Eddy Dreadnought // The New House

They changed our address one rainless summer,
Steep garden walls made an exercise yard.
Clay spoil-heaps of throwing ammunition
Good for ballistic puffs of impact dust.
I made a dug out of wall foundations
With a roof of perforated iron,
Lined inside by a ‘borrowed’ travel rug
Soil woven into its Fair Isle pattern.
In truth a hideout not that inviting
Mainly a target for earth bombardment.
I wheeled a barrow as armoured vehicle
Incessant crossing would grind this quadrat
To dust that coated every flexure.
By aiming my gaze fixedly downwards
To screen out the incongruent present
Anachronisms and all that shouting,
My blinkered gaze became TV programme
An arid western or a desert war.
Humming incidental background music
With whistles, exploding cries, then silence.
Zooming in and out, retreat, invasion.
For days on end my hair was matted
Though it might seem I was becoming earth,
I was really becoming battlefield.

Of course later on were social bunkers
Clubrooms for bonding and early smoking
Some youths I knew then would go down the pit.
But this lone primeval den was different
Sun rays of dust in Brownian motion.
Working-through, or was it dirty protest
Against the indoor despairing fury.

Eddy Dreadnought, 2014

This work was submitted by artist Eddy Dreadnought in response to the Microhabitats symposium on March 28th 2014.

plastiCities/occursus – 1 night, 3 exhibition openings

Friday June 22nd, 6pm onwards

3 exhibitions, 3 venues and 1 party

6pm – Eddy Dreadnought and poetry reading at Jessop West Exhibition Space (University of Sheffield, 1 Upper Hanover Street, Sheffield S3 7RA)

7.15pm – Joshua Holt, Gordie Cavill and a talk by Dr Robert McKay at The Nichols Building (Shalesmoor, Sheffield S3 8UY)

8.15pm – Bryan Eccleshall, website launch and Don magazine launch at CADS (Smithfield, Sheffield S3 7AR)

The private views will be followed by a launch party at CADS (this is a private party so  please BYOB)

Find more details and reserve your place here.

Please print off the invitation to receive one complimentary glass of wine on entry and to access the launch party.

 For a map of the venues, please click here.

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk #4 (Eddy Dreadnought)

Section 4: Possible variations

Upperthorpe epicentre

From the west end of Albion Street walk downhill on Addy Street. Try not to look at the Scarborough Arms on the left as you pass, try not to look at the upstairs windows. Fix your gaze on the Upperthorpe Library building and the adjoining old swimming and slipper baths.

Plunge into the warmth of the Library, past the friendly-looking receptionists and use the toilet. Sit by the sparse local interest shelves and look at old photographs.

Listen to a nearby Lunch Club joking to each other, start to relax in the warm gravy atmosphere, and lose the dark chill that has settled on you.

Open a book and read ‘…people are losing the skill to deal with differences as material inequality isolates them, short-term labour makes their social contacts more superficial and activates anxiety about the Other. We are losing the skill of cooperation needed to make a complex society work’.

Go outside into the visible air of the street called Upperthorpe. It holds its breath and you’re watched. Go up the hill, where special constables are ranging like neon spaniels, twist left into the cul de sac of Blake Grove Road. Here, in a standoff with the maisonettes planted in its back garden, is the villa where poet and statue Ebenezer Elliott lived for a while.  A 19th-century radical with complicated views, he wrote poems obsessed with the Corn Laws, and his publicity helped in their repeal. He also wrote the haunting:

‘For all must go where no wind blows,

And none can go for him who goes;

None, none return whence no one knows.’

A vertical driving route

Be newly arrived in Sheffield to take up an academic post. Be house hunting in a car with your partner. Drive down Upperthorpe from the Howard Hill end. Try to keep on the left side of the road.

Ignore vague Amityville thoughts and pulsing soundtracks in your mind as you descend this shady inclination. Pass Alpine Road on your right.

‘Wow, will you take a look at the size of these houses! And so cheap’.

Keep your eyes on the cannibalistic student lets. Notice the signs of de-gentrification – illiterate graffiti, car window smithereens on the verges, overturned trashcans on the sidewalk, extensive ironwork defences, inside furniture out.

See the road getting steeper, beyond a maximum gradient, like a closing drawbridge. The neighbourhood is tilting as the drifting continents of Walkley and Netherthorpe subduct under its boundaries. Steel lines of flight take off from its molten edges. Go so fast that your tyres leave the road. Freefall over Philadelphia. Reach escape velocity over the Don. Rise airborne through the Upperthorpe skies like a Heinkel or a Junkers. Go into orbit as a Google Earth satellite.

 

Upperthorpe googling tour

Most of any research for this piece has been online, start just by googling ‘Upperthorpe Sheffield’, and taking it from there.

The websites I used were:

http://www.lasos.org.uk/ViewPage1.aspx?C=Resource&ResourceID=102 for the boundary of Upperthorpe neighbourhood.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/feb/06/child-neglect-adrian-levy-cathy-scott-clark describes in very upsetting detail the death of Tiffany Wright.

http://www.thewookie.co.uk/skyscrapers/index9.html describes the Upperthorpe flats.

http://www.tilthammer.com/bio/osb.html describes Samuel Osborn

google ‘Stones Brewery Sheffield’, then ‘images’ for photographs

http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/ is invaluable for local history, and I used it extensively for the Parkwood Springs Estate, and many other places

http://www.sheffieldhistory.co.uk/forums/  also invaluable- for Neepsend fairy castle, Club Mill, Kelvin Flats etc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neepsend wikipedia of course essential on this and many other locations and topics, especially ‘circumambulation’.

http://www.chrishobbs.com/orwellsheffield1936.htm gives information about George Orwell in Sheffield

http://zestcommunity.co.uk/ for information about the library and fitness centre

http://www.judandk.force9.co.uk/ellyPoe.htm for Ebenezer Elliott

References (on paper)

 

AZ Map of Sheffield, Geographers A-Z Map Company Ltd.

Joshua 6, verses 3 to 21. Bible, King James Version. (No I’m not religious)

Q&A interview with Richard Sennett. The Observer, 12.02.12

Price, David (2008) ‘Sheffield Troublemakers- Rebels and Radicals in Sheffield History’  Phillimore

Orwell, George (1937) ‘The Road to Wigan Pier) Penguin.

Sennett, Richard (2012) ‘Together: the Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation’ Allen Lane.

 

Eddy Dreadnought   2012

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk #2

Section 2   Pennsylvania to Parkwood Karting

Walk expectantly down Albert Terrace Road to cross Infirmary Road.  Left here, and then detour right down Gilpin Street where the boundary casts a block of burned out sandwich shops out of Upperthorpe. Right takes us back to Albert Terrace Road, past blue industrial units born again as evangelical churches. They are also sublet as student exam halls.

A multinational white dove flies in through a skylight as the students sit their business exams, with an olive branch in its mouth. This corporate holy spirit flies in clockwise circles around the ceiling. The invigilators convulse on the floor and speak in tongues. All the students score 95%, but fail.

Carefully cross the arterial Penistone Road, then walk east to find Rutland Street on the left. Pass the first of many industrial estates, ignoring the DIY superstore opposite, which changes hands over and over.

Just before Rutland Bridge is a beautiful old steel works building, recycled as offices, and hence currently deserted. It has fine broad windows over the river, and the repeated logo of a Samuel Osborn’s works, white hands grasping for lily-white hearts.  Cross the Don, which is squeezed here by reeds and willows.  If this is the stenosis, the infarct must be the downstream industrial and gastro-pub heritage area to the right.

As you reach Neepsend Lane, this is probably the outer edge of the red light district, marginalized from the city centre into ever more deserted industrial spots. At this time of day it’s difficult to tell. But what is evident as you go left along the Lane is that there are remnants of working industry scattered around here, some of them metallic.

Pass the derelict frontage of the old Stones Brewery, up to the corner of Bardwell Road, which bears its Soviet-style office building.  Conscientious vandals have smashed every deco window on the stair landing, right up to the top floor.

Veer right up Bardwell Road, past the indoor skateboarding  room, where my son went before he grew too tall. Pass commissioned, and therefore neutered, graffiti murals. Here we first notice a pervading smell of gas, bad enough to stop my companion smoking.

Follow a dreadlocked man up to the railway bridge (MAC/124).

The boundary of Upperthorpe goes along the railway line, presenting an access problem. One solution might be to adjourn and traverse this section by train, but only one train now uses this line, daily taking steel between Stocksbridge and Rotherham.  We decide to follow the outer edge off the boundary just beyond the line, but outside Upperthorpe.

To take this option, go under the bridge, turn left off the road that continues up the bumpy hill to the ski village, on to Wallace Road. This street was the lowermost part of the former Parkwood Springs Estate, built originally by the railway company that owned this once busy line, for its engine drivers, and other employees. It was demolished in 1978 to make way for a council landfill site.

After a short while the road disappears into a travellers’ camp, caravans blocking any progress along to the next two bridges. Fearing guard dogs, my companion having been bitten the previous week in the Mayfield Valley, we retrace our steps clockwise now, back down to Neepsend Lane. Where Wallace Road becomes the muddy entrance to the camp is where George Orwell stayed with a family while visiting Sheffield in the 1930s, and he described the area in his classic The Road to Wigan Pier.

In retreating we are too scared of the ‘other’ on the hill. But also reversing our circumnavigation, even temporarily, is like going against the grain, from counterclockwise to clockwise. But then an anticlockwise cog will drive a connecting neighbour clockwise, which would then pass on its motion to further cogs anticlockwise, onwards and outwards reversing direction each time, in successive and multiplying revolutions and counter-revolutions, a sort of neutralising machine.

Going west further along Neepsend Lane we pass feverish earth moving. Fences decked with toxic warning signs can’t conceal the bulldozers and diggers moving hardcore and steaming soil, and the gas smell reaches a crescendo. They are demolishing the site of Orwell’s gas works. A vast site, it even contained a power station with cooling towers at one time. To follow us go right, up Parkwood Road. Juggernauts rumble up here with topsoil, followed, like a pilot fish, by a little street scrubbing wagon trying in vain to mop up the mud.

Halfway up, climb a flight of steps which leads to a footbridge back over the railway. This is the site of Neepsend Station, closed in 1940. Part of its rocky cutting was carved into the shape of a fairy castle, but this has now vanished. Take the footpath beyond the bridge up the hill, but then branch off to the left, along a path over the scrubby hillside. This should emerge at bridge MAC/126, and you have reached the farthest point of Upperthorpe. Just over the bridge, rejoin Parkwood Road before it leads up the hill to the landfill site. Here is the clockwise go-kart circuit, lined with tyres.

Eddy Dreadnought, 2012

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk – Section 1

Albion Street to the Brain Injury Rehab

Running downhill in a line from the southeast end of Albion Street, like a financial bar chart, is a row of seven blocks of flats.  Thirteen storeys high, they seem well-loved, neatly re-clad in shades of chocolate, closed.

The boundary threads through them, so bypass Oxford (not in Upperthorpe), walk downhill just inside a broad grassy area, past Albion, Bond. Burlington and Martin (in Upperthorpe), then back along a dog path to Martin Street on the other side of Adelphi and Wentworth (not in Upperthorpe).

The grassy land is called the Ponderosa (largely not in Upperthorpe), from the name of the ranch in the 1960s TV western ‘Bonanza’. The opening credits were over a map of the Ponderosa carelessly catching fire. My companion remembered in 1963 when Kennedy was shot, a brief TV newsflash announced it, and then the scheduled Bonanza was shown in full as usual.

Go down Martin Street, then round the corner of the Philadelphia Working Men’s Club to enter Upperthorpe Road. Go left along the side of the elegant old Royal Infirmary (not in Upperthorpe).

These opening moves of the walk, by the flats, and the apron of low-rise maisonettes stretching across to the north boundary, seem to avert the eyes away from Upperthorpe. We focus centrifugally on the stuff outside.

And that seems alright, we do not want to stray inwards from the edge, to pierce its hermetic bubble, to breach the UPVC double glazing, to trespass along the security alarmed side streets. No more domiciliary visits, no more interrogation, no cases to re-open.

Richard Sennett said in a recent interview, ‘…what you get is indifference as a way of managing difference. People keep to their own turf.’

Inside the houses tiny fans of electric appliances lazily revolve. Reptiles protrude their forked tongues longing for the smell of their returning owners. Dog hairs drift round the ceiling lights, computers sleep. This area seems frozen and striated, it deserves a longer pause before its next reterritorialisation.

At the next junction Oxford Street crosses. Pause here to note two important sites. Just up its hill the next intersection is with Shipton Street, very close. That corner has some old gritstone gateposts, a short flight of shallow steps ending in a carpark. This should be the site of the Shipton Street Settlement, judging by old photographs which show streets in different places, and buildings that have totally disappeared.

Founded at the turn of the last century, Shipton Street Settlement was one of three established in the poorest areas of Sheffield by left wing, sometimes religious, philanthropists. As David Price has written in his book, from which this paragraph extensively draws, they aimed to provide encouragement, education and support to the disadvantaged. It had a hostel, which became a YMCA. Annie Besant, Conan Doyle and Edward Carpenter stayed there when visiting Sheffield, presumably not together, before it was sold off as a nurses’ home in 1924. It provided free legal advice and had a strong educational bias, with classes, study circles and conferences. It had a theatre, which eventually moved in the 1950s to the leafy west end of the city (the Merlin Theatre). For many years the warden was Arnold Freeman (Freeman College is named for him). The Settlement reflected the lost idea that ‘social improvement is not just about economics, but also about social interaction and relationships.’ It was demolished in the 1960s.

Back at the lower corner of Oxford Street and Upperthorpe Road is the Brain Injury Rehab Centre. Inside a computer shows a scan result. On the screen are sectional images of a brain, ranging from back to front, to and fro, like a magnetic tide. A patient stares at its flowing sepia inlets and black holes, not listening to the specialist. Retrograde amnesia seeps out into Upperthorpe.

Walk downhill on Albert Terrace Road to begin the next section of the walk.

Eddy Dreadnought   2012

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk: Introduction

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk (2 hours)

Introduction

The exact boundary of Upperthorpe, and of the ‘Upperthorpe Project’, had begun to concern me. Although boundaries are arbitrary, limiting, even harmful as in partition, discussions and postings had taken an elastic view of its shape, and gone round and round in circles.

What better then than to act out this circularity, and thereby have to follow a fixed version of its circumference?

This walk then, uses the invisible boundary of the Council defined ‘Neighbourhood’ of Upperthorpe.

For a map of the Upperthorpe boundary, click here.

So this Upperthorpe also includes a lot of Philadelphia, Birkendale, and over the quietly flowing Don, Neepsend, where nobody seems to live. And inexplicable rectangular street-shaped retreats and annexations.

The map above reveals two images, the distant pseudopodia of Neepsend shaped like a diving fish, the proximal part a straight edged cubist camel.  And indeed they do have very different characters.

It doesn’t include Wardsend Cemetery, Hillsborough, the city morgue on Watery Street, the Barracks, or the Old Royal Infirmary. Not that Upperthorpe has been spared traumatic death. Air-raid victims, down by the river drownings in the Great Sheffield flood; and a recent tragedy right beneath its eyes.

For no particular reason the route is anticlockwise, keeping Upperthorpe always on the left. Circumambulation can be ritualistic, classically in  biblical Jericho, circled six times in silence, with a final circuit of shouting and the blowing of rams-horns, the birth of free jazz. But no ill will is intended in this walk, no education, and no patronization, just voyeurism.

The walk was tested with a companion on the last day of January 2012, mid-morning in cold weather. At other times of day, in other seasons, it could have been very different. We took no cameras, sound recording equipment, notebooks, or sketch-books. We had a street map and a passing interest. And a vague artistic notion.

This guide is entirely subjective and full of inaccuracy.

Eddy Dreadnought   2012

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk (Eddy Dreadnought)

Over the next few weeks, artist Eddy Dreadnought will post a series of walking guides to Upperthorpe.

The sections will be as follows:

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk (2 hours)

Introduction

Section 1  Albion Street to the Brain Injury Rehab

Section 2  Pennsylvania to Parkwood Karting

Section 3  Club Mill to the Buddhist Centre via Mecca

Section 4  Possible extensions-: Upperthorpe epicentre

:Upperthorpe googling tour

:A vertical driving route

References

Eddy Dreadnought 2012