Monday, 17 October 2016

Electric Hedge

This little building is obscure even by Unmitigated England standards. It's halfway down the very bucolic Commissioners Lane (which tells of it being an enclosure road) that leads only to a farm just outside Slawston in Leicestershire. You won't find it in a Pevsner or a Shell Guide; this is a prime example of a utility building built, I would think, between the wars. Despite all the warnings of death by electric shock, I somehow think that there is no sub station equipment therein. There's no sinister sounding hum emitting out into the lane, and I would guess it's now currently (no pun intended) a store for Western Power Distribution's excess tree-loppers and hedge cutters that are being put to increasing use locally to cut back foliage from electricity wires, and any other bits of tree pruning they can be persuaded to do. ("While you're up there...")
    But my main reason for sharing this riveting discovery is that it's worthwhile spending half-a-minute to look at how much care actually went into its simple design. Built in neat brickwork, a concrete lintel extends over both door and windows, the roof parapet is in different coloured brick with an intermediate course of tiles and care was taken with the iron gate. The tree loppers haven't been snipped into action on the surroundings, and the whole thing is gradually disappearing from view. Soon WPD's white Land Rovers will come down here and the abseiling woodcutters will scratch their heads saying "Well it was around here somewhere". 

10 comments:

John Foster said...

Next time you will have to try the door and see what wonders lay within.

Peter Ashley said...

Ooh John. I might get 3,000 volts through me. Make an interesting walk though.

Alan Godber said...

Looks a very similar, if not identical, design to a sub station that used to stand in splendid isolation on waste ground at the top of our street in Loughborough when I was a boy. I' d forgotten all about it until I saw your photograph, despite charging past it all the time with my mates when we were off to fight Germans or Red Indians yet again (forgive me everybody; it was the early 1960s).
The small housing estate where we lived was completed in 1939 so I suspect the structure dated from that time. The sub station was demolished around 1966 when the new Ladybird Books factory and offices were built on our playground.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Great. Reminds me that nature is encroaching on my shed.

Peter Ashley said...

Alan: thank you for confirming my probable dates.

Phil: my shed IS nature.

Philip Wilkinson said...

All the world's a shed...

Stephen Barker said...

I always wondered what was down Commissioners Lane. I must send you the map printed in the endpapers of "The Red Swastika" by Mark Harborough which is based on your part of the world.

Jon Dudley said...

Another gem! The urge to gain entry must be huge. Just imagine the possibilities - an ancient standby Blackstone's (of Stamford) stationery engine awaits the attentions of a curious Mr.A who takes the hooked starting handle from its place on the wall and after priming the device with petrol gives it an almighty swing; a cough, a splutter and the beast is awakened, it's exhaust exiting to the outside world via lengths of gas pipe and some plumbers bends. Once warm the intrepid Mr.A switches over to the paraffin supply and the ancient engine runs merrily - but how to stop it? We leave our hero at this point as an electricity board Ford Thames van hoves into view...

Peter Ashley said...

Stephen: I thought you'd know about Commissioners Lane. The very pronounced dog-leg as you leave Slawston towards Blaston is another great example of an enclosure road dividing up fields to left and right with the typical wide verges. Love to see the map, thank you.

Jon: Thank you, and I love your comment! Particularly the fact that you know it could be a Blackstones engine. I read in an advertisement in my 1950's Stamford guide that they also made elevators, broadcasters and hay tedders. Whatever they are. Perhaps those big tined wheels that turned hay over?

Jon Dudley said...

My cousin served his apprenticeship at Blackstones…all that bygone agricultural stuff…I mean the names alone?
We had an agricultural engineers over in West Sussex who traded under the name of The Unique Elevator Works - known to all the old boys as 'The uinikwue works' but they made similar stuff to Blackstones except the wonderful engines…

Your definition of a hay tedder is spot-on by the way!