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Along came a spider in Buxton St

September 14, 2009
by the gentle author


I noticed this witty custom-made grille on one of the windows in John Pritchard House in Buxton Street, as I was walking past. The building is a brick fifties/sixties modernist housing block and this single irregular feature within the grid of the facade enlivens and humanizes the entire structure. All over our neighbourhood, there are hundreds of grim security grilles, but this spider’s web is a beautiful example of how the application of a little imagination can bring a some poetry to a vernacular building without compromise in function, and without imposing upon the architecture itself.

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  1. March 30, 2015

    I’ve just stumbled upon this marvellous blog through doing a little further research on mudlarks. I am in the final chapters of my second novel. Rather than try to give you a synopsis, I’m pasting my dedication page below. I haven’t yet figured out your name; but I do want to subscribe to your blog and its Twitter account.

    Would you be open to my featuring a link to your blog in my right hand navigation menu? I’d love to do that!

    And would you be open to my questions about Buxton Street, should they come up?

    Many thanks for you attention to my requests.

    Ellyn (Westley) Peirson

    This book is written around my childhood understanding of a significant, singular incident in the life of my paternal grandfather. I dedicate this book to the memory of that grandfather, Harry Westley, a mudlark of sorts who loved meadowlarks… and to the memory of his son, my father, Frank…

    Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces clean
    The children walking two & two in red & blue & green
    Grey headed beadles* walk’d before with wands as white as snow
    Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow

    O what a multitude they seem’d these flowers of London town
    Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own
    The hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs
    Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands

    Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song
    Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among
    Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor
    Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door

    William Blake: married Catherine Boucher in 1782, saving both of them from having to return to St. James Workhouse in Soho, London…

    Our death certificates called it phthisis, Hippocrates’ word. We called it “the white plague” – it was our Blitzkrieg, killing who knows how many and turning the survivors into mudlarks, a new community of sub-humans, sifting the filth of the Thames for a living. [Harry Westley, October, 1947]

    Did you hear that, Nell? That’s the meadowlark. When we first moved to Swift Current, a friend explained to me that they sang when the buffaloes roamed the prairies. [Harry Westley to Nell, June, 1947]

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