20 February 2017

Oldham


I wanted to begin this post with the following sentence - Last night I went to Timbuctu - but unfortunately Google Streetview vehicles have not yet been there. So instead I am going to begin this travel post with...

Last night I went to Oldham, Lancashire. Why Oldham, Lancashire? Because last year it was deemed to be the most deprived town in England. There may be other, more deprived communities such as Moorends in Yorkshire or Jaywick in Essex but as a whole borough or town, Oldham comes out on top... or bottom, how ever you might want to look at it.

My grandmother was first married in Oldham and I have been to Oldham Athletic's football ground to watch Hull City play. I also have a good friend who hails from Oldham but really I don't know the place at all. 

In the nineteenth century, it became the most productive cotton spinning town in the world but today its textile industry has more or less died away. It sits just to the north of Manchester, home to 100,000 people, 27% of whom are officially classified as "Asian" which is a direct legacy of the town's historic  textile industries.

In 1900 it had the largest concentration of fish and chip shops in the world - one for every four hundred people and as we all know the tubular bandage was invented and developed in Oldham - a "vital contribution to advancing medical science".

But that's enough factual background. Let's have a look at six random picture of Oldham. Can we see visible evidence of the town's deprivation?
Afghan Strret with nineteenth century terraces to the left and
new social housing to the right.
 "The Egerton Arms" and Egerton Estate in the St Mary's area of the town below. This is believed to be the poorest neighbourhood in Oldham with 88.4% of residents claiming at least one kind of welfare benefit.
Regency Close near Werneth Park - an area of aspiration and relative affluence.
On Yorkshire Street I spotted the Tymbuktu Health and Beauty Shop Why the
mis-spelling? I have no idea. Perhaps the "Y" adds a touch of offbeat sophistication.
An old cotton mill  on Suthers Street. Now various industrial units.
So there we have it. A little trip to Oldham. What I learnt from this exercise is that deprivation is not easy to spot. It's kind of hidden away behind closed doors and even in towns that are classed as being especially poor you will still find pockets of pleasantness - decent homes belonging to people with money in the bank and hydrangeas in their gardens.

Who knows where my next Streetview excursion will take us?

24 comments:

  1. LOL -- this is definitely armchair traveling! I do the same thing, though -- get curious about a place and check it out on Streetview. And look, you DID manage to go to "Tymbuktu"!

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    1. Armchair travelling via Streetview is so much cheaper and more instant than the real thing. Also you don't have to sit next to sweaty fellow travellers or show your passport.

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  2. I'm shocked! You actually ventured over the border? Is it like Chester, where all Welshmen have to be outside the city walls by sunset?

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    1. I was very cunning Jenny. By cruising with Streetview it meant I didn't actually have to travel into Lancashire in person.

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  3. I find Google streetview fascinating; I've wasted so much time on just a few outings, one of which was to my own house, of course. You can't *not* check out your own house on it.

    88.4% is very high. I am astounded. And saddened.

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    1. Streetview is an amazing facility. What's going on at your house in Streetview? A wild party?

      I am sure there are pockets of great deprivation in Canada too. Shirley and I were astonished by the number of homeless people we encountered in Vancouver.

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    2. Yes, that was stupid of me. I was assuming those brick buildings were better than our rundown vinyl-sided low income housing. Ours would also have a high percentage of people on benefits. And yes, there are homeless here, too, although they tend to be the hidden homeless, many of them teenagers, who couch-surf and are therefore not visible, but they're out there.

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    3. Brick? Stone? I've had another look and can't tell.

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    4. They are all brick Jenny. Perhaps an appointment at the opticians is in order.

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    5. I can tell with most of the pictures, but the one under discussion - Egerton Estates - is shown from a great height, and doesn't appear to be brick, at least not red brick!

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  4. Oldham looks almost as stark as Timbuktu.

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    1. But not so much desert around Oldham and people tend not to use camels for transport.

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  5. Hey, pick Red Deer. It's very white right now. Towns that are in decline are a sad sight. Here many of the small rural villages are quickly becoming ghost towns.

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    1. I don't think that Google Streetview use snow ploughs to collect images Red. Red Deer is certainly on my list because The Legendary Micro Manager lives there.

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    2. No, no! . They use a cute little red car!!!

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  6. I too enjoy taking virtual trips. I visit historic sites the most. This looks like a lovely little town.

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    1. I might pay a visit to Des Moines - childhood home of Bill Bryson. Have you read "The Thunderbolt Kid"?

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    2. I loved that book! He's a really good writer.

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  7. I enjoy virtual trips too, and have found Google Earth invaluable for checking out locations of hotels, and roaming an area we may be interested in going to on holiday.
    Oldham certainly looks more prosperous than Moorends, but you didn't take comparable photos. Perhaps you could go back and take a few street views there and we can compare? Regency Park looks very much like any reasonably affluent area in any UK city. In the first photo, the new social housing on the right looks very much like new "starter" homes built everywhere too. There's and absence of litter, so there must be some pride in the surroundings.
    I've seen a photo of the Google street camera - it's mounted on the roof of a Volkswagen Golf !

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    1. I was walking in the countryside nearby when an active Streetview car passed me by. For a while I appeared in Streetview, waving at the car but a few weeks later they replaced the imagery. I don't know why. Maybe I'm too ugly.

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  8. Oldham doesn't look bad, does it? I can't see any litter littering the streets, for one thing.

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    1. Perhaps I should have kept scouring the town for deprivation but my pictures were fairly random.

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  9. Apropos nothing other than the name Timbuktu my Grandmother used to recite the following to me:
    Once I met a cassowary on the Isle of Timbuktu.
    There he ate a missionary:
    Arms and legs and hymnbuktu.

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    1. Funny the things we remember from childhood. To me Timbuktu was a byword for distant mystery and exoticism.

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