Hull Walk

Waving Mister Larkin farewell we leave the station and head for the former Cooperative Store and latterly British Home Stores to view the magnificent Three Ships mural.

Commissioned by the Co-operative Society and designed by Wolverhampton artist Alan Boyson, this large and iconic Italian glass mosaic mural immortalises the Hull fishing fleet. The face of the mural – which is fixed to a 66 foot by 64 foot concrete screen – is composed of 4224 foot square slabs, each made up of 225 tiny glass cubes. The mural was built to Boyson’s design, by Richards Tiles Ltd

Included in the mural is the Latin text “res per industriam prosperae” – the success of industry, it also includes “HULL” in the ships’ masts.

In May 2007 the mural was locally listed by Hull City Council, who described it was a “superb example of modern public art”. The council subsequently pledged to retain the mural when the site is developed. In November 2016, a proposal by Hull Civic Society to give the mural statutory protection at a national level was rejected. The society announced its intention to appeal the decision. 

The mural was placed on the National Heritage List for England on 21 November 2019 – following a long and arduous campaign by devoted local group Ships in the Sky, along with national and international Modernists.

An additional mural by Boyson, inside the store on the fourth floor, was rediscovered during refurbishment in 2011. Depicting a shoal of fish, it is over 22 feet long and is made from ceramic tiles, marble and stone. Located outside the former Skyline Ballroom – later Romeo and Juliet’s, a nightclub, it had been hidden behind a false wall. The building’s then owners, Manor Property Group, announced plans to feature it in their designs for the building’s decor. It was made as part of the same commission as the exterior mural.

Onwards now to Queen’s Gardens – a sequence of gardens in the centre of the city. They are set out within a 9.75 acre area that until 1930 was filled with the waters of Queen’s Dock. As the dock was not fully filled in, the gardens are largely below the level of the surrounding streets.

Badly bombed by the Nazis in 1941 and rebuilding was slow and inconsistent, based on a reconstruction plan by Edwin Lutyens and Patrick Aber­crombie which was never fully realised. 

The plan envisioned a new civic heart for the city concentrated around Queen’s Gardens. Frederick Gibberd was employed to oversee its post-war remodelling, setting it below the surrounding road to emulate the appearance of the former docks and introducing public art to animate the space. 

They are enclosed on one side by Frederick Gibberd’s Hull College.

Which incorporates this outstanding William Mitchell Relief.

A number of decorative fountains featured in the ponds; those at the eastern end designed as part of the sculptured panels of 1960, by Robert Adams, described by Herbert Read as belonging to:

The iconography of despair. Here are images of flight, of ragged claws, scuttling across floors of silent seas, of excoriated flesh, frustrated sex, the geometry of fear.

Paul Gibson

The former Police Station by Lazenby & Priestman was graced by carved stone reliefs by Kenneth Carter.

Plans are in place to convert the building into apartments.

Now let’s jump a bus for St Anthony and Our lady of Mercy RC

667 Beverley Rd HU6 7JL

The church built in 1965 is fan-shaped in plan. Concrete portal frame with yellow brick infill. Shallow-pitched sheet metal clad roof. The main rear wall is flat and blind, with a parapet, and extends across the building at full height. From this wall the main body of the church radiates, three facetted bays to either side, with a saw tooth eaves line, then a projecting square block which houses the narthex and west gallery. The saw tooth eaves continue just above the entrance block to complete the fan shape. Attached to the other side of the main wall are the low, square projections of the side chapels and sacristies and a concrete framed bell tower with shallow pitched roof. The entrance block is clad is artificial stone, has a wide, glazed screen with central doors and a thin flat canopy.

Above this an inset panel of decorative mosaic by Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd of Manchester -the firm ceased trading in 1965. The facetted elevations have large glazed areas set in a bold concrete grid of mullions and transoms, tripartite in the centre with a border of smaller divisions. The bell tower is placed in the centre of the east wall and has a port cullis-like bell-opening facing west.

The interior is a light and spacious essentially single cell, with the shallow canted projection of the sanctuary – top lit by a row of seven small circular skylights, the low side chapels and the organ gallery. The concrete portal frame provides a dramatic grid radiating from the centre of the east wall. Sanctuary fittings in contrasting marbles, by Toffolo & Son of Hull, designed as a piece. Similar marble altar in the northeast side chapel. The chapels have subtle shallow-pitched arches. West gallery also with circular skylights. Organ pipes at either end arranged within a striking double-curve enclosure, like a grand piano in plan. Open-backed pews and original light fittings. Stained glass by Leo Earley of Earley & Co. of Dublin. Stations of the Cross, wooden relief panels set within integral frames, somewhat stark.

Taking Stock

Onward now to Hull University campus in search of the Gulbenkian Building – Cottingham Road HU6 7RX

Drama teaching centre incorporating a fully adaptable theatre. 1967-9 by Peter Moro for the University of Hull’s Department of Drama. Michael Heard partner in charge, Clarke Nicholls & Marcel structural engineers, Theatre Projects Limited lighting and sound consultants. Concrete beam construction with red brick panels restricted to the ground and first floors, board marked concrete, copper-clad roof.

Date first listed – September 15th 2015

Next to Middleton Hall, an important post-war listed building at the University of Hull, is a recent case revealing critical gaps in our historic protection system. It is set for a raft of damaging alterations and extensions, but if listing had been dealt with earlier, we could have had a very different outcome.

Middleton Hall and non-denominational Chapel, and Faculty of Arts building Larkin Building. Designed in 1962 by Sir Leslie Martin, built in 1965-7 for the University of Hull. Concrete and load-bearing brick construction, externally pale red brick cladding and lead roofs. The pipe organ is excluded from the listing.

Historic England

Stockport Walk

Accidental home of a Modernist – I arrived here some fifty years ago and stayed.

Let’s all take a look at several almost bang up to date reasons to be cheerful, exploring the town’s Twentieth Century architectural legacy.

To begin at the beginning – The Plaza super-cinema faithfully restored and providing quality entertainment and sustenance to Stopfordians and strangers alike.

It is, as of 2000 a Grade II* Listed Building.

Built in 1932, the Plaza Super Cinema first opened its doors to the public on Saturday, October 8th, 1932 with a charity show for Stockport Infirmary. The original seating capacity was 1,878, in stalls and circle levels.

The films shown were Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in “Jailbirds” and Gene Gerrard and Jessie Matthews in “Out of the Blue”.

Early programmes were a mix of cinema and live performance, or ‘prologues’ as they were known. The Plaza Super Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/11Rank theatre organ which has an illuminated surround on the console. The opening organist was Cyril Chadwick. It is still played today. There is a cafe/restaurant located on the circle lounge level.

Cinema Treasures

Architect W Thornley

Just around the corner is the Bus Station – work began here in April 1979, the first stage finally opening on March 2nd 1982.

Slowly emerging from the rough ground – a series of glass and steel boxes worthy of that master of minimalism Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a Neue Nationalgalerie in miniature.

It still retains its original GMPTE orange M identity.

There are now plans for imminent demolition and rebuilding – shaping a transport hub fit for the Twenty First Century – Space Age forms for a brave new world.

With a brand new, more than somewhat, old hat link bridge.

Onwards over the brand new Trans-Mersey bridge, catching sight of Regent House a modest modular high-rise block, currently housing a Travelodge and multi-use administrative office space.

Over the road and up onto the elevated car parking space above Merseyway where we can catch sight of The George an inter-war pub now permanently tinned up.

The car park extends across the whole upper level of the precinct. – an accessible Ballardian Concrete Island.

Back down to Earth to pay our respects to the spiral ramp drainage area.

A not insignificant element of Building Design Partnership’s Red Rock scheme.

Thence to the Hatton Street foot bridge over the M60/3

Currently under threat as the town’s development requires a more accessible route between Heaton Norris Rec. and the Red Rock complex.

Next up the BHS Murals they are the work of Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins. Their work was featured in the Festival of Britain, GPO Tower and Expo 70, along with other retail outlets in Southampton, Newcastle, Gloucester, Bexhill and Colchester.

Listing was refused.

We are now above the Mersey in Merseyway – in its concrete culvert home.

Completed and opened in 1965 the shopping precinct was concrete poetry in motion, incorporating the surrounding topography and extant architecture with grace and aplomb. Combining retail, restaurants and car parking facilities in a manner that critic Iain Nairn considered to be amongst the finest in the land.

Architects Bernard Engle and Partners.

Now modified as a Po-Mo Hi-Tec shadow of its former self some details and untreated concrete do remain.

High above the town we ascend to the giddy heights of the multi-storey car park – architect Philip Andrew.

Shielded by Alan Boyson’s concrete screen wall.

Over the bridge and up the hill to Hilton House.

Formerly home to New Day furnishings – a local retail and manufacturing company – with branches throughout the North West.

Preston 1960

Currently awaiting transformation into luxury inner city dwellings.

Ever onwards to Stopford House home to imaginary time-slip police officers, really home to all too real council employees.

Architect JS Rank – Director of Development and Town Planning

With its very own hanging gardens – that nobody seems to hang around in.

That’s y’lot Stockport a town with a big past and big plans for the future.

Huddersfield Walk

New North Road Baptist Church c.1970

Architect Colin Wigmore

The building says what the Baptist Church believes: that the ministry of the Word is central; that the believers’ baptism is a public act of witness. The baptistery is not hidden under moveable floorboards as was a common older practice, but is visible as a permanent reminder to each member of his original commitment. Organ and choir are there, but neither obtrudes; nor do they confuse the clear language of the building itself.

A Ronald Bielby – Churches and Chapels of Kirklees 

Kirklees Technical College – now closed formed by an amalgamating the former Infirmary, the older Technical College and later additions.

Bus Station

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.

Concrete Curtain Wall

Civic Centre

Exsilite panels set in the stone faced columns – a brand name for a synthetic, moulded, artificial marble.

Exsilite is made by fusing grains of silica and pigments to form a slab that simulates onyx marble.

Magistrates’ Court

Co-operative Store

It gives the town of Huddersfield a store that is entirely modern in design and equipped on the most up to date lines – a store of which the townspeople generally, and co-operators in particular, can be proud. 

Huddersfield Daily Examiner 1937

As a powerful retailer in the north of England, the Co-op ran its own architectural department, producing good modern design. J.W. Cropper reputedly travelled to Russia in the early 1930s. Other buildings designed by him in association with W.A. Johnson, the Co-op’s chief architect, are in Eastbank Street, Southport 1934, and Sunbridge Road, Bradford -1935, which was recently listed at Grade II. 

Monocular Times

Queensgate MarketGrade II Listed August 4th 2004

Market Hall. 1968-70 to the designs of the J. Seymour Harris Partnership, with Leonard and Partners as consultant engineers. Reinforced concrete, board-marked internally to columns and partly clad in local Elland Edge stone and ceramic panels, with patent glazing. Rectangular building on a site that slopes steeply downhill from the town centre to the west towards the ring road, Queensgate. The structure comprises 21 ‘mushroom’ columns each supporting an asymmetrical rectangular section – each 56ft long by 31ft wide by 10ft deep – of board-marked hyperbolic paraboloid roof, four rows of four and one of five facing Queensgate, where the market is set over a delivery bay and car park. From north to south the rows alternate in height, and from west to east they step upwards, then down. This means that there are gaps of 4’6″ between each roof section which is filled with patent glazing to form clerestoreys, the glazing suspended from the upper hypar to accommodate any movement which may occur and having aluminium bars. Further patent glazing over natural stone walling and expressed framework to facades on Princess and Peel Streets, whence there are direct entrances into the market hall from Peel Street via steps. Ventilation is by fixed louvres.

Along the north wall of the hall is a relief sculpture entitled ‘Commerce’, in black painted metal with semi-abstract figures representing agriculture, trade and products, by the sculptor Fritz Steller.

The façade of the market hall on Queensgate incorporates five roof sections with patent glazing and is decorated with square ceramic panels by Fritz Steller, entitled ‘Articulation in Movement’, set over natural stone cladding. These continue across the façade of the adjoining shops, to make nine panels in all, with a tenth larger panel added in 1972, pierced by stairs and an entrance to the market hall from Queensgate. They have representations of the mushroom shells of the market hall, turned through 90 degrees, with abstract representations of the goods available within.

Historic England

The Library & Art Gallery

The library was designed in 1937 by E.H. Ashburner. The entrance is flanked by two stone figures symbolising Art and Literature.

As a design the late neo-Classical elevations appear somewhat stark and unwelcoming. The relationship between glazed area and wall surfaces is poorly proportioned even though the ashlar stonework is of high quality. The ornamental detailing, cornice, and frieze of the central bay fail to relieve this monolithic appearance. Interest is created at the entrance by the sculpted figures by James Woodford R.A., who also designed the panels between ground and first floor windows. 

Murrayfield Redevelopment

Part of a wider BDP undertaking to reshape and pedestrianise the area and including the development of the inner ring road and Buxton House and the Hammerson Development.

The Development of the Woollen Industry from a Cottage Craft Practised as an Ancillary to Farming – Up to the Beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Harold Blackburn 1966

Midland Bank – now HSBC

The use of bush-hammered concrete, highly polished Brazilian Old Gold granite facings and tinted glass is given emphasis by the projecting form of the floor beams which also reveal the structural bones of the building.

It was designed by Peter Womersley, who also designed the thoroughly modern private house, Farnley Hey, near Castle Hill, which won the RIBA Bronze Medal in 1958.

The Hammerson Redevelopment Scheme & Buxton House 1968

The architects were Bernard Engle & Partners London and the Consulting Engineers were J. Roger Preston London.

Mosaic – Systematic Sequence in Line and Shade. 

Artist – Richard Fletcher. 1969.

Neaversons

This new shop front was installed by Bradford shop fitters Sharp & Law in 1935 – with curved glass to reduce reflections and aid viewing. The interior was based on the potter Susie Cooper‘s London shop.

Finishing off in the listed inter-war warmth of the Sportsman – for a welcome rest.

Liverpool Walk

My kind thanks to Dominic Wilkinson my host for his wise guidance.

We begin with a rapid ascent of the Radio City Tower – at the St John’s Shopping Centre.

Also known as St. John’s Beacon – a radio and observation tower in, built in 1969 and opened by Queen Elizabeth II, it was designed by James A. Roberts Associates of Birmingham.

At 138 metres tall it is the 32nd tallest in the building United Kingdom.

© Nancy Clendaniel May 1982

Spare a thought for the long gone Penny Farthing.

Now trading as the ever so sober and serious Courtyard Bar & Kitchen

And continue on to reflect upon the short life of the soon to be demolished Churchill Way flyover and walkways.

What we thought was built to last in effect wasn’t the case and it is almost impossible to maintain some of those  structures that have internally deteriorated beyond being able to to be repaired. 

Engage Liverpool

Their construction was a direct result of Traffic in Towns was an influential report and popular book on urban and transport planning policy published 25 November 1963 for the UK Ministry of Transport by a team headed by the Professor Sir Colin Buchanan. The report warned of the potential damage caused by the motor car, while offering ways to mitigate it. It gave planners a set of policy blueprints to deal with its effects on the urban environment, including traffic containment and segregation, which could be balanced against urban redevelopment, new corridor and distribution roads and precincts.

Further developed in the 1965 Liverpool City Centre Plan:

In the 1960s, planning consultant Graeme Shankland advised Liverpool City Council on urban renewal. The resulting Liverpool City Centre Plan of 1965 declared two thirds of the city’s buildings to be obsolete, and proposed road-building on a vast scale, but it also recognised that Liverpool had outstanding Victorian architecture which must be preserved.

Onwards at ground level to the former Higson’s Offices 127 Dale Street 1964-65 Architect Derek Jones for Ormrod and Partners – now in use as HQ for the National Museums Liverpool.

A little ways down along the street on our right Kingsway House 1965-67 Derek Stephenson and Partners, currently undergoing refurbishment as luxury apartments following a spell as homeless shelter.

Hatton Garden is a former office building that is soon to be transformed into luxury city centre residential apartments. Perfect for young professionals and couples, each apartment will radiate a homely feel without compromising on space or style.

Property Wealth

A respectful nod to the unassuming though mildly assertive New Oxford House.

To our left the former Midland Bank, 4 Dale Street, constructed in 1971 to designs of 1967 by Raymond Fletcher of Bradshaw, Rowse & HarkerListed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: 

* Architectural interest: is an important example of a post-war bank atypically employing a high-quality Modernist design reflective of its era – a form of late-1960s pop architecture bringing fun and diversity to the streetscape; its strikingly bold design marks a new consumerism in the clearing bank and an attempt to engage younger customers;

Further on down the road State House 1962 Edmund Kirby and Sons.

Tied stylistically to the neighbouring tunnel Ventilating Station 1931-34 by renowned local architect Herbert J Rowse.

Pausing to remember Turning the Place Over a temporary artwork conceived for Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture and saw a twenty six tonne section of Cross Keys House fixed to a giant pivot.

It opened in May 2007 and was due to be exhibited only into 2008, but proved such a phenomenal draw that it kept turning until 2011.

Nipping up Moorfields to Silkhouse Court on Tithebarn Street by Quiggin and Gee 1964 – built 1967-70.

Having recently been adorned with some incongruously imposed cladding:

Silkhouse Court is the latest residential development from Fortis Developments, in association with Elite City Living. Situated in the heart of Liverpool, one of the UK’s strongest emerging residential markets, the development is perfectly located between the modern business district and the city’s famous tourist landmarks.

Behind us Tempest House.

Refurbishment as office space:

The great thing about Tempest is it’ll completely change your work-life balance. We’ve created a cool, collaborative community within an inspiring space. Tempest looks to the past and points to the future. 1970s architecture, it’s brutal yet it’s refined, it’s old but at the same time it’s modern, and we really like those contradictions.

Back on ourselves down Vernon Street to Norwich House now 8 Water Street 1973 Edward Kirby and Sons.

Dream Apartments

With 50 luxury one and two bedroom apartments, some complete with private roof gardens offering panoramic views across Liverpool’s skyline, Dream Apartments Waterstreet are perfectly suited for both corporate and leisure guests alike.

Our apartments’ ‘home away from home’ design showcases a fully integrated handmade kitchen unit, beautiful bathroom with LED mood lighting and power shower to create a beautiful yet spacious living space. High speed internet access, car parking and 24-hour concierge service provides each visitor with hotel benefits whilst simultaneously the freedom and space that only serviced apartments can offer.

A turn around the block to the Oriel Chambers extension 1959-61 James & Bywaters, replacing the original bomb damaged facade.

And a more than appreciative nod to the Proto Modernism of Oriel Chambers themselves 1864 Peter Ellis.

One of the most remarkable buildings of its date in Europe – Pevsner.

Let’s nip down the road to look at the Sandcastle – the Royal and Sun Alliance Building by Tripe and Wakeham 1972-76 a big bright beautiful brick ziggurat with a Rowse Ventilation Station tucked neatly under its shoulder – linking functionalist moderne to a modern moderately restrained opulence.

Following the flow of Union Street at 100 stands the Sir John Moores Building 1962 designed by Littlewoods Department of Architecture and Planning.

Across the way the former Liverpool Daily Post and Echo Farmer & Dark 1970-74 is under wraps and awaiting orders.

Spare a thought for the long lost Cotton House facade of 1905 – extended and obscured by the Newton Dawson Forbes and Tate in 1967-69.

Back on ourselves again to Water Street where Drury House awaits.

Formerly the Commercial Union HQ – its canteen now long gone.

An elegant array of exposed stairways and classy cladding.

Then off to Fenwick Street and the Festival of Britain style opitimism of the Corn Exchange 1953-59 John Foster Jun. and James A Picton.

Turn around there’s the Bucket Fountain by sculptor Richard Huws in Beetham Plaza – under threat but newly listed!

In 1962 the Merseyside Civic Society commissioned the Welsh designer, Richard Huws, then a lecturer at the Liverpool School of Architecture (LSA), to design a kinetic fountain for central Liverpool. Dr Richard Moore, helped by university friends, all of whom were students of Richard Huws at the LSA at the time he was designing his Liverpool fountain, has recently traced the history of the fountain – known locally as the Bucket Fountain – exploring its origins, its final opening in the then Goree Piazza, Drury Lane in May 1967, its subsequent demise, its restoration between 1997 and 2000 and its present condition in the re-named Beetham Plaza.

Merseyside Civic Society

His work as seen at the aforementioned Festival of Britain.

Water Mobile 1951

Here is Huws right in 1967 in the then Goree Piazza

If we scurry along there may be just enough time to take in the Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts – they were begun in 1973, opened in 1984. Architects were Farmer and Dark.

Blackpool Mooch

So here we are at Blackpool North Station – take some time take a look around you, take a look at the cavernous concourse.

The station was opened in its present form in 1974, and succeeded a previous station a few hundred yards away on Talbot Road which had first opened in 1846 and had been rebuilt in 1898. The present station is based on the 1938 concrete canopy which covered the entrance to the former excursion platforms of the old station.

 But let’s not linger – out into the open breathe that sea air, under the underpass where the former Fine Fare awaits.

The Fine fare fanfare begins with an oversized Outspan heralding a new dawn – Charlie Cairoli will be in attendance!

Opened on May 22nd 1979 by the Goodies.

The shop is long gone, however the distinctive cladding prevails.

Along with the austere multi-storey car park.

Just a round the Corner and we find the Funny Girls, possibly some funny girls, funny I thought it used to be an Odeon?

Architects: Robert Bullivant, Harry W. Weedon

This was the largest of the original Oscar Deutsch built Odeon Theatres, seating 3,088, with 1,684 in the stalls and 1,404 in the balcony. The Odeon opened on 6th May 1939 with Three Smart Girls Grow Up starring Deanna Durbin.

Cinema Treasures

Now a key feature of the town’s extravagant nightlife.

It was boarded up for several years until it was acquired by Basil Newby whose Pink Leisure Company converted the former circle into a nightclub named Flamingo’s, a bar in the former circle foyer and Funny Girls; a drag-cabaret theatre in the former stalls area which opened in 2002. In August 2018 Basil Newby’s Pink Leisure Company was put into receivership and the business was temporary taken over by Thwaites Brewery. Thwaites took over the ownership of the building in January 2019 and renovations are being carried out while all its facilities remain open. New signage in the style of the original 1930’s ODEON signage is to be installed on the building.

The Odeon is a Grade II Listed building.

Fancy a game of crazy golf, over looked by a delightful Irish Sea facing block of flats?

Look no further!

Onwards to the concrete coastal barricade that is the North Shore.

The figure at the centre of the interwar push for expansion and innovation in the provision of town infrastructure was Borough Architect John Charles Robinson. His designs were rooted initially in a stylish but civically appropriate classicism, but from the mid-1930s an appreciation of more explicitly modernist ideas becomes evident.

The earliest priority for the Surveyor’s Department after 1918 was the improvement and extension of the promenade and its sea defences. A short stretch of sunken gardens running parallel to the promenade at the Gynn opened in 1915 and a stretch of ‘Pulhamite’ artificial rock cliffs 100ft high between the new gardens and the lower promenade followed in 1923. Between the Gynn and the Metropole Hotel, the steep drop between the road and tramway the upper level and the lower promenade at sea level was remodelled during 1923–5 with a colonnaded ‘middle walk’, a covered promenade that utilised the pavement at the top of the three-tiered slope as its roof.

Then we walk back on ourselves and encounter the Cenotaph.

Originally erected 1923 by the County Borough of Blackpool Architect Ernest Prestwich. Bronze sculptures by Gilbert Ledward. HA Clegg & Sons builders. Messrs Kirkpatrick stonemasons.

And the North Pier.

By Eugenius Birch 1862-3, contractors R. Laidlaw and Son of Glasgow. Cast iron screw piles and columns supporting iron girders and wooden deck 1,405 feet long, with jetty of 474 feet – added 1867.

Notably the birthplace of Sooty.

A nod toward the Tower and a scamper across the Comedy Carpet.

Glancing at Harry Ramsden’s delightful Deco detailing.

Time to take in the former Woolworth’s fascia.

Then wonder where Lewis’s went?

Cutting inland we find WH Smith’s Mosaic.

Look up at the carved stone panels on the Council Offices.

Swerving towards the Winter Gardens.

With its newly refurbished Spanish Rooms.

Back out on the streets to behold the ceramic jamboree tucked in neatly behind the Post Office.

Then along Topping Street for a tiled treat.

Followed by a dessert of fast fading Art Deco.

Lets all turn ourselves in – over and out to the Police Station.

Another of Roger Booth’s Lancashire County Architect, 1962-83 monumental achievements, and another his works destined for demolition.

Skipping bail and back towards the promenade, the better to take in the fine fascias and the joy that is and was Central Pier.

The success of the North Pier prompted the formation of the Blackpool South Jetty Company one year later in 1864. Impressed with the construction of North Pier, the company hired the same contractor, Richard Laidlaw and Son of Glasgow for the project. This time, however, the company used the designs of Lieutenant-Colonel John Isaac Mawson rather than those of Eugenius Birch. 

Whatever the weather you’re always ready for an ice cream treat!

Where better than at Notarianni.

Setting you up for the grand finale that is Joseph Emberton’s Pleasure Beach.

Oh I almost forgot the South Victoria Pier.

The Blackpool South Shore Pier & Pavilion Co. Ltd. was registered in November 1890 and work began to build the pier in 1892. It was constructed, at a total cost of £50,000, using a different method than that used for North and Central piers, the Worthington Screwpile System. It opened, with a choir, two brass bands and an orchestra on Good Friday, 1893. The 3,000 capacity Grand Pavilion opened on 20 May. At 163 yards long, it was the shortest of the three piers, and had 36 shops, a bandstand, an ice-cream vendor and a photograph stall. It was built shorter and wider than North and Central piers to accommodate pavilions

Just in time for the tram home and a calming drink of draught champagne in Yates’s Wine Lodge.

Manchester Walk #2

Go West, young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles.

So said Horace Greeley, I beg to differ.

Here we are vaguely on the western side of Manchester, with very little by way of room, just acres of architecture – mostly modern.

Standing by Rodwell Tower 1965 Douglas Stephen & Partners, a highly appropriate high-rise exclamation mark at the end the Lazy S. Four distinct faces, facing four different ways, currently trading as 111 Piccadilly.

It can be seen here as the demolition takes place, preparing for a new arrival on the approach to Piccadilly Station.

Colonel Siefert’s Gateway House 1969 is born!

An extravagant concrete, steel and glass swish, both welcoming and waving farewell to the weary rail traveller. Changes of use have taken place, retail has been and gone, now a modern mash-up of grub and stuff, above there’s an Apart Hotel.

Sadly the planned moderne station never really arrived.

Moving on down the road a ways in search of an education, we encounter the UMIST Campus 1962-68 Cruikshank and Seward.

But first we hit a concrete, not brick, a concrete wall, a barrier with a barrier, encased in green metal mesh, shrouded in leafy trees.

Anthony Holloway Screen Wall. 1966

Barnes Wallis Building

It’s shady shadowy stairway intact.

Renold Building designed by W. Arthur Gibbon of Cruickshank and Seward. It was one of a suite of white concrete structures on the UMIST campus in Manchester. It was the first of its type in the UK – an entire building to house lecture theatres and seminar rooms.

I’m a fool for an open glass-encased stairwell.

And a passageway Victor Pasmore Mural.

This is a maquette which is in the lobby of the Renold Building.

Turn around and there’s the Pariser Building.

Clad in merry mosaic.

The Maths and Social Science Block.

Seen here framed by the magnificent Mancunian Way

Gone is the low lying Chemistry Building – it’s mosaics now almost hidden in intemperate storage at the base of the Faraday Building.

Works continue with the preparation for the construction of the new £60 million Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre GEIC and the demolition of the Faraday Undergraduate Building and link bridge on the North Campus. 

The mosaic, `The Alchemist’s Elements’, in the entrance colonnade, has now been safely removed from the building and are being stored securely on campus until the building works are complete.

On completion of the GEIC in late 2017, the 4.5m x 3m artworks will be permanently reinstated within the site for visitors to enjoy for years to come.

The mosaics were created by Hans Tisdall a German-born artist, illustrator and designer with a distinguished career in 20th century Britain.  Following the Second World War, Tisdall became involved in the revival of public artworks within many educational and industrial buildings – one of which included the Faraday Building at UMIST.

Staff Net

As of last week this was not the case.

Faraday Tower was designed by H. M. Fairhurst and built in 1967.   A bridge connected  it to the Faraday Building.  Originally a library occupied the bridge. 

The walkway has also gone walkabout.

Just about hanging on by the hem of its kilt is the Swinging Sporran and its delightful brick relief.

Reimagined by the marketing imagineers as Retro.

Happily the award winning Mancunian Way is still there, though partially shrouded in mysterious goings on.

Another great sadness is the closure of St Augustine Church 1967-8 by Desmond Williams & Associates at All Saints, without a priest for well over a year.

Though there are rumours of a change of use and this wall relief by John Brumby is still visible.

Onward and upward and slightly backwards into the world of modern information technology the National Computing Centre 1974 Cruickshank and Seward.

Currently accommodating a ground floor mix of retail and that most modern of architectural expressions – the container city – Hatch.

Let the train take the strain for Hell is a City.

Martineau makes his way across the rooftops in pursuit of Starling. Looking down on Oxford Road station at the end of Station Approach off Whitworth Street.

Oxford Road Station 1960 W.R. Headley and Max Glendinning and structural engineer Hugh Tottenham, a Sydney Opera House in miniature sans the grand guignol.

The station was listed Grade II in late 1995, and though the materially consistent seating, kiosks and ticket office remain, the original ticket collectors booths were dispensed with during earlier refurbishment.

Lets hot foot it to St Peter’s Square before Stanley Baker falls off the roof of the Refuge – where Peter House 1958 Amsell and Bailey awaits.

A gently arcing poem in Portland Stone jam packed with rectilinear detail and interlocking volumes.

Archive material from Manchester Local Image Collection

Multiple links to Mainstream Modern

Manchester Walk #1

Leaving Port Street and the Modernists new HQ we find ourselves in Lever Street – home to Griffin House.

Several storeys of variegated concrete panels cladding and glass – a voluminous yet relatively low rise development of the 1960s.

1967

It has been updated with an extensive entrance, whilst otherwise surviving intact and still well used.

Around the corner to Great Ancoats Street and the former Daily Express Building.

Grade II* listed building which was designed by engineer, Sir Owen Williams. It was built in 1939 to house one of three Daily Express offices the other; two similar buildings are located in London and Glasgow.

Originally, it was possible for passers by to peer into the main hall to see the large newspaper printing press. When the building was converted during the 1990s, the glass was made reflective so outsiders cannot see the interior of the building. This has subsequently been removed as yet again the building is repurposed

Nikolaus Pevsner described the building as:

An all-glass front, absolutely flush, with rounded corners and translucent glass and black glass and a most impressive sight from the street, particularly when lit up at night.

1937/39 Manchester Evening News

The end of the paper’s print run saw the building used as office space, and partially converted to flats with further redevelopment work currently being undertaken, with a view to becoming a tech-hub.

Onward along Swan Street and a brief encounter with something of a rarity in functionalist modern Manchester – the sighting of two Art Deco buildings.

This now and happening pet shop.

And the former NATSOPA trade union offices – National Society of Operative Printers and Assistants trade union offices – the area once being alive with print and related industries, also no longer.

On the corner of Rochdale Road there stands the former CWS fresh fruit fish and veg offices and warehouse – we are on the very edge of Co-op land.

Sadly the CWS clock turns no more and the steel framed windows have suffered the indignity of uPVC replacement.

The Cooperative Wholesale Society dominated a whole swathe across the east of the city and beyond, encompassing manufacturing, banking and insurance.

The icing on the empire’s cake being the 1960s CIS Tower.

The Co-Operative Insurance Society (CIS) Chief Office was built between 1959-62. Its aim was to provide the company with a headquarters in the north comparable to anything in London. Operating from ten different sites in Manchester following the war, the company wished to consolidate their activities within a landmark building, and took advantage of a bomb-cleared site on Miller Street. The architect was Gordon Tait, of Sir John Burnet, Tait and Partners, who was brought in to collaborate with the already appointed Chief Architect in Manchester, G S Hay.

CIS Tower was the largest office block to be built since the war, reaching 25 floors in height. The design was heavily influenced by a trip to the United States, which resulted in a taller, more centralised building that made use of curtain walling. The brief was for an open plan office building, to house 2,500 staff.

Twentieth Century Society

Currently under wraps is the CWS Redfern Building 1928 WA Johnson & JW Cropper – a delightfully functionalist brick moderne building in the northern European manner.

I do how however have a personal preference for the tower’s relatively diminutive neighbour New Century House and Hall – particularly John McCarthy’s concrete screen wall water feature.

New Century House was designed by G. S. Hay and Gordon Tait and constructed by John Laing & Son for the Co-operative Insurance Society in 1962. The attached New Century Hall has a capacity of 1,000 people. New Century House and Hall were listed in 1995 as Grade II as a good example of a high-quality post-war office building. It is considered one of the finest modernist towers in the United Kingdom alongside the sister building CIS Tower – It is described in its listing as:

A design of discipline and consistency which forms part of a group with the Co-operative Insurance Society.

I am told that the current work will see the building used as a music school and venue.

Let’s take a quick look at some more modern Modernism the Cheetham’s School Extension.

This building was designed to incorporate the Chetham’s Music School, the Academic School, an outreach centre, a 400-seat concert hall and a 100-seat recital hall. It sits on the site of a former car park which itself was created on a vacant lot left following the demolition of railway company offices.  This is the first stage of a project that will provide the school with 21st Century facilities.  The next stage will involve the demolition of the former Palatine Hotel and a number of other modifications that will improve access to the medieval Chetham’s Hospital and Library.

The architect Stephenson Bell says of the project that:

Our brief was to create a unique contemporary new building for the musical and academic teaching facilities, providing a state-of-the-art environment which will be a fitting platform for the students. The building itself will, alongside ongoing regeneration in Central Manchester, provide an iconic opportunity for the educational and cultural standing of Manchester to consolidate its position on the international scene.

Just around the corner we encounter the once two-toned towering tower of Highland House across the River Irwell in Salford.

The building was designed and built by Leach, Rhodes & Walker for the Inland Revenue, and was completed in 1966. 

The tower was built using the then innovative technique of using a continuously climbing shutter to cast a central core; pre-fabricated cladding was then lifted into place using a tower crane. This technique led to rapid construction, avoided the need for scaffolding, and allowed the lower floors to be occupied while building continued higher up. The combination was very cost-effective, but was not flawless by any means. On a windy night the windows of the building blew off, ending up in Salford Bus Station.

It changed hands in 1994 for £7.7 million. The Inland Revenue announced plans to move out in 1995 in an early example of a Private Finance Initiative, shortly afterwards the building was sold by London & Regional Properties to the Bruntwood group. Between 1998 and 2000 the building was reclad, converted to its current use and renamed, at a total cost of £4.5 million. In 2004, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, George Ferguson, said that:

The building, along with the Arndale Centre, was dreadful and should be demolished.

It currently seems to almost be a Premier Inn.

Almost instantly we’re back in Manchester and booking into the Ramada Hotel and exploring its riverside piazza and car park. Formerly Fairburn House the work of Cruikshank and Seward 1972.

Pausing to observe a mysterious ramp to nowhere.

Once connecting the office/hotel complex via a footbridge to the now defunct Shambles Square and its equally mysterious array of long gone retail outlets.

Downriver now to Albert Bridge House – an imposing block eighteen storey tower, concrete framed and stone clad – designed by EH Banks for the Ministry of Works, surrounded by lower outlying buildings – featuring a delightfully wavy roof, and an almost playful Corbusian service tower.

Look a little closer and you’ll see a delightful group of defunct letter boxes and a hidden mosaic – playfully tucked away above the doorway to the Assessment Centre.

Ian Nairn in Britain’s Changing Towns, believed it to be:

Easily the best modern building in Manchester, and an outstanding example of what good proportions and straightforward design can do.

Just across the way is Aldine House 1967 Leach Rhodes Walker – the extruded cast concrete curvy windows echoing those of Highland House.

Now there’s just enough time to pop into Besty’s nearby boutique and pick up some fab mod gear.

All archive photographs Manchester Local Image Collection