Preston Walk

Turning left off the station approach, set back a ways on the right, the Christ Church facade.

Originally built in 1836, the church closed in 1971 and was subsequently demolished, and is now adorned with a new extension, which is further adorned with sculptural details on the distinctive door handles.

Which illustrate local industry.

The whole is bedded into the extensions of the County Hall.

Then head on down Bow Lane to the Lancashire Archives 1976, the work of County Architect Roger Booth.

Back track towards town and onwards up Corporation Street to encounter a tiled delight.

Cast a glance toward UCLAN’s Livesey House, named in honour of Joseph Livesey of Preston, one of the early teetotal pioneers.

A twisty turn around Hill Street and a mysterious display of exterior wall tiles.

The along Friarsgate to the Humane Building.

For most of the 19th and early 20th century this was the ‘Roast Beef Inn.’ In 1924, the police were said to be “desirous of closing this house because they were difficult of Police supervision, and could be spared without causing inconvenience.” In 1926 the building became the premises of the ‘Preston Humane Assurance Collecting Society.’

Superlative Walks

Next twixt Walker Street and Moor Lane the mighty BT Building – Telephone House by Building Design Partnership, 1960-64. A decent office block with rough patterned concrete end walls.

The front elevation was re-clad in 1992 the back is intact

BDP’s founder Professor Sir George Grenfell Baines, known affectionately as GG, was born in 1908 and set up in practice as an architect in Preston in 1937.

Four years later he teamed up with two other Preston practices and the Grenfell Baines Group was born. Expansion in various locations in the UK continued throughout the 1940s and 1950s and in 1951 GG was the only northern architect appointed to design a building for the Festival of Britain in London.

In 1961, his long cherished ambition of establishing the world’s first interdisciplinary practice was realised and Building Design Partnership was founded.  It was a successful formula and on the occasion of his retirement in 1974.

GG’s advice was “keep going, getting better.”

BDP

We are now deep in the nowheresville world of student accommodation.

Heading up Walker Street to the Magistrates’ Courts -yet more of Roger Booth’s work.

Low-lying horizontal tiled and colonnaded

Just around the Conner we find the former Royal Lancaster Hotel

A former Matthew Brown pub, The Lancaster – opposite the Spindlemakers, was very popular pub, with a large public bar on one side and a room that used to feature live music on the other. Then some genius came up with the idea of turning it into a disco pub called the Coconut Grove with the DJ housed in, yes you’ve guessed it, a coconut. It lasted a while then fell off a bit so they relaunched it as Crystals.

This wasn’t a success, so the pub was closed in 1996 and sold off and it was turned into offices. The exterior of the building is more or less as it was when it was a pub.

What Pub

Across the way The Spindlemakers Arms.

A modern Thwaite’s pub that appeared in the first Good Beer Guide in 1974.

The pub closed in 1994 and has been boarded up for over 20 years.

And some concrete steps with exciting piloti.

Swing over the ring road and up along St Pauls Road – and astonishing display of exterior Pilkington’s wall tiles on the Preston Vocational centre.

Interesting row of interwar terraces too!

Let’s back track toward the market.

LimeHouse – former office block recently converted to residential use – renting flats from £525 PCM upwards

Next door is Ribchester House awaiting residential conversion.

Whose neighbours Elizabeth House and Red Rose House former home to the Ministry of Works and Pensions, is currently half-ways re-clad as more homes are created, as part of the city council’s flagship City Living Strategy.

Across the way is the former Cooperative Store Lancastria House, built for the Co-op by company architect William Albert Johnson.

His father was the manager of a local Co-op grocery shop.

He studied at the Manchester Schools of Technology and Art under Professors Hugh Stannus and A C Dickie. He was articled to the Chief Architect of the CWS, Francis E L Harris, and after qualifying set up his own practice, sharing offices with Paul Ogden. The struggle of maintaining a practice proved too difficult financially and he decided to go back and work with Harris at the CWS. On Harris’s death in 1924, he succeeded him as Chief Architect. In total W A Johnson worked for the Cooperative Wholesale Society from 1899 until his retirement in 1950.

The covered market has undergone a serious rethink – to include a covered food area and moveable stalls.

Alongside Conlon, the delivery team for the project includes Frank Whittle Partnership and Greig & Stephenson. Construction has included the installation of around 360 glass panels alongside refurbishment of the market’s steelwork and stone flags.

Sadly the Indoor Market is nowhere to be seen.

Demolished to make way for The Light.

The aim of this exciting cinema and restaurant complex development project is to create an exciting new city centre eight-screen cinema and restaurant complex with a new multi-storey car park.

Visit Preston

Which will now accommodate Lancastria House, saved from the wrecking ball.

Let’s hot foot it to The Guildhall.

The Guild Hall was commissioned to replace the town’s Public Hall. The new building, which was designed by Robert Matthew, Johnson Marshall, was due to be ready for the Preston Guild of 1972, but after construction was delayed, it only officially opened in 1973.

The complex has two performance venues, the Grand Hall which holds 2,034 people and the Charter Theatre which holds 780 people. There is direct pedestrian access, via footbridge, from the adjacent Preston Bus Station and car park. Artists that have performed at the venue include Martha Argerich,  Morrissey, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Jackson 5, Thin Lizzy, Busted and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel among others. It also hosted the UK Snooker Championship for the years 1978 to 1997.

Until July 2014, it was owned by Preston City Council, who were considering its demolition due to its high running costs. It was then sold to local businessman Simon Rigby, who promised to spend £1m to renovate the venue. Rigby closed the venue in May 2019 and, in June 2019, he placed the business into administration. Preston City Council subsequently reclaimed possession of the building, citing the “unacceptable behaviour” of Rigby. The building was due to host the Business Expo in April 2020 but this event had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wikipedia

And finally a gargantuan treat the mammoth Preston Bus Station.

Once the most hated building in town, fearless campaigning saw it listed and loved.

Carefully restored and adapted to the needs of 21st Century bus and coach passenger.

Built in the Brutalist architectural style between 1968 and 1969, designed by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson of Building Design Partnership with E. H. Stazicker, it had a capacity of 80 double-decker buses, 40 along each side of the building. Some claimed that it was the second largest bus station in Western Europe. Pedestrian access to the bus station was originally through any of three subways, one of which linked directly to the adjacent Guild Hall, while the design also incorporates a multi-storey car park of five floors with space for 1,100 cars. It has been described by the Twentieth Century Society as:

One of the most significant Brutalist buildings in the UK.

The building’s engineers, Ove Arup and Partners, designed the distinctive curve of the car park balconies after acceptable finishes to a vertical wall proved too expensive, contributing to the organic, sculptural nature of the building. The edges are functional, too, in that they protect car bumpers from crashing against a vertical wall. The cover balustrade protects passengers from the weather by allowing buses to penetrate beneath the lower parking floor.

Wikipedia

Guild Tower the DWP offices, have been the subject of speculative redevelopment – notably by Simon Rigby, he of the failed Guildhall plans.

It remains to be seen wether the apart-hotel, casino, restaurant complex will ever be realised.

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