Nov 252014

For over a hundred years Leicester was the centre of the hosiery trade in Britain. Rapid expansion took place in the 1960s and 1970s, helped by the influx of labour from Commonwealth countries. This was followed by changes in the market in the 1980s – competition on the high street inevitably caused major UK brands, previously supplied by Leicester manufacturers, to seek cheaper overseas merchandise. This lead to the demise (or corporate restructuring) of a number of major Leicester manufacturers.

Wolsey Chimney, Abbey Mills, Leicester

The Wolsey factory was built in the 1920s with the business taking its name from the nearby burial place of Cardinal Wolsey, the close aide of King Henry VIII, who was buried in 1530 at Leicester Abbey.

Demolition work began in 2009, only two chimneys (one bearing the Wolsey name) and the tower now remain.

Wolsey Tower, Abbey Mills, LeicesterHosiery Factory, Leicester

Above right, and images below taken at factory locations around Frog Island.

Hosiery Factory, Leicester

 Cash and Carry, Leicester

Nov 032014

Allotment, Shed

We moved house when our kids were small, to a nicer area, but sadly to a garden that wasn’t particularly good for growing produce because of its size and position. I’ve never been much of a gardener but her indoors suggested that we get an allotment, not just for food but also as it would be a nice family activity. It sounded like madness to me, but it turned out that she was right. We would disappear to the allotment, carrying tools and wearing wellies and return some hours later, muddy and tired and occasionally carrying huge squash or obscene looking tromboncino.

There was also a great community with a wide mix of ages, the typical retiree allotment holder, middle-aged couples, young families with small kids. Sundays could be spent digging and planting whilst the kids ran off to chat and play with other families. The allotment became popular, there was suddenly a waiting list and sadly with that new rules, regulations and regular inspections in order to weed out (sorry) those not using their plot. Many of the friends we had made left and plots fell empty and into disrepair.

It was not long after our first run in with those pleasant people from Birstall Parish Council that I decided to start recording the things that, for me, symbolise what an allotment should be – turned earth, weeds, sheds of all shapes and sizes, scrap that perhaps should have gone to the tip but might come in handy at some point.

I’ve photographed this shed far too many times but it encapsulates everything I love about this British institution.

Both images:
Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic 5×4 camera
Expired Agfa Paper

Allotment, Shed