Well of course we’ve all been here before, haven’t we?
Well I have – I even wrote all about it right here.
The tower was designed by the architects of the Ministry of Public Building and Works: the chief architects were Eric Bedford and G. R. Yeats. Typical for its time, the building is concrete clad in glass. The narrow cylindrical shape was chosen because of the requirements of the communications aerials: the building will shift no more than 25 centimetres in wind speeds of up to 95 mph. Initially, the first 16 floors were for technical equipment and power. Above that was a 35-metre section for the microwave aerials, and above that were six floors of suites, kitchens, technical equipment and finally a cantilevered steel lattice tower. To prevent heat build-up, the glass cladding was of a special tint. The construction cost was £2.5 million.
The tower was topped out on 15 July 1964, and officially opened by the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 8 October 1965. The main contractor was Peter Lind & Co Ltd.
But the boozer is now up and running serving cask ale to throngs of first class thirsty customers.
The Yorkshire Brewhouse 1904 ended mid week when we’re normally closed but we were asked to open for a group of very thirsty sailors. We moved on to Reet, another Yorkshire Brewhouse beer and thanks to the football that one has gone too. It’s back to the YBH Faithful Stout once again. I’d come quick and get it while you can.
Once two pubs the Hessle Road Inn was subsumed by the Alexandra. The area was once home to the city’s Jewish Community – the cemetery survives next door.
There are Star of David motifs incorporated into the windows, sympathetic to this local heritage.
Cycling back from Town, zig zagging between the A6 and Birchfields Road, I headed down Beresford Road and bumped into a behemoth.
A huge inter-war Whitbread boozer long since closed, now a retail food outlet and badged as the Buhran Centre, also trading as Burooj.
This change of use is far from uncommon, the demographics, socio-economic conditions and drinking habits which shape this and countless other pubs, have since shifted away from the lost world of this immense, roadhouse-style palace of fun.
No more outdoor or orders here – the supermarket now supplies the supplies for the self satisfied home drinker.
The sheer scale of the building guaranteed its demise, a three storey house with no more stories to tell.
Searching online for some clues as to its history there is but one mention, on the Pubs of Manchester:
This is my attempt, in some small way, to redress the balance, snapping what remains of this once top pub.
I found a typical inner Manchester suburban thoroughfare, a healthy mix of homes socially and privately owned, industry, independents shops, schools and such. Kids at play, passers-by passing by, captured in 1971 by the Council’s housing department photographers.
This was not a Golden Age – wasn’t the past much better, brighter, cheerier and cleaner reminiscence – simply a series of observations.
As with all things material and corporeal there was time when you simply didn’t exist.
1860 adjacent to Woodward Street and the Rochdale Canal, a simple agglomeration of loose limbed industrial buildings and such – yet to be christened Blank.
Unrelieved by decorative or other features; bare, empty, or plain a blank wall.
Showing a lack of comprehension or reaction – we were met by blank looks – synonyms: expressionless, empty, vacant, deadpan, wooden, stony, impassive, inanimate, vacuous, glazed, fixed, lifeless, uninterested, emotionless, unresponsive, inscrutable.
A space left to be filled in a document – leave blanks to type in the appropriate names – synonyms: space, gap, blank space, empty space.
A cartridge containing gunpowder but no bullet, used for training or as a signal.
Make (something) blank or empty – electronic countermeasures blanked out the radar signals.
Informal North American defeat (a sports team) without allowing them to score – Baltimore blanked Toronto in a 7–0 victory.
Though contradictorily I have found reference to a bankrupt foundry in the London Gazette 1857.
You appear again during the Manchester Blitz.
By 1960 you are on the map and the area is on the up and up.
Though I have to ask the question of the namers of streets – why so Blank, an off day at the office – we have whole blocks named for poets, painters, and far flung places, so why so Blank?
Hadn’t they heard of nominative determinism – born to be Blank.
This Municipal Modernist development seems to have been short-lived and subject to yet more demolition in the area, to be replaced by late 70’s terraced housing.
Blank Street inexplicably became Fulmer Drive.
Which in turn had been tinned up and demolished around 2008.
How did that happen – seemingly viable homes previously changing hands for £100,000 deemed surplus to requirements – land banking, ahead of an as yet unseen masterplan?
Your life was short and sharp – shaped by economic shifts, world war and the local authorities ephemeral housing policies. There is little evidence of your existence, photographic or otherwise, so I want to set the record straight – draw a blank.
Here you are as of July 2019 – tarmac intact, drains fully functioning, pavements paved, awaiting orders. A circuitous run of grassy ridges resembling the remains of some Roman or Iron Age fortification.
Why is there just one remaining tower block dancing unclad around Ancoats?
Let’s go back in time and see if we can find out – it seems that back in 1807 there wasn’t a Woodward Street to be found, the ever expanding industrial might of Manchester had not yet reached these particular green fields of Ancoats.
By 1824 it shows a fresh face to the world christened Woodworth Street, sparsely dotted with new development.
Almost fully formed in 1836 and renamed as Woodward Street, the area begins to accumulate the familiar domestic and industrial clutter of a burgeoning Victorian City.
By 1860 the street is fully formed and open for business.
Workers finding homes in austere and functional brick back to backs, typical of the period’s housing.
Fast forward to the early Sixties and the street is showing signs of age – the century old industries are already in decline, steady jobs, mills and factories gone west and east, well-worn housing looking terminally tired and in need of a little care and attention.
But wait what’s this coming around the bend?
The first wave of urban regeneration, post war optimism incarnate, a bright new shiny future – out with the old and in with the new, as Municipal Modernism stamps its big broad architectural feet all over Woodward Street.
Our story is far from over, this optimism is short-lived the homes, houses and industry are swept away yet again, replaced with two story modern terraced housing and an all too obvious absence of regular employment – yet the tower blocks prevailed.
Former streets were over written and remain as poignant vestigial marks in the landscape.
Though their future was built on more than somewhat shifting and uncertain sands.
A tower block has been left lying empty for a whopping 18 years. The 13-storey building at Saltford Court in Ancoats has been unoccupied since Manchester council closed it in the 1990s. It was bought by top developers Urban Splash six years ago but residents have now hit out about it still being empty. Neighbours of Saltford Court say it has become an ‘eyesore’ and magnet for vermin since the firm bought it.
A large group of blocks stood tinned up and unloved, yet owned, for a number of years, victims one supposes of land-bankers, developers speculating on an even better return, as the warm waves of gentrification washed slowly over them, from nearby New Islington.
All but one was refurbished, clad and re-let.
Woodward Court was spared – set aside for the homeless.
A period piece surrounded by Post Modern and Revivalist pretenders.