Here we are again – having previously travelled back to the inception of the estate in the 1970s.
Structurally little has changed, politically and economically things have shifted.
The Conservative Party had committed itself to introducing a Right to Buy before Margaret Thatcher became Party leader. After the election of May 1979 a new Conservative government drafted legislation to provide a Right to Buy but, because this would not become law until October 1980, also revised the general consent to enable sales with higher discounts matching those proposed in the new legislation. The numbers of sales completed under this general consent exceeded previous levels. Between 1952 and 1980 over 370,000 public sector dwellings were sold in England and Wales. Almost a third of these were in 1979 and 1980 and it is evident that higher discounts generated and would have continued to generate higher sales without the Right to Buy being in place. 200,000 council houses were sold to their tenants in 1982, and by 1987, more than 1,000,000 council houses in Britain had been sold to their tenants.
The Right to Buy: History and Prospect
The post war policy of building and renting local authority housing was swamped by the phrase property owning democracy, on which the popular conservatism of the 20th century rested, and with it a vision of the good society, was coined by the Scottish Unionist Noel Skelton in a quartet of articles for the Spectator entitled Constructive Conservatism, written in the spring of 1923. The appeal of Popular Capitalism proved compelling, however the periods of de-industrialisation, and the subsequent lull in the building of new affordable homes, has created a myriad of obstacles for those simply seeking somewhere to live and work.
The estate illustrates this historic shift, replete with homeowners decorative amendments and addenda, managing agents and trusts and an end to the architectural integrity of the development.
One could become all Ian Nairn about this, swathed in Outrage.
I myself feel that despite the cosmetic surgery, this remains a homely enclave, residents going about their business in a relatively orderly and happy manner.
Take a look:
Baguley is derived from the Old English words Bagca, badger, and Leah, wood.
Historically in Cheshire, Baguley is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, it was incorporated into Manchester in 1931.
It has a Brook though babble heard I none, it had a Station now long gone.
I idled by on my bike to snap the homes around Bideford Drive, which I dutifully did. My curiosity suitably aroused I perused the Manchester Local Image Archive, in search of clues. Planned in 1969 complete in 1971 main contractor Laing architects the City Office.
A rich mix of scale and typology, two differentiated blocks, tower and slab, short rows of compact terraces, open spaces, shops, car parking and limited planting. The interlocking geometries, paths and walkways make it an intriguing and entertaining estate, full of small surprises and ideas – these pictures are of 1971.
There is a sharply attenuated and clean feel in the air, optimism on a largely overcast day, a totality – planned integration – homes and architecture of distinction.
Cycling around Wythenshawe one sunny day yesterday, in search of friends old and new, I found myself beside myself, beside St Luke’s.
1938-9 by Taylor and Young. Light brown brick in English garden wall bond (roof concealed). Modern functionalist style. Nave with west tower, north and south aisles with porches and side offices, short chancel. Rectangular tower to same width as nave, with short triangular buttresses flanking a square-headed doorway, plain wall except for very large geometrical-floral clock, parapet and very low set-back louvre stage with steeply-pitched hipped roof. Flat-roofed aisles have projected triangular west ends flanking tower, a projected porch at each end of north aisle and corresponding projected offices to south aisle, and very small star-shaped windows with pentagonal surrounds. Nave has 7 pairs of tall square-headed lancets. Short one-bay chancel has concrete cross in place of east window. Interior: basilican character, with low passage-aisles, chamfered piers terminating with lights, flat concrete-beamed ceiling; side-lit chancel with relief figures of angels.
Grade II listed Historic England
Those are the facts – the fabulous thing is the clock, a playful lesson in geometry, surface and colour, and it keeps time as well.
Wythenshawe is awash with modern churches and this pale brick giant is hard to miss dominating the Brownley Road junction, built to serve the then ever expanding housing estate to the south west of Manchester.
Brownley Road flats
Manchester Image Archive
I love the playful touches which offset the monolithic volumes of St Luke’s – go ahead take a look inside:
Do you come here often?
Well actually I do!
Here’s my account of my previous visits to Stopford House.
The large open public space that has almost everything except the public.
On the many occasions I have walked its concrete piazza, not once have I encountered another purposed soul – save the odd passing civic employee.
Unusually unchallenged by the diffident G4S or like as I snap away.
So come/go here, take a look – municipal concrete in the raw, softened by the controlled ingress of flowers and greenery.
Oh and not forgetting the recent addition of some curious coloured lines.