Queensway Tunnel Ventilation – Liverpool

On your way to Pier Head or the Albert Dock, you are more than likely to be confronted by a piece of High Egyptian Art Deco utilitarian architecture.

Whose incongruity grows and grows – you’ll never get used to it.

But it’s still in use.

As a ventilation and control tower for the Queensway Tunnel that passes far beneath your very feet, beneath the Mersey.

“Each side of the Mersey has a triumvirate of ventilation stations with exhaust towers that could be up to 210 ft high; these and the tunnel approaches are the surviving street-level evidence of the tunnel beneath that links Birkenhead with Liverpool. Apart from the Art Deco ornamentation in the form of sculptures and decorative brick work, the form of each station is quite functional and determined by the size of the ventilation machinery such as the 50 ft fan casings. The heights of their towers are a response to the mechanical requirements of exchanging poisonous gas from the vehicular traffic in the tunnels with fresh air – they were not designed to be icons!”

Architect  Herbert James Rowse decorated by sculptor Edmund Charles Thompson



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All 98 #192 Bus Stops

There there are 98 stops on the 192  route, between Manchester and Hazel Grove.

– I know because I walked them all.

Sunday morning roads relatively free of traffic.

Some stops peopled some not.

Zigzagging the A6 to record a consistent sequence.

The bus stops here.

State House – Liverpool

Standing on the corner watching all the world go by.

Reflecting on and reflecting it’s older neighbours.

State House Dale Street.

“Built 1962 to the designs of Edmund Kirby & Sons. It has an assertive service tower, apparently clad in polished granite. Unusually, above the entrance is a concrete slab with a relief depicting what looks like a coat of arms above the building’s name. Kirby’s practice moved into the building for a time.”

Three well proportioned volumes – a central service tower, main block and outriding, lower level base.

An exciting conflation of grids, contrasting in scale and finish.

As ever – go see for y’self.

Higson’s Offices – Liverpool

127 Dale Street, corner of North Street, just by the Ship and Mitre, across from the Queensway Tunnel entrance?

Yes that’s the one, Liverpool’s most remarkable, least remarked upon building.

So clean, so modern, so new, a delightful grid of materials, glass, steel, polished marble, brick and patinated beaten metal.

Stand back and wonder, move in and sigh with delight.

As I went about my snappy business, I was approached by a local – Mark.

Surprised by my curiously, up close, slow scrutiny of the building, he went on to explain that he was familiar with the architect Derek Jones who had worked on the design for Ormrod and Partners in 1964.

Formerly home to Higson’s Brewery offices, now housing the Merseyside Museums administration and design teams, the exterior is largely intact.

So am I.

Go take a look.

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Castle House – Sheffield

I want it.

Historic England want it.

Hopefully you and the people of Sheffield want it,

– anyway it’s listed.


“1964 by George S Hay, Chief Architect for CWS, with interior design by Stanley Layland, interior designer for CWS. Reinforced concrete with Blue Pearl granite tiles and veneers, grey granite tiles and veneers, buff granite blocks, glass, and brick.”

The Liberal Democrat Council objected,  saying

“It could be a major barrier to regenerating Castlegate.”


There is now the possibility of redevelopment as a creative hub.

It was a Co-op on the grandest of scales.

It has it all, public art, monolithic proportions and finish, bags of detail and scale in abundance. A fascinating building to explore and certainly one that fills my little heart with joy in superabundance

A building of period distinction, it deserves its preservation.

We do not require another patch of steel and wilfully wayward clad nowheresville non- architecture, replete with aspirational retail agogo.

Go see it soon!

Moore Street Electricity Substation – Sheffield

Moments from the centre of the City, bordered by dual carriageways and a substantial roundabout, sits a most remarkable building.

What is it?

It’s almost unfathomable.

A carpark lacking entrance and exit, abattoir, contemporary art space?

No – an electrical substation, on such a colossal scale as to relieve you temporarily, of a gasp or two.

Finished entirely in unfinished concrete, a great volume, broken by vertical and horizontal lines, punctuated by intermittent abutments.

Accessed externally via a most extraordinary glazed and enclosed staircase.

Wisely Historic England have had the site listed:


“Electricity substation. 1968 to designs by consulting architects Jefferson, Sheard and Partners, Sheffield, led by Bryan Jefferson, in association with the Regional Civil Engineers’ Department of the CEGB North East Region. Contractors, Longden & Sons Ltd, Sheffield. Reinforced concrete frame with board-marked finish with formwork bolt marks, construction and daywork joints emphasized, concrete floor slabs, blue engineering facing bricks, cladding panels of Cornish granite aggregate.”

Go see for yourself, if you don’t believe my eyes.

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Hexagon Tower – Blackley Manchester

Manchester Orbital – a coach trip around the outer and upper limits of the city’s Modernist Architecture.

Organised by the Manchester Modernist Society


“Seifert’s corporate buildings were regularly bold, those in Manchester no exception, but this is perhaps the most monolithic of his North-West schemes. The site, in a depression adjacent the River Irk in Blackley, was formerly owned by ICI, by whom the building was commissioned. At one time, a four storey ICI laboratory building by émigré architect Serge Chermayeff also stood close. Here, the simple massing, formed by the junction of horizontal and vertical volumes, bears several of Seifert and Partners trademark gestures; the hexagonal geometries, the cut away sections of wall to form entrance ways between structural elements, and the repetitive facade. The end wall is reminiscent of Tolworth Tower, also by Seifert. The tower and podium configuration is a product of the brief; the machine hall had to be at ground level and have no construction above. The narrow tower has no internal columns, the structural grid is mirrored in the services arrangement and the two co-exist outside the usable volume of the laboratory space, in the walls and floor. This solution is expressed in the deep reveals of the main façade, services travel vertically between the window modules. Whilst somewhat hidden, the building reveals itself fantastically from elevated vantage points, the tram south from Bowker Vale station being one such location. Originally it was intended that four of these towers would be built and run along the river valley in some sort of massive futurist domino arrangement.”

With thanks to Mainstream Modern



















Manchester – Tanzaro House

A chance meeting with two aged cordial bottles, a little nudge in the right direction from Christine Studley-Yates, encouragement from Natalie Ainscough, and learned guidance from this erudite site:


Here we are on the edge of Ardwick Green, outside Tanzaro House, former home of Jewsbury and Brown – J&B.

So called as many of their soft drinks were branded Tanzaro.

tanzaro ad

J&B are long gone, bought out by Schweppes in 1964 – the building is now home to a range of photographic, clothing and design studios. Happily the majority of the internal and external architectural features remain intact.

It stands in a small corner of Manchester, surrounded by a rich variety of architectural styles, by the side of a well-used public park – take a trip down there, just a moment away from the city centre.

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The Tudor Café – Stockport

On Lower Hillgate, almost next door to where it used to be, there stands The Tudor Café.

Almost where it has almost always stood.

Other businesses have come and gone, happily it prevails.

The cheapest tastiest grub in town.

An interior festooned with tea towels.

Tables polka dotted, teas hot.

Signs inside and out, some of them inside out.

Greetings from Gdansk.

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Post Office Tower

The man from BT he says “No!”

I only asked.

Everyone’s life is towered over by one obsessive dream or other.

So why not have an overpowering, towering dream of a Tower?

I asked to come in, he said no.

What was once ours, opened in 1965 by PM Harold Wilson at the behest of Tony Benn, was sold by PM Margaret Thatcher.

– “It’s good to talk.”

It’s bad to gift ownership of other peoples’ towers to other people, in the name of “popular capitalism.”

So I dry my eyes, pick myself up and engage in an immersive therapy, absorbing the visual culture of the seemingly unobtainable Tower – like an eternally embittered Rapunzel in reverse.