Orange March – Scarborough

The future is overcast.

The future is not Orange.

The Orange Order is a conservative unionist organisation, with links to Ulster loyalism. It campaigned against Scottish independence in 2014. The Order sees itself as defending Protestant civil and religious liberties, whilst critics accuse the Order of being sectarian, triumphalist, and supremacist. As a strict Protestant society, it does not accept non-Protestants as members unless they convert and adhere to the principles of Orangeism, nor does it accept Protestants married to Catholics. Although many Orange marches are without incident, marches through mainly Catholic and Irish nationalist neighbourhoods are controversial and have often led to violence.

On the morning of March 28th 2015 I had taken the train to Scarborough, to spend a few days by the sea. As we passed throughHuddersfield and on into deepest Yorkshire, the carriage began to fill up at each stop with men, mainly men.

Men in dark overcoats, men with cropped hair, men sharing an unfamiliar familiarity. Intrigued, I enquired of my cultish companions the what, where, when and why of their collective purpose.

It transpired that they were all adherents of the Orange Order, Scarborough bound to participate in the annual Orange March.

On arrival we parted, but we were to meet up later in the day – I walked down to the foreshore and waited.

This is what I saw.

This year the march was cancelled.

You wouldn’t want anyone to catch anything, would you now?

GPO Tower – London

Well of course we’ve all been here before, haven’t we?

Well I have – I even wrote all about it right here.

The tower was designed by the architects of the Ministry of Public Building and Works: the chief architects were Eric Bedford and G. R. Yeats. Typical for its time, the building is concrete clad in glass. The narrow cylindrical shape was chosen because of the requirements of the communications aerials: the building will shift no more than 25 centimetres in wind speeds of up to 95 mph. Initially, the first 16 floors were for technical equipment and power. Above that was a 35-metre section for the microwave aerials, and above that were six floors of suites, kitchens, technical equipment and finally a cantilevered steel lattice tower. To prevent heat build-up, the glass cladding was of a special tint. The construction cost was £2.5 million.

The tower was topped out on 15 July 1964, and officially opened by the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 8 October 1965. The main contractor was Peter Lind & Co Ltd.

Wikipedia

I’ve always wished to be granted entry, walk its corridors and ante rooms, sit in the revolving restaurant – take in the views.

Alas so far – no!

So I simply walk around and around, looking up – hoping.

Church of The Latter Day Saints – Stockport

Bramhall Lane Stockport SK3 8SA

Built 1961-1963 – architects Ivan Johnston & Partners of Liverpool.

The proposed modernistic architecture of the building, caused some qualms among members of Stockport’s Planning and Development Committee, which was still discussing the plans early in 1962, but in the end it was built much as the architect had intended.

A 70ft. spire on Bramhall-lane Davenport, will be a new landmark in Stockport next year when the no-labour-cost £41,000 chapel of the Mormons – The Church of Latter-Day Saints, from America – is expected to be complete. The Stockport branch of 150 members will fund over £8000 of the cost and will provide food, shelter and pocket money for volunteer builders from all over the country. 

Text and archive image Davenport Station

A striking A Line addition to the Stockport skyline – its steeply pitched roof punctuated by prominent triangular bays, and partnered with a prominent remote tower of wood and steel.

The front elevation is of concrete, constructed with panels of a rough grey aggregate.

Take a walk around, there have been some additions of single storey ante rooms.

This remains a simple, confident and assured building.

I had gone along today as a blood donor – so granted access to the splendid, elevating well-lit interior.

The front portion of the main body is given over to worship, furnished with light wood pews, altar and panelling.

The suspended lighting groups are of particular note.

Cardiff Central Police Station

The current five storey Cardiff Central police station was designed by Cardiff’s city architect John Dryburgh and built on the southern corner of Cathays Park between 1966 and 1968. It is described as: The most successful post-war building in Cathays Park and the only post-war building in the area: To be both modern and majestic

The detention facilities at the station were inadequate with only four cells. These were replaced by sixty cells at the new Cardiff Bay police station, which opened in 2009.

This year’s Mayday protests in Cardiff took place outside Cardiff Central Police Station to show the opposition to the increasing criminalisation of public protest.

No Borders South Wales activists were in attendance to show solidarity with fellow protesters and register our opposition to repressive police tactics at all forms of public demonstrations.

The protest was good natured and lively, with lots of music and singing. 

The building is celebrated by photographer Joe Fox via Fine Art America

Who are happy to reproduce the image in the form of this delightful phone case, for the princely sum of twenty two pounds.

I myself was taken by its unapologetic system built panelling, all-round convivial confidence and cantilevered porch.

Plus an exciting array of concrete planters – exhibiting an exciting array of seasonal planting schemes.

Well with a wander around should you find y’self down that end of town.

Merseyway – Alan Boyson Screen Wall

Deep in the heart of Stockport at the centre of our very own shopping centre – Merseyway.

A pierced concrete relief screen wall surrounds the former Co-op, currently Primark, car park.

The work of Alan Boyson – today the 16th of March 2020 would have been his ninetieth birthday.

I’ve even gone so far as to analyse its structure:

So I went for a walk this morning, as I have on several previous occasions, to take a look around the site – inside and out.

Tony Holloway Sculptural Wall – Manchester

Sculptural wall and sound buffer – 1968 by Antony Holloway in collaboration with architect Harry M Fairhurst.

Concrete approximately 68 metres long and between 4.5 and 6 metres high – Brutalist style.

Grade II Listed June 10th 2011 – Historic England

The only structure on the former UMIST site, now part of the extensive University of Manchester estate.

Regularly visited on our Manchester Modernist walks, along with his nearby architectural panels.

I have even ventured as far afield as Huyton in search of other exemplars.

This is work of the highest order and importance.

It sits by a busy London Road, behind an intrusive green steel fence, slowly acquiring a green patina – as moss and lichen attach themselves to the well weathered concrete.

Receiving occasional visits from the errant urban tagger.

It deserves much better – a lush grassed apron, discrete public seating, regular tree maintenance – respect.

We do not suffer from a surfeit of significant mid-century public art – its guardians should straighten up and fly right.

Right?

Leeds Walk

On arriving at the Leeds City Station pass through the ticket barriers and turn to your left.

Once a convenient car park.

You are now inside the 1938 concourse interior designed by WH Hamlyn, restored in 1999 by Carey Jones Architects.

Atop the station John Poulson’s 1967 City House – now re-clad in the modern manner and badged as Bruntwood owned Platform One.

A reinvention of a Leeds landmark, offering office space for tech and digital businesses of all sizes right at the heart of the city.

The main body of the station was rebuilt 2001-03 by McKellar Architecture to a scheme by ESG Design Architects.

Exiting by the main exit, there is a gentle brick and concrete curve – leading to the side of the Queens Hotel also the work of WH Hamlyn 1938.

A monumental classical facade with discrete Deco detailing.

Nine Bond Court an almost anonymous tower block, leads us into Bond Court, where we find the HSBC by Whitney Son & Austen Hall 1966-69.

Onwards now to 7 Park Row reworked by Box Architects this former Lloyd’s Bank HQ by Abbey Hanson Rowe 1972-77

Park Row is the City’s most sought after business location, benefiting from being perfectly placed centrally between Leeds’ Central Business District and Retail Core. You and your staff will have all that you need to enjoy a work-life balance.

Next door the National Westminster Bank

Replacing George Gilbert Scott’s renowned Beckett’s Bank of 1863-67 demolished in 1965.

Intrigued by the transition of grid and material finish along Park Row.

Up the rise of the Row toward the Henry Moore Institute and City Art Gallery with their modern extensions.

1993 Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones with BDP

1980-82 John Thorp and Neville Conder complete with Moore’s Reclining Woman Elbow of 1980.

Honourable mention to The Light conversion DLG Architects 2002.

Around the corner to Merrion Shopping Centre Gillinson Barnett & Allen 1962-64.

No time to pop in for a pint at the General Wade.

Awaiting yet another reimagining – Ian Purser, architect director at BDP said:

This scheme will create a new destination in an area of regeneration, effectively opening up a ‘new front’ to the Merrion Centre while utilising the existing structure and incorporating contemporary food and beverage facilities.

Just along the way Gerry Anderson meets Morrison’s.

Merrion House to the rear.

BDP’s remodelling and extension of Merrion House office block is an exemplar of sustainable refurbishment. Originally completed in 1974 the building was designed to accommodate Leeds City Council’s office based staff.

A “changing the workplace” initiative has been instigated by the council, adapting to changing working patterns. Flexible office environments, created in both the new and refurbished elements of the building, fully support this.

For me one of the City’s finest post-war buildings the Leeds City College – Technology Campus

The college was originally built as the Branch College of Engineering and Science during the late 1950s and 60s.

It was renamed Kitson College in 1967, and later Leeds College of Technology. In 2009 the college merged with Thomas Danby College and Park Lane College to form Leeds City College, becoming the third largest further education college in the UK.

The meeting also heard how the site was also used by rock band Pink Floyd to record their 1967 hit See Emily Play.

Early plans to knock down one of Leeds city centre’s most recognisable buildings were supported by an influential panel of Leeds councillors today.

Developers’ blueprints to replace the former Leeds College of Technology building in Woodhouse Lane with 20-storeys of student accommodation went before a meeting of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel last week.

Leeds Live

Head over the road to the Yorkshire Bank a big brown beat reminiscent of Halifax’s Building Society HQ

The bank expects to have vacated Merrion Way by September of 2021.

Under the underpass aka Leeds Song Tunnel to the Woodhouse Lane Car Park.

Commissioned by Leeds City Council as part of the Arena project the Leeds Song Tunnel  is the creation of designer Adrian Riley, an alumnus of Leeds College of Art.  

Take a peek at the world going on almost underground.

The up to the Leeds Arts University – designed by local practice DLA, the scheme was built by ISG.

Adorned by mosaics re-sited from the Merrion Centre

The magnificent Merrion Centre mosaics created by Eric Taylor 1909-99, artist and former Principal of Leeds College of Art 1956-70, have been installed at Leeds College of Art’s Blenheim Walk building.

More public art in store at the former Polytechnic now University Engineering Buildings – Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardall 1955-69.

Curving above the entrance of the Mechanical Engineering building is this glass fibre sculpture. Cast from a clay mould it retains a malleable quality. This is the work of architect Allan Johnson former student of Leeds College of Art.

Around the corner this delightful sculptural window screen.

Let’s wend our way homewards via Hubert Dalwood’s 1961 Untitled Bas-Relief now see this on the theatre Stage@Leeds, it was originally up at the University’s Bodington Hall of residence.

Seconds from this theatre Barbara Hepworth’s 1965 Dual Form.

Finally casting our eyes skyward toward William Chattaway’s 1958 Spirit of Enterprise/Hermes.

Originally on the wall of the Midland Bank building in London before the building was was sold in the early eighties. It was saved from potentially being sold for scrap and the four and a half ton sculpture has been flying high on campus since 1983.

Art on Campus

Rochdale Walk

Our first port of call the amazing Grade II* listed church of St John the Baptist.

Original design pre-1917 by Oswald Hill, executed in 1923-25 by Ernest Bower Norris of Manchester architects’ practice Hill, Sandy and Norris.

Mosaic scheme of 1932-33 by Eric Newton.

Ferro-concrete dome and barrel vaults, red brick with artificial stone dressings.

Early Christian Byzantine style.

Just across the way the old Fire Brigade Station

A feature of note is the hose drying tower – not a ladder practice tower – that rises to a height of 115ft and a reminder that in the day the canvas hoses used had to be dried out after use. There is a local story that the tower was deliberately of such a height to architecturally compliment the adjacent Catholic Church, completed some 10 years earlier and with an amazing dome but no tower!

Designed by the Borough Surveyor S H Morgan and his Assistant S G Eldred the station was formally opened by Alderman J Rodley JP on 3 May 1933, with the Mayor, Councillor J W Dutton JP present.

The Station is to be restored and opens in 2020 as a Fire Service Museum.

Let’s walk into town following the tram tracks past the former Rochdale Observer Offices.

Closed in 2009 as the Manchester Evening News Guardian Media Group consolidated its production base.

The building and surrounding area have been designated as Heritage at Risk by Historic England – and form part of a Heritage Action Zone.

Down the hill and across the way the delightfully traditional Sixties Italian Coffee Bar the legendary San Remo.

Though way out of our period – one cannot ignore the looming presence of Rochdale Town Hall.

Widely recognised as being one of the finest municipal buildings in the country – built in the Gothic Revival style at a cost of £160,000 in 1871. The architect, William Henry Crossland, was the winner of a competition held in 1864 to design a new Town Hall. It had a 240 foot clock tower topped by a wooden spire with a gilded statue of Saint George and the Dragon, both of which were destroyed by fire on 10 April 1883, leaving the building without a spire for four years. A new 190 foot stone clock tower and spire in the style of Manchester Town Hall was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and erected in 1887.

Missing are the Black Box and Bus Station of yore – by Essex, Goodman and Suggitt 1976.

Demolished in 2104.

Replaced by the award winning Number One RiversideFaulknerBrowns Architects 2013.

Onward to the Magistrates’ Courts now closed and auctioned for £6,316.

Rhona Pointon, here on site in 1971 – oversaw the work of County Architect Roger Booth.

The adjoining Police Station – also by Booth, has recently undergone refurbishment.

Let’s bob on to see the Seven Sisters – towering majestically above the town.

Building contractors were Wimpey and the flats were designed by Rochdale’s Borough Surveyor, Mr W H G Mercer and Mr E V Collins who worked with George Wimpey and Company’s chief architect D. Broadbent.

On Friday October 1 1965 the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Richard Crossman, officially opened the first of the College Bank flats – Underwood.

Charles Donald Taylor – The Construction of College Bank Flats

Constantly under threat.

Of note is the one remaining example of ceramic entrance murals, the work of George and Joan Stephenson 1966 – lecturers at the Rochdale College of Art.

All six murals survived until around 1995, when the residents were asked to vote on whether or not to keep them, five out of six blocks voted to have them removed.

As of November 2109 – the College Bank Support Group is working with a group of architects to draw up alternative plans. RBH has said it will consider them if they are feasible and sustainable, as well as safe and genuinely affordable for tenants and residents.

Under the underpass to Lower Falinge Estate.

And finally around the corner to St Patrick’s RC Church.

A striking and effective design from the early 1960s by Desmond Williams & Associates. The robust interior is well-lit and serves its purpose effectively, but the church does not contain furnishings and artworks of particular note.

Suds Laundrette – Levenshulme

We have entered a new age – the age of the A6 based computer generated A4 Blu-Tack attached laminated print out.

An informal typography for the age of informality – long gone the etched plastic, hand rendered fascia days of yore.

This is now one of many launderama dramas – my sole intent to record the state of the nation’s dirty washing.

There is even to be a book published this March.

So one more for the road – load up the Loadstar with washers and slugs, let’s all get dry, one way or another.

Brunel House – Cardiff

Originally built to house the regional British Rail offices – it seems that Great Western House has always been Brunel House.

Designed by Seymour Harris – who have also been responsible for the recent refurbishment.

The building is now in multiple occupancy, used for a wide range of services and uses, bringing new life to fine mid-century structure.

Sadly its entrance relief is now nowhere to be seen.

Archive photographs Seymour Harris Architects

Sixteen floors standing at 190 feet, two enormous interlocking slabs – it is the largest commercial property in Wales.

Seen from afar your are hit by its impressive rear elevation, with a distinctive grid defined by the slender window frames and a restrained yet earthy palette.

This is then broken up by strong vertical concrete columns.

With bold structural detailing, using a variety of aggregates and finishes.

Side elevations are brut concrete, with limited window space.

Where surfaces and volume conjoin there is further interesting structural detail.

Service areas to the rear.

An exciting encounter with a building of substance and quality – go take a look for y’self.

Bernhard und Hilla Becher – Cardiff

I have admired the work of Bernhard and Hilla Becher ever since seeing their photographs in the one and only Tate at the time, in old London town.

An early example, possibly twelve small black and white prints of pit head winding gear, assembled in a three by four grid.

I became intrigued by the notion of serial art and typology, later in the seventies working as a Systems printmaker.

Very much in the tradition of Max Bill and Richard Paul Lohse.

In more recent years I have worked as a documentary photographer, at time paying homage to Bernhard and Hilla.

By placing several cooling towers side by side something happened, something like tonal music; you don’t see what makes the objects different until you bring them together, so subtle are their differences.

So on hearing of their exhibition at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, I excitedly booked my train ticket from Manchester.

Saturday 29th February 2020 – an auspicious Leap Year – knowingly taking a leap into the known unknown.

Braving the imminent threat of Storm Jorge.

I was given the warmest of welcomes by the gallery staff, spending a good while chatting to James, a fellow enthusiast.

My first surprise was the Bechers’ drawings, painting and notebooks.

A revelation.

Then onwards into two large, light spaces, with the work – actual Becher archive prints, displayed with the reverence that they deserve.

Given space to breath, in a calm contemplative area.

With a quiet attentive audience.

So here that are in situ – worth the wait, worth the train ticket, worth the two way seven hour rail trip. Seeing the prints close up reading the exposure, the thrill of the dodge and burn, a lifetime’s ambition realised.

Thanks to all.