I was in town, just looking around, just looking for modernity, just looking.
I found you by chance between the railway and the high street, so I took a good look around, fascinated by the concrete sculptural panels on your fascia columns, those facing Abbey Walk.
Research tells me that they the work of Harold Gosney – born in Sheffield, he studied at Grimsby School of Art and London’s Slade School of Fine Art.
The majority of Gosney’s early commissions were collaborations with architects and he has made a significant contribution to public art in Grimsby. He is the artist responsible for the reliefs on the Abbey Walk car park, the large Grimsby seal by the entrance to the Grimsby Central Library and the Grim and Havelok themed copper relief on the side of Wilko store in Old Market Place.
The car park has been the subject of some speculative repairs and refurbishment:
In total, the scheme will cost the council £1.54 million.
The authority will borrow £1.34 million to fund the project with a further £200,000 coming from a local transport grant. But the council said that the improvements made could help increase revenue from the car park of around £34,000 a year.
Councillor Matthew Patrick, portfolio holder for transport at the council, said that the work is essential to “brighten up” the building and attract people into Grimsby.
“It’s one of the largest car parks in the town,” he said.
“It will attract more people into the town centre and help to improve the offering of the car park.”
I ride a bicycle, which seriously restricts my access to the world of the M – one and six or otherwise. Having a more than somewhat ambivalent outlook on motor cars and their ways I have nevertheless written a short history.
So to satisfy my idle curiosity, and fill the damp wasteland of a Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon, let’s go on a little trip back in time by means of archival images.
What of your history?
Tendering documents were sent out in 1962 describing it as a 17.7 acre site, requiring at least a £250,000 investment, including an eastern corner reserved for a picnic area, and an emphasis that the views to the west must be considered in the design, and facilities must be provided on both sides. Replies were received – from Telefusion Ltd, J Lyons, Banquets Catering Ltd, Granada and Rank
Top Rank’s plan came consistently highly rated by all the experts it was passed between. It showed a restaurant and a self-service café on the west side, the restaurant being at the top of a 96ft (29m) tower. At the top of the tower was a sun terrace – a roof with glass walls, which they had described but hadn’t included any suggestions for how it could be used, adding that maybe it could form an observation platform, serve teas, or be reserved for an additional storey to the restaurant.
Including a transport café on each site, seating was provided for 700 people, with 101 toilets and 403 parking spaces. A kiosk and toilets were provided in the picnic area.
“The winning design looks first class. Congratulations.”
Architects T P Bennett & Sons had been commissioned to design the services, along with the similar Hilton Park. At £885,000, it was the most expensive service station Rank built, and was considerably more than what had been asked of them.They won the contract, but on a condition imposed by the Landscape Advisory Committee that the height of the tower was reduced to something less striking.
Lancaster was opened in 1965 by Rank under the name ‘Forton’. The petrol station opened early in January, with some additional southbound facilities opening that Spring.
The southbound amenity building had a lowered section with a Quick Snacks machine and the toilets. Above it was the transport café which had only an Autosnacks machine, where staff loaded hot meals into the back and customers paid to release them. These were the motorway network’s first catering vending machines, and the Ministry of Transport were won round by the idea, but Rank weren’t – they removed them due to low demand.
In 1977, Egon Ronay rated the services as appalling. The steak and kidney pie was an insult to one’s taste buds while the apple pie was an absolute disgrace. He said everywhere needed maintenance and a coat of paint, the toilets were smelly and dirty, and the food on display was most unattractive.
A 1978 government review described the services as a soulless fairground.
The Forton Services and the typology generally have had a chequered career, rising and falling in public favour and perception. Purveying food and facilities of varying quality, changing style and vendors with depressing regularity – knowing the value of nothing yet, the Costas of everything.
Ironically the prematurely diminished tower has taken on iconic status in the Modernist canon – listed in 2012 yet closed to the public, admired from afar – in a car.
The Pennine Tower was designed to make the services clearly visible – the ban on advertising had always been an issue, and the previous technique of having a restaurant on a bridge, like down the road at Charnock Richard, was proving expensive and impractical. Rank commissioned architects T P Bennett & Sons to capitalise on the benefits of exciting design while trialling something different. The tower resembles that used by air traffic control, summarising the dreams of the ’60s.
The central shaft consists of two lifts, which were originally a pentagonal design until they were replaced in 2017. They’re still in use to access the first floor, but with the buttons to higher floors disabled. There are then three service lifts, and one spiral staircase – satisfying typical health and safety regulations.
At the top of the tower stood a fine-dining waitress service restaurant, offering views over the road below and across Lancashire. Above the restaurant the lift extended to roof-level, to allow the roof to serve as a sun terrace – although Rank admitted they weren’t sure what this could be used for, suggesting serving tea or eventually building another level.
In reality social changes and cost-cutting limited the desirability of a sit-down meal, and this coupled with high maintenance costs made the tower fall out of favour. The ‘fine dining’ restaurant became the trucking lounge that had been on the first floor, before closing to the public in 1989. It then soldiered on for another 15 years, partially re-fitted, as a head office, then staff training and storage, but even this became too impractical, and the tower is now not used at all.
Although the tower is unique to these services, the concept of large high-level floors can be seen in many Rank services of the era, the idea of each one being to have a visible landmark and a good view of the surrounding area, such as at Hilton Park. The lower-level restaurant at Forton sticks out over the first floor, and partially in to the road, to give an optimum view. Toilets and offices were in the ground floor buildings below.
There are lots of myths flying around that the tower was forced to close by safety regulations, and that it is about to fall down. Like any building which hasn’t been used for 30 years it would take a lot of investment to get it open again, and with roadside restaurants across the country closing due to a lack of trade, nobody has come up with an convincing plan to justify investing in the Pennine Tower.
The construction of Ramsgate Harbour began in 1749 and was completed in about 1850. The two most influential architects of the harbour were father and son John Shaw and John Shaw Jr, who designed the clock house, the obelisk, the lighthouse and the Jacob’s Ladder steps.
The harbour has the unique distinction of being the only harbour in the United Kingdom awarded the right to call itself a Royal Harbour. This was bestowed by King George IV after he was taken by the hospitality shown by the people of Ramsgate when he used the harbour to depart and return with the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1821.
Because of its proximity to mainland Europe, Ramsgate was a chief embarcation point both during the Napoleonic Wars and for the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.
The ferry terminal area is built upon reclaimed land.
History is written on shifting sands and stormy seas.
The port has had it’s ups and downs the ferry terminal closing following a tragic accident
On 14 September 1994 there was a failure of a ship to shore structure for the transfer of foot passengers onto ferries. It collapsed in the early hours, causing the deaths of six people and seriously injuring seven more. The investigation into the accident revealed that the same basic miscalculation had been made by both the designer – Swedish firm FKAB, a subsidiary of the Mattson Group and certifying organisation Lloyd’s register. The parties involved, including the client, Port Ramsgate, were prosecuted and fined a total of £1.7m, which at the time was the largest fine in the United Kingdom for a breach of health and safety laws. The Swedish firms refused to pay the £1m fine and as result pan-European law enforcement was changed in 2005.
Hoverlloyd ran a crossing from Ramsgate Harbour to Calais Harbour from 6 April 1966 using small, passenger-only SR.N6 hovercraft. When the much larger SR.N4 craft, capable of carrying 30 vehicles and 254 passengers, were delivered in 1969, Hoverlloyd moved operations to a purpose built hoverport in Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate.
Mothballed and unloved standing largely unused 2019 has seen the winds of change forge a new dawn for the fading fortunes of Ramsgate Harbour. Transport supremo Christopher Grayling MP has summoned the dredgers to clear a way through the confusing clutter of post Brexit Britain.
Seaborne Freight has three months to source the vessels, recruit and train staff, and put all the infrastructure in place to launch the service before we leave the EU – it sounds like a very tall order – Richard Burnett
A company with no vessels a port currently with no access.
There’s only one pilot and that is the Harbour Master. The security fencing is laughable – travellers broke into the port and occupied it for a week not so long ago.
So all is well with the world – we await further developments with a fervour unseen since the previous fervour.
Let’s take a short walk back to my walk around in 2015 – see you on the other side.
Way back when, when the city was a maverick mixed up maze of citizens, industry, pubs, shops and places of worship the world looked a lot like this.
However the process of clearance and redevelopment radically changed and reduced the population and appearance of Great Ancoats Street and its environs.
The back to backs aren’t coming back and their occupants shifted from pillar to post along with the businesses that served them. Following years of decline Manchester takes a long hard look at itself and decides to modernise.
In 1989 an out of town inner ring road shopping centre in the architectural style de jour is built – the anonymous industrial retail hangar appears.
2018 and the nexus of the city has shifted yet again – Ancoats is designated as the hippest place on earth and has no time for an outmoded shopping experience.
All these developers have a certain sensitivity towards this history of the area without neglecting modern tastes.
So the Central Retail park awaits its fate.
There was to have been another retail complex.
Henderson Global Investors, on behalf of its flagships £1 billion Retail Warehouse Fund, has received detailed planning permission for a food store led regeneration at Central Retail Park, Manchester, investing £40 million in the scheme.
Though nothing lasts forever and the scheme came to nothing.
The latest proposal according to Place North West is for housing – with the attendant heated debate regarding affordable homes.
Of the 61 big residential developments granted planning permission by Manchester city council’s planning committee in 2016 and 2017, not one of the 14,667 planned flats or housesmet the government’s definition of affordable, being neither for social rent nor offered at 80% of the market rate.
Demolition of the former retail units would enable the development of the site by Manchester Life, the city’s joint venture with Abu Dhabi United Group. Previous site owner TH Real Estate, was unable to deliver the project, finally sold the Central Park site to the city council in November 2017.
The long awaited development of the site on Manchester’s inner ring road has edged closer, with site notices posted declaring that demolition is to start on 20 August.
As of last week the lone security guard at home in his brick cabin informs me that demolition has been delayed by the discovery of asbestos on the site.
I’ve been here, before recording the prelude to the epilogue, here at Preston’s Indoor Market.
So on my return this February, I find that the inevitable end, is indeed now past nigh.
Boarded and shuttered awaiting demolition – Waiting for The Light to shine:
Preston City Council has granted planning permission to Muse Developments’ £50m cinema-led leisure scheme in the city centre.
Muse is working in partnership with the council on the plans, made up of an 11-screen cinema operated by The Light, seven family restaurants, a 593-space multi-storey car park and public realm improvements.
The project forms part of the wider regeneration of the Markets Quarter which includes the full refurbishment and redecoration of the grade two-listed market canopies and the construction of a glazed Market Hall.
Preston to their credit have become an exemplar for inward urban regeneration, and the work undertaken so far in the market area is bringing new life and trade to the area.
That said, it is always saddening to see the architecture of the Sixties swept aside.
So come take one last wander through the concrete warren of ramps, underpasses and tunnels of the unwanted indoor market.
Built in 1973 scheduled to be closed and demolished in ten days time.
The future is not so red rosey for yet another traditional local market.
A typically boxy arrangement of steel, concrete, asbestos glass and brick, the complex of trading units, stalls and parking is not without charm. Though as with many other developments of its type, it seems to be without friends, then inevitably without customers and traders.
Following a template originated at London’s Borough Market, developers and councils seem to favour the modern artisan over the proletarian . This concept when meshed with the multi-plex and chain restaurant/bar amalgam, provides a shiny new future, for the shiny new shape of all our retail and leisure needs.
So ta-ta to another world of hats and socks, fruit and veg, workwear for workers.
This is the one and only photograph of its former black and white self.
Though an internet search revealed a rich heritage of pool, football, fancy dress and trips to Lloret De Mar, for the lads and lasses of Lower Scholes.
The pub now named Sam’s Bar, has retained its jolly jumble of modernist volumes and angles – though having lost the harlequin panels and off licence. Mid-morning the lights were on and the pub was surrounded by cars taking advantage of the £1.90 a day parking.
The online reviews seem to divide opinion as to the quality of the current provision.
This pub is not a nice place to visit. If your not a regular you get leered at all night, the people and staff are absolutly terrible. You will wait at the bar all night waiting to get served, whilst all the regulars get their drinks. Then and only then will you get yours. You will see a fight at least once a night. Karaoke is only for those of us who are blessed with the ability to sing – they wont let you up again if not. This pub needs knocking down it’s a menace to society, out of 10 a big fat 0.
Solid, dependable and well-run. Friendly bar staff and regulars, local and national newspapers, rugby league memorabilia, jukebox, pool table, and very fair prices. Has been my local for years, ever since I got tired of the landlord turnover at the Cherries. I’ve never seen anyone refused a go at karaoke, including me, and I can’t sing, and rarely pick a song anyone likes. So you carry on spouting tripe, and I’ll carry on drinking at Sam’s Bar Scholes.