Category Archives: Street style fashion

Chapter 4..A Collection of Souls..The Man In The Old White House

Chapter 4..A Collection of Souls..The Man In The Old White House

Besides Fred and the Shinny Man a few other ‘characters’ would drop over to the Lumpy Bikes shop and spend some time, I’d almost always pull out a camera to take their photograph. One man in particular had a very interesting ‘worn’ face and spoke in a ‘carny gee shucks’ kinda way. His name was John Knight. We remain friends. It turns out that the Shinny Man had stolen/borrowed/ John’s wife Yvonne of years earlier, so their was some bad blood between John and Wayne. Now, I was right in the middle of this, my thinking is the shop was just like one of those park benches that had been removed, it had become its own kinda social place, just like a café or a diner. Folk would gather and like lots of folk whiling away their time, talk would turn to gossip and gossip comes in many forms. So, many times I would hear John talk about “that guy there, isn’t he something, do you have any idea what he has in all those bags on his bike, why’s he got all that stuff, one time when I had a place on Park Street he asked me if he could store a bit of stuff there, just for a while, and well he brought stuff over, junk, it was all mostly junk, junk he had picked up in the bins or the side of the road, before you knew it the backyard was full of junk.” He rambled on about the Shinny man. It was so humorous as I had helped John with a move job one time, he actually hired my truck for twenty bucks to move some stuff he had inherited from this woman who had died in an apartment on Mcdonnell Street at the Aitkin Court places. I never seen such a smoke filled apartment, everything was stained from the nicotine, it reeked of tobacco, everything you touched had an oily tobacco film on it, I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. So we drive this truckload of stuff, knick knacks, a bed frame, a dresser some boxed stuff, what I thought was mostly junk, Johns kind of junk and took it over to John’s storage locker which was off of High Street part of a moving companies storage facility. John had a unit rented in the storage building, you had to go through about two wire fences, four doors and six locks to get to it and it was crammed already with other junk! John it turned out had his own ‘issues’ shall we say with collecting stuff, yet here he was, at my shop, at least twice a week telling me what a pack rat that Whiskers was. The two of them kept me on my toes as they were both known to have what they call in the trade as ‘light fingers.’

Their rivalry extended to unattended bikes in the city. One time a police from the city force came to the house to investigate where John had gotten a white mountain bike. I told the officer I had sold it to him which quelled the situation. It came out that The Shinny Man had told the cops that John had a stolen bike. When I saw John Knight he was purple with rage, “that dumb sonamabitch told the police I had a stolen bicycle and they came to my house asking me questions” frothed out of his mouth. Seems that John had found The Shinny Mans stash of bikes behind an apartment on Simcoe street and relocated a few of them to his own stash place behind Lee Ho’s Chinese restaurant on Aylmer street. When they tore down Lee Ho’s a few years later Wayne was all up in arms because the contractor had taken away a pile of six bikes that he had stashed there. They’d been there over two years, just rotting in the elements so to speak. These collectors achieved a degree of satisfaction by hoarding things, I believe the accumulation of things for them was more a type of bank account that gave them a good feeling. One time I was at the bins behind the library and I ran into Wayne the Shinny Man and asked him why he had some broken padlocks, he said to me, “you never know when you may need one.” Another time as I was going into Vinnies, the newly located St Vincent de Paul second hand store, I ran into John coming from the ReHab store across the street, in his hand he had six pairs of broken scissors in a yellow grocery store bag, I asked him why he needed so many pairs of old scissors, he said, “what a deal I got eh, only two dollars a pair.” He had this smile on his face, it was if he was temporarily stunned with happiness. At his government subsidized apartment on Rogers Street he had been warned not to bring to much stuff home. They were conducting bi-weekly inspections at his place and every month he would be told to clear some stuff out or face eviction, now that would be a problem cause old John, he had been on the waiting list for ten years before he got the place. In order to appease his tormentors he would toss out whatever they requested and start collecting again. He spent the better part of the day at the charity drop off bins scouring for interesting stuff, every day he would make the rounds of the three main second hand stores after starting his day by bicycling from his unit to the little restaurant on Romaine Street where he would sit near the front by the cash register his back against the wall so he could view the comings and goings. He let out the odd guffaw to the waitress and the regulars and have several refills in his cup of coffee, then begin his day of scrounging. He could do a days work and from time to time he would take a bit of work helping folk with yard chores and the like. Last summer he worked for a man that hired him to help remove some shingles and replace a roof on an island property, he said, “I was some sore after that job.” One time he helped me move some short four by four timbers that I had disassembled from the young lads sandbox when I realized it was no longer being used. John had four or so boards in his arms as one would carry fire wood when he stumbled and fell on the short step from the side yard in front of the wire dog run. He landed on his ankle and it was touch and go for a few days there for John’s ankle. On Saturdays John had a standing job at Jimmy Malakos’s Thurstons Restaurant a few blocks from our house on Lock Street. His chore was to fold the cardboard boxes that had been gathering over the week from deliveries, for this work John would get a free bacon and eggs feed with all the coffee he cold drink. John has a way with words, I wish I could recall all his sayings, he would often say sarcastically, ‘ya figure’ in reference to some story or another. Another favourite phrase that I heard him use a dozen or more times is, “she wouldn’t look bad with a sack over her head.” Then there was the commonly used expression, “isn’t he a box of chocolates.”

As spring approaches I expect to see more of John at the shop, I could always count on him to bring bikes over to purchase accessories, especially front and rear carriers for them and those double splayed old fashioned kickstands. Last year his visits were fewer and further apart, he had purchased a lime green electric scooter which I would see him driving to his locations of interest. Oh, I suppose a man in his mid sixties is entitled to some lessening of exercise by this age, John took to the scooter like a duck to water, when I’d see him on it I always miss the smooth rhythm that one sees with folk riding bikes who aren’t in any particular hurry to get anywhere, sauntering so to speak. The scooter, well, it doesn’t saunter, it doesn’t seem to be saunter friendly. I wonder how an old rag and bones Sheeny like John could stop that expensive scooter at a red donation box and look indiscreet as he perused the contents perhaps purloining an article or two for his private collections. In the fall I ran into John, he had a long chin, somebody had stolen the batteries and battery holder from his scooter as it was parked below his unit at the project. Besides the battery stuff they also took the side mirrors and some other pieces of the scooter. Johns unit faced the Rotary Trail, it would not have been difficult for someone to climb the short fence at night and quietly remove the parts, flip them back over the fence and just walk away unnoticed. At the scooter shop called Green Street John priced the replacement parts, the total came to over $500, which it turns out was about what John had in the bank for emergencies, he bought the parts even though his same scooter had been on sale, brand new, the entire scooter for only $600 a few weeks earlier at the Walmart store, they didn’t have any left. When I saw him a few weeks later he was some happy, back in the saddle of his scooter which he had repaired for $500. From time to time John would ride shotgun with me as I went about the area picking up bikes from sellers, this is when it would get humorous, the way he spoke the words he chose, you could tell his phrases were well used, that he had been saying them for decades, you just don’t develop them one liners in an afternoon, “Holy Cow did you see her, he’s so cheap the lead in a pencil would be extracted if he thought he could get something for it, them damn owners of that place I have my coffee, I don’t go there when they’re there, they expect you to buy something and get pissed off that I just sit with my cup of coffee.” Being with John is fine entertainment.

2010 saw more blatant documentation of folk whom I would meet on the streets, I took in my opinion some classic photos of folk who many would not bother with, Lawrence Carnrite for one, he got out of jail, falsely accused of killing a man, an English tourist one night after one of the pubs closed, it may have been in the alley behind the Red Dog Tavern at least in that general area, when I saw Lawrence he was cleaned up, like no tomorrow, never seen him looking so good, he had a handful of small painted rocks that our friend the painter Randy Knott had given him to sell and he was offering them to passerby at the entrance to the No Frills store. Annette price came into the lens, I had noticed her mismatching of clothing colours, in her own way she reminded me of my sister Suzanne, I befriended her, one day Annette was at Brock and George Street heading south when I stopped her, and I am glad I did as she pulled out a necklace from under her coat that held at least a hundred Chrisitian charms, there was power in them charms. I won’t quickly forget going into the basement of that fancy Walkwell shoe store on George Street, Cliff Button the manager took me downstairs there before they closed up, I wonder if Cliff ever landed another job, that can be a hard thing, replacing a career when you are near the end of your good years. I look above me here at the computer and a wooden shoe tree from that basement is hooked up to a ceiling hook a souvenir from that shop. Carol Hannah, a user, at least she was back then was busking early one Sunday morning when I ran into big Brent Sisson looking real wonky at the corner of George and Simcoe Streets, that’s the heart of town George and Simcoe, his electric assist wheelchair would only run for ten feet then stall, then after a spell go another ten feet, I went to Our Space to get some help, it was early they weren’t open, there was Martha with the D.A.N.I.E.L. tattoo on her forehead hiding in the bushes at the old community garden and I asked her to come with me and I hooked her up with Brent and directed her to get him up to Our Space while I drove Big Brian home to Parkhill and Water because he couldn’t make it, he’d run out of steam. Turns out Brent was real sick, the Our Space people assessed him quickly and he got taken to the hospital where he went into the serious ward, oh, what do they call it, the Intensive Care Unit. I spoke with Carol Hannah and she said she had seen Brent sleeping in the bank foyer that night, the CIBC bank foyer. So I called the police and asked the chief at the time if any of his staff had seen Brent crashed in the bank overnight, and he got back to me and said, “none of our officers saw him” now you tell me, kindly how a four hundred pound man in an electric wheelchair wearing Hudsons Bay like blankets to stay warm can go unnoticed in a goddamn bank foyer on the busiest street in town. I would visit the hospital from time to time to visit Brent, the first time I visited he was out cold, ‘he’s in an induced coma his nurse told me’ I knew things were serious because he had one to one help, tubes protruded from his mouth, down his throat, into his arms, the entire back of the room looked like a space launch room, chock full of gauges and meters. Undeterred, I went back the following day and he had improved to the point he was conscious and could respond to my words by blinking his eyes and nodding. That day the nurse said, ‘he’s very sick still, he has an infection, the family are coming in from out of town’. I made him laugh, I asked if my friend Saint Carol Winter had been in to see him, ne nodded and let out a big grin, the biggest grin I ever saw, I knew Carol had been there every day since his hospitalization. The next day, I got a call from Carol, Brent was dead, the infection was too serious they could not save his life. Imagine the emotions of his family members having to make that kind of decision.

It turned out to be another year of tragedies, of short lives for some. My friend Ray Voyer one of my original street people characters died from a heart attack while living with his sister up in Bridgenorth. There was a wake for him at the Kayes Funeral Parlour on George Street. Old Fred and the Shinny Man were in attendance, I recall Fred talking loud while someone was speaking their eulogy, I nudged him in the ribs, Carol looked at me a bit aghast at the aroma emitting from Fred. Wayne the Shinny Man also sat with us, he would have heard there was going to be a lunch after the service. All of Ray’s three brothers were there and his sister Donna as well, they put on a nice display of family photos of Ray from his youth up till before he moved to skid row permanently. There was information on where he worked, what he did, when he got ill upstairs and they gave him some of that Jack Nicholson medicine, shock treatments, there was even a photograph of a young healthy Ray with a Harley or some other big motor cycle. I’ll never forget the time I was photographing Ray at one of the benches in Crary Park, he was coming down from a good binge, he didn’t know I had been taking pictures so I went up to him and gave him a $5 dollar bill, he looked at me and he said, “Charlie, you sure you can afford it, you’ve got kids to look after.” So we get to the snack portion of the funeral and here is Wayne the Shinny Man and Fred both stuffing their pockets with choice treats for later, Wayne caught my ear and he said, “there’s some real nice strawberry tarts on the table, have a couple.” He said it as if he was the maitre de` at a fancy hotel, his eyes were bulging out of the sockets with glee, as if he had struck it rich
Other interesting characters continued to flow into my life as if there was a hole in the ships bowels. From the impetus of some of the 09 photos that interest in photographing those on the fringes grew and grew. I’d spend as much time as I could in the core of town looking for subjects and their stories, I found it interesting. I got to know folk much deeper once I stuck the camera in their faces, Marty the window washer was one such person, I worry for him as I have not seen him for some time. Every now and then someone would come over to the bike shop and I would capture their image, Ryan Bubbles Clapper is one such person, I think he’s doing a stretch these days. Celebrities would come over to purchase retro bikes or have their bikes repaired, famed swing style musician Catfish Willie was one of many who this little eclectic shop drew business from, and it is appreciated. Tommy Steele of the local band The Spades did a trade with me for some parts, the bike he left off was a cool retro looking affair that once housed a Zap brand electric motor before they had refined that technology to what it is today. My friend Hans Fishcher got that bike which he has since ‘pimped’ out to his liking.

Somehow I found out about a camp that men used to have a couple of pops at. It was located in the woods behind the Swiss Chalet and the Mini Town miniature golf place on Lansdowne Street. I was welcomed there one Saturday by old time acquaintance Tommy Boyle. Tommy was there that day sitting around the campfire with the camp boss, Norm Mccarrell, Chris, Bushey and another pair of guys who’s names I never did get, reluctantly they posed for a couple of photos, oh yeah Redman one of the Taylor boys from Curve Lake was also there that day. I had learned that the camp was, from time to time, a safe place to hide out as well as a good temporary living arrangement if one didn’t mind shitting in the woods. Besides the fire pit area there was a full kitchen set up outdoors Jamaican style with all the usual utensils, frying pans and pots, stacks of firewood, a midden for garbage such as cans and plastics. There was a large garage like structure covered in green tarps, inside that building there were some cots and bedding as well as coolers to keep the meat cold that had been scrounged from the toss outs of the grocery and away from the critters, the coyotes and coons who hung around by the train tracks. If ever I had witnessed a replica of a hoboes heaven this was it.

This young student was making a documentary on street people, her name was Victoria Scholes, I believe her uncle Wayne Eardley a local photographer/videographer introduced her to me and next thing you know she and I are touring the town and I have a roll to play as the introducer to folk on the fringes. We toured Fred Maybee’s house where he was tickled pink to be in the company of this young lady, he was rubbing his hands together, for me, that was a real tell tale moment in the study of Fred and it fit in with the mannerisms we had witnessed at our house when the young women were home. Victoria interviewed Marty the Window Washer and even Ken Taylor who is usually a very quiet fellow. Her film brought her/us some acclaim as it played at the local ReFrame film festival in 2012. I continue to chide her to help me with another project.

One afternoon we went to visit the camp, to meet Norm, but when we got there Norm was nowhere in sight. I must say we were intimidated as it was akin to trespassing going on to the grounds without an escort, even though we had permission to be there. We got up fairly close to the camp which was a good hundred yards from the tracks via a well worn path, past a forest of young trees. We were greeted by two large barking Rotweillers similar in size and demeanour to the dogs in that nasty horror flick The Exorcist from some years before. After a while I just yelled at the dogs to settle down and they did, at which point Victoria took some shots on her video camera. The dogs belonged to James Jenney and his partner who happened to be living at the camp that season, more on James later. When I was on a mission looking for missing people the first person I would call would be Norm, I knew that he would pass the word around that so and so was missing, for instance that rascal Bobby Teasdale would go on a hiatus and that would get all us do gooders tongues waggin that he had not been seen, so a casual search party would be put together and the word put out by Norm and his crew. Within a few days we would hear the good news, that Bobby was lying low for a spell at his sisters or a motel on the Highway arranged by the CMHA. In some places they call this type of connected communications ‘the coconut grapevine’.

Still generally speaking I had created this need to help people, you might say I got off on it, on helping out, out there on the streets. There were/are hired people who look after some of the individuals but their caseloads are such that they can’t cover all the ground. While carting Fred around to Our Space I got a good feel for those on the fringes and my intuitive nature provided clues to what areas of society these folk populated. For example, if a woman was a prostitute on the side, making a bit of change to buy, whatever, drugs, food, pampers I did not make judgment. If folks were involved in what I called the Oxycontin Economy so be it. In all of mankind’s time the law has always existed that if a need arises certain members of the tribe will fill the void. This law of nature extends from the very bottom of the social scale and goes right to the top of that scale to the high rollers and silver spooners, there is no economic group that does not have a need for providers. People are very adaptive to their circumstances. I was watching an old film, Chariots of Fire in which wealthy students embarking the train to take courses at Cambridge had their luggage carried to the transport by a poor porter, the porter is poor, but it is important to note that he is not a dimwit. Such a cast of characters was available for one to observe. I love them all.

Randy Reid is one such character, he is a short man who we would often see playing a guitar and singing a song at the greenspace where the bench had been removed by the front of the Chamber of Commerce. Every night at 7:30 Randy would be there. A friend passed on to me that Randy felt that if he kept playing there, night after night that sooner or later someone in the music industry would discover him and ask to help him cut a record. From time to time I converse with Randy, one time I ran into him under a big tree at Crary Park by the lake eating a pink coloured ice cream cone. It was an interesting sight, there was Randy, cross legged on the grass, it looked like all his worldly possessions were there with him, clothing, his familiar black leather jacket, some books, he had a couple of framed paintings hanging above him on the tree, that was his home.

Just by coincidence and the motion that was created by the Dark Hallways exhibit did I run into an excellent person to document. Daphne Molson Rogers was introduced to me by Bill Kimball an Arts involved person in the city. I was talking with Bill about Gerard Butler whom I wanted to learn more about, he suggested that Daphne would fit nicely into the work I was doing. I called her and made an appointment to photograph her at her home in Peterborough. This was a first for me, going to someones home to take photographs. This well spoken woman in her sixties, dressed in a black velvet dress answered the door and led me in to the parlour. The house was pretty cramped with a collection of books and a piano and the memories of a lifetime that we all have scattered here and there in our homes. She had made an attempt to showcase her accomplishments by placing a couple of her self published books on a side table along with some fake gold medals from some place or the other. I could see right off that she took great pride in the books and awards. I asked her to play piano for me, and she did, quite well in fact, one piece she played was a tribute to Mario Lemieux the hockey player whom she believed was dying of cancer. She would not listen to me when I told her he had overcome his illness and was quite well and living a great life. The piece she played was beautifully crafted and she played it with a good deal of finesse. If her keys were off, I would not have noticed, it was a private concert, just for me. Of course, the camera was clicking away. I don’t exactly recall but I may have taken upwards of a hundred shots, which is a lot in the hour or so I was there. Part way through this first meeting I asked Daphne if she had a veil and see through gloves, I just had this 1940’s feeling about her, as if her personality were more suited to a person from another era, a more costumed era, an era where there was royalty and I suppose a lot of this feeling was set off by her constant referral to counts and dukes and madames, in fact she called herself Madame Daphne Molson Rogers, though I believe this is without any official sanction. She retrieved the veil and gloves and sat at the right side of her couch, then sat back as if I was to make love to her. I held the camera up and took a few of the most incredible photos I have ever taken. We parted and this introductory meeting has been the catalyst for a deep and curious interest in her life and her art. Not only is Daphne a piano player, she is a multi media artist working in several different fields of art, including, poetry, drawing, photography and if I may say so I think she would make an excellent actor.

Throughout all of this tumult, I ran the Lumpy Bike shop from Spring till Winter. I met a cacophony of people including, Dorothy Groves, Carmine, Five Finger Freddy, Janet at Our Space, Murray, Doug Falconer, Rachelle, Jimson, James Jenney, Calvin, the Davidson Brothers Barry and Charlie, Ron Russell, Andre`, John Boothroyd, Jane, Nelly Michel and Lyn Miller, Abby Red Scooter and his wife Betty whom I photographed at their home. It was quite a busy year. But the person who I saw the most was Fred Maybee, he was up for adoption. He loved bikes, he would come over to buy used ball bearings. He was pretty thrifty!

Posted by selrahcyrogerg on 2014-02-07 20:56:25


Fashion: Sartorial Opiate or Shamanistic Magic?

Fashion: Sartorial Opiate or Shamanistic Magic?

New word: sartorial means pertaining to tailoring. The history of consumerism is embodied in the glamorous, eye candy history of fashion. These writers have more direct awareness of the relationship between fashion and imperialism than most economists. Where economists seem to accept industrial growth and expansion as a good that will raise all boats, these art historians and cultural observers touch on the darker underpinnings of an elitism that could not survive without cheap labor to shore up the expensive tastes of its wasteful leisure classes. Christopher Breward, author of "Fashion", from the Oxford History of Art series, is particularly insightful in this regard.

From his rather dry account, I learned that "dynamic obsolescence" was invented by fashion stylists beginning in the mid 19th century with the concept of the fall and winter collection which aggressively rendered last seasons fashion out of style. Obsolescence is of course the driving growth of virtually all industries today.

Fashion being the most portable and accessible of cultural markers was spread from the three key cities: London, Paris and New York via print media, the fashion show and later film and television to other cities aspiring to rank as global players. (The fashion show was big in Bangkok where it was usually associated with royalty. I was a runway model for two of these events at the home of local royalty when I was five and six years old.)

So I was intrigued to learn that it is mainly in the West that fashion was ever changing while elsewhere it was static due to local customs and social hierarchies. This does parallel the rise of the cult of the individual in the West, but I would go further and look at the religious beliefs that allowed this cult of the individual to arise. Buddhism, for instance, with its teachings of no self would not lend itself to the cultivation of individualism and still doesn’t, not with the skill of personal power that Western psychology has elevated it to.

But I am not in a hurry to label fashion as a tool of imperialist Western selfishness. These accounts of fashion also point out the influence of street fashion from the 19th century dandy to the Punk styles of the ’70s. Vivienne Westwood, whose fashion footsteps I seem to be following, is credited with firing up the whole phenomena of Punk. She then went on to fuse 16th century, ie Renaissance clothing cuts, with modern materials and gender bending presentation. Fashion was certainly a part of the emancipation of women, had a hand in popularizing cycling and has been the visual marker of all kinds of anti-establishment movements including queer culture. It has been as much a tool of the outsider in communicating resistance as it has been a tool of the elite to dictate the parameters of the in crowd.

But to go even deeper, I remembered from the novel "The Mists of Avalon" that glamour is a word borrowed from witchcraft. Thus glamour is a concept used by witches to enhance spells that require the viewer to be enchanted by the appearance of the witch herself. (Kind of a sleight of hand like the use of the Force in Star Wars when Obe One persuaded Stormtroopers to allow him entry through a security checkpoint.)

In this sense it could be said that fashion is akin to the use of hallucinogenic drugs. Where drugs were once an important part of shamanistic ritual, they are now taken without the ritual and have become portals to addiction. Thus fashion has become a portal for consumer addiction. But rather than take the puritanical route and declare a "fashion free" zone, I would prefer to reclaim fashion as an inspirational art force that requires a constant stream of creative manifestations to communicate ideas and ideals, but it would also have to be done without compromising values of sustainability. And I can do that as long as there is already manufactured materials out there to salvage. After that it will be back to the fig leaf.

Posted by Earthworm on 2007-08-30 19:07:41

Tagged: , books , fashion , patterns , design

Snowstorm on Fifth Avenue

Snowstorm on Fifth Avenue

Note: this photo was taken near the NW corner of 5th Avenue and 15th Street.

Initially, I thought that this was a photo worthy of uploading to Flickr; it trivially survived my initial editing cuts of 1-star, 2-star, and 2-star ratings. Indeed, I liked it enough to boost it up to 4 stars … almost good enough to justify uploading.

I have to admit that I’m partial to snowstorms (even though it was bitter cold, and not much fun to actually be out there in the middle of this mess!), and I liked the energy and mystery (or however you might describe it) associated with the relationship of the couple.

But I really didn’t like the stray segment of someone’s leg behind the woman in the foreground … and while I could have Photoshopped it out (well, it’s actually called "cloning" in Aperture, but you get the point), I just didn’t feel sufficiently motivated to do it.

And perhaps that’s because, after staring at the photo for quite a long while, I decided that the couple wasn’t really that interesting. Of course, I say that without having the faintest idea of who they are, or what they were doing on the street. I’m sure they are wonderful people — and for all I know they’re married or engaged or whatever … but, ultimately, they just didn’t convey enough of whatever unique New York-based "look" I’m looking for.

So … here it is, in the Flickr set of losers. Sorry about that, folks; maybe I’ll treat you better next time I take your photograph.

Note: argh. A few minutes after I uploaded the photo, one of my "Flickr friends" marked this photo as a "favorite." So, by my own bizarre and slightly irrational self-imposed rules, I’m going to change the status of the photo to "public." Sorry about that …


This set of photos is based on a very simple concept: walk every block of Manhattan with a camera, and see what happens. To avoid missing anything, walk both sides of the street.

That’s all there is to it …

Of course, if you wanted to be more ambitious, you could also walk the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. But that’s more than I’m willing to commit to at this point, and I’ll leave the remaining boroughs of New York City to other, more adventurous photographers.

Oh, actually, there’s one more small detail: leave the photos alone for a month — unedited, untouched, and unviewed. By the time I actually focus on the first of these "every-block" photos, I will have taken more than 8,000 images on the nearby streets of the Upper West Side — plus another several thousand in Rome, Coney Island, and the various spots in NYC where I traditionally take photos. So I don’t expect to be emotionally attached to any of the "every-block" photos, and hope that I’ll be able to make an objective selection of the ones worth looking at.

As for the criteria that I’ve used to select the small subset of every-block photos that get uploaded to Flickr: there are three. First, I’ll upload any photo that I think is "great," and where I hope the reaction of my Flickr-friends will be, "I have no idea when or where that photo was taken, but it’s really a terrific picture!"

A second criterion has to do with place, and the third involves time. I’m hoping that I’ll take some photos that clearly say, "This is New York!" to anyone who looks at it. Obviously, certain landscape icons like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty would satisfy that criterion; but I’m hoping that I’ll find other, more unexpected examples. I hope that I’ll be able to take some shots that will make a "local" viewer say, "Well, even if that’s not recognizable to someone from another part of the country, or another part of the world, I know that that’s New York!" And there might be some photos where a "non-local" viewer might say, "I had no idea that there was anyplace in New York City that was so interesting/beautiful/ugly/spectacular."

As for the sense of time: I remember wandering around my neighborhood in 2005, photographing various shops, stores, restaurants, and business establishments — and then casually looking at the photos about five years later, and being stunned by how much had changed. Little by little, store by store, day by day, things change … and when you’ve been around as long as I have, it’s even more amazing to go back and look at the photos you took thirty or forty years ago, and ask yourself, "Was it really like that back then? Seriously, did people really wear bell-bottom jeans?"

So, with the expectation that I’ll be looking at these every-block photos five or ten years from now (and maybe you will be, too), I’m going to be doing my best to capture scenes that convey the sense that they were taken in the year 2013 … or at least sometime in the decade of the 2010’s (I have no idea what we’re calling this decade yet). Or maybe they’ll just say to us, "This is what it was like a dozen years after 9-11".

Movie posters are a trivial example of such a time-specific image; I’ve already taken a bunch, and I don’t know if I’ll ultimately decide that they’re worth uploading. Women’s fashion/styles are another obvious example of a time-specific phenomenon; and even though I’m definitely not a fashion expert, I suspected that I’ll be able to look at some images ten years from now and mutter to myself, "Did we really wear shirts like that? Did women really wear those weird skirts that are short in the front, and long in the back? Did everyone in New York have a tattoo?"

Another example: I’m fascinated by the interactions that people have with their cellphones out on the street. It seems that everyone has one, which certainly wasn’t true a decade ago; and it seems that everyone walks down the street with their eyes and their entire conscious attention riveted on this little box-like gadget, utterly oblivious about anything else that might be going on (among other things, that makes it very easy for me to photograph them without their even noticing, particularly if they’ve also got earphones so they can listen to music or carry on a phone conversation). But I can’t help wondering whether this kind of social behavior will seem bizarre a decade from now … especially if our cellphones have become so miniaturized that they’re incorporated into the glasses we wear, or implanted directly into our eyeballs.

Oh, one last thing: I’ve created a customized Google Map to show the precise details of each day’s photo-walk. I’ll be updating it each day, and the most recent part of my every-block journey will be marked in red, to differentiate it from all of the older segments of the journey, which will be shown in blue. You can see the map, and peek at it each day to see where I’ve been, by clicking on this link

URL link to Ed’s every-block progress through Manhattan

If you have any suggestions about places that I should definitely visit to get some good photos, or if you’d like me to photograph you in your little corner of New York City, please let me know. You can send me a Flickr-mail message, or you can email me directly at ed-at-yourdon-dot-com

Stay tuned as the photo-walk continues, block by block …

Posted by Ed Yourdon on 2014-03-04 00:52:58

Tagged: , Manhattan , New York , snow , blizzard , snowstorm , sunglasses , fur , hat , couple , grimace , frown , lipstick , Streets of New York

1970′s inventions that changed our way of life

1970′s inventions that changed our way of life

Technology, Fashion and Toys played an increasingly important part in people’s lives in the 70s.

Ceefax: 1974

Launched in 1974, Ceefax went live with 30 pages and was the first teletext service in the world. Started as an experiment for the deaf, Ceefax developed into an instant news, sports and information service for millions of armchair surfers.

Colour Television Sets

Introduced on BBC 2 for Wimbledon coverage on July 1, 1967. The launch of the BBC 2 "full" color service took place on December 2, 1967. Some British TV programs, however, had been produced in color even before the introduction of color television in 1967, for the purpose of sales to American, Canadian, and Filipino networks. BBC 1 and ITV started color transmissions November 15, 1969.

The first colour sets became available in Britain in 1967, when BBC2 started broadcasting in colour. (Note BBC1 and ITV didn’t go colour until 1969.)

A typical 22" colour set would have cost £300 in 1967, or around £3000 in today’s money – equivalent to a top of the line 50+ inch LCD or LED HDTV set.

Britain’s oldest colour telly ‘still going strong’ 42 years on, says 69-year-old owner…

Home Music Centre

The ultimate piece of kit that most people wanted in the mid 70s was a "Music Centre". This was a record player, cassette tape recorder and radio combined. Dynatron made one of the first, the HFC38 Stereo/Audio Cassette System, launched in 1972. This was a high priced luxury item at the time.

Dial Telephone

The 746 telephone was the British GPO’s main telephone for the 1970s. It was the phone most people had in the 70s and it is phone you will remember from that decade.

In the 70s, the home telephone was still a luxury in the UK. The General Post Office (GPO) had a monopoly on telephone services and anyone who wanted a phone needed to rent one from the GPO.

Although still a state run monopoly, the telephone service was more modern in the 70s. The old fashioned lettered exchanges disappeared in the late 60s and the new phones were equipped for the strangely termed ‘all figure numbering’. Customers had a choice of three phones: the 746, the smaller 776 Compact Telephone and the modern looking Trimphone.

The 746 telephone was an upgraded version of the 706 phone or ‘Modern Telephone’ that the GPO introduced to customers in the early 60s.

It introduced a few practical improvements. Firstly there was a clear plastic dial showing only numbers. The case had an integral carry handle and the phone came in a more modern plastic. It was also lighter and had improved circuitry.

Electronic Calculator

The first pocket calculators came onto the market towards the end of 1970. In the early 70s they were an expensive status symbol. By the middle of the decade, people used them to add up the weekly shopping at the supermarket. As pocket calculators moved from executive’s briefcases to school children’s satchels, there was controversy over whether children could still do sums.

Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments developed the integrated circuit technology that made the pocket calculator possible in the sixties. TI’s first prototype hand held calculator, the Cal Tech, demonstrated the potential of the new device. However, as with the transistor radio, Japanese firms quickly exploited the technology. The first portable, as opposed to pocket sized, calculator was the Sharp QT-8B. A year later pocket sized models were available from Bowmar (USA), Sharp, Busicom (Japan) and Sanyo.

Very quickly a host of manufacturers entered into the growing pocket calculator market. Texas Instruments launched their own model, the TI-2500 Datamath, in 1972.

Electronic games

Electronic games, such as MB Simon and Adman Grandstand, went on sale in the UK in the second half of the 70s. This was the time when people got their first taste of the digital lifestyle we enjoy today. A few years earlier, the first calculators and LED digital watches were marketed. Now manufacturers too adopted the same circuitry for play, and the age of electronic games began.

This revolution was reflected in the small screen when ITV’s George and Mildred’s neighbours bought a Grandstand game for Christmas. There were also concerns that TV audiences would drop, with more people using their TVs to play video games instead. Granada TV’s report "Who’ll be watching Coronation Street in 1984?" expressed concerns their advertising revenue might be at risk.

The grand daddy of all the computer games was the Magnavox Odyssey, which was launched in 1972. It introduced the public to a familiar, but primitive, electronic bat and ball game. Magnavox Odyssey was quite sophisticated; it offered range of different games, some of which required props. However, it was more of US than an UK phenomenon.

Electronic chess games also appeared in the mid seventies, but the game that first captured the public’s imagination in the UK was the Adman Grandstand.


In the 70s, freezer ownership increased dramatically. Freezers and frozen food were available in the 60s, but sales of freezers took off in the 70s. In 1970 around 100,000 were sold, which was three times as many as in 1967. By 1974, one in ten households had a freezer.

Food processors

A food processor added a choice of blades and attachments to a standard blender. The Magimix from the 70s was the first UK example.

Microwave ovens

The microwave oven was invented by Percy Spencer in the late 40s. Initially, microwave ovens were only used by catering establishments. Oxford University physicist, Professor Nicholas Kurti gave a dramatic demonstration of microwave cooking with his reverse baked Alaska, or frozen Florida, which had ice cream on the outside and hot filling on the inside. He first demonstrated this dessert in 1969, showing how microwaves easily passed through ice, causing little heat, but the filling made from brandy and marmalade absorbed them and heated up more quickly.

Microwave ovens were not available in Britain until the end of the 70s, even then they did not catch on that quickly. The first ‘Which’ report on microwave ovens was written in 1979. There were concerns about what would happen if the microwaves escaped and confusion over whether the ovens were radioactive. For most people though, they were simply too expensive.

By 1979, there were a variety of microwaves on the market, priced between 150 and 400. [500 to 1400 in today’s money]. Models with a separate convection heating element were even more expensive. Both traditional oven makers, Creda and Belling and electronics giants Philips, Hitachi, Sanyo, Sharp and Toshiba, made microwave ovens in the 70s.

For most people in the UK the microwave revolution did not begin until well into the 80s. Jimmy Tarbuck’s advertisements for Sharp microwaves helped promote microwave cooking in the UK in the early 80s.


As part of our renewed appreciation of all things 70s, the teasmade is back in fashion. After years in the naff cupboard, John and Norma Major owned one, it is now hip to own a teasmade.

The teasmade was a luxury item in the 70s household. Although primitive devices for automatically making tea were available since Victorian times and leading manufacturer Goblin made teasmades since the thirties, they were never considered essentials.

Most teasmades (sometimes incorrectly spelled ‘teasmaid’) comprised a teapot, kettle and clock. To prepare the teasmade ready for use tea, or teabags, fashionable in the 70s, were added to the pot and water into the kettle and then the alarm was set for the time you wanted to wake up to enjoy your freshly made pot of tea. About ten minutes before the alarm went off, the kettle boiled the water, which bubbled through a spout into the teapot. If you forgot to put the spout into the teapot some 70s models poured boiling water on to whatever the teasmade was stood on. Once the tea was brewed, the alarm sounded to wake you up, if the mechanism had not already woken you.

In 1971 there were only three manufacturers of teamade: Goblin, Ecko and Russell Hobbs. The Goblin model shown here cost £27.18 (£265 in today’s money). It is no wonder that the teasmade was a luxury.

Tea bags

Tea bags were new in the 70s. Well not exactly new, they had been used in the USA since the 20s. Tetley had tried introducing them to the UK twice, once in the 30s and again in the 50s, but they were seen as a bit of a joke. In the 70s though, sales of tea bags took off. It’s hard to explain why, they were more expensive and rarely used in the way originally intended – to remove the tea from the pot once it was brewed. It may have been something to do with convenience. We could throw our tea strainers away. Now tea bags are almost universal – so they must have been a good idea after all!

Continental quilts

Until the 70s, most people in the UK made up beds with sheets and blankets. In the early 70s the bedroom revolution was the continental quilt or duvet. Names such as "Slumberland Fjord" and "Banlite Continental" left no doubt as to the origin. Mostly they were filled with down or duck feathers. Synthetic fillings were more common in Europe, but became available in the UK. People quickly took to them as they were more convenient.

Flares and platform soles

Two trends defined the 70s in a fashion sense: flared trousers and platform soles. Flares were derived from the hippy fashion for loon pants of the late 60s. They were worn by men and women. The flare was from the knee and reached exaggerated proportions in the middle years of the 70s. The trousers were often hipsters, sitting on the hips rather than the waist, and tight fitting.

The combination of flares and denim made flared jeans the fashion phenomenon of the decade.

Platform soles were mainly worn by women and more fashionable men. There were health warnings about damage that could be caused to the back in later life, but the fashion did not last long enough for that to have an effect. There was an element of thirties retro in the style of some of the shoes, which echoed the thirties’ love of two-tone or co-respondent black and cream or brown and cream colours. Bright colours also gave the shoes more of a space age look.

Raleigh Chopper

The Raleigh Chopper brought the style of Easy Rider to the backstreets of Britain in the 70s. It took the UK youth bike market by storm and probably saved Raleigh from financial disaster. The Chopper was a distinctly different bike for young people and was a first choice Christmas present. However, the Chopper attracted criticism for some aspects of its safety. The Chopper became distinctly unfashionable in the 80s, when BMX became the latest craze.


Klackers comprised two acrylic balls, often brightly coloured, on a string with a small handle in the middle. It was a playground craze that swept Britain and America in the early 70s. The idea was to move the handle up and down to make the balls click together. The really skilled could make the Klackers meet at the top and bottom of a circle; it required practice. They made a noise when they clacked together, hence the name.

Klackers were also marketed as Ker-knockers, Clackers and Klickies.

Whilst children loved the Klackers, or Ker-knock-ers, parents and teachers were concerned about the safety aspects. They could cause bruised hands and arms and the balls could shatter into dangerously sharp shards of plastic. Some schools banned them from the playground. Like most crazes, Klackers disappeared as quickly as they appeared.

Invicta Mastermind game

The Invicta Mastermind game was a huge seller in the 70s. In spite of the name, it had no connection with the Mastermind television programme originally hosted by Magnus Magnussen, although many people bought the game thinking it did.

The game was invented by Israeli postmaster and telecommunications expert, Mordecai Meirowitz. He initially found it difficult to get a manufacturer to take on his idea, but eventually managed to persuade small UK games maker, Invicta to make it.

The game went on sale in the early 70s and was a huge success. The box depicting a bearded man and woman in Asian dress carried an air of mysteriousness about it, suggesting supreme intelligence was needed to play the game.

Indeed Mastermind was taken seriously by the academic world. In 1977, Donald Knuth, the American computer scientist responsible for some learned texts in the world of computing, published a formula that guaranteed a correct guess in five goes.

Mastermind was also recognised by the toy industry. In 1973 Invtica was awarded ‘Game of the Year’ for Mastermind. Look out for pre-1973 versions that do not have the ‘Game of the Year’ award on the box.

Fondue set

Fondue originated in Switzerland and the classic fondue is always made with Swiss cheeses: Emmenthal and Gruyère. The word ‘fondue’ is derived from the French word, ‘fondre’, which means to blend.

By 1960, Marguerite Patten claimed the fondue was becoming popular. Her ‘Cookery in Colour’ featured fondue recipes with a decidedly English twist: ‘Cheddar Fondue’ and ‘Tomato Fondue’, as well as the classic ‘Gruyère’.

It was in the seventies that fondue parties really took off in the UK. Originally a reminder of a Swiss dish tried on a skiing holiday, fondue parties soon became the up-to-the minute thing to do; but by the 80s, it was decidedly naff.

Fondue sets are available again as everything 70s is fun once more. For real authenticity, source the genuine article from the 70s on eBay. Look for bright orange fondue pots and forks with teak handles.

Soda syphon

The retro style soda syphon (or soda siphon), once a symbol of kitsch and bad taste, is now the height of retro cool. The Sparklets Soda Syphon was a hit at 70s parties. However, its roots go back to the era of the Boer War.

The Sparklets Soda Syphon was originally used as a way of bringing sparkling or aerated water to hot climates at the far reaches of the British Empire. Invented in the 1890s, Sparklets bulbs were used during the Boer War.

Before the introduction of Sparklets bulbs, carbonated, or aerated water, as the Victorians preferred to call it, was a luxury product. It was expensive to make, and there was no way to do it yourself. The invention of the Sparklets bulb popularised it as soda water. The original device was called a ‘Prana’ Sparklet Syphon, and the Company stressed that it was as easy for a housemaid in Bayswater as for an orderly in South Africa to use the device.

Sparklets Streamline, with hammered finish 1940s
In 1920 Sparklets Ltd was acquired by BOC, the British Oxygen Company. By the 1960s Sparklets specialised in diecast products for the domestic industry. Naturally the Sparklets Soda Syphons were a big part of the business, but Sparklets also made diecast parts for washing machines, hairdryers and vacuum cleaners, as well as for cars.

The Sparklets bulb method may not have changed much since the days of the Boer War, but the style of the syphon moved with the times. Three basic types were around in the 60s and 70s.


Player’s No6 and Embassy. However, they were joined by mild versions: Embassy Extra Mild and Player’s No6 Extra Mild. The rise of the mild cigarette was a 70s’ phenomenon. Benson and Hedges Silk Cut, pictured bottom middle, started this trend.

Which? Magazine named Silk Cut as the mildest UK cigarette in 1972. Although, the Which report was intended to convince people to stop smoking, it gave an enormous boost to Silk Cut sales. (In fact there is no evidence to suggest mild cigarettes are any better for you.).

The other big trend ran in the opposite direction. King size cigarettes were increasingly popular. John Player Special, with its distinctive black packaging, was a rival for Benson and Hedges.

King size cigarettes also went down market and were available in the cheaper brands. Both Player’s No6 and Embassy had king size versions. You could buy cigarettes in a bewildering number of different sizes: international, king size, regular, intermediate, mini and sub-mini. Collectors of cigarette packets from the 70s should look out for different sizes in all the popular brands, for example, Silk Cut, Silk Cut King Size, Silk Cut No1, Silk Cut No5, Silk Cut No3, as well as Silk Cut Extra Mild.

At the same time competition from US cigarette manufacturers started in earnest in the 70s. The famous Marlboro brand with is cowboy print advertising campaign started to take sales away from the home grown brands.

Smoking in the 1970s

Cigarettes were a big part of life in the 70s. People smoked them in large numbers. They also started to kick the habit in large numbers too. To give up or not, and to inhale or not, were big topics of conversation.

In 1969, Embassy Filter (right) was the most popular brand. It had been introduced in 1962 and took a staggering 24% of the cigarette market in 1968. By 1971 though, it was knocked off the top spot by Players No 6. In 1972 these brands (below) made up 94% of all cigarettes sold (in order of tar content, lowest first):

Silk Cut (filter)
Consulate Menthol (filter)
Cadets (filter)
Piccadilly De Luxe (filter)
Cambridge (filter)
Embassy Gold (filter)
Embassy Regal (filter)
Sovereign (filter)
Sterling (filter)
Player’s No 6 Virginia (filter)
Park Drive (filter)
Kensitas (filter)
Embassy (filter)
Gold Leaf Virginia (filter)
Player No 6 (plain)
Player’s Weights (plain)
Albany (filter)
Woodbine (plain)
Player’s No 10 Virginia (filter)
Guards Tipped (filter)
Benson & Hedges King Size (filter)
Senior Service (plain)
Player’s Navy Cut (plain)
Park Drive (plain)
Rothman’s King Size (filter)

The majority of the most popular brands are filter tipped. At the time people wanted to believe that the filter would protect them. Medical research showed otherwise, even as early as the 60s. Also worth noting is that Rothman’s advertised their cigarettes as for "…when you know what doing are doing" – a bit ironic considering the tar content!

In 1970, 55% of men and 44% of women smoked cigarettes. The percentage smoking cigarettes had fallen from the peak of 65% in 1948 and the risks of smoking on health were beginning to slowly sink in. In spite of research by the late Professor Sir Richard Doll published in 1951, which linked smoking with lung cancer, cigarette smoking was so much a part of life that the habit died hard. Even as late as 1973 the Guinness Book of Records described nicotine as an "anodyne to civilisation".

In 1971, cigarette manufacturers agreed to put a mild health warning on the packets (left) – "WARNING by HM Government SMOKING CAN DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH". I say "mild" because Professor Sir Richard Doll’s research showed that of 1,357 men with lung cancer, 99.5% were smokers. Or as "Which" chillingly put it – you had as much chance of dying before you were 44 if you smoked, as a serviceman had of being killed in the Second World War. Most people were still playing Russian Roulette and hoping that the chamber was empty.

"Which" never published a report comparing one cigarette brand with another. They acted in the best interest of consumers and recommended only that people should give up. There were conflicting stories circulating concerning the safety of other forms of smoking, such as pipe or cigar smoking: "Was it safer than cigarettes?", "Was it safe if you didn’t inhale?" and "Was it worth waiting for a safe cigarette?". "Which" did not sit on the fence and told members as directly as possible that the only safe course of action was to give up.

The 70s was the decade when people did finally accept the risks of smoking and the proportion of the population who smoked fell quite significantly. Those leading the way were the professional middle classes. The anti-smoking group, ASH, was founded in 1970 and took a lead in alerting the public to the dangers of smoking. The proportion of men and women smoking cigarettes dropped gradually during the 70s. By 1980, 42% of men and 37% of women smoked. (Today’s figures are 27% and 25% respectively).

LED watch

LED digital watch

Retro style LED watches are now selling on the internet, reviving the original digital watches from the early 70s. The first LED watch was marketed in the US by watchmaker, Hamilton, under the brand name ‘Pulsar’ in the Fall of 1971. It was originally a high priced gadget; by the end of the decade LED watches were almost throw away items and the more familiar LCD display was gaining ground.


The Space Hopper, the Raleigh Chopper and Mattel’s model cars with Hot Wheels made their debut in the 60s, but in the 70s achieved their highest popularity.

The Chopper was revised with safety improvements to become the Mark 2 in 1972. Mattel did not have their own way for long with Hot Wheels. British rival Matchbox had already introduced Superfast Wheels in 1969 and converted their whole range to them in the early 70s.

Sindy continued to be a popular toy for girls and won Toy of the Year in 1970. That accolade also went to another doll in 1971, Katie KopyKat; Katie copied everything you wrote.

Another 70s’ craze that had its origins in the 60s was Klackers, or Clackers: two acrylic balls that were made to click together. Experts could make them clack at the bottom and top in a circular movement, but safety concerns saw their early demise.

The Mastermind TV programme hosted by Magnús Magnússon had huge audiences in the 70s. However, the Mastermind Board Game made by Invicta in 1973 had no connection with the Mastermind TV show. It was all about breaking a secret code.

Lego was as popular as ever. It scooped Toy of the Year in 1974 and 1975. Other toys with their origins in the 50s and earlier were discovered by new generations of children.

The football game Subbuteo gained plastic figures in 1967 and in the 70s was available in up to fifty different team strips. There were spin-off cricket and snooker games too.

Scalextric was improved with new cars in the 70s and was as popular as ever. More traditional toys such as Hornby trains and Meccano continued to find a market.

The big change in play in the 70s though was the advent of electronic games. The 70s gave us digital watches and pocket calculators and by the middle of the decade electronic toys and games as well. One of the first to capture the imagination of the UK public was Adman Grandstand, which could play a variety of sports, including a version of the Pong arcade game. The brightly coloured MB Simon game was also a big seller in 1978.

Star Wars was in the cinema in 1977 and a host of Star Wars inspired merchandise followed. Never before had the movie makers cashed in so much on the toy market, it was a portent for the new decade.


Furniture from the seventies was bigger and chunkier than furniture from the 60s. Teak was still the favourite wood throughout the decade, although pine was getting an increasingly strong middle class following. Autumn colours were in vogue: browns, beiges and oatmeal. Striped upholstery fabric was popular.

The seventies had its share of fads. Chrome plated tubular steel furniture had a brief period of being the latest thing. Towards the end of the decade, cane and rattan furniture started to gain a small following. Both this and pine were much bigger in the following two decades.

The seventies was still a decade when modern was the favourite look. There was little attempt to recreate the past, although in a decade of contradictions, reproduction furniture had a growing niche following.

Green Shield Stamps

Green Shield Stamps were almost everywhere in the Britain of the 60s and 70s. If you bought your groceries at certain shops the retailer gave you stamps to stick in a book. Once you had collected enough you exchanged the books for gifts. Most people can remember Green Shield Stamps, but there were other schemes. Does anyone remember Blue Star, Gift Coupon, Happy Clubs, Thrift Stamp, Uneedus Bonus, Universal Sales Promotions or Yellow Stamps?


In the later 70s, lager began to take hold. You can still get seventies favourites such as Skol, Carling Black Label (they paid a consultant millions of pounds to recommend that the ‘Black Label’ was dropped some time in the 90s), Carlsberg and Tennant’s Pilsner, though whether it is the same, who could say? Light ale was a popular alternative to lager at the time.

Keg bitter was definitely the drink of the early seventies. "Classics" such as Watneys Red Barrel (or Watney’s Red as they tended to call it then), Double Diamond, Courage Tavern and Worthington ‘E’ are well out of production.

Britain’s best selling cars from the 70s

British automotive fashions changed. As women replaced mini skirts with midis and maxis, and men chucked out the Don Draper look in favour of flares and wide ties, cars changed just as significantly, on the outside at least.

Car makers ditched the chrome grills, the wood and leather interiors of the 60s and embraced American coke bottle styling, plastic fascias and matt black grills.

The UK’s top four manufacturers all introduced new models leading up to and around 1970. The first of the new wave was the Ford Escort, launched in late 1967. It was a small car with neat American influenced body styling. Ford also launched the ground breaking Capri in 1969, which brought sports car styling to the average motorist. In 1970 there was a rash of new models: the Morris Marina; a completely restyled Vauxhall Viva; and the all new Hillman Avenger, remember those L shaped tail lights? In 1971 Ford launched the car that was to represent the 1970s, the Cortina Mk III.

Ford won the sales war and the Cortina was the best selling car of the decade, with the Escort in second place. BL made a series of mistakes, the worst of which was to replace their best selling Austin/Morris 1100/1300 range with the blob shaped Allegro. It eventually needed the State to intervene and save the company from bankruptcy.

The 70s also saw a greater proportion of foreign cars on the road. However, none of them made it into the top ten. The best selling foreign import was the Datsun Sunny, which was only the 19th best selling car of the decade.

These are the top ten best selling UK cars of the 70s.

Ford Cortina Mk3, 1972

Ford’s stylists had their fingers firmly on the pulse of the 70s’ car market. They replaced the neatly minimalist Cortina Mk II, driven by Michael Caine in Get Carter, with the glamorous Mk III in 1970.

If there was a car that summed up the mood of the early 70s perfectly it was the Cortina Mk III. The classic American inspired coke bottle styling was combined with plenty of chrome trim. The new Cortina was bigger and better than the outgoing Mk II.

Ford’s graduated model range offered a huge choice of trim, style and engine size. You could choose from from L (basic), XL (more luxury), GT (sporty), GXL (luxurious) to the ultimate Cortina, the 2000E. Even the L looked stylish, but the upmarket GXL offered acres of simulated wood trim, glorious velour seats and a chrome trimmed black vinyl roof.

Ford Cortina Mk V, 1979

In 1976 Ford replaced the Cortina Mk III with the Mk IV. The glam rock era had faded by 1976 and Ford stylists gave the market something more sober, although the parent company’s policy of sharing as much as possible between the UK Cortina and the German Ford Taunus may have also influenced the more prosaic styling.

The final facelift for the Cortina came in 1979. Ford sharpened up the style of the Mk IV with the similar looking Mk V, which nevertheless changed almost every body panel. The Cortina disappeared entirely in 1982 to make way for the Sierra, dubbed the ‘jelly mould’ car at the time.

Ford Escord Mk2, 1979

Ford also sold over one million Escorts in the 1970s. The Escort was introduced late in 1967 as a replacement for the popular Ford Anglia. Remember that backward sloping rear roofline?

The Escort continued the Anglia theme of a stylish body combined with basic, but reliable, mechanicals. However, Ford went one stage further with the Escort, as with the Cortina, they offered a range of basic saloons and some sporty and luxury models as well.

Style was all important to Ford’s selling strategy and in 1975 they gave the Escort a new squared off body and models near the top of the range had square headlamps too. By 1979 you could choose from 1100, 1300, 1600, 1800 and 2000cc models. In 1980 the Escort was upgraded to a the Mk III for the new decade.

Mini Clubman

Although Alex Issigonis’ masterpiece the Mini was eleven years old by 1970, it was still one of Britain’s best selling cars. BL chose to drop the Austin and Morris labels and the car was now just called the ‘Mini’.

In the1970s there was a basic range comprising a Mini 850 and a Mini 1000, with 850cc and 1000cc engines. BL offered a more upmarket version, the Clubman, with a squared off nose. There was an estate version with fake wood panels on the outside and a sports 1275 GT version.

Laurence Moss, the estate agent husband of man-eating Beverly in "Abigail’s Party" drove a Mini, getting a new one every year. He claimed the design did alter, in reality BL made very few changes to the design throughout the 70s. By the end of the decade part of the charm of the car was that it had not changed.

The Mini continued in production for another two decades before being replaced by the new Mini in 2000.

Morris Marina TC, 1972

BL’s executives originally planned the Marina as a replacement for the aging Morris Minor and a serious competitor for the Escort. Learning the lessons of the past they wanted to give it plenty of style and hired ex-Ford stylist, Roy Haynes.

Haynes wanted the two door version to appeal to the under thirty age group. He wanted the interior styling to be exotic and wild.

Somehow BL ended up producing a much bigger car than intended, even though it shared some of its mechanical heritage with the venerable Morris Minor. In reality the Marina sold considerably less well than expected. It achieved a creditable fourth position in sales in the 70s, but was not capable of rescuing BL from its financial troubles. Read more about the Morris Marina.

Vauxhall Firenza, 1971

Vauxhall was like Ford, a British car maker with an American parent – General Motors. Like Ford they followed the same approach: a basic rugged car with an up to the minute body. The Viva had been around since 1963 and had already had one facelift. In 1970 Vauxhall revised it again.

The new Viva, called the HC, was still a small car and in the Escort class, nevertheless it looked wide, low and stylish. Like Ford, Vauxhall offered a range of engines and options. At the top of the range was the sporty Firenza SL.

The Viva really was a car for the 70s. It starred in 1999 in the 1970s’ revival comedy, ‘The Grimleys’ as Shane Titley’s car. Vauxhall dropped it in 1979.

Austin 1300GT, 1971

The Austin/Morris 1100/1300 range was a top selling car in the 1960s. BL found it hard to find a replacement for it. So hard in fact that they failed to do so until 1973. So because of its continued strong sales in the first years of the 70s, the 1100/1300 finds itself at number six.

For the 70s there were some detail improvements and some great 70s’ colours including purple and bright orange. Just like its cousins from the 60s, the 1100s and 1300s were spacious, reliable and mechanically simple.

If you fancied something a little sportier, there was the Austin 1300GT which was a tuned up version of the basic car with a black vinyl roof. BL replaced this best seller with the Allegro in 1973.

Austin Allegro

Where Ford got 70s’ style right with the Cortina, BL got it wrong with the Allegro.

Launched in 1973, the Allegro was styled by internal stylist, Harris Mann. It certainly looked 70s. However, where the Cortina emphasised size and width, the Allegro was rounded and dumpy. There was a bizarre selection of different style front grilles complemented with rounded rectangular headlamps matched inside the car with a rounded square steering wheel, called a Quartic.

Vanden Plas 1500 (Allegro)

A range of engines sizes from 1100 to 1750cc, a rather stylish small estate and a posh Vanden Plas version with real wood facia, leather seats and picnic tables failed to impress buyers. Surprisingly BL failed to provide a hatchback version even though the Allegro shape suited it, and they had been making the hatchback Maxi since 1969.

The Allegro was not a great hit with the public. Whilst the 1100/1300 range was chalking up annual sales of 100,000+ units every year, the Allegro failed to achieve more than 65,000. This styling misjudgment certainly contributed to BL’s collapse in 1975.

There was an unfortunate side effect to the 70s’ style lettering on the boot: to some ‘Austin Allegro’ looked like ‘Rustin Allegro’. The Austin All-aggro was another name for it.

When Austin-Rover dropped the Allegro range in 1982 to make room for the Maestro there were few sad faces.

Ford Capri 2000GT, 1972

Ford advertised the Capri as the car you have always promised yourself. The Capri offered the motoring public something entirely new. It was almost a sports car, with a comfortable four-seater saloon cabin, gorgeous fastback styling and a price tag that the man in the street could afford.

Launched in 1969, the Capri sold well throughout the 70s. Like the Cortina, Ford offered a huge range of engines and trim levels. Like the Cortina, there were several styling revisions, but the basic look and personality remained the same.

At the top of the Capri range was the 3000E, which offered outstanding performance with a top speed of 122mph and 0-60mph in eight seconds. The brochure cooed about such refinements as reclining seats, an electric clock and push button radio. The prestige motoring experience was completed by a a steering wheel and gear knob covered in simulated leather.

Hillman Avenger 1300DL, 1975

Rootes Group (Hillman, Singer, Sunbeam, Humber) launched the Hillman Avenger in 1970. It was a completely new car. The Avenger was mechanically unexciting, but offered a stylish new body with black grill with coke bottle styling and a sloping rear end.

The black grill was made from plastic. The Avenger also had some very distinctive L shaped rear a lamp clusters.

The Avenger was smaller than Rootes Group’s Hillman Hunter and competed with the Escort and Viva. It sold steadily throughout the 1970s. There was a facelift in 1976 and it later became the Chrysler Avenger as the American parent began to assert itself more strongly.

Austin Maxi, 1972

The Austin Maxi could have been a world beater. It was one of the first hatch back cars, and it was one of the first mass-market cars to have a five-speed gear box. Partly designed by Alec Issigonis, it was spacious and handled well. However, the Maxi never lived up to expectations.

The original design, launched in 1969, was very plain looking and not liked by the public. The gearbox was awful and the 1500cc engine was not powerful enough for the car.

The Maxi had a major facelift in 1971. There was a new grill, a more attractive wood finish fascia and a new 1750cc engine. In this form it enjoyed modest sales throughout most of the 70s. People loved the practicality of the hatchback and with the seats folded down it was big enough to transport a double mattress and perfectly capable of carrying garden waste to the tip or a tent or two on holiday.

1970s major household expenses

1. Transport

The average household weekly spend on transport in 2007 was £62. That includes everything from bus tickets to buying cars and petrol. In 1971, that £62 would have been just £6. That would barely cover a tube ticket today.

2. Recreation and culture

In 2007, we spent an average of £57 per week on things like holidays, cinema trips, sports activities and gambling. At 1971 prices, that would cost around £6 again – probably about the price of a large bucket of popcorn today.

3. Housing, fuel and power

£52 per week in 2007, £5 per week in 1971. Obviously that includes expenses like mortgage payments, rent and energy bills. Oh how times have changed.

4. Food and drink

In 2007, we spent £54 per week (I must admit I find that hard to believe, looking at my own till receipts, but still). Thirty-eight years ago that would have cost a mere fiver. Oh and over two thirds of the money we spend on food goes to the big supermarkets – so much for the nation of shopkeepers.

5. Restaurants and hotels

Weekly cost in 2007? £37. In 1971 that would have cost about £4, but then I doubt we would have used them as much in those days anyway.

6. Clothing and footwear

Despite our collective obsession with labels and fashion, we only spent £22 per week on clothes in 2007. Imagine how svelte we would all look if that still only set us back £2. Then again, we’d probably have to be clad head to toe in denim, so maybe £22 is a price worth paying.

7. Communication

Presumably this means telephones, mobiles, broadband and the like. Well, we spent an average of £12 a week on this kind of thing in 2007, which is equivalent to £1 in 1971 (OK, OK so we didn’t have mobiles and broadband back then, but that’s not really the point)

8. Everything else

This includes things like education and health, insurance and whatever else we spend our money on. Anyway, in 2007, these miscellaneous items cost a whopping £128 per week. In 1971, you’d have got the lot for £13. So in 2007, the total average household spend per week was a little under £460. Ouch. If we were to enter some kind of weird price time-warp that would come down to a total of about £46 per week.

Meanwhile, the latest research shows that the average household income in 2006 was about £650. Given the perilous state of our savings, you have to wonder where the extra £210 per week went (We only spent £460 of it remember).

Whichever way you look at it though, that time warp is looking rather appealing. We’ve already got the strikes and the recession, so to earn £650 a week and spend only £46 of it would make it all worthwhile.

It’s never going to happen of course, but it’s a nice dream.

1970s: Fewer cars but more smokers

*In 1971, UK residents made 6.7 million holiday trips abroad.

*In 1970/71, there were 621,000 students in the UK in higher education.

*In 1974, 26 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women in Great Britain who smoked regularly were classed as heavy smokers.

*In 1970, life expectancy at birth for males in the UK was 68.7 years and for females was 75.0 years.

*In 1970, there were 340,000 first marriages in England and Wales.

*In 1970, nearly half (48 per cent) of all households in Great Britain did not have regular use of a car.

*In 1971, the average household size in Great Britain was 2.9 people per household, with one-person households accounting for 18 per cent of all households.

*In 1971, the proportion of babies born to women aged under 25 in England and Wales was 47 per cent (369,600 live births).

*In 1970, food and non-alcoholic drinks was the largest category of expenditure, accounting for 21 per cent of UK total domestic household expenditure.

Life expectancy is perhaps the most notable single change. In 1970, when Edward Heath had just become Prime Minister and The Beatles were breaking up, for men it was 68.7 years and for women it was 75 years; 40 years on, these figures have shifted substantially. Male life expectancy is now 77.8 years, and for women it is 81.9 years. Doubtless the fall in heavy smoking has played a part in that. In 1974, 24 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women in Britain who smoked regularly were classed as heavy smokers, whereas in 2008 the figures were 7 per cent of men and only one in 20 women.

1971 vs 2011: what you get for your money

Mars bar: 1971: 2p 2011: 60p

First class stamp: 1971: 3p 2011: 44p

Pint of milk: 1971: 6p 2011: 49p

Loaf of bread: 1971: 9½p 2011: £1.10

Pint of bitter: 1971: 11p 2011: £3.05

Bunch of bananas: 1971: 18p 2011: 65p

Packet of cigarettes: 1971: 27p 2011: £7

Gallon of petrol: 1971: 33p 2011: £6

Ticket to Wembley Cup Final: 1971: £2 2011: £115

Posted by brizzle born and bred on 2014-01-01 10:32:33

Tagged: , Hottest Gadgets of the 1970′s , 1970′s inventions that changed our way of life

Empire State – New York City

Empire State -  New York City

The Empire State Building is a 102-story skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet (380 m), and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 feet (443 m) high. Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State. It stood as the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years, from its completion in early 1931 until the topping out of the original World Trade Center’s North Tower in late 1970. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Empire State Building was again the tallest building in New York (although it was no longer the tallest in the US or the world), until One World Trade Center reached a greater height on April 30, 2012. The Empire State Building is currently the fourth-tallest completed skyscraper in the United States (after the One World Trade Center, the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower, both in Chicago), and the 25th-tallest in the world (the tallest now is Burj Khalifa, located in Dubai). It is also the fifth-tallest freestanding structure in the Americas.

The Empire State Building is generally thought of as an American cultural icon. It is designed in the distinctive Art Deco style and has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The building and its street floor interior are designated landmarks of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and confirmed by the New York City Board of Estimate. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 2007, it was ranked number one on the AIA’s List of America’s Favorite Architecture.

The building is owned by the Empire State Realty Trust, of which Anthony Malkin serves as Chairman, CEO and President.[17] In 2010, the Empire State Building underwent a $550 million renovation, with $120 million spent to transform the building into a more energy efficient and eco-friendly structure.[18] The Empire State Building is the tallest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building in the United States, having received a gold LEED rating in September 2011.

The site of the Empire State Building was first developed as the John Thompson Farm in the late 18th century. At the time, a stream ran across the site, emptying into Sunfish Pond, located a block away. Beginning in the late 19th century, the block was occupied by the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, frequented by The Four Hundred, the social elite of New York.

The limestone for the Empire State Building came from the Empire Mill in Sanders, Indiana which is an unincorporated town adjacent to Bloomington, Indiana. The Empire Mill Land office is near State Road 37 and Old State Road 37 just south of Bloomington. Bloomington, Bedford and Oolitic area are known locally as the limestone capital of the world

Design and construction:
The Empire State Building was designed by William F. Lamb from the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, which produced the building drawings in just two weeks, using its earlier designs for the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the Carew Tower in Cincinnati, Ohio (designed by the architectural firm W. W. Ahlschlager & Associates) as a basis. Every year the staff of the Empire State Building sends a Father’s Day card to the staff at the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem to pay homage to its role as predecessor to the Empire State Building. The building was designed from the top down. The general contractors were The Starrett Brothers and Eken, and the project was financed primarily by John J. Raskob and Pierre S. du Pont. The construction company was chaired by Alfred E. Smith, a former Governor of New York and James Farley’s General Builders Supply Corporation supplied the building materials. John W. Bowser was project construction superintendent.

Excavation of the site began on January 22, 1930, and construction on the building itself started symbolically on March 17—St. Patrick’s Day—per Al Smith’s influence as Empire State, Inc. president. The project involved 3,400 workers, mostly immigrants from Europe, along with hundreds of Mohawk iron workers, many from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal. According to official accounts, five workers died during the construction. Governor Smith’s grandchildren cut the ribbon on May 1, 1931. Lewis Wickes Hine’s photography of the construction provides not only invaluable documentation of the construction, but also a glimpse into common day life of workers in that era.

The construction was part of an intense competition in New York for the title of "world’s tallest building". Two other projects fighting for the title, 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building, were still under construction when work began on the Empire State Building. Each held the title for less than a year, as the Empire State Building surpassed them upon its completion, just 410 days after construction commenced. Instead of taking 18 months as anticipated, the construction took just under fifteen. The building was officially opened on May 1, 1931 in dramatic fashion, when United States President Herbert Hoover turned on the building’s lights with the push of a button from Washington, D.C. Coincidentally, the first use of tower lights atop the Empire State Building, the following year, was for the purpose of signaling the victory of Franklin D. Roosevelt over Hoover in the presidential election of November 1932.

The building’s opening coincided with the Great Depression in the United States, and as a result much of its office space was initially unrented. The building’s vacancy was exacerbated by its poor location on 34th Street, which placed it relatively far from public transportation, as Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, built decades beforehand, are several blocks away, as is the more recently built Port Authority Bus Terminal. Other more successful skyscrapers, such as the Chrysler Building, did not have this problem. In its first year of operation, the observation deck took in approximately 2 million dollars, as much money as its owners made in rent that year. The lack of renters led New Yorkers to deride the building as the "Empty State Building". The building would not become profitable until 1950. The famous 1951 sale of the Empire State Building to Roger L. Stevens and his business partners was brokered by the prominent upper Manhattan real-estate firm Charles F. Noyes & Company for a record $51 million. At the time, that was the highest price paid for a single structure in real-estate history.

Above the 102nd floor

On the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building there is a door with stairs ascending up, which leads into the 103rd floor. This was originally built as a disembarkation floor for airships tethered to the building’s spire, and features a circular balcony outside the room as well. It is now a hot spot for when celebrities visit, and an access point to reach the spire for maintenance purposes. The room currently contains electrical equipment, though this was edited out, by camera angle, during the "In the Wind" season-four finale of White Collar. Above the 103rd floor, there is a set of stairs and a ladder to reach the spire for maintenance work only. The building’s distinctive Art Deco spire was originally designed to be a mooring mast and depot for dirigibles. The 103rd floor was originally a landing platform with a dirigible gangplank. A particular elevator, traveling between the 86th and 102nd floors, was supposed to transport passengers after they checked in at the observation deck on the 86th floor. However, the idea proved to be impractical and dangerous after a few attempts with airships, due to the powerful updrafts caused by the size of the building itself, as well as the lack of mooring lines tying the other end of the craft to the ground. A large broadcast tower was added to the top of the spire in the early 1950s, in order to support the transmission antennas of several television and FM stations. Up to that point, NBC had the exclusive rights to the site, and – beginning in 1931 – built various, smaller antenna structures dedicated to their television transmissions.

Broadcast stations

New York City is the largest media market in the United States. Since the September 11 attacks, nearly all of the city’s commercial broadcast stations (both television and FM radio) have transmitted from the top of the Empire State Building, although a few FM stations are located at the nearby Condé Nast Building. Most New York City AM stations broadcast from sites across the Hudson River in New Jersey or from other surrounding areas.

Observation decks

The Empire State Building has one of the most popular outdoor observatories in the world, having been visited by over 110 million people. The 86th-floor observation deck offers impressive 360-degree views of the city. There is a second observation deck on the 102nd floor that is open to the public. It was closed in 1999, but reopened in November 2005. It is completely enclosed and much smaller than the first one; it may be closed on high-traffic days. Tourists may pay to visit the observation deck on the 86th floor and an additional amount for the 102nd floor. The lines to enter the observation decks, according to, are "as legendary as the building itself:" there are five of them: the sidewalk line, the lobby elevator line, the ticket purchase line, the second elevator line, and the line to get off the elevator and onto the observation deck. For an extra fee tourists can skip to the front of the line. The Empire State Building makes more money from tickets sales for its observation decks than it does from renting office space.

Height records and comparisons :
The Empire State Building remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for 23 years before it was surpassed by the Griffin Television Tower Oklahoma (KWTV Mast) in 1954. It was also the tallest free-standing structure in the world for 36 years before it was surpassed by the Ostankino Tower in 1967.

The longest world record held by the Empire State Building was for the tallest skyscraper (to structural height), which it held for 42 years until it was surpassed by the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 1972. An early-1970s proposal to dismantle the spire and replace it with an additional 11 floors, which would have brought the building’s height to 1,494 feet (455 m) and made it once again the world’s tallest at the time, was considered but ultimately rejected.

With the destruction of the World Trade Center in the September 11 attacks, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City, and the second-tallest building in the Americas, surpassed only by the Willis Tower in Chicago. It is currently the fifth-tallest, surpassed by the Willis Tower, the Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago), 432 Park Avenue and the new One World Trade Center. One World Trade Center surpassed the roof height of the Empire State Building on April 30, 2012, and became the tallest building in New York City—on the way toward becoming the tallest building in the Americas at a planned 1,776 feet (541 m).

When measured by pinnacle height, the Empire State Building is the fourth-tallest building in the USA, surpassed by One World Trade Center, Willis Tower and Chicago’s John Hancock Center. On clear days, the building can be seen from much of the New York Metropolitan Area, and as far away as New Haven, Connecticut and Morristown, New Jersey.

Neighboring Midtown Manhattan landmarks
The Empire State Building anchors an area of Midtown which features other major Manhattan landmarks as well, including Macy’s Herald Square, Koreatown,[80] Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, and the Flower District. Together, these sites contribute to a significant volume of commuter and tourist pedestrian traffic traversing the southern portion of Midtown Manhattan.

Posted by Arch_Sam on 2015-05-04 08:54:33

Tagged: , Chicago , Los Angeles , Bronx Zoo , Monument , central park , Little Italy , Subway , Wall Street , museum , Theater , Broadway , Times Square , Tour Eiffel , Empire State , Building , skyscraper , Manhattan , New York , City , Fifth Avenue , world’s tallest building , World Trade Center , structure , America , culture , icon , Civil , Engineers , landmark , Architecture , Chrysler Building , NY , brooklyn , bridge , Franklin D. Roosevelt , Grand Central Terminal , Penn Station , Guinness World Record , Pentagon , art deco , design , artist , art , sunset , sunrise , dawn , sea , water , river , New Jersey , Hudson River , St. Patrick’s Day , Christmas , Independence Day , Bastille Day , September 11 , attacks , election , Seattle , Koreatown , Macy’s Herald Square , Madison Square Garden , Flower District , Tourist , Attraction , Rockefeller Center , Avenue , United Nations , Queens , Bronx , Staten Island , Statue of Liberty , louvre




Well, just about, I’m a tad knackered at the moment!

G’day, I’ve been a wee bit quiet for the past few weeks as I reviewed movies at this year’s 2007 Melbourne (Australia) International Film Festival. I broadcast the reviews over about two and a half hours all up on my show, Zero-G: Science Fiction, Fantasy & Historical Radio, on 3RRR FM. (

The above picture is the sign on the Erwin Rado Theatre at 211 Johnson Street, Fitzroy, where the MIFF has its headquarters. The building’s nothing much to look at from outside, really! But the sign…well, THAT has character!

Below the MIFF offices, the theatre, named after the director of the Film Festival from 1957 – 1983, has a charming old 69 seat cinema that can screen 16mm and 35mm film as well as DVD, LaserDisc, VHS, Data and MiniDV.

The MIFF’s access to the theatre expired at the end of 2007 and, ideally, it really should have its own dedicated screening facility, as other major city’s film festivals have. Still, the office itself has now moved to a more central location in Melbourne, which is handy!

To find out more about the MIFF go here:

Anyway, I thought I’d post some of reviews here, inspired by films that I particularly enjoyed at this year’s event.

The full transcripts can be found at:


This continuously violent South Korean animated adult feature presents a future where human excrement is an energy source. Citizens have a monitoring chip attached to their arses and particularly productive individuals are rewarded with addictive drug laced munchies called Juicy Bars.

I shit you not.

The story begins with a roadwarrior highway battle as the swarming blue mutant Diaper Gang (!) attempts to truckjack a cargo of Juicy Bars, only to encounter a devastatingly lethal cyborg enforcer who makes Judge Dredd look like a human rights campaigner.

Headshot bodies fall at a rate that would impress Aeon Flux and Samurai Jack combined as the repressive government, assorted roving bands of bandits and con men, including the title characters Aachi and Ssipak (pronounced ‘she-pock’) along with a feisty would-be actress, all compete for the Juicy Bars.

Given the outrageous level of mayhem and the giggling concept that lies at the, er, bottom of the plot, it’s hardly worth noting that the animators cheerfully raid pop culture for many sequences, including the films Aliens and Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom. The latter is extensively overmined for one tunnel chase set up.

The animation is quite stylistically vigorous while the off the wall social commentary reminds me a little of the kind of thing that animator Ralph Bakshi attempted in his Fritz The Cat days, well before the likes of South Park and its shock-anime kin. There’s also something to be said for the biting political satire that runs through the narrative, which results in the government and gang leader being merely two opposite sides of the same ruthless coin.

People with kids could have pointless fun banning them from seeing this film, but apparently MTV’s thinking of doing a telly series based on it anyway, so, futile or what?

Subtle it isn’t, but it is a species of wicked fun that will gather bums on seats!

Director Joe Bum-jin


The first film directed by screenwriter Santiago Amigorena, A Few Days In September
(Quelques Jours en Septembre), is a laid back but quite charming French spy thriller that makes espionage a family affair…and a realistically bickering family at that.

Elliot, mostly alluded to or played as an off screen voiceover by Nick Nolte until near the film’s conclusion, is an ex-CIA agent with knowledge about the upcoming 911 attacks. He hopes to trade the information for a stake that will enable him to reunite and live with his biological daughter and step-son, legacies of two seperate cover identity marriages in France and the U.S.

Much sought after by various factions, Elliot entrusts his grown up children, Orlando (Sara Forestier) and David (British actor Tom Riley) to the capable care of Irène, a cool, experienced French secret agent who used to be Elliot’s colleague. The potentially overwhelming meta-story takes a back seat to the character relationships, which makes a nice change to the usual breathless adventures that would normally puff up this kind of story into a by-the-numbers action thriller.

Juliette Binoche brings marvelous, stylish depth to her role as world wise spy Irène, providing a wryly sophisticated setting for her charges’ inevitable romance. (What IS it with the French anyway? After Irène’s arm is injured she turns up wearing a chic scarf as a sling, but of course!) Always gorgeous, the actress pitches the character as being adept enough at her deadly trade so that she can afford to enjoy herself while she works. Forestier is all sharp edged, angry eyed angst as she works through father/daughter issues while Riley nervously cooks (his character worked in a restaurant) for the two formidable women who have abruptly complicated his life with their Amazonian expertise with firearms. I also very much enjoyed the arch Franco/American banter between Orlando and David.

Seeking Elliot through the medium of his children is William Pound, a whacko ‘wet work’ assassin who has a penchant for poetry, drives a florist’s delivery van and has a mobile phone plagued by the world’s most annoying ringtone. Pound’s character is tightly wound by John Turturro, who played one of the convicts in O Brother, Where Art Thou? and also an equally obsessive relative of the title character in the television series Monk.

A Few Days In September benefits from first rate cinematography, including some playful soft focus shots that whimsically render Venice and Paris, cheekily explained by Irène’s habit of removing her glasses to ‘see things differently’. There’s also a cracking good shot through the dark framed doorway of a Venetian Chapel which reminded me of a signature frame from a John Ford Western, only instead of Mesas and sagebrush we get the Venice Lagoon and a passing ocean liner.

Although this film lingers perhaps a little too lovingly on the wrangling entanglements of its main characters I still found it pleasant and rewardable viewing. Amigorena certainly knows how to inject off-beat life into his characters.

Director/Screenwriter Santiago Amigorena
2006/115 mins


When down on her luck small town waitress Agnes White (played by Ashley Judd) invites eccentric drifter Peter Evans into her seedy motel room she receives much more than she bug-aned for!

Director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, & The French Connection) gets almost unbearably psychological in this cross genre movie that wisely adds no excess fat to the one set, pressure cooker Tracy Lett’s play that it’s adapted from. As the two main characters’ relationship slowly emerges from a far too tightly spun chrysalis the film builds to one of the most intensely wound paranoic conclusions seen on screen.

Michael Shannon is gauntly convincing as Evans, a role that he pioneered in the original stage play and intially at least, reminds me a little of a young Steve McQueen or perhaps, Joachim Phoenix. Harry Connick Junior has a supporting part in the film as Agne’s ex-convict, ex-husband.

Bug’s maddeningly paced escalating tension is supported by an appropriately chittering score, composed by Brian Tyler, who also gave us soundtracks for the films Constantine, Bubba Ho-Tep, the Children of Dune miniseries, as well as episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise and the upcoming Aliens Versus Predator 2: Survival Of The Fittest. Speaking of Star Trek, Ashley Judd also played Ensign Robin Lefler in Star Trek: Next Generation.

Bug is a film that creeps up on you and by its final scuttling rush will definitely get under your skin…one way or another.

Director- William Friedkin
Screenwriter-Tracy Letts


El Topo (“The Mole”) was director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s third film. The infamous Mexican allergorically surreal Eastern/Western is presented at the festival in a very fine new restoration (a bit of a shock for those used to seeing it in its customary raddled grindhouse/cult prints!) along with its natural companion piece, The Holy Mountain.

This comprehensively startling but compelling film begins, not unlike the Lone Wolf And Cub Samurai series, with the black clad, flute playing gunslinger El Topo (played by the director himself) riding across the wastelands in company with a taciturn child companion. After a blood drenched encounter with drunkenly bestial bandits El Topo replaces the boy with a seductively manipulative woman who urges him to become the greatest shootist in the world by seeking out and defeating four master gunfighters.

As with the wuxia martial arts films that this story frequently references the quest for the masters proves dangerous, difficult, baffling and wonderous.

The gunslinger’s odyssey to achieve enlightment and mastery is populated with exotic encounters and inventive, symbolically charged imagery. Deflating balloons signal the start of duels, capering outlaws with shoe fetishes rape feminised sand paintings and carve bananas with sabres, civilised townsfolk prove more depraved and debauched than the wasteland bandits, herds of rabbits mysteriously die at El Topo’s feet, incestuously deformed trogalytes living in oil drums tunnel to escape their underground prison, and live bullets are caught and deflected by butterfly nets.

This visual melange is supported by Jodorowskys and Nacho Méndezs evocative music which, by turns soothing or jarring, echoes across the many desert based sequences and permeates the locations, which frequently read more like artistic installations than sets grounded in any kind of mundane reality. In fact, there is a timeless anachronistic feel to the desert that makes you question whether this is nominally a period Western or indeed set in some kind of post-apocalyptic Stephen King future.

El Topo is rendered even stranger by its renowned mid-film gear change, one of several enigmatic transformations that can be interpreted as Buddhist inspired reincarnations of the title character.

Just imagine what might have been if Jodorowsky had pulled off his mid-70s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, with its intended cast of Salvidor Dali as the Emperor, Mick Jagger playing Feyd Rautha and Orson Welles as Baron Harkonnen? As it is the Acid Western tradition at least got another outing in Jim Jarmusch’s more recent film, Dead Man, which, for all its many remarkable charms, by comparison to El Topo is cast into monochrome shade.

A bizarre chimera even by Zero-G’s notoriously unhinged standards El Topo is a cult classic given gloriously grotesque new life by its own recent transfiguring restoration.

Director/Screenwriter Alejandro Jodorowsky


Fido fiendishly expands upon the gag featured in Shaun of the Dead (amongst other films) that zombies could be domesticated to perform simple tasks. Zombies helping in the kitchen? Uh-oh, better make sure they keep those rotting fingers are kept hygenically away from food preparation surfaces with a pair of crisp, clean white cotton gloves….

In an alternate 1950s the all encompassing ZomCom, which apparently helped win the Zombie War, protects and serves the walled small towns of America. Now, we all know that the only reason to provide zombies with clever electronic control collars is so that the gadgets can malfunction; cue zombie outbreak! It’s the slyly subversive juxtaposition of wholesome mom and apple-pie Leave It To Beaver sitcom with Zombie killing procedural that lends this consistently bemusing film a wicked Addams Family style where Pop naturally reads Death Magazine and scenes shot in cars are filmed using good old fashioned rear screen projection.

Not that we’re talking Black and White telly, nosirree Bob! Fido is filmed in full, glorious technicolour, complete with ginormous finned automobiles, two toned shoes and compliant Stepford housewives who wait at the front door for their patriarchal hubbies to take the martini from their submissive, manicured hands. Happily, Carrie Anne-Moss in one of the main roles, as Helen Robinson, is more of a buddingly feisty Desperate Housewife after the armed and dangerous example of Bree Hodge. (From The Matrix to a zombie packed Pleasantville is indeed an ironic career path!) It’s not long before Helen kicks over the domestic traces following the example of her young son, Timmy (knowingly played by the intriguingly named K’Sun Ray) and his new pet zombie, the Fido of the title, embodied by Billy Connolly. Connolly plays the long suffering Fido with toothy glee, moaning and groaning and lurching in the throes of what could easily double as a hangover of fatally heroic proportions.

Keep an eye out (easy to do in a zombie film) for Dylan Baker, as the nervously cheerful Bill Robinson. Baker has had the sleeper part of Doctor Curt Connors in the Spider-Man films and, as comic book fans anticipate, should eventually get to mutate into the super-villain, The Lizard.

Fido is my genre pic of the Festival, in the tradition of another year’s shambling B-schlock spoof, The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra. I ask you, how can I not enjoy sinking my teeth into a film where a pet zombie is addressed with a line like: “What’s that Fido? Timmy’s in trouble?”

It’s enough to make Lassie dig her way out of her grave!

Director- Andrew Currie
Screenwriters- Robert Chomiak, Andrew Currie, Dennis Heaton


If you go down to the woods today…’d better take your copy of the Brothers Grimm Cookbook For Baking Independent Elderly Female Cannibal Sorceresses.

German director Anne Wild and screenwriter Peter Schwindt settle for a straightforward retelling of the classic rural ‘stranger danger’ story wherein the devious Gretel proves the most resourceful of two deliberately lost children who end up on the menu of the obligatory member of the local Guild of Almagamated Wicked Witches & Confectioners.

Deliberately lost? How do you think the kids got to be wandering around in Blair Witchburg in the first place? Sometimes tactfully omitted from modern retellings of this familiar story is the neglected element of child abandonment, a practice forced upon starving families in situations of plague, famine, wars and other social upheavals. In this case, it’s the pragmatic step-mother who pushes her more sentimental but nontheless compliant woodcutter husband into cutting loose the kids.

In early versions of the story it’s usually just the natural mother who suggests jettisoning the offspring…a much more useful cautionary tale for parents to use as and Awful Threat when disciplining naughty anklebiters.

Leaving aside observations about how Hansel and Gretel underlines the historical distrust of skilled single women of independent means this is actually a moderately creepily staged film. The woods are suitably threatening, and the witch herself, though certainly not up to Buffy The Vampire Slayer standards is a reasonably nasty albeit dimwitted piece of work…

I never can figure out quite why witchy poo needed to go Hannibal Lector on kiddies when she was capable of whipping up enough food to fatten a small army, not to mention all that square footage of gingerbread real estate. Let’s just assume it’s an alternative lifestyle choice, along the lines of supergenius Wile. E. Coyote yearning after Roadrunner drumsticks in spite of the fact that he had enough credit to order truckloads of expensive gadgets from the ACME Corporation.

(On the subject of ghoulish folks developing a fondness for ‘long pig’ just what DID those darling children do with the oven fired witch after they fried her arse?)

We all know how this ends, after making off with the witch’s portable property the kids, in a remarkable act of forgiveness, share their taxfree windfall with their deadbeat dad…though their step mother has obligingly dropped dead in the meanwhile.

Hmm, did anyone actually see step-mama and Ms Witch in the same room at the same time?

Don’t expect a Post-Modern fractured fairytale from Hansel and Gretel and you won’t be led astray by what’s essentially a traditionally told, moderately unsettling film.

Director- Anne Wild
Screenwriter- Peter Schwindt


If you thought Alejandro Jodorowsky’s third film, El Topo, was weird…well, no caca Sherlock!

Wait until you get a load of this….

His next surreally allegorical outing, 1973’s The Holy Mountain, scales even more whackily experimental heights. Like El Topo, The Holy Mountain has also been recently, lovingly restored, all the better to trip out on the eye bulging psychedelic imagery!

Again, as with El Topo, the nominal protagonist is on a messianic quest to achieve enlightment. Even more ironically symbolic in this case since the central thief character bears a strong and exploitable resemblance to the traditional representation of Jesus Christ.

Horácio Salinas plays the hapless thief, leaving Jodorowsky himself the catalytic role of a tower dwelling alchemist who charges him to accompany seven influential but materialistic powerbrokers to Lotus Island where they will achieve eternal life once they have climbed the eponymous Holy Mountain.

Initially the dialogue is thin on the ground but soon ramps up to cheerfully inexplicable levels where a line like “hypersexed brown native vampires” can pass without comment or indeed comprehension. Politics, art, sexuality, and filmmaking, amongst many other subjects, all cop a satirical hiding in this extraordinary film which relies heavily upon fantasy imagery drawn from tarot cards, astrology and religion.

Just listing a few of the oddball ideas gives you an idea of the unique scope of Jorodowsky’s fevered imagination.

Two women are ‘cleansed’ of clothing, make-up, jewellery, false nails, and hair by a black robed priest who himself has ebony varnished fingernails. A screaming man lies covered in tarantulas…no big acting stretch there! The Invasion of Mexico is renacted by lizards dressed in Mezoamerican costumes battling frogs wearing Conquistador armour and missionary robes. (I have my doubts about this sequence, it sure looks like the poor frogs are really being blown up by explosives?) A mulitple amputee writes cryptic messages in the dirt with a severed animal leg. Parading prostitutes turn out to be just as holy as priests. Roman soldiers cast the thief in plaster and create a line of life-sized crucifiction merchandise. Art factory paint coated nude backsides stamp out images on a production line while live body painted nudes are built into installations so they can be fondled by gallery patrons. Gas masked soldiers attend dances and machine guns and hand grenades are painted in rainbow colours. Spartan like warriors pursue a cunning plan to emasculate 1000 heroes to create a shrine of 1000 testicles….and nevermind what they did with the other 1000! Eviscerated victims spill chicken guts….and I mean they literally pull chickens from their wounds’ while Liederhosen wearing Teutonics trip on drugs and strongmen are able to turn intangible and teleport through entire mountains.

Distantly reminiscent of Fellini’s Satyricon, and to some extent Roma, The Holy Mountain also boasts the most startling Orgasmatron machine since the erotic cult film Barbarella, in the form of a Giant mechanical vagina that’s manipulated like a theramin…. well, if a theramin was played by a giant dildo!

Is it any surprise, really, in the wake of the cult success of El Topo, that The Holy Mountain’s producer Allen Klein also managed The Beatles and that those fans of all things psychedelic, John Lennon and Yoko Ono helped fund the movie?

Landmark or landfill experimental film? The Holy Mountain remains an obvious precursor to movies like Eraserhead, The Cremaster Cycle, and The Qatsi Trilogy.

Climb it at your own peril. (You know you want to!)

Director/Screenwriter Alejandro Jodorowsky


Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas (Michael Cohen) live happily in pastoral rural isolation in a rundown chalet in the Romanian woods, until one night they are attacked by….THEM! No, not by lurching giant ants from a 1950s horror film but by…well, that would be telling. Some horror films take their time building suspense but Moreau and Palud’s shiversome first feature nails you straight to the wall and keeps you hanging there for the economical just-over-an-hour’s running time. And I do mean ‘running’.

The adept direction and unrelating pace set within the atmospheric confines of the old chalet (a dream of a location to create nightmares in) is ramped up by genuinely unnerving sound effects design, an evocatively tense soundtrack, solid if necessarilly Spartan performances by the two leads, and the teasing revelation of the nature of the besiegers.

There’s nothing particularly new about the ingredients stirred into this terrifying mix. In fact, you could, after the credits have rolled and the lights come up again, sit back and tick off the horror cliches one by one, starting with the usually tiresome pronouncement, “Based On A True Story”. Commentators seem uncertain about the veracity of that, but in this case it adds to the overall feel of unease that permeates the ending of this film. I found myself thinking, “Y’know, I can see how that could actually happen….brrrr!”

Ils…it took me a while to realise that the title is merely the French word for “Them”… is one of the most disturbing horror films I’ve seen in some time, and all without buckets of blood or lashings of sickly inventive torture porn. With its efficient minimalist approach it’s very close in tone to the best of the New Wave of Japanese horror that burst upon the West several years ago now.

Directors/ Screenwriters- David Moreau and Xavier Palud
2006/70 mins


A big budget supernatural fantasy for young adults that’s part Spielberg, part Lucas, with an added dash of Harry Potter, but which ultimately wears its ample CGI well to create an enjoyable and in a few places reasonably scary film.

When two children move to a quiet country town the last thing they expect to find is a haunted island plagued by a supernatural confluence of kidnapped souls. When a young girl taps into the mystic mayhem it results in her brother being possessed by the spirit of a centuries dead member of an ancient order of sorcerous crimefighters.

The film’s young actors are capable and ‘self possessed’ in the face of some quite formidable magical opposition, including a new and nasty take on that familiar player from Central Horror Casting, the living Scarecrow, along with a necromancer who could be brother to both Nosferatu and the Star Wars Emperor, right down to the cadaverous features and handy ability to cast Sith lightning from his fingies! I especialy liked the offbeat character of the trainspotting psychic investigator who inevitably comes to the kid’s aid in their hour of dire peril.

A fun little romp that’s no longer than it should be at an economical 100 minutes.

Director- Nikolaj Arcel
Screenwriter- Ramsus Heisterberg

Sun, 12th of August, 1:00 PM

Belgium/Germany/The Netherlands

Bagi, played by Batzul Khayankhyarvaa, is a young nomad, who, along with his family are wrenched from their nomadic existence by the Mongolian government who want to consolidate people in towns, villages and cities as the fledgling democracy gears up to enter the 21st century’s global economy. After rescuing Zolzaya (Tsetsegee Byamba), a beautiful female coal thief, Bagi boldly goes where nomad has gone before on a shamanistic quest that culminates in fantastical revelations about Mongolia’s future relation with the environment.

Khadak is underpinned by a hypnotically compelling narrative fascination with magic realism that often contrasts the shabby reality of the concrete high rises with the colourfully organic traditional nomadic traditional yurt dwellings.

The film overflows with powerful imagery, including a simple but effective camera roll that causes an iconistic prayer-scarf draped tree to turn upside down as the land itself is inverted by mineral exploitation and pollution. A deserted town, in reality an abandoned former Soviet barracks, stands in for one potential future. Tractors, used to haul the disassembled yurts, are started and allowed to run aimlessly free across the steppes as the government agents burn the nomads’ links to their former lifestyle behind them.

Khadak doesn’t always offer too nostalgic a view of the nomadic struggle; many of the former rural folk cheerfully adapt to their new circumstances and some seem to pragmatically thrive, especially Bagi’s mother, who ends up running heavy machinery at the coal mine where immense draglines swing with saurian grace across the screen.

The film’s reverberating score resonates across the wind blown, echoing steppes, giving way to some moments of pure musical bliss, especially when some of the newly urbanised young people get together for astonishing ‘jam’ sessions.

Both lyrical and hard edged Khadak is a film, like Martin Scorsese’s Kundan, whose exotic sights and sounds will be welcome guests in my yurt for as long as they choose to stay.

Directors/Screenwriters- Peter Brosens, Jessica Hope Woodworth


It’s damn cold in Northern Alaska but not cold enough, as tough but soft centered Ron Perlman’s advance oil drilling preparation crew discover when they set out to re-open an isolated test drilling site that may be viable in the face of looming energy shortages. The arctic circle tundra is thawing rapidly, unleashing the kind of environmental horror movie that used to be in vogue back in the 1970s and which is all too timely now as global warming makes its presence felt in the real world.

Perlman, as usual, is excellent, giving the kind of inflected performance that graced Hellboy, Cronos, City Of Lost Children and his impressive work in the television fantasy series Beauty & The Beast. The ensemble players are also deftly sketched in, often in a low key fashion that adds realism.

Director Larry Fessenden successfully follows up and even references in one brief bit of dialogue, Wendigo, one of his earlier, not entirely disimilar horror outings. As with some other genre films in this year’s festival the horror elements are timeless; from the simmering sexual and tensions and hostility between the boffins and the bluecollars to the classic scenario of the besieged ice station. The latter is a character in itself, in the ‘Thingy’ tradition of both Howard Hawks and John Carpenter’s seperate adaptations of John W. Campbell’s seminal very Cold War science fiction novella, Who Goes There? Best possible use is made of this stunning location, as the screen often becomes an overwhelmingly vast white or dark canvas to trap and diminish the hapless blue collar workers.

Crystal clear sound design helps ‘sell’ the visuals and the impressive CGI special effects are first rate, without ever detracting from the practical drama of the sheer dangers of living and working in such an extreme environment.

The Last Winter is a cunningly ambiguous chiller that cleverly maintains a plausible alternative explanation for the film’s lethal events up to and possibly including the final admirably restrained frame which begs teasingly to be opened out into a wider shot but leaves the audience wanting more, leaving room for a possible but unecessary sequel.

Oil be back!

Director- Larry Fessenden
Screenwriters- Larry Fessenden, Robert Leaver


A carload of Iranian buddies on their way down the mountains from a skiing holiday stop for a toilet break at a precipitous roadside layover and discover a monolithic rock
that just HAS to be tumbled down the slopes.

If you’re a bloke, you automatically know how it is.

If you’re a woman, equally, you KNOW how we are!

An amusing exploration of male bonding and stubborness this happily crazy film is guaranteed to contain no sociopolitical allegory whatsoever (really!) and the Iranian writer/director has asked that the U.S please refrain from invading his leg of the Axis of Evil until he has finished his next project.

Director/Screenwriter- Mani Haghighi


When completely politically incorrect arms merchant Palisade Defence rewards its crack Euro Sales division with a team-building weeked in the woods of Eastern Europe the mismatched but archtypal bickering office workers soon find that they’re not quite the ‘gun’ group that they thought they were.

Yes, the comparison of choice is The Office meets Deliverance and that’s fair enough because what makes this movie so gormlessly funny is the inept Brits Abroad schtick combined with an equally knowing, wickedly timed take on the horror slasher genre that puts most inept Hollywood fun with fear spoofs to more shame than ever. The only time this film ever really fumbles is when it takes the horror too seriously, which is not all that frequently, though more noticably and perhaps inevitably, in the apocalyptic last reel.

Oddly, Severence’s particularly grungy baddies who get to fold, spindle and mutilate our heroic twonks remind me very much of the “Stalkers” from the recent popular video game, which itself references the Tarkovsky film and the less well known science fiction novel that classic is itself based on, Boris and Arkady Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic.

The heavyweight British ensemble cast is a real corker here, and one of the most enjoyable in the festival films I’ve seen this year, including at least one former Bond villain (Toby Stephens who was Gustav Graves in Die Another Day) and the always wetly amusing Tim McInnerny who plays to his well known Blackadder type (He was both Lord Percy and Captain Darling) as the incompetent boss of the Palisade’s party.

I won’t be the last reviewer to note that Eastern Europe has become destination of choice for horror filmmakers of late. Attracted by threatening woodlands, abandoned buildings and low cost production facilities the exotic locales also perhaps wallow in a degree of smug and possibly premature Western superiority in the wake of the economic collapse of former Eastern Bloc foes. For the moment, these once hard to access countries are providing filmmakers with a place to set their stories ‘beyond the glow of the streetlights’. Again, as with other festival genre films, Severence does benefit from a marvelously decrepit Old Dark house of a location.

Severence is laced with joyfully understated sight gags, dialogue to listen for, and a good deal of well meaning irony regarding corporate responsibility. The icing on the cake is a musical score that fiddles with both ominous gypsy curses, pop tunes and even riffs off We’ll Meet Again as featured in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, to which black comedy there’s more than one reference.

Severance gives awful new meaning to the term, “You’e fired!”

Director- Christopher Smith
Screenwriters- James Moran, Christopher Smith


An intimate but involving look at the disapora of displaced persons produced by China’s Three Gorges Dam mega-engineering project as seen through the eyes of two people.

In the first part of the film coal miner Han Sanming (played by Sanming Han) returns after 16 years absence to his former home town of Fengjie, only to find its 2000 years of history submerged beneath the waters of the dam. Taking a temporary job in demolition, he searches for news of his ex wife, whom he hasn’t seen for 16 years.

Still Life never wanders far from the dominating horizontal visuals of the mighty Yangtze River and the monolithic concrete and steel dam. The apocalyptic rubble of the yet-to-be flooded part of the town forms another powerful metaphor, a full stop to the flow of linear time represented by the River, which itself has been given pause by the immense project.

It’s a hard life for Han, though undoubtedly far less dangerous than the notoriously hazardous Chinese coal mining industry, and it provides some extraordinary imagery.
Men in supposedly protective suits with sanitising back pack sprayers wander through gutted homes. Friends are made amongst workmates to the jaunty ringtones of their mobile phones as they exchange numbers…a socialising ritual that later prompts one of the film’s most poignant moments when a mobile ‘s unanswered ringing signals a tragic accident. Condemned buildings collapse with tired grace in the distant background as they receive explosive coup de grâces.

The second half of the film segues into another quest for closure, as Nurse Shen Hong (Tao Zhao) journeys to the town looking for her own estranged husband.
Again, the dam is another defining presence in the story, providing a backdrop for the final resolution of Shen Hong’s search.

One baffling scene (and I’d welcome any light that anyone can shed on this!) sees Shen staring at a large monument in the distance. It appears to be a Chinese alphabetical character, rendered in concrete. As she turns away, rocket motors ignite at its base and the whole giant structure lifts off into the skies. I assume this is some kind of reference to the recent successes of the Chinese manned space programme but am not sure as to why it’s relevant to the story? Unless it’s just a bit of triumphalism? Or indeed, because Shen does ignore the startling sight, perhaps it’s meant to be ironic? Enquiring minds need to know!

Actually, the overall philosophical conclusion drawn at the end of Still Life does read a little bit like some kind of inspirational tract to me….but that may just reflect my own bias, or again it could be ironic, and I won’t spoil the ending by going further into detail. (Well, cross cultural puzzles have always attracted me to World Cinema!)

Still Life is a beautifully visualised, thoughtful film with a measured pace that aptly reflects the larger elements that form the canvas that its smaller, but no less important, human dramas are played out against.

Director/Screenwriter- Jia Zhang-ke


Rather than be ’embedded’ in a U.S military unit in Iraq filmmaker Deborah Scranton chose to give cameras to three National Guardsmen to record their own experiences deployed with Charlie Company, 3rd of the 172nd New Hampshire Mountain Infantry. Scranton provided additional remote directorial aid via text messaging and email to the three soldiers, Sgts. Stephen Pink and Zack Bazzi, and Specialist Michael Moriarty, whose stories were chosen from an overall pool of 1000 hours of footage.

The soldiers’ personal and professional accounts are sobering and revelatory and never less than enlightening.

Though it does this remarkably cohesive documentary something of a disservice to cherry pick material out of its sturdily engineered overall context it’s necessary to give some idea of the range of material included in the film.

We see several ambush eye views of the destructive force of roadside Improvised Explosive Devices which, though initiated and responded to with varying degrees of control by both combatant forces, usually result in chaos and confusion, death and destruction, for bystanders. One soldier matter-of-factly tours a vast graveyard of combat lossed vehicles, shattered and gutted by I.E.Ds, casting in an increasingly ironic light President Bush’s triumphantly naive 2003 announcement that “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended…”

The complexity of night operations are mirrored in the silvered eyed stare of soldiers seen through the eerie but tactically invaluable lenses of night vision equipment , rendering one formation of troops strikingly like a formation of stolid Terracotta Warriors. The detached professionalism of the soldiers understandably falters when a night time convoy kills a woman who was then struck repeatedly by each truck in turn.

The irony of soldiers and hired civilians (drivers and security guards) risking and losing their lives to protect re-supply cargos of, for example, cheese for hamburgers, is not lost on the troopers who wonder loudly if the complex and highly profitable logistical tail is wagging the policy dog? In fact, they’re refreshingly unguarded in their speculations about what they see, from their perspective as boots on the ground, as the reasons behind the ongoing war. Their observations are pithy, and to the point…or, rather, multiple points, as the individual opinions cover the entire spectrum of current controversy, from oil driven conspiracy to patriotic war on terror.

Soldiers will always enthusiastically relish the opportunity to grouse about their lot, reserving special venom for the shortcomings of their equipment, training, rations and orders. One complaint amongst many was that these soldiers received little or no cultural instruction to help prepare them for operating in the Iraq theatre, which ommission makes it hard to both know the enemy or understand your friends. Even a simple misunderstanding over a commonly used hand gesture for ‘Stop’ can, in the local environment, be fatally mistaken for ‘Hello!”

The fact that the Iraq conflict is, in reality, fought amongst peoples homes rather than some spiffily titled combat theatre, warzone or neutrally termed area of operations is thoughtfully underlined by frequent segues to the soldiers’ American homes, either when the troops have returned or during their absence. Surface impressions notwithstanding there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of difference between U.S and Iraqi civilians; folks, it seems, are alike all over. Stateside sequences touch upon the complicated effects that the deployment had on civilian family members, the problems of post traumatic stress disorder suffered by the veterans, and the more obvious physical injuries. For example, one of the soldiers has carpal tunnel syndrome in his hands, the result of vibration transmitted through the grips of his vehicle mounted machine gun on patrol. He also has to cope with back pain from wearing body armour in a confined space.

Crammed with ‘real time’ feedback from ongoing conflict The War Tapes makes a provocative companion piece with the 2005 documentary Gunner Palace. For balance I would also add to the recommended viewing list: Control Room (2004), Baghdad ER (2006), and My Country, My Country (2006)

Director- Deborah Scranton


Never heard of the Nigerian film industry? This inspiringly cheeky doco will rectify that and should be seen by all budding filmmakers seeking new ways to practice their art.

Something like 2400 movies per year are produced in Nigeria, making it the third most prolific film industry in the world. Film? Well, that’s a nostalgically generic term to describe the Nigerians’ enthusiastic bypassing of conventional film stock and its complex and expensive infrastructure in favour of digital video distributed directly and cheaply at local marketplaces on DVD or VCD.

The 300 or so Nigerian directors have an already rich tradition of oral storytelling to draw upon, and have embraced multiple genres usually lensing them through an action adventure filter, which has fostered a support industry of movie fight Action Camps where actors can learn the stunt fight business. Although one director claims “We don’t do science fiction” Nollywood nevertheless loves fantasy, especially religious based melodramas with plenty of demons and angels, sorcererors and witches.

Period films set in Nigeria often have a luridly portrayed but understandably anti-slavery element, which alongside with the witchcraft angle concerns some commentators who argue that focusing on these aspects promotes stereotypes.

A visit to the set of a film grounded in the recent Liberian war shows the Nigerian director, who at least partly funded the movie himself, putting his actors through boot camps to learn how to fill out their soldierly roles, including veteran advisors from both sides of the original conflict. The actors go through production hell but ironically are brought low by a botched contract with the caterers…

Nollywood; not entirely different from Hollywood!

Director- Jamie Meltzer


A lyrical French animated feature with fluidly drawn artwork and an equally languid, but elegant plot as a Princess Mona is faced with choosing between new love and a beloved friend, who happens to be a unicorn. The charming, anthropomorphic animal cast could have been drawn by Dr Seuss, and the story is a souffle of flirtatious love with a playful musical topping.

Directors- Grégoire Solotareff, Serge Elissalde
Screenwriter- Grégoire Solotareff

Posted by zero g on 2007-08-05 05:57:42

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You would think there is only one restaurant in NYC with a name like this one

You would think there is only one restaurant in NYC with a name like this one

This photo was taken on 9th Ave, between 22nd and 23rd Street.

In fact, you probably wouldn’t even think it was a restaurant. A shop? Yeah, maybe — after all, all of us shop for meatballs every once in a while, right?

But a restaurant? Well, okay, NYC is probably big enough to support one such restaurant … and I thought I was photographing something pretty unique when I took this picture. But then, exactly a month after I took this photo, I happened to be trudging along one of the avenues on the Upper East Side, still looking for photos that truly say "this is New York" … and, to my amazement, I saw another Meatball Shop!

Egad! How could this be? Google to the rescue! As soon as I got home, I googled the phrase (yeah, I know that I have a very small life — but admit it: you would have done the same thing!).

And I found that there is not just one, and not just two, Meatball Shops in NYC. There are five such establishments: one in the West Village, one in Chelsea, one in the Upper East Side, one in the Lower East Side, and one in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn. (Sorry, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island: you aren’t worthy of such an honor).

But where, I hear you asking, where exactly are they located? I thought you would never ask … but here is the URL that will provide the details:

A couple of additional details for you to ponder: note that patrons of this fine establishment are apparently known as "ballers." And note that the shop was given an "A" rating by the NYC restaurant inspectors; so you can be reasonably confident that they serve nothing but the very best meatballs.


This set of photos is based on a very simple concept: walk every block of Manhattan with a camera, and see what happens. To avoid missing anything, walk both sides of the street.

That’s all there is to it …

Of course, if you wanted to be more ambitious, you could also walk the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. But that’s more than I’m willing to commit to at this point, and I’ll leave the remaining boroughs of New York City to other, more adventurous photographers.

Oh, actually, there’s one more small detail: leave the photos alone for a month — unedited, untouched, and unviewed. By the time I actually focus on the first of these "every-block" photos, I will have taken more than 8,000 images on the nearby streets of the Upper West Side — plus another several thousand in Rome, Coney Island, and the various spots in NYC where I traditionally take photos. So I don’t expect to be emotionally attached to any of the "every-block" photos, and hope that I’ll be able to make an objective selection of the ones worth looking at.

As for the criteria that I’ve used to select the small subset of every-block photos that get uploaded to Flickr: there are three. First, I’ll upload any photo that I think is "great," and where I hope the reaction of my Flickr-friends will be, "I have no idea when or where that photo was taken, but it’s really a terrific picture!"

A second criterion has to do with place, and the third involves time. I’m hoping that I’ll take some photos that clearly say, "This is New York!" to anyone who looks at it. Obviously, certain landscape icons like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty would satisfy that criterion; but I’m hoping that I’ll find other, more unexpected examples. I hope that I’ll be able to take some shots that will make a "local" viewer say, "Well, even if that’s not recognizable to someone from another part of the country, or another part of the world, I know that that’s New York!" And there might be some photos where a "non-local" viewer might say, "I had no idea that there was anyplace in New York City that was so interesting/beautiful/ugly/spectacular."

As for the sense of time: I remember wandering around my neighborhood in 2005, photographing various shops, stores, restaurants, and business establishments — and then casually looking at the photos about five years later, and being stunned by how much had changed. Little by little, store by store, day by day, things change … and when you’ve been around as long as I have, it’s even more amazing to go back and look at the photos you took thirty or forty years ago, and ask yourself, "Was it really like that back then? Seriously, did people really wear bell-bottom jeans?"

So, with the expectation that I’ll be looking at these every-block photos five or ten years from now (and maybe you will be, too), I’m going to be doing my best to capture scenes that convey the sense that they were taken in the year 2013 … or at least sometime in the decade of the 2010’s (I have no idea what we’re calling this decade yet). Or maybe they’ll just say to us, "This is what it was like a dozen years after 9-11".

Movie posters are a trivial example of such a time-specific image; I’ve already taken a bunch, and I don’t know if I’ll ultimately decide that they’re worth uploading. Women’s fashion/styles are another obvious example of a time-specific phenomenon; and even though I’m definitely not a fashion expert, I suspected that I’ll be able to look at some images ten years from now and mutter to myself, "Did we really wear shirts like that? Did women really wear those weird skirts that are short in the front, and long in the back? Did everyone in New York have a tattoo?"

Another example: I’m fascinated by the interactions that people have with their cellphones out on the street. It seems that everyone has one, which certainly wasn’t true a decade ago; and it seems that everyone walks down the street with their eyes and their entire conscious attention riveted on this little box-like gadget, utterly oblivious about anything else that might be going on (among other things, that makes it very easy for me to photograph them without their even noticing, particularly if they’ve also got earphones so they can listen to music or carry on a phone conversation). But I can’t help wondering whether this kind of social behavior will seem bizarre a decade from now … especially if our cellphones have become so miniaturized that they’re incorporated into the glasses we wear, or implanted directly into our eyeballs.

Oh, one last thing: I’ve created a customized Google Map to show the precise details of each day’s photo-walk. I’ll be updating it each day, and the most recent part of my every-block journey will be marked in red, to differentiate it from all of the older segments of the journey, which will be shown in blue. You can see the map, and peek at it each day to see where I’ve been, by clicking on this link

URL link to Ed’s every-block progress through Manhattan

If you have any suggestions about places that I should definitely visit to get some good photos, or if you’d like me to photograph you in your little corner of New York City, please let me know. You can send me a Flickr-mail message, or you can email me directly at ed-at-yourdon-dot-com

Stay tuned as the photo-walk continues, block by block …

Posted by Ed Yourdon on 2014-06-29 11:04:37

Tagged: , everyblock , Manhattan , New York , bike , bicycle , meatball , meatball shop , Streets of New York

BRUSELAS / Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (22/05/2017)

BRUSELAS / Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (22/05/2017)

© Saúl Tuñón Loureda

Las Galerías Reales de San Huberto (en francés: Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert; en neerlandés: Koninklijke Sint-Hubertusgalerijen) es una galería comercial acristalada en Bruselas que precedió a otras galerías comerciales del siglo 19 tan emblemáticas como la Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II en Milán y el pasaje en San Petersburgo. Al igual que ellas tiene fachadas regulares dobles con orígenes antiguos patio calle, con arcadas acristaladas separadas por pilastras y dos pisos superiores, todo ello en un estilo italiano Cinquecento, bajo un techo de paneles de vidrio de arco con un marco de hierro fundido delicado.

The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (French) or Koninklijke Sint-Hubertusgalerijen (Dutch) is a glazed shopping arcade in Brussels that preceded other famous 19th-century shopping arcades such as the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and The Passage in St Petersburg. Like them it has twin regular façades with distant origins in Vasari’s long narrow street-like courtyard of the Uffizi, Florence, with glazed arcaded shopfronts separated by pilasters and two upper floors, all in an Italianate Cinquecento style, under an arched glass-paned roof with a delicate cast-iron framework.

The gallery consists of two major sections, each more than 100 meters in length (respectively called Galerie du Roi / Koningsgalerij, meaning King’s Gallery, and Galerie de la Reine / Koninginnegalerij, meaning Queen’s Gallery), and a smaller side gallery (Galerie des Princes / Prinsengalerij, meaning Gallery of the Princes). The main sections (King and Queen’s Gallery) are separated by a colonnade at the point where the Rue des Bouchers / Beenhouwersstraat crosses the gallery complex.

At this point there is a discontinuity in the straight perspective of the gallery. This "bend" was introduced purposefully in order to make the long perspective of the gallery, with its repetition of arches, pilasters and windows, less tedious.

The gallery was designed by the young architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer, who determined to sweep away a warren of ill-lit alleyways between the Grasmarkt / Marché aux Herbes and the Kruidtuinberg / Montagne aux Herbes Potagères and replace a sordid space where the bourgeoisie scarcely ventured into with a covered shopping arcade more than 200 m in length. His idea, conceived in 1836, was finally authorized in February 1845. The partnership "Société des Galeries Saint-Hubert", in which the banker Jean-André Demot took an interest, was established by the summer, but nine years were required to disentangle all the property rights, assembled by rights of eminent domain, during a process that caused one property owner to die of a stroke and a barber, it was said, slit his throat as the adjacent house came down.

Construction started on May 6, 1846. It lasted for 18 months, and the 213 m passage was inaugurated on June 20, 1847 by King Leopold and his two sons. In 1845 the Société named the three sections of the new passage the Galerie du Roi, Galerie de la Reine and Galerie du Prince. The ensemble, called the Passage Saint-Hubert has borne its present name since 1965.

Under its motto "Omnibus omnia" (Everything for everybody), displayed in the fronton of its palace-like façade, the Passage Saint-Hubert attracted people of fashion. Brilliantly lit, it offered the luxury of outdoor cafés in Brussels’ inclement climate, in an ambiance of luxury retailers that brought to Brussels the true feel of a European capital. In the premises of the journal, March 1, 1896, the first public showing of moving pictures took place of the cinematographers Lumière, fresh from their initial triumph in Paris.

A theatre inside the galleries, the Théâtre des Galeries Saint-Hubert, was designed by Cluysenaer and opened June 7, 1847. It became one of three royal theaters of Brussels, playing operetta and revues. The interior was rebuilt in 1951.

Posted by Saúl Tuñon Loureda on 2017-06-08 20:45:24


“Old Fashioned British Sweets From Your Childhood”

1953: Sweet rationing ends in Britain

Children all over Britain have been emptying out their piggy-banks and heading straight for the nearest sweet-shop as the first unrationed sweets went on sale today. Toffee apples were the biggest sellers, with sticks of nougat and liquorice strips also disappearing fast.

One firm in Clapham Common gave 800 children 150lbs of lollipops during their midday break from school, and a London factory opened its doors to hand out free sweets to all comers.

Adults joined in the sugar frenzy, with men in the City queuing up in their lunch breaks to buy boiled sweets and to enjoy the luxury of being able to buy 2lb boxes of chocolates to take home for the weekend.

Do you remember your favourite childhood sweets and the excitement of going to the local sweet shop and choosing from the vast array of jars on the shelves full of colourful mouth watering temptations?

They were weighed by the quarter on a big old fashioned metal scale pan and packaged into small white paper bags.

For many of us, the Saturday ritual of sweets-buying has lingered into adulthood, and it is heartening to find so many places selling from jars. Indeed, the Bonds sweets factory in Carlisle – a major supplier – is planning to redesign its plastic jars to be squatter and wider than usual: an echo of the prewar shape. Multicoloured jars lined up on shelves are very alluring, for many of us a potent reminder of a time when the local sweet shop represented a kind of El Dorado.

If you thought it was just kids who ate sugar confectionery you’d be wide of the mark. Many of the lines might have been developed for children but prove a hit with adults, too. Even the tough guys (and gals) in the British armed forces love their sweets according to NAAFI figures, servicemen and women in Afghanistan last year munched their way through 923,583 bags of Haribo.

Here in the UK, sweetie buying habits change as we hopefully head towards warmer weather, with more people opting for fruity sweets rather than chocolate bars.



Dimpled, square boiled sweets in fruit-flavoured and Old English varieties. Spangles was a brand of boiled sweets, manufactured by Mars Ltd in the United Kingdom from 1950 to the early eighties. They were bought in a paper tube with individual sweets cellophane wrapped. They were distinguished by their shape which was a rounded square with a circular depression on each face.

The regular Spangles tube (labelled simply "Spangles") contained a variety of translucent, fruit flavoured sweets: strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, pineapple, lemon and lime.

Originally the sweets were not individually wrapped, but later a waxed paper, and eventually a cellophane wrapper was used. The tube was a bright orange-red colour, bearing the word "Spangles" in a large letters. In the seventies a distinctive, seventies-style font was used.

Over the production period many different, single flavour varieties were introduced including Acid Drop, Barley Sugar, Blackcurrant, Liquorice, Peppermint, Spearmint and Tangerine.

The Old English Spangles tube contained traditional English flavours such as liquorice, mint humbugs, cough candy, butterscotch and pear drops. One of the flavours was an opaque mustard yellow colour, and one was striped.

The sweets’ individual wrappers were striped, distinguishing them from regular Spangles. The tube was black, white and purple, and designed for a more mature and specific clientele than the regular variety.

Spangles were discontinued in the early eighties, and briefly reintroduced in 1994, including in Woolworths outlets in the UK. There are many nostalgic references to them from children who grew up with them. Spangles are associated with the 1970s and they, like Space Hoppers or the Raleigh Chopper, have become shorthand for lazy nostalgia for the time, as in the phrase "Do you remember Spangles?"

Today the Tunes brand is the only remaining relation of the Spangles brand, sharing the shape and wrapping of the original product. In the UK, Tunes no longer have the Spangles style packaging, and they are now lozenge-shaped.

Cabana bar

Very sweet coconut-centred chocolate bar with cherry twist made by Cadbury’s.

Pineapple Mars

This early tropical-flavoured prototype was not a lasting success

Fry’s Five Centres

Follow-up to famous Fry’s Five Boys. Fry’s Cream is a chocolate bar made by Cadbury’s, and formerly by J. S. Fry & Sons. It consists of a fondant centre enrobed in dark chocolate and is available in a plain version, and also peppermint or orange fondant. Fry’s Chocolate Cream was one of the first chocolate bars ever produced, launched in 1866.

There are currently three variants of Fry’s Cream:

Fry’s Chocolate Cream
Fry’s Orange Cream
Fry’s Peppermint Cream

Over the years, other variants existed:

Fry’s Five Centre (orange, raspberry, lime, strawberry, and pineapple), produced from 1934 to 1992.

Fry’s Strawberry Cream
Fry’s Pineapple Cream

Cadbury’s also produced a solid milk chocolate bar called Five Boys using the Fry’s trademark in the 1960s. Cadbury’s produced milk and plain chocolate sandwich bars under the Fry’s branding also.

Fry’s chocolate bar was promoted by model George Lazenby, later James Bond actor, in 1962.

The Fry’s Chocolate bar was first produced in Union Street, Bristol, England in 1866, where the family name had been associated with chocolate making since circa 1759. In 1923 Fry’s (now Cadbury) chocolate Factory moved to Keynsham, England, but due to the imminent closure of the factory the production of the bar will move, possibly to Poland.

Banjo bar

Banjo is a chocolate bar once available in the UK. Introduced with a substantial television advertising campaign in 1976, Banjo was a twin bar (similar in shape and size to Twix) and based upon a wafer with a chopped peanut layer and the whole covered in milk chocolate. It was packaged in distinctive navy blue – with the brand name prominently displayed in yellow block text – and was one of the first British snack bars to have a heat-sealed wrapper closure instead of the reverse-side fold common to most domestically-produced chocolate bars at that time. It was available into the 1980s. There was a coconut version also available in a red wrapper with yellow text.

Aztec bars

So many sweet lovers would love to be able to enjoy Aztec bars again. Sadly it isn’t possible to buy Aztec bars at the moment. It was like a Mars Bar but not as sickly because it had nougat instead of toffee. It had a purple wrapper it was made by Cadbury’s.

Opal Fruits

Mars, the manufacturers, is bringing back the sweets for a limited period in conjunction with the supermarket chain ASDA.

The fruit chews that were "made to make you mouth water" were replaced by Starburst in 1998, the name under which they had been exported to the US in the seventies.

But the iconic British brand is being revived in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the change.

They will be available for an initial period of 12 weeks from May 10, exclusively in ASDA stores.

A spokesperson for ASDA said: "The demise of the Opal Fruit was mourned across the nation, and we’re really excited to be staging the exclusive comeback of this great British favourite."

Opal Fruits were initially introduced in Britain in the 1960s.

In 1998, the US brand Starburst was adopted in England in order to standardise the brand in the global marketplace.

Expectations are high that the move to bring back Opal Fruits will be popular with consumers.

As well as reverting to the original flavours of lemon, lime, orange and strawberry, the new Opal Fruits will be a strictly natural affair.

The limited edition will be produced using no artificial colouring or preservatives, a move that both ASDA and Mars hope will appeal to twenty-first century customers.

The return of Opal Fruits continues the recent trend of reviving classic brands.

Cadbury reintroduced the Wispa last year after an internet campaign which also involved protesters storming a stage at the Glastonbury festival.

Sherbert Fountain

Sherbet is sold in a plastic tube with twist-off lid, with a stick made from liquorice as a sherbet fountain. Many consumers regret the replacement of the former paper packaging, which allowed an extra dimension of enjoyment: the crushing of the caked lumps of sherbet as the paper cylinder was rolled between the hands. The top of the stick is supposed to be bitten off to form a straw and the sherbet sucked through it, where it fizzes and dissolves on the tongue, though many people prefer to either dip the liquorice in the sherbet and lick it off or to tip the sherbet into their mouths and eat the liquorice separately.

When paired with liquorice, sherbet is typically left unflavoured in a white form and with a higher reactive agent so that it causes a fizzy foam to develop in the mouth.

They are manufactured by Barratt, a subsidiary of Tangerine Confectionery.

Though some shops still sell the old-style only.

Sherbert Flying Saucers

These small pastel coloured rice paper sweets were shaped like a U.F.O. and contained delightfully fizzy sherbet.

Small dimpled discs made from edible coloured paper (rice paper), typically filled with white unflavoured sherbet (the same form as in Sherbet Fountains) These sweets had sherbert in the middle and a kind of melt-in-your-mouth outer shell.

Black Jacks Chews

Black Jack is a type of "aniseed flavour chew" according to its packaging. This means that it is a chewy (gelatin-based) confectionery. Black Jack is manufactured under the Barratt brand in Spain. Black Jack is very similar to Fruit Salad, which are also manufactured by Barratt.

Black Jacks are one of the most well-known classic British sweets. They`re aniseed-flavoured, chewy and black with a unique taste, and they make your tongue go black!

The original labels from the 1920’s pictured a grinning gollywog – unbelievably, back then images of black people were used to advertise Liquorice. This is seen as unacceptable today, of course, and by the late 80s manufacturers Trebor deleted the golly logo. It was replaced by a pirate with a black beard.

In the early 1990s the pirate logo was replaced by a rather boring black and white swirl design.

Cabana bars

Cabana bars died out in about 1984, and as they were made by Rowntree (sold to Nestle in 1989) they’re very unlikely to make a comeback.

Licorice Bootlaces

Long thin strips of licorice in the shape of boot laces.

Pineapple Chunks

Pineapple Flavour Hard Boiled Sweets.

Jamboree Bag

Bags of different sorts of sweets, with dodgy plastic toys and whistles etc, where are they now?

Rhubarb & Custard

Rhubarb and Custard flavoured boiled sweet, with it’s two colours.


Gobstoppers, known as jawbreakers in Canada and the United States, are a type of hard sweet or candy. They are usually round, usually range from about 1 cm across to 3 cm across (though much bigger gobstoppers can sometimes be found in Canadian/US candy stores, up to 8 cm in diameter) and are traditionally very hard.

The term gobstopper derives from ‘gob’, which is United Kingdom/Ireland slang for mouth.

Gobstoppers usually consist of several layers, each layer dissolving to reveal a different colored (and sometimes different flavoured) layer, before dissolving completely. Gobstoppers are sucked or licked, being too hard to bite without risking dental damage (hence the US title).

Gobstoppers have been sold in traditional sweet shops for at least a century, often sold by weight from jars. As gobstoppers dissolve very slowly, they last a very long time in the mouth, which is a major factor in their enduring popularity with children. Larger ones can take days or even weeks to fully dissolve, risking a different kind of dental damage.

In 2003, Taquandra Diggs, a nine year old girl in Starke, Florida, suffered severe burns, allegedly from biting down on a Wonka Everlasting Gobstopper that had been left out in the sun. Diggs and several other victims’ families filed lawsuits against Nestlé for medical bills resulting from plastic surgery as well as pain and suffering; the matters were later settled outside of court for an undisclosed amount.

A 2004 episode of the Discovery Channel television program "Myth Busters" episode subsection named Exploding Jawbreakers then demonstrated that heating a gobstopper in a microwave oven can cause the different layers inside to heat at different rates, yielding an explosive spray of very hot candy when compressed; Myth Busters crew members Adam Savage and Christine Chamberlain received light burns after a gobstopper exploded.

Acid Drops

Tongue-tinglingly sharp boiled sweets.

Barley Sugar

Barley sugar (or barley sugar candy) is a traditional variety of British boiled sweet, or hard candy, yellow or orange in colour with an extract of barley added as flavouring. It is similar to hard caramel candy in its texture and taste.

Barley sugars and other energy sweets are the only food allowed to be eaten in the New Zealand & Australian 40 Hour Famine, an annual event which draws attention to world hunger. A single barley sugar is allowed to be consumed once every 4 hours during the 40 Hour Famine. This applies to participants older than primary school age.

Bulls Eyes Humbug

Humbugs are a traditional hard boiled sweet available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They are usually flavoured with peppermint and striped in two different colours (often brown and tan). They have a hard outside and a soft toffee centre. Humbugs are typically cylinders with rounded ends wrapped in a twist of cellophane, or else pinched cylinders with a 90-degree turn between one end and the other (shaped like a pyramid with rounded edges), loose in a bag.

They are more often eaten in winter than summer, as they are considered "warming." The name of the candy is not related to the phrase "Bah, humbug" derived from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. That expression implies a general dissatisfaction with the Christmas season. However, offering humbugs around Christmas time is now seen by some as humorous or ironic, and was featured in an episode of Blackadder in this manner.

A similar sweet is "bulls-eye" which has black and white stripes like a humbug but is spherical like an aniseed ball. These are peppermint flavoured and are also known as bullets in the UK as they are similar in size to smoothbore musket balls.

Love Hearts

Love Hearts are a type of confectionery manufactured by Swizzels Matlow in the United Kingdom. They are hard, fizzy, tablet-shaped sweets in a variety of fruit flavours featuring a short, love-related message on one side of the sweet.

The sweets are small and circular, approximately 19 mm in diameter, and 5 mm in height (including the embossed decorations). Both sides are embossed with a decoration, the rear with a large outline of a heart and the front with the message within an outline of a heart. On the front of the sweet the embossing is highlighted with a red colouring.

The main body of the sweet is coloured in one of the 6 colours – white, yellow, orange, green, purple or red. Especially for the darker red and purple colourings this colouring is somewhat blotchy.

Fruit Salads

Fruit Salad is a type of "Raspberry & Pineapple flavour chew" according to its packaging. This means that it is a chewy (gelatin-based) confectionery. Fruit Salad is manufactured by Barratt in Spain. Fruit Salad is very similar to Black Jack, which are also manufactured by Barratt.

Sweet ‘Cigarette’ Sticks

(sticks wrapped in paper, in packs that looked just like real cigarettes)

Candy cigarettes is a candy introduced in the early 20th century made out of chalky sugar, bubblegum or chocolate, wrapped in paper as to resemble cigarettes. Their place on the market has long been controversial because many critics believe the candy desensitizes children, leading them to become smokers later in life. Because of this, the selling of candy cigarettes has been banned in several countries such as Finland, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

In the United States a ban was considered in 1970 and again in 1991, but was not passed into federal law. The U.S. state of North Dakota enacted a ban on candy cigarettes from 1953 until 1967. In Canada federal law prohibits candy cigarette branding that resembles real cigarette branding and the territory of Nunavut has banned all products that resemble cigarettes.

The Family Smoking and Prevention Control Act was misquoted as banning candy cigarettes. The Act bans any form of added flavoring in tobacco cigarettes other than menthol. It does not regulate the candy industry.

Candy cigarettes continue to be manufactured and consumed in many parts of the world. However, many manufacturers now describe their products as candy sticks, bubble gum, or candy.

Popeye Cigarettes marketed using the Popeye character were sold for a while and had red tips (to look like a lit cigarette) before being renamed candy sticks and being manufactured without the red tip.

Liquorice "Smoker’s Sets"

Sweet smokers sets with sweet cigarettes, tobacco and liquorice pipes. CONCERNS have been raised about the availability of candy-style imitation cigarettes. The sweets, which look remarkably like a hand-rolled cigarette and packaged in replica cigarette packets.

"Recently there has been a trend for buying so-called retro candy such as aniseed balls and spangles. It’s unfortunate that chocolate cigarettes have re surfaced but it’s not illegal to sell them and it’s really up to retailers to decide whether or not it’s a product with which they wish to be associated."

Aniseed Balls

Aniseed balls are a type of hard round sweet sold in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. They are shiny and dark brownish red, and hard like Gobstoppers.

Aniseed Balls are something you either love or hate! They are flavoured by aniseed oil (obviously!), and have a very strong aniseed flavour. They last for a long time in the mouth before dissolving and in the centre of the ball is a whole rapeseed that can be crushed.


Butterscotch is a type of confectionery whose primary ingredients are brown sugar and butter, although other ingredients such as corn syrup, cream, vanilla, and salt are part of some recipes.

The ingredients for butterscotch are similar to toffee, but for butterscotch the sugar is boiled to the soft crack stage, and not hard crack as with toffee. Butterscotch sauce is often made into a syrup, which is used as a topping for ice cream (particularly sundaes).

The term butterscotch is also often used for the flavour of brown sugar and butter together even where actual confection butterscotch is not involved, e.g. butterscotch pudding.

Food historians have several theories regarding the name and origin of this confectionery, but none are conclusive. One explanation is the meaning "to cut or score" for the word "scotch", as the confection must be cut into pieces, or "scotched", before hardening. It is also possible that the "scotch" part of its name was derived from the word "scorch".

However, the word was first recorded in Doncaster, in England, where Samuel Parkinson began making the confectionery in 1817. Parkinson’s Butterscotch had royal approval and was one of Doncaster’s attractions until it ceased production in 1977. The recipe was revived in 2003 when a Doncaster businessman and his wife rediscovered the recipe on an old folded piece of paper inside one of the famous St Leger tins in their cellar.

Butterscotch is an example of a genericized trademark, originally a trademark of Parkinson’s.

Jelly Babies

Jelly babies are a type of soft confectionery that look like little babies in a variety of colours. There are currently several companies that make jelly babies, most predominantly Trebor Bassett (part of the Cadbury Group of companies, and famous for their liquorice allsorts) and also Rowntree (Nestlé).

Jelly Babies were launched by Bassett’s in 1918 in Sheffield as "Peace Babies" to mark the end of World War I. Production was suspended during World War II due to wartime shortages and the fact that the name had largely become ironic. In 1953 the product was relaunched as "Jelly Babies". In March 1989 Bassett’s were taken over by Cadbury Schweppes who had earlier acquired the Trebor brand.

Jelly Babies manufactured in the United Kingdom tend to be dusted in starch which is left over from the manufacturing process where it is used to aid release from the mould. Jelly Babies of Australian manufacture generally lack this coating.

Like many gummy sweets, they contain gelatin and are thus not suitable for vegetarians.

A popular science class experiment is to put them in a strong oxidising agent and see the resulting spectacular reaction. The experiment is commonly referred to as "Screaming jelly babies".

Each Bassett’s Jelly Baby now has an individual name and shape, colour and flavour: Brilliant (red – strawberry), Bubbles (yellow – lemon), Baby Bonny (pink – raspberry), Boofuls (green – lime), Bigheart (purple – blackcurrant) and Bumper (orange). The introduction of different shapes and names was a new innovation, circa 1989, prior to which all colours of jelly baby were a uniform shape.

Jelly Babies are similar in appearance to Gummi bears, which are better known outside of the United Kingdom, though the texture is different, Jelly Babies having a harder outer "crust" and a softer, less rubbery, centre.

In 2007, Bassett’s Jelly Babies changed to include only natural colours and ingredients.

In the early 1960s, after Beatles guitarist George Harrison revealed in an interview that he liked jelly babies, audiences showered him and the rest of the band with the sweets at live concerts and fans sent boxes of them as gifts.[citation needed] Unfortunately American fans could not obtain this soft British confection, replacing them with harder jelly beans instead. To the group’s discomfort, they were frequently pelted with jelly beans during concerts while in America.

Jelly babies are popular with several of the Doctors in the television series Doctor Who. The Second Doctor was the first to have them in his pockets. The Fourth Doctor had them throughout his time on the show. They also appear briefly with the Tenth Doctor In the 2007 episode "The Sound of Drums", The Master is seen eating them.

Dolly mixture

This is a British confection, consisting of a variety of multi-coloured fondant shapes, such as cubes and cylinders, with subtle flavourings. The mixtures also include hard-coated fondants in "round edged cube" shapes and sugar coated jellies. They are sold together, in a mixture in a medium-sized packet. It is produced by various companies in different countries; the most popular brands are those produced by Trebor Bassett (now a part of the Cadbury’s consortium)


The name bonbon (or bon-bon) stems from the French word bon, literally meaning “good”. In modern usage, the term "bonbon" usually refers to any of several types of sweets and other table centerpieces across the world.

The first bonbons come from the 17th century when they were made at the royal court especially for children who were eating them and chanting bon, bon!, French for good, good!.

Bonbon is also a colloquial expression (as in, "She sat around all day eating bon-bons while her husband was at work."). This sweet inspired Johann Strauss II to compose a waltz named, "Wiener Bonbons".


Chewits is the brand name of a chewy, cuboid-shaped, soft taffy candy manufactured by Leaf International.

Chewits was launched in the UK in 1965. The sweets were originally manufactured in Southport, but after the closing of the factory in 2006 manufacture was moved to Slovakia. The original flavours consisted of Strawberry, Blackcurrant, Orange and Banana. Over the years more exotic flavours such as Ice Cream, Cola, Rhubarb & Custard, and Blue Mint were introduced as limited edition flavours. New Chewits pack designs, formats and flavours were launched in 2009.

Currently Chewits core flavour range includes Strawberry, Blackcurrant, Fruit Salad, Ice Cream and Orange. Ice Cream Chewits, originally released in 1989, were re-introduced in 2009 following an online petition and demand expressed on Facebook and Bebo.

Chewits were first advertised on television in 1976. The original advertisements featured the ‘Monster Muncher’, a Godzilla-resembling mascot on the hunt for something chewy to eat. The first ad featuring the Muncher threatening New York was made by French Gold Abbott and created by John Clive and Ian Whapshot. The first ad was so successful the sequel was delayed. The ‘Monster Muncher’ chomps and tramples humorously local and well-known international landmarks such as Barrow-in-Furness Bus Depot, a London block of flats, London Bridge, the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Empire State Building. The ‘Monster Muncher’ could only be quelled by a pack of Chewits.

A spin-off computer game, The Muncher, was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1988.

The original adverts used claymation special effects, similar in style to those made famous in the movies of Ray Harryhausen. They also included a voiceover style reminiscent of a 1950s radio serial.

A subsequent advertisement, originally aired in 1995, plays on the over-the-top advertising style of the post-war era. To the tune of bright 50’s era orchestration, a salesy narrator exhorts viewers to try a variety of chewy consumer items in the essential guide to a chewier chew. The ad shows the ‘Monster Muncher’ sampling items such as Wellington boots, a rubber boat and a rubber plant in order to be ready for the chewiest of chews – Chewits.

In the late 1990s, Chewits experimented with ads showing multiple news casting dinosaur puppets. The catchphrase advice at the close of each ‘broadcast’ was to "do it before you chew it". This style of ads was relatively short-lived for Chewits.

With a change of advertising agencies, the puppets were replaced by colourful 2D animations. The ‘Monster Muncher’ was re-introduced as ‘Chewie’ in two popular adverts from this time. In the first, which aired in 2000, Chewie roller skates on two buses through a busy city scene. The second, which went out a year later in 2001, shows Chewie waterskiing at a popular seaside resort. The ads included a rendition of the 1994 hit song ‘I like to move it’ by Reel 2 Real, with the chorus, "I like to Chewit Chewit."

In 2003, after a further shift in advertising agencies, a new ad was aired showing a wide range of animals auditioning to be the new face of Chewits. The ad announced the return of the iconic dinosaur Chewie mascot, now dubbed ‘Chewie the Chewitsaurus’.

In 2009, Chewits introduced the new Chewie the Chewitsaurus look, showing a contemporary, computer-game-style slick design. Chewie the Chewitsaurus features on all Chewits packaging and sponsorship activity.

Fizzy Cola Bottles

Remember that fizzy, sour cola taste you used to get from these? I think these are another sweet you either love or hate. Real cola tasting Giant fizzy bottles.

Milk Bottles

These white milk bottle shaped chewy white sweets are also known as milk gums. They were pretty popular in the UK, and are still selling well today repackaged as retro sweets.


These were a kind of Opal Fruits spin-off, but came in peppermint and spearmint flavours. They were discontinued sometime in the 80’s.

Sweet Bananas

These yummy sweet bananas, soft, juicy chews with a lovely mellow banana flavour.

Mackintosh’s Toffee

Mackintosh’s Toffee is a sweet created by John Mackintosh.

Mackintosh opened up his sweets shop in Halifax, Yorkshire, England in 1890, and the idea for Mackintosh’s Toffee, not too hard and not too soft, came soon after. In 1969, Mackintosh’s merged with rival Rowntree to form Rowntree Mackintosh, which merged with Nestle in 1988.

The product is often credited with being over 100 years old.

The toffee is sold in bags containing a random assortment of individual wrapped flavoured toffees. The flavours are (followed by wrapping colour): Malt (Blue), Harrogate (Yellow), Mint (Green), Egg & Cream (Orange), Coconut (Pink), Toffee (Red). The red wrapped toffees do not display a flavour on the wrapper. The product’s subtitle is "Toffee De Luxe" and its motto "a tradition worth sharing".

Space Dust

Space Dust the candy that pops when placed in your mouth.

Bazooka bubble gum

It was first marketed shortly after World War II in the U.S. by the Topps Company based in Brooklyn, New York. The gum was packaged in a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. Beginning in 1953, Topps changed the packaging to include small comic strips with the gum, featuring the character "Bazooka Joe". There are 50 different "Bazooka Joe" comic-strip wrappers to collect. The product has been virtually unchanged in over 50 years.

The Topps company expanded the flavors, making them Original, Strawberry Shake, Cherry Berry, Watermelon Whirl, and Grape Rage. The Strawberry flavor is packaged in a pink and white wrapper and the Grape in a purple and white wrapper. Bazooka gum can also be found in a sugar free variety with the standard bubble gum flavor and a "Flavor Blasts" variety, claimed to have longer lasting, more intense taste. Bazooka gum comes in 2 different sizes.

Bazooka bubblegum is sold in many countries, often with Bazooka Joe comic strips translated into the local language. Bazooka gum is sold in Canada with cartoons in both English and French, depending upon the city. In Israel, manufactured under license to Elite, the cartoons are written in Hebrew. The gum was also sold in Yugoslavia and later in Slovenia until the local licensee allowed their license to expire in 2006. The "Bazooka Joe" cartoons are about "Bazooka Joe" and his friends. There are also "Bazooka Joe" t-shirts in return for 15 Bazooka Joe comics and $8.99 while supplies last. But the offer has been discontinued.

In May 2009 it was announced that the Bazooka Joe comic was to be adapted into a Hollywood movie.

Traffic Light lollies

These were a red yellow and green lolly that was a childhood favourtite sweet for many.

Black Magic Chocolates

What a huge disappointment these chocolates are!! A few years ago Nestle made an almighty mistake by doing away with THE best brand of dark chocolates, favourites of many thousands of people, and replacing them with cardboard pretend chocolate squares which tasted cheap and nasty. Most boxes ended up in the bin. Last year I had a letter from Nestle saying they were bringing the classics back, fantastic, I was straight to the shop for some, so bad was my addiction, but horribly they are nothing like the originals.

The dont taste or smell the same, the centres are hard and taste of chemicals, like long gone off chocolates. The bottom line is this, why change them in the first place? and when you realised you had made a mistake why not bring back the originals instead of these tacky replacements. very sad, and I still havent found any chocs like Black Magic, I still have original boxes with ribbons from the 1950’s, now they were class.


Ultra-chewy, chocolate-covered nougat bar launched in the mid-70s; disappeared in the mid-80s.


Boring two-fingered wafer bar, lasted for most of the 80s.

Callard & Bowser Creamline Toffees

A 2001 casualty; they were better than Toffos.

Amazin Raisin

1971-78 – the sweets equivalent of rum’n’raisin ice cream.

Freshen Up

Chewing gum with a liquid centre, an 80s innovation.

Bluebird Toffee

A classic, but a recent casualty of confectionery industry takeovers.

Jap Desserts

These old coconut sweets (coconut was often known as ‘Jap’) died a death in the early 2000s.

Counters (Galaxy)

Harmless chocolate beans cruelly cut off.

Pink Panther

Extraordinary strawberry-flavoured chocolate bars, thin like Milky Bars. An acquired taste.


Wafer biscuit – a challenger to Penguins.

Club bars

From Jacobs. The full range has been withdrawn, but Orange is still available. Symbol guide: plain = jack of clubs; milk = golf ball; mint = green leaf. Bog-standard but likable for thick chocolate.

Nutty Pure

80s bar, with a smoky brown see-through wrapper. Peanuts encase a fudge-type caramel log centre.

Double Agent

Extremely artificial blackcurrant- or apple-flavoured boiled sweets, with a sherbet centre and spy questions on the wrapper. Classic cold war confectionery.

Mighty Imp’s

Mighty Imps were really old fashioned liquorice and menthol pellets that used to turn your tongue black… lovely!

They were sugar free and were marketed to help you keep a clear voice and protect against a sore throat (due to the menthol content I suspect).


This ice lolly on a stick was shaped like a rocket and was made up of three sections, each with its own distinct flavour. In sequence this was lime, lemon and strawberry.


Fruit flavour fizzy sweets in a roll. Raspberry, lemon, lime and orange flavours. Refreshingly fizzly.

White Chocolate Mice

These white chocolate mice were cream flavoured and are silky smooth on your tongue. You certainly will not want the cat to get these sweet mice!!

The top 10 Best Sales – Through the ages


1 Mars bar
2 Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
3 Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum
4 Milky Way
5 Polo
6 Kit Kat
7 Crunchie
8 Wrigley’s Arrowmint Gum
9 Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles
10 Maltesers


1 Mars bar
2 Kit Kat
3 Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
4 Twix
5 Yorkie
6 Milky Way
7 Bounty
8 Maltesers
9 Aero
10 Smarties


1 Mars bar
2 Kit Kat
3 Marathon
4 Wispa
5 Polo
6 Extra Strong Mints
7 Fruit Pastilles
8 Flake
9 Rolo
10 Double Decker


1 Kit Kat
2 Mars bar
3 Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
4 Roses
5 Twix
6 Wrigley’s Extra
7 Quality Street
8 Snickers
9 Maltesers
10 Galaxy


1 Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
2 Wrigleys Extra
3 Maltesers
4 Galaxy
5 Mars bar
6 Kit Kat
7 Celebrations
8 Quality Street
9 Haribo (total sales)
10 Roses

Can anyone add to the list?

Posted by brizzle born and bred on 2010-10-24 18:25:40

Tagged: , Old Fashioned British Sweets , candy , childhood sweets , sweet shop , Spangles , Old English Spangles , Cabana-bar , Cadbury’s , Pineapple-Mars , Fry’s-Five-Centres , Fry’s-Chocolate-Cream , Fry’s-Orange-Cream , Fry’s-Peppermint-Cream , Banjo-bar , Twix , Aztec-bars , Opal-Fruits , Sherbert-Fountain , Sherbert-Flying-Saucers , Black-Jacks-Chews , Cabana-bars , Licorice-Bootlaces , Pineapple-Chunks , Jamboree-Bag , Rhubarb & Custard , Gobstoppers , Acid-Drops , Barley-Sugar , Bulls-Eyes , Love-Hearts , Fruit-Salads , Sweet-Cigarettes , Liquorice-Pipes , Aniseed-Balls , Butterscotch , Jelly-Babies , Dolly-mixture , Bonbons , Chewits , sweets in glass jars , Quality-Street , Celebrations , Kit-Kat , Maltesers , Wrigleys-Extra , Double-Agent , Nutty-Pure , Jacobs , Bandit , Pink-Panther , Galaxy , Jap-Desserts , Bluebird-Toffee , Freshen-Up , Amazin-Raisin , Callard & Bowser , Banjo , Texan , Black-Magic-Chocolates , Traffic-Light , Bazooka-Joe , Space-Dust , Mackintosh’s , Sweet-Bananas , Pacers , Milk-Bottles , boiled-sweets , imp’s , Zoom , chocolate , JS-Fry-Ltd , Fry’s-Bristol , Somerdale , Fry’s-chocolate-factory , UK

Best shot of Booloominbah erected 1888 in Armidale. Now the University of New England.

Best shot of Booloominbah erected 1888 in Armidale. Now the University of New England.

The University of New England was the first Australian university established outside of a capital city. It started life as the New England University College in 1938 as a college of the University of Sydney. Several local people worked hard for the College to become an independent university and they were successful in 1954. In 1989 it subsumed the Armidale College of Advanced Education (previously the Armidale Teachers’ College.) The main campus is 5 kms from the city centre with central administration in Booloominbah House. From its inception it has always catered for distance education students and those wanting to study agriculture. It is the largest distance education university in Australia with around 15,000 external students. It has faculties of law, education, arts, science, medicine, the environment etc. It has wide research foci but it cooperates with the CSIRO on agriculture and science research and it is well known for its agricultural business research and farm animal genetics research. It has around 700 research students enrolled for a PhD at any one time. The Vice Chancellors have included some well known Australians including former Governor General Sir Zelman Cowen. The well known graduates include: Dean Brown (Premier of SA); Bernie Fraser (former Governor Reserve Bank); Barnaby Joyce (Australian Senator); Tony Windsor (current Independent in Parliament). The UNE also has a well developed residential college network with the most famous being Drummond and Smith as around half of it students reside on campus. Drummond was the NSW Education Minister who established the Armidale Teachers College. This College used Smith House on Central Park for many years. It has about 200 residents. The college began in Girrahween House in 1928 for students attending the Armidale Teachers College. When the University merged with the Teachers College, Drummond and Smith Residential Colleges went to the University. The college crest is depicted above the door of Girrahween House which was built in 1889. The University has several other campuses in Armidale the main one being Newling campus, now the Conservatorium of Music. It was the former Armidale Teachers College. UNE has a mosque on campus.

The Dixson Library.
The heart of any university is its library. It is near Booloominbah and the Museum of Antiquities. In 1938 the university library was a room in Booloominbah. Then Sir William Dixson donated a large grant for a purpose built library in 1961. Dixson’s wealth was based on the tobacco industry and his family operations included Adelaide in the 19th century. William’s father was a devout Baptist and donated to many organisations including Sydney Medical Mission, Ryde Home for Incurables, the YMCA, the University of Sydney, the Baptist Church etc. William Dixson (1870-1952) was a collector of Australiana and rare books. He donated many rare manuscripts and books to the Mitchell Library in the 1920s, then he decided to found the UNE library.

As visitors we can enter the house and have lunch there. The Brasserie opens at noon. There is also a court yard café and bar. This will provide an opportunity to explore some areas of the house and view the wonderful stained glass windows. Remember the house is noted for its wooden panelling, windows, fine joinery etc.

The Museum of Antiquities.
This is a rare regional antiquities museum for Australia. Its collections began in 1959 when the university established its Department of Classics. It has antiquities from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, South East Asia, and the Pacific. Entry is free.

Trevenna House.
Trevenna is the residence of the Vice Chancellor and it was designed by John Horbury Hunt in the Canadian style. It was built in 1892 (Hunt died 1903) as another house besides Booloominbah for members of the White family. Mrs Eliza Jane White occupied Trevenna. The three storey house of mixed materials, wood and plaster was gifted to the University of New England by Mrs. Florence Wilson in 1960. Since then it has been the Vice Chancellor’s home. There is no public access to the house or the gardens. It is not visible from the road. The gardens include sweeping lawns, dry stone walls, herb gardens, hedges, ponds and English trees such as Horse Chesnuts, London Planes etc. Trevenna’s gardens were featured in a Woman’s Weekly special in 1971.

The first Anglican school opened in Armidale in 1847 with the first Catholic school following in 1856. A public school opened in 1861 and survived with various name changes until it became Armidale City Public School. In the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s state aid to church schools prompted more schools to start up in Armidale but few survived. The new Education Act of 1880 which removed any state aid led to the demise of many church schools and the rise of the state public school system in NSW. But Armidale has always been an education centre providing schools, and often boarding facilities for country children. The main private and state secondary schools in Armidale are:
•St. Ursuline College for girls, 1882 and De La Salle Catholic College for boys which was founded in 1906. The two amalgamated in 1975 to form O’Connor Catholic High School. It is no longer a boarding school. It has an enrolment of around 450 students.
•The Armidale School – TAS. TAS was founded in 1891 as the New England Proprietary School with it opening for enrolments in 1894.The local Anglican Bishop, Tyrrell had promoted the idea of an Anglican boys school for the sons of the New England gentry. The school adopted the name TAS in 1896. It has extensive grounds (44 acres), excellent facilities and several historic buildings including the chapel. For many years it was run by the Diocese of Armidale but it is now a company limited by guarantee. The Armidale School has approximately 620 students, including 200 boys boarding there. Well known architect John Sulman designed the original boarding house. Influenced by William Morris he used Armidale blue bricks and Flemish bond brick work. The chapel as designed by Cyril Blacket who also designed the Gothic University of Sydney. The TAS Gothic style Chapel opened in 1902 also using Armidale blue bricks in the Flemish bond pattern.
•Presbyterian Ladies College Armidale, is an independent Presbyterian girls boarding school which was founded in 1887.New England always had a large Scottish and Presbyterian population. It is affiliated with PLC in Sydney. In the early years it was run by several principal owners and it started out as New England Ladies College. It began in Smith House near Central Park in 1887. It was next known as Hilton College before being purchased by the Presbyterian Church in 1938. It moved to a new 70 acre site on the edge of Armidale in 1945. It has an enrolment of 400 girls with almost 100 boarders. Due to financial difficulties it was merged with PLC Sydney in 2005 and the one principal now runs both schools.
•NEGS, New England Girls School. This is an independent Anglican girls’ boarding school which was established in 1895 at almost the same time as the TAS school for boys. In 1907 NEGS was purchased by the Diocese of Armidale and run as a church school. It has always had an excellent academic reputation. It has an enrolment of around 310 students with almost half or 150 being boarders. In 2006 due to financial difficulties a merger with PLC was considered. Old scholars and parents raised millions to keep the school Anglican and independent. Australia’s well known poet Judith Wright attended NEGS.
•Armidale High School. This state high school as established in 1920. It has over 650 students.
•Duval High School. This state high school was established in 1974. It was named after one of the assigned convict stockmen who worked on William and Henry Dumaresq’s Saumarez and Tilbuster stations in the 1830s. It has an enrolment of around 800 students.

The Development of Armidale. What is so special about Armidale? Well it is a cathedral city with both Anglican and Catholic cathedrals; it is a wealthy city with a prosperous hinterland and many mansions; it is Australia’s highest city with a bracing English style climate; it is an education city with a university and several prestigious boarding schools; it was one of a number of sites considered for the Australian capital city site after Federation; it has been one of the centres wanting to secede from the rest of NSW; and it has an interesting history with a squatting phase, mining phase, agricultural phase etc. It is also a regional capital and has always been considered the “capital” of the New England region – a distinctive Australian region defined by rainfall, altitude, etc. And it has always been on the main inland route between Sydney and Brisbane but that is no longer of importance in this aviation transport era.

The origins of Armidale district go back to Henry Dumaresq when he squatted on land here and took out leaseholds on Saumarez and Tilbuster stations in 1834. He and other squatters soon displaced the local aboriginal people after a period of considerable violence. The turning point in terms of the city came in 1839 when George Macdonald was appointed Commissioner for Crown Lands for the New England District. He arrived with a small police force and he set about building a house and office headquarters. The site he chose is now Macdonald Park. NSW land regulations allowed the government to set aside reserves for future towns or to resume leasehold land for the creation of towns. Macdonald immediately surveyed the local landowners of which there were 37 in New England, giving it a population of 422 people. But this was the convict era of NSW and half of the population were assigned convicts. They provided the brawn to develop the stations, build the shepherd’s huts, dig the wells and dams, and fell the timber and clear the land. Of the original 422 people in New England only 10 were females, probably wives of shepherds or convict women who were cooks etc. Most stations had between 8 and 12 assigned convicts. Saumarez for example, had 11 convicts and 8 free male workers in 1839. In 1841 convicts still accounted for 42% of the population of New England and as they completed their seven year terms, many stayed on to become the founders of towns like Armidale. Transportation of convicts to NSW ceased around 1843 and so convict assignees gradually declined in the region, but ex-convicts remained.

Macdonald named the town site Armidale after the Armadale estate on the Isle of Skye. Macdonald had barracks built for the police men, stables, a store shed, his own house and he enclosed some paddocks for the growing of wheat and vegetables. His first years were often taken up with writing reports about Aboriginal massacres and deaths including the Bluff Rock Massacre on the Everett brothers’ run at Ollera near Guyra. Macdonald seldom investigated reports of Aboriginal deaths closely. He was a pompous little man, just 4 feet 10 inches tall with a deformed hunched back. But he was meticulous in most matters. In 1841 he was jilted just before his proposed wedding to a local woman. He remained in Armidale until 1848 overseeing the early development of the town.

By 1843 a small town had emerged with a Post Office and a Court House, blacksmith, wheelwright, hotel, general store etc. The town provided government and commercial services to the surrounding pastoral estates. But the town reserve included other lands that were sold or leased to farmers- agriculturists who grew wheat. By 1851 Armidale had two flour mills. The long transport route to Newcastle and on to Sydney meant all wheat had to be converted to flour before it was transported to the markets. The old dray route down to the coast was also used for the transport of the region’s major product- wool. The official town was surveyed and the streets laid out in 1849. Many of the early pastoralists were commemorated in street names – Beardy, Dumaresq, Dangar, Marsh, Faulkner and Rusden to name a few.

In 1851 Armidale also had local industries for the regional population- two breweries, general stores, chemist, butcher etc. In the early 1850s the churches began to erect their first buildings and the town became “civilised” with more and more women living there. Then gold discoveries near Uralla and towards the eastern escarpment boosted the town’s population and services. A newspaper was founded, a hospital was built and the population reached 858 in 1856. A gaol was built on South Hill in 1863, the town became a municipality in 1864, and the Robertson’s Land Acts (1861) were introduced throughout NSW to break up the big pastoral estates for ‘selectors” or small scale farmers on 320 acre blocks. This boosted the total population of the Armidale region but as noted elsewhere the pastoralists also used this era to buy up large lots of land freehold for themselves by the process of “dummying”- using relatives and employees to buy small parcels of land which they sold on to the large land owners. But the early years of growing wheat around Armidale collapsed in the 1870s as the wheat lands of South Australia opened up and cheap SA imports destroyed the New England wheat industry. Other forms of agriculture were then taken up in New England.

Another key factor in the growth of Armidale in the late 1870s and into the 1890s was its English style climate. In 1885 Armidale was proclaimed a city. It had a population of 3,000 residents – a remarkable achievement for a locale so far from the coast. This was of course boosted further with the arrival of the railway in Armidale in 1883. The line soon reached the Queensland border with a connection on to Brisbane. But the railway was not all good news as the city of Armidale could then receive beer and other supplies on the railway from Newcastle or Sydney and some local industries closed down with the arrival of the railway. By the 1880s the boom years were apparent as large mansions and prominent commercial buildings were erected in the growing city.

The fact that Armidale is equidistant from Sydney and Brisbane was one of the factors considered in its application to become the new Federal capital. The fact that Armidale had nearby reservoirs and a large water supply big enough for a large capital city was also an important consideration. The new Federal government was considering the site of the capital city after a long drought so access to water supplies was a major concern. As we known the site of Canberra near Yass was finally selected despite its lesser supply of water but it was closer to Sydney.

Regional Art gallery and Aboriginal Art Centre.
This gallery is one of the regional galleries funded by the NSW government. It is especially noted for its outstanding collection of Australia Art which was donated to the gallery by Howard Hinton (1867-1948.) Hinton was a company director and art collector. Despite poor eyesight he travelled the world looking at galleries and he befriended several artists. In Sydney he met and lived with noted Australian painter such as Tom Roberts, Arthur Stretton and Julian Ashton. He made his first donation of art to the National Gallery of NSW in 1914. Over the years he gave 122 paintings to that gallery. He was a trustee of the National Gallery of NSW from 1919-1948. He was knighted in 1935 for his services to art. In 1928 when the National Gallery of NSW refused some of his donations he decided to endow the relatively new Teachers’ College at Armidale with a collection of art. The Director of Education who was in charge of the College concurred with the idea and the first paintings were received in Armidale in 1929. He later gave over 1,000 paintings to the Teachers’ College and over 700 art books for its library. His collection illustrated the development of Australian art in particular from the 1880s through to the 1940s. The artist Norman Lindsey described the collection as the only complete collection of Australian art. A portrait of Howard Hinton is held by the former Armidale College of Advanced Education which is now part of the University of New England. The art collection has been transferred on to the Armidale Regional Art Gallery. The Hinton Collection is partially on display always. The Persian Love Cake in the Art Gallery café is to die for!

Teachers College and the Education Museum.
In the 19th century most school teachers were untrained but a few were trained in Fort Street Normal School in Sydney from 1848. The first teachers college was not established until 1912 in some temporary buildings. The college opened in new premises in 1920 which were not completed until 1924. But Armidale got the second teachers college in NSW in 1928 with its first proper building being constructed in 1930 at the height of the Great Depression. Why was this so? The answer is political. New England was in the midst of a secession movement in the late 1920s and New England was the home to several Country Party politicians with great influence. The Country Party came to power in NSW in 1927 and the new Minister for Education, David Drummond was the local member for New England. Drummond favoured a second teachers college because the staff at Sydney Teachers College had complained that country students coming to Sydney to be trained were being seduced by the ways of the sinful city and they seldom wanted rural school postings after a stint in Sydney! A Teachers College in Armidale would stop the debauchery! Although Armidale Teachers’ College was the first, the government made plans for additional teachers colleges in Bathurst and Wagga Wagga which eventually were established. The 1863 gaol in Armidale was closed in 1920 and was demolished to make way for the new teachers college building. As one commentator said at the time “a new Parthenon on the hill was to replace the penitentiary on the hill”!

The government appointed Cecil Bede Newling (1883-1975) as the principal of the new college. Today the old Teachers College building is named the Newling building. Newling had gone out as a probationary teacher in 1899 before attending courses at Fort Street Normal School from 1904. He later described his teacher training as dull. He was first appointed head teacher at Cootamundra in 1923, and then inspector at Broken Hill in 1925. He had a rapid rise in the Education Department. By 1925 he had also been awarded a BA and a MA from the University of Sydney. As first principal of the Armidale Teachers College he influenced everything. He had a forceful personality and took interest in all aspects of the College from the grounds and gardens to the curriculum and to the health of the students. During World War Two he became secret custodian of priceless art and written materials from the Mitchell Library and the National Gallery of NSW. He retired in 1947 with his “college on the hill” well established and valued. It is open weekday afternoons from 2 to 4 pm to members of the public.

Central Park Historical Walk and Nearby Structures.
The buildings of significance around Central Park are the old Wesley Methodist Hall and the now Uniting Church- just off the Park in Rusden Street; St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church and Hall; St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, Deanery and Parish Hall; and St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral. Nearby along Faulkner Street is the Town Hall( just off Faulkner), the Post Office, the Court House, and the entrance to the Mall.
•Masonic Building. The Lodge here in Armidale purchased this land in 1860 and had a lodge built by a local builder Frederick Nott. A new severe classical style Lodge was erected in 1924 to replace the earlier one.
•Lindsay House is at 128 Faulkner Street and it dates from the mid 1920s. It is a mock Tudor house with exposed beams and woodwork on the exterior and stucco areas. This “English” style of house was popular in New England at this time. It is a typical “gentleman’s “house and it was built for a local doctor. In 1972 the former Armidale College of Advanced Education purchased the house for staff accommodation and they renamed it Lindsay House. Today it is a luxury bed & breakfast establishment.
•Southall is a fine 1888 residence at 88 Barney Street oppopsite Central Park. At one stage it was called Girrawheen Boarding House as it provided accommodation for the girls enrolled at New England Ladies College. This house was purchased in 1928 by the Armidale Teachers’ College for accommodation for female teaching students. It was linked to Smith House, next door, in 1960 and then became a university residential college but it is now a backpackers complex. Apart from wrought iron lace work it features two toned brick work on the quoins and the bricks are done in Flemish bond pattern.
•Catholic Cathedral and Convent. See next page.
•Anglican Cathedral and Deanery. See next page.
•St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church. The foundation stone dates the building to 1881. Its Gothic style, tall steeple, wrought iron decorations and lancet windows add considerably to the appearance of Central Park. The white painted masonry quoins, window surrounds etc contrast sharply with the dark coloured bricks.
•Old Wesley Methodist Hall and Church. The Old Wesley Church was erected in 1864 and is one of the oldest still standing churches of Armidale. It was replaced by a new Methodist Church in 1893 and it then became the church hall. The Old Wesley Church also has Red Cedar joinery inside.
•The Folk Museum. This is housed in the old School of Arts and Mechanics Institute building of 1863. Such places were crucial education centres in the 19th century. It was used as the town library for many years and is now a museum.
•Armidale Town Hall. This impressive structure was completed in 1883 just before Armidale became a city in 1885. It has many decorative features including pilasters (flat columns), scroll work, a central triangular pediment above the main entrance, a niche like entrance with a curved upper balcony and balustrade. In 1990 the City decorated the interior in Art Deco style!
•The Armidale Post Office. The first PO was established in 1843. This building was constructed in 1880. The beautiful arched veranda and upper balcony were added in 1897. It is still the city Post Office.
•Lands Board building now the Lands Office. This elegant building with its filigree lace work on the upper balcony and the lower veranda originally had a slate roof and slate chimney pots. The symmetry of this building is superb. It was designed by the same architect who did the government Post Office next door and the style would date it to the same period -1880.
•Opposite are the architectural plans for the amazing Imperial Hotel. It was built in 1890 William Miller who was of the original discoverer of gold at Hillgrove. He made his fortune on the gold fields and then erected the finest hotel in Armidale. It is noted for its proportions, classical style, ornate parapets along the roof line and filigree caste iron. The urns atop the “floating” triangular pediments are wonderful. It demonstrates how important the travelling public were to early hoteliers like William Miller. Miller began life as a poor farmer at Saumarez Ponds. It is run down today.
•On the opposite corner is the current Westpac Bank. It was formerly the Bank of NSW and it was put up in 1938 in classical style. The 1817 on the parapet refers to the founding of the Bank of NSW by Mary Reibey, a former convict, depicted on our $20 note. Along from this is the marvellous AMP building with its statute on top.
•Armidale Court House in the Mall. This imposing building with a classical Greek façade with columns, and wrought iron gates was built in 1859. It was extensively altered in 1870 when the two side wings were attached. The clock tower was added in 1878. Inside the joinery is all Australian Red Cedar. Note the cobblestoned courtyard. At the rear of the Court House is the original Sheriff’s Cottage (1870) which was originally a “lock up “for prisoners!
•Hanna’s Arcade in Barney Street. See the leadlight mural, wooden arcade, and fine department store.

Catholic Cathedral and building.
The first Catholic priest to arrive in Armidale came in 1853. He took services in a small wooden Catholic Church that had opened in 1848. The priest then built a parsonage which became part of De La Salle College, now O’Connor High School. It has since been demolished. In 1862 the Catholic Diocese of Armidale was established but it was 1869 before the first bishop, Bishop O’Mahony, settled in Armidale. He was consecrated as bishop in 1871 at the same time as the commissioning of the cathedral. It was dedicated in 1872 but replaced by the current cathedral in 1912. When Bishop O’Mahony left he was replaced by Bishop Torreggiani who was replaced by Bishop O’Connor in 1904.

The new cathedral of St. Mary and St. Joseph was built in Pyrmont stone from Sydney and Armidale polychrome (or multi- coloured) bricks. Such brick work was popular in the 1880s but out of fashion by 1912. Brown, cream and red bricks were used for the cathedral to highlight its architectural features. It is a much larger structure than the Anglican cathedral and dominates the townscape around Central Park. The brickwork was used for quoins, cross banding and other feature work. It was designed in Gothic style by Sherrin and Hennessy in Sydney and constructed by a local builder Frederick Nott. It has a turreted tower with a needle spire on top with louvre windows. It has the original slate roof and fine marble work inside and outside in the form of fine marble statues. The interior is also noted for its fine hammer beam ceiling. The pipe organ was made in 1900 in England and rebuilt here in 1912. Like the Anglicans, the Catholics divided the New England diocese in 1887 when the Diocese of Grafton was established.

Near the cathedral but further along Barney Street is the Merici House which was built as a Catholic School and convent very early in 1882. Angela Merici was the founder of the Ursuline Order of Nuns who began teaching at that school in 1883. The Ursulines arrived from London in 1882 to do missionary work in Armidale. Their order was established in Italy in 1534. The Ursulines in Armidale established their mother house here and sent nuns out to many other communities across NSW and Qld from Armidale. But in Armidale they set up St. Ursulines College from their small origins in Merici House near the Catholic Cathedral. It was erected as a fine two storey house for a local businessman in 1877. He sold it to the Ursuline Order in 1882. St. Ursuline College operated from 1882 until it merged with the Catholic boys’ school, La Salle College (established 1906 by Bishop O’Connor) in 1975. The amalgamated school was renamed O’Connor High School after Bishop O’Connor. O’Connor High School operates on a different site in the city of Armidale to the north east of the town.

Anglican Cathedral and associated buildings.
Bishop Broughton conducted the first Anglican service in Armidale in 1845 with the first church opening in 1850, followed by a parsonage for Rev. Tingcombe who was the first minister arriving in 1846. Armidale was part of the Diocese of Newcastle. Then in 1869 the diocese of Grafton and Armidale was established. The founding Bishop was James Turner from Norfolk, England. His diocese was the size of England! He started with 10 clergy and 21 churches. He appointed John Horbury Hunt to design and oversee the building of a suitable cathedral in Armidale. The foundation stone was laid in 1873 and the cathedral opened in 1875 as St. Peter’s. Hunt designed a relatively small cathedral of brick, his favourite building medium, rather than stone. Turner continued as Bishop until 1893. Before he left the diocese of Armidale he had the Christ Church Cathedral erected in Grafton in 1884 and a new Grafton diocese created. Bishop Turner also used John Horbury Hunt for cathedral that we saw in Grafton. By the time Turner left he had 2 diocese and 58 churches.

The Anglican Cathedral was made of Armidale blue bricks with clay taken from Saumarez station. The vestry was added in 1910 according to Hunt’s design (he died in 1903) and the tower, again according to Hunt’s design in 1936. The cathedral features Gothic arches, a square tower, small pyramids on top of buttresses, moulded bricks for special areas and interesting English bonds and patterns. Uralla granite was used for keystones and the foundations. The Deanery was also designed by Hunt and built of the same Armidale blue bricks in 1891. Hunt was known to make great demands on the brickies as he was a perfectionist and supervised all the intricate brickwork very closely. The result was an outstandingly fine cathedral. Note the band of green tiles above the main door included by Hunt. Note also the fine stained glass windows, and one is a memorial to Bishop Turner’s wife who died in 1879. The cathedral has a fine timber ceiling. Hunt even selected the pulpit and lectern to suit his design. The pulpit has an effigy of St. Peter carved in the sandstone. Some of Hunt’s original plans can be viewed in the Tower Room.

Mansions of Armidale.
Many of the mansions of Armidale were constructed in its economic boom period of the 1890s- 1910 when Hillgrove gold mine was at its peak. There are almost 70 buildings in Armidale on the Register of the National Estate. Some are churches or commercial buildings but most are significant houses, especially on the south hill behind the centre of Armidale. But the beautiful gardens hide many of these mansions from any passersby.
•Bishopscourt, (on the town outskirts of the way to Uralla) was built in 1934 as the home of the Anglican Bishop which it still is. It has acres of lawns and gardens.
•Akaroa, now part of New England Girls School was built in 1896. It has many Queen Anne style features including a rounded section. It is not visible from the road.
•Roseneath in Roseneath Lane is one of the oldest houses in Armidale as it was erected in 1854 as a veranda shaded Victorian house with louvre shuttered French windows to the veranda. Privately owned, in poor condition and with no suitable access for a coach.
•Mallam dates from 1869 as one of the last examples of a steep roofed house with dormer windows in the English style (94 Rusden Street). Mallam was the town’s chemist in the 1870s but was in investor in a flour mill, shops and others houses. He paid £1,200 to erect Mallam House. Note the chimney pots.
•The Armidale School. Notes to be provided later.
•Opawa House is in Mann Street at no 65. It was erected in 1915 and it features, wood, brick, and gables typical of that era.
•Trelawny at 84 Brown Street is fine residence built in 1904. It has a curved wrought iron lace work veranda with a prominent gable.
•Birida built in 1907 is typical of that era and is located at 108 Brown Street on the corner of Marsh Street. Note the slate roofed tower porch.
•The Railway Station. Built in 1882 ready for first train in 1883. Lace work done in the foundry in Uralla.
•Lindon Hall at 146 Mann Street is a late 19th century house from 1890. It has fine wrought iron lace work on the balcony. It is a single storey house.
•Teringa is located at 108 Mann Street. It dates from 1894 and is a typical Italianate style two storey house.
•Uloola at 160 Faulkner Street is another gentleman’s residence dating from 1908. It has an English “air “and depicts the Arts and Crafts movement house features.
•The Turrets is located at 145 Mossman Street. It was built in the 1860s and is known for its turrets.
•Highbury House built in 1910 is sited at 177 Faulkner Street. It has bay windows, a round window, arches etc
•The Arts and Crafts style house called Cotswold is located at 34 Marsh Street. It was built in 1918. It is now part of a motel. Next door is another fine house.
•Eynsford, 109 Jeffery St. Another Tudor revival two storey home from the 1920s. Stucco, lead light windows, with a beautiful garden.

This grand house is one of the gems designed by architect John Horbury Hunt who produced a number of buildings in Sydney and the country for the White family. One was even a French inspired castle! Frederick White commissioned this house which as built between 1883-88. But at Booloominbah Hunt used the ideas of the Arts and Crafts movement along with his Canadian heritage which meant he used a lot of wood features. When built Booloominbah was the focus of a 20,000 acres sheep property and it was designed for grand livening. Frederick White almost behaved as the “squire” of Armidale as he was already a wealthy man and had properties in the Hunter Valley as well as New England. Booloominbah was his headquarters,but not his head station. The house is overloaded with features; gables, verandas, leadlight windows, wood panelling, impressive staircases, chimneys, a tower, arches, with an overwhelming asymmetrical façade. The house had grand drawing rooms, billiard room, servant’s quarters, service rooms etc. It had almost 50 rooms when built. It was surrounded by grand gardens to complete the picture of local importance. Below is the great stained glass window of Booloominbah commissioned by Frederick White. It depicts the life of General Gordon and his efforts in Sudan as Governor General of the Sudan. Gordon died during the year long siege of Khartoum in 1885 when he was beheaded by his Muslim nemesis. Frederick White was still an Englishman at heart and he was still committed to the glories of the Empire and this allowed him to relive this glory in his own house!

The house was named from a local Aboriginal word but its appearance was decidedly Canadian and English. Frederick White did not live in the house for long as he died in 1903 (when his nephew Francis White took over as leader of the White family in New England.) But Frederick’s widow lived on in Booloominbah for another thirty years. When she died in 1933 the contents were sold and Booloominbah left vacant until a son-in-law (he had married White’s daughter Kate) bought the house. Thomas Richmond Forster then donated the house to the University of Sydney to encourage them to establish the New England University College which the university did in 1938. The house came with about 180 acres of land and cost Forster around £30,000. Forster was a successful businessman and an Anglican layman and benefactor in Armidale. He had been campaigning for a university in Armidale since 1924. Booloominbah became the main administrative and first teaching area of the university and Forster became one of the leaders of the first University Advisory Council. Forster was also the major shareholder in The Armidale School (TAS.) Since the 1940s the university has restored Booloominbah to its former glory. It remains an iconic building of the former sheep pastoral area of New England.

Henry Dumaresq from the Channel Islands, Jersey, named Saumarez after a property in Jersey. He squatted on land at Saumarez Ponds in 1834. Dumaresq sent his stockmen up here but always lived himself at Muswellbrook on the Hunter River. Saumarez was his head station in New England and he soon had over 100,000 acres of land under leasehold which included Tilbuster Station upon which the city of Armidale now stands. The runs extended from Uralla to beyond Armidale. In 1856 Dumaresq sold his run on to Henry Thomas. He held the run during the period when the government land acts were trying to break p the big runs and open up the land for closer settlement. Thomas took this opportunity to acquire freehold land on his Saumarez run and soon had 12,000 acres freehold. Thomas built a modest three roomed brick house on the run in the 1850s which is still standing. It is near the six roomed timber cottage that Henry Dumaresq built at Saumarez in the 1830s. In fact Henry Dumaresq had his assigned convicts build the cottage as they did most other early structures on Saumarez. In 1874 the nature of Saumarez property changed as it was sold to Francis White, the second son of James White of Edinglassie at Muswellbrook. Francis White took on a property of 20,000 freehold acres. He had properties in the Hunter, at Armidale, Guyra, in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

In 1886 Francis White was doing well, he had paid off the mortgage on the property and so he decided to build a mansion homestead on Saumarez for his residence. A single storey residence was completed in 1888 by a local Armidale builder. After his Uncle Frederick White of Booloominbah died in 1903 Francis decided he needed to entertain on a grander scale to maintain the White family prominence around Armidale. So whilst his wife and daughters were on a holiday in Europe had had a second storey added to the house in 1905/6. The new storey incorporated many Art Nouveau stylistic features. The White family lived in the house until it was donated to the National Trust in 1984 but they only donated the house. The White family still own the Saumarez property of around 6,000 acres. Saumarez House is surrounded by 5 acres of gardens. The house itself is gabled but with symmetrical facades and verandas. The house is built around a courtyard with one side for the Whites and the other for the servants and services such as the kitchens, laundries, butter rooms etc. The family wing contains two large drawing rooms and an elaborate Edwardian stair case. Front entrances were designed to impress visitors. The Whites used Saumarez for official functions, garden parties, tennis parties etc. The house walls are of Flemish bond brick work. The interior joinery on doors, windows, fireplace surrounds etc is Red Cedar. Native flowers are used on the stained glass work including Flannel flowers, waratah, native Lillies etc. Whites three daughters made much carved wooden work for the house.

Posted by denisbin on 2013-09-12 05:59:00

Tagged: , Booloominbah , University of New England , Armidale , John Horbury Hunt , architect , mansion , historic house , gables , Art Deco , Arts and Crafts , tower , veranda , hydrangeas , Canadian style , Brasserie , restaurant , New England