Friday, March 20, 2020



The two vintage road signs in my photograph come from a long-gone generation of British signage, once common on this country’s roads. They conform, I think, to a 1934 standard, which used a red triangle to denote a warning or hazard that was specified in the rectangular plate below. This plate often bore a graphic symbol, such as the inclined plane for ‘STEEP HILL’, in the sign in the background. Speed limit signs had a red open circle, and a triangle within a circle was a combination of a warning and an order, as in ‘HALT AT MAJOR ROAD AHEAD’, in the foreground.

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way I live my life. As someone over 65, I clearly need to watch my health, and I need to look after my wife, whose pre-existing medical condition puts her at risk. More than this, since one can be infected without knowing it, it’s not worth putting others at risk by indulging in unnecessary travel and the human contact that comes with it. So, in spite of the fact that exploring historic architecture has long been for me a necessary part of life, I am leaving the house and garden only to get essential supplies.

This does not, though, mean ‘HALT’ for the English Buildings blog. There are lots of places I have visited or passed by over the last few years that I have something to say about, and since readers seem to appreciate what I say and what I share, it seems worthwhile carrying on. More now than ever,  in fact, as theatres, museums, galleries, and other sources of entertainment and cultural nourishment are having to stop their normal work. The excellent Black Country Living Museum, where the photograph above was taken, is one of those that has had to close its gates.

Many musicians, actors, museums and others are stepping up and nobly presenting concerts, plays, and talks online. In the last day or two alone, I’ve come across poets doing online workshops, a classical pianist podcasting from his music room at home, and an exhibition curator, who must have spent years researching and planning a major exhibition, talking about the exhibits and giving us all the chance to see the art on the walls. Hats off to those who are offering information, interest, and inspiration in this way to anyone who’d have sought them out live – or who are interested enough to give them a try in virtual form.

So I resolve to keep blogging, returning in my memory and via my photo library to places I’ve visited in the past, as a reminder of what’s out there, to entertain and inform, and to signpost what we all hope we’ll be looking at again for ourselves, in months and years to come.

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* To make it clear: the photograph was taken earlier this year at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley, which preserves many relocated old buildings, as well as vintage signs like these. I took the picture last year.


Phil McMullen said...

Very well said! Over the years I've drastically reduced the number of blogs I follow, but this one ranks as essential and your courteous, polite and as ever erudite explanation of your actions in the often dismal situation we find ourselves in leads the way. Thank you and well done.

Anne Guy said...

Thanks for this and stay safe and well and I look forward to future blogs dredged from your archives

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

Please keep the blog coming! We might need it more than ever if confined to quarters. The Black Country Museum is certainly worth a mention: I fear Birmingham and the Black Country have been rather neglected. Red terracotta schools, etc. circa 1900. Mosques and temples. Terraces of houses with dentilated brick friezes. The Edgbaston Oratory (Classical and Italian!). Half-timbered houses become museums - Blakesley Hall,the one in West Bromwich. Lots of suburban houses which might be worth commenting on.

Anonymous said...

I am taking advantage of the situation to again thank you for your blog, which I have been following for quite few years now.
Stay safe ! Continued good health to you and yours.
François-Marc Chaballier

akfurness said...

It has always been a pleasure to travel with you, but all the more so now, when so many of us are stuck at home. Your photographs and descriptions are something I always look forward to. Thank you, and long may you continue.

annkramer said...

Thank you Phil. Keep them coming x

Cathy said...

Thank you for continuing to post. Stay well! Sincerely, Cathy from the US

David Gouldstone said...

Yes, please carry on blogging (as shall I at Icknield Indagtions); reading (and writing) are among the things that are going to keep us sane. We can't, for a while, explore the country's hignways and byways at first hand; doing so virtually is the next best thing. I (and very many others) will find much comfort in English Buildings.

marcusweeks said...

Oh please do continue to keep us entertained and informed. Now I'm unable to get out and gig, I'll have more time to fully appreciate your blogs, and follow up all the cross references to your archives. Keep on keepin' on.

bazza said...

I concur with the other commentators! Your Blog is always great value (OK, it's free but you know what I mean.) One NEVER feels it a waste of time to read what you publish here.
Although I post less, I too am keeping it going! Bravo!!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s powerfully pervasive Blog ‘To Discover Ice’