Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A bimble round Burton on Trent.

I had a trip down memory lane yesterday. Apart from three years of living in Blackpool, and two in Birmingham, and an attempt to live in Majorca which lasted two months, I spent the first 46 years of my life in Burton upon Trent. I moved up north because I had a job in North Lincolnshire. 
It's interesting to go back to your roots now and again, usually when I visit Burton it's just to see family, I don't bother to have a look round. Driving through it I have noticed a lot of changes, most of them are not particularly pleasing to the eye. Maybe I think that way because my mature years tell me anything that alters the history and architecture of the place is tacky and a carbuncle on the landscape. If I was looking at it through teenage eyes, I would probably think it is pretty darn cool. Age changes how you look at things. 
Funnily enough, it is not these massive brewery tanks that make me cringe, I think they are quite handsome, stacked in neat rows with their stainless steel overcoats glistening in the sun. They have a sense of orderliness about them, they have been placed with great precision.     
I feel drawn towards their magnificence, standing tall and proud, like masters of the town looking down on their subjects.

I see that the old grain warehouse at the corner of Derby Street and the station Bridge has been turned into a Travelodge. I like the way they have kept the old features. 
These buildings at the top end of Station Street have been here a long time. Some of the shops are empty, but they still look in good order.

And look at this magnificent building. It looks so strong and robust that nothing would ever knock it down. It is an old brewery building right at the very end of Station Street, tucked away in a dead end near the bridge. It doesn't appear to be occupied, such a shame. It looks like it has been used for industrial units, I hope they find another use for it.

Just along from it, further down Station Street is this building. It looks well maintained and smart with fairly fresh paintwork. Nice to see it looking clean and in use. 
If you go round the back of the old Odeon Cinema in Guild Street, you find yourself in George Street, where there are more examples of old architecture.

 The old County Court in Station Street.

This is St Modwen's Church, overlooking the market place. 
The market hall is undergoing a modernisation programme. I remember trawling round the stalls in here when I was a teenager, trying to get the best for my money.

This is a pub I frequented, it's opposite the market place near the Technical College. I see it's 'to let' now.
The Abbey Arcade goes through from the High Street to the market place. It is home to small specialist shops.

I've been trying to think of the name of this pub, not sure if it is a pub any more. It's in High Street.
 This tall building is in the car park next to the Library. Can't find out much about it.

Here is a piece of modern art, I'm not sure I like it. It stands on the corner of New Street and High Street. You can walk through the bottle shaped arch at the bottom.
This is the old fire station in New Street, now a car showroom. I've just been reading up about it, it was built in 1903 by a company called R. Kershaw. They put a bid in for the job of £6,150 and won the contract. The archways with the glass fronts used to be big red doors where the fire engines went in and out of.

This is the Town Hall, located in King Edwards Square at the top of Station Street. It is over 100 years old. A proud and magnificent building.

I gave myself an hour to look round, before I headed off back home. When I lived there I never really took much notice of the buildings, but looking at them now and reading up on the internet, it is a very interesting place. Here is a good site to look at if you want to find out more.

There has been a lot of new build apartment blocks in the town, it seems a bit strange to see brand new buildings where the brewery and car parks used to be. A lot of the terraced houses have also been knocked down to make way for new modern terraces. It all looks a bit of a mixed bag, with no thought as to what would look best where. They find a space and stick anything in it these days. I suppose it's the same all over though, that's progress. I do wish they would design the new buildings with the same grandness and class of the old ones. Modern architecture seems so cheap and tacky to me. Or maybe I'm just not keeping up with the times.
Toodle pip.


  1. So interesting to see the old buildings, and a trip down memory lane from a 'now' perspective is always interesting. I think you meant that the Town Hall is over 100 years old, not 10 ;) A little tweak needed to your post. Always enjoy your posts.


  2. Hi Ilona, Apart from living in London for a year when I was 18, I have lived here all my life. I like the old buildings, too and feel sad that some of them are for sale : ( If I won the lottery, I would buy them up and ensure they were all retained for the benefit of the people of the town. The pub for many years was called the Blue Posts but has changed a few times since then. The building in the library car-park I've always been told was a water tower but may be wrong on that. Glad you've been back. Would've said hello if our paths have crossed : ) Louise (from Burton : ) )

    1. Ah yes, the Blue Posts, thanks for reminding me. I will be back again, will let you know when.

  3. An interesting look round your home town. I agree that modern day buildings are not on the same grandeur as days gone by. Planners wrecked the centre of my home town and replaced the lovely old buildings with "modern" monsters. 40 years on they look delapidated and fit to pull down.

  4. We really enjoyed all your pics of the wonderful architecture. We feel exactly the same as you about the really modern designs and are lucky enough to own a lovely big victorian house. The entrance and hallway have the special tiles in a beautiful design and the windows are round-topped. (Not double glazed so a bit draughty at times!)
    Wendy (Wales)

  5. Another Burtonian here! I'm 43 and have always lived here. Love reading about your travels and supermarket finds! Alyson

    1. Hello Alyson, we will have to have a Burton meet up one day.

  6. I grew up in Coventry and took all the wonderful old buildings for granted.They seemed exciting when I went back as a tourist.
    Jane x

  7. Hi Ilona, loved this post as I am also from Burton! Lived there until I was 18 and am now in Northants.
    I remember that pub in the High Street. It was called the Blue Posts. It used to have blue posts outside at the front.
    My dad worked for Bass for 35 years and I have lots of happy memories of Burton.
    Best wishes, Claire.

    1. Hi Claire. Being a Bass driver was seen as the cream job to have, it was impossible to get in there unless you had family to vouch for you. I worked for Ind Coope (now Coors), before I left, that was also a cream job. It was at that time they started taking agency drivers.

  8. That looks like a really nice town where you grew up. Unfortunately, when they build new buildings now, they don't put the time or money into quality building any more. The buildings that are old probably couldn't be copied with original materials because they would cost a fortune today. I also think that it looks quite strange (here in my town too) when they build something really ultra modern and stick in between old buildings. It's so out of place! Thanks for the tour through the town you grew up in. Did it bring back a million memories? I think it would.

    1. Yes, it did. I looked for the Melias shop in Station Street that I used to work in. Wasn't sure which one it is now. I looked for the sausage factory at the back of my house that I worked in, it has gone now. There are many good memories for me in Burton.

  9. Thank you for the tour Ilona.
    I grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire, but had family in Burton. As a child, I was taken there regularly. My cousin still lives there, how nice to see it again.
    Pam in TX.

  10. I enjoyed looking at all the buildings, both old and new. The old ones are my favourite. Not many old buildings left here in our town, they get demolished to make way for new "ugly" ones. Thank you for the lovely tour :)

  11. I love the artistry and care for detail in older buildings. Now it just seems "industrial chic" which is impersonal and not human. Some say it is minimalist but I think it just looks cheap and like something that won't look good in 50 years, let alone 100. Though I do agree with you that the brewery tanks look good. Maybe industrial chic looks good when it is for real industry, but not offices and homes?

  12. Hola Ilona! Estoy de EspaƱa! I read your blog for a long time but dont'' write hi. Please blog us about your life in Mallorca, Gracias, Maria.

    1. Hola Maria. Thank you for your comment. Yes, I can write about my time in Mallorca, I will look for the photo's. Thank you for the idea.

  13. Loved bimbling around the town where you grew up...thanks.

  14. I'd say that the architecture of a town is a reflection of the industry that created the wealth that built it. Brewing built Burton and its lucky to have kept its industry.
    A lot of other towns aren't so lucky. My town, Bolton was built on cotton and engineering but very little of it remains. Our Fred Dibnah championed industry but i dont think the council liked it because they want to move forward and modernise, although i dont see much 'progress'.
    When in a town centre its interesting to look above the shops at the architecture, you may be surprised.
    The buildings of today are bland and functional compared with older building which are expensive to maintain and aren't 'energy efficient'. Dave.


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