Sea Front Shelter – Hastings

I have been here before, adoring the full range of Hasting’s sea front shelters.

They form an integral part of the general scheme designed and overseen by The Concrete King Sidney Little.

On my most recent visit the most distant shelter was receiving a wash and brush up, a brand new coat of paint or two, restored to bright red and white shipshape order, this land locked delight looked ready to set sail across the adjacent Channel to who knows where.

Offering a somewhat occluded view of blue skies and faraway shores, the bus stops here and goes on forever and forever.

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London Road aka Piccadilly Station – Manchester

The station was originally built as Store Street Station by the Manchester and Birmingham Railway in 1842, before being renamed London Road Station in 1847.  It was shared by the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne & Manchester Railway and it has been rebuilt and added to a number of times, with two news spans added to the train shed roof in 1881 and island platforms added linking to Manchester Oxford Road in 1882 (replacing two old Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway platforms which were built next to the station).

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An imposing classical façade with a substantial cast iron and glass train shed, the approach sloping up to the frontage, as of necessity the line entered the city on a raised trackbed.

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Initially the approach was lined with railway warehousing, subsequently demolished to make way for the redevelopments of the 1960s.

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Detailed plans are made to reshape the station concourse and entrance.

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Dreams are turned into reality, as near as makes no difference.

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The newly electrified lines opening up the city to a world of high speed intercity travel.

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The Krays it seems were deemed to be unwelcome visitors, everyone else came and went, met with equanimity and a bright new modernist vista.

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The brand new shiny buffet replaces the archaic dining rooms, as Brylcreemed, bow tied and moustachioed waiters are consigned to the scrapheap of history.

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Likewise the gloomy destination boards – out with the old!

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And in with the new.

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We have a fully integrated modern interior to deal with the modern passengers’ every need – including crystal clear signage, seating and bins.

Stars of screen and stage are guided through with consummate ease, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev (in his brand new baby seal skin coat) arrive in 1968 to dance Swan Lake at the Palace.

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Esteemed footballer Eusebio on his travels during the 1966 World Cup.

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In 1969 Gateway House arrives, Richard Sieffert & Partners wavy hello and goodbye to  Manchester’s premier railway station.

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Piccadilly has now seen several revamps, the concourse an exercise in contemporary cluttered retail/airport chic, a 125mph Pendolino journey away from the carefully considered internal order of yesteryear.

Who knows what the future holds?

HS2 to name but one – sit back let the train take the strain.

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Tiviot Dale to Norris Bank – Stockport

This is a journey I made as a BR Guide Bridge goods guard in the late 1970s, often with driver Eric Clough, into the George’s Road scrap yard. It was also at one time the Cheshire Lines passenger route out of Stockport Tiviot Dale Station to Liverpool, Southport, St Pancras and beyond.

This is a journey I made on foot through bramble, puddle and scrub on a now disused line, cheek by jowl with a motorway and the passing crowd, blissfully unaware of its existence.

 

 

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Rhyl to Wallasey Hovercoach

After Telstar, Rhyl’s residents and visitors have this week been privileged to see another miracle of scientific progress – the Vickers-Armstrong VA-3, which arrived on Sunday to prepare for the first scheduled passenger carrying hovercoach service in the world. 

Strange but true!

It says so here.

The world’s first commercial passenger hovercraft service ran briefly from Rhyl to Moreton beach in 1962, but ended when a storm hit the passenger hovercraft while it was moored, damaging its lifting engines.

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I’m fascinated by hovercrafts, they were for a while the future that we seemed to have been promised, a future that had consistently failed to arrive.

Until even they failed to arrive, or depart for that matter.

I do have a love of doomed hovercraft services – I’ve been to Pegwell Bay.

Youngest passenger was 21 months old Martin Jones, 128, Marsh Road, who travelled with his mother, Mrs Millie Jones, an usherette at the Odeon Cinema: his grandmother Mrs Jean Morris, and Mrs Morris’s 14 year old son, Tony, a pupil of Glyndwr County Secondary School, the first schoolboy to travel on the hovercraft.  Mr Tony Ward of 13, Aquarium street, a popular figure as accordionist on one of the local pleasure boats a few seasons ago, and his 20 year old daughter Rosemary, cashier at the Odeon, who were among the first to book seats at the North Wales Travel Agency, were also among the passengers.

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Mrs Handley was the manageress of the Sports Cafe and got to know all the crew as they had all their meals there, even a farewell party with a cake in the form of a hovercraft.

The Queen and Prince Philip had received an invitation to undertake the trip, but declined perhaps just as well, for on what proved to be the final journey the hovercraft left Wallasey at 1.15 p.m. on September 14th and both engines failed en route.

There has been talk of reviving the service, a service that sadly seems so far to have defied revival.

“It really will be a feather in our cap for Rhyl.”

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Coventry – Railway Station

Steven Parissien, director of Compton Verney Museum in Warwickshire, says:

“Coventry is a great station. Its predecessor was pummelled to bits but it really wasn’t particularly marvellous anyway.

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“The new station really came into its own. Built in the same month as the cathedral, in a way it was just as emblematic as the cathedral, though not quite so famous.

“It’s a light and airy place with a nice design. You do come out and have the ring road right in front of you which pedestrians have to guess where to go but that’s not really the fault of the station developers.”

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The original station was built in 1838 as part of the London and Birmingham Railway and could be entered from Warwick Road, where two flights of stairs took the passengers down to the platform. Within two years it had been replaced, with a new larger station, a few hundred feet nearer to Rugby, this time, accessed via Eaton road. In the late 19th century the Coventry tram network extended to the station at Eaton Road. The original station remained in service as the station masters offices, until the station was redeveloped in the early 1960s by the London Midland Region of British Railways.

Sent to Coventry, under an imperative to explore the post-war redevelopment of a great city, I arrived by train, more than somewhat unsurprisingly at the station.

A fine building of 1962 light and airy, warm wooden ceilings, gently interlocking aluminium, glass and steel volumes, original signage and a lively feeling of calm controlled hustle and bustle.

The ideal way to start the day – take a look.

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Bus Station – Huddersfield

Huddersfield bus station serves the town of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England.

Which seems both serendipitous and heartwarmingly convenient.

The bus station was opened on Sunday 1 December 1974 and is owned and managed by Metro. It is now the busiest bus station in West Yorkshire. The bus station is situated in Huddersfield town centre, underneath the Multi-storey car park. It is bordered by the Ring Road – Castlegate A62 and can be accessed from High Street, Upperhead Row and Henry Street.

There are 25 pick-up and three alighting only stands at the bus station.

Forever in the shadow of its Red Rose almost neighbour in Preston.

Some forty five miles and a fifteen and a half hour walk to the west.

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Yet still a thing of beauty and a joy forever  – given the recent repairs to the membrane covering of its multi-storey car park.

On the day of my visit it was clean, compact, cheerfully bustling and well used, passengers busy going about their business, of busily going about their business of going.

Light classics played soothingly upon the Tannoy, punters popped in and out of Ladbrokes, the kiosk plied its trade, the café was full and an air of calm, clear functionality reigned.

I walked quietly away.

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Stockport – Grand Central

From coal drops to tear drops.

By Grand Central/Station I sat down and wept.

There’ll be no tear drops tonight.

The site was at the heart of industrial Stockport for a hundred and fifty years.

Goods in goods out, day in day out.

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A town and time driven by coal and steam, as a first date with Stockport it was never a love at first sight site, two narrow cobbled access roads, lined with tall blue engineers’ brick walls, arching towards two narrow entrances.

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This along with the rest of the area, was a working area, hanging on to the edge of the Mersey Valley, housing and industry cheek by jowl, in one grimy fug.

Time changes everything, by 1990 the site had been cleared and work commenced on a brand new shiny retail, leisure and entertainment complex. The nation had shifted wholesale from manufacturing to carousing.

The clatter of clogs replaced by the squeak of Adidas.

The white hot heat of technology fires Heaven and Hell.

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A club, swimming pool, bars, quasar quest, bowling alley, shops and cinema. Open public, private spaces leading from the A6 to the station approach. Concrete paving, brick, steel and glass construction, in a dulling whirlwind of sub-postmodern, cost benefit analysis, mirthless architectural, fun and frolics.

 

Nothing lasts forever, gradually the fun grinds to a halt, the alluring shimmer of boob tubes and hot pants, quickly fades into a dimly remembered, future passed.

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There are more things in Heaven and Hell, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Grand Central Stockport was owned by Norwich-based private property company Targetfollow, who acquired the complex for £10.8m in 2004. In January 2011, after lack of progress on the development scheme, Stockport Council purchased the complex. In December 2011, Stockport Council announced that Muse Developments, the urban regeneration division of construction group Morgan Sindall had been selected as the preferred developer with a report to be presented to the council the following week. The revamped regeneration plans include an office quarter for the town centre, a hotel, public space outside the railway station. In addition, the redevelopment would also include a multi-storey car park and to make the site into a more attractive gateway into the town centre. The new redevelopment plans are valued at approximately £145m.

So the merry dance continues, a brave new world for the bemused citizen to consume and be consumed by, a gateway to speculative development.

 

 

The reassuring golden arches await the intrepid voyager, the foundation stone of any civilised civil society, set in terracotta for ever and a day.

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The high vis, high rise, low expectation roller coaster, rolls on relentlessly.