Wednesday 31 December 2008

Blot on the Landscape

There is a growing cult of the cooling tower exemplified by last summer’s unsuccessful campaign to rescue the Tinsley towers near Sheffield from demolition. Since childhood I have admired these structures with the same awe and wonder as a medieval cathedral can inspire. I perfectly understand that if I belonged to a different generation they would appear as abominations in the landscape but I just can’t see them that way. These specimens at Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire have long been familiar and marked a return to the North Country when travelling back from family visits to the soft South. They stood for industry, energy, practicality and hard labour, all qualities in short supply south of the Trent. Being myself in possession of only modest amounts of these qualities, I soon found myself exported to the South. After almost 5 decades my North Country chauvinism has been considerably diluted in the light of experience and cooling towers are extremely rare in the South West where I live now. I read recently that the top of Lincoln Cathedral is the perfect vantage point from which to observe colonies of these creatures in their natural habitat in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside; distance lending enchantment to the view.

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