Monday, 13 June 2011

One step at a time

As I was going up the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh, how I wish he’d go away!


That can’t possibly be right, can it? If you go up one stair, you have gone up a step. However, then we would have to rhyme stairs with theres ...

Here I have a set of steps. All these photos are steps; not a staircase in sight. I have banish-ed them to the inside of the house. Luckily this post is about tiles, and the steps are purely a display method. But, I can be even more pernickety. The tiles are only on part of the step: the riser. The riser gets little wear and tear; not like the poor tread, which can bow under the weight of steps over the more than a century of use.


Gorgeous aren’t they: the tiles on these risers? I think they are all originals, which would date them from about the 1880 to the end of the 19th century. Sometimes it is hard to determine if they are original or renovated. Many of the tiles on the treads have been renewed as have the tiles on the small verandas on these Paddington terraces. However, the overwhelming majority of the tiles have been removed permanently and the steps simply concrete rendered to maintain their shape. Function over form – very boring.

23 comments:

TheChieftess said...

LOVE all those old tiles!!!

orvokki said...

Ennenvanhaan osattiin tehdä kaunista. Onneksi suuri osa on saanut jäädä meidän ihastelemiselle. Osa taas on purettu ja heitetty pois.

Kuinka kauniit nuo portaat ovatkaan.
I love these.

Regards from Finland :)

Kay L. Davies said...

Beautiful, Julie. What a wonderful place to put tiles! I don't know if I've ever seen such a thing in Canada.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

freefalling said...

They ARE g-orgeous.
I love them.
I embiggiated them all - my favourites are the ones in the second photo.
I see you've put a link here to Kirsten's blog - hope you're all hanging tough(ish).

Andrew said...

I've never seen or noticed riser tiles before. We had beautifully worn concrete step at my work that held the history of thousands of feet, but them it was deemed a hazard as was covered over by non slip metal.

Thérèse said...

They could be transformed one day into re-enactment quilts...
It's beautiful.

Davine said...

Just been doing a bit of a catch up on your blog, I do so love your photos and your writing is also so interesting. By the way these tiles are really beautiful but don't we so often just look straight past them.

brattcat said...

I see nothing boring in these treads but they are somewhat modest, I suppose, when you compare them to the bold and beautiful risers.
I can be rather hard on risers...I often catch them with the backs of my shoes as I descend. The wooden risers leading to my attic office are scuffed within days of a fresh paint job. Poor Mr. Brattcat...his work is never done. Perhaps he should take up tile work.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

If I had steps up to my front door Julie, I would definitely have tiles on the risers, you could really express yourself before anyone had even come in the front door. Really love these images of a time gone by.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Aren't they wonderful. I don't think I've ever noticed them before. The late Victorian tiles are beautiful ... we have them around the fireplaces in our home. It's the old fashioned patterns and colour schemes that I find very attractive.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Just looking at phoito 1 again ... do you reckon the pavement and the step tiling is of the same era? The pavement looks federation and I don't think is a great match with the tiles on the risers which embiggened look great.

Julie said...

My guess is that the path tiles are much more modern, more so even than Federation.

This is the sort of pattern that I frequently encounter on paths and on verandahs in the front yards of Paddington terraces. Once this weather eases, I will see if I have time for a wander to capture some of the paths and verandahs. You will then see what I mean. They are nowhere near as attractive as the riser tiles, of which I now have quite a collection.

Gemma Wiseman said...

The Paddington terraces I remember well from my Sydney life! Adore the variety of tiles featured in this post!

In answer to your question on my blog, I have lived on the Mornington Peninsula for about 7 years now! Love all the scenes and features here!

Ann said...

I love those tiles, unfortunately both my stair tiles and verandah tiles are long gone. I do still have the tiles around the fireplace. I think the path tiles are federation (unless they are reproduction), there are still houses in my street that have them both on paths and verandahs. My verandah originally had them but they were in such bad condition they had to go.

Alan O'Riordan said...

My house back in the UK is in a little village called Jackfield, in Shropshire. It used to be the heart of the tilemaking industry in England. In fact, my first home there was an apartment, converted from the boardroom of the old Maw & Company tile manufacturers, who specialised in encaustic tiles for decorative and commercial use (think London Underground) and export them all over the world. It's quite the rage to order bespoke handmade tiles from Jackfield to this very day.

Joe said...

I agree Julie. Function over form is very boring. Perhaps that is why we try to find interesting images to post.

Jilly said...

Wonderful. The sort of thing one would see in Mexico or Portugal. Not the same tiles, of course, but the idea of tiles/risers. I suppose the steps themselves are plain so as to be slippery and perhaps they never were more than this. I remember tiles, so similar to these, as a surround on the fireplaces of an old Welsh cottage I bought one time.

Love post especially the poem and discussion of stairs, steps, risers.

Jilly said...

...so as NOT to be slippery. I really must read my comments thru....

Julie said...

*grin* ... I did wonder ...

Peter said...

Beautiful indeed. Paddo is a jewel of Sydney.

J Bar said...

Love the tiles too.

Mary Ann said...

Wow, so much red. It's really lovely. In the US, we have a little bungalow that has a cement stairway up the front. It has to be redone every 10 years or so, and the next time that comes around, I'm going to insist on tiles for the risers.

Kevin said...

The tiles on the stair risers are attractive and in a protected spot. A good idea that could be revisited.