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.

Portwood – 2023

Where are we?

We once were lost, but are we saved?

A remnant from a discarded photographic album locates us in Cornwall.

The Ordnance Survey places us at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

Now we are in the shadow of Tesco Extra and a recently opened Porsche dealership.

As of 2022, the supermarket chain had a brand value of roughly 9.91 billion US dollars.

Porsche Automobile Holding SE net worth as of January 2023 is 16.51 US dollars.

By the side of the River Tame and the M60 Motorway

The 19th-century industrial concentrations in the above-named urban areas resulted in the Tame being a much polluted waterway. As well as industrial pollution from the dyes and bleaches used in textile mills, effluent from specialised paper-making cigarette papers, engineering effluents, including base metal washings from battery manufacture, phenols from the huge coal-gas plant in Denton, rain-wash from roads and abandoned coal spoil heaps there was also the sewage effluent from the surrounding population. Up to two-thirds of the river’s flow at its confluence with the Goyt had passed through a sewage works. The anti-pollution efforts of the last thirty years of the 20th century have resulted in positive fauna distributions.

Wikipedia

There is a plot of land to the left of Porsche which remains undeveloped, I often walk around this area, what would have once been for myself and others the place of childhood high jinx.

Now it is the domain of the fly-tipper, the home of the homeless, a war zone for a species which has declared war upon itself.

A desert of detritus, interpolated with tangles of brambles, seas of teasels and the ubiquitous buddleia.

This is the unofficial showroom for the unofficial Anthropocene Epoch – always crashing in a different car, during increasingly unseasonal weather, the superabundance of abundance.

It seems that the sun may set on us, before the sun finally sets.

Let’s take a peep at Portwood.

Game over.

Vehicle use affects our whole quality of local life. Traffic can be dangerous and intimidating, dividing communities and making street life unpleasant, whilst air pollution and traffic noise can make urban living uncomfortable.

Environmental Protection UK

The impacts of mass consumption are: Misuse of land and resources, exporting pollution and waste from rich countries to poor countries, obesity due to excessive consumption, a cycle of waste, disparities and poverty.

Global Issues

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.

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. 

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.

Althea McNish – Whitworth

Oxford Rd Manchester M15 6ER

Recently opened and on for a while, I was here first thing Saturday morning – here are the details of Colour is Mine.

Althea McNish was the first Caribbean designer to achieve international recognition and one of the most influential and innovative textile designers in the UK. Drawing on extensive new research, this exhibition explores McNish’s extraordinary career and her transformative impact on mid-century design, along with her enduring influence today. Highlights include items from McNish’s recently uncovered personal archive – much of which has never been seen before. Also on display will be examples of McNish’s original designs alongside her most celebrated textile and wallpapers.

Althea McNish: Colour is Mine is a touring exhibition from the William Morris Gallery, London, and has been curated by Rowan Bain, Principal Curator at the William Morris Gallery and Rose Sinclair, Lecturer in Design Education at Goldsmiths, University of London. Althea McNish: Colour Is Mine is part of a three-year research, exhibition and archiving project generously supported by the Society of Antiquaries through its Janet Arnold Award.

An extensive biography can be found here.

Her work collided with new technologies in printing and fabrics, along with developments in design which were very much of their time: a freer more expressive approach to drawing and colour – using observational drawing from natural forms and geometric pattern

Typically employing the techniques of wax resist and a wandering Indian ink line.

Her work for the leading manufacturing and retail companies extended across fabric and dress design, wallpaper and accessories.

I urge you to go and see it – several times, the show is so wide ranging and joyous, a fitting testament to a creative life well-lived.

Middleton Walk

Middleton has not the gloom of so many South Lancashire towns its size. It benefits from its position close to the hills, but it has also the advantage of a large medieval church on a hill and of a number of buildings by one of England’s most original architects of the period around 1900.

Nikolaus Pevsner – The Buildings of England

He refers to Edgar Wood 1860-1935

He was the most advanced English architect of his generation, stylistically moving through through art nouveau, vernacular, expressionist and finally art deco phases a decade or more before other designers. He became England’s uncontested pioneer of flat roofed modern buildings. He worked more like an artist than an architect, designing buildings, furniture, stained glass, sculpture, metal and plaster work.  His buildings are mostly clustered in the towns of Middleton, Rochdale, Oldham, Huddersfield and Hale.  Influenced by the writings of William Morris, he saw himself as an artisan serving the people of these localities.

We begin our tour at the Queen’s Jubilee Free Library of 1889 located on Long Street.

Sixty-seven sets of designs for the proposed free library at Middleton were received by the Corporation of that borough in response to their advertisement; and a joint committee comprising of six members of the Corporation and six non-members has awarded the premium to Mr Lawrence Booth, architect of this city.

Curiously, we encounter an anchor.

Around 10pm that evening when weather conditions deteriorated to near hurricane-force gales, with the Sirene making little headway despite tacking.

Losing her helm, her sails in tatters and within sight of the Great Orme, the gales drove her back through the night towards the Lancashire coast. Eventually, and with great difficulty, Captain Gjertsen and his crew managed to manoeuvre the stricken vessel between the Central and North Piers. Becoming increasingly unmanageable, and swept in by the rushing tide and gale force winds, the Sirene looked a doomed vessel. She was helpless in the close shore currents, and unable to drop anchor she was at the mercy of the waves. She was carried alongside the North Pier, tearing off a section of the pier superstructure and part of her own keel.

Thousands of people lined the Promenade to witness the spectacle as she came in on the south side of the pier; many more stood on the pier itself, but there was a mad rush for safety when the ship collided against the structure.

Heritage Blackpool

The captain and crew survived, including the ship’s cat, many offers were made for the cat, but the captain refused them.

Onwards through Jubilee Park opened in 1889 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

In 1906 Alderman Thomas Broadbent Wood commissioned his son, Edgar, to design a flight of steps to lead up to a contemplation spot in the park – the inscription reads:

Who works not for his fellows starves his soul.

His thoughts grow poor and dwindle and his heart grudges each beat, as misers do a dole.

Nearby we find a memorial to the Middleton Flood – following torrential rain, the canal embankment at Mills Hill broke, flooding the already swollen River Irk, subsequently deluging the town.

Up the hill to Grade 1 Listed Parish Church of St Leonard.

Much of the present building was erected in 1412 by Thomas Langley – born in Middleton in 1363, who was Bishop of Durham and Lord Chancellor of England. He re-used the Norman doorway from an earlier structure to create the tower arch. Also distinctive in this region is the weather-boarded top stage to the tower.

The church of St Leonard was enlarged in 1524 by Sir Richard Assheton, in celebration of the knighthood granted to him by Henry VIII of England for his part in the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The Flodden Window, in the sanctuary, is thought to be the oldest war memorial in the UK. It commemorates on it the names of the Middleton archers who fought at Flodden. The church also has one of the finest collections of monumental brasses in the north of England, including the only brass in the UK depicting an English Civil War officer in full armour, Major-General Ralph Assheton.  

George Pace designed a war memorial and, in 1958, added a choir vestry and installed new lighting.

Wikipedia

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Middleton Old Cemetery once the Thornham and Middleton Burial Ground, which became the local authority cemetery in 1862.

Retrace to the Library – adjacent is the Parish School 1842

Across the road the Old Boar’s Head

Part of the timber framing to the right of the front door has recently been tree-ring dated and confirms a building date of 1622. The first tenant was Isaac Walkden, son of Middleton schoolmaster, Robert Walkden. Isaac died during a typhus epidemic in the summer of 1623. His will, preserved at Lancashire Archives, includes an inventory of all his possessions listed on a room by room basis. There were a total of 9 beds and 20 chairs or stools in the 6 rooms. This, together with barrels, brewing vessels, pots, glasses, etc, strongly suggest the building was an inn. The Walkden family went on to run the Boar’s Head until the end of the 17th century. They also farmed nearby land including what is now Jubilee library and park.

In 1888, the fledgling Middleton Corporation purchased the building from the church with the intention of demolishing it to build a town hall. Discussions were held in 1914 but, thankfully, the plan was abandoned due to an outcry from the public spearheaded by architect Edgar Wood.

Down the road is Wood’s Methodist Church and School Rooms 1897.

Tucked away is the Durnford Street Clinic.

Further down Long Street to the Assheton Arms Hotel.

Then around the corner to the Manchester & Salford Bank again by Edgar Wood

Next door the former Market Place Bank latterly RBS.

Plans to convert a long-vacant town centre bank into a nightclub have been revived despite previously being rejected over anti-social behaviour concerns.

An application to change the use of the former Royal Bank of Scotland, in Middleton, was refused by Rochdale council’s planning committee eighteen months ago, with members citing a history of alcohol-fuelled trouble in the area.

Rochdale Online

Further up Market Place the faience fronted Bricklayers Arms formerly a Bents and Gartsides boozer – delicensed in 2012 and Converted to a takeaway.

Moving along Wood’s much altered Guardian Buildings 1889.

The Guardian Buildings, were commissioned by Fred Bagot, the proprietor of the Middleton Guardian newspaper and a man with a reputation at the time for keeping a tight control of finances. In consequence, Guardian Buildings were one of Edgar Wood’s low budget buildings, of which there are several in and around Middleton. The building housed the operations of the newspaper with the cellar containing the printing machines and the tall ground floor housing a shop, office and more machines. The whole of the first floor, with its pair of oriel windows, was taken up by the composing room.

Time has not been kind to the Grade II Listed United Reformed Church 1860.

28 Days Later

It fell into disrepair after the church moved to smaller premises in Alkrington in the 1960s.

The building collapsed in July 2012, when it was hit by a fire.

On Townley Street Lodge Mill built in1839 beside the River Irk battling on despite recent setbacks.

In August 2019, Martin Cove and Paula Hickey opened a small ice cream shop on the ground floor of the mill – named the Ice Cream Shop at Lodge – selling locally-made ice cream from Birch Farm, Heywood.

Across the way the magnificent Sub Station and Electrical Department Offices.

Then taking a turn around the banks of the Irk down Sharp Street onto Lance Corporal Joel Halliwell VC Way, where we find the Middleton ArenaBDP 2009

Then over the road to Oldham Road and Grade II Listed Warwick Mill 1907 G. Stott of J. Stott and Sons.

The mill recently changed ownership and new owner, Kam Lei Fong (UK) Ltd, has been working with Rochdale Borough Council over the past nine months on proposals to redevelop the site.

The plans will form the cornerstone of a new masterplan for Middleton town centre focusing on delivering new homes, business space, highway and environmental improvements, new walking and cycle routes to pave the way for the planned extension of the Metrolink into Middleton Town Centre.

The Business Desk

In 2005, the new Middleton Bus Station was opened – Jefferson Sheard Architects.

The station, with 13 stands, cost £4.5 million and replaced the previous station which dated to the 1970s.

The Middleton Arndale Centre commenced trading in 1971, although it was officially opened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent in March 1972.

Once home to The Breadman designed by Rochdale’s town artist of the time, Michael Dames.

Photo: Local Image Collection – Touchstones

Now trading as the Middleton Shopping Centre

The brick reliefs illustrating the town’s history are by Fred Evans of Dunstable, who completed the work in one week during May 1972 using a high powered sandblasting blaster.

Thanks to Phil Machen for the top tip.

At the centre of the public domain the Middleton Moonraker 2001 by Terry Eaton

According to folklore, the legend has several different interpretations. One version is that a traveller came upon a drunken yokel trying to rake a reflection of the moon in a village pond, convinced it was cheese.

This version conveys the notion that the men were drunk and acting foolishly.

However, an alternative narrative – and perceived to be the most reliable version – tells a different story and dates back to the time when smuggling was a significant industry in rural England.

It appears that many residents wish to rid themselves of the Moon Raker moniker and presumably become Middletonians.

There’s so much more to Middleton’s history than the Moonraker. Why did they spend all that money on a fairytale?

There were 3,000 Lancaster bombers built in Middleton during World War Two, a magnificent contribution to the effort to beat Hitler.

The bulbs inside the moon which light it up at night haven’t worked for five years.

Bernard Wynne

Along Long Street the Cooperative store what was – next door the long gone Palace Cinema demolished in 2001.

More Edgar Wood – three shops 1908.

Tim RushtonMiddleton Gateway

Middleton celebrates its history and rightly so – now is the time to take stock and plan for the future.

More green space, public transport, pedestrians and cyclists prioritised to meet the Green Agenda.

Mixed development for housing, retail and leisure in the town centre.

Take some time to explore and dream.

View the Masterplan click here

For more information on Edgar Wood click here

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

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.

Jaded Jubilee – June 4th 2012

On the day of HM Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee I cycled around Ashton under Lyne.

Recording and commenting upon the material changes which had occurred, during her reign of some sixty years. In turn many of these things have in themselves disappeared from view.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality.

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

Lao Tzu

Celebrating the gradual decline in spelling – Gill Scot Heron meets Tameside, everyone’s a winner.

Celebrating the proliferation of California Screen Blocks, hanging baskets and vertical blinds.

Celebrating the Pound Shop a profusion of road markings and pedestrian safety barriers.

Celebrating High Visibilty Workwear and the proliferation of the logotype

Celebrating advances in Information Technology and the decline of the retail sector.

Celebrating advances in fly-posting, street skating, youth culture and musical diversity.

Celebrating the re-use of redundant banks, sun beds, tattooing and t-shirts.

Celebrating advances in charity chop furniture pricing and the proliferation of leather sofas.

Celebrating the proliferation of the shuttered window, babies and home made retail signage.

Celebrating niche marketing in the child-based, haircare market and developments in digitally originated vinyl signage.

Celebrating street art and British popular music and modern cuisine.

Celebrating Punk Rock, wheel clamping and British can-do!

Celebrating the introduction of decimal coinage, raffle tickets, cheap biros, affordable imitation Tupperware, raffles and the Union Flag

Celebrating the huge importance of Association Football, hazard tape, shuttered doors and the ubiquity of the traffic cone.

Celebrating the ever growing popularity of Fancy Dress.

Celebrating pub tiles, the smoking ban, the use of plywood as an acceptable window replacement material and the current confusion regarding Britishness and Englishness.

Celebrating satellite telly, faux Victoriana and the development of the one way traffic system.

Celebrating plastics in the service of the modern citizen.

Celebrating laser-cut vinyl, adhesive lettering, regional cuisine and the imaginative minds of those who name our modern retail outlets.

Celebrating the welcome Americanisation of our youngster’s diet – Slush you couldn’t make it up!

Celebrating the welcome Americanisation of our youngster’s diet – Slush you couldn’t make it up!

Celebrating the return of the £1 pint, here at Oliver’s Bar, formerly The Cavern, a superbly appointed Bass Charrington owned, underground pub. 

My thanks to Emma Noonan for kindly appearing in the doorway.

Celebrating our ever widening range of ethnic cuisine and the use of the ingenious A4 laser-written poster montage.

Celebrating the wide variety of vernacular tribute bands – Reet Hot Chilli Peppers?

Celebrating the ever popular art of colouring-in and the wide availability of the felt tip pen.

Eccles Congregational Church

Wellington Road Eccles M30 9AL

Architect: TD Howcroft 1969

Once upon a time there was a Gothic church.

The Cornerstone of the building was laid in front of a crowd of 2,000 on Good Friday 1859 and the church was opened for public worship on Good Friday 6th April 1860. In the press of the day, the church was described as – a Cathedral looking church.

Photo: Flickr cabinet photograph by Enos Eastham of Eccles.

In 1965 it was announced that a new Eccles motorway would be built through the church land.

Work began to demolish the Church and replace it with a new smaller church, but the old church did not go down without a fight as workers could not pull down the steeple. After eleven days of battering and buffeting by eighteen pounds of gelignite and two eight ton bulldozers, the steeple finally surrendered.

Then there wasn’t – then there was this:

On Friday 11th July 1969, the new church officially opened with a splendid ceremony. A minor hitch occurred when the organ blew a fuse during the second verse but the Congregation sang through it while organist Mr Kenyon frantically fumbled about and rectified the matter.

Eccles Congregational Church

TD Howcroft was also responsible for St Wilfrid’s in Pevensey Bay – I happened to cycle by in 2015.

My thanks to Mr Tony Flynn – the acting Lord Mayor of Eccles, for arranging our visit through church member Mr George Cross.

To the rear the exterior is, as Mr Pevsner would say – unprepossessing.

The elevation facing the main road more than somewhat less unprepossessing.

A curved apse along with a raised and canted roof – a window up above illuminating the altar.

The main body of the church is bold and voluminous – strong verticals to the rear and right.

The pews, organ pipes and other furnishings appear to be of a piece.

There is a dynamic timber roof with supporting beams.

Previous Pastors.

Relocated War Memorials.

Bolton Walk

Organised by the Twentieth Century Society

Text by Eddy Rhead and David French.

Bolton Town Hall – 1873 was designed by William Hill of Leeds, with Bolton architect George Woodhouse.

The original building was extended in 1938 by Bradshaw Gass & Hope – hereafter BGH.

Le Mans Crescent by BGH 1932-9 well complements the Town Hall extension. Its neo-classical design is assured and confident. Pevsner remarked that:

There is, surprisingly enough, no tiredness, the panache is kept up.

Three arches pierce the Crescent’s centre but today they lead only to a potential development site. One end of the Crescent contains the Art Gallery and Library; the other used to house the former Police Headquarters and Magistrates’ Courts.

George Grenfell Baines, the founder of the Building Design Partnership, was involved in this project when he worked for BGH in the 1930s

The Octagon 1966-67 originally by Geoffrey Brooks, the borough architect, rebuilt 2018-2021. The hexagonal auditorium has apparently been retained. Pevsner states of the former building:

A welcome dose of honest Brutalism.

The Wellsprings successfully fitting with the Town Hall

The former 1931 Cooperative Society Store, on the Oxford Street corner, is by BGH. The entrance has Doric columns in deference to the Town Hall’s Corinthian ones – and Le Mans Crescent uses the Ionic for the same reason.

We pass Paderborn House 1968 -69 Sutton of Birmingham clad in moulded concrete, with Traverine around the entrance.

Former Lloyds Bank on Deangate corner, clad in white faience, looks BGH-ish but it’s not listed in the Lingards’ BGH monograph.

Across the way the unlisted Post Office – complete with listed phone boxes.

Whitakers 1907 by George Crowther.

Pastiche timber-framed with pepper-pot turret.

Incorporates genuine Tudor timbers from a demolished building nearby.

To the north of Deansgate, down Knowsley and Market Streets, is GT Robinson’s 1851-6 Market Hall. The interior is, according to Matthew Hyde: a lucid structure simply revealed.

He contrasts it with Market Place Centre 1980-88 by Chapman Taylor Partners: In that most ephemeral of styles, a jokey Postmodernism.

It does however echo Victoria Hall 1898-1900 BGH.

Chapman Taylor also did the 1980-8 Market Place Shopping Centre. The Market Hall was built over an impressive brick undercroft above the River Croal which has recently been opened up and is a destination.

At the Oxford Street corner, Slater Menswear, above Caffé Nero, has Art Deco white faience upper storeys.  Further down is the imposing Marks & Spencer, faced in dark stone 1965-67.

The mansard roof was added later.

Along Market Street, Clinton Cards is clad in white faience with Art Deco window details.

At the corner of Bridge Street is a charming 1960s clock; the building would not look out of place in Coventry.

Other buildings of interest on Deansgate include Superdrug – with some Art Deco features; Greggs by Ernest Prestwich of Leigh who trained with WE Riley. 

Sally Beauty and the Nationwide – entrance by William Owen of BGH.

The former Preston’s jewellers, on the corner of Bank Street, has terracotta, by Thomas Smith & Sons 1908-13, a prolific local firm. It had a time ball, on the clock tower, which was raised daily at 9am and dropped at 10am, on receipt of a telegraph signal from Greenwich.

The 1909 Bolton Cross, in Dartmoor granite, by BGH replaced an earlier one which is now kept at Bolton School. Churchgate contains the 1636 Ye Olde Man & Scythe; the former coaching inn Swan Hotel, reconstructed in the 1970s to look more genuinely Georgian and Ye Olde Pastie Shoppe 1667. 

Stone Cross House 1991 was built for the Inland Revenue in an aggressively red brick and spiky style. It has a rather desperate chandelier in the foyer. 

The gates of St Peter’s church EG Paley 1871 are framed by Travel House, Newspaper House -1998 and Churchgate House and Huntingdon House 1974.

St Peter’s has a Neo-Gothic font and cover by N Cachemaille-Day 1938. The gates and gate piers may look early C20 but they are late C18.

Samuel Crompton 1753-1827, the inventor of the mule, is buried under the large granite monument, erected in 1861.

At the corner of Silverwell and Institute Streets is WT Gunson & Son’s 1970 Friends Meeting House: decent with a light elevated roof corner.  It has a tilted roof floating on the glazed upper walls.

Scott House has a charming 1926 plaque commemorating Sir James Scott and his wife Lady Anne. Scott started the Provincial Insurance Company.

The two storey offices of Fieldings and Porter are a successful piece of infill by BGH.

Nip around the back to get a glimpse of this cracking stairway.

Silverwell Street 1810 is named after the Silver Well. Bradshaw Gass & Hope now self­-described as Construction Design Consultants, not architects, are at number 19. Note the plaque to JW Wallace, founder of the Eagle Street College, dedicated to the works of the American poet, Walt Whitman. Wallace worked there from 1867 to 1912. The plaque is ringed by a quote from Whitman:

All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it.

Whitman corresponded with his Bolton admirers; the Museum contains early editions of his works and his stuffed canary. 

Further down Silverwell Street is the 1903 Estate Office of the Earl of Bradford who still owns a large area of Bolton.  At the end of Silverwell Street is the former Sun Alliance House, now converted to flats, the colourful panels are a later addition.

Bradshawgate and Silverwell lane corner has a former café bar with original curved Moderne windows. This was originally Vose’s tripe restaurant, later UCP – United Cattle Products. It was most stylish and elegant, decorated in 1930s streamline Moderne style, with starched white tablecloths, silver service and smart waitresses. 

Nelson Square was opened on March 23, 1893. The cenotaph memorial to the Bolton Ar­tillery is by Ormrod, Pomeroy & Foy 1920. Calder Marshall sculpted the statue of Samuel Crompton 1862. The shiny red former Prudential Assurance office 1889 isn’t by Waterhouse but by Ralph B. Maccoll of Bolton. Matthew Hyde in Pevsner describes the early C20 faience facades of Bradshawgate as:

A plateful of mushy pea, ginger nut, liver, tripe and blood orange shades.

Infirmary Street has a 1970s office block with an octagonal, nicely lettered plaque to WF Tillotson, newspaper publisher. Round the corner in Mawdsley Street, the former County Court 1869 TC Sorby, 1869. Opposite, at the corner, is GWBD Partnership’s 1987 St Andrew’s Court, containing a somewhat whimsical recreation of a Victorian shopping street in miniature. The job architect was J Holland. Matthew Hyde says:

Neatly contrived on a tight site. 

Into Exchange Street and through the former Arndale Centre 1971; low and mean according to Pevsner 2004, now re-branded as Crompton Place 1989 Bradshaw, Rose & Harker and still dreary, we go to Victoria Square and the Town Hall. The classical building on the left is the former Bolton Exchange 1824-5 Richard Lane.

The square was pedestrianised in 1969, to the Planning Department’s designs, under RH Ogden. It was quite an early scheme which won three awards including one, unsurprisingly, from the Concrete Society. The fountains  were designed by Geoffrey Brooks and the trees were planted by the Earl of Bradford.

Owen Hatherley in Modern Buildings in Britain says of the town

It feels as if you’re in a real city, like in Europe, and you can drink your cup of tea in repose while admiring the monuments. 

Platt Court – William Mitchell

Wilmslow Rd Manchester M14 5LT

Situated outside Platt Court a third of four William Mitchell totems that I have visited – Eastford Square and Newton Heath still extant.

William Mitchell 1960

The Hulme exemplar has gone walkabout.

Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester – Terry Wyke

Tower Block tells us this is one 13 storey block containing 62 dwellings along with one 9 storey block containing 70 dwellings.

Built by Direct Labour commissioned by Manchester County Borough Council

Seen here in 1970.

The flats are now gated, so I peeped tentatively through the fencing.

Then chatting to the site’s maintenance gardener I gained access – here is what I saw.

IRK VALLEY #TWO

Having walked and cycled twixt Victoria Station and Blackley, I returned once more to the Hexagon Tower to resume my explorations towards the source in Royton.

Beginning on Delaunays Road and onwards along Blackley New Road.

The footpath falls away from the main road to the wooded valley.

Returning to the road I was distracted by Sandyhill Court and the reliefs which I discovered there.

I was also taken with with this electrical substation.

We are encouraged to be wild about Blackley Vale a reclaimed landfill site.

Across the Victoria Avenue Bridge and down the other side.

Emerging by Sainsbury’s and picking up the path again.

Onwards under the M60 Motorway.

The M60 was developed by connecting and consolidating the existing motorway sections of the M63M62, and an extended M66. It came into existence as the M60 in 2000, with the completion of the eastern side opening in October.

The original plan called for a completely new motorway, but policy change led to the plan which created the current motorway. As soon as it opened, the motorway got close to its projected maximum volume on significant sections.

Hey look there’s Alkrington Hall!

This Palladian mansion was designed and built in 1736 by renowned architect, Giacomo Leoni, who had also been responsible for significant alterations to Lyme Hall during the same period.  

Offering an infusion of historical significance coupled with an abundance of living space throughout, Alkrington Hall East, simply must be viewed to be appreciated in full.  

During the early 1770’s, the Hall became the largest museum outside of London, when the Hall’s owner, Sir Ashton Lever, exhibited his private collection of natural objects, including live animals. Remaining as an imposing symbol of Leoni’s work, Alkrington Hall remains one of only a few surviving examples throughout England.  

In modern times, the Hall has since been carefully and sympathetically separated into 4 sections, and we are pleased to be offering for sale the largest portion of the Hall, with a total floor area comprising of over 7500 SQFT, and living accommodation spread over 4 floors.  

Sold for £825,00 in 2021 Savills

Seen here in 1870

Next thing you know you find yourself in Middleton, where the Irk sort of disappears – you sort of get lost and sort of follow the wrong track, eventually ending up back where you should have been in the first place.

Don’t follow Wince Brook – it’s so far from right that it’s wrong – right?