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Across a crowded room..

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Here, I’m outside the Wolfson Building at Durham University’s Queen’s Campus in Thornaby – just a short hop across the river from Stockton.

This is a very important building. It is not only home to the North East Public Health Observatory, it’s also the building where an informal reception for new medical students was held (at least in my day!). It was at that very reception in this very building that Wendy remembers first seeing me across a crowded room… although we didn’t formally meet until a couple of days later.

The rest, as they say, is history!

This 1,960th post was filed under: Scrapbook, , .

Photo-a-day 228: Depressing trees

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About nine years ago, I was living in these halls of residence and watched through my window as these trees were planted. This is a curse. I feel as if my first year at uni wasn’t very long ago, but every time I drive past these trees I’m reminded that it was longer ago than I imagine! At least they still look fairly young!

This 1,767th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, University, .

Photo-a-day 184: Trinity Green

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This is the ruin of Holy Trinity Church, which stands in Trinity Green in Stockton. I used to walk past this every day when I lived in Stockton and walked into uni.

Holy Trinity Church was an Anglican church consecrated in 1835. In the 20th century, it suffered a series of unfortunate events.

Those of superstitious mind might date the start of the troubles to 1955, when the church decided to remove all of the headstones from its churchyard, and convert it into an open space for fun and frolics. Perhaps eerily, one of the final headstones to be removed carried the prophetic inscription

Death to me little warning gave,
And quickly called me to my grave

Just a year later – 1956 – stone began to fall from the church’s steeple, and it was soon found to be structurally unsound. The congregation failed raise the £20k needed to repair it, and so, in 1958, the steeple was dismantled.

A decade on, the Anglican congregation dwindled here as elsewhere. The vicar launched a “getting to know you” campaign in which he went door-knocking in the local area, which did enough to keep the church going for a while.

But 1979 brought another huge blow to the church after its organ – worth some £100k – failed. The church could not afford to repair it, and over time, the congregation and the collection plate shrank to an unsustainable level. The church was forced to close in 1982.

Respite in prospect appeared in 1985, as the Greek Orthodox Church took over the building and spent £30k on overhauling the organ. But not long afterwards, the church was ransacked by vandals who stole candlesticks and communion wine – and destroyed the newly repaired organ.

In 1991 – just six years after its reopening – the church was burned down in a fire, the cause of which was never discovered.

Since then, the church has stood as a landmark ruin. The ex-churchyard, now known as Trinity Green, is used for all manner of cultural events. But with its grim history, how long can it be until another disaster befalls the Holy Trinity Church?

This 1,708th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

Photo-a-day 180: Springs

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Abandoned buildings always pique my interest: I always wonder what’s inside, and quite often find myself looking, with fascination, at the blogs and forums of urban explorers.

This gym is just round the corner from the halls I lived in during my first year at uni. Back then (2003), this gym seemed popular, and the car park was often busy. Clearly, somewhere along the line, something went wrong: it’s now an abandoned and increasingly dilapidated site. This seems bizarre given that it’s part of the thriving Teesside Retail Park, where new buildings are being added all the time. Why hasn’t this one been refurbished? Why hasn’t it been flattened and some much-needed car park spaces added? What went wrong? And what’s left inside?

All interesting questions… though the answers are no doubt prosaic!

This 1,704th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

Photo-a-day 174: Welder

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This is a little welding shop across the river from work. I don’t know any more about it than that: I’d never really registered its existence until today!

This 1,697th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, .

Photo-a-day 138: A19 Tees Viaduct

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This is a bit of the 2.9km A19 Tees Viaduct. It was built to cross the Tees at an appropriate height for big ships to pass beneath, yet since the port at Stockton was virtually disused at the time the viaduct was built, that specification probably wasn’t necessary. Only 15 years after it opened, the nearby Tees Newport Bridge was fixed in its lowered position, blocking any river traffic anyway.

Most days, mine is one of the almost 90,000 cars that use this 37 year old structure. It’s the largest bridge of its type in the UK, but is prone to frequent congestion at peak times as it’s operating at a capacity way that for which it was designed.

Mini-steps like ramp metering and CCTV monitoring have been taken to try and deal with the congestion, but with more and more vehicles using the viaduct each year, it seems likely that something more drastic will have to be done before too long.

This 1,652nd post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

Photo-a-day 135: Tees Barrage International White Water Centre

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You’ll have seen last week that I featured the Tees Barrage, and mentioned how it supported a white water course. Well, this is that very course.

It wasn’t running today, so the water wasn’t especially white, and the whole course looked a little tame. Still, I’ve included a closer photo below.

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This shot is interesting for showing some of the mechanics. Those things that look a bit like milk crates in the water (you can also see them in the first picture) are actually called “rapidblocks”. These can be repositioned to change the water current to create different flows and create different levels of challenge and difficulty. That’s how this course can be adapted to be suitable for both beginners and Olympians.

In fact, the blocks are the same as those that will be used at Lee Valley for London 2012, which is why the Tees Barrage International White Water Centre is being used as an Olympic training location for teams from across the world.

This 1,646th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

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