I’m not often stuck for words but my thoughts did stall a bit when when I came across this new addition to our local Canal. Here, I thought to myself, here is an architectural mismatch that should never have happened, an attempt to blend old with new that has missed the mark by such a wide margin I would have had it removed immediately had it been in my power to do so.
I had known this place from childhood and nothing much had changed in the last fifty years or so . Apart from the local canal preservation society doing it’s best to preserve what was left of the network it had pretty much been ignored since its abandonment in 1937 when a breach in a section running above the valley floor and the River Irwell gave way, and drained the section.
A wooden footbridge that once spanned the canal at the top of the, rather unfortunately named, ‘Nob End Locks’ had been missing for as long as I can remember, so you can imagine my shock when I came across the new one a couple of years ago. I blurted out a few profanities like – My Goodness My Eyes My Eyes, Oh No What happened here..! and some, then rode my bike onto it for a while to take in the view from a vantage point I hadn’t had before.
If it was the intention of the designers that it should catch my attention, then It had worked spectacularly well, and if it had also been the intention that it should create a pause for thought, then it had succeeded in that respect as well, and if it had been the intention that such brightly coloured objects might create a stir in the community it had done that with style and bravado.
A few years have passed and I’m now over the shock, and as much as I wanted to dislike these new additions to our local amenities, they have grown on me, and I find myself quite liking that splash of colour and quirkyness the changes have provide to what was an area that could, at best, be described as ‘Industrial Heritage’ or worse the ‘Wasteland’ it was.
If ever the success of a Public Installation hung upon it’s incongruous nature, this one never had anything to worry about, although it’s a bit of a slap in the face on first sighting I have grown to like it for it’s Communal Spirit, Sense of Inclusion Fun and ability to Create Conversation.