The centre of Gloucester has an incredible variety of buildings- everything from medieval to post modernist- not just the cathedral, which is a wonderful place (and now frequented by Harry Potter aficionados as well as those who love a good bit of gothic architecture!) but it’s easy to forget that Gloucester was a port, a trading post that thrived on the transfer of goods and money in 18th and 19th centuries. There are still many clues to its past, not least the quays and docks but also in the centre some beautifully detailed early 20th century buildings representing confidence and wealth at the height of Gloucester’s power.
Monday’s saunter round Gloucester included me finding myself right by the new Gloucester Quays retail development. Next to it is the antithesis of the new and glossy- and taking advantage of a gate being left open and no one on site to stop me- I went in! Even though I only could take quite basic photos, I feel really privileged to have caught this warehouse while it still stands, as well as the others round it. Quite possibly when I return soon, there will be nothing left.
Wednesday’s return visit was not quite so successful….
Not quite so lucky. There was a security guard who despite my pleading wouldn’t let me in, although I asked if he could just let me take a couple of photos of the warehouse near the entrance- eventually he couldn’t really say no. But I didn’t get back inside the burnt out warehouse, which is what I’d really wanted to do. It just shows you should ALWAYS have a really good camera with you! I really need to get a good quality slightly less bulky one so it can be permanently attached to me.
After a bit of a chat, he did tell me where he reckoned the best views were to be had and that he agreed it was really sad that this grade II listed building would be razed to the ground any day. After my photographic wanderings, and collection of bits of wooden panelling (I had hoped to collect some charred beams etc that I could use in an art installation) he then told me the warehouse on the other side of the road, which I had also taken a lot of photos of, was going to be demolished as well.
At the conference I attended on Saturday one of the speakers discussed the importance of recording what is here and now, especially in relation to industrial architecture, as if we don’t, no one will and in the future there will be nothing left to speak for it. I don’t believe you have to keep every building, but when something as iconic as a waterfront is going to be completely obliterated, as this will be, it feels beholden on me to record its passing.