Wednesday, December 19, 2007


FREETOWN (NON HDR), originally uploaded by fotofacade.

Freetown is a locale which lies within the hinterland of the expanding town of Bury in Lancashire. Its origins lie in the "free" land which was situated between Church glebe land and the local landowner - the Derby Estate.

Freetown developed as Bury's sweatshop, providing the fragmentary services needed for the rapidly expanding paper and cotton mills around the town. It was a place of artisan craftsmen, and individual entrepreneurship. By the 1830's domestic houses were being built alongside the industrial structures. Street's were called after Pitt, Kay, Cobden and Bright and had strong political attachments. In 1846 a Parliamentary enquiry described Freetown as a filthy place and one of the worst areas of the country to live in.

Freetown is a still a chaotic mix of industry, leisure and commerce which has developed in a completely haphazard and organic way, no doubt encouraged by its status as being free from church and landed gentry control. This "in-betweeness" is all the more apparent by the eclectic nature of it's plan form, the layered tapestry of industrial architecture, and the temporary nature of some of the structures inhabited.

Today most visitors to Freetown would find it raw, dirty, full of shadows, and detritus. It survives, surprisingly, smack bang next to the ordered form of the expanding town centre. It survives, in spite of a society intent on political correctness - and in this respect it is still free. This is what I find remarkable, and dare I say it, refreshing about the place. Areas which look destitute, and survive within the penumbra of our economy, are fertile with real messages about our society and the vast difference between what is perceived and what actually IS.

Over the next few days I will post more images of Freetown

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