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You stink, but I love you
Tue 18-May-10
8:52 am
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Shereen
Near Belfast, Northen Ireland

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Belfast stinks today.

It's nothing compared to the old, pre-weir days; but there's a definite whiff of something unpleasant in the nostrils - that familiar mix of gas works and tidal river.

When I first started working in Belfast the Gas Works site had stopped production for around two years and was a collection of old industrial buildings stretched out along the River Lagan. The river was completely tidal in those days and at low tide, on a warm day, the smell of over 150 years of gas generation would mix with river mud and flow out across the city.

The first time I smelt it I thought something had died. It was a nostril-filling, throat-coating fug that could on occasion even make you retch a little. No matter how often I smelt it, it never seemed to get any less grim. And back in those days I got to smell it an awful lot. I was working in Lower University Street and my Dad was working in Sirocco Works (him and hundreds of others). He 'd drop me at the bottom of the Albertbridge each morning and I'd walk up to work. The most direct route took me right along the gas works. I used to take a great lungful of air at the junction of Cromac Street and Ormeau Avenue and then try and hold it until I was at least over the railway line beyond the gasworks.

And then the council bought the site with redevelopment plans. The land was heavily contaminated, so the first stage of redvelopment was getting rid of the polluted materials. A seemingly-endless stream of tipper trucks travelled the Ormeau Road, dribbling foul-smelling slurry as they went; and creating so much mess and smell that the residents complained enough to get on the news. Mind you, the residents of Lower Ormeau were well practiced at dealing with the media by then.

These days the Gas Works site is a business park with offices, workshops, a hotel, and cafes. The only things that distinguish it from all the other business parks is the name, some refurbished red brick factories and an interestingly-shaped water feature in front of the hotel.

Gasworks

I'm not usually a fan of getting rid of the old, but in the case of the gas works site I think it's a great improvement. These days the most common source of smells in Belfast is the river under High Street, or the city dump.

 

(Post title is a reference to Billy & the Boingers from that great comic strip Bloom County)

Tue 18-May-10
9:38 am
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Great article, Shereen. We do not hear much about normal Belfast city life so that is a breath of fresh air (!!).

Reminds me of my days in boarding school in Cork city. Every so often, Murphy's brewery (stout) would reach a point in the fermenting cycle when great clouds of brewsmelll would envelop the city. The river Lee stank, especially at low tide, and the combination of sweet and sour is unforgettable.

There is an old Cork song called The Boys of Fair Hill that refers to that smell. One bridge is St Patrick's Bridge and there is a statue of a famous anti-alcohol temperance preaching cleric nearby:

The stink on Patrick's bridge is wicked

How can Father Matthew stick it?

Never knowingly underfed

Tue 18-May-10
6:14 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Sounds as bad as when they used to spread slurry on the field around the back of ours, chicken slurry is the worse and even shut the village school for a day. The worse part is that we only lived 10 doors away from the village school so our kids didn't get to escape it allMonster

Tue 18-May-10
7:35 pm
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MOS
Cannock Chase

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Wed 12-May-10
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there are some terrible smells out there, i used  to have a shop in Burton upon Trent just down the road from the mar-mite and bovril factory's . the smell from the mar-mite factory was horrendous sometimes but the stink from the bovril factory every few days took your breath away ,one of the locals told me it was when they empty the tanks after the animal waste had fermented  ,Shame they closed it down i was only a few years away from getting used to it.Laugh

sit down with a cupa and the urge will subside

Tue 18-May-10
9:33 pm
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Shereen
Near Belfast, Northen Ireland

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We're lucky as far as smells go around here. But a friend in England told me that his childhood home was near both a glue factory and a sweet factory. He says they came to prefer the glue factory smell.

Surprised

Tue 18-May-10
11:18 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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It 's amazing, Joanna, but slurry is not as bad as the silage that is fed to cows, IMO Roll_Eyes

LOL MOS. That just confirms my opinion of both Bovril and Marmite Doh

Crikey, Shereen - that is a surprise. I wonder why they thought that? I have never been subjected to either aroma. Frown

Never knowingly underfed

Wed 19-May-10
9:28 am
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shelley
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phew there used to be a paper factory near my dads house and it was awful; everything became permeated with the smell of bleach. It was a relief when it closed!

Wed 19-May-10
2:53 pm
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Michelle from Oregon
Oregon, USA

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Once upon a time, in the land of tall timber (and paper mills) there was a commercial bread bakery, right in the middle of Eugene,OR next to the University of Oregon. Its smell would waft over the local area, and smell wonderful, the locals only complaint being that it made them hungry! Well, as it came to pass, the EPA (enviromental protection agency) came in and said "Sorry, your particulate-per-million ratio is too high, you have to put on the super-duper filters, and stop this now!"Roll_Eyes

SO while the paper mills beltch their foul stench (the local ones smell like rancid mustard to me!), a bread bakery has the clamp-down slapped on it.

It just makes me scratch my head....Doh

If you can't be a shining example, be a terrible warning!

Wed 19-May-10
3:43 pm
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brightspark
Wilts

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Michelle from Oregon said:

SO while the paper mills beltch their foul stench (the local ones smell like rancid mustard to me!), a bread bakery has the clamp-down slapped on it.

It just makes me scratch my head....Doh


The mind boggles .......... but of course - they know best !!!!!

Big_Hug

"Work for a cause, not for applause
Live life to express, not to impress
Don't strive to make your presence noticed
Just make your absence felt"
Wed 19-May-10
7:57 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Danny said:

It 's amazing, Joanna, but slurry is not as bad as the silage that is fed to cows, IMO Roll_Eyes


Now that reminds me of a story of two little boys having a whale of a time, giggling and laughing until I decided they were having far too much fun and decided to investigate. To my horror my son and the friend's son who I garden for were jumping in pools of water right next to silage bags. We made them strip off at the door and sent them upstairs for a bath they were that bad. I took the clothes home and steeped them outside in a bucket for a week and used the water to water my roses! Enough said!Eeek

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