Having started in the middle, let’s fast forward to the end – the beginning will have to wait.
We take up our walk along Fred’s Way once more by Mirrlees Fields.
Following the brook along the narrow shallow valley, betwixt and between houses.
Briefly opening out into green open space.
Crossing the road and entering the detached world of the detached house.
No two the same or your money back!
Diving feet first into Happy Valley, home to the Lady Brook stream.
And quickly out again.
Emerging once again into the space between spaces.
The suburban idyll of the Dairyground Estate home to very few semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers; those on state benefit/unemployed, and lowest grade workers.
But home to an interesting array of Post War housing.
Including examples of the style de jour, à la mode conversions and updates extended and rendered, black, white and grey symbols of success or extensive extended credit facilities.
Though the more traditional fairy tale variant still has a space and place, in the corner of some well behaved cul de sac.
Under the railway – through a low tunnel darkly.
We struck oil, black gold, Texas Tea – Tate Oil.
The area of Little Australia – so called as all the roads are named after towns in Australia, is bordered by the West Coast Main Line to the north, the Bramhall oil terminal to the east, Bramhall village centre to the west and Moorend Golf Club to the south.
We emerged into a warren of obfuscation, dead ends and conflicting signs, having made enquiries of the passing populace, we realigned with the new bypass.
Passing over the conveniently placed footbridge over the bypass and beyond.
Emerging amongst faux beams and real Monkey Puzzles.
It was at this point that, unbeknownst to us, we followed a twisted sign, misdirecting us along an overgrown path – to Handforth.
We failed, in the end we failed to arrive to arrive at the end.
Heading west like headless chickens towards the Turkey Farm.
Making our way mistakenly to Handforth Dean Retail Park – rear of.
Crossing slip roads with no pedestrian access and the forbidden territory of an industrial sized gymnasium car park.
Woodford will just have to wait, another day another dolorous excursion.
It’s Tuesday 5th August 2015 and the taps don’t match – is this a good omen?
Or simply proprietorial pragmatism?
And why is the sink a funny shape?
Any road up we’re off up the road, the sun’s a shining and here we are in Littlehampton.
Looking at a pale blue gas holder, some way off in the middle distance.
Staring up at a fishmonger’s ghost.
Passing by an ultra-squiggly seaside shelter as a runner passes by.
The Long Bench at Littlehampton is thought to be the longest bench in Britain and one of the longest in the world. The wood and stainless steel bench ‘flows’ along the promenade at Littlehampton in West Sussex – curving round lamp posts and obstacles, twisting up into the seafront shelters, dropping down to paths and crossings.
The bench was opened in July 2010 and can seat over 300 people. It was funded by Arun District Council and CABE’s ‘Sea Change’ capital grants programme for cultural and creative regeneration in seaside resorts. The bench was also supported by a private donation from Gordon Roddick as a tribute to his late wife Anita, the founder of the Body Shop, which first began trading in Littlehampton.
Water treatment plant.
Nothing lifts the spirits quite like a wildflower meadow.
Imagine my surprise having gone around the back – an expressionist concrete spiral stairway.
Letting the sky leak in here at Burlington Court in Goring on Sea
The phrase deceptively spacious is one that is often overused within the property industry, however it sums up this ground floor flat prospectively. Offering a great alternative to a bungalow and providing spacious and versatile living accommodation, this is an absolute must for your viewing list.
What a delightful Modernist frieze on the side of Marine Point – Worthing!
With lifts to all floors this triple aspect corner apartment is situated on the fifth level and has outstanding panoramic sea views across from Beachy Head to Brighton through to the Isle of Wight. It is also benefits from stunning South Down views to the west and north. The property has been recently refurbished to a high specification and includes features such as: Quick-Step flooring, security fitted double glazed windows, a hallway motion sensor lighting system, extensive storage space and two double bedrooms.
Fox and Sons are delighted to offer For Sale this immaculate seafront penthouse located within the highly desirable Normandy Court situated on the sought after West Parade, Worthing. Upon entry you will notice that the communal areas are kept in good condition throughout.
One of the finest modular pre-cast concrete car parks in the land.
Borough council officers have recommended developing the Grafton car park, with a fresh study recommending that building new homes there is key – saying it is important to help revitalise the town centre and bring in new cutlural and leisure activities.
The car park is currently undergoing essential maintenance to be able to keep it open in the short term but the recommendation is that it should eventually be demolished to make way for the new development.
Tuesday 28th July 2015 waking up early on the outskirts of Okehampton – I went next door to explore – the Wash and Go.
I went back to Okehampton.
Headed out of town along the old railway line to Plymouth – where rests the solemn remains of previous railway activity and Meldon Quarry.
It’s believed that the first quarrying began around the late 1700s when the local limestone was extracted. Over the years this gradually gave over to aggregate quarrying and apelite quarrying until it final closure. The original owners of the quarry were the London and South Western Railway and then came Britsh Rail and finally EEC Aggregates.
Crossing Meldon Viaduct.
Meldon Viaduct carried the London and South Western Railway across the West Okement River at Meldon on Dartmoor. The truss bridge, which was constructed from wrought iron and cast iron not stone or brick arches, was built under the direction of the LSWR’s chief engineer, WR Galbraith. After taking three years to build, the dual-tracked bridge opened to rail traffic in 1874. Usage was limited to certain classes of locomotive because the viaduct had an axle load limit. Although regular services were withdrawn in 1968, the bridge was used for shunting by a local quarry. In the 1990s the remaining single line was removed after the viaduct was deemed to be too weak to carry rail traffic.
The crossing is now used by The Granite Way, a long-distance cycle track across Dartmoor. The viaduct, which is a Scheduled Monument, is now one of only two such surviving railway bridges in the United Kingdom that uses wrought iron lattice piers to support the cast iron trusses – the other is Bennerley Viaduct between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
Architects– Percy Bartlett and William Henry Watkins
Built on the site of the Andrews New Picture Palace, which had opened in 1910, and was demolished in 1930. The Gaumont Palace was opened on 16th November 1931 with Jack Hulbert in “The Ghost Train” and Sydney Howard in “Almost a Divorce”.
The imposing brick building has a white stone tower feature in the central section above the entrance. Seating inside the auditorium was provided for 1,462 in the stalls and 790 in the circle.
It was re-named Gaumont in 1937 currently closed and at risk.
The post war redevelopment of Plymouth produced this sizable Portland Stone Shopping Centre.
‘A Plan for Plymouth’ was a report prepared for the City Council by James Paton Watson, City Engineer and Surveyor, and Patrick Abercrombie, Consultant Architect, published in 1943.
Planning is not merely the plotting of the streets of a town; its fundamental essence is the conscious co-relation of the various uses of the land to the best advantage of all inhabitants. Good planning therefore, presupposes a knowledge and understanding of the people, their relationship to their work, their play, and to each other, so that in the shaping of the urban pattern, the uses to which the land is put are so arranged as to secure an efficient, well- balanced and harmonious whole.
The magnificent dalle de verre fascia of the Crown and County Courts.
having had a good old look around I sought shelter for the night, with some difficulty I found a profoundly plain room. The town seemingly full of itinerant contractors, filling the vast majority of available space.
Not to worry let’s have a look at the seafront.
Tinside Lido by J Wibberley Borough Engineer, with Edmund Nuttall and Sons and John Mowlem and Company, builders, with entrance building of 1933 by the same engineer.
Set in a beautiful location overlooking the sea at the tip of Plymouth Hoe and voted one of the top 10 best outdoor pools in Europe, Tinside Lidois an attraction not to be missed.
Built in 1935, Tinside is a slice of the quintessential British seaside from a bygone era. The Lido is a wonderful example of art-deco style and is Grade II listed.
Time for a timely 99 tub – what ho!
Followed by several pints of Dartmoor Jail in the delightful Dolphin Hotel.
The Dolphin Hotel is a pub on the Barbican , the building, which is known as either the Dolphin Inn or Dolphin Hotel, is a Grade II listed building. It notable as the setting of several of the artist Beryl Cook’s paintings.
The three storey building was constructed in the early 19th century, although it may contain fabric from an earlier structure. It has a slate mansard roof surrounded by a tall parapet with a moulded cornice. The front has white stucco with plaster reliefs of dolphins. The pub is associated with the Tolpuddle Martyrs, some of whom stayed at the hotel on their return from exile in Australia in 1838, when a Mr Morgan was the landlord.
It is a no-frills unmodernised pub famous for its cask ale, draught Bass served straight from the barrel. The sign on the front of the building has always called the pub the ‘Dolphin Hotel’. In 2010 the pub was refurbished, but vandalised in 2014.
Early morning passing by the yet to be reopened Dreamland, back then just a work in progress, it has had a more than somewhat chequered past.
Dogged persistence has assured its future:
Just before Christmas 1919, and almost exactly one year after the end of the Great War, John Henry Iles purchased Margate’s The Hall By The Sea, thus initiating the history of what would become Dreamland.
The Dreamland cinema replaced a smaller cinema on the site, with this modernist masterpiece opening in 1935. The super-cinema, designed by architects Julian Leathart and WF Granger.
After several years of campaigning to save the Dreamland site from redevelopment, and successful funding bids to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Department for Culture Media and Sport’s SeaChange Scheme, the Dreamland restoration project went live in January 2010, appointing a professional team to deliver The Dreamland Trust’s vision for a reimagined Dreamland, however, the battle was not over.
After a long restoration project, Dreamland opened its doors to the public on June 19 2015. The park was further reimagined and expanded in 2017 following additional investment, with new thrill rides, a much bigger events space, fresh designs, and a new welcome for a new generation of visitors.
Along the long straight coastline the distinctive and distinguished silhouette of Reculver Castle can be seen in the distance.
Two thousand years ago the geography of this area was very different. The Wantsum, a sea channel up to 3 miles wide, cut off the Isle of Thanet from the mainland, and the Roman fort of Reculver stood on a promontory at the north end of the channel where it joined the Thames estuary. Today the Wantsum has silted up and become dry land.
By the 5th century the Romans had abandoned their defence of Britain and the fort at Reculver had fallen into disuse.
An Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded on the site in 669, reusing the existing defences, and the church of St Mary was built near the centre of the earlier fort. Documentary evidence suggests that the site had ceased to function as a monastic house by the 10th century, after which time the church became the parish church of Reculver.
Remodelling of the church in the 12th century included the addition of tall twin towers.
The medieval church was partly demolished in 1805, when much of the stone was reused to construct a new church on higher ground at Hillborough, but the twin towers were left. They were bought, repaired and underpinned by Trinity House in 1809.
Further along the unstable concrete coast we approach Whitstable.
With its chi-chi cafes and bars, tastefully ramshackle shacks and snacks.
Profil fronted fascias for family run department stores.
Whites of Kent is a family company now into the third generation of close family members. The original story begins with a young ambitious girl of 18 who knew all about stocking repair machines. She travelled to Australia by boat then on to Switzerland and Paris where she trained women and gave demonstrations on the stocking machines.
In 1954 the retail side commenced again with a ladies underwear shop in Faversham’s Market Street, followed by a fashion shop in Market Street and then our current shop in Court Street.
We have in the past had shops in Sandwich, Sittingbourne, Herne Bay, West Malling, Folkestone and Cliftonville. Currently we have Whites of Kent shops in Faversham, Whitstable and Dover selling lingerie, linen, hosiery, underwear, slippers and more. See our Shop page for addresses, phone numbers and opening times.
The road winds through the low marshes, across estuaries and inlets, between Seasalter and Graveney.
Home to a down home, home made fishing fleet.
On September 27 1940 – a Luftwaffe bomber was shot down by two Spitfires over Graveney Marsh after a raid on London. This was the last ground engagement involving a foreign force to take place on the mainland of Great Britain.
Dulled by dual carriageways and the dirty urban dust of a sunny late summer’s day – I was more than happy to discover this Modernist church in Rainham.
St Thomas of Canterbury RC
A modern church of 1956-58 by Eduardo Dodds. The atmospheric interior is decorated with fine sculpture by Michael Clark, and ceramic panels by Adam Kossowski. The tower is a local landmark. The former temporary church of 1934 survives as the Parish Centre.
Followed by another brick behemoth the Gaumont Chatham.
The Palace Cinema was built by a subsidiary of the Gaumont British Theatres chain, and opened on 30th November 1936. The exterior had a tall square clock tower, which was outlined in neon at night – Architect Arthur W. Kenyon
Re-named Gaumon from 18th December 1950, closed by the Rank Organisation on 2nd February 1961 with John Gregson in The Captain’s Table.
It was converted into a 24-lane Top Rank Bowling Alley, which opened in December 1961. Eventually, this was the last of the Top Rank Bowls to close, closing on 31st October 1970.
The building was converted into a B&Q hardware store, and the interior has been gutted. It was later in use as a camping centre, which remains open in 2010 as Camping International. The building is now known as Clock Tower House.
Designed by German civil engineer Hellmut Homberg, the two main caissons supporting the bridge piers were constructed in the Netherlands. ] The bridge deck is about 61 metres high, and it took a team of around 56 to assemble its structure.
The bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 30 October 1991. The total cost of construction was £120 million. The proposed name had been simply the Dartford Bridge, but Thurrock residents objected and suggested the Tilbury Bridge, leading to a compromise. At the time of opening, it had the longest cable-stayed span of any bridge in Europe.
I arrived at the Dartford Crossing hot and hungry – wandering towards the tunnel entrance, only to be apprehended by the authorities.
What are you doing here?
I pleaded for a glass of water and directions, happily I received both from a friendly member of staff.
Picked up by Range Rover and driven over to Essex free of charge.
Wearily I made my way across the county, no time for snaps it seems, simply wishing to hit town before nightfall. None of my B&Bs were booked ahead of time and I’ve never had a ‘phone. Finding a bed for the night proved troublesome – knocking on the door of a minor hotel, I was rebuffed by a Beatle suited, be-wigged figure:
Are you to take the vacancies sign down then – says I.
No – says he.
Under cover of darkness I holed up in a contractors’ flop house on the front, no-frills communal showers, short shrift and cold linoleum, but a welcome repose none the less.
Some pints don’t touch the sides – this and several others didn’t, ‘neath the flickering lights of Southend by night.
A wobbly walk along the prom.
Fetching up with pic of the Kursaal.
The Kursaal is a Grade II listed building in Southend-on-Sea which opened in 1901 as part of one of the world’s first purpose-built amusement parks. The venue is noted for the main building with distinctive dome, designed by Campbell Sherrin, which has featured on a Royal Mail special edition stamp.
This is a journey from the corner shop to the high street, by the banks of the Bridgewater Canal, a whole retail history told during troubled times.
The Trafford Centre opened in 1998 and is the third largest shopping centre in the United Kingdom by retail size. It was developed by the Peel Group and is owned by Intu Properties following a £1.65 billion sale in 2011 the largest single property acquisition in British history. As of 2017, the centre has a market value of £2.312 billion.
The advent of the motor car, and the development of out of town shopping has seriously affected the viability of the traditional town centre and the almost long gone local shop.
And now in turn the mall is threatened by the increase in online trade and the current lockdown.
The Trafford Centre reopens on June 15th, no doubt the sensation seeking, thrill a moment shoppers will return in droves, to further satiate their unquenchable desire for stuff and more stuff, in a pseudo Romano Soviet oligarch setting.
As of Monday 8th the space was mostly devoid of both customers and cars – there are two home stores open, we arrived on foot and took a look around.
Much maligned, universally loathed – the Stockport leisure facility everyone loves to hate.
What’s the story?
No more darkness, no more night. Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the Light.
The area between Princes Street and Bridgefield Street was a tight warren of housing, shops and industry, eventually demolished in the 1970s, designated as slum clearance.
Prior to the arrival of the ring road the space remained undeveloped and turned over to car parking.
Little changes as the M60 is opened.
Images TS Parkinson – Stockport Image Archive
So for over forty years the land lies pretty vacant, but far from pretty.
Until 2015 when planning permission is granted for the £45m Redrock leisure scheme, which includes a 10-screen cinema, restaurants and shops.
Councillor Patrick McAuley, the council’s executive member for economic development and regeneration, said:
This is a very exciting time for Stockport. Developments such as these help our ambition of putting Stockport on the map to bring more people to work, shop and socialise here. We have been keen to involve the public in plans for both developments, by holding various consultation exercises.
We look forward to an exciting few years improving Stockport’s offer.
So good bye to all this, the local authority is making serious progress, developing Stockport’s future, against a background of structural decline and the dominance of Manchester city centre.
The architects for the scheme are BDP – the building was not well received as it was awarded the Carbuncle of the Year 2018.
Judges were left unimpressed by the – awkward form, disjointed massing and superficial decoration, while readers called it an absolute monstrosity.
Though to be fair The Light has a house style that leans heavily towards the anonymous industrial shed.
The development has however become a commercial success – once inside customers seem more than happy with the facilities.
The people of Stockport have welcomed us with open arms since opening in 2017. We’ve now had over one million guests join us for everything from the latest blockbusters to opera, theatre and concerts.
It’s been that busy that we’ve just added two additional screens and now offer freshly made pizzas, burgers and sliders. We’ve got plenty more exciting additions up our sleeve for next yeartoo!
The canal received its Act of Parliament in 1792. It was built to supply coal from Oldham and Ashton under Lyne to Manchester. The first section between Ancoats Lane to Ashton-under-Lyne and Hollinwood was completed in 1796.
The Great Central Railway in England came into being when the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway changed its name in 1897, anticipating the opening in 1899 of its London Extension. On 1 January 1923, the company was grouped into the London and North Eastern Railway.
I had walked beside the elevated path, alongside the canal coming home from school, rode by it whilst working as a Guide Bridge goods guard.
This was busy railway, steel coal, oil and people hurtling back and forth across the Pennines, under the DC wires of the Woodhead Line.
Thomas Chadwick later joined Bradbury & Co. William Jones opened a factory in Guide Bridge, Manchester in 1869. In 1893 a Jones advertising sheet claimed that this factory was the – Largest Factory in England Exclusively Making First Class Sewing Machines. The firm was renamed as the Jones Sewing Machine Co. Ltd and was later acquired by Brother Industries of Japan, in 1968. The Jones name still appeared on the machines till the late 1980s.
The site is now home to new homes and homeowners, as the are seeks to capitalise on the spread of wealth from Central Manchester.
Arnfield Woods is an exclusive development offering two, three and four bedroom homes, located adjacent to the Guide Bridge train station, which provides direct access into Manchester City Centre and direct access into Glossop.
The world turns:
Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.
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One of the UK’s largest retail parks, Stockport Retail Park benefits from a strategic location on the M60 Manchester orbital motorway making it one of the city’s most accessible parks. The park forms a natural extension to the town centre, offering a wide range of uses from value convenience to fashion and home as well as a number of cafés and restaurants.
This is the post industrial landscape of consumption and its infrastructure that faces the defunct and mothballed site, whatever next?
We live in strange and troubled times, the urban landscapes we have created are often far from convivial.
Deserts possess a particular magic, since they have exhausted their own futures, and are thus free of time. Anything erected there, a city, a pyramid, a motel, stands outside time. It’s no coincidence that religious leaders emerge from the desert. Modern shopping malls have much the same function. A future Rimbaud, Van Gogh or Adolf Hitler will emerge from their timeless wastes.
Once widely admired, Ian Nairn esteemed architectural writer, thought it an exemplary exposition of modern integrated shopping and parking, sitting perfectly in its particular topography – way back in 1972.
This German magazine dedicated several pages to coverage of Merseyway back in 1971.
Note the long lost decorative panels of Adlington Walk.
Many thanks to Sean Madner for these archive images.
Mainstream Modern has recorded its conception and inception, as part of a wider appreciation of Greater Manchester’s architecture.
The architects were Bernard Engle and Partners in conjunction with officers of Stockport Corporation and the centre opened in 1965. The separation of pedestrians and cars, the service areas, the multi level street, the city block that negotiates difficult topography to its advantage, are all planning moves that are of the new, ordered and systemised, second wave modernism in the UK. The aggregate of the highways engineering, the urban planning and the shifting demands of retailers frequently arrived at a form and order such as this. In this way Merseyway is unremarkable, it’s like many other centres in many other towns – consider the rooftop landscape of Blackburn. It is, however, typical and has been typically added to and adjusted during its life and presents perhaps the face of the last retail metamorphosis before the out-of-town really made the grade.
Each successive remaking and remodelling has seriously compromised the integrity of the development. We are left with dog’s dinner of poorly realised Post Modern and Hi-Tech additions, along with a failure to maintain the best of the original scheme.
My previous Hull walk was was linear, along the Humber Estuary open and expansive.
This was a very different kettle of fish – spiralling out of control, rising and falling, walking the ramp, a journey into one’s inner self.
Possibly the worst multi storey I have been in for years.
Spooky, filthy, bays too small, machines remote, access tortuous.
So says Nick Shields
Dark, Gloomy and Rotting .
Looks a good candidate for a location for a crime watch reconstruction.
Quoth Peter Campbell
It’s a multi story multi Storey and no mistake
I couldn’t possibly pass comment, I walk can’t drive, won’t drive – though simply can’t resist exploring car parks.
Though the local paper has identified an issue of fitness to fit.
Heard the one about a city centre car park where you can’t easily park your car?It might sound like a joke but it’s no laughing matter for drivers trying to squeeze into vacant spaces at Hull City Council’s multi-storey car park in George Street.For motorists are finding it increasingly difficult to manoeuvre into its tight parking bays.
I myself navigated the bays with ease, though not without that unique sense of foreboding and unease, generated by an empty concrete carapace where car space, decay and ingress are issues.
It was designed and developed by Maurice Weston in the 1960s. He had two companies, Multidek and Dekotel, and built circular continuous ramp car parks in Hull, Nottingham, Leicester, Bristol and Bournemouth, some of them also involving circular hotels on the upper floors. In its day, the bays were easily wide enough for most cars. When I used George Street myself, it felt great to use, because you could easily reverse into the pitches and there were no tight corners to negotiate. But car widths have probably got the better of it, these days, and you can’t widen the pitches because of the position of the pillars.
The plans were very complicated to get approved because the George pub was a listed building and the car park had to be built around it. Incidentally, Maurice Weston also had an option to develop the wasteland on Ferensway in the 60s, but his hotel and entertainment centre project didn’t get past the council.
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.