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Inside Hulme Hippodrome, Manchester

As part of RIBA’s Love Architecture Festival, the Manchester Society of Architects organised an open day, arranging access to a diverse range of spaces and places normally not open to the public. Due to prior engagements that day I had to (begrudgingly) choose just a single location for a whistle-stop visit. Top of my list was the Grade II listed Hulme Hippodrome, somewhere I’d been curious about since living nearby in the late 90s. As with Mayfield Depot and Victoria Baths, I’m drawn to neglected places in the city with rich cultural and historical depths, and had previously seen photos of the delights within.

360° panorama of Hulme Hippodrome interior by Joby Catto of Anti Limited

The nondescript facade of the building gives little clue of what’s inside, but the interior itself is stunning: riotously bright colours, ornate plaster mouldings and grandiose details abound. The richness and detailing in the auditorium is tempered by years of weather damage and dereliction. Neither time nor the elements have been been kind to the building; dilapidation has taken a toll on the furniture and fittings; the roof’s badly damaged, exposing the interior to Manchester’s delightful climate; and multiple pigeons have occupied most parts of the building, leaving fecal streaks everywhere.

360° panorama of Hulme Hippodrome interior by Joby Catto of Anti Limited

Luckily the Hippodrome has many admirers and supporters who recognise both the historical importance of the building, and the potential it has as a community resource. One man in particular is leading the drive to restore the former music hall and theatre to its former glory.

I chatted to Tony Wright, the operations manager for social enterprise The Youth Village, who’s worked tirelessly to raise funds and awareness since they occupied the building in 2011. His passion for the project is infectious. It needs to be; he estimates a full refurbishment will cost a cool £20 million, with initial work to fix the roof and guttering around £50,000. It’s an incredible space though… and through hard work, smart investment and strategic partnerships, that might be achievable. Spread the word about the anonymous building with the incredible secret hidden inside, and how you might be able to help…

Look around the image above to explore the Hippodrome in two different panoramic 360° views. Click/tap the white hotspot marker to jump from viewpoint to viewpoint.

Mayfield Depot before MIF13: inside and unwrapped in 360°

Look around the panorama above to explore a series of four panoramic 360° views around Mayfield Depot. Click/tap the red hotspots to jump from viewpoint to viewpoint.

Every photographer has a wish-list of places they’d like to explore – there are quite a few in Manchester I’ve always been curious about for years – and Mayfield Depot has always been pretty close to the top for me.

So when this year’s Manchester International Festival announced Mayfield Depot was one of their headline venues, my excitement levels mounted. I’m delighted to be working on a series of 360° panoramas for MIF13, working again with Toasted Productions as we did during MIF11. As such, I finally got inside Mayfield Depot to capture it in all its decaying detail before it’s rigged out for gigs and exhibitions. Above is a panoramic tour of four views, below are unwrapped versions.

As these are now being featured on the MIF, Manchester Evening News and Guardian Culture websites I can share some previews of the interiors of Mayfield Depot, before its transformation for performances by Massive Attack v Adam Curtis and much more. Enjoy looking around one of the most evocative hidden spaces in Manchester…

Update: you can now see a before and after view of the set here, showing the Massive Attack vs Adam Curtis set build.

Yet more cooling tower views

I couldn’t resist the chance to revisit the iconic cooling towers for a third time in early May, this time with another friend who’s also a photographer. I spent a lot of time onsite capturing HDRs and backplates for a separate sIBL project I’m working on, but I also managed to shoot a couple of panoramas inside the towers themselves.

The greatest challenge on the day was the wind: with the landscape so flat, and the towers themselves acting as giant chimneys, it was often hard to keep the tripod steady for long enough to shoot the exposure ranges. Meanwhile the clouds scudded across the sky, occluding the sun right in the midle of my exposures, creating massive changes in light levels. And finally it was distinctly chilly after the warmth of April. Lots of fun. Never the less, I was more than happy to spend the afternoon capturing some of the details and nuances of this site. There were a lot of changes from time I’d visited in January, and I’ve heard the site may be cleared soon. Glad we got another chance to explore while we could.

HTML5 version

Click the icons above to view a fullscreen 360° view of the scene with Flash (for desktop) or HTML5 (for mobile). You can also view the location in Google Earth. Happy viewing!

HTML5 version

Click the icons above to view a fullscreen 360° view of the scene with Flash (for desktop) or HTML5 (for mobile). You can also view the location in Google Earth. Happy viewing!

More views of the cooling towers

I went back to the site of the wonderful Thorpe Marsh Power Station near Doncaster this weekend with my friend English Electric: he to sample the colossal reverb inside the cooling towers, and I to take more photos. I’d only had a cursory visit in October, which barely whet my appetite, so I’ve being eager to go back ever since.

I got a lot of great stills, and also snapped a couple of panos. All are multiple exposure shots, but I’ve gone back to using Enfuse for these, rather than a ‘true’ HDR workflow, as I feel it works better for the subject matter.

Anyway, enough of the technical stuff. If you can visit this site, do so. It’s a photographer’s dream…

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Whitby Abbey: vampires optional…

This is the impressive ruined Benedictine abbey which sits on the hilltop above Whitby, the delightfully picturesque fishing town on the coast of the North Yorkshire moors. The abbey forms an impressively moody sight in its own right, overlooking the North Sea and the quaint fishing harbour below.

However it (and the town below) found literary fame after Bram Stoker set part of his novel ‘Dracula’ in Whitby. The fictional count preyed on Lucy on the East Cliff, just a few yards from this abbey. 120 years after Bram Stoker wrote his gothic masterpiece, Whitby has become a regular place of gathering for goths from across the country. We arrived there on one such weekend, the day after Halloween, and the site was dotted with impressively-dressed goths checking out the ruins. The spectral figures added to the sense of other-worldliness. The skies were exactly what one would hope for in a setting like this: turbulent and rolling clouds, with shafts of sunlight breaking out above the autumnal moorland. Very evocative…

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.