Friday, 19 June 2009

Cattle Parking

One of my favourite local buildings is also one of the least appreciated. At least I think so, because everyone in its nexus is scurrying about fetching or returning supermarket trolleys, this being the centrepiece of Sainsbury's car park in Market Harborough. No time for architectural musings here as everybody, including me, lives in fear that they might not get parking stickers onto windscreens in time before the Council Wehrmacht descend to barcode and photograph your car. And if you think that's over-the-top wait until you see their red ill-fitting uniforms. However, this delightful building was the crowning glory of the old Market Harborough cattle market. But it doesn't even get a mention in Pevsner. Reminding me of the curious tower to the Horniman Museum on London's South Circular, it was saved by a more enlightened council who insisted that Saino's restore it before trucking in the museli and yoghurt. They all deserve Nectar points for the job they did. Not so the current, thrusting council who should look towards serving their community better by getting shot of the peak-capped revenue raisers and stop being privy to pulling down good buildings and digging up all the roads every five minutes. With all this pointless aggravation perhaps they should open up the cattle market Settling Room again so that we've all got somewhere nice to calm down.


Toby Savage said...

We'll never calm down Peter. Ther's far too much to be cross about!

Peter Ashley said...

Glad to hear it Toby. It's just that I feel so guilty about ranting because I'm such a quiet retiring person.

accountant said...

Oh I don't know as a resident of Harborough the traffic wardens can be quite keen, however Sainsbury's are talking of taking control of the car park which they own back in house aware from the council. This could be due to the fact that there is talk that they wish to extend there store by encroaching on the car park.
The settling rooms always a bit lost in the middle of the car park, personally I think the repointing was a bit heavy handed. The Cattle Market had been built in 1903 after the Urban District Council had purchased the market rights from the Earl of Harborough and decided to move the livestock market off the High Street and Square as part of the programme of improvements to the town. The building is the work of the local firm of Coale and Johnson (or Johnston, I forget which) which was based in Harborough. Ther other works include the Little Bowden Infants School, Harborogh Grammar School, The Red Cow, The Black Horse in Foxton and the former Co-op Meat Hall now the Enigma Cafe and Bar. One major loss was the Gas showrooms on St Mary's Road, which has been replaced by a poor quality replica with bricks that don't even match in colour.
H G Coales was surveyor to the Urban District Council and obviously had the local political contacts, buildings designed by him are very modest, the best known was the old swimming baths on Northampton Rd. One of his achievements was the planting of Lime trees on the main roads in Harborough and the acquisition of public parks in Great and Little Bowden. He was involved with local football and scounting movement. He wrote scouting novels and stories for boys under the pseudonym Mark Harborough, titles include Cornered by Scouts, The Red Swastika, Camp of the Otters and Shacks and Shelters, a handbook for scouts on how to construct temporary structures and more permenant ones using concrete. Many of the stories are set in locations in and around Harborough and the Welland Valley. Hidden tunnels and passages feature quite large in his works. Most of his work was published by the Oxford University Press.
His partner Henry winter Johnson was the architect in the practice. He had been a pupil to J A Gotch in Kettering and was apparantly very good at socialising with County Society.
After Johnson's early death before WW1, Coales formed a second partnership with Peter Green, their work included the attractive pair of unaltered semi-detached houses you featured in an earlier blog. Similar houses can be found on Great Bowden Road and in Great Bowden, The former Co-op shop on the Green in Great Bowden is probably there work as well.

Peter Ashley said...

Phew. I say Accountant, that's the the longest comment I've ever had. Thankyou so much for the invaluable information. Now you mention it, there is a familiar feel to the buildings you quote by Coale & Johnson. I love the Red Cow for many reasons, and it's so good to know who's responsible.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Must look out for Shacks and SHelters - sounds up my street.

And must come to Harborough again - maybe the Red Cow will be open next time...

chris said...

The tower is clearly a wonderful building. Keen observers may also notice the distinctive brickwork pattern: none other than the ultra-strong English Bond. Ah, they don't build 'em like that any more!

Jonathan said...

In an earlier life I was a member of Harborough District Council when we took the decision to redevelop the cattle market site. The Settling Rooms were retained as a high-class ransom strip to make it difficult for anyone to redevelop the site later on without our co-operation.

I have a copy of Well Scouted by Mark Harborough. I believe Coales' daughter (Katherine?), a teacher at a private school in the town, provided the illustrations.

I also had a copy of The Red Swastika once. I loaned it to the Harborough Museum and long ago lost the paperwork saying it was mine.

Martin H. said...

Gosh, you are right, it is vaguely reminiscent of the Horniman Museum tower. (Much more my neck of the woods than Harborough, I'm afraid). Mind you, having just looked at the Horniman again it is really nothing like it! The architect in this case was Charles Harrison Townsend and for some unexplained reason he decided to adopt an 'Art Nouveau' style for the museum. This was not a popular style in England and is consequently rather rare; the other London example that springs to mind is the magnificent Whitechapel Art Gallery, which was also by Townsend. The date for the Horniman was 1901, by the way.

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