Friday, 18 September 2009

Seven locks, two tunnels and desolation row

Mill ruins at Burnley
Looking down at chimneys from the embankment
After waiting patiently for the Foulridge Tunnel traffic lights to change we got the green light to leave the glories of the open Pennines behind return to the grim realities of decaying northern industrial townscapes.
Nelson, with its hollow, dead buildings is just a teaser but the real desolation row is Burnley. The entry to the town is surprisingly pleasant and then one reaches the huge, high mile long aqueduct that bisects Burnley and carries you straight through it. On one side are rows of terraced chimneys; on the other the bus depot and a giant Tesco lie laid out like toys way down below yu.
Burnley's sting is in its tail. We passed a quaint corner of renovated and restored mill buildings, weaver's cottages and a wharf "the Weavers' Triangle" before steering sadly between empty, derlict mill buildings, their windows smashed out, their interiors home only now to flocks of pigeons.
There's something utterly sad about these decaying shells. It's the fact that they were so carefully crafted in stone, with intricate details round door frames and windows. Stone gives off a unique sense of permanence - stone buildings like castles and churches should be there forever and we feel sad whenever we see the craftsmen's work faling to ruin. So, too, with these castles of commerce.
And let's not forget that each derelict mill or factory means jobs gone, people moved away or on the dole. A horrible reminder yet again of our changed industrial landscape.

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