Sainsbury’s Stockport

Warren Street Stockport, north of Lancashire Bridge beside the Mersey – seen here in the 1920s a mix of retail, dwellings and industry as was most of the town centre.

The river was culverted and covered as it passed through in 1936

The Merseyway Shopping Centre was completed and opened in 1965 – architects Bernard Engle and Partners

A later extension followed along Warren Street.

The Sainsbury’s building can be seen beside the river – opened 29th October 1985

The branch closed in January 2021 – the Asda is still open.

Store Images – Sainsbury’s Archive

Plans to build hundreds of new homes – including a 15-storey tower block – on a vacant Sainsbury’s site in Stockport town centre are set to get the go-ahead.

Proposals that would bring more than 500 flats and 34 townhouses to the three-acre plot, in Warren Street, are set to go before the council’s planning committee next Thursday night. The 573 homes would be spread across a trio of buildings – rising in height  from five to 15 storeys. Two of these would  also have space for a range of potential uses, ranging from shops and cafes to gyms and creches.

Manchester World

Martin Halsey, operations director at Amstone Ventures, added:

We can see that Stockport has untapped demand for quality homes within its town centre, offering a vibrant lifestyle and everything Stockport town centre has to offer, all on the doorstep.”

Took a look around the site before it’s no longer possible to look around the site.

Swinton Square – Shopping Centre

Opened in 1966 along with the slightly later Lancastrian Hall and Library, the Swinton Square shopping precinct provided an integrated modern setting for shopping, living, learning and entertainment.

The late 60s and early 70s was a time of general prosperity – and the hard landscaping offered a soft option for the local folk.

This was the age of the Precinct, celebrated nationally with postcard after postcard.

My local haunt in Ashton under Lyne.

Local traders and national chains rubbed shoulders.

There was even a Job Centre opening- there was even a wide range of vacancies.

Following a challenging year, the letting reinforces Swinton Square as a pillar in the local community. Whilst retail has been heavily affected throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, footfall at the scheme has remained buoyant, with shoppers staying local, favouring the convenience and independent retailers of Swinton Square. Renovations began on the site of the new, temporary job centre at the beginning of the year and is due to be completed in May. The centre is expected to boost footfall and support for local, independent businesses.

Avison Young

Despite Swinton’s many strengths, it faces similar challenges to other towns. The shopping centre and other buildings in the town centre are dated and in need of investment. Demand for local housing has grown by 23% in the last five years, but there is a lack of high-quality family and affordable housing in the right locations in the area.

The vision is just the first step of the journey, the next is to appoint a developer partner who can take this vision and help shape it, through ongoing consultation and engagement with the community, into a framework and plan for Swinton that will guide future investment.  

Salford Gov UK

The road to Swinton is paved with good intentions – rather than gold.

Sadly I was too late for August’s Dino Crazy Golf.

Bonny Street Police Station – Blackpool 2022

I have been outside several times in 2016 again in 2020 – never inside.

Let’s take a look:

Photos – Blackpool Gazette

So whilst in town for a stroll I strolled by once again, the main block now tagged and tinned up.

Whilst the Courts are still in use, until they make their move in 2025, stasis seems to be the order of the day.

There are no signs as yet of the proposed redevelopment of the site.

Some day maybe

Councillors have approved a compulsory purchase order to complete the land assembly for the £300m Blackpool Central project but still hope to negotiate terms with property owners.

Blackpool Council’s executive unanimously agreed the recommendation towards enabling the Central Car Park to be transformed into a leisure destination boasting a flying theatre, virtual reality rides, a thrill and gaming zone, multi-media exhibition space and themed dining areas.

Lancs Live

Let’s veer off the promenade and assess the situation.

Lancastrian Hall & Central Library – Swinton

Completed in 1969 to designs by Leach Rhodes and Walker in collaboration with the Borough Engineer John Whittaker

Constructed at the tail end of the Sixties – the last gasp of Municipal Modernism in the Borough, providing education, edification and entertainment for the local population.

The fountain is gone, the building is closed – the party’s over.

The Fast Cars are history – well they were history, until I was told that they are still speeding along!

A council has spent £348,000 on a masterplan for a town centre that the public has never seen.

Consultants have been used to come up with ideas to regenerate Swinton in Salford.

The town centre is dominated by the imposing Lancastrian Hall, opened in 1969, with an adjoining shopping mall.

The hall housed a council library and was used for civic and community meetings, wedding receptions and election counts.

But it has been closed since 2015 after the library moved to the new Gateway Building on the other side of Chorley Road.

Manchester Evening News

So this magical structure of stairways, undercrofts, elevated walks and majestic concrete clad volumes is under threat.

Swinton and the Lancastrian Hall deserve much better.

Over 550 people took part in the recent visioning work, and we are grateful for their time and valuable contributions.

An overwhelming majority of those who shared their views saw Swinton as a good place to live and bring up a family – somewhere friendly, with a strong sense of community.

People valued their local green spaces, but strongly felt that there needed to be more investment in the town centre, and a plan to tackle empty buildings and shops.

Overall, people felt that Swinton needed to be a more vibrant place, with more going on – and more reasons for people to visit and spend their leisure time there.

The Swinton Vision

This is an opportunity to create tomorrow’s local centre, but that does rely on removing the Lancastrian Hall, rethinking the shopping centre, and repurposing the Civic Centre and the spaces around it. 

Central Retail Park – Ancoats Manchester

We have been here before – before the wrecking ball.

Subsequently, the tills have long since ceased to ring.

The road to redevelopment is paved with good intentions, and so far a profound lack or realisation.

The local folk objected to the planned luxury offices.

Tomorrow Manchester City Council’s Executive is set to approve the development framework for the former Central Retail Park that will see it turned into a zero carbon office district. But, according to a public consultation carried out by grassroots campaigners, an overwhelming majority of locals want public spaces on the 10.5 acre site in Ancoats rather than luxury offices.

The Meteor October 2020

As of April 2022 Trees Not Cars have sought the views of local representatives following the decision not to go ahead with the building of a multi-storey car park

What we need are councillors who will stand up for us and push for as much green space as possible at Central Retail Park development.

It’s council owned, it would link in well with Cotton Field Park and will give the capacity for locals to enjoy the outdoors – without driving, once New Islington Green has been developed into offices.

Trees Not Cars April 2022

There is a perennial plea for affordable homes and green space, along with perennial structural and institutional barriers to their financing and building.

Place North West 2019

The circle between the developers, landowners, local authority and central government stubbornly refuses to be squared.

As of 20th September 2022 the land remains derelict – currently the domain of wayward taggers, spray-can jockeys and homemade mini-ramp skaters.

A concrete rectangle dotted with Buddleja davidii  – surrounded by Manctopia and main roads.

The Queen and I

On the day of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, I cycled around Ashton under Lyne in search of landmarks of her sixty year reign.

Today, on the day of her funeral, I set out for a walk around Stockport, to record a town largely closed for business. Overcast but far from downcast, I defied the almost persistent fine rain and these are the pictures that I took.

Many of the subjects are products of her time on the throne.

The traffic was much lighter, there were few pedestrians, a couple of cafés were open and two men watched the funeral service on the Sky TV stand in the precinct.

St Helens Stroll

By wandering aimlessly, all places became equal, and it no longer mattered where he was.

Paul Auster  City of Glass.

The station as built in 1961 to a design by the architect William Robert Headle, which included and advertised a significant amount of the local Pilkington Vitrolite Glass. The fully glazed ticket hall was illuminated by a tower with a valley roof on two Y-shaped supports. The platform canopies were free standing folded plate roofs on tubular columns.

The new station building and facilities were assembled just a few yards from the 1960s station building and is the third build on the same site. The project came in at a total estimated cost of £6 million, with the European Union contributing £1.7 million towards the total funding. The new footbridge was lifted into place in the early hours of 22 January 2007.

The striking Pilkington’s glass-fronted building was designed by architect SBS of Manchester. Construction work was completed in the summer, with the new waiting rooms and footbridge opened to passengers on 19 September. The new station building was officially opened on 3 December 2007.

Wikipedia

Emerging from the space age bubble of St Helens Central Station.

Turn right towards The Hippodrome

In the early Edwardian era a fine theatre was opened on 1st June 1903. It had been designed by local architect J A Baron and was on the site of an earlier theatre known as the Peoples Palace. It was operated as the New Hippodrome Cinema from 8th August 1938 when it reopened with Anna Neagle in Victoria the Great. On 1st September 1963 it was converted to a Surewin Bingo Club by Hutchinson Cinemas which continued to operate in 2008. By May 2019 it was independently operated as the Hippodrome Bingo Club.

Cinema Treasures

Onwards down Corporation Street to Century House, currently awaiting some care and attention and tenants.

Century House is a prominent landmark in St Helens town centre, being the tallest office building in place. The accommodation ranges over 9 floors, providing offices from a single person, to whole floors. In addition, all tenants benefit from the use of a modern break out space and meeting rooms, in addition to manned reception desk.

On The Market

Next to the Courthouse low lying, lean and landscaped.

Refurbished in 2012

Further on down the road the former Unitarian Chapel – now the Lucem House Community Cinema.

On the corner the YMCA offers a cornucopia of architectural styles and fun.

Including this geometric brick panel.

Around the corner to the Police Station by Lancashire County Architect Roger Booth.

Down the way the derelict Job Centre.

There are plans afoot for conversion to apartments.

Former Capitol Cinema.

Architects: Frederick Evans and Edwin Sheridan Gray

The Capitol Cinema opened on 3rd October 1929 by an independent operator. It stood on a prominent corner site at North Road and Duke Street – known as Capitol Corner.

The Capitol Cinema was taken over by Liverpool-based Regent Enterprises Ltd. in 1929, and by the Associated British Cinemas – ABC chain in 1935. It underwent a renovation in the 1960’s, and was closed by ABC on 9th December 1978.

The building was converted into a sports centre, by 2009 it was a Central Fitness gymnasium.

Cinema Treasures

Along the way to St Mary Lowe House RC – the style is a combination of Gothic and Byzantine elements. One of the most unusual fittings is the carillon, one of the largest in the British Isles with 47 bells, which was installed in 1930 and is still played regularly.

Architect: CB Powell 1924-30 Grade II Listed

Taking Stock

Next to the Ormskirk Street United Reformed Church

Ken Fisher’s first APEC project 1976

The main approach is identified by a beak-like porch which projects from the main cladding.  In this space hangs a recast eighteenth century bell, from the original chapel.

Let’s take it to the Midland, Nat West and Barclays Banks.

With an intermediate former Gas Showroom.

Next to the Church of St Helen.

Architect: WD Caroe 1920-26 Grade II Listed

A chapel has been on the site since at least the 16th century. The chapel was doubled in size in 1816, but burnt down in 1916. It is the parish church of the town, and stands in a prominent position.

St Mary’s Car Park a multi-storey masterpiece straight outa Dessau.

Next crossing a complex web of inner ring roads designed with the beleaguered pedestrian at the forefront of the planners’ minds.

To the inter-war Pilkington’s Offices – Reflection Court

Architects: Herbert J Rowse and Kenneth Cheeseman 1937-41 Grade II Listed.

Historic England

Onwards to the Post office – sorted.

Civic Centre – East Kilbride

I walked from St Bride’s Church, through a valley to East Kilbride Civic Centre

Commissioned by the burgh of East Kilbride, was designed by Scott Fraser & Browning, built by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts and completed in 1966.

Accommodating Ballerup Hall.

Ballerup Hall is located within East Kilbride Civic Centre and takes its name from its twin town Ballerup, which is near Copenhagen in Denmark. The hall comprises a main hall with stage, kitchen facilities and a bar servery. The adjoining district court room is available after office hours for a limited range of activities.

SLL&C

The stars of British Championship Wrestling return to East Kilbride with a star-studded line up including The Cowboy James Storm and all your favourite BCW Superstars!

I missed the missing link twixt Roddy Frame and the Civic Centre.

If you were lucky enough to catch the 2013 concerts in which Frame marked the 30th anniversary of High Land Hard Rain by playing Aztec Camera’s seminal debut album live, you’ll already have seen Anne’s pictures. Before getting to High Land Hard Rain itself in those shows, Frame treated audiences to a rare set drawn from what he termed his East Kilbride period – the songs he was writing as a teenager that would appear on Aztec Camera’s two Postcard singles, and form the basis of the band’s legendarily unreleased Postcard album, Green Jacket Grey.

While he played those tunes, huge, striking black and white images of his old hometown appeared as a backdrop behind him, setting exactly the right fragile, retro-future new town mood of post-industrial Fahrenheit 451 urban development.

Glasgow Music City

There are plans for redevelopment:

A strategic masterplan for East Kilbride town centre which could see a new purpose-built civic facility is to be put before the council next month.

Last March we told how radical new plans could see the crumbling Civic Centre replaced with – a new front door to East Kilbride.

Despite there being no specific proposals agreed at this stage, South Lanarkshire Council has confirmed that agents of the owners are set to present their strategic masterplan to elected members in February.

Daily Record

It currently sits by the shopping centre and a patch of empty ground.

Several imposing interlocking volumes, formed by pre-cast concrete panels.

East Kilbride was the first new town built in Scotland in 1947. New Town designation was a pragmatic attempt to soak up some of the population from an overcrowded and war ravaged Glasgow. Its design was indeed an anathema to the chaotic and sprawling Glasgow: clean straight lines, modern accessible public spaces; and footways, bridges and underpasses built with the pedestrian in mind. It was designed as a self contained community — with industry, shops, recreation facilities and accommodation all within a planned geographic area.

Medium

On a quiet Saturday morning in April, approaching through an underpass or two, I arrived at the shopping centre.

Then circumnavigated the Civic Centre.

The cost of getting married in East Kilbride will rise by up to 39 per cent.

Couples currently pay £217 for a council official to carry out their service on a Saturday – this will increase to £250.

On Fridays, the next most popular day, the cost will rise to £120 from £87.50.

Getting married Monday to Thursday still represents the best value, but the rise from £72 to £100 represents the highest in percentage terms.

Daily Record

Concrete Totem – Ashton under Lyne

Dale Street East OL6 7ST – behind the Safe Start.

Formerly the Friendship – which suddenly became surplus to requirements, when the Old Street area was redeveloped, and the adjacent Magistrates Courts built.

So far so good, these are the facts we are located.

In an unfamiliar street, in an unfamiliar town.

I myself had the good fortune to grow up here and drink in the Friendship.

Even so I have no recollection of this distinctive concrete column, neither does the whole of the internet.

Do you?

Though very much in the style of the day – exemplified by William Mitchell there is currently no attribution for this work.

Was it at some point relocated, if so from where?

There are more questions than answers.

Milton Square Gateshead

As a companion to the adjacent Poet’s Estate – let’s take a look at Malory, Milton, Masefield and Wordsworth.

This is a similar mix of boxy terraces and traffic free walkways.

Possibly of a later date.

Manors Car Park – Newcastle upon Tyne

Brims and Co. Limited

Manors Car Park’s distinctive form derives from the constraints of the train line to east which collided with the new Central East Motorway A167 M which dips beneath, shaping the car park between these constraints. The curvature of the concrete decks sweeps uniformally across the site, interrupted only by the circulation ramp. The car park was the first multi-story car park in Newcastle and marked the beginnings of Wilfred Burns car-centric plans for the modernisation of the city through the Central East Motorway Plan – 1963.

Burns plan aimed to increase the economic growth of the city through greater convenience for an emerging car owning populace and even went as far as to incentivised cars travel by offering limited free parking in the city centre.

Manors car park connected and accompanied by an equally dramatic and elongated pedestrian footbridge from Manors Train Station – today Manors Metro, touching the car park for access before swooping under Swan House on Pilgrim Street Roundabout. The bridge takes what feels like the longest imaginable route over the motorway, allowing pedestrians to bypass Northumberland high street and take in the theatrics of the swooping concrete forms and motorway traffic.

Something Concrete +Modern

Newcastle Libraries

In the early 1960s, under the leadership of T Dan Smith and his chief planning officer Wilf Burns, Newcastle city council undertook a comprehensive re-planning of the city centre that, had it been carried out to its full extent, would have led to the construction of underground motorways and a series of raised pedestrian decks running along Northumberland Street in the main shopping zone. The plan was that the new city would encircle the historical core, which would be preserved; meanwhile vast swathes of Georgian housing to the east would be razed. There were also plans for high-rise towers in the centre, only one of which was built.

The Guardian

This tendency in town planning was due in part to the publication of H. Alker Tripp’s book of 1942.

Along with Traffic in Towns an influential report and popular book on urban and transport planning policy published 25 November 1963 for the UK Ministry of Transport by a team headed by the architect, civil engineer and planner Colin Buchanan. The report warned of the potential damage caused by the motor car, while offering ways to mitigate it. It gave planners a set of policy blueprints to deal with its effects on the urban environment, including traffic containment and segregation, which could be balanced against urban redevelopment, new corridor and distribution roads and precincts.

These policies shaped the development of the urban landscape in the UK and some other countries for two or three decades. Unusually for a technical policy report, it was so much in demand that Penguin abridged it and republished it as a book in 1964.

Wikipedia

In a one man war against the segregation of traffic and pedestrian I often walk car parks, ramps and all.

Stockport Asda, Piccadilly Manchester, Merseyway, Heaton Lane, Hull, Red Rock, Grimsby, and Margate.

As a non-driving militant pedestrian I assert my right to go wherever I wish to – within reason.

Okay let’s go.

Hilton House – Stockport

Once the head office of New Day Furniture.

A local company which designed, manufactured and retailed furnishings around the North West.

Oldham Street Manchester
Rochdale Road Harpurhey
Wythenshawe

The office building is a highlight of my Stockport Walks – it has a lightness of touch incorporating a partial podium, slab block and lower rise extensions.

There is a sensitive mix of glass, stone, concrete and brick across a variety of scales and volumes.

May 2020 – plans are submitted to remodel the exterior of Hilton House

Marketing Stockport

The remodelling of the building include reparations and repainting brickwork, render and cladding as part of wider plans to rejuvenate Hilton House to rebrand as a more attractive and contemporary office location in Stockport town centre.

Studio KMA have proposed conversion to apartments.

Conversion of existing 1970s office building to apartments.

A combination of one-bed, two-bed and three-bed units ensure a new sustainable use in Stockport town centre.

The proposal incorporates the use of coloured glass panels to create a modern, fresh aesthetic.

As of July 2021 the property is under offer.

Post-Pandemic it may well be that the demand for office space is in retreat and the conversion to modern living space the more likely end use.

Harley Hill Flats – Halifax

The New Bank Development – aka Range Lane or Haley Hill.

Built in 1964 – Architects Leonard Vincent and Ray Gorbing.

Tower Block 1987

Forming part of my Halifax Walk.

Having seen Mandy Payne’s pictures over on Instagram – I hastened to Halifax.

Intrigued by the Oscar Niemeyer style stairs.

Here are my pictures.

Billingham

Whilst cycling twixt Redcar and Newcastle one sunny Monday morn, I espied a tower on the distant horizon.

I pedalled hurriedly along and this is what I found.

Dawson House aka Kingsway.

A fifteen-storey circular tower block of 60 one-bedroom flats and 29 two-bedroom flats, making 89 dwellings in total. The block was built as public housing at the western fringe of the Town Centre development that began in 1952. Approved in 1973, the block is of triangular concrete-beam construction.

The architects were Elder Lester Associates.

The block was built by Teeside County Borough Council.

Stanley Miller Ltd.’s tender for the contract was £778,850.

The tower block was opened on 3rd April 1975 by the Mayor of Stockton Borough Council, John Dyson.

The block is described as ‘gimmicky circular tower block’ in The Buildings of England: County Durham by N. Pevsner.

Historic England

Across the way the cosmically named Astronaut pub known locally as the Aggy.

Though all it seems, is not well in outer space:

Locals say punters are creating a giant toilet next to a Billingham pub – and performing sex acts.

I wouldn’t disregard what they say, and I can’t say that didn’t happen, said boss Jordan Mulloy.

I know urinating goes on from time to time but people do it outside every pub – anyone I catch doing it will be barred.

Teeside News

The pub stands at the outer edge of the West Precinct.

The precinct sits beneath the Civic Offices.

And has a ramp leading to the roof top parking.

Next door the earlier Queensway Centre.

The Family unveiled by HRM Queen Elizabeth II in 1967 the country’s first pedestrianised precinct.

Edward Bainbridge Copnall 

In November 2013, a time capsule was buried in front of The Family, under a stone with the inscription Forever Forward 30 11 2013.

The capsule is not to be unearthed until the year 2078.

Twenty million pound bid to take back control of the centre of Billingham.

The council says: Proposals include addressing the physical condition of Billingham town centre in support the Council’s ambition to take back control of the centre. Redevelopment would solve the challenges of changing retail trends that are contributing towards excess retail space and high vacancy rates.

This includes exploring options for mixed-use redevelopment and high-quality public spaces that improve accessibility within the town centre and a modern retail offering.

Hartlepool Mail.

Missing in action – La Ronde aka Eleanor Rigby’s.

Built in 1968 by local architects Elder Lester and Partners as part of the expansive plans for the town centre along with the Forum, La Ronde nightclub was to form part of the expansive plans for Billingham focused on the pursuit of increased leisure time.

La Ronde’s distinct cylindrical form comes from the car park access ramp that winds around the stair core to the upper floors of the club. The elevated drum-like form inset with cross latticed concrete webs was cast entirely in-situ.

In 2006, the council demolished La Ronde and Forum House at the cost of £500,000 to make way for a supermarket.

The Forum

In 1960, Billingham Urban District Council, began one of the most ambitious new leisure centres in Europe. The Forum was funded by the district’s new-found wealth – a product of the local petrochemical industry.  It was designed by local architects Elder Lester and Partners and brought together a variety of recreational activities including an ice rink, swimming pool, sports centre, theatre, and bar all under one roof. The Forum opened in July 1967 to great enthusiasm.  Weekly attendance over the first six months was between 20 000 and 30 000 people, far exceeding all expectations.

The inclusion of the theatre alongside the sports facilities broke new ground in recreational planning and in the shift from sport to the broader notion of ‘leisure’, the Forum predated architectural thinking of the time by nearly a decade.  The building’s form is derived from the functions within, expressed in a variety of bulbous elements.  The most distinctive is the canopy of the ice rink roof which is hung using steel cables running the length of the roof and cross-braced to achieve a clear 73m span.

Something Concrete and Modern

ASDA Car Park – Stockport

Yet another lockdown exploration of forbidden territory for the intrepid pedestrian.

Following sojourns here, here and there.

It’s addictive passing the no access signs, onwards into the abyss.

He hated all this, and somehow he couldn’t get away. 

Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness

Asda Stores Ltd is a British supermarket chain. It is headquartered in Leeds. The company was founded in 1949 when the Asquith family merged their retail business with the Associated Dairies company of Yorkshire.

It was listed on the London Stock Exchange until 1999 when it was acquired by Walmart for £6.7 billion.

In February 2021, EG Group – led by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital, acquired Asda.

The company was fined £850,000 in 2006 for offering 340 staff at a Dartford depot a pay rise in return for giving up a union collective bargaining agreement. Poor relations continued as Asda management attempted to introduce new rights and working practices shortly thereafter at another centre in Washington, Tyne and Wear.

Wikipedia

Let’s hope that the new owners having been ruled against in an equal pay dispute, attempt to forge better labour relations.

In March 2021 the employees won a Supreme Court ruling upholding an earlier court ruling permitting the action, and enabling employment tribunal action to decide equal value claims.

Asda stated: This ruling relates to one stage of a complex case that is likely to take several years to reach a conclusion. 

The claim could lead to about £500 million of compensation to lower paid employees.

All that aside, let’s have a look at what the car park is like.

Portwood Stockport 2021

We have previously taken a look at Portwood as was – let’s take a giant leap forward to today.

The industry to the east has gone west – no more bees and alligators, instead there’s Tesco and Porsche.

Why make when you can buy?

Meadow Mill has long since ceased to spin and weave – currently undergoing adaptation into modern residential living.

I though, have always been fascinated by the rough ground that now seems so left behind.

Where once I found a weathered book of lost photographs.

This is a scarred and neglected landscape, even the developer’s sign has given up the ghost.

There are brambles, buddleia, rough grass and teasels amongst the rubble.

The remnants of roads, kerbed and tarred, strewn with hastily dumped detritus.

Puddled and forlorn.

Enter beneath the M60, where the Tame and Goyt conjoin to become the Mersey, a dimly lit passage home to the itinerant aerosol artistes.

All that remains of the long gone mills – the concrete base.

Detritus tipped and strewn, amongst the moss.

The remnants of roads going nowhere.

Surrounded by cars going nowhere.

Contemporary architecture creating cavernous canyons.

A landscape forever changing, caught between expectation and fulfilment, paradise forever postponed.

This horror will grow mild, this darkness light.

John Milton

Piccadilly Plaza And Gardens

Here we are, right at the heart of Manchester.

Anything worth looking at?

Well not a great deal, it’s 1772 and the Gardens and Plaza, are as yet undreamt of – the area was occupied by water-filled clay pits called the Daub Holes, eventually the pits were replaced by a fine ornamental pond.

In 1755 the Infirmary was built here; on what was then called Lever’s Row, in 1763 the Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum was added.

There were grander unrealised plans.

Including an aerial asylum.

The Manchester Royal Infirmary moved to its current site on Oxford Road in 1908. The hospital buildings were completely demolished by April 1910 apart from the outpatient department, which continued to deal with minor injuries and dispense medication until the 1930s.

After several years in which the Manchester Corporation tried to decide how to develop the site, it was left and made into the largest open green space in the city centre. The Manchester Public Free Library Reference Department was housed on the site for a number of years before the move to Manchester Central Library.

The sunken garden was a remnant of the hospital’s basement.

Wikipedia

During World War II the gardens were home to air raid shelters.

The Gardens became a festival of floral abundance – in folk memory twinned with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but with slightly less hanging.

The area has also acted as a public transport hub.

And following post war bomb damage.

A delightful car park.

But this simply can’t carry on, keep calm and demand a Plaza!

Drawings are drawn, models are modelled.

1965 Architects: Covell Matthews + Partners

Work is commenced, post haste.