Alistair Grimley’s latest photo series entitled Apedale is an exploration of the redevelopment of former industrial land in North Staffordshire. Apedale has been an area of industrial presence since the earliest days of the industrial revolution before being mostly turned into a public park by the early 1990’s. Since then the areas around Apedale have been redeveloped with housing and distribution warehousing.
Apedale Country Park as it is known today is located in North Staffordshire, not too far from the city of Stoke-on-Trent and adjacent to the town of Chesterton. Staffordshire became renowned for its heavy industry in the 19th and 20th Centuries having everything from Coal to Iron mines and even became the world centre for pottery. Apedale’s industrial story really began in the mid 1770’s with the construction of the Apedale Canal in 1776. Soon after its construction large scale industrial mining operations consumed the site with a major Iron Works and several deep pit coal mines beginning operation throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries. The ironworks closed in the years following the First World War and most of the deep mines combined with one another until the coal seams began to run dry.
Following the closing of the larger pits small footrails sprang up to tap into the smaller seams closer to the surface, the last of these ceased active production in the early 1990’s and with it brought to a close Apedale’s mining history. Staffordshire County Council took over the site and began turning it into a leisure aimed country park, installing a visitor’s centre and cleaning up the footpaths that scatter the area. In recent years a set of volunteers have set up a museum offering a historical insight into the area and guided tours into the last accessible footrail known as Apedale Colliery.
Apedale represents a restless landscape going from wide open green fields, to industrial desolation and finally reincarnation as a public leisure area. As time goes on however the area is slowly being encroached on by new housing and industrial developments which once again threaten to change the landscape once again. This is an area that embodies Britain’s continually changing landscape both physically and societally, this series of photographs both new and old aims to visualise this ideal.
To keep up with this project as it develops join my mailing list, a sign up form can be seen at the bottom of this page. Alternatively you can find more updates about this project on my blog HERE.
Do you have a connection or an interest in Apedale?
I'm looking for anyone willing to work with me on this project whether you're an artist, historian or just an interested party I want to hear from you and perhaps we can work together?
See the General Enquiries page for how you can get in touch.