The last structure that Ove Arup designed himself was the award-winning reinforced concrete Kingsgate Footbridge in Durham, England.
Completed in 1963, Arup considered this bridge his finest work. He planned every detail, including the unusual way it was constructed. The need for scaffolding on the river was eliminated by casting the bridge in two halves, one for each bank. The halves were then swivelled out from the banks to meet.
The two halves pivoted on revolving cones, their meeting point marked by an understated bronze expansion joint. Bearings were designed at the base of each part to allow rotation, robust but cheap enough to be used only once.
This elegant example of simple mechanical engineering provided tense moments for the team while the spans were turned and connected.
John Martin, project manager for the bridge, said:
“Ove never seemed to worry that anything might go wrong. That was fine, it just meant that one felt fully responsible for seeing that it didn’t. But he got quite cross when the contractor took a few, to Ove’s view unnecessary, steps to make doubly sure that construction went smoothly. I think that to him it was a question of spoiling the elegance of the idea”.
I’m ever so fond of concrete footbridges, in fact I have written about our local exemplar.
And have taken great pleasure in teaching and preaching whilst atop such.
So it was with some degree of excited anticipation, that I strode eagerly toward Ove’s bridge – a bridge guaranteed to raise a smile, enchanted by its elegance and audacity.
Over we go headlong and fancy free into this black and white concrete world.
Crossing over into colourful off-white world of university life.
Dunelm House was designed by Richard Raines and Michael Powers of the Architects Co-Partnership, and completed in 1966 under the supervision of architect Sir Ove Arup, whose adjacent Kingsgate Bridge opened two years earlier. Built into the steeply sloping bank of the River Wear, Dunelm House is notable internally for the fact that the main staircase linking all five levels of the building runs in an entirely straight line. This was intended by the building’s architects to create the feeling of an interior street.
Work on the new building began in 1960: it was designed by Sir Basil Spence and was built by John Laing & Son at a cost of £2.75 million and was officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh on 14 October 1963.
The design for the seven-storey building involved continuous bands of glazing with exposed concrete beams above and below.
A large mosaic mural depicting local scenes was designed by Clayton and Gelson and installed on the face of the building.
In March 2019, the County Council approved a proposal to move to a smaller new-build facility on the Sands car park at Freeman’s Place in the centre of Durham. Of around 1,850 staff currently based in County Hall, 1,000 will be based at the new HQ and approximately 850 will relocate to four council office sites being developed across the county in Crook, Meadowfield, Seaham and Spennymoor. The building works, which are being carried out by Kier Group at a cost of £50 million, are scheduled to be completed in late 2021. Richard Holden, Conservative member of parliament for North-West Durham, has described the new council headquarters as a ‘vanity project’, questioning the suitability of the location as well as tax increases and cuts to services used to pay for the development.
Online, there is no evidence of any will or pressure to save this glorious building – the site will eventually become that most modern mix of business park, retail, and leisure facilities.
The proposal, led by Durham County Council, forms part of an overall masterplan to knock down the municipal building in Aykley Heads and redevelop the wider site to provide retail, financial and professional space, food and drink units, space for leisure use and a multi-storey car park.
A mural by a beloved pitman painter, commissioned by Durham County Council to mark the opening of County Hall in 1963, has been successfully moved to its new home in Bishop Auckland.
The painting by Norman Cornish, one of the most respected and much-loved artists to emerge from the North-East, depicts the arrival of the banners at Durham Miners’ Gala.
After being commissioned by the council, Cornish was granted 12 months unpaid leave from Mainsforth Colliery in Ferryhill to complete the painting, with most of the work being completed during the coldest winter in 40 years.
Although it arrived at County Hall in 1963 rolled up in the back of a carpet van, the mural’s removal was an incredibly intricate process, involving several experts.
Subsequently, the tills have long since ceased to ring.
The road to redevelopment is paved with good intentions, and so far a profound lack or realisation.
The local folk objected to the planned luxury offices.
Tomorrow Manchester City Council’s Executive is set to approve the development framework for the former Central Retail Park that will see it turned into a zero carbon office district. But, according to a public consultation carried out by grassroots campaigners, an overwhelming majority of locals want public spaces on the 10.5 acre site in Ancoats rather than luxury offices.
As of April 2022 Trees Not Cars have sought the views of local representatives following the decision not to go ahead with the building of a multi-storey car park
What we need are councillors who will stand up for us and push for as much green space as possible at Central Retail Park development.
It’s council owned, it would link in well with Cotton Field Park and will give the capacity for locals to enjoy the outdoors – without driving, once New Islington Green has been developed into offices.
On the day of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, I cycled around Ashton under Lyne in search of landmarks of her sixty year reign.
Today, on the day of her funeral, I set out for a walk around Stockport, to record a town largely closed for business. Overcast but far from downcast, I defied the almost persistent fine rain and these are the pictures that I took.
Many of the subjects are products of her time on the throne.
The traffic was much lighter, there were few pedestrians, a couple of cafés were open and two men watched the funeral service on the Sky TV stand in the precinct.
This is a town with a visual culture defined by carefully created picture postcards – conjuring images from land, sea, sand and sky.
New technology arrives, dragging Llandudno from the sepia soaked past into the CMYK age!
So it’s only right and proper that the town should have an art gallery.
Oriel Mostyn Gallery was commissioned by Lady Augusta Mostyn after the Gwynedd Ladies’ Art Society asked her for better premises than their existing home, in a former cockpit in Conwy. The ladies’ gender prevented them from joining the Royal Cambrian Academy, also based in Conwy.
Designed by architect GA Humphreys, the new gallery opened in 1901. From 1901 to 1903, the gallery housed works by members of the GLAS. As a patron of the arts and president of the society, Lady Augusta was aware that the ladies needed more space to display their work and gave them the opportunity to rent a room in the new building.
Lady Augusta was keen for the gallery to be used by local people, so the society was asked to leave and a School of Art, Science and Technical Classes was set up. Alongside the many classes, there were art exhibitions, lectures. social events, and even a gallery choir and shooting range!
The current shop area was the location for a ‘Donut Dugout’ – a rest and recreation area for the many American servicemen in the town. Coffee and doughnuts were served and the men could read magazines from home.
After the war, Wagstaff’s Piano and Music Galleries occupied the building. In 1976 the artist Kyffin Williams, and others, suggested the building should become the proposed new public art gallery for North Wales. Architects Colwyn Foulkes supervised its restoration and it reopened, as Oriel Mostyn, in 11 August 1979.
Acknowledged to be ‘one of the most beautiful galleries in Britain’, Mostyn in North Wales was an existing listed Victorian museum with two lantern galleries tucked behind a listed facade. We were appointed by Mostyn after winning the Architectural competition with a design combining a gallery space refurbishment with a gallery expansion and a new dramatic infill section linking new and old. The project has won a number of awards and increased footfall by over 60%.
Why not let your feet fall there soon – Oriel Mostynis open.
The very first time I visited the town as a child back in the early 1960s, it rained almost every day.
Subsequent visits have almost always been bathed in warm sunshine.
The Main Campus based on Jesse Boot’s Highfield parkland incorporating Lenton House and Lenton Hall. Boot along with his architect Percy Morley Holder developed a building scheme in 1921, achieving university status in 1948.
DH Lawrence Pavilion architect Marsh & Grochowski 1998-2001
Portland Building – T Cecil Howitt 1949 -56
Trent Building architect: P Morley Horder 1922-28
Portland Building extended in 2001-3 architects: Michael Hopkins & Partners
Further additions to the rear 2013
The New Theatre was established in 1969, and was originally housed in the Archaeology and Classics building of the University of Nottingham. In 2001 an extended foyer was added to the building, following a donation from an alumnus of the university.
The summer of 2012 saw an extensive redevelopment of the building housing the New Theatre. The former Archaeology and Classics building was demolished from the site; leaving the New Theatre as a freestanding building. Parts of the old building were retained and repurposed as new rehearsal rooms, and a studio space; as well as a significant remodelling of the dressing room, and extending the foyer.
University Library architects: Faulkner Brown, Henry, Watkinson & Stonor 1971-73
The collection of buildings in University Park Campus, colloquially known as Science City, was first masterplanned by Basil Spence in 1959. His vision was largely realised by Renton Howard Wood Associates during the 1960s. Since then, numerous additions and alterations have been made to suit the ever increasing student numbers and the changing needs of the University.
Sir Clive Granger Building
A view over the Science Buildings by Basil Spence 1955 and partner Andrew Renton 1961 onward.
The University of Nottingham needed to double the size of its existing academic library to cater for an expansion in serious scientific study. Hopkins Architects faced the difficult task of doubling the size of a rather unremarkable 1960’s building – designed by Basil Spence, on a tight sloping site.
Jubilee Campus is a modern purpose-built campus which now extends to 65 acres and is located only one mile from University Park. The initial phase was opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1999. The state-of-the-art facilities now include:
The Schools of Education – including CELE and Computer Science
The Nottingham University Business School
The National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services
University of Nottingham Innovation Park
4000 third party purpose-built student residences within half a mile radius of the campus
Central to the development of the site has been the setting of high BREEAM Standards – an holistic approach to achieve ESG, health, and net zero goals. It is owned by BRE – a profit-for-purpose organisation with over 100 years of building science and research background.
Built on the former site of the immense Number 3Raleigh Bicycle Factory – which was opened by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery in 1957.
At its peak in the 1950s, Raleigh employed 7000 people on a 40 acre site that covered most of Lenton Boulevard, Triumph Road and Orston Drive.
In May 1999, Raleigh announced that it was to cease volume production of frames in the UK. The frame welding robots, installed in 1996, were auctioned off in December 1999.
Enjoying a prime location on the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus, the building provides a number of multidisciplinary and specifically designed laboratory spaces, as well as high quality single and multiple occupancy offices, technical support bases and breakout spaces.
Set within 65 acres of lakeside grounds, close to Nottingham city centre, The Jubilee hotel & conferences offers an innovative setting for events, along with all the comforts of a modern hotel.
If you are looking for sustainable venue hire, look no further. With a range of meetings spaces, breakout areas and bedrooms; The Jubilee is perfect for event and conferences organisers looking for a light, airy and relaxing setting.
Designed to minimise the impact on the environment of its construction and operation. The design of the building is made up of modules manufactured off-site. The building support pillars and trusses are made from a combination of German spruce, Austrian Spruce, and American red cedar.
The designers used computational fluid dynamics to design the curved roof. This enables ventilation of the building by taking advantage of the prevailing wind. One of the laboratories is also ventilated in this way, to determine the viability of doing so elsewhere. The building also features a green roof, and solar panels that cover 45 per cent of the roof area and provide up to 230.9 kW. The four towers on the roof hide the building’s plant equipment. Additionally, a 125-kilowatt biofuel combined heat and power system was built on-site, providing the majority of heat needed for the buildings.
Ingenuity Centre by Bond Bryan 2017
Alucraft designed fabricated and delivered the façade,
At first glance the centre appears to be a hi-tech structure that would not look out of place in a sci-fi movie, with a complex array of metal fins forming a metallic bronze-coloured circular envelope that seems to float around a central core.
Keep looking though and some of the design cues are clearly industrial – the metallic external envelope echoing the form of some finely machined, mechanical component or even the patterned tread of a tyre.
Sir Colin Campbell Building by Bond Bryan 2011 – with Arup acting as structural and services engineer.
Si Yuan Centre of Contemporary Chinese Studies
Xu Yafen Building and Yang Fujia Building by MAKE 2008
Aspire is a 60-metre tall, red and orange steel sculpture by Ken Shuttleworth of MAKE, and was, until overtaken by Anish Kapoor’s Orbit, the tallest free standing public work of art in the United Kingdom. It is taller than Nelson’s Column, the Angel of the North, and the Statue of Liberty
The name Aspire was chosen after a competition to name the sculpture, which was open to staff and students at the university.
A showcase £6.5m research centre, which brings together world-class experts in energy research, has chosen ALUCOBOND® A2 from 3A Composites GmbH, finished in Sakura 917 from its spectra colour series for its cladding.
The Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly LRC architect Sir Michael Hopkins 1999
A single floor spirals up through the building in the manner of FL Wright’s Guggenheim Museum
The library was named after the philanthropists Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly who gave a significant contribution towards the cost of its construction. Sir Harry Djanogly is the father of Jonathan Djanogly, who became MP for Huntingdon in 2001.
Business School North 2003
John Player & Sons Bonded Warehouse by William Cowlin and Son 1938-39
Mouchel’s involvement with the iron industry, and his ties with France, brought him into close proximity with the French engineer François Hennebique (1842-1921), who had been a contractor in Brussels. A self-educated builder, Hennebique had patented an idea of strengthening concrete using iron and steel bars – a forerunner to the widespread modern reinforced-concrete method used in construction today.
The medieval Leicester Guildhall was used as the Town Hall for around 300 years. By the mid-19th Century much larger premises were needed to support a rapidly growing industrial centre. The Victorian Town Hall was opened in 1876 on the site of the old cattle market.
In 1919, Leicester was recognised as a city. It continued to expand, along with its Council. Conditions in the Town Hall soon became cramped and some departments began to move out. By 1930 it was agreed new municipal offices were needed to centralize the Housing, Electricity, Rates, Motor Licence and Valuation departments. They would form part of a major redevelopment of Charles Street, the so-called quarter of a million pound building on a million pound road.
The modest opening ceremony took place on 7th November 1938. In his speech the Lord Mayor, Councillor Frank Acton, said it was a privilege to open “this long sought-after and wonderful place.” A stone tablet to mark the event can be seen opposite the reception desk in the entrance foyer. The building was designed to command attention and respect, and conform to a modern desire for simplicity. Clad in Portland Stone, its interior included many elegant Art Deco features, many of which have been restored.
The office floors accommodate workstations for 480 staff, together with breakout areas and meeting rooms. The project included re-purposing original municipal spaces for new assembly functions; restoring period features; and providing a dignified civic interior appropriate to the functions of the Council. An environmentally conscious servicing solution minimises the building’s energy usage.
By the 1930s, demand for electricity was growing rapidly. The Municipal Offices housed the Leicester Corporation Electricity Department (later the East Midland Electricity Board) and were specially furnished with a model kitchen for:
Housewives who are interested in the modern uses of electricity in the home.
A special theatre also presented weekly cookery demonstrations and a Service Centre displayed, sold and hired out electrical appliances.
The theatre is still extant, though sadly no longer available for cookery demonstrations.
On the back wall this mural remains as a reminder of the theatre’s the former use.
Many thanks to Grant Butterworth – Head of Planning, for negotiating access to the hall and accompanying us on our Modernist Mooch.
In the 1960s a nuclear bunker was constructed. This was one of many across the country built by local authorities to protect key personnel from radiation in the event of an attack, enabling some form of government to continue. Today, the bunker has long gone, and the basement of City Hall is now used as a storage area.
By 1963 the De Montfort Hall Box Office was located in the building. This caused chaotic scenes in Charles Street when, in October of that year, around 3,000 youngsters queued all night for tickets to see The Beatles. When the Box Office opened at 9:30am, the queue stretched back to Humberstone Gate and was held in check by a pitifully thin line of police. The Leicester Mercury described the scene as:
A heaving, shouting, screaming, unruly, undignified, disorderly mob – a disgraceful night.
Pressure from the crowd caused a 10 foot square window in Halford´s shop to break. With all the tickets sold, the crowd dispersed and the Leicester Mercury said Charles Street resembled
A filthy, unswept ghost street, badly in need of the cleaners to remove the mountains of waste paper and return its respectability.
The Second World War brought an even greater demand for the rapid construction of new dwellings. In addition to the need to rebuild homes damaged as a result of the war, the Government had other objectives that were set out in a white paper in 1945, to provide a separate dwelling for any family who wanted one and to complete the slum clearance programme started before the war. After the Second World War there was a surplus of steel and aluminium production, and an industry in need of diversification. These factors drove the move towards the use of prefabrication, as aresult many new varieties of concrete, timber framed and steel framed systems emerged. Whilst most systems were intended to provide permanent or long-term housing a few were intended only as emergency or temporary solutions.
The homes on Wadsworth Lane are BISF Type A1 – designed by architect Frederick Gibberd and engineer Donovan Lee.
Manufactured by British Iron & Steel Federation and British Steel Homes Ltd.
Over 34,000 three-bedroom semi-detached houses and 1048 terraced houses were erected across England, Scotland and Wales.
By wandering aimlessly, all places became equal, and it no longer mattered where he was.
Paul Auster City of Glass.
The station as built in 1961 to a design by the architect William Robert Headle, which included and advertised a significant amount of the local Pilkington Vitrolite Glass. The fully glazed ticket hall was illuminated by a tower with a valley roof on two Y-shaped supports. The platform canopies were free standing folded plate roofs on tubular columns.
The new station building and facilities were assembled just a few yards from the 1960s station building and is the third build on the same site. The project came in at a total estimated cost of £6 million, with the European Union contributing £1.7 million towards the total funding. The new footbridge was lifted into place in the early hours of 22 January 2007.
The striking Pilkington’s glass-fronted building was designed by architect SBS of Manchester. Construction work was completed in the summer, with the new waiting rooms and footbridge opened to passengers on 19 September. The new station building was officially opened on 3 December 2007.
In the early Edwardian era a fine theatre was opened on 1st June 1903. It had been designed by local architect J A Baron and was on the site of an earlier theatre known as the Peoples Palace. It was operated as the New Hippodrome Cinema from 8th August 1938 when it reopened with Anna Neagle in Victoria the Great. On 1st September 1963 it was converted to a Surewin Bingo Club by Hutchinson Cinemas which continued to operate in 2008. By May 2019 it was independently operated as the Hippodrome Bingo Club.
Onwards down Corporation Street to Century House, currently awaiting some care and attention and tenants.
Century House is a prominent landmark in St Helens town centre, being the tallest office building in place. The accommodation ranges over 9 floors, providing offices from a single person, to whole floors. In addition, all tenants benefit from the use of a modern break out space and meeting rooms, in addition to manned reception desk.
The Capitol Cinema opened on 3rd October 1929 by an independent operator. It stood on a prominent corner site at North Road and Duke Street – known as Capitol Corner.
The Capitol Cinema was taken over by Liverpool-based Regent Enterprises Ltd. in 1929, and by the Associated British Cinemas – ABC chain in 1935. It underwent a renovation in the 1960’s, and was closed by ABC on 9th December 1978.
The building was converted into a sports centre, by 2009 it was a Central Fitness gymnasium.
Along the way to St Mary Lowe House RC – the style is a combination of Gothic and Byzantine elements. One of the most unusual fittings is the carillon, one of the largest in the British Isles with 47 bells, which was installed in 1930 and is still played regularly.
The Cornerstone of the building was laid in front of a crowd of 2,000 on Good Friday 1859 and the church was opened for public worship on Good Friday 6th April 1860. In the press of the day, the church was described as – a Cathedral looking church.
In 1965 it was announced that a new Eccles motorway would be built through the church land.
Work began to demolish the Church and replace it with a new smaller church, but the old church did not go down without a fight as workers could not pull down the steeple. After eleven days of battering and buffeting by eighteen pounds of gelignite and two eight ton bulldozers, the steeple finally surrendered.
Then there wasn’t – then there was this:
On Friday 11th July 1969, the new church officially opened with a splendid ceremony. A minor hitch occurred when the organ blew a fuse during the second verse but the Congregation sang through it while organist Mr Kenyon frantically fumbled about and rectified the matter.
There is something within the work of George Pace which speaks directly to my eyes and heart – and feet. His Modernism is tempered by the Mediaeval – along with Arts and Crafts references and a nod to Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp
Here in Sheffield is a church built in 1868 – 1871 to a standard neo-Gothic design by William Henry Crossland. Bombed in the Blitz restored, redesigned and built by Pace 1958 – 1963, accommodating the original spire and porch.
I alighted from the 49 bus at Boots and proceeded to take a look around.
Unsurprisingly the construction work was now complete.
The pharmaceutical factory for the Boots Company was built in the 1930s and was designed by Sir E Owen Williams. It uses reinforced concrete as an external frame. The strength of the frame allowed the design to incorporate large areas of glass.
Bolton Town Hall – 1873 was designed by William Hill of Leeds, with Bolton architect George Woodhouse.
The original building was extended in 1938 by Bradshaw Gass & Hope – hereafter BGH.
Le Mans Crescent by BGH 1932-9 well complements the Town Hall extension. Its neo-classical design is assured and confident. Pevsner remarked that:
There is, surprisingly enough, no tiredness, the panache is kept up.
Three arches pierce the Crescent’s centre but today they lead only to a potential development site. One end of the Crescent contains the Art Gallery and Library; the other used to house the former Police Headquarters and Magistrates’ Courts.
George Grenfell Baines, the founder of the Building Design Partnership, was involved in this project when he worked for BGH in the 1930s
The Octagon 1966-67 originally by Geoffrey Brooks, the borough architect, rebuilt 2018-2021. The hexagonal auditorium has apparently been retained. Pevsner states of the former building:
A welcome dose of honest Brutalism.
The Wellsprings successfully fitting with the Town Hall
The former 1931 Cooperative Society Store, on the Oxford Street corner, is by BGH. The entrance has Doric columns in deference to the Town Hall’s Corinthian ones – and Le Mans Crescent uses the Ionic for the same reason.
We pass Paderborn House 1968 -69 Sutton of Birmingham clad in moulded concrete, with Traverine around the entrance.
Former Lloyds Bank on Deangate corner, clad in white faience, looks BGH-ish but it’s not listed in the Lingards’ BGH monograph.
Across the way the unlisted Post Office – complete with listed phone boxes.
Whitakers 1907 by George Crowther.
Pastiche timber-framed with pepper-pot turret.
Incorporates genuine Tudor timbers from a demolished building nearby.
To the north of Deansgate, down Knowsley and Market Streets, is GT Robinson’s 1851-6 Market Hall. The interior is, according to Matthew Hyde: a lucid structure simply revealed.
He contrasts it with Market Place Centre 1980-88 by Chapman Taylor Partners: In that most ephemeral of styles, a jokey Postmodernism.
It does however echo Victoria Hall 1898-1900 BGH.
Chapman Taylor also did the 1980-8 Market Place Shopping Centre. The Market Hall was built over an impressive brick undercroft above the River Croal which has recently been opened up and is a destination.
At the Oxford Street corner, Slater Menswear, above Caffé Nero, has Art Deco white faience upper storeys. Further down is the imposing Marks & Spencer, faced in dark stone 1965-67.
The mansard roof was added later.
Along Market Street, Clinton Cards is clad in white faience with Art Deco window details.
At the corner of Bridge Street is a charming 1960s clock; the building would not look out of place in Coventry.