Tom Phillips - 20 Slideshows

20 Slideshows

16. The Car Park. c. 4.15pm.

  • 1973

  • 1974

  • 1975

  • 1976

  • 1977

  • 1978

  • 1979

  • 1980

  • 1981

  • 1982

  • 1983

  • 1984

  • 1985

  • 1986

  • 1987

  • 1988

  • 1989

  • 1990

  • 1991

  • 1992

  • 1993

  • 1994

  • 1995

  • 1996

  • 1997

  • 1998

  • 1999

  • 2000

  • 2001

  • 2002

  • 2003

  • 2004

  • 2005

  • 2006

  • 2007

  • 2008

  • 2009

  • 2010

  • 2011

  • 2012

  • 2013

  • 2014

  • 2015

  • 2016

  • 2017

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Over the years I've been forced to the conclusion that there are secret places designated by various authorities for training purposes. Grove Park I was convinced was used (since it has little traffic) as a training street for road diggers: most residents will usually accept a laconic explanation like 'redoing the gas mains' if they enquire.

With Site 16 I seem to have stumbled upon another such practise area, this time for road-sign erection. The site looks innocent enough in 1973, an ordinary car park (Max. Headroom 6'10"). In 1974 a post appears on the left, its purpose a mystery. In 1975 Max. Headroom becomes 6'9" and the post still is functionless. By 1976 the post has acquired a sign at its top though as yet unrevealed, covered in black plastic. A No-Entry sign appears and arrow markings on the road to show where the Car Park entrances are. In 1977 the wrapped signpost disappears never having let on what its message was. Signs appear for roadworks and the Car Park sign is renewed. In 1978 the entrance to the Car Park is changed but the arrow directing one to it remains in the old place, urging the motorist into the railings. In 1979 the road markings are revised but drivers now have to guess the available headroom. So it goes on. In 1986 we thought that the council had rumbled that they were being watched, for a large post (also signless) was erected directly in front of us and only about a foot away. We should have known better for in 1987 it also disappeared. The No Entry sign erected in 1974 was tested to destruction: it faded into a barely roseate circle before being replaced by a new plastic version in 1988.

In 1989 the Car Park was closed as a 'traffic experiment' (though plans were afoot to build a shopping mall). Of course it retained the painted arrows which might lead the hapless motorist once again into a barred gateway. In 1992 it reopened.

* * *

It is just before this site that, perhaps again unconsciously mirroring the shape of a day's play in cricket, we take tea. Apart from a period of four years when tea was to be had in Pella Erskine-Tulloch's adjacent garden (1981-84) the nearby Choumert Cafe is used.