Nouveau 古老 Wuxi

Local travels.

Out of my window I can not only see 江尖公园, but also the last remnants of the dilapidated houses which must’ve filled the area until not so long ago. Out of curiosity I thought I’d go and have a look at these last surviving pockets and also have a look at the development on the island.

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The first picture looks across the canal to the south-east and apart from one building missing half a roof, the place doesn’t appear to be in any danger of being demolished – for the time being. In the second picture, the rubble in the foreground is new. When I had a look at one of the earlier pictures I took, I found that the building was still there. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone was actually living in the last surviving hovel. There was some guy snoozing on a sofa nearby and when I went to have a closer look from the other side, some dog barked at me in a proprietorial fashion.

wuxi_gulao03 wuxi_gulao04

This, on the other hand, is nouveau 古老, but doing it’s best to look as dilapidated and worth for demolition as any of the aging and decrepit parts of the town. When I went in, there were two people having a quiet snog near the door and, unexpectedly, flute music. On the left-hand side of the second picture was an area which looked like it might’ve been a stage. Some guy was there practising playing the flute, his music being quite suitable to the setting, I thought. The building on the right has some historical significance because there were a couple of stones on the other side, one of which gave the details about the place.

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If I understand the sign on the left correctly, the building is the former site of some (state-owned?) paper company. It also gives a date of 2003, although the area doesn’t look neglected enough to have been abandoned six years ago. The other sign no doubt explains the significance of the place.

wuxi_gulao07 wuxi_gulao08

On the other side is this small branch of the canal which was mostly the preserve of this purple water flower, probably a species of water lily. At the far end is a lock which probably hasn’t been used in some time. The fisher­men might also actually catch something because in the water near the lock, I could see bubbles in the water and a shoal of little fishes. There was also something larger there because I heard a loud splash and looked down to see that something had violently agitated the water, although I don’t know what. The fishes themselves seem to be clustered beneath some drain per­haps waiting, as Dryden said in MacFlecknoe, for the morning toast.

[22.08.13. Much has changed since I took these pictures. The ancient street was eventually opened, but that took some time (and I ought to go back to see what’s there); the old houses were eventually demolished, but that also took some time; they’ve been being replaced by a cluster of high-rise buildings, but that’s also taken some time. Five years after I arrived in Wuxi, the project, called 县前三号, still has a long way to go.

23.09.14. Another year has passed and, as it turns out, the ancient street on the island is almost entirely deserted apart from a couple of restaurants. The high-rise buildings have risen, but as far as I can tell, they’ve stopped rising and, it seems, no work is being done behind the green gauze in which they’re wrapped like concrete mummies. The hoardings alongside 县前街 were removed a few months ago as if the project was about to enter some new phase, but I think that may be no more than prolonged decay.]

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2 thoughts on “Nouveau 古老 Wuxi”

  1. The paper industry guild, guild like one of those medieval guilds set up by each particular trade. It’s not easy to read in this photo (the looking-down-from-regular-standing-height angle doesn’t help, nor does the lack of shadow) but it would seem February, 2003 is when the site was proclaimed a Wuxi Municipal Cultural Relic Preservation Unit- probably meaning it was officially declared a protected cultural relic then. The second sign is even harder to read with it’s more advanced erosion, but it dates the guildhall to February, 1922 and says a few things about the architectural style- a blend of eastern and western, traditional courtyard stuff, no details and nothing terribly interesting, blah blah, (unless, perhaps, the key characters have been eaten away by 6 years of acid rain).Anyways, if it’s been preserved/rebuilt in something reasonably close to the original style, it might be worth a more detailed exploration.

  2. It’s easier to read the inscription on the full-sized picture. The 600×450 (click on the thumbnail) version is a little more legible. The front entrance is in that Sino-Classical grey brick style, although the architecture in my mind ends up looking Romanesque. The building, I’m guessing, is a repro. It’s all locked up and quite what anyone intended for it, I don’t know.

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