15 Dec 2007

Woe woe and thrice woe

Some dolt has jiggered the Blogger 'Minima Stretch' template. The header image and text now align and resize inconsistently, and right column widgets now fail to 'clear' below floated images. Apologies for the scrappy workrounds. In other news, my phone line has an attack of the crackles. On a Saturday. Natch.

8 Dec 2007

Urbex, piracy and school meals

This morning's copious rain has now turned to the winter's first sleet. Let's ruminate.

One hugely important point against the evil of copyright maximalism is the habitual negligence of self-described 'rights holders'. So much 'long tail' material wrongly considered worthless gets lost forever, with only a fraction preserved through the enthusiasm of so-called pirates. One need only cite what happened at the BBC in the sixties and seventies to prove this point, or the recent reconstruction of a Colossus.

But this point also holds good for other forms of heritage. Consider the case of Wapping Road School in Bradford, an astonishingly well appointed 'Board School' built in 1877 under Bradford's own W.E. Forster's Education Act of 1870. It was here in 1887 that a headmaster used his own money to feed children fainting from starvation. This led to Bradford instituting the first school meals service in 1902 - which like all great reforms was of course promptly outlawed [1]. The above picture of kids at Wapping Road dates from around this time [2]. This school marks a significant step on man's long ascent from the mud to the stars.

What has become of this place? Well, it's now a Grade II Listed empty vandalised wreck, as is the adjoining house. It'll most probably be vandalised even more until there's nothing left to turn into yet more bloody flats (which is the bubble economy's current form of shoe shop).

And that's where the urbex enthusiasts come in. Throughout the nation these unsung heroes are risking life, limb and the wrath of the authorities to document our built heritage before it gets destroyed (though they probably aren't thinking in those terms).

With that in mind, please have a look at Converse1's report on 28dayslater.

In a hundred years' time these photos will be treasured - if they survive. But that puts us right back at square one. Who will preserve the contents of such websites? Most probably the so-called 'pirates'.

Contrast Converse1's photographs with the official write-up [3]:

Board School. 1877, with additions and alterations 1882, 1897 and C20. rock-faced stone, with ashlar dressings and Welsh slate roofs. Renaissance Revival style. 2 major blocks on steeply sloping site. Left block, single storey plus basement, 7x3 bays, has chamfered plinth, sill band, string course and eaves detail. Hipped and gabled roofs with coped gables and 2 coped ridge stacks. Windows are mainly cross-mullioned, with stone mullions and transoms, some reglazed late C20. Basement has central double door and glazing bar overlight in plain chamfered surround. Above, central 5-light window with sidelights. On each side, a projecting bay with blank basement and shouldered coped gable with finial. Round arched recess with hood mould, flanked by pilasters, containing a cross-mullioned window. Beyond, single similar windows. At each end, a projecting bay with hipped roof and a 4-light window. Left return has to right 2 pairs of cross casements with stepped heads. To left, a single light, then 2 cross casements. At the rear, 5 gabled ranges, single storey, each with cross-mullioned windows. At the left end, a similar range, 1x3 windows, with gabled and hipped ends and cross casements. Attached at the rear, a play-shed and entrance bay, in 2 units, 1 and 2 bays. Right block, single storey plus basement, 6x3 bays, has similar detailing. Gabled and hipped roofs with 3 ridge stacks, 2 with paired flues. In the centre, 4 round-arched basement openings, glazed-in. Above, 4 cross-casements. Projecting end bays have coped gables with finials. Left wing has single round arched window and C20 lean-to porch; right wing has 2 round arched windows. Above, each has a round arched recess with hood mould, containing a 3-light window. To right, gabled wing, set back, with cross-casement to left and 4-light window to right. Rear has gabled wings at each end, that to left larger and with a hipped projection in the return angle. INTERIOR: Left block has hall divided by folding panelled screen, with arch braced roof, ceiled C20, and matched dado. Smaller hall has similar details plus round-arched stone fireplace with keystone. Classrooms plain, with glazing bar windows to the hall. Right block has large classrooms, formerly separated by glazed screens, and 2 large roll-moulded stone fireplaces. Swimming pool has original tile lining and glazed brick wall panels. OUTSIDE: Between the main blocks, a stone staircase with intermediate landing, and balustrade walls with chamfered coping. To right, a similar curving staircase. Rock-faced stone boundary wall encloses the site, with chamfered coping and renewed railing between piers to the front. Gabled stone coping to sides and rear.
[1] http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/letters-to-the-editor/Health-and-Safety-call-for.3463875.jp?articlepage=2
[2] http://www2.newsquest.co.uk/bradford__district/bradford/news/jim69.html - yes, I snarfed their precious photo. It's clearly well out of copyright.
[3] http://www.bradford.gov.uk/NR/blah blah yadda yadda GradeIIListedBuildingsinBradford_UPDATED060607.pdf (pdf, 960k)

6 Dec 2007

Wiki diddlers

In which many celebrities appear, twisting and flailing for our decadent and perverted delight, even Slime Virgin (but sadly not Jeffro Q Merkustitty - well, not yet, anyway). This is classic Hamilton v Fayed stuff: you find yourself wishing there's a way all of them could lose.

It's been too long; I really really must get back to the struggle against SCO.