From coal drops to tear drops.
By Grand Central/Station I sat down and wept.
There’ll be no tear drops tonight.
The site was at the heart of industrial Stockport for a hundred and fifty years.
Goods in goods out, day in day out.
A town and time driven by coal and steam, as a first date with Stockport it was never a love at first sight site, two narrow cobbled access roads, lined with tall blue engineers’ brick walls, arching towards two narrow entrances.
This along with the rest of the area, was a working area, hanging on to the edge of the Mersey Valley, housing and industry cheek by jowl, in one grimy fug.
Time changes everything, by 1990 the site had been cleared and work commenced on a brand new shiny retail, leisure and entertainment complex. The nation had shifted wholesale from manufacturing to carousing.
The clatter of clogs replaced by the squeak of Adidas.
The white hot heat of technology fires Heaven and Hell.
A club, swimming pool, bars, quasar quest, bowling alley, shops and cinema. Open public, private spaces leading from the A6 to the station approach. Concrete paving, brick, steel and glass construction, in a dulling whirlwind of sub-postmodern, cost benefit analysis, mirthless architectural, fun and frolics.
Nothing lasts forever, gradually the fun grinds to a halt, the alluring shimmer of boob tubes and hot pants, quickly fades into a dimly remembered, future passed.
There are more things in Heaven and Hell, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Grand Central Stockport was owned by Norwich-based private property company Targetfollow, who acquired the complex for £10.8m in 2004. In January 2011, after lack of progress on the development scheme, Stockport Council purchased the complex. In December 2011, Stockport Council announced that Muse Developments, the urban regeneration division of construction group Morgan Sindall had been selected as the preferred developer with a report to be presented to the council the following week. The revamped regeneration plans include an office quarter for the town centre, a hotel, public space outside the railway station. In addition, the redevelopment would also include a multi-storey car park and to make the site into a more attractive gateway into the town centre. The new redevelopment plans are valued at approximately £145m.
So the merry dance continues, a brave new world for the bemused citizen to consume and be consumed by, a gateway to speculative development.
The reassuring golden arches await the intrepid voyager, the foundation stone of any civilised civil society, set in terracotta for ever and a day.
The high vis, high rise, low expectation roller coaster, rolls on relentlessly.