Benches 34 and 35: corner of Eve Street and Northgate
It's 6am, Friday morning. A bright late March day. Somehow, I've mislaid the photos I took to accompany this post, so I'm nipping into town early doors to snap some replacements. I would have gone yesterday, but it was raining.
A metallic clatter echoes across the town centre. Stalls being set up in the Cornmarket for the weekend markets. I'm heading that way.
Cut flowers already being unloaded from a lorry. A rusting white van, back doors open, driver nowhere in sight. The van's windscreen is loaded with Yorkshire paraphernalia: a Leeds Rhinos pennant, a Leeds United sticker. That's a two hour drive from here.
I'll be back here soon enough. There are benches, after all. On towards Eve Street. I recall that this used to be my journey to work. I slip through my own ghost.
On, as I said, to Eve Street.
The three-seater, two-seater arrangement here gives this a cosily domestic feel, as though someone's set up an outside version of a living room. You've got a good view of the library and you're just round the corner from Parky's chippy on Eastgate, so it's not a terrible place to eat your lunch. You could even take a book out to flick through. Just be careful not to get the pages greasy.
On the other side of the road is Chic plumbing. Yes, I know you're supposed to pronounce it "sheek", like the kebab or the Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards disco/funk band from the 70s, but everyone in town says it like they're unfamiliar with the plural for "chick". Chickses.
This was part of my walk to work for a year and a half. Newmarket, Aswell Street, Market Place, Eastgate, (or sometimes Queen Street, Burnt Hill Lane from the bottom of Aswell Street), then cut through the Pack Horse yard, Eve Street to James Street. There's other bits of that story that'll keep for another post, but I walked past this point four times a day for eighteen months and didn't have the time for a sit-down all the way through. I'll get to my time working on James Street soon enough.
Northgate's old; medieval old. According to Cait Green, as late as 1808 it was known as both Finkle Street ("stink street" or "fart street") and Padehole (literally, "toad-hollow"). There are records going back to the early 14th century for the street, which seems to have begun its life as a rear access for businesses and other properties on Eastgate, which runs parallel.
There are waves through history of industry, of charitable endeavours (schools and poor-relief charities) and of religion; the current library site was once occupied by a Primitive Methodist chapel. There are traces of many of these in the architecture: in buildings that used to be pubs, plus in the faded pride of the British Legion Hall, in the bulk of Cannon House at the Northgate/Cannon Street intersection, in the warehouse converted into flats next to the library.
Eve Street's newer though. Perhaps there was a track earlier, but the road (and James Street beyond) date only from the very early 19th century, giving access to the then-new Louth Navigation canal from the town centre and also providing links to brickworks on Charles Street. The street name connects the road to Adam Eve, the founder of town department store Eve & Ranshaw. Eve owned land in this part of the town, and was the town's principal carpet manufacturer.
Something to think about as you're working through your lunchtime cheesy chips and can of shandy. There's 800 years of Louth hereabouts. Well worth spending a few minutes here and being a part of it a little more.
I retrace my path. The market's well on its way to being set up. The Spar shop's being unlocked. A hopeful taxi driver waiting; roll-up on the go and a flask balanced on his bonnet.
The town's waking.
Here's the Google Street View imagery. Actually, there are two pictures this time, both from September 2009, exemplifying a quirk in the mapping system. On this one, coming up from Eve Street, there's a couple of people on the two-seater. Here, from Northgate, a different couple are bunched up close on the three-seater.