Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Loneliness of the long distance cleaner

A solitary cleaner hard at work keeping the corridors and entrances to university buildings clean, so that text book-laden students, lecture-bound academics, distracted researchers and organised office staff can work in a clean and safe environment.

The Renold Building was opened on this day, 23rd November, in 1962. It was part of the Manchester College of Science and Technology (later UMIST) campus expansion that decade. It was named after Charles Renold, who conveniently wore two hats: Vice President of the college and chairman of the planning and development committee.

Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where the buildings were named after cleaners, porters, technicians or admin staff instead of the usual dignatories?

My title came from Alan Sillitoe's 1958 book and 1962 film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. It belongs to a genre of literature and films prevalent in that era on the disillusionment of post World War II Britain, and the lack of opportunities for the working classes.


  1. Never read the book but I well remember the film, oddly I live a couple of doors down from the former home of the director of the film Tony Richardson, theres a small plaque but most people miss it. I always liked the French way of naming of streets and avenues, they seemed to me to be meritocratic.

  2. LOVE the Renold Building! I understand that the 20th Century Society and others have tried to get it listed.

    When I was at the University of Manchester I was in an orchestra that used to practise in the Renold Building in an (extremely cold!) lecture theatre. We used to go and sit on the lovely polished parquet floor to warm up during the break (for some reason it was warmer than the rest of the building - perhaps it was heated underneath?!) and look out of the big windows.

    Also worth wandering inside for the Victor Pasmore( mural, which I think you might also be able to see from the outside if you go round the back.

  3. Looking forward to visiting Manchester tomorrow and Friday, always lots to see and do. And always something going on. Love the lights and their reflections above his head.

  4. Very nice post Chrissy. Thank you.

  5. It's a modern building, I like those glasses!
    Great shot!

  6. There was also a Dad's Army episode : The Loneliness of The Long Distance Walker - now unfortunately missing!

    Once having to earn my money as a cleaner to supplement my student grant I can identify with this picture greatly - thanks for the post!

  7. A deep bow in respect of your picture and writing.

    Please have a good Thursday.

  8. Doesn't look like anyone is "rocking out" at this time, despite the venue on display. :)

    Much respect to those who clean up after others, as well as those who work the night and other odd hours taking care of things we don't normally see.