Happy Dibnah Day

In honour of the legendary Fred Dibnah, steeplejack extraordinaire and world-class eccentric. Here, in dear old Blighty, we used to produce people like this at industrial levels of output. Now, alas, eccentrics are becoming an extinct species. I blame it on the Tories.

Actually, it’s just a pathetic ploy to introduce a funny video about factory chimneys, given that I can’t think of anything else to write about. Even so, Fred’s a hero in my book. Henceforth, let every February 13th be Dibnah Day. If you’re still flummoxed, here he is sizing up a job.

P&M Hurll, Glasgow

I found this brick at an abandoned dock on Campbeltown Loch.  Perfect subject for a photo, with the pinkish brick texture contrasting with the green, shiny seaweed.  And then there was the inscription, which made me want to find out more about this relic of industrial archaeology.  Didn’t think I’d have much luck, but of course Google and Wikipedia know all, see all, and will deliver it up to your browser at the tap of a key. P&M Hurll Brickworks is surprising well documented, although this site only talks about the Glenboig brickworks in North Lanarkshire, outwith Glasgow but bordering on it.  They also had a brickworks in Old Drumchapel within the city.

I discovered there are people who are passionate about old bricks.  One such is Dave Sallery at Penmorfa.com, who hosts an online collection of 1,398 bricks at the time of writing, as well as lots of pictures of steam trains.  There are 16 sites under the Penmorfa umbrella, covering many other aspects of industrial archaeology.  Well worth a look, if you’re interested in how the infrastructure of 19th century Britain was created.

While I’ve always loved steam trains, the attraction of bricks had passed me by until that spring day last year when I photographed the old dock in all its glorious decrepitude.  They’re a tangible reminder of the effort that goes into the construction of the physical fabric of a place.  An army of ghosts, without whom we would have nothing.

Here’s what it looked like, including a half sunken WWII patrol boat.  This is also where I found Lockdown and Geometry & Geography.