My usual base of operations in the Widnes area being fully booked, I found accommodation a little further afield on the fringes of Liverpool’s John Lennon airport, whose signage manages to borrow a line from Imagine without being completely cheesy (though I did have to remove the street lights from the picture to give truth to the quotation)
This is the region of Liverpool’s motor manufacturing industry, the Halewood Jaguar/Land Rover plant being nearby; suppliers of two of the world’s favourite luxury brands. Makes you proud to be British, though of course they are both owned by the Indian Tata Group!
Inevitably the area is peppered with factories and warehouses supplying the car plant, which means that even a fifth floor hotel room doesn’t benefit from the most beautiful vistas. Even a moody sunset does little to prettify the surroundings.
Scanning the panorama that includes the airport control tower, you have the additional though dubious benefit of the tanks and chimneys of the refineries of Ellesmere Port. To be fair, the hills of the Clwydian Range, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are visible on the horizon to the right of the view though so distant as to be irrelevant to the overall impression.
And yet there is a small patch of woodland in the centre of this industry, an oasis of heritage in a desert of progress. The dual carriageway that streams passengers to the airport, morphs into a tree-lined avenue beyond it. This is Speke Hall, a Tudor mansion that fell into disrepair and ruination before being restored by the Victorians and eventually being passed to the National Trust just before the Second World War.
My work schedule meant that I wouldn’t have time to explore its secret defences (the house was built by Catholics; targets for persecution in the era of the Hall’s construction) or encounter any of the spirits that make it one of Britains most haunted buildings, but I thought I’d have time to shoot a few images of the exterior at least, capturing the typical black and white Tudor exterior, and from a distance I did. That was as far as I got though. Until July, the property is closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays. Another time perhaps.