While working for George Wimpey and Co. Ltd, and together with J E Tyrrell, Chief Architectural Assistant to Gosport Borough Council, Kenneth Barden was responsible for tiled murals on Seaward Tower and Harbour Tower, two sixteen-storey tower blocks built in 1963 on the Esplanade in Gosport.
They really are something they really are.
And so following a ride on the Gosport Ferry we arrive at Portsmouth Harbour.
The land where British Rail signage refuses to die!
I have passed this way before on a Bournemouth to Pompey trip and both Tim and I were students at the Poly here in the 70s – more of which later.
Where the Victorians modelled their stations on cathedrals, temples and palaces.
Modern Man models his on shopping centre and office blocks.
Richards and MacKenzie – The Railway Station
Though it seems to me that Macclesfield Station, in its earlier and current states, refuses to dovetail neatly into either of these sloppy binary paradigms.
The former – single storey buildings, fitting unostentatiously into the topographic and practical constraints of the site. A neat, tightly packed rhythm of brick arches with a compact and bijou porch welcoming the expectant traveller.
The latter a functionalist block, fully utilitarian crossings with lift access columns, embodying a particularly industrial demeanour.
From the golden age of steam to the moribund years of diesel, Macclesfield sits comfortably somewhere, betwixt and between ugly duckling and fully fledged swan.
Nestled in the lea of the East Cheshire Highlands, offering practical everyday transport solutions to the beleaguered commuter.
No frills, no thrills.
The London and North Western Railway opened the line between Manchester and Macclesfield on 19 June 1849 – Macclesfield Central was born. Later it would become a key station on the Stafford branch of the West Coast Main Line, remodelled in 1960 and rebranded as the much snappier Macclesfield Station.
Which it proudly announces topically and typographically to the world.
Welcome to Macclesfield a town that is clearly going places, and so are you.
The station won the Best Kept Station in Cheshire Award for 2007, but was reported in summer 2011 to be distinctly shabby, with peeling paintwork.
And yet there is something in the constituent Platonic steel, glass and concrete forms that never ceases to amuse and amaze me, this is Brutalism on a human and provincial scale.
The raw concrete softened with three or four shades of grey, as a concession to the delicate suburban sensibilities of this once silk-fuelled town.
Take a trip with me – join the Cheshire train set.
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and hell, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
We have seen things come and go in, on and around Stockport Station’s little acre.
From coal drops to tear drops.
Archive photographs courtesy of John Eaton
The post-industrial leisure complex has come almost full circle – overwritten by the complex needs of the modern day service-worker – Holiday Inn, Espresso Bar and Mini-mart complement the hot-desked, twenty-four hour online access all areas open-plan office operative.
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.
“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.”
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.
Architects Derrick Shorten worked with John Collins, Mike Edwards and Keith Rawson.
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 site was at the heart of industrial Stockport for a hundred and fifty years.
Goods in goods out, day in day out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The high vis, high rise, low expectation roller coaster, rolls on relentlessly.
Cars and closures caused the station to withdraw up the road, to its current much smaller site.
Subsequently Fine Fare arrives with a fanfare of moulded plastic panels, and cast concrete walls.
Opened on May 22nd 1979 by the Goodies.
Superseded by Food Giant, Gateway, Dunnes Stores, Kwik Save and Somerfields – possibly others, currently Wilkinson’s Wilko Superstore and Age UK, retaining at all times the attractive integral car park.
Possibly on the way to somewhere else, stranded at Oxford Road Station.
Tucked in behind Shaw’s Furniture and The Tatler Cinema.
I love every curvy corner, timber frame and canopy, concrete spiral, empty kiosk and precipitous steps – I’m happy to be stranded.
It opened in 1849 and was rebuilt in 1960.
The station was opened as Oxford Road on 20 July 1849 by the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway . The station was the headquarters of the MSJAR from its opening until 1904. It had two platforms and two sidings, with temporary wooden buildings. To allow for extra trains in connection with the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857, extra platforms and sidings were built. In 1874 the station was completely rebuilt providing two bay platforms and three through platforms. Further reconstruction took place during 1903-04. From 1931 it was served by the MSJAR’s 1500V DC electric trains between Altrincham and Manchester Piccadilly.
The station had become dilapidated by the 1950s, and in connection with the electrification and modernisation programme of the Manchester to London line in 1960, the old buildings were replaced by the current structure by architects W.R. Headley and Max Glendinning and structural engineer Hugh Tottenham. It was designed in a distinctive style in concrete and wood with curves bringing to mind the Sydney Opera House.
Use of the station increased from May 1988 when the Windsor Link was inaugurated between Deansgate and Salford Crescent, connecting lines to the north and south of Manchester.
The station is a grade II listed building.
One of the most interesting and innovative buildings of the period, the most ambitious example in this country of timber conoid shell roofing.