Accidental home of a Modernist – I arrived here some fifty years ago and stayed.
Let’s all take a look at several almost bang up to date reasons to be cheerful, exploring the town’s Twentieth Century architectural legacy.
To begin at the beginning – The Plaza super-cinema faithfully restored and providing quality entertainment and sustenance to Stopfordians and strangers alike.
It is, as of 2000 a Grade II* Listed Building.
Built in 1932, the Plaza Super Cinema first opened its doors to the public on Saturday, October 8th, 1932 with a charity show for Stockport Infirmary. The original seating capacity was 1,878, in stalls and circle levels.
The films shown were Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in “Jailbirds” and Gene Gerrard and Jessie Matthews in “Out of the Blue”.
Early programmes were a mix of cinema and live performance, or ‘prologues’ as they were known. The Plaza Super Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/11Rank theatre organ which has an illuminated surround on the console. The opening organist was Cyril Chadwick. It is still played today. There is a cafe/restaurant located on the circle lounge level.
Architect W Thornley
Just around the corner is the Bus Station – work began here in April 1979, the first stage finally opening on March 2nd 1982.
Slowly emerging from the rough ground – a series of glass and steel boxes worthy of that master of minimalism Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a Neue Nationalgalerie in miniature.
It still retains its original GMPTE orange M identity.
There are now plans for imminent demolition and rebuilding – shaping a transport hub fit for the Twenty First Century – Space Age forms for a brave new world.
It is of 2022 no more.
With a brand new, more than somewhat, old hat link bridge.
Onwards over the brand new Trans-Mersey bridge, catching sight of Regent House a modest modular high-rise block, currently housing a Travelodge and multi-use administrative office space.
Over the road and up onto the elevated car parking space above Merseyway where we can catch sight of The George an inter-war pub now permanently tinned up.
The car park extends across the whole upper level of the precinct. – an accessible Ballardian Concrete Island.
Back down to Earth to pay our respects to the spiral ramp drainage area.
A not insignificant element of Building Design Partnership’s Red Rock scheme.
Thence to the Hatton Street foot bridge over the M60/3
Currently under threat as the town’s development requires a more accessible route between Heaton Norris Rec. and the Red Rock complex.
Next up the BHS Murals they are the work of Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins. Their work was featured in the Festival of Britain, GPO Tower and Expo 70, along with other retail outlets in Southampton, Newcastle, Gloucester, Bexhill and Colchester.
Listing was refused.
We are now above the Mersey in Merseyway – in its concrete culvert home.
Completed and opened in 1965 the shopping precinct was concrete poetry in motion, incorporating the surrounding topography and extant architecture with grace and aplomb. Combining retail, restaurants and car parking facilities in a manner that critic Iain Nairn considered to be amongst the finest in the land.
Architects Bernard Engle and Partners.
Now modified as a Po-Mo Hi-Tec shadow of its former self some details and untreated concrete do remain.
High above the town we ascend to the giddy heights of the multi-storey car park – architect Philip Andrew.
Shielded by Alan Boyson’s concrete screen wall.
Over the bridge and up the hill to Hilton House.
Formerly home to New Day furnishings – a local retail and manufacturing company – with branches throughout the North West.
Currently awaiting transformation into luxury inner city dwellings.
Ever onwards to Stopford House home to imaginary time-slip police officers, really home to all too real council employees.
Architect JS Rank – Director of Development and Town Planning
With its very own hanging gardens – that nobody seems to hang around in.
That’s y’lot Stockport a town with a big past and big plans for the future.