About: Places and Cultural Traces

Place explored through a personal selection of the lives, novels, art, architecture, poetry and history inspired by England’s industrial era.​

Robert Butroyd (Editor)

The culture of so called ‘ordinary places’.

‘Ordinary’ places’ are not boring.

As a teenager I thought a place could not get any more boring than my birth town, Scunthorpe. And then I discovered that Ted Lewis’s novel Get Carter – the novel that inspired the film with Michael Caine – was set in Scunthorpe, and that Humphrey Bogart’s Hollywood agent moved to Rotherham to write his first novel, set in a pit village four miles from where I was brought up. The more I looked and asked around the more I found art, literature, history – and much more – were inspired by places often overlooked, or even disparaged.

CLR James said he did not learn to write by running around Bloomsbury. He learnt to write in Lancashire, in working class Nelson, a town that came into existence ‘from virtually nothing…A peat covered and rain sodden wilderness’. A place the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner dismissed as having no history. It was from here CLR wrote his definitive account of the Haitian Revolution, and ‘Beyond a Boundary’, what the Sunday Times called ‘the greatest sports book ever written’.

The places of ‘ordinary people’ leave fascinating cultural traces. All we have to do is look. If you wish to share traces from so called ordinary places, please get in touch.