As a child of primary age I used to walk from home to school. It was only a few minutes' distance - up the road to the corner with the grocer's where I used to buy sweeties and comics, then down Pearson Street to my goal, the Crabbe Street Junior School. I was familiar with every inch, every paving-stone, of that walk, and indeed I can still go over it in detail in memory even though many of the features I remember have vanished with the years. Near the end of the journey, on the corner opposite the school, was the Monarch Works, a galvanising establishment which took the form of a square of brick buildings with a courtyard in the middle. Access was through an archway at the street corner, and if you looked through that archway what you saw was the office accommodation either side of the arch, and beyond, the courtyard disappearing out of sight to the right, and a bit of the factory part on the far side, from whence came interesting industrial noises and odours arising from the various operations involved in coating buckets with zinc. Each school day for four years I passed that archway four times, and each time I looked through the archway and speculated on what lay around the corner in the courtyard. I imagined - well, to be truthful I'm not sure what form my imagination took, but it certainly included a large area paved with blue industrial bricks and surrounded by the machinery that made all the noises and smells.

It wasn't till at least fifteen years later that I actually saw around that corner. The factory had closed by then, and on one visit back to my parents for the weekend I took the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity. It was certainly not what I'd expected. The buildings were empty and had been gutted of all the galvanising equipment, but what most struck me was the smallness of the courtyard. Instead of the huge expanse I'd pictured there was just a tiny open area which extended hardly any distance back further than you could see from the street outside. Effectively, what you could see through the entrance arch was practically all there was. What had confused me was probably that although on the outside the factory stretched a long way up Pearson Street, on the inner (courtyard) side most of that distance was taken up with covered-over areas, the building forming the fourth side of the courtyard, which was a lot deeper than I'd anticipated.

I guess the moral is, believe only what you can see and experience for yourself, and take nothing for granted.

© Darroll Pardoe 1990


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October 1st 2010