Last night, you may remember, I went for a wander around Halifax in the dark and I made certain observations about a few buildings by which I had passed. Several of them looked as if they were being prepared for demolition, and so I decided that I would pass by here in the daylight to see what's going on.
This is one of those that I saw and you will note that it is almost ready to go. Anything worthwhile has been removed, and removed a long time ago by the looks of things. The notice on the side proudly proclaims that in early course it will be replaced by a modern building - doubltess one of these huge glass-and-concrete monstrosities.
On the brick wall at the left edge of the photo was the outline of another former building that that looks as if it has long-since been pulled down.
I went down to have a closer look at that. Whatever was formerly here has been down for quite a while and has become a dumping ground for all kinds of rubbish. I'm sure that the City Fathers appreciate the improvements that they have encouraged here by virtue of this demolition.
But look at the magnificent building standing next to it. An early-Victorian ironstone building with what looks like a mid-Victorian brickwork extension and an unusual but interesting Victorian advertising sign.
From the front of the property it looks even more splendid and a building like this, properly cleaned and maintained, would be an asset to any city almost anywhere in the world.
It's currently occupied by part of the local University, so I'm told, but how long before our glorious planners have this building down and replaced by a glass and concrete high-rise of the type just behind it, all in the name of progress? Academia has never been one to mount a spirited defence of art and culture. All one needs to do is to mention the magic word "sponsorship" and modern-day academics will jump through hoops.
The usual fate of a building such as this (apart from demolition of course) would be to transform it into 25 loft apartments, each one with air conditioning and en-suite bathroom, with communal swimming pool and private off-street parking This would usually send a shudder down the spine of most people, but at least it would assure the future of the building for another 100 years.
But back to my ruined buildings again and there's a good view from here of what it is that the City of Halifax is on the point of destroying. You will observe that the demolition site from a while back seems now to have become nothing but a rubbish dump. It's exactly the same kind of thing that happens in most cities throughout the world.
In other cities that I've visited, I've seen beautiful historic buildings standing "in the way" of progress, and how quickly they have been ruthlessly purged. And having made a lifetime study of several test cases, here is my infallible method - entitled
HOW TO REDEVELOP A PLOT OF LAND CURRENTLY OCCUPIED BY A HISTORIC BUILDING
10 EASY STEPS FOR PROPERTY DEVELOPERS
i.... the land and building are bought by the developers, and then stripped of anything of real value, "for safekeeping", of course.
ii... the building is abandoned by the owners
iii.. the locks of the building, or whatever other security measures there are, are mysteriously damaged so that the scavengers, the homeless and the drug-users can find their way inside
iv... a campaign starts up from nowhere, so it seems, to demolish the building to prevent its being unlawfully occupied by Society's marginals
v.... the plumbing and electric cables are stripped out by ... errr ... vandals, meaning that the place becomes dangerous
vi... there is usually always the Property Developer's Best Friend, the Suspicious Fire, if things are not moving quickly enough.
vii.. the property is now a dangerous and desperate eyesore and the local authority is urged to agree to its demolition. After being the guests of honour at a couple of major sporting events, gala dinners and other society functions, local councillors almost always agree to grant permission, and the building is bulldozed before anyone has time to have second thoughts.
viii. the derelict site becomes a dumping ground for all kinds of waste material. Rumours of the presence of rats and other such-like vermin start to accumulate
ix... a campaign springs up, out of nowhere, for some action to be taken to clean up the eyesore that the empty site has become.
x.... the developers who own the land, in response to this anonymous campaign, submit proposals to build on the empty site, in order to clean it up. After being the guests of honour at a couple of major sporting events, gala dinners and other society functions, local councillors almost always agree to grant permission.
Of course, nothing like this would ever happen in Halifax.
Just across the road from the Morse's Teas building there are some buildings of a similar kind of historical interest and I remember these from my previous visit .
I must admit to surprise to find these still here too, but it looks as if they won't be there for much longer. If you look behind them you can see that the modern skyscrapers are encroaching them from this side as well and it won't be too long before they are completely surrounded.
Anyway, make the most of these few old buildings while they are still here. They give you quite a good idea of how Halifax must have looked 70 years ago. Come back in 10 years time and this area will probably look so much different.