Sunday, 9 July 2017

windows ten

Just to be clear, this post is about windows, not the ubiquitous disk operating system peddled by Microsoft. I’ve recently been photographing some of the more attractive windows in my home town, and here are ten of the most striking (I could have added many more, but then the previous sentence would have been redundant). I’ve posted the photos in sequence, so that anyone interested in taking a closer look can visit the sites in sequence.

I’ll start on Auction Mart Lane. There was once a thriving livestock market nearby, but it was moved to an out-of-down location in 1987. This building appears to have once been some kind of warehouse, and the central window was once a doorway:

Moving to the bottom of Castlegate, we come to the location of the second photo. The ground floor is currently occupied by a Mexican restaurant, but when I was growing up, this was Dayson’s cafe, and I still think of this as the Dayson’s Building. Note the trefoil mouldings above the windows, an architectural feature that I do not think is repeated anywhere else in town. Note too the red rock surrounding the windows. This is Penrith sandstone, which I described earlier in New Red Sandstone. In contrast to the ordinary nineteenth-century houses that can be seen in many parts of town, in which the window surrounds are a single block on each side, the windows here have several blocks that mimic the way the cornerstones of buildings are arranged. As you will see, this design feature is repeated in many local buildings.

The next photo is of the former Crown and Mitre public house on King Street, which closed decades ago but has since been reopened as the Lounge. As in the previous picture, the red rock is Penrith sandstone, but also like the previous photo, the main material used is another sandstone, of unknown origin.

The location of the next photo is less than 50 metres from that of the previous one. Notice that on this building, the sandstone has been cut into blocks of a uniform size (‘dressed stone’) rather than chiselled into rough blocks of different sizes. I selected these windows because of the elaborate ‘canopies’ directly above them. The local branch of Lloyd’s Bank is located on the ground floor.

Moving north to Middlegate, we come to a terrace of six houses with shops on the ground floor. Once again, the window surrounds are Penrith sandstone, while the walls are of an unknown type of sandstone:

The next building is less than 100 metres further north, on the corner of Duke Street and Corney Square, and is similar, if less elaborate, than the previous one:

On the other side of Corney Square is the town hall, which is probably the single most elaborate building in town. It was built in the late eighteenth century as two separate houses and was designed by Robert Adam. It was converted into the town hall in 1905–06. Very little of the stone used in its construction is local.

The next photograph comes from Penrith’s Methodist church, a short distance from the town hall. Unlike the town’s other nineteenth-century churches, which were built in the Gothic revival style, this building is in an almost brutal Romanesque style. This window is on the front façade. The white pillars appear to be of some kind of igneous rock, although it isn’t possible to take a closer look, so all I can say with confidence is that it is not local.

On the other side of Duke Street is the town’s former Congregational church, which was closed in 1990 and has since been converted into bedsits. Although I think that this is a spectacular window, my main reason for including it in this collection is that the church was built by my great, great grandfather Alf Grisenthwaite (completed 1865) on the site of an earlier Ebenezer Independent chapel.

The final photo is of the former Girls County primary school on Brunswick Road, built in 1894 and now a mixed infants school (P1 and P2 in Hong Kong parlance). I attended an adjoining annex, built in 1901 as a mixed infants school, between 1951 and 1953. Note that there is no longer any segregation by sex in Penrith’s schools.

If you want to check out these buildings in person, the town’s railway station is a good place to start and is only a five-minute walk from the final location.


  1. Your hometown has some very photogenic buildings. Nice pics.

    1. ...and I could have posted more too Big D! I will if there’s sufficient interest.


Please leave a comment if you have time, even if you disagree with the opinions expressed in this post, although you must expect a robust defence of those opinions if you choose to challenge them. Anonymous comments will not be accepted.