St Paul – Ecclesfield/Sheffield

High above the city on Wordsworth Avenue, Eccleshall, built to serve the large Parson Cross post-war social housing estate, stands St Paul.

On the day of my visit, more than somewhat windswept and sleet lashed, almost imperious, the church stood steadfast set against the elements.

It is however registered as at risk by Historic England.

Designed by Sir Basil Spence and built by Charles Price of Doncaster Ltd. the church was completed in 1959 and consecrated on24th January 1959.

A large open brick steel and concrete structure, glassed and open at each end, a curved roof with vaulted detail, a detached tower is connected by a concrete cloister. There is an elegant simplicity to the body of the church, which is elevated by the staggered supporting walls.

A plain altar is complemented with ornaments, the gift of Spence, decorated by a frontal designed by Anthony Blee and an embroidered panel by Beryl Dean. A plain slatted wooden screen masks the window to the rear.

The pews – also the work of Spence were not costed in the original proposal, additional funds were found and they remain in use as an integral part of the scheme and worship.

The organ, sited in the gallery, is a later addition of 1962, puchased for £100 from Mount Tabor Church, Holland – integrated into the overall design using slatted wood.

My thanks to John Roch, church organist and lifelong member of the congregation, having attended Sunday School at St Paul on the first day of its opening, for his time and erudite instruction.

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Wigan – Civic Centre

Some time ago, over a year ago or so I went to Wigan.

I found a pub,  a launderette, several interesting groups of housing and –

A large concrete Civic Centre, built in the early 1970s under the auspices of the Mayor JT Farrimond, the foundation stone laid by Alderman Ernest Ball on 22nd April 1970 – a man who seems to have collected letters after his name just for fun.

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A tight grid structure is broken up with chamfered  window fames and a mix of concrete finishes, surfaces and textures, slipping neatly into the inclined topography.

A rather distinguished cantilevered canopy or two sit centrally over the entrance porch.

The building no longer offers public access, services having been transferred to the nearby Life Centre.

The Manchester Modernists have highlighted the centre in its new Top Ten Twentieth Century Buildings project.

Why not bob along, see what you think and remember – vote, vote, vote!

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Albert Bridge House Manchester

Just saying hello again, to an old friend.

Hello!

Albert Bridge House sitting sedately in a riverside setting in the autumnal afternoon sun.

Beside the Irwell, the west north western face warmed by the last rays of the day.

An imposing block eighteen storey tower, concrete framed and stone clad – designed by EH Banks for the Ministry of Works, surrounded by lower outlying buildings – featuring a delightfully wavy roof, and an almost playful Corbusian service tower.

Look a little closer and you’ll see a delightful group of defunct letter boxes and a hidden mosaic – playfully tucked away above the doorway to the Assessment Centre.

Ian Nairn in Britain’s Changing Towns, believed it to be:

Easily the best modern building in Manchester, and an outstanding example of what good proportions and straightforward design can do.

Go take a peep.

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Coventry – Upper Precinct

Here we are again wandering the pedestrianised precincts of Coventry  – having previously travelled by picture postcard and archival image.

https://modernmooch.com/2016/10/10/coventry-the-precinct/

Back to the future.

Today much of the original footprint and well-built brick, stone, glass and concrete structure prevails, with more recent retro fitted additions.

The Cullen mural has been renovated and re-sited.

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Sadly only one of the neon sculptures, remains illuminated – they may have been listed by Historic England, they have certainly given them a coat of looking at. I myself was approached whilst working away by a crack squad of precinct management, questioning my methods and motives. I reassured them I was a serious student of post-war architecture and they allowed happily to go about my business – assuring me that I was following in the footsteps of HE.

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The elevated café, pierced screenwork, mosaics on the former Locarno, now Library and town clock are still every much in situ, Lady Godiva dutifully appearing on the hour, every hour with an ever attendant Peeping Tom for company.

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The area is well-used bustling busy, with a smattering of empty units which are sadly typical of most provincial town competing for custom and prosperity on the high street.

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