Thursday, March 1, 2012
Much Marcle, Herefordshire
On the curve
I remember a few years ago a conversation with a friend about garages and what they look like, how most of them are either very boring or very unpleasant to look at, but now and then, one stands out from the crowd. Before long, one of us said, ‘Do you know the garage on the road between Ledbury and Ross on Wye, at Much Marcle?’ and the other one instantly said, ‘Yes! Isn’t it terrific!’ We’d both been admiring the building for years, and I can’t remember which of us mentioned it first. There are several things I like about it. The way it stands at a slight angle to the junction. The gentle curve of the roof, a curve followed by the attractive lettering on the front. The mixture of corrugated iron and wood. The building began life as a World War I aircraft hangar. It was bought by the Weston’s Cider Company, who are based nearby, in 1926, and they used it to maintain their vehicles as well as offering a general garage service. In the 1990s, Weston’s sold it, and it continues as a garage serving the general public.
Not everyone admires this kind of thing, of course. It doesn’t happen often that I find myself at odds with the Shell Guides, old books that I admire because they still have a lot to tell us about architecture and the sense of place. In the 1955 Herefordshire guide, author David Verey found much to like in Much Marcle, but his admiration was ‘in spite of its approach from the Ledbury road being marked by an ugly new garage’. Verey couldn’t wait to get on to the village’s old church and houses, the place’s polite architecture, as they say. I, on the other hand, wanted to linger here on the main road, taking in this small landmark as the motorcyclists whizzed by enjoying the challenging mix of bends and straights on the way to Ross and perhaps themselves registering, through an eye corner, a curving metal roof and a painted garage sign.
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Footnote: Garagistes may like another post that I did a while back, about two garages in Upton on Severn.