Ambulance HQ – Glasgow

48 Milton Street and Maitland Street Glasgow G4 0LR

Scottish Ambulance Headquarters on Maitland Street and the adjoining St Andrew’s House with it’s entrance on 48 Milton Street. Designed by Skinner, Bailey & Lubetkin in the late 1960s. Originally two linked buildings, they now act independently with St Andrew’s House occupied by St Andrew’s first aid and the Headquarters next door currently lying vacant April 2011.

Berthold Lubetkin in top hat beside caryatid at the entrance to Highpoint Two – North Hill Highgate London.

ribapix

One of the only two buildings in Scotland designed by this architectural practice with Lubetkin acting as a consultant. Lubetkin is one of the outstanding figures of pre-war British architecture – penguin pool, London zoo & Highpoint Flats, London. Lubetkin designed the main cross of the north elevation and the main staircase, Bailey was the lead architect on this project. Both buildings are A listed.

Architecture Glasgow

By the mid 1960s, Lubetkin was based at his farm in Gloucestershire, Skinner in London and Bailey in Glasgow. Bailey asked Lubetkin to work out the design of the main staircase and parts of the principal elevation, notably the large cross. Lubetkin’s staircases are particularly spectacular and the St Andrew’s one is no exception. Allan notes that the Lubetkin leitmotif was the controlled collision of straight and curved geometry and this would appear to be exemplified here in the triangular plan geometric staircase which ends in a gentle curve at the ground floor. It is possible that Lubetkin may have influenced the vertical timber panelling in the boardroom. While that in the main hall is smooth and varnished, the boardroom has been sandblasted to present a weathered appearance. At Highpoint Two Lubetkin designed the interior and furniture for the penthouse flat with walls of vertical roughened sand-blasted pine panelling.

Historic Environment Scotland

ribapix

Acorn Property Group has applied to Glasgow City Council for permission to convert the Maitland Street property.

The developers want to repair and refurbish the building, at Cowcaddens, before offering managed workspaces.

Glasgow World

This is a walk around the street view of the building during my first visit to Glasgow in April 2022 – there was no evidence of any redevelopment work taking place.

Chorley Police Station and Magistrates’ Court

St Thomas’s Road Chorley PR7 1RZ

The police station and magistrates’ court at Chorley was designed to replace a building from 1896 – a weights and measures plaque from the original building was retained and remounted at the foot of the new building.

The two buildings were set adjacent one another and around a newly formed square with one side made up of the rear of the existing town hall. This small civic group was intended to relate to one another in scale, but was markedly contrasting in its material make-up.

County Architect’s Report: 1963-64.

The design team was Roger Booth, Lancashire County Architect; C.A. Spivey, Assistant County Architect; D.B. Stephenson, Design Architect; and D.G. Edwards, A.G. Gass, responsible for the detailed design and construction. The seven-storey in-situ concrete framed main block was the last bespoke police station to be built in Lancashire, following this the department developed a systemised concrete construction method which was deployed across the county. The dramatic cantilevers gave the new building a stature and presence that signalled authority. The lower levels were accessed by ramps and provided space for police vehicles. To enter the police station one ascended a set of external stairs across a pool that once contained koi carp – fittingly, one boy described the new building as a ‘fishtank’ upon its completion. The magistrates’ court was finished externally in a grey brick and carried the signature pyramid rooflights that were synonymous with the Department.

Many thanks to Richard at Mainstream Modern

This is one of many Roger Booth police stations I have visited – Bonny Street Blackpool under threat, Bury long gone and the extant variant in Morecambe

The Magistrates’ Court is up for sale:

Coun Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, confirmed that the council had enquired to take ownership of the building but that this was knocked back.

He said: We’ve enquired about taking the building on but the owners, the Ministry of Justice, has said they want to take it to market.

Lancashire Post

The building is being advertised as a potential site for a future office, residential, restaurant and bar, leisure, entertainment, and hotel.

Asked about its future, Chorley councillor Aaron Beaver told Lancs Live he had heard no news of developments but desperately wanted to see something happen with the building, he said:

It’s a perfect location. There’s lots of things it could be used for. 

If you were to knock it down, there’s all sorts of things which could be built there. If you were to convert it to something like flats, it could be tricky because there’s not many windows.

Commenting on the progress of the sale since it’s closure, he added:

I wouldn’t say it’s slow moving, I’d say it’s not moving.

Lancs Live

We eagerly await any possible developments.

Whilst walking around the adjoining Police Station.

St John The Baptist RC – Rochdale 2022

I was last here in 2020 – made ever so welcome in this Byzantine cathedral like church.

The apsed sanctuary is completely covered in a mosaic scheme with the theme Eternal Life designed by Eric Newton. Newton was born Eric Oppenheimer, later changing his surname by deed poll to his mother’s maiden name. He was the grandson of Ludwig Oppenheimer, a German Jew who was sent to Manchester to improve his English and then married a Scottish girl and converted to Christianity. In 1865 he set up a mosaic workshop, (Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd, Blackburn St, Old Trafford, Manchester) after spending a year studying the mosaic process in Venice. Newton had joined the family company as a mosaic craftsman in 1914 and he is known to have studied early Byzantine mosaics in Venice, Ravenna and Rome. He later also became art critic for the Manchester Guardian and a broadcaster on ‘The Critics’. Newton started the scheme in 1932 and took over a year to complete it at a cost of £4,000. It had previously been thought that he used Italian craftsmen, but historic photographs from the 1930s published in the Daily Herald show Oppenheimer mosaics being cut and assembled by a Manchester workforce of men and women. It is likely, therefore, that the craftsmen working on St John the Baptist were British.

Historic England

There had, as ever, been issues with the structure, water ingress and such, given several flat roofs and a temperamental ferro-concrete dome.

Happily, a successful Lottery Heritage Fund grant has covered the cost of two phases of repair to the physical fabric.

Thanks to the Parish Team, for once again making us all feel so welcome, and thanks also for their efforts in securing the finances which have made the restoration possible.

We were all issued with our hard hats and hi-vis at the comprehensive and informative introductory talks.

Followed by a detailed explanation of the mosaic work being undertaken by Gary and his team from the Mosaic Restoration Company.

This involves skilfully cleaning the whole work, whilst repairing and replacing any damaged areas.

We were then privileged to ascend the vast scaffold, the better to inspect the work up close and personal.

And this is what we saw.

Many thanks again to our hosts, the contractors and all those involved with this spectacular undertaking.

Seaside Shelters – Colwyn Bay

Here I go again – just like Archie Bell minus the Drells.

Here I go again, thinking with my heart

But every time I see ya, I keep running back for more

April and October 2019 walking from Rhos to Colwyn.

Pandemics come and almost go – as do seaside shelters it seems.

The shelters of 1860 are quite literally a thing of the past.

Thye have become host to Niall McDiarmid‘s snaps of local business folk – the project developed when local residents raised concerns about the appearance of the shelters on the promenade.

Cllr Roger Parry said

The shelters are nearing the end of their lifespan and these sections of the prom will be upgraded as part of the waterfront project.

In the meantime, State of Independents will make great use of the shelters; celebrating our hardworking local businesses and hopefully encouraging footfall from the promenade to our high streets.

The last of the Rhos on Sea shelters is a dangerous customer suitably secured.

There remains two exemplars of the typology located at the Colwyn end of the bay.

The second shelter lacks the pierced concrete blocks.

So work progresses on the coastal defences, the promenade is refashioned after a fashion in the fashion of the day.

There is no longer a place for these unique exemplars of Municipal Modernism.

Before the work began, the promenade was a tired, uninviting and underused public space. Poorly lit and often host to anti-social behaviour, the uneven surfacing and crumbling shelters were the results of years of patchwork repairs.

The project has transformed the area into a public space which the local community can take pride in and make use of all year round.

ice.org.uk

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted

On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore

Is there, is there balm in Gilead?

Tell me, tell me, I implore

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

School of Art & Design – Wolverhampton

Ring Rd Wolverhampton WV1 1SA

The Municipal School of Art and Crafts officially opened on 21st June, 1885.

In May 1950 the School of Art and Crafts became Wolverhampton College of Art.

Its aims were to maintain and develop the closest possible relations with industry, collaborate with employers to develop new training courses, and to maintain a high level of achievement in the fine arts.

In 1963 the college began running its first degree-level course in the form of a Diploma in Art and Design. Three years later the college had a new Principal, Robin Plummer who oversaw the building of a new college alongside Ring Road St Peters. Work on the new site began in the summer of 1967, and by early 1969 the new building had appeared. 

Architects: Diamond Redfern and Partners with A Chapman Borough Architect

The first degree show was held there on 12th June, 1969 and the first full academic year started in September 1969. The building was officially opened by an ex student, Sir Charles Wheeler on 23rd October, 1970.

Wolverhampton College of Art merged with Wolverhampton College of Technology to form The Polytechnic Wolverhampton – which was founded on 1st September 1969.

History Website

A group of interested parties visited the College, as part of a photographic walk lead by Black Country Type aka Tom Hicks with the cooperation of the School of Art, organised by the Modernist Society.

Being a product of the Great British Art School Challenge I was delighted to find the college to be in rude health. Floor after floor of well equipped studios and workshops which service the needs of hoards of eager students.

Accessed by raw shuttered concrete stairwells.

As a historically inky individual I was particularly taken with the extensive printmaking facilities.

Don’t delay enrol today!

Queen Margaret Union – Glasgow University

The Queen Margaret Union – QMU on 22 University Gardens was designed by Walter Underwood & Partners and opened in 1968.

1978

The building has an illustrious history as a top music venue.

And the city a heritage of angular, jangly guitar Power Pop.

It is now renowned and venerated as a Brutalist landmark – featuring in the modernist society publication Braw Concrete by Peter Halliday and Alan Stewart – available right here.

Let’s take a look at how it looked way back in April 2022.

In addition, if you nip around the back you get to go up and down a delightful concrete staircase!

UMIST Missed

Whilst Oxford Road echoes to the sound of Freshers fleet of foot.

UMIST is only home to fallen leaves and a palpable air of melancholia.

The last of the students have left and a crew of hi-vis workers are busy stripping the remains of days long gone.

We have all walked on by before and will again – though with heavier heart, into an all too uncertain future – for only the Holloway Wall is listed.

Now a grand redevelopment project has been unveiled to tend to that. According to the developer’s website, the plan promises to accelerate growth, partnership and collaboration.

Christened ID Manchester, the plans could see the area hacked into a glass maze of ultra-modern offices, apartments and hotels. 

Mancunian Matters 2021

Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins – Gwent House Cwmbran

Gwent House is the home of the District Council Offices for Torfaen and the Public Library. Used by HM Courts Service and HCMS – South East Wales, the building is a seven story structure with retail space on the ground floor and open plan office space above. Built during the 1970s as a local government building, it is constructed with a steel and concrete frame with wall to wall double glazed windows and a flat roof.

Gwent House sits on the east side of Gwent Square at the heart of Cwmbran New Town’s centre. The ‘Central Building’ as it was known during development was conceived by the Cwmbran Development Corporation, as a mixed development of leisure (including a club, dance hall and hotel) and office accommodation with retail to the ground floor. this was to expand the function of the town centre beyond purely a shopping centre, and to address the perceived lack of ‘professional’ office jobs. In the event, the offices proved difficult to let and were occupied by the CDC and Cwmbran Urban District Council. 

The building was designed by Sheppard, Robson & Partners and opened on the 18th January 1973. The eight-storey, concrete framed block included a job centre, the library, a conference and exhibition hall, and three restaurants catering for different tastes and age ranges, including the ‘Sign of the Steer’. 

On the west side of the building are a series of three moulded concrete relief panels designed by Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins for the MEPC, the Cwmbran Development Corporation and the Cwmbran Arts Trust in 1974. The panels depict scenes representing different phases of the history of Gwent: Iron Age and Roman, Medieval and Industrial.

Coflein

The work of Joyce and Henry is well known here at the modern mooch having visited Newcastle, Bexhill and of course Stockport. There are also examples in their hometown Colchester, Gloucester and Southampton.

Joyce Pallot 1912-2004 and Henry Collins 1910-1994 – two artist/designers, who along with John Nash, established the Colchester Art Society, during the 1930s.

The square it seems is due to be revamped as part of the broader regeneration plans.

Literature displayed at the public consultation said improvements in Monmouth Square aim to -introduce colour into what is a lacklustre space.

South Wales Argus 2017

One hopes that these important public arts work survive the transformation.

September 2022 the bandstand was demolished.

Photo: Rhiannon Jones

Lia Jones said:

The bandstand was a well-known centre point for the area. I really wish it had been kept in the design for the area, they should have relocated it instead of getting rid of it all together.

South Wales Argus 2022

William Mitchell – Cwmbran

Monmouth House Cwmbran 1967 by Gordon Redfern

Cladding to lift tower by William Mitchell

Situated in the Fairwater Shopping Centre:

Built between 1963 and 1967, the centre comprised 18 shops, a childrens playground, public toilets, a health and dental centre, and a combined public house and community centre. The unit centre was designed by Chief Architect of the CDC, Gordon Redfern, and was architecturally the most innovative and ambitious unit centre within Cwmbran New Town. To combat the exposed nature of the site together with the ‘high rainfall, mists and variable winds’ prevalent in the area, Gordon Redfern designed an enclosed, high-sided space that would physically and mentally shield shoppers during their visits. This protective environment extended to creating a central play area that could be viewed from the shops, allowing a more enjoyable experience for children. Four different shops types were provided on increasing floor footage for facilities ranging from barbers to grocery shop, all with storage to the first floor and eight, on the south-west side, with a two-bedroom maisonette above. To enhance the architectural impact of the scheme, Redfern created each unit on an hexagonal plan despite the inefficiences in floor space usage and additional costs in creating the fixtures and fittings. The CDC also fitted out each of the uits to a customised requirement – for example the Post Office unit was pre-fitted with a telephone booth, posting box, stamp machine and half-glazed panel for advertising services.

The structural engineers were Ove Arup & Partners, the builders were Gee, Walker & Slater. Construction costs for the scheme were estimated at £214,106. The unit centre was opened 12 September 1967, shared with the opening of Monmouth House, both undertaken by Rt. Hon. James Callaghan, M.P. A scathing article written the following month by architectural critic Ian Nairn dismissed the design as a ‘kind of in-turned medieval village … an oasis of picturesqueness in a desert of statistical units’ designed for, rather than with, the inhabitants and therefore destined for commercial failure.

Coflein

In 1949, the then Minister for Town and Country Planning, John Silken, designated an area of 31,000 acres surrounding the village of Cwmbran to be the first new town in Wales. Unlike the first generation new towns, the aim of Cwmbran was to provide housing and a range of facilities for those employed in existing industry but who lived in poor housing in the neighbouring valleys.

A master plan was implemented to achieve the objective for the town. However, as the town developed, the projected size of the town had to increase and many of the plans ideals were diluted as the Southwest expansion area was approved in 1977.

In fact, due to the planned nature of Cwmbran, there now exists few opportunities for new development within the town. This has meant intense development pressure on the outskirts of Cwmbran from house builders and developers.

Torfaen

On the day of my visit the centre was busy with happy shoppers happily shopping – there were major works underway in line with the town’s new plans.

Cwmbran has also prospered from having a vibrant retail core. The Shopping Centre has a fully pedestrianised, multi purpose centre with covered shopping malls. There are over 170 retail outlets covering a total area of 700.000 sq. ft, including a number of popular high street retailers, restaurants, a theatre and cinema. Accordingly, the town is now considered to be a sub regional centre, and the intention is that this retail focus will be increased by regeneration of the eastern side of the town.

Now 50 years on parts of the town are in need of renovation. Through various public and private partnerships the aim of the Cwmbran Project Team is to set out a 15 year strategy for the regeneration and development of the new town, and begin its implementation.

My primary interest concerned the public art in Monmouth SquareWilliam Mitchell’s concrete clad lift shaft.

There is a water feature currently off limits and without the water that would elevate the feature to a fully functioning feature.

Plans proposed in 2018 could may herald the demise of this important public work of art.

Plans to level the water gardens in Monmouth Square at the Cwmbran Centre will be reviewed by Torfaen council’s planning committee.

The proposal also includes a modern café with a glazed front, the development of an events space to house farmers markets and street theatre and a green area.

Rebecca McAndrew, Torfaen council’s principal planning officer, said in the report that the water feature would be filled in and flattened as part of “an ongoing renovation programme”.

The application states that the area has a ‘weary and dated appearance’ and do not meet disability access requirements.

According to the report, the water gardens last flowed 13 years ago and its demolition would lead to further improvements at Wales’ second largest shopping centre.

Free Press

The Water Gardens were designed by the CDC Chief Architect Gordon Redfern as a key visual and recreational element of the Town Centre. His focus was on combining different textures in the form of hard landscaping and planting, with the sense of movement and sound created by running water. At the upper end a pool, containing an artwork created from Pilkington Glass, was fed by a horizontal water jet which was in turn led by a small ‘canal’ to the lower, sunken garden. With water cascading down the southern retaining wall, consisted of moulded concrete sporting abstract geometric form, and variety of trees and shrubs, this formed an area for busy shoppers and families to relax and socialise.

RCAHMW

Close by, by way of light relief is a concrete screen wall with an almost watery wavy relief!

Here’s hoping that this cavalcade of concrete delights survives the planners’ and developers’ dreams.

Royal Liverpool Hospital

Prescot St Liverpool L7 8XP

Holford Associates designed in 1963-5 and completed in 1978

The old Royal building opened in 1978 and has served the city ever since – despite ongoing infrastructure problems. Looking at the crumbling, unsightly building, it is clear why Liverpool is desperate for its sparkling new facility to finally open.

When the new build plans were first announced, the Trust stated: “Once the new hospital is constructed, our existing hospital will be demolished. In its place, there are plans to develop a world-class health campus, as well as landscaping green space, roughly the size of Chavasse Park.”

In January 2020, two years after Carillion’s collapse, a report from the National Audit Office, projected the overall costs of the new Royal could tip over the £1.1 billion mark. It also commented on the plans for the old building, stating: “Further work to demolish the old hospital and create a new underground car park and public plaza, was not included in the PFI project and is currently unfunded. The cost of this was not included in the PFI project and is currently estimated at £38 million.”

Liverpool Echo

The Royal Liverpool – it’s amazing that people are supposed to get better there. Then again, what motivation it must be to get yourself back home! No wonder it’s being replaced.

J Carter, Aigburth

In 2011 the Echo’s readers voted it the ugliest building in town.

Unloved and due for demolition just as soon as the money can be found – though it may be around for some time to come – go and have a look.

Liverpool – Cathedral to Cathedral

Beginning at Frederick Gibberd’sMetropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.

Walking toward Giles Gilbert Scott’sAnglican Cathedral via the University Campus.

We are greeted by William Mitchell’s sliding door panels.

Let’s take a look inside.

Above is the tower with large areas of stained glass designed by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens in three colours – yellow, blue and red, representing the Trinity. 

On the altar, the candlesticks are by RY Goodden and the bronze crucifix is by Elisabeth Frink. Above the altar is a baldachino designed by Gibberd as a crown-like structure composed of aluminium rods, which incorporates loudspeakers and lights. Around the interior are metal Stations of the Cross, designed by Sean Rice. Rice also designed the lectern, which includes two entwined eagles. In the Chapel of Reconciliation, the stained glass was designed by Margaret Traherne. Stephen Foster designed, carved and painted the panelling in the Chapel of St. Joseph. The Lady Chapel contains a statue of the Virgin and Child by Robert Brumby and stained glass by Margaret Traherne. In the Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a reredos and stained glass by Ceri Richards and a small statue of the Risen Christ by Arthur Dooley. In the Chapel of Unity is a bronze stoup by Virginio Ciminaghi, and a mosaic of the Pentecost by Hungarian artist Georg Mayer-Marton which was moved from the Church of the Holy Ghost, Netherton, when it was demolished in 1989. The gates of the Baptistry were designed by David Atkins.

On now to the University.

Vine & Chestnut Houses by Gerald Beech 1967-70

Computing Services Electrical Engineering & Electronics by Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardall 1962-74

Harold Cohen Library 1938 – Harold A Dod of Willink & Dod

Learning by Eric Kennington 1938

Sherrington Buildings 1951-57 – Weightman & Bullen.

These days of peace foster learning

Let There be light!

Dental Hospital 1965-69 Anthony Clark Partnership

Royal Liverpool Hospital 1978 Holford Associates.

Designed by NBBJ and HKS – The Royal Hospital is one of the national infrastructure schemes being delivered under a Government PFI contract, with work having started in 2014 led by now-collapsed contractor Carillion.

After Carillion went into administration, further issues were uncovered during a structural review by Arup in 2018, including that the cladding on the building was unsafe and the project had to be reviewed and re-costed as a result. The targeted completion date is now five years later than planned.

Place Northwest

William Henry Duncan Building 2017 by AHR Architects

Life Sciences Building

Mathematics and Oceanography Building 1961 by Bryan & Norman Westwood & Partners

Metal screen 1961 by John McCarthy also responsible for the Concrete Wall at the New Century Hall Manchester.

The History and Essence of Mathematics 1961 terrossa ferrata panes by John McCarthy.

Central Teaching Hub by Robert Gardner-Medwin in association with Saunders Boston and Brock 1965-67

Abstract Reliefs by David Le Marchant Brock in collaboration with Frederick Bushe.

Big Bird 1964 by Sir Frank Rowling

Square with Two Circles by Barbara Hepworth 1964

Re-sited from its original setting.

Just around the corner a Relief by Hubert Dalwood aka Nibs

Senate House by Tom Mellor & Partners 1966-68

Chadwick Building by Sir Basil Spence 1963-68

Abstract mosaic Geoffrey Clarke.

Three Uprights by Hubert Dalwood 1960

Materials Innovation Factory by Fairhursts Design Group 2016

Muspratt Lecture Theatre

Bubble Chamber Tracks by Geoffrey Clarke 1968

Donnan and Robert Robinson Building

Oliver Lodge Building by Tom Mellor & Partners 1966-68

Sports Centre by Denys Lasdun 1963-66

Bedford House by Gerald Beech 1965-66

Gordon Stephenson Building by Gordon Stephenson 1950-51

Door handles by Mitzi Solomon-Cunliffe.

Rendall Building by Bryan & Norman Westwood, Piet & Partners 1964-6

Between the concrete is glass by Gillian Rees-Thomas – she was also responsible for the side chapel windows at St Mark’s Broomhill Sheffield.

Within the courtyard site Mitzi Solomon Cunliffe’sQuickening 1951

Roxby Building by Bryan & Norman Westwood, Piet & Partners 1961-66

South Teaching Hub by Bryan & Norman Westwood, Piet & Partners 1961-66

Sydney Jones Library by Sir Basil Spence

Further Reading: Liverpool Campus Built Heritage

Onward now taking in some sites along the way.

Philharmonic Hall by Herbert J Rowse 1936-69

Federation House by Gilling Dod and Partners 1965-66

Relief Decoration by William Mitchell

Arup In Wonderland – Durham

The last structure that Ove Arup designed himself was the award-winning reinforced concrete Kingsgate Footbridge in Durham, England.

Completed in 1963, Arup considered this bridge his finest work. He planned every detail, including the unusual way it was constructed. The need for scaffolding on the river was eliminated by casting the bridge in two halves, one for each bank. The halves were then swivelled out from the banks to meet. 

The two halves pivoted on revolving cones, their meeting point marked by an understated bronze expansion joint. Bearings were designed at the base of each part to allow rotation, robust but cheap enough to be used only once. 

This elegant example of simple mechanical engineering provided tense moments for the team while the spans were turned and connected. 

John Martin, project manager for the bridge, said:

“Ove never seemed to worry that anything might go wrong. That was fine, it just meant that one felt fully responsible for seeing that it didn’t. But he got quite cross when the contractor took a few, to Ove’s view unnecessary, steps to make doubly sure that construction went smoothly. I think that to him it was a question of spoiling the elegance of the idea”.

arup.com

I’m ever so fond of concrete footbridges, in fact I have written about our local exemplar.

And have taken great pleasure in teaching and preaching whilst atop such.

So it was with some degree of excited anticipation, that I strode eagerly toward Ove’s bridge – a bridge guaranteed to raise a smile, enchanted by its elegance and audacity.

Over we go headlong and fancy free into this black and white concrete world.

Crossing over into colourful off-white world of university life.

Dunelm House was designed by Richard Raines and Michael Powers of the Architects Co-Partnership, and completed in 1966 under the supervision of architect Sir Ove Arup, whose adjacent Kingsgate Bridge opened two years earlier. Built into the steeply sloping bank of the River Wear, Dunelm House is notable internally for the fact that the main staircase linking all five levels of the building runs in an entirely straight line. This was intended by the building’s architects to create the feeling of an interior street.

Wikipedia

In 1968 Dunelm House won a Civic Trust award. Sir Nikolaus Pevsner considered the building:

Brutalist by tradition but not brutal to the landscape, the elements, though bold, are sensitively composed. 

Durham City Council’s Local Plan notes that the powerful building, together with Kingsgate Bridge.

Provides an exhilarating pedestrian route out into open space over the river gorge.

Public views were divided from the start, with a local newspaper in 1966 reporting views ranging from:

The third best looking building in the city to a – monstrosity. 

The Observer in 2017 reported that students called it:

That ugly concrete building.

I was delighted to hear that the Student Union building’s first musical performance was given by Thelonius Monk.

Let’s have a look at that ugly building.

With the city’s least ugliest building in view.

Of special interest to all lovers of substations and shelters is the neat little substation and shelter mash-up over the road.

County Hall Durham

Work on the new building began in 1960: it was designed by Sir Basil Spence and was built by John Laing & Son at a cost of £2.75 million and was officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh on 14 October 1963. 

The design for the seven-storey building involved continuous bands of glazing with exposed concrete beams above and below.

A large mosaic mural depicting local scenes was designed by Clayton and Gelson and installed on the face of the building.

In March 2019, the County Council approved a proposal to move to a smaller new-build facility on the Sands car park at Freeman’s Place in the centre of Durham. Of around 1,850 staff currently based in County Hall, 1,000 will be based at the new HQ and approximately 850 will relocate to four council office sites being developed across the county in Crook, Meadowfield, Seaham and Spennymoor. The building works, which are being carried out by Kier Group at a cost of £50 million, are scheduled to be completed in late 2021. Richard Holden, Conservative member of parliament for North-West Durham, has described the new council headquarters as a ‘vanity project’, questioning the suitability of the location as well as tax increases and cuts to services used to pay for the development.

Wikipedia

In April 2022 the council sold their new HQ to Durham University – yet demolition will still go ahead. This unlisted gem in the grand Festival of Britain style deserves much, much better.

Nearby Neighbours Newcastle have had the good sense to list and retain their Civic Centre.

The administration now plans a three-pronged approach to:

  • Construct another new modest-sized civic building and conference centre for businesses at Aykley Heads.
  • Occupy other council-owned offices already being built at Aykley Heads.
  • Refurbish and reuse the former customer access point on Front Street, Stanley, a large, run-down Grade II listed building which the council has been unable to sell.

The Northern Echo

Online, there is no evidence of any will or pressure to save this glorious building – the site will eventually become that most modern mix of business park, retail, and leisure facilities.

The proposal, led by Durham County Council, forms part of an overall masterplan to knock down the municipal building in Aykley Heads and redevelop the wider site to provide retail, financial and professional space, food and drink units, space for leisure use and a multi-storey car park.

Insider Media 2020

Go see it whilst you are still able.

A mural by a beloved pitman painter, commissioned by Durham County Council to mark the opening of County Hall in 1963, has been successfully moved to its new home in Bishop Auckland.

The painting by Norman Cornish, one of the most respected and much-loved artists to emerge from the North-East, depicts the arrival of the banners at Durham Miners’ Gala.

After being commissioned by the council, Cornish was granted 12 months unpaid leave from Mainsforth Colliery in Ferryhill to complete the painting, with most of the work being completed during the coldest winter in 40 years.

Although it arrived at County Hall in 1963 rolled up in the back of a carpet van, the mural’s removal was an incredibly intricate process, involving several experts.  

Northern Echo

Norman Cornish

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.

Oriel Mostyn – Llandudno

I have posted here previously regarding the Naples of the North.

With particular reference to its seaside shelters.

This is a town with a visual culture defined by carefully created picture postcards – conjuring images from land, sea, sand and sky.

New technology arrives, dragging Llandudno from the sepia soaked past into the CMYK age!

So it’s only right and proper that the town should have an art gallery.

Oriel Mostyn Gallery was commissioned by Lady Augusta Mostyn after the Gwynedd Ladies’ Art Society asked her for better premises than their existing home, in a former cockpit in Conwy. The ladies’ gender prevented them from joining the Royal Cambrian Academy, also based in Conwy.

Designed by architect GA Humphreys, the new gallery opened in 1901. From 1901 to 1903, the gallery housed works by members of the GLAS. As a patron of the arts and president of the society, Lady Augusta was aware that the ladies needed more space to display their work and gave them the opportunity to rent a room in the new building.

Lady Augusta was keen for the gallery to be used by local people, so the society was asked to leave and a School of Art, Science and Technical Classes was set up. Alongside the many classes, there were art exhibitions, lectures. social events, and even a gallery choir and shooting range!

The current shop area was the location for a ‘Donut Dugout’ – a rest and recreation area for the many American servicemen in the town. Coffee and doughnuts were served and the men could read magazines from home.

After the war, Wagstaff’s Piano and Music Galleries occupied the building. In 1976 the artist Kyffin Williams, and others, suggested the building should become the proposed new public art gallery for North Wales. Architects Colwyn Foulkes supervised its restoration and it reopened, as Oriel Mostyn, in 11 August 1979.

History Points

Once the Post Office had vacated the adjacent building, expansion and development took place – Ellis Williams Architects were responsible for the design.

RL Davies undertook the construction work.

Acknowledged to be ‘one of the most beautiful galleries in Britain’, Mostyn in North Wales was an existing listed Victorian museum with two lantern galleries tucked behind a listed facade. We were appointed by Mostyn after winning the Architectural competition with a design combining a gallery space refurbishment with a gallery expansion and a new dramatic infill section linking new and old. The project has won a number of awards and increased footfall by over 60%.

Why not let your feet fall there soon – Oriel Mostyn is open.

The very first time I visited the town as a child back in the early 1960s, it rained almost every day.

Subsequent visits have almost always been bathed in warm sunshine.

Postwar Modern – The Barbican 2022

Is it a book is it a show?

It’s both – well it was a show and it’s still a book.

I went along and looked at the art and looked at the people looking at the art.

BISF Prefabs Wadsworth Lane – Hebden Bridge

Wadsworth Lane Hebden Bridge HX7 8DL

Calderdale is awash with non-traditional housing as can be seen on this site:

Non-traditional housing in Calderdale

The Second World War brought an even greater demand for the rapid construction of new dwellings. In addition to the need to rebuild homes damaged as a result of the war, the Government had other objectives that were set out in a white paper in 1945, to provide a separate dwelling for any family who wanted one and to complete the slum clearance programme started before the war. After the Second World War there was a surplus of steel and aluminium production, and an industry in need of diversification. These factors drove the move towards the use of prefabrication, as a result many new varieties of concrete, timber framed and steel framed systems emerged. Whilst most systems were intended to provide permanent or long-term housing a few were intended only as emergency or temporary solutions.

The homes on Wadsworth Lane are BISF Type A1 – designed by architect Frederick Gibberd and engineer Donovan Lee.

Manufactured by British Iron & Steel Federation and British Steel Homes Ltd.

Over 34,000 three-bedroom semi-detached houses and 1048 terraced houses were erected across England, Scotland and Wales.

Northolt

Non Standard House

We have encountered the very same houses in Tin Town Wythenshawe

I walked up Wadsworth Lane in 2021.

I walked past again in 2022 – the home appear to be in good health, many improved or extended, yet retaining at least a little of their heritage.

They are lived in and loved.

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.