Monday, 20 April 2015


The photo was taken at Topsham. Somehow the derelict boats on the other side of the Exe are not eyesores, at least for me. Neither is the Vigilant, a once derelict Thames barge being restored nearby.

Dereliction is like that. A derelict Austin Seven is probably more acceptable to many than a derelict Austin Allegro. Both have a certain glow of nostalgia, but the Allegro’s would we weak and tinged with memories of British industrial incompetence.

Derelict castles and manor houses are fine. English Heritage thrives on them and carefully preserves their dereliction for us to admire. A derelict castle on the skyline can be a thing of beauty. I well remember walking barefoot along the sands of Embleton Bay towards Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland. A fine sight and a memorable experience.

Derelict stone barns are mildly picturesque - we see them all over the Derbyshire hills. Derelict cranes, steam engines and bits of rusting industrial heritage may lack the same charm but they are at least interesting if not too recently abandoned. Perhaps abandonment is a factor here. It must not be too obvious or recent.

Derelict houses are not so good unless old and interesting. Even slight hints of dereliction are unwelcome in most neighbourhoods. Yet a Tudor ruin or a few pillars and some trefoil stonework from some long lost priory are positively prestigious, tearooms and eye-watering property prices almost guaranteed.

I suppose nostalgia casts its golden glow over some things and not others. How do derelict democracies fare?


Michael said...

I always wanted to spend my leisure time restoring a proper motorbike, like an Aerial Square Four, or a Velocette.

Of course, I never will, and the older I get, the more I just think of perhaps getting one which has been partly restored, and finishing it off.

By the time I eventually shuffle off, at this rate, I'll probably be the proud, day-old owner of a brand new one which just needs a quick polish...

A K Haart said...

Michael - a few weeks ago I saw an Aerial Square Four for sale in Ashbourne. No restoration needed though. There was a shaft-drive Sunbeam too.

James Higham said...

I'd be derelict if I didn't mention some boats near us. So strongly built that though the planking needs repair in places, the superstructure is fine.

Demetrius said...

In the TV advert's for the Allegro were a group of people singing and dancing behind it as it moved forward. The opinion of the unlucky people who bought one was that they were there to pick up the bits and pieces that were falling off. I seem to remember a good pub' once in Embleton, is it still there?

A K Haart said...

James - I'm amazed this barge made it to Topsham.

Demetrius - we didn't manage to visit an Embleton pub. We were there mainly for the beach walk as it was a fine day.