Leicester City Centre

On leaving the railway station turn right – there’s and enormous social housing tower block named Elizabeth House.

Architect: John Middleton 1976-79.

Next door a noisy neighbour the former British Telecom – St George’s Tower now Premier Inn with its newly acquired cladding of many colours.

Photo Steve Cadman

Next to City Hall architects: Barnish and Silcock 1938- the modest opening ceremony took place on 7th November 1938.

Once home to the Electricity Board Sowrooms specially furnished with a model kitchen for housewives who are interested in the modern uses of electricity in the home. A special theatre also presented weekly cookery demonstrations and a Service Centre displayed, sold and hired out electrical appliances.

Opposite City Hall the former Assurance Insurance HQ now Ramada Hotel.

Adjacent Halford House – former Leicester Temperance Building Society.

It was partly occupied by the firm of architects who built it in 1955-1959, Pick Everard Keay and Gimson. 

With its stunning clock surrounded by The Four Winds, by locally based artist Albert Pountney – he was head of sculpture at Leicester College of Art from 1947until 1960

Look out for the concrete planters known as Beckett’s Buckets – named for John Leslie Beckett, Leicester’s City Engineer and Surveyor 1941–64.

Lewis’s Tower on Humberstone Gate is all that remains of this Art Deco department store.

Up around the bend to the Curve Theatre Opened in 2008 by Her Majesty The Queen, designed by acclaimed architect Rafael Viñoly.

Originally designed and built in 1936 in the Streamline Moderne style by Robert Arthur Bullivant, and operated as an Odeon Cinema. The terracotta panels, which feature mermaids, were hand-moulded by William Neatby at the Lambeth premises of Doulton and Co.

The cinema was opened on 28th July 1938 with a screening of A Slight Case of Murder.

Grade II Listed August 1997 – the building has been restored and converted into a venue for corporate and social events renamed ATHENA.

Onward now to the Pfister & Vogle Warehouse – built in 1923 architects: Fosbrooke and Bedingfield for the Milwaukee based leather manufacturers.

Calling next at the Cardinal House Telephone Exchange 1970 – at 84m the tallest building in the city.

A sprawling complex of tower and outlying buildings.

No longer taking calls the Wharf Street Post Office and Telephone Exchange.

On 11 December 1959, the United Kingdom’s first drive-in post office opened. It was situated at the new Wharf Street Branch Post Office under the centre archway of the Wharf Street Telephone Exchange building in Leicester, which had a private road running through it.

Despite being announced in a burst of fanfare, the drive-in post office was ultimately considered to be a failure. From the initial 60 to 70 customers a day, this fell to 20 to 25 a day and, by 1963, the number of customers had tailed off to three per day and even this was not always maintained.

Postal Museum

Let’s carry on and park it in the Auto-Magic Lee Circle Car Park.

Much beloved of Sid James.

One of the oldest multi-storey car parks in Europe. When it opened in 1961, providing space for 1050 cars, it was also among the first automated public car parks, using coin-operated barriers. Beneath the six parking levels, the supermarket chain Tesco opened their first store outside London. Tesco was integrated with the car park above so that staff could take customers’ purchases direct to their cars. For some years the new supermarket featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest store by floor area in Europe.

The opening of the Leicester Tesco was a landmark event in the history of UK retailing and marked the beginning of self-service shopping, with customers required to use one of the company’s baskets or trolleys. A crowd of 2,000 gathered to see the opening of the store by ‘Carry On’ comedian Sid James in the presence of Sir Jack Cohen, founder of Tesco stores, who helped to pack bags at the check-outs. This was the first ‘discount store’ opened by Tesco.

Story of Leicester

Leicester Progressive Spiritualist Church

Epic House architects: Andrews, Emmerson & Sherlock 1963-1967

Formerly home to the UK’s first local radio station.

Crown House home to the Benefits Agency and County Court in the 1970’s

Let’s take a look at the Corah St Margaret’s Works – currently not working.

Corah was established by Nathaniel Corah, who began buying hosiery in Leicester to sell in Birmingham in 1815. The first extension was in 1882, when the company was the first in Leicester to introduce electric lighting to a factory. 

At the outbreak of World War II Corah had 4,500 employees but over half of that number left to join the Services or undertake war work.  Regardless of the reduced workforce the company produced 26 million knitted items for the government and processed around 250 million clothing coupons.  The engineering department was also extended to allow for the production of 80,000 gun parts and 30,000 parts for tank landing craft.

Despite all the innovation, good working practices, quality products and special relationship with Marks and Spencer, Corah was acquired by Coats Viyella in 1994.  The company was soon broken up and the St Margaret’s Works site closed within a decade.

Story of Leicester

The remains of the old Corah factory in Leicester city centre could be almost entirely demolished to make way for hundreds of 1,187 new homes.

Leicester Mercury

However here comes the cavalry:

C20 Society has joined Historic England and Leicester Civic Society in condemning plans to demolish the former Corah Factory, at the St Margaret’s Works site in the East Midlands city.

BISF Prefabs Wadsworth Lane – Hebden Bridge

Wadsworth Lane Hebden Bridge HX7 8DL

Calderdale is awash with non-traditional housing as can be seen on this site:

Non-traditional housing in Calderdale

The Second World War brought an even greater demand for the rapid construction of new dwellings. In addition to the need to rebuild homes damaged as a result of the war, the Government had other objectives that were set out in a white paper in 1945, to provide a separate dwelling for any family who wanted one and to complete the slum clearance programme started before the war. After the Second World War there was a surplus of steel and aluminium production, and an industry in need of diversification. These factors drove the move towards the use of prefabrication, as a result many new varieties of concrete, timber framed and steel framed systems emerged. Whilst most systems were intended to provide permanent or long-term housing a few were intended only as emergency or temporary solutions.

The homes on Wadsworth Lane are BISF Type A1 – designed by architect Frederick Gibberd and engineer Donovan Lee.

Manufactured by British Iron & Steel Federation and British Steel Homes Ltd.

Over 34,000 three-bedroom semi-detached houses and 1048 terraced houses were erected across England, Scotland and Wales.

Northolt

Non Standard House

We have encountered the very same houses in Tin Town Wythenshawe

I walked up Wadsworth Lane in 2021.

I walked past again in 2022 – the home appear to be in good health, many improved or extended, yet retaining at least a little of their heritage.

They are lived in and loved.

Leicester University

Way back in 1972 the nation thought fit to celebrate its Modern University Buildings, rightly so, as many campuses represented the very best of the era’s architecture.

Leicester was foremost in this innovative use of C20 constructions.

Attenborough Tower

The Attenborough Building is the tallest building on the campus, and houses arts and humanities departments.

The building comprises three distinct elements: an 18-storey tower block containing 270 offices and tutorial rooms; a low-rise building, known within the University as the Attenborough Seminar Block, containing seminar rooms and computing facilities; and an underground area housing two large lecture theatres and the University Film Theatre.

It was designed by Arup Associates and constructed between 1968 and 1970, with Ove Arup as the chief engineers.

The university’s development plan at the time called for two other similar towers, but these were never built.

The building was named after Frederick Attenborough, who was principal of the then University College from 1932 until 1951, and father of Richard and David Attenborough. By the time of the opening ceremony Frederick was elderly and frail, so the building was opened on his behalf by his youngest son John.

Wikipedia

Engineering Building

Opened in 1963 and widely regarded as one of the most architecturally important buildings of its era, the Engineering Building at Leicester is utterly distinctive.

Between them, architects James Gowan and James Stirling, plus engineer Frank Newby, created a unique piece of modern architecture designed around both the specific needs of the Engineering Department.

Atop the two cantilevered lecture theatres sit two joined towers containing labs and offices, their design inspired by the superstructure of an aircraft carrier. The rippling ‘waves’ of the two large glass roofs, angled at 45 degrees to the towers, face north to provide illumination without direct sunlight – which could affect delicate instruments.

There are actually two types of glass in the roof: translucent ply-glass with an inner layer of fibreglass, and opaque glass coated with aluminium. The distinction between the two only becomes noticeable at night when the building is illuminated.

Wiki.commons

The building’s walls are constructed of red Accrington brick and red Dutch tiles. Atop the taller tower is a water tank to provide hydraulic pressure, while the corner of the shorter tower is cambered to avoid overhanging part of Victoria Park. Within the ground floor workshop space, which is partitionable to provide flexibility, the floor is a series of concrete slabs that can be removed to provide foundations for machinery as required.

Visually stunning it may be, practical too, but the complexity of its design makes the Engineering Building very difficult – and hence expensive to keep in good repair, a situation exacerbated by the restrictions of its Grade II* listing.

Leicester University

Like Kahn at Philadelphia or Rudolph in New Haven, Stirling and Gowan at Leicester have given future architects and building committees a qualitative solution that can form a challenge for future efforts. They were not, themselves, forced into the strait-jacket of a local modernist cliché that was already established on the far side of the campus, and they refrained from setting up a rival one on their own quarter of the site-one which would have only required undoing at some future time. Instead, the architects addressed themselves to the immediate demands of the programme with devotion and respect.

Architectural Review 1963

Charles Wilson Building

Sir Charles Haynes Wilson was a Scottish political scientist and university administrator. As Principal of University College Leicester, he led the institution to university status in 1957 and served as the first Vice-Chancellor of the new University of Leicester, before becoming Principal of the University of Glasgow in 1961.

The building was designed by Sir Denys Lasdun in the brutalist style, and completed in 1963.

It is Category B listed. 

It is the university’s main social and catering building, and is licensed as a venue for civil weddings and civil partnerships.

St Helens Stroll

By wandering aimlessly, all places became equal, and it no longer mattered where he was.

Paul Auster  City of Glass.

The station as built in 1961 to a design by the architect William Robert Headle, which included and advertised a significant amount of the local Pilkington Vitrolite Glass. The fully glazed ticket hall was illuminated by a tower with a valley roof on two Y-shaped supports. The platform canopies were free standing folded plate roofs on tubular columns.

The new station building and facilities were assembled just a few yards from the 1960s station building and is the third build on the same site. The project came in at a total estimated cost of £6 million, with the European Union contributing £1.7 million towards the total funding. The new footbridge was lifted into place in the early hours of 22 January 2007.

The striking Pilkington’s glass-fronted building was designed by architect SBS of Manchester. Construction work was completed in the summer, with the new waiting rooms and footbridge opened to passengers on 19 September. The new station building was officially opened on 3 December 2007.

Wikipedia

Emerging from the space age bubble of St Helens Central Station.

Turn right towards The Hippodrome

In the early Edwardian era a fine theatre was opened on 1st June 1903. It had been designed by local architect J A Baron and was on the site of an earlier theatre known as the Peoples Palace. It was operated as the New Hippodrome Cinema from 8th August 1938 when it reopened with Anna Neagle in Victoria the Great. On 1st September 1963 it was converted to a Surewin Bingo Club by Hutchinson Cinemas which continued to operate in 2008. By May 2019 it was independently operated as the Hippodrome Bingo Club.

Cinema Treasures

Onwards down Corporation Street to Century House, currently awaiting some care and attention and tenants.

Century House is a prominent landmark in St Helens town centre, being the tallest office building in place. The accommodation ranges over 9 floors, providing offices from a single person, to whole floors. In addition, all tenants benefit from the use of a modern break out space and meeting rooms, in addition to manned reception desk.

On The Market

Next to the Courthouse low lying, lean and landscaped.

Refurbished in 2012

Further on down the road the former Unitarian Chapel – now the Lucem House Community Cinema.

On the corner the YMCA offers a cornucopia of architectural styles and fun.

Including this geometric brick panel.

Around the corner to the Police Station by Lancashire County Architect Roger Booth.

Down the way the derelict Job Centre.

There are plans afoot for conversion to apartments.

Former Capitol Cinema.

Architects: Frederick Evans and Edwin Sheridan Gray

The Capitol Cinema opened on 3rd October 1929 by an independent operator. It stood on a prominent corner site at North Road and Duke Street – known as Capitol Corner.

The Capitol Cinema was taken over by Liverpool-based Regent Enterprises Ltd. in 1929, and by the Associated British Cinemas – ABC chain in 1935. It underwent a renovation in the 1960’s, and was closed by ABC on 9th December 1978.

The building was converted into a sports centre, by 2009 it was a Central Fitness gymnasium.

Cinema Treasures

Along the way to St Mary Lowe House RC – the style is a combination of Gothic and Byzantine elements. One of the most unusual fittings is the carillon, one of the largest in the British Isles with 47 bells, which was installed in 1930 and is still played regularly.

Architect: CB Powell 1924-30 Grade II Listed

Taking Stock

Next to the Ormskirk Street United Reformed Church

Ken Fisher’s first APEC project 1976

The main approach is identified by a beak-like porch which projects from the main cladding.  In this space hangs a recast eighteenth century bell, from the original chapel.

Let’s take it to the Midland, Nat West and Barclays Banks.

With an intermediate former Gas Showroom.

Next to the Church of St Helen.

Architect: WD Caroe 1920-26 Grade II Listed

A chapel has been on the site since at least the 16th century. The chapel was doubled in size in 1816, but burnt down in 1916. It is the parish church of the town, and stands in a prominent position.

St Mary’s Car Park a multi-storey masterpiece straight outa Dessau.

Next crossing a complex web of inner ring roads designed with the beleaguered pedestrian at the forefront of the planners’ minds.

To the inter-war Pilkington’s Offices – Reflection Court

Architects: Herbert J Rowse and Kenneth Cheeseman 1937-41 Grade II Listed.

Historic England

Onwards to the Post office – sorted.

Eccles Congregational Church

Wellington Road Eccles M30 9AL

Architect: TD Howcroft 1969

Once upon a time there was a Gothic church.

The Cornerstone of the building was laid in front of a crowd of 2,000 on Good Friday 1859 and the church was opened for public worship on Good Friday 6th April 1860. In the press of the day, the church was described as – a Cathedral looking church.

Photo: Flickr cabinet photograph by Enos Eastham of Eccles.

In 1965 it was announced that a new Eccles motorway would be built through the church land.

Work began to demolish the Church and replace it with a new smaller church, but the old church did not go down without a fight as workers could not pull down the steeple. After eleven days of battering and buffeting by eighteen pounds of gelignite and two eight ton bulldozers, the steeple finally surrendered.

Then there wasn’t – then there was this:

On Friday 11th July 1969, the new church officially opened with a splendid ceremony. A minor hitch occurred when the organ blew a fuse during the second verse but the Congregation sang through it while organist Mr Kenyon frantically fumbled about and rectified the matter.

Eccles Congregational Church

TD Howcroft was also responsible for St Wilfrid’s in Pevensey Bay – I happened to cycle by in 2015.

My thanks to Mr Tony Flynn – the acting Lord Mayor of Eccles, for arranging our visit through church member Mr George Cross.

To the rear the exterior is, as Mr Pevsner would say – unprepossessing.

The elevation facing the main road more than somewhat less unprepossessing.

A curved apse along with a raised and canted roof – a window up above illuminating the altar.

The main body of the church is bold and voluminous – strong verticals to the rear and right.

The pews, organ pipes and other furnishings appear to be of a piece.

There is a dynamic timber roof with supporting beams.

Previous Pastors.

Relocated War Memorials.

Leo Fitzgerald House – Dublin

Leo Fitzgerald House Hogan Place Erne Street Upper Dublin 2

The second post featuring the work of Herbert Simms following on from O’Carroll Villas.

These homes were named for Civil War hero Leo Fitzgerald.

London born Herbert George Simms was responsible for the building of some 17,000 new working class dwellings in his time in office as Dublin’s pioneering Housing Architect, ranging from beautiful Art Deco flat schemes in the inner-city to new suburban landscapes.

Freestanding L-plan multiple-bay four-storey social housing block, built c. 1940, having attached stairs tower to east elevation. Flat roof concealed behind rendered parapet with concrete coping, and having rendered chimneystacks with concrete copings and clay pots. Flemish bond brown brick and rendered walls. Square-headed window openings with rendered surrounds and sills, and replacement uPVC windows. Square-headed door openings with rendered surrounds and timber doors to galleries. Square-headed door opening in attached stairs tower with mild-steel double-leaf gate, concrete platform and steps.

Statue of Sacred Heart to south elevation.

Buildings Of Ireland

Irish Life Centre – Dublin

1 Talbot St North City Dublin D01 XW65 Ireland

Architect: RKD Architects lead Andrew Devane 

The brickwork, use of white aggregate for the arches, and tinted glazing are similar to Devane’s Stephen Court building on St Stephen’s Green.

The nine-building Irish Life Centre complex was originally built between 1974 and 1977 comprising office space, as well as two blocks of apartments. The complex was built on the former site of the Brook Thomas warehouse and timber yards along with other adjoining sites costing £900,000.

1970s

Irish Life, now part of the Canadian multinational Great-West Lifeco, were the original developers.

The 14-foot copper-bronze sculpture Chariots of Life by Oisín Kelly 1915 – 1981, greets staff and visitors at the entrance plaza. Although completed in 1978, the sculpture was not unveiled formally until 1982.

Inside the Abbey Court Garden there was once a large colourful mosaic, Sweeney Astray – 1987 by Desmond Kinney. The glass mosaic was comprised of twelve panels narrating Sweeney’s wanderings through forests and hills, from prose and poems dating back to the 1600s and updated by Seamus Heaney in the early 1980s.

It was removed in 2013.

Emma Gilleece

This is Dallas meets De Chirico – bronzed glass and dark colonnades surrounding open un-peopled piazzas.

Wandering under low underpasses into open space and finally into a green oasis.

O’Carroll Villas

Cuffe St Dublin 2 Ireland

Richard O’Carroll TC died for his country on 5th May 1916.

A true martyr for the love of his Country and its people, and a true Working Class Hero!

Cllr O’Carroll deserves to be recognised by the State and the People of Ireland for his work with the Labour Party, The Ancient Guild of Brick & Stonelayers Trade Union and most importantly for his contribution to the Freedom of Ireland.

‘Bhí sé dílis dá thír is dá chineál’

‘He loved his country and served his kind’

I came upon these two slab blocks of flats whilst walking the streets of Dublin – this service tower acts as a memorial to his life and achievements.

I was stopped in my tracks when I chanced upon the enchanting mosaics, wrought iron railings and walkups, I stayed a while to take a look around.

Busáras – Dublin

Store Street Dublin 1

Architect Michael Scott – 1945-1953

This was my first real trip to Dublin, having previously hastily passed through, over eager to take myself elsewhere. To accompany me I purchased The Dublin Architecture Guide 1937-2021 from Books Upstairs. It proved to be an indispensable companion on my walks around the city.

To begin at the end, the last building I explored was the Busáras – the central bus station, for intercity and regional bus services operated by Bus Éireann.

Áras Mhic Dhiarmada – Mac Diarmada House is the official name of the building, which also includes the headquarters of the Department of Social Protection.

CIÉ – parent of Bus Éireann, leases the lower floors from the department. 

Áras Mhic Dhiarmada is named after Seán Mac Diarmada, a leader of the Easter Rising in 1916.

Photo: Architectural Association of Ireland

The building has an L-shaped plan with two rectilinear blocks of differing heights sitting at right angles, with a circular hall at the ground floor designed in an International Modern style, influenced strongly by Le Corbusier. The British engineer Ove Arup was commissioned to oversee some of the elements of the design, such as the wavy concrete canopy which overhangs the concourse. It was designed to be a multi-functional building, with a restaurant, nightclub, cinema and other services all housed within it. The building incorporated a number of materials to create texture, such as brass, Danish bronze, copper, Portland stone cladding, Irish oak flooring, terrazzo stairways, and mosaics designed by Patrick Scott

It was one of the first modern buildings in Dublin that attempted to integrate art and architecture, utilising elements like glass facades and a pavilionised top storey with a reinforced concrete flat roof, the building won the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland Triennial Gold medal in 1955. It was heralded as Europe’s first postwar office building by American and British journals. 

The Eblana Theatre, originally intended as a newsreel venue, in the basement of the building was used as a theatre venue from 1959 to 1995. The building was featured on the highest value stamp issued in the Architecture definitive postage stamp set issued in 1982 by the P&T – the forerunner of An Post.

Wikipedia

Renovation took place in 2007.

Let’s take a wander around the site – I was immediately captivated by the wavy concrete canopy and it’s terrazzo companion.

There is additional mosaic work beneath the roof top canopies and columns.

The building is a fine amalgam of volumes, materials and detailing.

Let’s have a look at the concourse.

Don’t forget to take a look downstairs.

Time to go – I have an aeroplane to catch.

Other bus stations are available – notably in Preston, Huddersfield and Hanley

St Mark’s Broomhill – Return

Broomfield Rd Sheffield S10 2SE

Having been here before – I returned.

There is something within the work of George Pace which speaks directly to my eyes and heart – and feet. His Modernism is tempered by the Mediaeval – along with Arts and Crafts references and a nod to Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp

I have also visited Bradford, Chadderton, Doncaster, Keele and Wythenshawe.

Here in Sheffield is a church built in 1868 – 1871 to a standard neo-Gothic design by William Henry Crossland. Bombed in the Blitz restored, redesigned and built by Pace 1958 – 1963, accommodating the original spire and porch.

Here is the Historic England listing.

There is stained glass to the east, Harry Stammers illustrating the Te Deum and to the west an abstract design by John Piper made by Patrick Reyntiens.

Let’s take a walk around the exterior.

Time to go inside – happily the St Mark’s is open weekdays, in addition to Sunday services.

Boots – Nottingham

I boarded the 49 bus to Boots.

I alighted from the 49 bus at Boots and proceeded to take a look around.

Unsurprisingly the construction work was now complete.

The pharmaceutical factory for the Boots Company was built in the 1930s and was designed by Sir E Owen Williams. It uses reinforced concrete as an external frame. The strength of the frame allowed the design to incorporate large areas of glass.

Much of the site is now listed.

Here is the company’s official history

Photograph taken December 1994 © Copyright Crown copyright

D10 Wets Building

D6 Dry Building

D34 Fire Station – now offices.

At this point I was asked to leave the site – having arrived on a public service bus, I was unaware that this was a restricted area.

This was explained to me by the ever so helpful security staff.

I made my excuses and left.

D90Skidmore Owings & Merrill and Yorke Rosenberg & Mardell 1967-69

Bolton Walk

Organised by the Twentieth Century Society

Text by Eddy Rhead and David French.

Bolton Town Hall – 1873 was designed by William Hill of Leeds, with Bolton architect George Woodhouse.

The original building was extended in 1938 by Bradshaw Gass & Hope – hereafter BGH.

Le Mans Crescent by BGH 1932-9 well complements the Town Hall extension. Its neo-classical design is assured and confident. Pevsner remarked that:

There is, surprisingly enough, no tiredness, the panache is kept up.

Three arches pierce the Crescent’s centre but today they lead only to a potential development site. One end of the Crescent contains the Art Gallery and Library; the other used to house the former Police Headquarters and Magistrates’ Courts.

George Grenfell Baines, the founder of the Building Design Partnership, was involved in this project when he worked for BGH in the 1930s

The Octagon 1966-67 originally by Geoffrey Brooks, the borough architect, rebuilt 2018-2021. The hexagonal auditorium has apparently been retained. Pevsner states of the former building:

A welcome dose of honest Brutalism.

The Wellsprings successfully fitting with the Town Hall

The former 1931 Cooperative Society Store, on the Oxford Street corner, is by BGH. The entrance has Doric columns in deference to the Town Hall’s Corinthian ones – and Le Mans Crescent uses the Ionic for the same reason.

We pass Paderborn House 1968 -69 Sutton of Birmingham clad in moulded concrete, with Traverine around the entrance.

Former Lloyds Bank on Deangate corner, clad in white faience, looks BGH-ish but it’s not listed in the Lingards’ BGH monograph.

Across the way the unlisted Post Office – complete with listed phone boxes.

Whitakers 1907 by George Crowther.

Pastiche timber-framed with pepper-pot turret.

Incorporates genuine Tudor timbers from a demolished building nearby.

To the north of Deansgate, down Knowsley and Market Streets, is GT Robinson’s 1851-6 Market Hall. The interior is, according to Matthew Hyde: a lucid structure simply revealed.

He contrasts it with Market Place Centre 1980-88 by Chapman Taylor Partners: In that most ephemeral of styles, a jokey Postmodernism.

It does however echo Victoria Hall 1898-1900 BGH.

Chapman Taylor also did the 1980-8 Market Place Shopping Centre. The Market Hall was built over an impressive brick undercroft above the River Croal which has recently been opened up and is a destination.

At the Oxford Street corner, Slater Menswear, above Caffé Nero, has Art Deco white faience upper storeys.  Further down is the imposing Marks & Spencer, faced in dark stone 1965-67.

The mansard roof was added later.

Along Market Street, Clinton Cards is clad in white faience with Art Deco window details.

At the corner of Bridge Street is a charming 1960s clock; the building would not look out of place in Coventry.

Other buildings of interest on Deansgate include Superdrug – with some Art Deco features; Greggs by Ernest Prestwich of Leigh who trained with WE Riley. 

Sally Beauty and the Nationwide – entrance by William Owen of BGH.

The former Preston’s jewellers, on the corner of Bank Street, has terracotta, by Thomas Smith & Sons 1908-13, a prolific local firm. It had a time ball, on the clock tower, which was raised daily at 9am and dropped at 10am, on receipt of a telegraph signal from Greenwich.

The 1909 Bolton Cross, in Dartmoor granite, by BGH replaced an earlier one which is now kept at Bolton School. Churchgate contains the 1636 Ye Olde Man & Scythe; the former coaching inn Swan Hotel, reconstructed in the 1970s to look more genuinely Georgian and Ye Olde Pastie Shoppe 1667. 

Stone Cross House 1991 was built for the Inland Revenue in an aggressively red brick and spiky style. It has a rather desperate chandelier in the foyer. 

The gates of St Peter’s church EG Paley 1871 are framed by Travel House, Newspaper House -1998 and Churchgate House and Huntingdon House 1974.

St Peter’s has a Neo-Gothic font and cover by N Cachemaille-Day 1938. The gates and gate piers may look early C20 but they are late C18.

Samuel Crompton 1753-1827, the inventor of the mule, is buried under the large granite monument, erected in 1861.

At the corner of Silverwell and Institute Streets is WT Gunson & Son’s 1970 Friends Meeting House: decent with a light elevated roof corner.  It has a tilted roof floating on the glazed upper walls.

Scott House has a charming 1926 plaque commemorating Sir James Scott and his wife Lady Anne. Scott started the Provincial Insurance Company.

The two storey offices of Fieldings and Porter are a successful piece of infill by BGH.

Nip around the back to get a glimpse of this cracking stairway.

Silverwell Street 1810 is named after the Silver Well. Bradshaw Gass & Hope now self­-described as Construction Design Consultants, not architects, are at number 19. Note the plaque to JW Wallace, founder of the Eagle Street College, dedicated to the works of the American poet, Walt Whitman. Wallace worked there from 1867 to 1912. The plaque is ringed by a quote from Whitman:

All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it.

Whitman corresponded with his Bolton admirers; the Museum contains early editions of his works and his stuffed canary. 

Further down Silverwell Street is the 1903 Estate Office of the Earl of Bradford who still owns a large area of Bolton.  At the end of Silverwell Street is the former Sun Alliance House, now converted to flats, the colourful panels are a later addition.

Bradshawgate and Silverwell lane corner has a former café bar with original curved Moderne windows. This was originally Vose’s tripe restaurant, later UCP – United Cattle Products. It was most stylish and elegant, decorated in 1930s streamline Moderne style, with starched white tablecloths, silver service and smart waitresses. 

Nelson Square was opened on March 23, 1893. The cenotaph memorial to the Bolton Ar­tillery is by Ormrod, Pomeroy & Foy 1920. Calder Marshall sculpted the statue of Samuel Crompton 1862. The shiny red former Prudential Assurance office 1889 isn’t by Waterhouse but by Ralph B. Maccoll of Bolton. Matthew Hyde in Pevsner describes the early C20 faience facades of Bradshawgate as:

A plateful of mushy pea, ginger nut, liver, tripe and blood orange shades.

Infirmary Street has a 1970s office block with an octagonal, nicely lettered plaque to WF Tillotson, newspaper publisher. Round the corner in Mawdsley Street, the former County Court 1869 TC Sorby, 1869. Opposite, at the corner, is GWBD Partnership’s 1987 St Andrew’s Court, containing a somewhat whimsical recreation of a Victorian shopping street in miniature. The job architect was J Holland. Matthew Hyde says:

Neatly contrived on a tight site. 

Into Exchange Street and through the former Arndale Centre 1971; low and mean according to Pevsner 2004, now re-branded as Crompton Place 1989 Bradshaw, Rose & Harker and still dreary, we go to Victoria Square and the Town Hall. The classical building on the left is the former Bolton Exchange 1824-5 Richard Lane.

The square was pedestrianised in 1969, to the Planning Department’s designs, under RH Ogden. It was quite an early scheme which won three awards including one, unsurprisingly, from the Concrete Society. The fountains  were designed by Geoffrey Brooks and the trees were planted by the Earl of Bradford.

Owen Hatherley in Modern Buildings in Britain says of the town

It feels as if you’re in a real city, like in Europe, and you can drink your cup of tea in repose while admiring the monuments. 

Swansea Civic Centre

Architects: J Webb as County Architect and CW Quick as the job architect of the West Glamorgan County Architects Department 1982

Canolfan Ddinesig Abertawe formerly known as County Hall.

Confused?

Don’t be, it’s all quite simple really.

Following the implementation of the Local Government Act 1972, which broke up Glamorgan County Council and established West Glamorgan County Council, the new county council initially met at Swansea Guildhall. Finding that this arrangement, which involved sharing facilities with Swansea Council, to be inadequate, county leaders procured a dedicated building, selecting a site formerly occupied by an old railway goods yard associated with the Mumbles Railway.

The design features continuous bands of glazing with deep washed calcined flint panels above and below.

Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, visited on 20 April 1989.

After local government re-organisation in 1996, which abolished West Glamorgan County Council, ownership of the building was transferred to Swansea Council. It was renamed Swansea Civic Centre on 19 March 2008, and Swansea Central Library moved into the complex as part of a redevelopment scheme.

See, simple!

Wikipedia

However.

In 2019 it was reported that Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said:

As part of our city centre’s multi-million pound transformation, it remains our aim to vacate and demolish the civic centre.

We want to reinvigorate that area and we continue to make progress on a master plan for it.

Powell and Dobson think that this seems like a swell idea

Urban Splash seem to have a slightly vaguer vision.

In March 2021, plans to find a new use for the location continued to still be a commitment of Swansea council, with the announcement of the transfer of the central library and other public services to the former BHS and now What! store on Oxford Street.

Swansea Civic Centre is at risk the Twentieth Century Society says so – they are strongly opposed to demolition of the iconic building and have submitted an application to have the building listed as Grade II.

I do not know what fate awaits it, I only know it must be brave – to paraphrase Dimitri Zinovievich Tiomkin, Ned Washington, Gary Cooper and Frankie Laine – it’s High Noon and counting.

Any road up as of the 11th of May it looked just like this:

Diolch yn fawr once again to Catrin Saran James for acting as my spirit guide.

Kardomah Café – Swansea

Morris Buildings 11 Portland St Swansea SA1 3DH

Welcome, at the Kardomah Cafe we have a long history of excellent service, great food and wonderful coffee. We are an independent, established, family run business of nearly 50 years. Traditional values are important to us and have helped us create a warm and friendly atmosphere, which is seen by many of our customers as an important part of their lives, a place to meet their friends, whilst enjoying quality food and drink.

The company that created the Kardomah brand began in Pudsey Street, Liverpool in 1844 as the Vey Brothers teadealers and grocers. In 1868 the business was acquired by the newly created Liverpool China and India Tea Company, and a series of brand names was created beginning with Mikado. The Kardomah brand of tea was first served at the Liverpool colonial exhibition of 1887, and the brand was later applied to a range of teas, coffees and coffee houses. The parent company was renamed Kardomah Limited in 1938. The brand was acquired by the Forte Group in 1962, sold to Cadbury Schweppes Typhoo in 1971, and became part of Premier Brands some time between 1980 and 1997. The brand still exists, selling items such as instant coffee and coffee whitener.

The Kardomah Cafés in London and Manchester were designed by Sir Misha Black between 1936 and 1950.

Manchester
LondonRibapix

The original Swansea branch was at 232 High St, and known as ‘The Kardomah Exhibition Cafe & Tea Rooms’, moving to the Castle Street in 1908.

Castle Street

The Castle Street cafe was the meeting place of The Kardomah Gang, which included Dylan Thomas, and was built on the site of the former Congregational Chapel where Thomas’s parents were married in 1903. The cafe was bombed during WW2 and was later replaced by the present Kardomah Coffee Shop Restaurant in Portland Street.

Wikipedia

An in-depth history is available here.

I’d never had the pleasure of visiting a Kardomah before, imagine my delight when I was directed there by local artist, activist and archivist Catrin Saran James, during our delightful Swansea Moderne tour!

Following an extensive walk from one end of town to the other, I returned there for a late midday bite to eat and a sit down – it looked a little like this:

Many thanks to the staff and customers for putting up with me wandering around for a while with my camera, whilst they worked and ate.

Diolch yn fawr.

MITZI to UMIST

A walk from the Cosmos to a sculptural wall via the sun.

Apart from the establishment of the now defunct AIR index of artists, recently revamped by the ACGB, both of which were ill-tended to help foster and promote private and public commissions, no moves have yet been made towards Percentage for Art legislation or even towards the creation of informal schemes.

Art Quest UK

We are taking a stroll through work commissioned in the main by Schools, Colleges and Universities.

We have of course been here before visiting Mitzi Cunliffe and her work – Cosmos.

American born, living in Didsbury, Cunliffe developed a technique for mass-producing abstract designs in relief in concrete, as architectural decoration, which she described as sculpture by the yard.

This example of modular fibre glass panels named Cosmos, is set in the wall of the student halls of residence in Owens Park – a BDP designed tower block.

Modelled by hand, they were manufactured in a Lancashire plastics factory.

Her Trellis concrete reliefs can be seen adorning WH Smiths in Macclesfield.

And the extension to Parklands Hotel in Collyhurst Manchester

Also this Slough example is visible in the opening title sequence of the BBCs hit TV show The Office.

Over the road to the Manchester High School For Girls where we find Mitzi Cunliffe’s carving in Portland Stone, entitled Threshold – unveiled September 30th 1953

Panel One – Britain’s Past

Panel Two – Companionship

Panel Three – Growth

The work embodied a sense of renewal, following the school’s travails of the 1940s.

Also reinforcing the continuing need for educational establishments to own and display living works of art, a need exemplified by the Pictures for Schools movement.

Returning to Wilmslow road a digression to a Concrete Totem by William Mitchell

Formed in clay then cast in concrete, one of four produced for Manchester Corporation.

Next stop Whitworth Park – a cornucopia of contemporary sculpture.

Hippocratic Tree 2015 – Christine Borland

A reproduction of the man-made steel skeleton of supports that now sustains Hippocrates’ tree on the Island of Kos – the tree beneath which Hippocrates first taught medicine.

Phalanx 1977 – Michael Lyons

The Whitworth Park Obelisk  2011 – Cyprien Galliard

The obelisk is made from the crushed brick and concrete of demolished housing in nearby Moss Side and Hulme.

Tree 2015 – Anya Gallaccio

Gallaccio’s new sculptural commission reinstates a missing tree in stainless steel, appearing as a ghostly negative form.

Bending 2017 – Raqs Media Collective

Bending distorts the form of European imperial sculpture, raises questions about commemoration and colonialism. The quotations on the three plaques are taken from George Orwell’s essay – Shooting the Elephant.

Coronation Park refers to a park on the outskirts of New Delhi that hosted mass rallies organised by the British Raj, celebrating the coronation of British monarchs as rulers of India and where Indian subjects were expected to demonstrate deference to their colonial oppressors. Britain withdrew from India in 1947, yet monuments to British rulers remained. In the 1960s, these were removed from New Delhi and relocated to Coronation Park. Today, they stand in disrepair and decay. Once symbolising an oppressive history, their power has been allowed to deteriorate.

Big Issue Leanne Green

Terminal and Untitled 1964 – Bernard Schottlander

On display at the Whitworth is Hans Tisdall’s tapestry – a partner to his mosaics, commissioned for the ChemistryBuilding at UMIST and currently on loan to the gallery.

At the Royal Northern College of Music there was once a wall hanging in the main auditorium, removed during the recent refurbishment.

This is the work of Elda Abramson, assisted by many local hands and a year in the making 1977.

I have been unable to ascertain wether it will be reinstated.

Up the road now to the Stopford Building 1972 – topped with an Anthony Holloway trim, formed from repeated cast concrete modular panels.

His work in Manchester is in the main the result of his relationship with architect Harry Fairhurst.

Working as a consultant designer with the architects’ division of the London County Council. He learned how to deal with architects and builders, and became adept at getting as much out of the money available – never enough – for his projects. He remained linked with what became the Greater London Council’s architects department until its closure in 1968.

Over the road the Ellen Wilkinson BuildingBDP 1964 covered with William Mitchell concrete panels.

Hiding behind the building a not so secret secret garden with a mysterious concrete sculpture – no attribution available.

Next to the Schuster Building 1967 – Harry Fairhurst and the recently restored and reinstated The Alchemist’s Elements 1967 by Hans Tisdall.

Formerly sited in the alcoves at the since demolished Faraday Building.

For a number of years stored outside on the UMIST site The Mosaic Restoration Company are to be applauded for their diligence and skill.

Across the way it’s Hans Tisdall again – a work always known to me as the Four Seasons 1964.

Four circular mixed media panels intersected by the café wall – built into the Chemistry Building another Fairhurst work.

This work he undertook for Edinburgh Weavers echoes these forms.

Were you to visit on a weekday you could view the mosaic tucked away inside the Schuster Building.

A Sixties photographer called John D Green was chosen by the architect – however it’s a mystery why he was commissioned.

It would seem John D Green was a man of many talents – he was also a regular racing driver at Brands Hatch, and author of the legendary book Birds of Britain, recently the subject of an exhibition at Snap Galleries in London.

High atop the lecture theatre an abstract sculpture by Michael Piper.

Back to Oxford Road and possibly my favourite local work of public art Manchester Sun 1963 – Lynn Chadwick.

He received Carborundum Company’s Sculpture Major and Minor Awards to produce circular sculpture in fibreglass, Manchester Sun for the University of Manchester’s Williamson Building.

Also available in an edition of two 24″ diameter fibre glass maquettes.

Walking toward town and we encounter the Anamorphic Mirrors 1989 – Andrew Crompton, regionally sited outside MOSI Lowe Byron Street. They were intense to reflect the images of John Dalton, James Joule, Henry Rutherford and Bernard Lovell formed in paving slabs by concrete artists Richard and Jack Doyle.

This context is now lost.

Leaving Oxford Road and heading for the former UMIST site we pass under the Mancunian Way – with its 1968 Concrete Society Award.

Around the corner and the towering Faraday Building 1967 tower, towers over us – HS Fairhust & Son clad in Anthony Holloway cast concrete panels.

Complemented by his concrete banding on the adjacent building.

Inside the lobby of the Renold BuildingVictor Pasmore’s 1968 Metamorphosis.

Of note is Pasmore’s work at Peterlee where he worked alongside architects on the housing scheme also designed his renowned Apollo Pavillion.

Which finds an almost near relative in Antony Holloway’s 1968 Concrete Wall – the only listed element on the whole darned campus site.

Concrete Relief – Swansea

Central Clinic 21 Orchard Street Swansea SA1 5AT

Whisking you back in time!

To 2015 when local artist and archivist Catrin Saran James is undertaking a little reverse vandalism by way of guerrilla restoration or adfer gerila if you will.

Leading to a full scale cleaning of the Harry Everington 1969 concrete mural adorning the Central Clinic.

It was under Harry’s guidance that students from the Swansea College of Art produced the mural which was put on the building’s exterior back in 1969.

It was fantastic to have had an email from the ABMU Health Board earlier this year.
Martin Thomas who leads the ABMU Heritage Team contacted me as he was researching what public art the health board owned.

Martin came across my Guerrilla Restoration work and the previous work I’d done in highlighting cleaning samples of Harry Everington’s 1969 abstract concrete sculptural mural over the last 5 years.

Taken from the ABMU Heritage blog, here’s what Martin said of the project:

When we started this group we carried out a scoping exercise to see what historical artefacts the health board owned and this mural came up.

When I did more research I found out about Catrin’s project and we thought it would be a good idea to help finish what she had started.

We thought this would be a great opportunity for us to clean a very neglected sculpture.

Catrinsaranjames.com

Subsequently her gallant restoration endeavours made headline news in Wales Online.

Fast forward to Wednesday May 11th 2022 – I am aboard the Transport for Wales train, Swansea bound!

Catrin had kindly forwarded me a clear and comprehensive guide to Swansea’s Modernist architecture.

Characteristically, I promptly got lost, fortunately we had arranged to meet at the National Waterfront Museum – which was clearly signposted. Following a chat and a cuppa we swanned off, visiting the Civic Centre and a lovely array of post-war retail outlets.

We parted and I went on my merry way – I can’t thank you enough for your company and erudition Catrin, diolch yn fawr.

Eventually I arrived at the Clinic, I feel that the best time to visit a medical centre is when you are fighting fit, with an overwhelming interest in cast concrete, rather than plaster casts.

Platt Court – William Mitchell

Wilmslow Rd Manchester M14 5LT

Situated outside Platt Court a third of four William Mitchell totems that I have visited – Eastford Square and Newton Heath still extant.

William Mitchell 1960

The Hulme exemplar has gone walkabout.

Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester – Terry Wyke

Tower Block tells us this is one 13 storey block containing 62 dwellings along with one 9 storey block containing 70 dwellings.

Built by Direct Labour commissioned by Manchester County Borough Council

Seen here in 1970.

The flats are now gated, so I peeped tentatively through the fencing.

Then chatting to the site’s maintenance gardener I gained access – here is what I saw.

St Alkmund’s Church – Derby

40 Kedleston Rd Darley Abbey Derby DE22 1GU

The burghers of Derby required room for a ring road – but St Alkmund stood in the way, so he was CPOd and sent elsewhere.

Looking for Mr Wright.

When the Victorian church was demolished, traces of several earlier churches were revealed, stretching back to the 9th century. Artefacts found included the stone sarcophagus of Alkmund of Derby, now in Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

Photos: John Mackay 1967

Derby Telegraph

Given a fairly generous budget the Diocese decided upon a modern design solution, in order to solve the pressing problem of their missing church.

Local architects Naylor Sale and Widdows were commissioned to resolve this omission.

Construction began in 1967 completed in 1972.

The exterior boasts a static space rocket spire – which was lowered into position using not one but two helicopters.

Along with a delightful Festival of Britain style clock.

To the right of the front elevation is an extensive Dalle de Verre wall.

The entrance a light as air glass and aluminium construction.

Paired with a gently curving brick mass.

The main body of the church is deceptively capacious.

The wall of glass suitably illuminating.