Once widely admired, Ian Nairn esteemed architectural writer, thought it an exemplary exposition of modern integrated shopping and parking, sitting perfectly in its particular topography – way back in 1972.
This German magazine dedicated several pages to coverage of Merseyway back in 1971.
Note the long lost decorative panels of Adlington Walk.
Many thanks to Sean Madner for these archive images.
Mainstream Modern has recorded its conception and inception, as part of a wider appreciation of Greater Manchester’s architecture.
The architects were Bernard Engle and Partners in conjunction with officers of Stockport Corporation and the centre opened in 1965. The separation of pedestrians and cars, the service areas, the multi level street, the city block that negotiates difficult topography to its advantage, are all planning moves that are of the new, ordered and systemised, second wave modernism in the UK. The aggregate of the highways engineering, the urban planning and the shifting demands of retailers frequently arrived at a form and order such as this. In this way Merseyway is unremarkable, it’s like many other centres in many other towns – consider the rooftop landscape of Blackburn. It is, however, typical and has been typically added to and adjusted during its life and presents perhaps the face of the last retail metamorphosis before the out-of-town really made the grade.
Each successive remaking and remodelling has seriously compromised the integrity of the development. We are left with dog’s dinner of poorly realised Post Modern and Hi-Tech additions, along with a failure to maintain the best of the original scheme.
This time of year, with limited light and an inclement climate, it’s far easier to travel by picture postcard. Researching and searching eBay to bring you the finest four colour repro pictures of our retail realm.
The railway station was built in 1849 replacing a temporary structure constructed a year earlier. It was rebuilt in its present form in 1933 and has had several slight modifications since that date, most notably in 2006, when the new interchange and connection to Frenchgate Centre opened.
The front elevation is realised in a typical inter-war brick functionalist style.
Of particular note are the lobby lighting fixtures and clock, the booking hall and offices are listed Grade II.
There are plans to redevelop the station approach replacing the current car parking with a pedestrianised piazza.
The High Street boast a former branch of Burton’s with its logo intact.
An intriguing Art Deco shop frontage – combining a menswear outlet with a pub.
Further along an enormous Danum Co-operative Store in the grandest Deco manner – 1938-40. Designed by T H Johnson & Son for the Doncaster Co-operative Society Ltd.
Currently partially occupied with no access to the glass stairways.
Following the development of the Frenchgate Centre the Waterdale Centre sunk into a slow decline.
And the Staff of Life has lost a little of its estate pub period charm, following successive typographic makeovers and paint jobs.
From 1949 onwards plans were afoot to develop the Waterdale area of Doncaster – civic buildings, courts, educational provision and the like, WH Price the Borough Surveyor at the helm. In 1955 Frederick Gibberd was appointed to oversee the site, though many of his designs were unrealised, his Police Station and Law Courts opened in 1969.
Way back when, when the city was a maverick mixed up maze of citizens, industry, pubs, shops and places of worship the world looked a lot like this.
However the process of clearance and redevelopment radically changed and reduced the population and appearance of Great Ancoats Street and its environs.
The back to backs aren’t coming back and their occupants shifted from pillar to post along with the businesses that served them. Following years of decline Manchester takes a long hard look at itself and decides to modernise.
In 1989 an out of town inner ring road shopping centre in the architectural style de jour is built – the anonymous industrial retail hangar appears.
2018 and the nexus of the city has shifted yet again – Ancoats is designated as the hippest place on earth and has no time for an outmoded shopping experience.
All these developers have a certain sensitivity towards this history of the area without neglecting modern tastes.
So the Central Retail park awaits its fate.
There was to have been another retail complex.
Henderson Global Investors, on behalf of its flagships £1 billion Retail Warehouse Fund, has received detailed planning permission for a food store led regeneration at Central Retail Park, Manchester, investing £40 million in the scheme.
Though nothing lasts forever and the scheme came to nothing.
The latest proposal according to Place North West is for housing – with the attendant heated debate regarding affordable homes.
Of the 61 big residential developments granted planning permission by Manchester city council’s planning committee in 2016 and 2017, not one of the 14,667 planned flats or housesmet the government’s definition of affordable, being neither for social rent nor offered at 80% of the market rate.
Demolition of the former retail units would enable the development of the site by Manchester Life, the city’s joint venture with Abu Dhabi United Group. Previous site owner TH Real Estate, was unable to deliver the project, finally sold the Central Park site to the city council in November 2017.
The long awaited development of the site on Manchester’s inner ring road has edged closer, with site notices posted declaring that demolition is to start on 20 August.
As of last week the lone security guard at home in his brick cabin informs me that demolition has been delayed by the discovery of asbestos on the site.
I was lured here, siren like, by an un-purchased eBay postcard – which precipitated a virtual four colour process printed journey around the shopping precincts of the UK.
It only seemed appropriate to finally arrive at MK Central in real life, by train from Stockport – walking at last wide-eyed and expectant, along the whole length and width of Midsummer Boulevard to centre:mk
The Milton Keynes Development Corporation began work on the Shopping Building in 1973. It was to be the largest building of Central Milton Keynes. It had a total length of over one kilometre and a maximum width of one hundred and sixteen metres . It was built at the highest point in the New City. The architects were Derek Walker, Stuart Mosscrop, and Christopher Woodward, who had been significant architects at the MK Development Corporation; and the engineers were Felix Samuely and Partners. The shopping area was opened on 25th September 1979 by Margaret Thatcher. The building’s sleek envelope accommodated one hundred and thirty shops and six department stores, arranged along two parallel day-lit arcades, each eight hundred meters long and planted with sub-tropical and temperate trees.
A big bad Miesian box of glass and steel that goes on forever and forever.
At the very far end of forever is the John Lewis store, to the right of the entrance there are a series of tiled panels – these are possibly the work of Lucienne and Robin Day
Way back when, when brown was the new brown, brown still is the new brown.
Fresh and crisp and even.
Bobbing up and down precipitously on low marble walls, from amongst the sub-tropical and temperate trees, I bring you these thirteen tiled panels.
Working so close up and personal at altitude, photographing such large pieces in confined spaces, it’s not until you arrive home that you discover that together they spell: