Well not a great deal, it’s 1772 and the Gardens and Plaza, are as yet undreamt of – the area was occupied by water-filled clay pits called the Daub Holes, eventually the pits were replaced by a fine ornamental pond.
In 1755 the Infirmary was built here; on what was then called Lever’s Row, in 1763 the Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum was added.
There were grander unrealised plans.
Including an aerial asylum.
The Manchester Royal Infirmary moved to its current site on Oxford Road in 1908. The hospital buildings were completely demolished by April 1910 apart from the outpatient department, which continued to deal with minor injuries and dispense medication until the 1930s.
After several years in which the Manchester Corporation tried to decide how to develop the site, it was left and made into the largest open green space in the city centre. The Manchester Public Free Library Reference Department was housed on the site for a number of years before the move to Manchester Central Library.
The sunken garden was a remnant of the hospital’s basement.
Towering cranes tower over the town, deep holes are dug with both skill and alacrity.
A Plaza begins to take shape, take a look.
All we need now are tenants.
Piccadilly Plaza now contains the renovated Mercure Hotel it was formerly known as the Ramada Manchester Piccadilly and Jarvis Piccadilly Hotel; the refurbishment was completed in 2008.
The retail units famously contained Brentford Nylons.
The company was eventually sold at a knock-down price and the new owner did not think the name worth having.
The noisy upstairs neighbours were Piccadilly Radio.
The first broadcast was at 5am on April 2nd 1974, it was undertaken by Roger Day, with his first words to the Manchester audience: “It gives me great pleasure for the very first time to say a good Tuesday morning to you… Hit music for the North West…we are Piccadilly Radio” before spinning Good Vibrations.
It was the first commercial radio station to broadcast in the city, and went on to launch the careers of a host of star DJs, the likes of Gary Davies, Chris Evans, Andy Peebles, Timmy Mallett, Mike Sweeney, Pete Mitchell, James Stannage, Steve Penk and James H Reeve.
Waiting for a mate who worked at Piccadilly Radio we ventured down the stairs next door to get a drink and because of our clothes/leather jackets we were chucked back up the steps. We should of stood our ground like one of my mates who was told he could stay if he turned his jacket inside out, thinking he wouldnt do it, but he did and had a drink with his red quilted lining on the outside.
“Food served at the table within ten minutes of ordering and with atomic age efficiency. No cutlery needed or given. Drinks served in a bottle with a straw. Condiments in pre-packaged single serving packets.”
In addition to familiar Wimpy burgers and milkshakes, the British franchise had served ham or sardine rolls called torpedoes and a cold frankfurter with pickled cucumber sandwiches called Freddies.
Even on the greyest days the Plaza was a beacon of Modernity.
Though sadly we eventually lost Bernard House.
However, City Tower still prevails as a mixed use office block, adorned east and west with big bold William Mitchell panels.
Which were to be illuminated by ever changing images, produced by photo electric cells – sadly unrealised.
So goodbye Piccadilly – farewell Leicester Square? – it’s a long, long way to the future, and we’re barely half way there.
While we’re in the vicinity take a quick trip up and down the car park ramp.
Notably the entrance to the Hotel Piccadilly was on the first floor, accessed by non-existent highways in the sky – sweet dreams.
Legend has it, that the ramp was the location for an unlikely encounter between architect Louis Kahn and top pop combo The Commodores.
The reception drop off was at first floor level and was accessed from street level by a helical ramp. My father’s dilapidated Renault 4 van gave up just near the top. Extremely embarrassed, my father asked Kahn to move over to the driver’s seat and steer, whilst he attempted to push the van the rest of the way. As he began to push a people carrier pulled up behind and out stepped a group of men who began to help. Soon the van was outside the reception and my father and Kahn thanked the men.
The young female receptionist was very excited: ‘Do you know who just pushed your car up the ramp? The Commodores!’
We begin at the beginning of the end – fields full of fields
Dotted with farm buildings – then, along comes an Aerodrome.
A serious problem arose in 1924 when Avro was notified that the current airfield used by the company at Alexandra Park would be closing. After a hurried search to find an alternative location, Avro settled on New Hall Farm at Woodford and completed the move later that year.
In 1999, Woodford became part of BAE Systems as a result of the merging of British Aerospace with Marconi Electronic Systems. Plans to build the Avro RJX airliner at Woodford were shelved in 2001 which left production of the Nimrod MRA4 as the only active project at the site. Woodford Aerodrome finally closed in 2011 when the Nimrod MRA4 project was cancelled, ending almost 80 years of almost continual aircraft manufacture at the site.
Redrow has started construction on the first phase of 950 homes at the 500-acre former Woodford Aerodrome site near Stockport, nearly two years after planning consent was granted.
Preparatory works are underway and sales of the houses are expected to launch in June with the opening of show homes on the site.
The redevelopment of the 500-acre site, which is being brought forward by a joint venture between Harrow Estates, part of Redrow, and Avro Heritage, will also feature a primary school, employment area, pub, shops, community facilities, and areas of open and recreational space.
However, the architectural style owes more to Baron Hardup, than Flash Gordon.
The Tudor-Bethan style of Metro-Land, that oh so very, very English pantomime tradition of the village green, merry boys and girls dancing around Maypoles clutching wicker baskets, full of plastic daffodils.
For every raw obscenity Must have its small ‘amenity,’ Its patch of shaven green, And hoardings look a wonder In banks of floribunda With floodlights in between.
This is progress realised as regression, a pastiche of a pastiche, of a pastiche, of a pastiche.
Finding some small comfort in the imitation game, hurtling along radial roads, encased in the biggest, live now pay later motors, which borrowed money can buy.
Seeking succour in the certainty of an illusory past, whilst peering through the nets and blinds, at a seriously uncertain future.
You’re as pretty as a picture, a picture torn from a yellowing scrapbook, scanned and enhanced, to remove any unseemly rough edges and/or ruffians.
This was tomorrow calling, wishing you weren’t here.
Work is still underway and the surrounding landscape feels raw, windswept and wounded.
All of the plots on this phase are now reserved, but don’t miss out on the available homes on our other phases!
Just minutes from Wilmslow, Poynton and Bramhall, and within easy reach of Manchester for both work and leisure, Woodford is perfectly placed to offer the best of both the thriving city and the glorious Cheshire countryside. This makes it the perfect location for our high-quality Heritage Collection homes, which combine the very best of classic Arts & Crafts architecture with modern, family friendly interiors of the very highest specification.
This time as an interchange, where bus, tram and train converge – the most modern of modern ideas.
The brand-new Ashton-under-Lyne Interchange is now open, providing passengers with much-improved facilities and a modern, accessible gateway to the town.
The Interchange supports the economic growth of the town and helps people to get to and from their places of work as well as Ashton’s great shops, markets, restaurants and bars in a modern, safe and welcoming environment.
The Interchange has been developed by Transport for Greater Manchester in partnership with Tameside Council and funded with support from central government’s Local Growth Deal programme.
The building contractor was VINCI Construction UK.
In my memory of days long gone by, I call to mind the stops strewn around St Michael’s Square – all points east I assume, Stalybridge, Mossley, Micklehurst, Dukinfield, Glossop and beyond.
Prior to 1963, Ashton-under-Lyne’s buses and trolleybuses stopped at a variety of termini throughout the town centre. Manchester Corporation services called at Bow Street and Old Square, by Yates’ Wine Lodge; Ashton-under-Lyne Corporation’s buses opted for Market Street and Wellington Road by the town hall.
Ashton zooms forward into the future, its flat-roofed modern facilities complemented by ranks of low-level shelters and edged to the east by a walled lawn and flower bed – where we all loved to sit of a sunny day.
And the under the cover of the canopy at night, ready for the time of your life, at the Birdcage, pub or pictures.
I remember the kiosk on the corner, a jewellers around the other corner.
I’ll meet you under the clock.
Photo: Ron Stubley
Here we see that the original shelters have been replaced and realigned.
Temporary Queensbury shelters were put in place prior to the addition of GMPTE’s standard shelters, seen in Stockport and Oldham bus stations. By the close of 1983, the recognisable GMPTE ones emerged. The cover at the precinct end was later glazed and became stands A to C.
The second version of Ashton-under-Lyne’s bus station opened on the 18 March 1985. After two and a half years refurbishment work, it was opened at 11.30 by Councillor Geoffrey Brierley.
And that’s the corner where we would deck off the open backed buses, hitting the pavement at speed.
That’s the deep blue and cream Ashton livery later superseded by SELNEC, GMPTE and TFGM – the wonderful full fare, unfair world of Margaret Hilda Thatcher’s privatisation, Arriva, First and Stagecoach first.
Then in the 1995 with the development of the Arcades Shopping centre, the whole site is reconfigured, now seen nestling in the shadow of the Dustbin.
Though as we know, nothing lasts forever and the shelters, passengers and buses get shunted and rebuilt yet again,
Above the current market office is an impressive painted mural by art students from Dresden commissioned especially for the market in the 1950s in a Socialist Realist manner, depicting farming and industrial scenes.
The Gordon Cullen tiles have been renovated and re-sited within the exit corridor.
Still in clear view the stone relief work of John Skelton November 1956. Three of the eight column have incised Hornston stone works, depicting the activities of the CWS.
Get yourself there pronto – current restrictions considered of course.
Walking the stairwells, ramps and interlocking tiers, the curious pedestrian becomes aware of the ambition and complexity of the scheme. Often identified on local social media groups as an anachronistic eyesore, I feel that it is a thing of rare and precious beauty.
Knock most of the precinct down, free the river, but keep this wall and what is within.
Some are slaughtering imaginary white elephants, whilst others are riding white swans.
Currently under the ownership of Stockport Borough Council, changes are afoot.
Work to redevelop Adlington Walk in Stockport starts this week, as the first stage in the regeneration of the 55-year-old Merseyway shopping centre.
As of today work is still in Covid induced abeyance, it is still possible to walk the old revamped Adlington Walk. The future of retail in particular and town centres in general is in the balance, the best of the past and the finest of the new should be the watchword.
The future shopper is looking for more than just a simple buying transaction, they want an experience, entertainment and excitement.
This is where Merseyway Shopping Centre’s future lies.
CBRE Group Inc. is an American commercial real estate services and investment firm. The abbreviation CBRE stands for Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis. It is the largest commercial real estate services company in the world.
Their net worth as of January 28th 2021 is $21.18 Billion.
It is to be hoped that these dreams of entertainment and excitement, may be realised in the not too distant future.
In the meanest of mean times, in the mean time let’s have a look around.
The future moocher is looking for more than just a simple buying transaction, they want an experience, entertainment and excitement.
One of the great glories of cinema is that it has the power to take the mundane and make it magical. To most of us, car parks signify a world of pain, where fearsome red-and-white crash barriers dictate our fate and where finding a space is often like finding meaning in the collective works of Martin Lawrence. To others, they meant lost Saturday afternoons spent waiting for your mum to finally come out of Woolworths so you could rush home to catch Terrahawks.
Either way, car parks are grey and dull. In the movies, however, they are fantastic places, filled with high-level espionage, and high-octane chases.
I beg to differ, the cinema and TV has helped to define our perception and misconception of the car park.
The modern day pedestrian may reclaim, redefine and realise, that far from mundane each actual exemplar is different, in so many ways. The time of day, weather, light, usage, abusage, condition, personal demeanour and mood all shape our experience of this particular, modern urban space.
To walk the wide open spaces of the upper tier, almost touching the sky.
Is a far cry from the constrained space of the lower levels.
To walk the ramps with a degree of trepidation, visceral and fun.
This is an inversion of the car-centric culture, walking the concrete kingdom with a carbon-free footprint.
I was inspired by a recent viewing of All The Presidents Men to revisit my local multi-storey on Heaton Lane Stockport.
Cinematographer Gordon Hugh Willis Jr constructs a shadow world where informer and informed meet to exchange deep secrets, ever watchful, moving in and out of artificial light, tense and alert.
Look over your shoulder- there’s nobody there, and they’re watching you.
But they have been here.
Pay here, your time is time limited, your presence measured.
Let’s explore this demimonde together, wet underfoot, lit laterally by limited daylight, walking through the interspersed pools of glacial artificial glow.
Time’s up, check out and move on – tomorrow is another day, another car park; in a different town.
Cinema and car parks wedded forever in the collective popular cultural unconscious.
The BT Hunters – They came in search of paradise and found BT.
Many thanks to my partner in victimless crime – Mr Ryan Lloyd.
This is an atypical single storey building, with a raised central hall and butterfly roof, quite something.
Lots of utilitarian detail, mixing brick, glass and concrete, with pragmatic infrastructure grills and grids.
The upper glazed area an extended asymmetric, external delight.
To set the pulse racing a series of gorgeous Rose Carmine panels.
The angular porch displayed the BT Logo of 1991:
On 2 April 1991, the company unveiled a new trading name: BT accompanied by a new corporate identity designed by Wolff Olins and organisational structure focused on specific market sectors, reflecting the needs of different customers – the individual, the small business or the multinational corporation. The reorganisation was named ‘Project Sovereign’ to reflect the company’s commitment to meetings customers’ needs – ‘The Customer Is King’. Together with a succession of strategic alliances with telecommunications companies worldwide, these changes gave BT the ability to expand overseas.
Which prompted a brief yet uninformed discussion concerning the history of Telecom’s Corporate Identity.
So here’s a brief rundown logo lovers:
Previously the GPO was the umbrella grouping for both telephone and mail.
Sketch for the redesign of the GPO logo by MacDonald Gill in 1934 . The first approved version had two concentric circles but this was soon reduced to one. The annotations also mentions the typeface used as “Gill Sans” which had been created by MacDonald Gills’ brother Eric.
On my previous visit I was in fact apprehended by a uniformed officer, perturbed by my super-snappy happy behaviour. Following a protracted discussion, I convinced the eager young boy in blue, that my intentions were entirely honourable.
Themed bar and event restaurant concept with roller coaster service, hourly special effects shows and exploration tours.
The £300m Blackpool Central development will bring world-class visitor attractions to a landmark site on the famous Golden Mile. Along with new hotels, restaurants, food market, event square, residential apartments and multi-storey parking.
Chariots of the Gods inspires the masterplan for the long-awaited redevelopment. It’s the global publishing phenomenon, written by Swiss author Erich Von Däniken. Exploring alien encounters and unsolved mysteries of ancient civilisations.
Chariots Of The Gods will be the main theme for Blackpool Central. Including the anchor attraction – the UK’s first flying theatre.
A fully-immersive thrill ride that will create the incredible sensation of human flight.
Time it seems changes everything, stranger than fiction.
The Bonny Street Beast’s days are numbered – your local Brutalist pal is no more, wither Wilko’s?
Your piazza planters are waterlogged.
Your lower portals tinned up.
Your curious sculptural infrastructure sunken garden neglected and forlorn.
Your low lying out-rigger stares blankly yet ominously into space.
Likewise your tinted windows.
Your subterranean car park access aromatic and alienating.
So farewell old pal, who knows what fate awaits you, I only know you must be strong.
Not until we have taken a look into the future shall we be strong and bold enough to investigate our past honestly and impartially.
How often the pillars of our wisdom have crumbled into dust!
It’s remarkable – here are my photographs from February 2020.
I advise you to get along and take a look, just as soon as humanly possible.
Recently John Mann was granted permission to snap the deserted interior.
The ghostly gasps of the exercising public exorcised forever.
Eileen Ayres, who has worked at Richard Dunns from before it even opened to the public said:
When I came here this place was super, super modern – state of the art. Now we’re moving to Sedbergh it is great to be in a state of the art facility again. The younger staff are so excited about the move to a new, modern sports centre.
I have a lot of memories of here, a lot of staff I’ve met and become friends with over the years. We’ve had a lot of events here, international events that have taken place here over the years. When Richard Dunn was new a lot of people wanted to hold these events here. Now we have a new leisure centre I hope some of these events come back to Bradford.
I started at 23, I said I was just coming for a year. Here we are 41 years later.
When asked if she thinks it is right to be closing down Richard Dunn she said:
In my heart no, but realistically it has to go. It is run down – it would be way too expensive to run or refurbish. You can’t keep putting money into old things.
It is bounded by the former Burton’s store, the long gone BHS now home to Poundland, a later extension to the precinct and a Nineteenth century building. Illustrating the mongrel nature of many English towns, the result of world wars, speculative development and town planning.
It’s a self contained world of loading, unloading unloved and overused.
Home to the pirate parker, carelessly avoiding the imposition of the municipal surcharges.
Shops and goods come and go part of the merry retail gavotte.
The trams once clang, clang, clanged along and the Picture House opened 2nd June 1913, later The Palladium, finally closing in 1956 – now occupied by a huge Charity Shop – Highway Hope.
The Merseyway construction is a modern amalgam of mosaic, brick and cast concrete.
The older brick building now almost rendered and coated in off white exterior emulsion.
There are signs of life and former lives.
This is a nether world that never really was a world at all.
The place where the sun almost doesn’t shine.
And the blue sky seems like an unwelcome intrusion.
So as the retail sector contracts and the virus remains viral – wither Serveway Five?
The Council purchased the development at no cost to taxpayers via the current income stream. The rationale for purchase was to create a sustainable future for the centre via a series of targeted redevelopments. Key aspirations for the centre will be to fully integrate it into the town centre. We also want it to complement our exciting ownerships such as Debenhams, Redrock and Market Place and Underbanks.
The investment will seek to change perceptions of not only the retail offer but also Stockport as a whole. It will ultimately create a town centre that will benefit the local business community and Stockport residents.
The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.
Italo Calvino – Invisible Cities
Paul Dobraszczyk posted this Shirley Baker photograph, he was puzzled by its exact location, it puzzled me too.
For nearly all that is depicted here, is now no longer extant, save one hopes, for the group of playmates.
All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
Shirley Baker was a renowned documentary photographer, who worked extensively in Greater Manchester.
I love the immediacy of unposed, spontaneous photographs and the ability of the camera to capture the serious, the funny, the sublime and the ridiculous. Despite the many wonderful pictures of the great and famous, I feel that less formal, quotidian images can often convey more of the life and spirit of the time.
I am grateful to Stephen Bann who has identified the monument as the Bann Family vault:
Stephen Bann and his younger brother – many thanks for the text and photograph Stephen.
We had people from all parts of the country turn up on our final day,some of them brought their children who wanted to come because they remember the pub so fondly from their childhood. It was really humbling to see that our pub had touched so many lives.
I remember this pub as a Boddingtons house in the 1970’s. Excellent bitter served by handpump from small vault at the front and a larger “best room” behind, both very narrow given the width of the pub. The landlord employed an unusual method of ensuring everyone got a full pint; a half pint glass of beer was kept between the pumps and your pint was topped up from the half which was constantly replenished to keep it fresh. I have not seen this practice in any other pub.
When’s the next tram due?
Millgate Power Station operated until 1976.
At the adjacent gas works – gas holder number three was dismantled in 1988, gas holders one and two were removed in 2019.
The nature of infrastructure, housing and industry has changed radically.
Lancashire Hill flats were built in the 60s, designed by City Architect JS Rank, two seven storey blocks containing 150 dwellings; two six storey blocks containing 120 dwellings.
Replacing tight rows of terraced housing.
They themselves clad and revamped.
The Nicholson’s Arms built to serve the flats closed and currently empty, signs say to let – replaced an earlier pub, sited on the corner of long gone Nicholson Street.
Today from the road there’s simply no trace of the site’s past purpose.
At the centre of what is now a compact civic grassed area – a trough.
Incongruously in memory of Elizabeth Hyde of Tufnell Park Road London.
The dense stand of trees is impenetrable – no longer a view of the non existent power station and beyond.
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.
As a footnote I did meet brothers Stephen, Derek and Peter who appeared in this Shirley Baker photograph 55 years ago – she promised them an ice cream each – they never ever received an ice cream.
They are seen in Sunnyside Street Ordsall – long since demolished.
A social history of Wythenshawe and its Civic Centre can be found here at Archives +.
A general history of the garden city’s development can be found here at Municipal Dreams.
Lest we forget, the story begins with a level of overcrowding and human misery that is – thankfully – almost unimaginable in Britain today. In 1935, Manchester’s Medical Officer of Health condemned 30,000 (of a total of 80,000) inner-city homes as unfit for human habitation; 7000 families were living in single rooms.
The estate was always considered to be, in some sense, the realisation of an ambitious vision.
The world of the future – a world where men and women workers shall be decently housed and served, where the health and safety of little children are of paramount importance, and where work and leisure may be enjoyed to the full.
Cooperative Women’s Guild
Work began in the interwar years, and continued following the hiatus of 1939-45. The shopping centre named the Civic Centre was open in 1963, the actual Civic Centre containing a swimming pool, theatre, public hall and library in 1971.
A triumph for Municipal Modernism conceived by the City Architects and realised by Direct Works. This post war development owed more to the spirit of Festival of Britain optimism, new construction methods and materials, rather than the grandiose functionalist classicism of the original scheme.
The Co-operative Superstore was a key element in the provision of provisions.
There still is – The Forum is a bright and modern hub for co-located services used by community and business.
The original Forum opened in 1971. One of Manchester’s largest public buildings, it had a leisure centre, library, theatre, main hall and meeting rooms. By the mid 1990’s it was under used, had deteriorated internally and externally and needed substantial investment.
The new Forum, along with a new police sub-divisional headquarters and improved transport link was designed to help strengthen the town centre, and provide a landmark project to raise Wythenshawe’s profile within Manchester and beyond.
In the 1980’s they put on a superb array of shows including Roll on 4 O’Clock which starred John Jardine, Jack Smethurst and Glynn Owen. Oh What a lovely War; What the Butler Saw and Habeas Corpus by Alan Bennett. Bury’s own Victoria Wood starred in Talent which she wrote. Another Manchester icon Frank Foo Foo Lammar, famous as the top drag queen of the North-West whose club was re-known for its great party nights appeared in The Rocky horror Show.
A land of elegant covered walkways and raised beds.
I first came here some twenty years ago or so and on each subsequent visit little seems to change.
The exterior signage and fascia remain intact.
The orange light shades are still hanging limp and bright from the suspended ceiling.
The furniture and scarlet carpet unmoved, as the cheery waiting staff weave merrily in, out and round about with meals and drinks.
The distinctive white relief sits in the same place on the wall.
Almost inevitably I order a mug of tea.
Along with a plate of eggs chips and peas.
Eat and drink the lot and leave happy and contented – who can resist a well run, well appointed classic café?
A well-known and respected figure in the Bradford business world, Mr Paul Georgiou ran Fountains Coffee House in John Street for just shy of 50 years alongside his wife Mary, and has run cafés and other businesses in the city for almost six decades.
Other ventures created by Mr Georgiou include the Hole in the Wall nightclub, which was one of the first underground nightclubs in the city centre.It hosted acts including Sir Tom Jones and rockers Thin Lizzy as they rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970.
Sadly he passed away in 2019.
His main business Fountains Coffee House is now managed by his son Michael, but when it opened it was one of the first businesses to open in the John Street Market, as the Oastler centre was known then.