After annoying myself by breaking my Thinkpad yesterday evening, and finding myself with nothing to do today, I decided to take a random break to Basingstoke and try to make a photographic record of this strange town. The results aren’t exactly astonishing photographically, but I have tried to capture some of the divided character of the place.
I grew up in Farnborough, so I’ve been familiar with the area for quite some time, and when I was younger, we used to jokingly refer to it as ‘Boringstoke’. But Basingstoke is a city of strange contrasts, unlike many others I can think of. The main thing that strikes you as you walk through parts of the city centre is 60s concrete architecture (a much maligned style in my opinion; Ernő Goldfinger showed how to do it right). However, Basingstoke has pretty parts that remind one of cathedral towns such as Winchester, Guildford, or Salisbury. It also has some gleaming, shiny parts (the Barclays building) and some unforgivingly ugly office blocks (such as Alencon House, previously occupied by IBM). It has some hilly streets that in places seemed to uncannily resemble Kendal; and a spotless shopping centre selling upper-middle-class goods and services.
What a bizarre place Basingstoke is.