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Medlock Drift 19: London Road to Ancoats Bridge

This area is the most chopped up, culverted and dark section of the River Medlock. As with most of the river in the city, the access and viewing points are hidden, hard to find and unwelcoming. To anthropomorphise a little, I would say the river here is depressed and unseen – even unwanted. The Bond Street and Baring Street industrial estates are seedy, grim sites. The river flows under many of the warehouses and businesses – silent and apologetic. For most of the walk I felt uneasy. This is an urban landscape of dodgy deals, broken bricks, muddy car parks, prostitution, and lurking danger.

Starting from Berry St and the back of the Macdonald Manchester Hotel (previously the BT building. Architect J L Hammond). Just visible, through the pillars,  is the Holloway Wall – a curious piece of brutalist modernism acting as a work of art and also a sound barrier for the old UMIST site.

IMG_2408Here is a video of Steve Millington from the Manchester Modernist Society talking about this area….

Victory House, later Telecom House, was completed in 1973 and designed by architect J L Hammond. The building was originally intended to be a hotel. At that time, tax relief was given to hotel builders, but shortly before it was due to open, the legislation changed, and the developer was forced to adapt it for office use.

“Graceful in its position, snaking down London Road, unusual window patterns, good detailing (especially on the rooftop plant blocks) and very elegantly and cleverly supported on slender supports this building is somewhat of a Cinderella. Ironically permission has recently been given to turn part of the building back into a hotel.” (Information and comments by Eddy Rhead)

IMG_2410 IMG_2411This vast warehouse seems to be currently unused….

IMG_2412The Medlock goes into the tunnel that takes it under the University of Manchester (old UMIST site) campus…..

IMG_2417 IMG_2420 IMG_2421This fragment of river is typical of how the river presents in this part of town. Emerging, curving and then disappearing under buildings….

IMG_2422Macdonald Hotel…..

IMG_2423The river stays north of the Mancunian Way. On the left is the Unversity Halls of Residence. Under the Mancunian Way is the skate park….(see Steve Millington video above)….

IMG_2425 IMG_2426 IMG_2427 IMG_2428Views from Baring street Bridge (presumably previously Boardman St Bridge according to sign).

IMG_2431 IMG_2432 IMG_2434The river goes under Fed Ex building….

IMG_2435 IMG_2436 IMG_2437 IMG_2439Baring street is where the taxis for Piccadilly Station queue…

IMG_2440 IMG_2441 IMG_2442 IMG_2443The only way to see the river as it emerges from under the Fed Ex site is to go onto the Klyn & Klyne car park. There was no-one around so I went on to the fire escape. From there the river is on a corner and visible emerging and disappearing again….at which point an officious man in a fork lift truck had a rant at me….

IMG_2444 IMG_2447The area around Bond street is particularly run down…

IMG_2449 IMG_2450The river runs somewhere under Temperance Street and Chapelfield Road…but hard to tell where exactly….

IMG_2451 IMG_2452 IMG_2453Spelling?

IMG_2454Finding the river again going under Fairfield Street. A nondescript bridge….

IMG_2456 IMG_2457 IMG_2458 IMG_2461Helmet Street, Aldow Industrial Park. The Medlock is behind the trees and security fence….

IMG_2462 IMG_2463 IMG_2464 IMG_2465 IMG_2466 IMG_2467View from Pin Mill Brow / Ancoats Bridge….

IMG_2468Ancoats Bridge marks the start of the Mancunian Way….

IMG_2469And on the other side of Ancoats Bridge is a promising piece of woodland with the path up to Holt Town and the Man. City Stadium…

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Medlock Drift 18: Clayton Vale to Alan Turing Bridge

13th January 2013.

Once a vast tip, Clayton Vale is now a well managed public amenity (and hence the least amount of rubbish on the whole river). Past industries include a print and dye works and Bradford Colliery. In around 1907 Manchester Corporation started to purchase buildings on the site for plans to use it as a tip for the ash cinders from Stuart St Power Station and as a municipal tip. Larger scale tipping started in the early 1920s at the western end of Clayton Vale, adjacent to Bank st Bridge, Clayton Vale Lane and the Manchester Corporation Sidings.

Waste disposal activities spread eastward down the valley and by 1966 the maps indicate that the entire area of Clayton Vale had either been used for tipping or was in current use as a landfill site. The landfill of the Vale took place prior to the Control of Pollution Act 1974 (which required that the disposal of all controlled wastes onto land be licensed); therefore the exact nature of the fill materials is not known. However, a review of documentation and historical maps held by MCC indicates that tipping commenced in Clayton Vale prior to 1909, with a small area of waste disposal located to the west of Clayton Vale House near Clayton Vale Bridge. It is understood that tipping ceased prior to 1974 and the historical maps indicate that the site was disused by 1981. The site was heavily polluted by industrial waste throughout the industrial revolution and even up to 1983. In 1982 Manchester City Council purchased the whole valley and began the reclamation of the site to turn it back into open space for the public.

IMG_2244Entrance gates to Medlock Vale…

IMG_2245 IMG_2247 IMG_2248 IMG_2249 IMG_2250 IMG_2252 IMG_2253 IMG_2254 IMG_2255Signs of moorings…

IMG_2256 IMG_2257 IMG_2258 IMG_2260 IMG_2262Work began in 1905 on the brick channel from the Iron Bridge at Clayton Vale to the bridge at Mill Street, now Alan Turing Way. Locally the river became known as the Red River because of the red bricks used to help with the flow of the river and to prevent flooding such as the famous one in 1872. On a 1909 map The River Medlock is shown as being culverted (A structure used to enclose the river to allow it to pass underneath a structure such as a road). By 1923 the River Medlock was fully canalised.

IMG_2263 IMG_2265 IMG_2266 IMG_2267 IMG_2268 IMG_2271 IMG_2273 IMG_2275 IMG_2277 IMG_2278 IMG_2282Tunnel under Bank Bridge Rd. The shape of the tunnel is unusual…

IMG_2285 IMG_2291 IMG_2292Industrial buildings at Philips Park on Riverpark Rd….

IMG_2293 IMG_2294 IMG_2296Philips Park Cemetery…..

IMG_2297The Jewish section of the cemetery is interesting. Only recently restored.

IMG_2298 IMG_2299 IMG_2301 IMG_2302This symbol on a Jewish headstone has got me curious. The snake eating its own tail or ‘ouroboros’ is an ancient mystical symbol, as far as I know not usually associated with Judaism.

IMG_2304 IMG_2308 IMG_2310 IMG_2312 IMG_2313 IMG_2314 IMG_2315 IMG_2318The exit of the river from the tunnel under Bank Bridge rd is not very accessible….brambles and scrubby bushes…..

IMG_2320Manchester Velodrome….

IMG_2321 IMG_2323Eithad / Man City Stadium behind the Bradford estate….

IMG_2326 IMG_2327 IMG_2328 IMG_2329 IMG_2330Here, as we reached Alan Turing Way, the river goes underground and under Holt Town, emerging from under New Viaduct St…..

IMG_2331 IMG_2333 IMG_2335 IMG_2336Mill Street Bridge is now Alan Turing Bridge. Alan Turing

IMG_2337 IMG_2338 IMG_2342 IMG_2343Interesting signage.

Turing’s homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom. He accepted treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, just over two weeks before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined that his death was suicide; his mother and some others believed his death was accidental. On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated”. As of May 2012, a private member’s bill was before the House of Lords which would grant Turing a statutory pardon if enacted. (Wikipedia)

IMG_2344 IMG_2347I found inner peace when I did my tax return…

IMG_2348 IMG_2349Western entrance to Philips Park Cemetery….

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Philips Park Cemetery

IMG_2354Ruined church…..

IMG_2356 IMG_2357 IMG_2362 IMG_2363Back towards the eastern end of Clayton Vale…

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Medlock merges into the Irwell

January 6th. This section is from Dawson Street Bridge and Regent Bridge down to where the Medlock flows into the River Irwell. The Irwell itself flows into the Manchester shipping canal. It is only a brief stretch from Dawson St Bridge to the outlet into the Irwell, but there is no public access to the Medlock at this point. So my walk took me back up Water street (where there is a parking space), onto Regent Road, across Regent Bridge and down onto the footpath on the Salford side of the Irwell. From that side it is possible to see where the Medlock pours out. Further up the Irwell/Ship Canal is a lovely old iron bridge which crosses back into Cornbrook and the multi-bricked arches of the railway viaduct. Actually this bridge marks the meeting points of the boundaries of Salford, Trafford and Manchester. The area has a strong sense of industrial history: Britannia Mills, Timber Wharf, The Box Works, Hulme Junction. A clear frosty day.

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View from Regent Bridge down Irwell to Ship Canal

View from Regent Bridge down Irwell to Ship Canal

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

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Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

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Medlock entering Irwell

Medlock entering Irwell

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Manchester Ship Canal

Manchester Ship Canal

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Manchester Ship Canal

Irwell/Manchester Ship Canal. Medlock River enters just beyond trees on right.

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Hulme junction

Hulme junction

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Integral Drifting: A Manifesto

MANIFESTO FOR AN INTEGRAL DRIFTER

This blog is based on research and practice around the themes of:

DÉRIVE (DRIFT)

INTEGRAL THEORY

DEEP TOPOGRAPHY

PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY

MYTHOGEOGRAPHY

URBAN NARRATIVES

CITY LAND-ART

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Research:

I intend to explore the idea that Psychogeography has a two-fold nature – one linking to the Romantic literary tradition (Blake, Defoe, DeQuincy, Baulelaire, Rimbaud, Alfred Watkins etc); the other linking to the Political/philosophical interventionist remit (Debord, Raoul Vaneigem and Situationist International). But I particularly want to read some of the more contemporary writers on the subject: Ian Sinclair, Merlin Coverley etc. Also I intend to study Patrick Keiller’s ‘Robinson’ films and the works of Chris Petit.

It strikes me that the split in approach is interesting and raises good questions. What is the purpose of psychogeography? To stimulate a subjective poetic re-visioning of the city, to transform individual perceptions of the urban landscape? Or to transform society through radical intervention and disruption of habitual oppressive patterns? Is the derive a game of fantasy or an act of realism?

There is a lot of writing and blogging around this area. I will try to survey the ground as much as I can.

I am introducing the dimension of Integral Theory to Psychogeography out of a personal interest in both areas and to see if the Integral approach benefits or adds to the understanding of the psychogeographic trajectory.

Practice

The practice based aspect will be in the actual establishment of a personal derive practice. This will include:

a) Defining the ground. Choosing geographical boundaries. Possibly using Manchester Postal codes as a parameter. But at least considering methods of approaching the geographical field early on in the project. Initial map research.

b) Walking the ground.

c) Recording the field using camera, drawing, video, audio, writing.

d) Collecting from the field – found objects and items

e) Use of found objects, writings, and images as documentation and as material for further modification, display, installation.

f) Proposed outcomes to include this Blog record, exhibitions of research and made objects, printed book using online publishing, a talk/presentation of findings, an organised derive for others.

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Theory

My methodological approach includes:

1) Reading broadly around the theme.

2) Watching films and seeing exhibitions relating to the theme.

3) Performing random practical experiments (open to the surprising, synchronous, and serendipitous)

4) Performing more structured pre-considered experiments

5) Applying the principles of Integral Theory (specifically the 4 Quadrant Model proposed by American philosopher Ken Wilber)

 

Drift rather than dérive

Dérive is the French word often translated as ‘drift’. The original french does have resonances specific to the Situationists and as such is a good word. However I don’t intend to limit myself to the interpretation of psychogeography proposed by the Situationists. I want to keep open to new and recent interpretations. Also, the Integral philosophical approach is by nature a theoretical structure which allows for contradictory positions. My assumption is to find both benefits and limitations in polarised positions. This, for me as and eclectic being, maintains a dialectic and indeed a possibility of dialogue which I hope will bear interesting fruit.

‘Drift’ has poetic and manifold connotations: driftwood, ‘get my drift’, high plains drifter, snow drift, drifting off course. I like the light touch it has and the ever-present danger of drifting off topic.

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The Integral Model

‘Integral’ basically implies an attention to the idea that in any given moment at any given place there are always 4 dimensions of perception or ontological reality:

1) Inner singular (subjective / me)

2) Inner plural / collective (inter-subjective / we)

3) Outer singular (objective / it)

4) Outer plural / collective (inter-objective / its)

 

4 Quadrants

So the ‘Integral Drifter’ carries this model as a way of maintaing an awareness that we tend to habitually perceive the world with biases in one or more of these quadrants. And yet the theory states that we can’t really be separate from any of these dimensions. Even when we are on our own we are subject to and conditioned by cultural background and shared values (intersubjective), and we are always part of some sort of social or environmental system (interobjective).

So this model can provide a methodological map for psychogeographic practice. At any given moment, in any given place there is the potential to become aware of

1) The psychogeographic subjective (my mood, emotional state, inner alertness, cognitive sharpness etc).

2) The psychogeographic intersubjective (an awareness of the way locations have shared cultural meanings, place is not separate from language, place forms and is formed by relationships)

3) The psychogeographic objective (observations of things, buildings, objects, people etc)

4) The psychogeographic interobjective (observations of how a given place is formed by, and forms institutional structure; is part of corporate, social, or governmental planning and economic forces; how a place is always part of an environmental network).

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