Monday, 14 November 2011


With readying the boat for hibernation, I've been scouting around Glasson Dock, on foot and in books, and recently found this great aeriel photo of the place, pre 1960s, when the graving dock was still in use. (Found in a great picture book compiled by Nigel Daziel and Sue Ashworth)

What I find most fasinating about this picture, however, is the custom house just visible on the far right hand side of the frame. An inauspicious building especially in comparison with its relative in Lancaster that is adorned with porticoes, columns and double-sided steps.

I think what's particularly interesting is while Lancaster's custom house was built on the cusp of the shipbuilding heyday of the city, and so reflects all that hope and ambition, it is still regarded as a important historic monument, and accordingly it houses the maritime musuem. Glasson's custom house was built as the industry was declining, Glasson Dock, itself, was a last ditch attempt to cling onto shipbuilding/ship repair. So the custom house is appropriately more conservative, cautious, perhaps. And sadly is now inaccessible, encased as it is (preserved by being listed, I suspect) by warehousing built with a neat square indentation that edges round two walls of the house.

What was once the gateway to a place, the house that made the money to keep the port running, is lost to hawthorns, corrugated iron and breeze blocks ...
This place of order, accounting, lists and registration has crumbled away into something I am now repiecing with new lists and new accounting to make sense of what it was, what it is, a rebuilding, an honouring in language that has no financial value whatsoever! And right now, that feels positive...

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