On Market Street in the Manchester suburb of Stalybridge lies this disused sandstone structure with its artistically sculpted ironwork. It may have been many things throughout its history; furniture showroom was at least one of its uses.
The photograph captures one small part of a beautiful old building; one of many pieces of architecture, of variable levels of interest, that have lost their function in this Tameside town. What remains are these traces of a more vibrant Victorian past, with its combined sense of age, communicated through generations of rust and repainting, and more elaborate design values than those adopted now. The long-term decline suffered here is a matter that 'Love Stalybridge' (see on Twitter) and many others endeavour to challenge with their efforts to revitalise the borough.
The lock seems poignant – a signal of something now permanently gone – as does the sign behind the gates: a timetable of opening hours, hand-drawn using stencil and ink, it is a vestige of a pre-digital past.