Superficiality

Listed buildings in the centre of Wye (From http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk)

During the week I was talking to my sister about the project. My brother-in-law had mentioned Pevsner’s history of Kent buildings.

“I can’t read that,” I said, “My project has to be superficial. I don’t have time to go into much depth.”

I explained that this identification of 100 local buildings is really just the first stage of a project which will also involve working in care homes, eliciting memories from some of the older members of the community. I have to crack on.

Listed buildings in the centre of Tenterden (From http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk)

To me the most important thing is to get representation from as many areas of the borough as possible. I don’t want to find myself confronted by a 90-year old from Rolvenden, for example, who feels that there’s nothing for him in my project.

If I really stopped to think about any of the communities that I’ve been working on, I would get horribly bogged down. Tenterden alone has nearly 200 listed buildings. Wye and Charing have over 150 each. And there are more listed buildings in the borough of Ashford than any other borough in Kent.

So I’m going with superficial…

I’ve been driving about like a mad thing sometimes accompanied by my wife or son or daughter. Together we’ve now visited most far-flung corners and have taken photographs of about 250 buildings.

Listed buildings in the centre of Charing (From http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk)

I am bracing myself for the pushback… ‘why haven’t you included such-and-such? Such-and-such is one of the most vital buildings in Ashford…?’

The answer will be that I was driving too fast.

Catching up with other people’s work

I wonder why they planted those trees?

One of the enjoyable things about doing a project like this is that you uncover work that other people have already done. 

This morning for example I was looking for information about Charter House, the huge triangular brutalist building that dominates Ashford and came across Niccio who had written about it on his blog a few years ago.

His blog is called Ashford Heritage and hasn’t been updated for a while – but it’s a great source of information. He’d done some great research into the Masonic Temple, the College (of Priests) in the Churchyard, and Dr Wilk’s Hall.

Then there’s another great blog, this time called Ashford’s Heritage, which has been set up by people connected to Ashford Museum. Understandably perhaps this is more focused on the listed buildings than on the more modern (and controversial) architecture. But it’s a great source of information.

I’m putting links and photographs into the relevant entries in the timelines. But sometimes there’s pretty little information to go on. 

This afternoon’s challenge was to find information about the 1970’s carpark on Edinburgh Road – definitely a building of its time but not one that many residents will treasure. In the end I came across a press clipping that said that it was built in the early 70s but it would be good to have a precise date. Does anyone know?

And I also spent a while looking at and photographing Northgate House. Now there’s another building I personally could do without. But I’ll save that for another time.

WoodnWare CIC

Darren’s wing atop the Ella Harling display stand

Today I had a chat with Louisa from WoodnWare CIC – a great social enterprise in Ashford “providing opportunities for vulnerable adults to learn wood work skills, up-cycling, re-purposing and environmental awareness whilst building confidence, social networks, enterprise and a sense of community”.

That’s taken from the facebook page. 

I had dealings with WoodnWare a few years ago when one of their vulnerable adults (Darren) helped me make a wing for a first world war project I was working on. 

Abacus design – not Leonardo

The wing was amazing and became part of a display stand which I carted round the local area.

Now I’m looking for some wooden blocks similar to those that I used in the promo. I’m going to need 100 identical wooden blocks – 96 for a four-sided abacus and then four spares…

I drew the design earlier today. Hopefully it will make sense to WoodnWare. It would be fantastic to work with them again.

Friday timelines

I’ve entered some buildings into the draft timelines. Some of them were buildings that I used in the promo video (Ruckinge Church, the Outlet, the Clock Tower for example).

Others have been suggested by people on Facebook. Mersham Le Hatch for example, Westwell Mill, Eastwell Towers.

It’s interesting to me that I live only a few miles away from Westwell Mill but knew nothing about it. Similarly I drive past Eastwell Towers practically every week but knew nothing of its history.

In fact, if I think about it, prior to starting this project I only really knew the history of my own village – and that I sort of take for granted.

This has caused a minor problem.

People haven’t been suggesting buildings on their own community Facebook groups because ‘everybody knows about them’.. I might not put Wye College on the Our Place Wye site, for example, because to the residents of Wye (and readers of the Our Place Wye facebook group) it’s too bleeding obvious?

But the project is about the whole borough of Ashford. As a Wye resident I’m probably not alone in not having the foggiest about buildings in Tenterden or Lenham…

I think publishing the timelines fairly frequently would be a way to rectify this problem. If people see that buildings in their communities haven’t been inserted, they might suggest inclusion.

I think I will republish the timelines on this site every Friday afternoon – and on the Facebook group as well.

Here goes:

Ashford 1000-1300: https://time.graphics/line/396597

Ashford 1300-1500: https://time.graphics/line/396605

Ashford 1500-1700: https://time.graphics/line/396609

Ashford 1700-1900: https://time.graphics/line/396610

Ashford 1900-Present Day: https://time.graphics/line/396611

Very animated

I spent the morning making an animation for the launch of the #ashford100buildings project which is tomorrow.

The film features the logo which I featured yesterday and then several local buildings that I photographed earlier this month. There’s the Curious Brewery, the Outlet, the Archbishop’s Palace at Charing, the primary school in Woodchurch, the Clock Tower in Ashford… In total I think there are about 12 buildings in the animation and I’ll be putting them in the timeline later today to start us off… only 88 or so to go…

In the end I did two versions. The second was a great improvement on the first and I daresay that a third version would be even better.. but I’ve got fed up with shifting little blocks around. It does the job.

Project logo is a gogo…

Many thanks to Rob Barker for the fantastic logo that he has designed for the #ashford100buildings project.

We had quite a discussion about which buildings to include – wanting ideally to reflect ancient and modern, rural and urban. The buildings selected are St Mary’s Church, Elwick Place and the Curious Brewery building in Ashford and Willesborough Windmill.

While most of the buildings are in Ashford town centre, the project is also aiming to include the villages in the surrounding area. We thought for a while about titling it ‘Ashford and Villages’ but went for the slightly more formal Borough of Ashford.

Perhaps you might have other ideas as to what could have been included or missed out.. do let us know if you do.

This has clearly taken a huge amount of work. Rob has supplied me with black and white versions and a coloured black and white version (what is this I wonder?) I am extremely grateful. He can be reached through his partner’s company – Sally Barton Illustration.