‘Before the bomb sites and bad houses could be scratched from the streets, before a vision of high-rise living could be built up from sketches, temporary solutions to the housing crisis were being pieced together at the city’s edges: the quick, new prefabs, plotted in 1944 and delivered within weeks of the war’s end, their concrete walls framed in timber or steel, the steel recycled from Anderson shelters.’
This month’s new post on the Longbarrow Blog is a social history of Swindon, a working town in the south of England. The essay reflects on its growth as a trade centre, its transition from market town to railway town in the 19th century, and the challenges of the post-war environment; it is also a memoir of a self-build housing scheme, and of one of the men who took part in it. Click here to read ‘Self-build’ by Brian Lewis.
‘The exchanges that take place are a form of heightened listening…’ A new interview with Brian Lewis for Opus Independents
highlights the ethics and methods that have shaped the development of Longbarrow Press, with an emphasis on the role of landscape, collaboration and field-based research. Click here to read the interview. ‘It is this retracing of well-trodden paths through modern history in the shoes of the 99% that makes Broughton’s tragic life seem so close and familiar to the contemporary reader.’ Jack Windle’s close reading of Rob Hindle‘s dramatic sequence The Purging of Spence Broughton, a Highwayman (recently reissued by Longbarrow Press in an expanded pamphlet edition) places individual episodes and the wider arc of the narrative in an illuminating historical context, and offers some insights into the roles of contemporary figures such as the songwriter Joseph Mather. Click here to read the review. Rob Hindle discusses and reads from The Purging of Spence Broughton in the unique atmosphere of Sheffield Manor Lodge (Manor Lane, Sheffield, S2 1UJ) on Monday 7 March. Click here for further information and to book tickets.
We’ve created a new Podcasts page to showcase the extended sequences, poetry walks, field recordings and collective performances we’ve created since 2008. Click here to browse and listen to the audio recordings. Our most recent podcast, documenting the Mexborough canal walk led by Matthew Clegg and Ray Hearne in May 2015, is available to hear below:
This year’s States of Independence one-day independent press fair takes place at De Montfort University in Leicester on Saturday 12 March (10.30am-4.30pm, admission free), with more than 70 writers presenting readings and workshops throughout the day. You are also welcome to visit the Longbarrow Press stall (with a full range of books, pamphlets and other objects). Click here to view the full programme of readings, workshops, displays and talks.
Close to Home
It was an overspill, tipped into fields
after the War. We played in woods,
held chalk-white warm eggs, frogspawn and newts
caught in the tracks left by the diggers.
We lived in white semis and grew detached
between the one way system and the end of the line.
Some of us knew the names of trees
some all the stops to Euston.
Nobody knew the fields better than me –
the hour and a half of copse and grass
the dell deep enough to abseil down
bright red lines on my palms from the washing line.
Coaches came to take our parents to work
along asphalt like liquorice.
We spoke of where our families came from
we made our voices belong.
My mother spoke about going home.
Still there were always the fields, always a song
I was the first to sing when the weather was high
there were Germans to fight, places to hide
and her, standing at the edge of the path
calling me in before the other boys.
There was no adventure for the Famous One.
We moved on. It became itself after we’d gone.
Title poem from my collection Cloe to Home, published by Prole Books. I was raised on an overspill South Oxhey near Watford. There’s a wonderful surrealist novel about the birth of the estate, The Late Walter Benjamin by John Schad. Apologies for the self promo but I’m very interested in the cultural legacy and identities of the post war overspills.
Loved the blog btw. Thanks.