work (image not available for copyright reasons but available online); and for the black and chrome version of the AC/DC74 of 1933, styled by Serge Chermayeff, this last in chromed tubular steel (left).

The wooden stands were of beech, and sported design cues that reflected those of the radio for which they provided support. They were available in both brown and black, likely coloured toner subsequently sealed with cellulose lacquer, to match the principal colours in which the radios were made. Those for the round AC/AD76 and AD36 radios cost £1.5s.0d in 1935 - about £80 at today's prices.

No stand was available for the round A22 or AD75 radios, and there is no direct evidence of a contemporary Ekco stand for the round AD65. Stands without curves to the supporting platform are modern incarnations, and not Ekco originals.

However, the oak stand featured in the remaining photographs in this post has accompanied the AC85 which sits upon it since their joint purchase, in the Spalding area of Lincolnshire, in about 1934. It is unlikely to have been made by Ekco itself, but instead by a local joiner, to display the radio to best effect in a shop. An EKCO RADIO transfer runs along the top stretcher, and the fretwork to the cupboard door bears upon it EKCO, 'printed' by means of masked staining of the wood.

In about 1987 the radio and stand, still paired, passed locally to Graham Richardson, only the second owner. Now in the hands of its third owner, the radio (still entirely functional, without any restoration work having ever been done) and stand remain together. The stand is undoubtedly contemporary with the radio, and unique.

(Copyright of first two photographs unknown. Please advise if you are the copyright holder.)