According to Looking at Buildings. org, this Grade II listed building is an example of Bristol Byzantine architecture, a style I’ve never heard of before, which is characterised by, amongst other things, “upper floors unified through either horizontal or vertical grouping of window openings“.
As well as being of architectural interest, it gained a place in music history, in its second life as The Granary Club. Between 1968 and 1988 it hosted Motorhead, Iron Maidan, Dire Straits, Status Quo, Def Leppard and many more big names [if you follow the link to the club’s tribute page you can see the full list of bands].
Despite the buildings rock credentials, it was initial opened, according to a certain on-line encyclopaedia, as a Jazz club by Ted Cowell, with the help of bowler hat wearing, clarinettist, Acker Bilk MBE.
I had no idea I was going to uncover any of those facts when I started to look into the history of this building; I love it when that happens.
The Victorian Web reminded me that this allegorical figure, representing an engineer, sits at the base of the Stephenson Memorial. I think it was the beer bottle that attracted my initial attention, because I neglected to photograph the other three allegorical figures at the base of the sculpture or the larger than life George Stephenson which towers over them. Stephenson was a railway pioneer, I think it’s fair to say, since he was mind behind the Stockton to Darlington Railway and The Rocket locomotive. The statue is by Northumbrian sculptor John Graham Lough.
Bangladesh, Bengal, British Industry, Dundee, India, Industrial Heritage, Industrial Revolution, jute, leaflet, Museums, Scotland's Jute Museum, Social history, Souvenirs, sticker, Ted, textiles, Verdant Works, Victorian., Victoriana
Have you ever thought about jute? I had only considered the properties of jute once before my visit to Dundee. I was in Cambridge, walking around the open air market behind Great St. Mary’s Church and a short walk from King’s College Chapel, when my attention was caught by a stall on which everything was made of jute, which was haled as a renewable wonder material! Anyway – I didn’t think about jute again until I arrived in Dundee and asked a very helpful lady at Discovery Point, “Do you recommend any other visitor attraction in Dundee?” [or words to that effect]. She gave me a map and pointed me in the direction of the Verdant Works. To quote from the leaflet I still have, “Scotland’s Jute Museum @ Verdant Works is just one of the many mills that flourished when the jute industry was at its height. Verdant Works takes you on a tour of the trade, from its beginnings in the Indian subcontinent to the end product in all its myriad forms“.
In brief: The story of jute starts on the Indian Subcontinent, Bangladesh to be exact; formally Bengal. A number of enterprising, Victorian, individuals, had the bright idea of using their assets in the ship building, whaling, textile industries to bring the jute over to Dundee, soften it using whale oil and then turn it into sailcloth, sacking, ropes, tarpaulins and countless other things you would find in your very own home.
The Verdant Works is a very interesting place to visit. The museum covers all aspects of the subject, from the jutes cultivation to the finished product. Parts of the Works don’t look as if they’ve changed much [or have been restored] since 1900, so you get that feeling of walking back in time. The “From Fibre to Fabric” section has an extensive collection of working textile industry related machinery [it was all a bit over my head, but if you’re of a mechanic inclination I am sure you’ll love it]. The museum also covers the effect of the jute industry on the social history of Dundee, which is a very interesting topic; with special reference to the unique role of women in Dundee.
artillery, artillery pieces, Ben Ainslie, Fortifications, forts, guns, London Summer Olympics 2012, Military History, Museums, Nothe Fort, Nothe Fort Weymouth, Olympic Gold Medal winner, Olympic sailing, sailing, Sir Ben Ainslie, Souvenirs, Victorian., Victoriana, Weymouth
I witnessed a small, but significant, moment in the history of the Nothe Fort back in 2012, as Weymouth and Portland prepared to be the venue of the London 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic sailing. That was the year Sir Ben Ainslie won his Gold medal in the Finn Class sailing, his fifth Gold at five consecutive Olympic Games [not that I was in Weymouth or Portland for the actual sailing, I was only there for the final preparations].
The Fort operates on three levels; the ramparts on top, the gun deck/parade ground below and the magazine beneath that. You enter the Fort at the gun deck/parade ground level, through the barbican; the main defensive feature on the landward side of the fortification.
The gun deck is comprised of 26 casements, which once open plan and housed the “massive Victorian muzzle loaded guns“. Casement 22 contains a reconstruction of the Victorian gun deck, where an impressive collection of very proud looking mannequins manned artillery pieces that look so colossal you would think they were immovable. There were no partitions between the casements back then, so it was possible to move along the gun deck without having to go out onto the parade ground. The casements also contain the reception and shop, the canteen and some interesting displays about the building of the fort and films about the various guns that have been positioned there throughout its history.
On the ramparts above you can see one of the 6 inch guns that made the Victorian muzzle loaded guns on the gun deck below obsolete by 1905 [there were three guns originally, but now there is only one, but you can still see the emplacements were they once stood].
In the magazine below the gun deck you will find a series of underground tunnels and rooms. One surprising feature of the fort is that a third of the magazine was converted into a nuclear fallout shelter for civilian use during the Cold War.
The Nothe Fort is a fascinating place were Britain has faced external threats both real and imagined; arguably the fortifications finest hour was during World War Two when it served as an anti-aircraft position protecting Portland and Weymouth harbours, a conflicted its Victorian architects could never have imagined. The Victorians were right about one thing however, the Nothe Peninsula offers great views of Weymouth and Portland, so it is worth the trek up there even if you are not interested in history, especially on a sunny day, like that day back in 2012.