Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cottagers and Exhibitionism

With a title like that we should be guaranteed a few extra visitors to the board this week. Not necessarily the sort of visitors who might be interested in the Edwardian history of Cleveleys perhaps (which is what this article’s about) but nonetheless it should prevent the counter at the bottom of this board from clogging up with rust.
So, where to begin? Well, we all know that before Cleveleys suddenly (and with no satisfactory explanation) decided to change its name from Ritherham, the original mediaeval village was centred round the area nowadays occupied by St. Andrew’s church.

Take a look at the photograph below. You might just about be able to recognise it. That field is where the memorial garden stands nowadays, and that cobbled wall behind it is still there. Cobbles and lime mortar are/were typical of mediaeval construction, and this particular wall originally lined an ancient route that on the pre-Cleveleys maps ran all the way from Thornton, via the Towers (before the Towers existed of course), through Ritherham itself and on to Rossall Mill, which centuries ago stood somewhere in the vicinity of the new McDonald’s/leisure centre next to Jubilee Gardens (previously the resort of travellers who, ironically, refused to travel anywhere).

It’s not a good photograph, I must admit. It’s old, and the chances of recapturing the same scene in gloriously sharp Technicolor are none existent today, so you’ll just have to put up with the rotten quality I’m afraid.

Anyhow, somewhere between Ritherham’s metamorphosis from a quiet little village into the thriving, traffic crammed, retirement home that is modern day Cleveleys, an exhibition was announced for the promotion of ‘Healthy Living Accommodation’. This took place in 1906 when the ‘Cleveleys’ Cottage Exhibition’ found itself centred around what are nowadays Stockdove Way, West Drive and Whiteside Way.

Here’s the original layout, not much removed from its modern day counterpart. A ‘Resort of Pleasure and Instruction’, eh? Our viewing figures have just risen by another few hundred.

Anyhow, the exhibition brochure had this to say about the whole affair: “The practical side of the venture is very important; but not the less so is the aesthetic side. Cheap and nasty is not the motto.”

As for the reasons behind the exhibition in the first place, a healthy approach to affordable housing was the main priority, along with: “…the desire is to exchange the bustle and the worry and the dirtiness of city life, for quiet and restfulness and cleanliness of life in the country.”

Ah well, so much for lofty ambitions. We’re not entirely sure where the dream turned into a nightmare, but we estimate it to be somewhere near the junction of West Drive and Rossall Road.

The exhibitors themselves were many and varied: “A considerable amount of curiosity will be displayed in the work shown in West Drive by The Concrete Machine Co., Ltd., of Liverpool…The general appearance rather reminds one of a fortress.”
That’s probably where the verger for St. Andrew’s now lives. (No, that’s not meant to be some sort of joke…he really does live there.)
It took a while for the writer of the Cottage Exhibition brochure to get into his full Edwardian brochure-writer’s modus operandi but, by the middle pages, he was gushing: “The exclamations of admiration will be many on gazing at a little Dutch-looking cottage”... “The ‘New Art’ decoration of the interior will be a revelation to most visitors.”
All right, let’s have a photograph of the aforementioned Dutch-looking cottage then, shall we? It hasn’t changed much, still standing as it does at the junction of Whiteside Way and Cleveleys Avenue.

Amongst the exhibitors in 1906 was Edwin Lutyens, of whom you might or might not have heard. But he’s well worth a mention because in the elitist world of architecture he’s incredibly famous. For us everyday mortals, however, he designed a number of major English country houses, remodelled Lindisfarne Castle (presumably he didn’t reckon much to the original), built Castle Drogo (although not single-handedly I suspect), designed the home of Gertrude Jekyll (the famous Victorian gardener), the Cenotaph in Whitehall, Thiepval Arch on the Somme, the Viceroy's House in New Delhi, the British Embassy in Washington, Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool.

Perhaps more in keeping with the Cleveleys Cottage Exhibition, he also designed Queen Mary's dolls house, now in Windsor Castle.

Ask me which of the Cleveleys cottages he worked on, however, and I honestly couldn’t tell you. If you’re that concerned, you could always have a go at a bit of research for yourself.

Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the whole exhibition was the house prices. All of the cottages were sold off when the exhibition ended, their prices ranging from between £100 and £200. It’s hard to believe but, as advertised on the back cover of the brochure, Ivy Cottage on West Drive (a three bed roomed property, fully furnished by Bickerstaffe Ltd) was on the market for the princely sum of £62 10s.

Nowadays you’d be lucky to get change from half a million. So much for: ‘healthy and affordable housing’


Anonymous said...

With a title like that we should be guaranteed a few extra visitors to the board this week.

If you like, I can resurrect my alter ego - Sueglossy - to take charge.

Take a look at the photograph below. You might just about be able to recognise it.

I don't really recognise it...

As for the Dutch-style cottage, it doesn't look like any Dutch cottages I saw when I was in the Netherlands; perhaps it's ancient architecture.

Brian Hughes said...

To be honest, Reuben...or possibly doesn't look much like a cottage either, but the Edwardians were a funny bunch.

Anonymous said...

Call me Reuben; Sue was a red Herring I used as a Decoy in the 90's.

It's a nice cottage though...and it does look very expensive too (I'd imagine your housing market is as bad as ours).

John said...

Oh... you said 'Cleveley's'.... I thought you said 'cleavage'. (there, that ought to boost your hit count as well)

All housing is overpriced these days, although I am sure you have a bit more of the clean country air than we do round these parts.

I don't recognize the scene in the photo either, I'm afraid. You assume too much, me bucko.

As for Ritherham's name change, why and how did that occur, what is the place name meaning of Ritherham (any clues for archeologists there?) and what's the English obsession with 'ham'?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


Actually I much prefer your alter ego's name. It doesn't sound quite so Hans Christian Anderson. Our housing market at the moment is stuffed, to put it bluntly. I blame Kirsty Allsop and co on the telly for encouraging all of these property developers to turn the available housing into rented properties myself. It was the start of a greedy downward trend that resulted in overinflated prices and a collapse in the mortgage market. But that's a discussion for another place and time perhaps...


"I am sure you have a bit more of the clean country air than we do round these parts."

Not in Cleveleys with the amount of traffic. The only reasons there's any air at all there is that the residents are all over 90 years old and therefore barely consume any oxygen themselves.

"...what is the place name meaning of Ritherham..."

It means the holme (settlement by a bend in a river) by a river (that's the Rither part).

And speaking of being obsessed with ham, perhaps you could tell me why Americans call hamburgers hambugers, when there's no ham in them? Come to that, I'd be surprised if there was any meat in 'em at all having eaten one once at a certain worldwide fast food outlet whose name I'd better not mention of legal reasons.

John said...


Secondly, fast food in the UK doesn't seem to match our own low standards for fast food in the US. Don't know why people have to change things when they cross the pond...

Firstly, American has quite a few oddities in the language, such as parking in the driveway and driving on the parkway. It's almost as if we lifted the language from someone else, and then modified it willy-nilly for our own usage.


Brian Hughes said...


" food in the UK doesn't seem to match our own low standards for fast food in the US."

Obviously you never tried a Ziggy burger.

Anonymous said...

Aussies park in the driveway too, John. Except unlike America, our 4WDs are large - not obese.

Your housing market is stuff perhaps because there is too many people. Anyway, you couldn't steal that cottage for me could ya?

Brian Hughes said...


"Anyway, you couldn't steal that cottage for me could ya?"

It wouldn't fit in my trenchcoat pocket...not unless I take my yoyo, my box of chalks and my flask of cold soup out first, and that'd never do.

Anonymous said...

It's not Sue anymore. What? Is my alter-ego more pleasant to deal with?

Jayne said...

But...but...but Kirsty's papa is Baron Hindlip!
Aren't you supposed to curtsey or tug your forelock when uttering the name of the gentry?
(tongue now removed from cheek).

Brian Hughes said...

Sorry Reuben, but I'll always know you as Sue now. That's the trouble with gender reallignment, you just can't get the original out of your head. How about a more none-gender-specific name, such as Suebob, or Reubenella?


I always thought you were supposed to cross yourself and spit on the floor.

Anonymous said...

Ruby will do. But if you go even the slightest centimetre towards a more feminine-sounding name, I will brandish a vinegar bottle.

Brian Hughes said...

Ruby...sounds good to me. It has the ring of an aging nightclub singer about it. One with a beehive hairdo and more slap than a plasterer's board. Appearing every Wednesday at the Honeysuckle Hotel, Starr Gate. CDs of 'Ruby Plays the Hammond Organ' available from the van.

woody said...

Are there any of the brochures for the exhibition anywhere to look at ?

Unknown said...

Could anyone tell me the address of this site? I am researching this for the Lutyens Trust.