Fred Perry Way – Hazel Grove To Woodford

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.

We walked wearily back to Stockport.

Deneway Stockport

Deneway almost but not quite, literally on my doorstep:

High above the Mersey Valley and 70 meters above sea level Deneway Estate stands proud, affording views of the Pennine White Peak to the south east and nothing but some other houses in all other directions.

Built in 1964, by architects Mortimer & Partners it was an award winner from the word go – coming first in an Ideal Homes sponsored competition.

Very much in the tradition of the Span Estates, it consists of small groups of two and three storey terraced homes, with communal open, well tended front gardens. At the entrance to the estate stands a single low tower block of flats.

The architecture sits quietly and confidently in the landscape, well behaved, prim and proper. Interiors are open plan and afforded ample daylight by generous windows. Detailing is tiled and wood panelled, with low pitched roofs.

Jump the train, walk, cycle, bus or tram, but arrive with eyes and heart wide open to enjoy this suburban gem – it’s right up my street.

This was my very first piece that appeared on the old Manchester Modernist site way back in 2014.

Six years later I walked up the road again and found the flats clad in a funny colour cladding and the plaques moved, much else was as was. I assume, that under deed of covenant, fencing and guerilla gardening within open areas is verboten, along with fancy extensions.

The estate therefore retains its original integrity.

The sun in the meantime however – had gone in.

Here are the pages of Ideal Home which featured this award winning estate.

Car Park Ramp – Stockport

We recently took a look around Redrock, today we visit the next door neighbour – the car park ramp.

Replacing the old Debenham’s ramp.

Linking the old world of Merseyway with the shiny new NCP.

I don’t drive no car so I have to make do with the ecologically sound and ever so affordable means of pedestrian trespass, proceeding incautiously I recorded my journey into the unknown.

Returning safely to Basecamp I investigated further, circumnavigating the drainage area.

I have to admit that I am over fond of this small sacred space, a modern impenetrable temple of Brutalism. My ambition is to stage an art/music event within, just wait and see/hear if I don’t!

Holy Angels – Hale Barns

The magnum opus of the architect Arthur Farebrother, who was a parishioner. The church is executed in monumental style and has a powerful and little-altered interior which owes a debt to Dom Paul Bellott’s design for the Benedictine Abbey of Quarr, Isle of Wight.

The parish was formed in 1958 and fundraising for building a church started almost immediately. The church was designed by Arthur Farebrother, a parishioner, and the contractors were Browns of Wilmslow, a craft firm with a high reputation particularly for woodwork and carving. The building was finally opened in 1964.

Holy Angels is a building of great presence, of pale brick executed in free early Gothic style with Romanesque overtones. It has a powerful pylon-like west tower, transeptal chapel, attached southwest baptistery with a conical copper-clad roof, and a plain presbytery attached on the north side. The interior is dominated by the powerful brick arches which continue into the ceiling as vaulting. Narrow processional aisles and ambulatory. The north side confessionals are framed by a timber surround. Elevated forward altar with choir seating around in an arc. The simple modern furnishings are probably original.

Taking Stock

I was in search of All Saints just along the way in Hale Road, but came upon Holy Angles looming large on the corner.

A commanding essay in pale brick, though referencing architecture of the Middle Ages, it has a transitional modernity in its angular Arts and Crafts details.

All Saints Church – Hale Barns

Hale Rd Hale Barns Altrincham WA15 8SP

As Hale Barns grew in the 1950s and 1960s it was clear that the small daughter church was less than adequate in terms of size and facilities, and under the leadership of the Rev Fred Cox, the then Vicar, a new church was planned for the site. Designed by Brian Brunskill, All Saints Church was consecrated in 1967.

Outside it can seem a rather stark building, of brown brick, set back from the busy Hale Road but inside it is full of light and space.  The influence has clearly been that of the French architect Le Corbusier, and there is a wonderful interplay of curved and straight walling.  At first there was no stained glass, but in the early 1980s glass by the Japanese artist Sumiko was installed in the north windows.  This includes a stylised tree-of-life design. In the baptistry there is some Victorian glass brought from St Mary’s Church.

In 2009 a radical and daring re-ordering of the building was completed. The church was carpeted and new furniture of high quality, designed and made by Treske, woodcarvers  of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, was installed.  The tree-of-life design in the 1980s glass has been echoed in the glass inserts to the Lectern and High Altar and also in the metal uprights of the Altar Rail.  All the fittings are moveable, giving a flexible space.  This flexibility give opportunities to explore how the building itself can enrich worship at different seasons of the Church’s year. 

All Saints

My first time in Hale Barns – hence my first visit to All Saints.

Small in scale, but large in ambition – a wonderful exercise in the calm controlled use of brick, rich in small details, along with an expressive mix of warm curves within a rigid grid.

Of particular note is the sculptural concrete bell tower, the exterior use of pebbles in the porch which flow into the interior space, along with a discrete palette of grey tiling.

It demands to be circumnavigated – fresh surprises await around each turn, simple hard landscaping of flags, softer restrained planting and open areas of lawn, so very well tended.

Let’s take a look around.

Here are some images of the reworked interior taken from the All Saints gallery.

Homes of Distinction – Heald Green

We begin our journey through bricks and mortar, domestic fashions and fads, time and tide in Rainham.

Ward’s Construction, along with many others throughout the country, offer the aspirational suburbanite an opportunity to own the very latest in modern design.

Large open plan rooms lit by large open glazed windows, quality cladding – mixing traditional materials with go ahead get it now design. Double fronted, remote garage, modest manageable, grassed gardens.

For those on slightly more limited means the DH2 offers affordable modernity, along with everything you would expect from a Ward’s Home.

Homes of distinction.

Fast forward to April 2020 – St Ann’s Road Heald Green Cheshire

National Cycle Route 558 brings me here – sanctioned lockdown exercise for the mobile moocher.

In the sixty or so years that have passed something has happened to those suburban dream homes.

An ever expanding middle class fuelled by bigger pay packets, low, low, lower taxation and bumper inheritance payouts, wants more.

More house, more car, more style – conspicuous consumption of everything and more – extend yourself, express yourself!

Right here in one unexceptional road is the apotheosis of today’s Homes of Distinction.

St Michael And All Angels – Newton

St Michael and All Angels Church.

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1 Woodland Rd, West Kirby, Birkenhead, Wirral CH48 6ER

St Michael and All Angels is a well established Church of England church situated in the heart of Newton, on the border of West Kirby, Wirral.

Our vision is to know Jesus better and make him known to others. We do this by worshipping God, standing up for and sharing the joy of Jesus, loving others and making a real difference in the church and in our community.

What can I expect when I visit St Michaels?

When you come to St Michaels you will find a warm and friendly group of people committed to making church exciting, life-changing, and enjoyable. There are services for the whole family that include contemporary worship (including a café church service), a time of biblical teaching, and an opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus Christ. Each service is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes in length.

We wandered away from West Kirby along the highways and bye-ways to Newton.

Newton consists of a village hall, post office, public house and a general store. The local park, aptly named Newton Park, has a football pitch, outdoor basketball courts and a playground for children. Wirral Council also has several allotments in Newton that are provided for residents to grow their own vegetables and plants.

And a most surprising elevated, elevating and angular church.

Such a revelation following several  rows of well behaved semis and open fields, my extensive yet limited research can find no record of architectural authorship or attribution.

Perhaps simply delivered by hand or hands unseen in 1963.

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Long Lane Post Office – Heald Green

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190 Wilmslow Rd, Heald Green, Cheadle SK8 3BH

The original Long Lane Post Office is still there but not here:

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However – I digress.

One fine day, some time ago there popped into my consciousness a Sixties retail mosaic in the Heald Green area – I tracked down its precise whereabouts online, in the modern manner.

Thinks – one fine day, just you wait and see I’ll pay a visit to the Heald Green area.

So today I did, it started off fine and finished up less so.

Jumped the 368 from Stockport Bus Station alighted at The Griffin.

Walked aways up the road and there it was, almost intact – it’s original name obliterated with lilac exterior emulsion – did it once read healds?

Why of course it did – the local dairy and retailers were the shop’s original owners.

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A few tesserae are missing otherwise the piece is as was – a wobbly jumble of text, shape and colour.

Self service – at your service.

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Macclesfield Railway Station

Where the Victorians modelled their stations on cathedrals, temples and palaces.

Modern Man models his on shopping centre and office blocks.

Richards and MacKenzie – The Railway Station

Though it seems to me that Macclesfield Station, in its earlier and current states, refuses to dovetail neatly into either of these sloppy binary paradigms.

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The former – single storey buildings, fitting unostentatiously into the topographic and practical constraints of the site. A neat, tightly packed rhythm of brick arches with a compact and bijou porch welcoming the expectant traveller.

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The latter a functionalist block, fully utilitarian crossings with lift access columns, embodying a particularly industrial demeanour.

From the golden age of steam to the moribund years of diesel, Macclesfield sits comfortably somewhere, betwixt and between ugly duckling and fully fledged swan.

Nestled in the lea of the East Cheshire Highlands, offering practical everyday transport solutions to the beleaguered commuter.

No frills, no thrills.

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The London and North Western Railway opened the line between Manchester and Macclesfield on 19 June 1849 – Macclesfield Central was born. Later it would become a key station on the Stafford branch of the West Coast Main Line, remodelled in 1960 and rebranded as the much snappier Macclesfield Station.

Which it proudly announces topically and typographically to the world.

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Welcome to Macclesfield a town that is clearly going places, and so are you.

The station won the Best Kept Station in Cheshire Award for 2007, but was reported in summer 2011 to be distinctly shabby, with peeling paintwork.

And yet there is something in the constituent Platonic steel, glass and concrete forms that never ceases to amuse and amaze me, this is Brutalism on a human and provincial scale.

The raw concrete softened with three or four shades of grey, as a concession to the delicate suburban sensibilities of this once silk-fuelled town.

Take a trip with me – join the Cheshire train set.

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