In October 2017, a £120 million project began on bringing the station up to modern standards, demolishing many of the 1960s buildings and replacing them with a new station concourse, which was completed in 2021.
I arrived in Cumbernauld and walked toward the Central Way and back again.
Cumbernauld was designated as a new town in December 1955, part of a plan, under the New Towns Act 1946, to move 550,000 people out of Glasgow and into new towns to solve the city’s overcrowding. Construction of its town centre began under contractors Duncan Logan, chief architect Leslie Hugh Wilson and architect Geoffrey Copcutt – until 1962 and 1963, and later Dudley Roberts Leaker, Philip Aitken and Neil Dadge.
The first leg of a journey to the source of the River Irk beginning behind Victoria, finishing by the Hexagon Towerin Blackley.
The Irk’s name is of obscure etymology, but may be Brittonic in origin and related to the Welsh word iwrch, meaning roebuck
In medieval times, there was a mill by the Irk at which the tenants of the manor ground their corn and its fisheries were controlled by the lord of the manor. In the 16th century, throwing carrion and other offensive matter into the Irk was forbidden. Water for Manchester was drawn from the river before the Industrial Revolution. A bridge over the Irk was recorded in 1381. The river was noted for destructive floods. In 1480, the burgesses of Manchester described the highway between Manchester and Collyhurst which – the water of Irk had worn out. In 1816, of seven bridges over the Irk, six were liable to be flooded after heavy rain but the seventh, the Ducie Bridge completed in 1814 was above flood levels.
According to The New Gazetteer of Lancashire the Irk had – more mill seats upon it than any other stream of its length in the Kingdom and – the eels in this river were formerly remarkable for their fatness, which was attributed to the grease and oils expressed by the mills from the woollen cloths and mixed with the waters.
However, by the start of the 20th century the Irk Valley betweenCrumpsall and Blackley had been left a neglected river – not only the blackest but the most sluggish of all rivers.
Spanning the defunct railway workings, affording a view of the brightly blooming city centre.
Leaving Collyhurst Road, we journey along Smedley Road.
Seen here in 1934.
Passing beneath Queens Road – Queens Park to the right.
Queen’s Park was one of Britain’s first municipal parks created in 1846. The park was originally arranged around Hendham Hall, home of the Houghton family however this was demolished in 1884.
Dropping down to Hendham Vale.
The Smedley Hotel is a very large pub that is hidden away on a quiet back street.Once inside there were a few different rooms and I had a drink in the bar which was fairly large and seemed in need of some attention. The pub still had its old Chesters signs outside and there were three real ales on the bar. I had a drink of Chesters bitter and this was a very nice drink the other beers were Chesters mild and Boddington’s bitter.
I thought this pub would be long gone but it is still standing and I think open for business.
St. Jude’s Church Poolstock Lane/St Paul’s Avenue Wigan WN3 5JE
Following the demolition of many working class homes in central Wigan in the early-to-mid 20th century there was a migration to new council estates on the outskirts of the town including new developments in the Poolstock and Worsley Mesnes localities. In order to cater to the Catholic inhabitants of the new estates Father Richard Tobin of St Joseph’s parish in Wigan, established a chapel of ease – described as a wooden hut, on St Paul’s Avenue in 1959.
In 1962 Tobin wrote to the Archbishop of Liverpool George Andrew Beck with his proposals for a new, permanent church, suggesting that the church should be dedicated either to St Jude or Our Lady of the Assumption.
Beck replied on 15 March:
My dear Father Tobin, Many thanks for your letter. I like your suggestion of St. Jude as a patron of the new church. We already have a parish in honour of The Assumption but none, so far as I know, to St. Jude. I assume that you do not intend to suggest by this title that Wigan is a hopeless case!
The Liverpool architects L A G Prichard & Sons were engaged and work began in the summer of 1963. Subsidence caused by coal mining in the area necessitated reinforced foundations and the final cost was over £100,000. The foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Beck in December 1964 and the church was opened for worship in July 1965.
The most remarkable feature of the church is the dalle de verre stained glass on the walls of the nave, designed by Robin Riley, made by Verriers de St Jobain in France and fitted by glaziers J O’Neill and Sons.
Now I’m going east to Dalton Street, home to the Collyhurst cowboy.
Photograph: Dennis Hussey
This is an illusion within an illusion, twice removed.
The Hollywood recreation, recreated on the rough ground of post war Britain.
In 1960 the area was a dense network of streets, industry and homes – demolished during the period of slum clearance.
Escaping the dark, dank Irk Valley onwards and upwards to Rochdale Road.
The Dalton Works Arnac factory survived until 2008
The tight maze of Burton Street and beyond, reduced to rubble.
Dalton Street was not home to the Dalton Gang, they lived here in Oklahoma
It was home to imaginary gangs, committing imaginary crimes, in an imaginary Manchester, in ITV’s Prime Suspect Five.
Kangol capped criminals doing business outside the Robert Tinker on the corner of the very real Dalton and Almond Streets.
The Robert Tinker was an estate pub in a run down area of Collyhurst. The pub looked pretty grim from the outside, but it was smarter than I expected inside, I had a drink in the lounge which was carpeted and comfortable. This was a Banks’s tied house and there were two real ales on the bar, I had a drink of Banks’s bitter and this was a decent drink, the other beer was Banks’s mild. This pub closed about two years after my visit and looked derelict, it has now been demolished.
Robert Tinker was the owner of the Vauxhall Gardens, a Victorian pleasure venue.
At the openingthere was a special attraction, a giant cucumber which had been grown in the gardens reaching a length of seven feet and eight inches and a large and beautiful balloon was to be liberated at 9pm
Much of the red sandstone used for building in Manchester and the surrounding area, including stone for the Roman fort at Castlefield, St Ann’s Church in the city centre, Manchester Cathedral and the original buildings of Chetham’s Hospital, came from Collyhurst Quarry. Geologists use the term Collyhurst Sandstone for this type of soft red sandstone, which occurs in North West England
Tinker died in 1836 and gradually his gardens were whittled away, the subsoil was sold to iron moulders who cherished its certain properties and before long the trees were chopped down and houses were being built on the former site.
Those houses are in their turn whittled away, replaced in the 1960’s with fashionable tower blocks.
Architects: J Austen Bent 1965
In total five thirteen storey blocks – Humphries, Dalton, Roach, Vauxhall and Moss Brook Courts
Designed by Union North Architects, the names for the Three Towers were decided in a public competition and the winning names were Emmeline, Christabel and Sylvia – naming the towers after the Pankhurst sisters and their mother.
The report argues that the Northern Gateway should offer mixed, affordable and age appropriate housing and amenities. An equitable development plan should be developed, through community-led engagement, to ensure that the benefits of regeneration are shared amongst new and existing residents.
As of 2021 there is inaction and stasis
Collyhurst was described as a ‘forgotten place’ by some residents who felt that there had been insufficient investment in local housing and amenities.
The Northern Gateway remains a hidden portal to who knows where.
Detailed proposals for a second scheme to be delivered within neighbouring South Collyhurst, one of the seven neighbourhoods to be developed as part of the overall Framework, are expected later this year.
Far East Consortium and Manchester City Council’s 390-acre masterplan will now be known as Victoria North, a move that aims to “create a sense of place”, according to Gavin Taylor, regional general manager at FEC in Manchester.
The Northern Gateway has served us well as a name as we shaped plans for the area’s regeneration. But as we begin to bring forward development this year, it’s the right time to start creating a sense of place for what will be a significant new district in Manchester, as well as an identity that people can engage with.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said:
We are at the beginning of an incredibly exciting phase of history for this part of Manchester and with some eagerness to see how this potential unfolds.
Victoria Riverside, a 634- home development marks the first stage of the regeneration project with the first apartments hitting the market.
The three towers – Park View, City View and Crown View, are based within the Red Bank neighbourhood.
Red Bank has been described as:
A unique landscape and river setting making the neighbourhood perfect for a residential-led, high-density development – all set in a green valley.
The putative William Mitchell totem continues to keep silent watch over the Square.
The Anglican Church of William Temple was opened in 1965 on the corner of Robinswood Road and Simonsway as the church of the Civic Centre. The mission was already well-established, having begun many years previously in Shadow Moss School Room, latterly operating in a dual-purpose building on Simonsway. The architect, George Pace, agreed with the proviso that he should not design a ‘pseudo’ building, but that it should be modern in concept. This he did and particular attention was paid to the acoustics with a view to music and drama being performed there. One of Pace’s stipulations was that, as with all the churches he designed, there must be no plaques attached to the walls commemorating the dedication of the church or in memory of anyone, for he said he built his churches to the Glory of God. The only lettered stone is on the back wall of the church and it has on it the date of the consecration and a symbol, which is Pace’s original sign for William Temple Church.
The internal supports of the church are black-painted steel girders, not romantically symbolising the industry of the area, as it is sometimes said, but because when it was discovered that the church had been built on swampy ground an extra £2,000 was needed for foundations; the wooden beams of the original design had to be changed for cheaper steel ones. There is symbolism, however, in the placing of the font between and beneath the three main weight-bearing supports of the church.
The pews have an interesting history, having been brought from derelict churches in and around Manchester.
The present lady churchwarden said:
“whenever we heard of a church being demolished we borrowed Mr. Owen’s coal cart and went off to see if we could buy any of the pews. Many times I’ve sat on the back of the wagon, in the pouring rain, with the pews, bringing them back to Wythenshawe to be stored until our church building was completed!”
Some time after the building was opened, a fire damaged some of the pews. With the insurance money all the pews were stripped and bleached, giving an element of uniformity and a bright welcoming atmosphere in the church generally. An interesting thought was voiced that as many people living in Wythenshawe now had their origins near to the centre of Manchester they may be sitting in the same pews in which their ancestors once sat.
An imposing and monumental building by Adrian Gilbert Scott.
The church has a rich, little-altered interior with strong architectural qualities and notable furnishings. The church is described as ‘one of the few real landmarks of Wythenshawe’ and ‘beautifully built’, by Hartwell, Hyde and Pevsner2004
Backtrack toSt AndrewsArchitects JCG Prestwich and Son 1960 – as seen by Comrade Yuri Gagarin 12th July 1961 – detailed here.
We now take a secular route around the back of the Civic Centre to look at Centron and Delta House.
Built in 1972 to encourage white collar jobs into the area, formerly occupied by Shell and the TSB, currently partially unoccupied.
Across the way the former Barclay’s Bank IT HQ by DLG Shuldham the bank’s chief architect.
Just around the corner.
There were four eight-storey blocks of ‘Sectra’ flats that Laing built in Wythenshawe for Manchester County Borough Council, completed in 1967. The blocks were described by Laing in their monthly newsletter ‘Team Spirit’ in January 1968 as four blocks of specially designed eight-storey flats for elderly people.
Showing skeleton cladding, patterned end wall units and access balcony.
They were named Park Court, Violet Court, Birch Tree Court and Edwards Court.
Park Court and Violet Court have since been demolished to make way for retail space.
A mini-estate of impeccably kept, neat steel-framed prefabs, designed in 1946 by Frederick Gibberd. We got a tour around one, home to former Durutti Column drummer Bruce Mitchell. The space standards and architectural quality are, as Phil Griffin points out, way above those of contemporary central Manchester luxury loft living.
In December 1956 Basil Spence and Partners were commissioned to design St Francis Church in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. The project was part of a large building programme by the Manchester Diocese and was to service the new post-war housing estate at Newall Green. The site housed an existing hall that had been serving a dual-purpose as church and church hall but which reverted to use as a church hall once the new church was opened. The foundation stone was laid by Colin Skinner CBE on 23 April 1960 and the church was consecrated on 25 March 1961 by the Bishop of Manchester, W D L Greer.
The main building is predominantly brick; it is set back from the road by a landscaped courtyard that includes a brick tower and 73ft concrete cross. Another large cross rises from the front wall of the church itself making it highly visible from the surrounding neighbourhood.
The church can hold a congregation of 250. A small chapel is separated from the main church by a sliding screen and can be used independently for private prayer and mid week-services. On busy days the screen can be retracted to provide additional seating to the main church. A gallery over the entrance porch houses two organs and the choir.
Prior to the end of WWII, the British Iron & Steel Federation worked closely with Architect Frederick Gibberd & Engineer Donovan Lee, to develop several steel framed prototype houses and flats, which could be erected quickly and efficiently with limited use of skilled labour.
These prototype were duly named BISF which is a acronym of the originating sponsor, The British Iron & Steel Federation.
However, it was in fact the newly formed company, British Steel Houses Ltd, that went on to develop and manufacturer the BISF houses we see today.
Over 34,000 three-bedroom semi-detached houses and 1048 Terraced Houses were erected across England, Scotland and Wales.
The final production design incorporated rendered mesh ground floor walls and the now familiar, profiled steel sheeting panels affixed to the upper storey. The preferred roofing material was generally corrugated asbestos cement, or corrugated metal sheeting.
The frame of the prototype ‘B’ house was of the same general design as the type ‘A’ frame, but fabricated from flat light steel sections.
The roof trusses were also of light steel sections and the roof cladding was the same as that used in the type A house. Both prototypes had been designed to accept a variety of external wall materials, including traditional brick masonry if desired.
The external steel cladding that was affixed to the upper storey of the original BISF house appears visually similar to the external cladding that was used during the production of the unrelated Hawksley BL8 temporary bungalow.
This visual similarity caused many people to wrongly assume that the BISF House was a semi-detached version of the temporary bungalow, despite the fact that the BISF House was built as a permanent dwelling.
The vast majority of BISF houses were built as two-storey semi-detached pairs. A smaller number of terraced houses were also built by replicating the standard semi-detached frame.
A number of variations relating to the layout and materials used in the construction of this house have been noted, but in all cases, the original construction, design & construction of the steel framework, remains largely as described.
The area in Wythenshawe where the BISF houses were built, is known locally and colloquially as Tin Town.
Staffordshire University was founded in 1914 as a polytechnic intistution, and was officially given University Status on 16 June 1992. Our University is famous for its forward-thinking approach, and has become a figurehead for its vocational and academic teaching, innovative grasp of industry, and student employability.
Although our campus continues to expand to create dynamic opportunities, we are proud of our heritage in the great city of Stoke-on-Trent. Steeped in the history of ceramic manufacture and production, industry in Stoke-on-Trent has been fuelled by Staffordshire University for over 100 years.
The Flaxman Building 1970 was designed by City Architect Thomas Lovatt and built by the City Works Department – the last public works assignment before competitive tendering opened up public restrictions to private enterprise.
Named for to Wedgwood’s famous modeller the classical artist, John Flaxman RA 1755-1826.
This concrete is very much in the style of William Mitchell – though there is no record of attribution.
The Regional Film Theatre opened in College Road, on the premises of North Staffordshire Polytechnic now Staffordshire University in 1974.
The North Staffordshire Film Society moved there to screen films one evening a week, while the Film Theatre operated on three nights a week.
Across the way is the assertive slab tower of the 1950’s Mellor Building with its curvy cantilevered porch cover.
It has been refurbished and the walkway enclosed since my previous visit.
Further along the way we come upon Churchill House with its distinctive fire escape.
And original architectural signage.
Crossing the inner ring road to the sweeping canopy of the Hanley Bus Station Architects Grimshaw engineers Arup.
Wrapping a corner site, the canopy rises and falls to create a mutable form: appearing as a shimmering, contemporary shield to the south, and a welcoming timbered environment to the north with sweeping views to Victorian Hanley.
Tapered down at the ends to shelter waiting passengers from the prevailing wind, the roof extends beyond the station edge to connect with the neighbouring public plaza.
Sitting atop a Staffordshire blue brick plinth with a Carlow blue limestone concourse, the station adopts materials that are resonant in this area. Its gracefully sweeping canopy belies the challenging site constraints, which were carefully resolved to accommodate the difficult routing of buses, the creation of a safe, sheltered environment for passengers and drivers, and a sloping site underpinned by clay and coal.
Above the former bus station looms Blackburn House home to HMRC, an imposing brown brick behemoth.
Previously C&A currently Wilko – adorned with these enchanting Tiles.
This little-noticed panel is composed of six inch surface-textured tiles in a variety of muted tones, mainly greens, purples and blues, some with geometric reliefs. The mural is unusual because it is one of the few surviving installations produced by Malkin Tiles; at least one of the motifs is from their ‘Turinese’ range marketed during 1961-8 and designed by Leonard Gladstone King, Malkin’s art director.