Halifax Walk

Come out of the station turn a little right and have a quick look at the library.

The Calderdale Central Library & Archives is a bespoke design to rehouse the existing public library service and provide it with state of the art facilities to meet the needs of a modern public library: automatic book sorting, RFID stock tracking, dedicated ‘Media Store’, Children’s Library and flexible community spaces. Additionally the building houses a world-class document archive designed to meet the rigorous PD:5454 standards for environmental close-control, fire protection, security and storage.

Clad in locally-hand-made, long-format clay bricks, the design took careful consideration of the historic context of the site and its surrounding buildings. The site was previously occupied by a Grade II* Listed 19th century Neo-Gothic style church, which was largely destroyed by fire in the 1970s. The new library was designed to wrap around the ruins – the impressive Spire and the remaining Transept with its intricately carved stone rose window. This allowed the building to give new life to the ruins through expert repair work, specialist reglazing of the original windows and integration of the Transept into the library’s main public spaces.

The building was designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and, in addition to a highly insulated building envelope, the building includes a BMS controlled natural ventilation system, low-energy LED lighting, a ground source heat pump and a rooftop photovoltaic array.

LDN Architects

Keep going right up the hill toward North Bridge – there is a low rise office block with a delightful mosaic.

Over the bridge – onwards and upwards toward the New Bank Development – aka Range Lane or Haley Hill.

Bulit in 1964 – Architects V Gorbing

No stranger to the Channel 4 cameras, the flats at Haley Hill were used the in the very first episode of the fourth series of Ackley Bridge.

Halifax Courier

Tower Block 1987

Adorned with the most enchanting sculptural stairways.

Back downhill and through the overgrown walkway we find ourselves neath the flyovers.

Burdock Way, the modern flyover system, was opened in 1973 to take the A58 and A629 traffic over the River Hebble.

Peter Tuffrey: From The Yorkshire Post Archive

Faced with the problem of very high volumes of through traffic in its town centre, and with the impending construction of the M62 too far to the south to provide relief for the town, Halifax needed a bypass. The steep sided valley that the town centre inhabits prevented a conventional road from being built around the town, and so in the early 1970’s construction began on Burdock Way – one of the most adventurous relief road schemes built in Britain, certainly by a town the size of Halifax.

Only one phase of the futuristic road was ever built, but what exists is a partially grade-separated dual carriageway that runs through deep trenches and over tall viaducts close to the heart of the town. At its eastern end is a truly byzantine piece of traffic engineering that stretches the definition of a roundabout to its limit.

Roads

Whilst we are down in the valley, let’s take a quick look at the North Bridge Leisure Centre – with its novel red monogram.

North Bridge Leisure Centre had been considered by the planners since the late 1950’s, with many sites named as ideal locations including Shroggs Park and Spring Hall. The clearing of the former North Bridge Goods Railway Station created the favoured site and it, building started in 1979.

Soon to be subsumed by GT3’s new leisure centre.

Onwards and upwards towards Mecca.

The Halifax Odeon opened on 27th June 1938 with Errol Flynn in The Perfect Specimen.

The architect was George Coles and it cost £59,727 to build.

It had 1,344 stalls seats and 714 in the balcony giving a total of 2,058. A most unusual façade remains intact with three concave bays covered with buff faience tiles, above the entrance each containing a convex window. A tall Art Deco style tower formerly had the Odeon lettering illuminated by neon. It was however not originally intended for the Odeon circuit, but was a take over during construction, which explains its differences from the typical Odeon style.

The cinema had a wide proscenium and a stylish interior with decoration dominated by two large bas-relief female figures on the splay walls either side of the screen.

The Odeon Cinema closed on 18th October 1975 with Robin Askwith in Confessions of a Pop Performer.

It stood unused for a while. It was later converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club which is still operating as a Mecca Bingo Club today.

Cinema Treasures

In back of the flicks are some more flats – Great Albion Street 1962 contractors Wimpey.

Tower Block

Under the underpass now.

Past the slab block with the angular addition.

Under the other underpass noting the distinctive lamp.

Former estate pub the Pot ‘o Four reimagined as a Thai Resaurant.

Once one of the town’s top music venues – home to local legends Chinese Gangster Element, Bogshed and English Dogs.

Behind the Cow Green Flats Lister Court 1969 contractors Gleeson.

Tower Block

Up the road to this former CWS store – some of its faience frontage intact.

Then back up aways to the Elim Pentecostal Church.

Attributed to C.S. Oldfield and it was completed in 1972 apparently they did the relief too.

20th Century Society

Back track to the beefeater.

The tiles were produced by Malkin Johnson of Burslem.

Across the way is this intriguing, possibly inter-war development.

Just around the corner the former Broadway Supermaket – now The Acapulco Club and Gourmet Dining.

Along with two interesting mid century buildings.

Gone for a Burton at the biggest of Burton’s

Further on down the road Arcade Royale.

Shopping arcade – opened 5 October 1912.

By Clement Williams and Sons Halifax, for Walter Midgley.

Marvo composite glazed stone, terracotta, and reinforced concrete floors.

Marvo and terracotta by the Leeds Fireclay Co.

Rectangular block with main entrance on King Edward Street, arcade inserted through Nos 28 and 30 Commercial Street and further entrance on Southgate.

Free Baroque style.

British Listed Buildings

Further on down this commercial development of the 60’s.

Sitting in back of the Regal/ABC Cinema.

The Regal Cinema opened on 19 September 1938, just three months after the large Odeon opened. There was an entertainment venue on each corner of the intersection, the Victoria Theatre, the Picture House and an independent cinema occupied the other three corners. The Alexandra, Electric, and Theatre Royal were also nearby.

Designed by William R. Glen – ABC’s in-house architect, the Regal Cinema was a particularly fine 1,938-seat cinema, with 1,250 seats in the stalls and 688 in the balcony. A shallow stage was provided and four dressing rooms. The proscenium was wide and surrounded by an elaborate plaster fretwork concealing ventilation ducts. On either side were niches containing tall slender figurines which were not dis-similar to the Oscar statues.

The cinema was tripled in 1976 – having been renamed ABC in 1961 and reopened on 12 September with 670 in screen 1, the original circle using the original unaltered screen, and 200 and 173 seats in screens 2 & 3 situated under the balcony.

Renamed Cannon and then back to ABC the cinema closed suddenly in 2002 having been bought for use as a nightclub.

Fortunately it was designated a Grade II Listed building in 2000.

This has ensured that all elements of the original (it had survived basically intact) are to be preserved. English Heritage described it as ‘Long curved stone exterior. A handsome surviving classical auditorium. One of the best of the few surviving original ABC auditoria’. However the construction of the nightclub, using the stalls area only, will effectively conceal all trace of the original design. The circle will not be used at all.

Work on the insertion of the nightclub began in the Summer of 2002.

Cinema Treasures

Next stop the behemoth of the Halifax Building Society HQ

The Halifax Building was designed by the architecture firm BDP and constructed in 1968-74, as the headquarters for the Halifax Building Society and built with an unusually high budget. The rapid growth of the society over the twentieth century prompted the requirement for a new headquarters building, and in 1968 the aim of the architects was to design not only a practical building but a bold building for a confident client.

The building was Grade II listed in February 2013.

Historic England

Finally quickly downhill the swimming baths.

Designed by F H Hoyles, the Deputy Borough Architect, under the supervision of the Borough Architect J L Berbiers, and constructed in the 1960s, Halifax Swimming Pool is an admirable effort by the local authority to translate local distinctiveness into modern design.

Calderdale Council say that due to severe structural deterioration, Halifax Swimming Pool has been permanently closed to protect the safety of its staff and users.

Halifax Courier

Closed and awaiting uncertain future.
Mike Ashworth Collection

Campaigners are urging the local authority to save the tile murals.

The interior of the swimming pool features two ceramic murals by artist Kenneth Barden 1924-1988, depicting British pond life. The mural is a collage of different plants and insects, layered in a geometric motif with vibrant blues, reds, purples and greens. The aquatic theme ties in with the building’s function and creates a lively backdrop to the diving pool.

Barden designed a number of ceramic murals in the post-war period, with notable examples being the massive Carter tile facade panels for the Harbour and Seaward residential towers in Gosport 1961-68, and an interior mural depicting historic pump mechanisms at a Pump House in Sawbridgeworth for the Hertfordshire and Essex Water Board (1955).

The Twentieth Century Society is calling for a review of listing policy for post war buildings following the decision to turn down a listing application for Halifax Swimming Pool and its two distinctive internal murals.

C20 Society

Porter Street Housing – Hull

Hull was the most severely damaged British city or town during the Second World War, with 95 percent of houses damaged. It was under air raid alert for one thousand hours. Hull was the target of the first daylight raid of the war and the last piloted air raid on Britain.

Of a population of approximately three hundred and twenty thousand at the beginning of the war, approximately one hundred and fifty two thousand were made homeless as a result of bomb destruction or damage. 

Overall almost one thousand two hundred people were killed and three thousand injured by air raids.

Despite the damage the port continued to function throughout the war.

Wikipedia

Rescuers search rubble for survivors in Mulgrave Street – East Hull

The earliest housing was built just after World War II, starting with what is known locally as Australia Houses.

A circular five storey housing block off Porter and Adelaide Streets, with a communal garden in the middle. These flats consist of deck access flats and some traditional style Art Deco tenements. Some are three bedroom, and have been refurbished over the years.

UK Housing

Porter Street – three six-storey blocks containing seventy dwellings of 1954

Contractor J Mather

New Michael Street and Melville Street aka Upper Union Street one hundred and eight dwellings in three nine-storey blocks of 1958

Contractor Truscon

Information and archive images Tower Block

The designer behind Hull’s tower blocks was Andrew Rankine RIBA, who from 1939 remained City Architect until his retirement in 1961.

Preston Walk

Turning left off the station approach, set back a ways on the right, the Christ Church facade.

Originally built in 1836, the church closed in 1971 and was subsequently demolished, and is now adorned with a new extension, which is further adorned with sculptural details on the distinctive door handles.

Which illustrate local industry.

The whole is bedded into the extensions of the County Hall.

Then head on down Bow Lane to the Lancashire Archives 1976, the work of County Architect Roger Booth.

Back track towards town and onwards up Corporation Street to encounter a tiled delight.

Cast a glance toward UCLAN’s Livesey House, named in honour of Joseph Livesey of Preston, one of the early teetotal pioneers.

A twisty turn around Hill Street and a mysterious display of exterior wall tiles.

The along Friarsgate to the Humane Building.

For most of the 19th and early 20th century this was the ‘Roast Beef Inn.’ In 1924, the police were said to be “desirous of closing this house because they were difficult of Police supervision, and could be spared without causing inconvenience.” In 1926 the building became the premises of the ‘Preston Humane Assurance Collecting Society.’

Superlative Walks

Next twixt Walker Street and Moor Lane the mighty BT Building – Telephone House by Building Design Partnership, 1960-64. A decent office block with rough patterned concrete end walls.

The front elevation was re-clad in 1992 the back is intact

BDP’s founder Professor Sir George Grenfell Baines, known affectionately as GG, was born in 1908 and set up in practice as an architect in Preston in 1937.

Four years later he teamed up with two other Preston practices and the Grenfell Baines Group was born. Expansion in various locations in the UK continued throughout the 1940s and 1950s and in 1951 GG was the only northern architect appointed to design a building for the Festival of Britain in London.

In 1961, his long cherished ambition of establishing the world’s first interdisciplinary practice was realised and Building Design Partnership was founded.  It was a successful formula and on the occasion of his retirement in 1974.

GG’s advice was “keep going, getting better.”

BDP

We are now deep in the nowheresville world of student accommodation.

Heading up Walker Street to the Magistrates’ Courts -yet more of Roger Booth’s work.

Low-lying horizontal tiled and colonnaded

Just around the Conner we find the former Royal Lancaster Hotel

A former Matthew Brown pub, The Lancaster – opposite the Spindlemakers, was very popular pub, with a large public bar on one side and a room that used to feature live music on the other. Then some genius came up with the idea of turning it into a disco pub called the Coconut Grove with the DJ housed in, yes you’ve guessed it, a coconut. It lasted a while then fell off a bit so they relaunched it as Crystals.

This wasn’t a success, so the pub was closed in 1996 and sold off and it was turned into offices. The exterior of the building is more or less as it was when it was a pub.

What Pub

Across the way The Spindlemakers Arms.

A modern Thwaite’s pub that appeared in the first Good Beer Guide in 1974.

The pub closed in 1994 and has been boarded up for over 20 years.

And some concrete steps with exciting piloti.

Swing over the ring road and up along St Pauls Road – and astonishing display of exterior Pilkington’s wall tiles on the Preston Vocational centre.

Interesting row of interwar terraces too!

Let’s back track toward the market.

LimeHouse – former office block recently converted to residential use – renting flats from £525 PCM upwards

Next door is Ribchester House awaiting residential conversion.

Whose neighbours Elizabeth House and Red Rose House former home to the Ministry of Works and Pensions, is currently half-ways re-clad as more homes are created, as part of the city council’s flagship City Living Strategy.

Across the way is the former Cooperative Store Lancastria House, built for the Co-op by company architect William Albert Johnson.

His father was the manager of a local Co-op grocery shop.

He studied at the Manchester Schools of Technology and Art under Professors Hugh Stannus and A C Dickie. He was articled to the Chief Architect of the CWS, Francis E L Harris, and after qualifying set up his own practice, sharing offices with Paul Ogden. The struggle of maintaining a practice proved too difficult financially and he decided to go back and work with Harris at the CWS. On Harris’s death in 1924, he succeeded him as Chief Architect. In total W A Johnson worked for the Cooperative Wholesale Society from 1899 until his retirement in 1950.

The covered market has undergone a serious rethink – to include a covered food area and moveable stalls.

Alongside Conlon, the delivery team for the project includes Frank Whittle Partnership and Greig & Stephenson. Construction has included the installation of around 360 glass panels alongside refurbishment of the market’s steelwork and stone flags.

Sadly the Indoor Market is nowhere to be seen.

Demolished to make way for The Light.

The aim of this exciting cinema and restaurant complex development project is to create an exciting new city centre eight-screen cinema and restaurant complex with a new multi-storey car park.

Visit Preston

Which will now accommodate Lancastria House, saved from the wrecking ball.

Let’s hot foot it to The Guildhall.

The Guild Hall was commissioned to replace the town’s Public Hall. The new building, which was designed by Robert Matthew, Johnson Marshall, was due to be ready for the Preston Guild of 1972, but after construction was delayed, it only officially opened in 1973.

The complex has two performance venues, the Grand Hall which holds 2,034 people and the Charter Theatre which holds 780 people. There is direct pedestrian access, via footbridge, from the adjacent Preston Bus Station and car park. Artists that have performed at the venue include Martha Argerich,  Morrissey, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Jackson 5, Thin Lizzy, Busted and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel among others. It also hosted the UK Snooker Championship for the years 1978 to 1997.

Until July 2014, it was owned by Preston City Council, who were considering its demolition due to its high running costs. It was then sold to local businessman Simon Rigby, who promised to spend £1m to renovate the venue. Rigby closed the venue in May 2019 and, in June 2019, he placed the business into administration. Preston City Council subsequently reclaimed possession of the building, citing the “unacceptable behaviour” of Rigby. The building was due to host the Business Expo in April 2020 but this event had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wikipedia

And finally a gargantuan treat the mammoth Preston Bus Station.

Once the most hated building in town, fearless campaigning saw it listed and loved.

Carefully restored and adapted to the needs of 21st Century bus and coach passenger.

Built in the Brutalist architectural style between 1968 and 1969, designed by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson of Building Design Partnership with E. H. Stazicker, it had a capacity of 80 double-decker buses, 40 along each side of the building. Some claimed that it was the second largest bus station in Western Europe. Pedestrian access to the bus station was originally through any of three subways, one of which linked directly to the adjacent Guild Hall, while the design also incorporates a multi-storey car park of five floors with space for 1,100 cars. It has been described by the Twentieth Century Society as:

One of the most significant Brutalist buildings in the UK.

The building’s engineers, Ove Arup and Partners, designed the distinctive curve of the car park balconies after acceptable finishes to a vertical wall proved too expensive, contributing to the organic, sculptural nature of the building. The edges are functional, too, in that they protect car bumpers from crashing against a vertical wall. The cover balustrade protects passengers from the weather by allowing buses to penetrate beneath the lower parking floor.

Wikipedia

Guild Tower the DWP offices, have been the subject of speculative redevelopment – notably by Simon Rigby, he of the failed Guildhall plans.

It remains to be seen wether the apart-hotel, casino, restaurant complex will ever be realised.

New Town House – Warrington

Warrington Borough Council  New Town House Buttermarket Street WA1 2NH

A true brute of a building, relentlessly repeated pre-cast concrete panels and partially mirrored windows, in a predictable grid.

A pale grey monolith on the wrong side of town.

Built in 1976 to house the Warrington & Runcorn Development Corporation.

2007 voted the ugliest kid in town.

Now due for demolition, by way of a suicide note addressed to itself.

It will not be missed by the majority of residents.

Good, it’s horrible and worthy of demolition.

No doubt the Brutalist-loving nutters will be out in force to protect this.

Nobody actually likes brutalist buildings.

They just pretend to like them to make themselves look cool, it’s like craft beer and food that comes in tiny portions.

One lone voice in its defence.

I have started a petition to save this place.

We can’t lose all our Brutalist Architecture to the steel and glass brigade – viva the New Town House.

Place North West

The weary workers are already rehoused in One Time Square.

So I went to take a walk around, before the wrecking ball arrives.

The council said there were:

No operational reasons to keep the building in council use or occupied beyond this point, allowing the site to be cleared for redevelopment.

Justifying the demolition, Warrington said the building has poor energy efficiency, high service costs, and is inflexible for modern office and business working

Cost estimates for refurbishment, M&E installation, and energy efficiency measures to keep the building in office use stand at £5m; even if this is actioned, the building would still have limitations for flexible modern working practices and energy efficiency.

The council had explored renting the building out but said: there was no demand for office space of this scale and quality; a sale was also considered but the council found market demand was not significant.

Residential is the most likely outcome for the site, and it will be built into a masterplan for an area including Scotland Road, Town Hill, and Cockhedge. The council said it would look to sell the site in future.

East Didsbury Station

East Didsbury Station was opened in 1909 by the London and North Western Railway and, until 6 May 1974, was called  East Didsbury and Parrs Wood.

From 1923, the line was operated by the London Midland and Scottish Railway. Following the formation in 1948 of British Rail, rail services were operated by the London Midland Region of British Railways, then North-Western Regional Railways.

The station was rebuilt in the 1959 by the architect to the London Midland section of British Rail, William Robert Headley – who was also responsible for Coventry, Oxford Road and Piccadilly Stations.

Services to Manchester Airport began in 1993 upon the opening of the Manchester Airport spur.

With the privatisation of rail services in 1996/7, East Didsbury was served by the North Western Trains franchise.

Although it’s just up the road from me, this is the first time I’ve ever travelled back to or from there.

I was off to Eccles – live and direct!

The southbound side has been tastefully replaced by nothing in particular.

In a style to match our austere privatised times – provincial bus stop chic.

happy the northbound side’s still stood standing – on stilts.

The waiting room more or less intact.

The last of the few, get it while you can – all aboard for Patricroft, right away guard!

Archive images: JF Harris 1959

Grimsby Walk

Close by the Grimsby Town Railway Station are several examples of the work of Harold Gosney – born in Sheffield, he studied at Grimsby School of Art and London’s Slade School of Fine Art.

The majority of Gosney’s early commissions were collaborations with architects and he has made a significant contribution to public art in Grimsby.

He is the artist responsible for the reliefs on the Abbey Walk Car Park.

The large Grimsby seal by the entrance to the Grimsby Central Library

And the Grim and Havelok themed copper relief on the side of Wilko store in Old Market Place.

On the way to the Central Library along Osborne Street there are a number of 60’s offices and shops

New Oxford House.

Former Norwich Union Building

To our left the magnificent Central Library

Adorned with this delightful concrete honeycomb.

And the figures of the Guardians of Knowledge. 

Sculpted by Peter Todd, the former head of Grimsby Art School. 

Self Portrait

There’s a bronze mixture in the fibreglass to make it look bronze like. They were made at home, we lived in an old school in Walesby, he set up a 15ft table. They were made of clay then with about 10 pots of boiled rubber, he moulded the clay and they were filled with fibreglass and resin.

Pip Todd.

Modular relief to the rear of the Library.

Heading down Doughty Street to circumnavigate the car park.

Taking in the Garden Street Signal Box.

Opened in 1881, and fortified with a new brick base to protect it from bombs in the Second World War, the signal box guided its last train into nearby Grimsby Station in September 1993.

Boarded up, the box blights a popular route into town and is currently home to tens of pigeons.

Grimsby Telegraph

Next we pass through the main shopping street of Freshney Place where there are two unattributed concrete reliefs.

On its opening the centre was thought by Ian Nairn to be one of the finest in the country.

Ice Factory Trust

Further along we encounter Santander and New Look.

Whilst just around the corner lurks a William Mitchell door on the former RBS branch.

Making a beeline for the BT Telephone Exchange building

A towering mass wrote Pevsner.

A brick service tower and aggregate-clad slab.

It was designed by George Winterburn and built in 1973.

With an adjoining brick functionalist block of 1935.

Next door are the Magistrates’ Courts.

And across the way the Bus Garage of 1925.

Wandering down Freeman Street we find the former ABC Cinema.

Architects: William Riddell Glen

A Co-op Shop was attached.

Opened by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) on 4th December 1937 as the Regal Cinema, it had an original seating capacity of 1,966, with 1,280 in the stalls and 686 in the circle. It was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/6Ranks theatre organ which was opened by Wilfred Southworth. The organ console was illuminated.

It was renamed ABC in 1961. In July 1966, the ABC was modernised and alterations took place. The new ABC occupied the balcony of the original cinema building and had a seating capacity of 1,231 when it re-opened on 18th March 1967. The former stalls seating area was converted into a Kwik Save supermarket and shops. The layout was unusual in that the circle started at the very rear of the stalls. The new cinema was also back to front – the original projection box was now above the proscenium, and became the plenum room.

Cinema Treasures

The Modernism of Freeman Street Market is much diminished.

Long gone are the East Marsh Flats 1963 – demolished in 2018.

Let’s take a swerve right to Hope Street.

Where we find the Royal National Mission To Deep Sea Fishermen – now Hope House.

With its marvellous mosaic.

Onwards down Victor Street toward the former Ross House now occupied by Young’s Foods.

Ross Engineers and Cochranes apprentices, pictured on the steps of Ross House, Grimsby, in August 1967.

Grimsby Telegraph

In the mid-1960s, a new eleven storey headquarters was built in Grimsby by Myton, a division of Taylor Woodrow

Architects: Howard V Lobbs & Partners – Lobb had a busy practice specialising in schools and had been responsible for coordinating architects on the Festival of Britain. He was also responsible for the design of the British Pavilion at the 1958 World Exhibition in Brussels.

In addition were also responsible for the M1 Services at Leicester.

Ground Control

When the figures say crime is falling, why are we more frightened than ever? Could our towns and cities be creating fear and mistrust? More property is being built in Britain than at any time since the Second World War – but it’s owned by private corporations, designed for profit and watched over by CCTV. From the Docklands boom to cities such as Manchester, gated apartment developments, gleaming business districts and plazas have sprung up over the country.

Has this ‘regeneration’ really made our lives better?

Anna Minton.

I’m returning to the MMU Didsbury Campus, the site began life as a baronial deer park and estate, in 1740 the site was purchased by the Broome family, and a new house was constructed after 1785 by William Broome, from 1812 owned by Colonel Parker. Following a succession of uses and owners the School of Education is established.

I studied for a PGCE in Art there in 1984.

Subsequently, fun and fashionable free-market economics, have increasingly governed the management of education and its assets.

MMU sold the site for an undisclosed sum to the developers PJ Livesey.

This is Sandown House, formerly the administrative block, redeveloped as private homes, each valued at £675,000 and upwards.

St James Park is an exclusive collection of beautifully converted heritage buildings and individually designed luxury homes offering opulent living accommodation finished to an uncompromising specification. Beautifully styled and perfectly connected, this gated development is located moments away from the heart of Didsbury Village.

So why choose a gated community?

The fear of fear it would seem, is on the increase, whilst crime itself is decreasing.

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors  says that although residents feel safer in gated communities, it is more of a perception than a reality. Research in the US suggests that gating may not deter criminals and initial studies in the UK suggest the same.

If they are allowed to develop unchecked, it will breed hostility and threaten the social cohesion of the UK’s cities, the surveyors warn.

BBC

Social exclusion, the bitter taste of economic apartheid is obviously the plat du jour here in St James Place – there is limited pedestrian access and secure gates to inhibit unwanted automotive ingress.

There is an exciting array of CCTV devices, encoded gates and doors, ever higher railings in evidence.

Security for the terminally insecure.

It is possible to live in an open environment in East Didsbury, here on Ford Lane folks come and go, hopefully interacting with friends, neighbours. family and strangers passing idly by.

Though this is one of the most affluent areas of Manchester, and happily one is unlikely to find oneself with an unemployed collier as a neighbour.

Community minded, demographically diverse cities, will produce safe, secure, healthy places to live.

There is no evidence that gated communities are in any way safer, in fact they may well be socially divisive – this is the never never land of smoked glass Range Rover windows and mirrored wardrobes.

Architectural critic Ian Nairn makes a convincing case for a socially mixed residential development, which still maintains a regard for the area’s heritage.

I visited Lillington Gardens Estate in August 2018 – now a mature development, where those residents I spoke with, seemed happy and content with their homes.

Sir John Bland 5th Baronet 1691 – 1743 of  Kippax Park and Hulme Hall, was a British landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1713 to 1727.

His mother was Anne Mosley, daughter of Sir Edward Mosley of Hulme.

He retired from Parliament aged 35 and moved the focus of his local political activity from Yorkshire to Lancashire, where his mother had inherited Hulme Hall and the Lancashire estates which covered most of Manchester.

This is the celebration of privilege, power and property in pressed aluminium and print, saluting the progenitors of the Mosely Family, who once upon a time, were Manchester’s wealthiest landowners.

We live in an owned landscape where access is an issue.

Mr and Mrs Andrews would not the that little or nothing has changed since Gainsborough’s time.

Completed shortly after Mr. Andrews’ marriage to the daughter of a neighbouring gentry, a marriage that enhanced his estate, the image captures the unchanging power of property relations in pre-industrial England.

“They are not a couple in nature as Rousseau imagined nature,” John Berger comments. “They are landowners and their proprietary attitude to what surrounds them is visible in their stance and their expressions.”

One Way Street

The first thing I’d say is this is going to be an aspirational site within an aspirational areaPJ Livesey

So how did we get here?

Baroness Thatcher makes massive tax cuts for the wealthy, funded by North Sea Oil revenues, impoverishing the public purse, undervaluing the privatisation of public assets, encouraging the right to buy, yet inhibiting the building of social housing, hot housing the property owning democracy.

The term ‘property-owning democracy’ emerges from a discursive history of use. Coined by British MP Noel Skelton in 1920, the concept compounded the terms ‘property-owning’ and ‘democracy’ as a conservative response to left-leaning ideas of liberalism and socialism. At this stage, the term represented the necessity of protecting property rights from democratic organisation.

Wikipedia

More recently stamp duty holidays, houses as speculative assets not homes, low interest rates, massive middle-class inheritances, deregulation in the financial sector, all fuel the upwardly mobile housing boom.

Whilst for the lower orders years and years of pay freezes, attacks upon trade unions, the continued decline in manufacturing, small state austerity, zero hour contracts, rent hikes, attacks on the unemployed, universal credit and indexed benefits, have all fuelled reduced social mobility.

Looks like we have a schism on our hands.

The UK became a much more equal nation during the post-war years. The data available shows that the share of income going to the top 10% of the population fell over the 40 years to 1979, from 34.6% in 1938 to 21% in 1979, while the share going to the bottom 10% rose slightly.

Since 1979 this process of narrowing inequality has reversed sharply, inequality rose considerably over the 1980s, reaching a peak in 1990.

Equality Trust

In a community where public services have failed to keep abreast of private consumption things are very different.

Here, in an atmosphere of private opulence and public squalor, the private goods have full sway.

JK Galbraith

Come, now, you rich men, weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothing has become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted away, and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh. What you have stored up will be like a fire in the last days. Look! The wages you have withheld from the workers who harvested your fields keep crying out, and the cries for help of the reapers have reached the ears of Jehovah of armies. You have lived in luxury and for self-gratification on the earth. You have fattened your hearts on the day of slaughter.

James 5: 1-5

St James Park is an exclusive collection of beautifully converted heritage buildings and individually designed luxury homes offering opulent living accommodation finished to an uncompromising specification. Beautifully styled and perfectly connected, this gated development is located moments away from the heart of Didsbury Village, where residents can enjoy an abundance of independent café bars, restaurants and boutiques, as well as Didsbury Park on the doorstep.

Opulent heritage design, how could one resist?

Tellingly no mention of ever so adjacent Fletcher Moss Park:

Alderman Moss bequeathed the house and gardens to the City of Manchester on his death in 1919 because he wanted the house and its contents to remain, as far as possible, intact “to show what a comfortable house of the olden times was like”.

Didsbury Parsonage Trust

Everything’s gone grey, in the aspirational race for the neutral high ground of individualism, they have painted you into a corner of dull, monochromatic conformity.

Welcome to the professional world of self interested, low-interest, the get rich quick deregulated go-getter.

Now get out.

I dreaded walking where there was no path
And pressed with cautious tread the meadow swath
And always turned to look with wary eye
And always feared the owner coming by;
Yet everything about where I had gone
Appeared so beautiful I ventured on
And when I gained the road where all are free
I fancied every stranger frowned at me
And every kinder look appeared to say
“You’ve been on trespass in your walk today.”
I’ve often thought, the day appeared so fine,
How beautiful if such a place were mine;
But, having naught, I never feel alone
And cannot use another’s as my own.

John Clare

This is a revamped version of my original post, I was contacted by residents, who had reservations concerning the photographs that I had taken of their homes, whilst on their private roads, without their permission, in contravention of current legislation.

I have replaced these with photographs taken from public roads and also from pictures found on the developer’s website.

Places are different: Subtopia is the annihilation of the difference by attempting to make one type of scenery standard for town, suburb, countryside and wild. So what has to be done is to maintain and intensify the difference between places. This is the basic principle of visual planning. It is also the end to which all the other branches of planning – sociology, traffic circulation, industry, housing hygiene – are means. They all attempt to make life more rewarding, more healthy, less pointlessly arduous.

Ian Nairn again

Welcome to Notopia.

Ground control to Colonel Tom.

Bradford Walk

We arrive by train and dive deep underground.

The seemingly subterranean Bradford Interchange.

The Interchange was designed in 1962, it was hailed as a showpiece of European design when it opened in 1971.

Architects were the BR regional team and the City Architect.

The bus station featured a large ridge and furrow design of overall roof, which was subsequently demolished in 1999 to allow for a rebuilding of the bus station, which was opened in 2001.

Above us the tiled edifice of the station buildings.

Though as ever plans are afoot:

Projects that could see over £100 million spent on transforming Bradford city centre are about to take the next step forward. 

The pedestrianisation of Hall Ings and Market Street, a new entrance to Bradford Interchange, and a park and ride scheme are all part of the Transforming Cities Fund – which will see tens of millions of pounds of Government cash spent on schemes in Bradford.

Examiner Live

Let’s get on a 615, 607 or 67 bus to see St Saviour’sGeorge Pace 1966.

It’s such a pleasant surprise when you see it appear from around the corner.

Let’s take a look inside.

The bus back to the centre of Bradford once again.

Once around the Magistrates’ Court – City Architect Clifford Brown 1972

Where the enormous BT building of 1976 awaits.

They are commonly known to come in pairs – in this case partnered by this inter-war classical moderne telephone exchange.

The Central Library 1965 Mr WC Brown – a striking podium and tower.

With a delightful Portland Stone relief.

Around the corner to the Ice Arena.

In January 1966 Mecca Leisure Limited opened the ice rink in Bradford under the name of the Silver Blades Ice Rink, it was reputed to be The finest rink in the world, with coloured lighting in the barriers, sparkling chandeliers over the ice, and a plush bar and restaurant. The resplendently dressed skaters were entertained with organ music. The opening gala at the rink had performances by British skaters who had just returned from the World Championships, they included Sally Anne Stapleford, John Curry and ice dancers Bernard Ford and Diane Towler.

History

Threatened with closure in 1991, saved by the protestations of the protestors.

Let’s take a look at the University particularly the striking tiled relief.

Whole streets of houses were demolished, many people had to be rehoused as a result and work on Main Building began in May 1960.  The building was commissioned by the Local Authority and designed by the City Architect, Clifford Brown, then handed over to the Institute.  The lower four floors of Main were first occupied in October 1962; other parts of the building in 1963 and 1964.

When Main Building opened, it was part of the Bradford Institute of Technology.  BIT was about to achieve the century-old dream of a University for Bradford: it received its Charter in October 1966, with Wilson as its first Chancellor. 

It transpires that the tiles were the work of Joe/Joseph Mayo who also competed the meal at Bradford’s Rhodesway School.

Special Collections

Away now to not shop at the Co-op – WA Johnson 1935 a dizzyingly delicious horizontal vertical confection, with a central cylindrical glass column.

Let’s hot foot to the Kirkgate Centre and Market – John Brunton and Partners 1975.

Containing these William Mitchell reliefs and mysterious tiled panels.

The derelict former headquarters of Yorkshire Building Society, on one of the highest parts of the city centre, looms over the city centre, and to many people is the city’s ugliest building.

Although there have been vocal calls for High Point’s demolition, there are a growing number of groups and individuals calling for its preservation and celebration as a significant brutalist landmark in the event of any redevelopment. Speakers will also be asked to consider the future role of the Kirkgate Centre – another prominent brutalist building – in light of the centre’s proposed market refurbishment.

Telegraph and Argus

John Brunton and Partners 1973

Proposals would see the building – built in the 1970s as the headquarters for Yorkshire Building Society, converted from office space into an apartment complex.

Circus Developments was this week granted permitted development rights for the conversion, with the architect behind the scheme saying more details of the development would likely be announced this summer.

Examiner

It’s utterly freakish, the severed head of some Japanese giant robot clad in a West Yorkshire stone-based concrete aggregate, glaring out at the city through blood-red windows, the strangest urban artefact in a city which does not lack for architectural interest. The work of Brunton seems almost too appropriate for the combination of wild technological daring, Cold War paranoia, shabby corruption and crushed dreams that defined the Wilson era.

Owen Hatherley

John Cade inside the robot’s head.

Finally to Fountains

Sheffield Walk

To begin at the beginning – the Eric Mensforth Building former Polytechnic library 1973 by Bernard Warren City Planner and Architect.

Sir Eric Mensforth was a leader of the engineering industry and a pioneer in the development of the helicopter in Britain.

The Polytechnic was formed from the College of Technology and now presents itself as the Sheffield Hallam University.

Gollins, Melvin, Ward & Partners 1953 – 1968.

Much of the original scheme has subsequently been reworked and clad.

Though through this stairwell there is access to an unspoilt elevation.

We now ascend into the Epic Development 1968 – 1969 Jefferson Sheard & Partners.

Home to the Cinecenta Cinema and Fiesta Club.

The Cinecenta Twin cinemas opened on 30th January 1969 located in the Pond Street development in the city centre, below the Fiesta Nightclub. This small circuit of cinemas was operated by Leslie Elliott of the Compton Cameo Group of Companies and the policy was to show films which the major circuits did not show, which of course meant that most of these films carried an ‘X’ certificate.

When it was opened by Keith and Jim Lipthorpe in August 1970, the Fiesta was reputed to be the largest in Europe. The club closed in 1976 following a 17-day strike by the workers who attempted to join the Transport & General Workers Union. It reopened under new management shortly afterwards before permanently closing in 1980.

From here we can see a classic modern pub the Penny Black

Can be a bit of a football pub and quite often there are drunks from other teams in there. I remember when Chelsea were up here a few years ago and one of their fans was so drunk he got in a taxi outside the pub, went round the block and got out again outside thinking it was a different pub. Luckily for him his pint of Guinness that he had left was still on the table where he had left it! 

Beer in the Evening

Once the haunt of postal and telecoms workers – whose buildings form the heart of the area.

Thence to the back of BHS and the rear of former Woolworths 1961 – Thomas and Peter H Braddock

Passing by the home of the Rebels Nightclub, it was previously The Penthouse owned by Peter Stringfellow.

I had my stag night in there in 1972 all I can remember is falling down all those stairs.

BHS opened 1960s – having become little more than a distant folk memory the premises are now occupied by B&M Bargains

BHS’s chief architect at this time was G. W. Clarke, who generally worked alongside W. S. Atkins & Partners, as consulting engineers. The stores – like Woolworth’s buildings – were composite structures, with steel frames and concrete floors. Clarke sometimes appointed local architects. At first, like C&A, BHS retained the narrow vertical window bays and margin-light glazing that had characterised high street façades in the 1930s, but by the end of the 1950s Clarke had embraced a modified form of curtain-walling. This architectural approach became firmly associated with BHS, with framed curtain wall panels – like giant TV screens – dominating the frontages of many stores.

Building Our Past

Around the corner to the Gallery Shops

Onward to the Magistrates’ Court 1978 and Police HQ 1970 – Bernard Warren City Planning Officer and Architect.

The West Bar Police HQ now the Hampton by Hilton

 Architect JL Womersley City Architect 1962-4 

Complementary full English breakfast buffet was nice, however on the second day everything ran out too early! 

To the left the former HSBC/Midland Bank HQ the enormous Pennine Centre aka Griffin House – construction started in 1973 on this immense building and was completed in 1975 – architects Richard Hemingway and Partners.

The tower is 50 m tall and has 13 floors of office space.

Pennine Five – P5 will be a place designed for the modern workforce, offering high quality and adaptable solutions for businesses of any size and sector.

Previously owned by US-based Kennedy Wilson, was sold for £18million to RBH Properties in the spring, which announced plans for flats and shops.

Seen on the walk, these wonderful ceramic panels, situated to the right of the revolving doors.

Around the corner to St James House 1966 Oscar Garry and Partners, another example of a modernist tower block, now refurbished for mixed commercial use.

Finally to the Cathedral – granted status in 1914, mediaeval in origin, though much altered, most recently in the 60s following the failure of Charles Nicholson’s earlier plans and an unimplemented George Pace scheme. Finally overseen by Arthur Bailey of Ansell & Bailey.

George Pace was responsible for the working of St Marks Broomhill.

And St Saviour’s on our Bradford walk next week

Tucked away in the far corner of the Chapel is a unique window by Keith New, created in 1966 in memory of Rowley Hill who was Vicar of Sheffield from 1873 to 1877. Its design is inspired by a vision of the Heavenly city with its twelve pearl gates represented by twelve pearly mosaic circles and the ‘glory of light’ being created by hundreds of tiny coloured Perspex tubes creating jewel colours through which light enters the chapel.

Heritage

Many thanks to Helen Angell and Sean Madner for their invaluable assistance, knowledge and encouragement.

Fred Perry Way – Stockport to Reddish

The third and last leg, starting from the confluence of the Tame and Etherow where the Mersey begins.

Passing the remains of the railway bridge carrying the Cheshire Lines through to Tiviot Dale Station.

Over the river and beneath the terminal pylon.

Along Penny Lane beside Lancashire Hill flats.

Across Sandy Lane into Coronation Street.

Once a rare sight on our roads the ubiquitous SUV reigns supreme on our suburban streets – the level of UK car debt currently stands at £73 Billion.

We weaved in and out of the highways and byways of South Reddish.

Through Unity Park where the goals are lower than low.

The hoops are higher.

And the bowls are rolling.

Past the perfect Platonic bungalow.

Taking the well worn path betwixt and between the houses.

Crossing open country.

Encountering exotic planting worthy of the French Riviera.

Noting the voguish transition of the local semi-detached housing from white to grey and the now familiar sight of the Range Rover in the former front garden.

The reverse of a roadside sign can often be far more interesting and attractive than the obverse face.

Reddish South Station sustained by the once a week parliamentary train, on the Stockport to Stalybridge Line, coincidentally the only time, as a goods guard, I ever worked a passenger train, was along here, one Christmas long ago.

We stopped at Denton, a request stop, the seasonally boozy passenger gave me a fifty pence tip.

George’s – where I bought a bag of chips on the way back, great chips, friendly and safe service with a smile.

Houldsworth Working Mens Club designed by Abraham Henthorn Stott forming part of the model community developed by the late-C19 industrialist Sir William Houldsworth, which included cotton mills, workers’ housing, school, church and a park.

Church of St Elisabeth 1882-3, by Alfred Waterhouse one of the finest Victorian churches in the country – both of the buildings are Grade II Listed.

Over the way the former Victoria Mill, converted into apartments.

With adjoining new build.

We faithfully followed the signs, noting a change from blue to green.

Somewhere or other we went wrong, our luck and the signs ran out, we instinctively headed north, ever onwards!

Traversing the Great Wall.

Mistakenly assuming that the route ended or began at Reddish North Station that’s where we landed.

Back tracking intrepidly along the road we found the source of the Fred Perry Way.

In the North Reddish Park – where tennis can still be played today albeit with a somewhat functionalist net, on an unsympathetic surface.

Journey’s end.

To forget, you little fool, to forget!

D’you understand?

To forget!

You think there’s no limit to what a man can bear?

Leeds Walk

On arriving at the Leeds City Station pass through the ticket barriers and turn to your left.

Once a convenient car park.

You are now inside the 1938 concourse interior designed by WH Hamlyn, restored in 1999 by Carey Jones Architects.

Atop the station John Poulson’s 1967 City House – now re-clad in the modern manner and badged as Bruntwood owned Platform One.

A reinvention of a Leeds landmark, offering office space for tech and digital businesses of all sizes right at the heart of the city.

The main body of the station was rebuilt 2001-03 by McKellar Architecture to a scheme by ESG Design Architects.

Exiting by the main exit, there is a gentle brick and concrete curve – leading to the side of the Queens Hotel also the work of WH Hamlyn 1938.

A monumental classical facade with discrete Deco detailing.

Nine Bond Court an almost anonymous tower block, leads us into Bond Court, where we find the HSBC by Whitney Son & Austen Hall 1966-69.

Onwards now to 7 Park Row reworked by Box Architects this former Lloyd’s Bank HQ by Abbey Hanson Rowe 1972-77

Park Row is the City’s most sought after business location, benefiting from being perfectly placed centrally between Leeds’ Central Business District and Retail Core. You and your staff will have all that you need to enjoy a work-life balance.

Next door the National Westminster Bank

Replacing George Gilbert Scott’s renowned Beckett’s Bank of 1863-67 demolished in 1965.

Intrigued by the transition of grid and material finish along Park Row.

Up the rise of the Row toward the Henry Moore Institute and City Art Gallery with their modern extensions.

1993 Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones with BDP

1980-82 John Thorp and Neville Conder complete with Moore’s Reclining Woman Elbow of 1980.

Honourable mention to The Light conversion DLG Architects 2002.

Around the corner to Merrion Shopping Centre Gillinson Barnett & Allen 1962-64.

No time to pop in for a pint at the General Wade.

Awaiting yet another reimagining – Ian Purser, architect director at BDP said:

This scheme will create a new destination in an area of regeneration, effectively opening up a ‘new front’ to the Merrion Centre while utilising the existing structure and incorporating contemporary food and beverage facilities.

Just along the way Gerry Anderson meets Morrison’s.

Merrion House to the rear.

BDP’s remodelling and extension of Merrion House office block is an exemplar of sustainable refurbishment. Originally completed in 1974 the building was designed to accommodate Leeds City Council’s office based staff.

A “changing the workplace” initiative has been instigated by the council, adapting to changing working patterns. Flexible office environments, created in both the new and refurbished elements of the building, fully support this.

For me one of the City’s finest post-war buildings the Leeds City College – Technology Campus

The college was originally built as the Branch College of Engineering and Science during the late 1950s and 60s.

It was renamed Kitson College in 1967, and later Leeds College of Technology. In 2009 the college merged with Thomas Danby College and Park Lane College to form Leeds City College, becoming the third largest further education college in the UK.

The meeting also heard how the site was also used by rock band Pink Floyd to record their 1967 hit See Emily Play.

Early plans to knock down one of Leeds city centre’s most recognisable buildings were supported by an influential panel of Leeds councillors today.

Developers’ blueprints to replace the former Leeds College of Technology building in Woodhouse Lane with 20-storeys of student accommodation went before a meeting of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel last week.

Leeds Live

Head over the road to the Yorkshire Bank a big brown beat reminiscent of Halifax’s Building Society HQ

The bank expects to have vacated Merrion Way by September of 2021.

Under the underpass aka Leeds Song Tunnel to the Woodhouse Lane Car Park.

Commissioned by Leeds City Council as part of the Arena project the Leeds Song Tunnel  is the creation of designer Adrian Riley, an alumnus of Leeds College of Art.  

Take a peek at the world going on almost underground.

The up to the Leeds Arts University – designed by local practice DLA, the scheme was built by ISG.

Adorned by mosaics re-sited from the Merrion Centre

The magnificent Merrion Centre mosaics created by Eric Taylor 1909-99, artist and former Principal of Leeds College of Art 1956-70, have been installed at Leeds College of Art’s Blenheim Walk building.

More public art in store at the former Polytechnic now University Engineering Buildings – Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardall 1955-69.

Curving above the entrance of the Mechanical Engineering building is this glass fibre sculpture. Cast from a clay mould it retains a malleable quality. This is the work of architect Allan Johnson former student of Leeds College of Art.

Around the corner this delightful sculptural window screen.

Let’s wend our way homewards via Hubert Dalwood’s 1961 Untitled Bas-Relief now see this on the theatre Stage@Leeds, it was originally up at the University’s Bodington Hall of residence.

Seconds from this theatre Barbara Hepworth’s 1965 Dual Form.

Finally casting our eyes skyward toward William Chattaway’s 1958 Spirit of Enterprise/Hermes.

Originally on the wall of the Midland Bank building in London before the building was was sold in the early eighties. It was saved from potentially being sold for scrap and the four and a half ton sculpture has been flying high on campus since 1983.

Art on Campus

Rochdale Walk

Our first port of call the amazing Grade II* listed church of St John the Baptist.

Original design pre-1917 by Oswald Hill, executed in 1923-25 by Ernest Bower Norris of Manchester architects’ practice Hill, Sandy and Norris.

Mosaic scheme of 1932-33 by Eric Newton.

Ferro-concrete dome and barrel vaults, red brick with artificial stone dressings.

Early Christian Byzantine style.

Just across the way the old Fire Brigade Station

A feature of note is the hose drying tower – not a ladder practice tower – that rises to a height of 115ft and a reminder that in the day the canvas hoses used had to be dried out after use. There is a local story that the tower was deliberately of such a height to architecturally compliment the adjacent Catholic Church, completed some 10 years earlier and with an amazing dome but no tower!

Designed by the Borough Surveyor S H Morgan and his Assistant S G Eldred the station was formally opened by Alderman J Rodley JP on 3 May 1933, with the Mayor, Councillor J W Dutton JP present.

The Station is to be restored and opens in 2020 as a Fire Service Museum.

Let’s walk into town following the tram tracks past the former Rochdale Observer Offices.

Closed in 2009 as the Manchester Evening News Guardian Media Group consolidated its production base.

The building and surrounding area have been designated as Heritage at Risk by Historic England – and form part of a Heritage Action Zone.

Down the hill and across the way the delightfully traditional Sixties Italian Coffee Bar the legendary San Remo.

Though way out of our period – one cannot ignore the looming presence of Rochdale Town Hall.

Widely recognised as being one of the finest municipal buildings in the country – built in the Gothic Revival style at a cost of £160,000 in 1871. The architect, William Henry Crossland, was the winner of a competition held in 1864 to design a new Town Hall. It had a 240 foot clock tower topped by a wooden spire with a gilded statue of Saint George and the Dragon, both of which were destroyed by fire on 10 April 1883, leaving the building without a spire for four years. A new 190 foot stone clock tower and spire in the style of Manchester Town Hall was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and erected in 1887.

Missing are the Black Box and Bus Station of yore – by Essex, Goodman and Suggitt 1976.

Demolished in 2104.

Replaced by the award winning Number One RiversideFaulknerBrowns Architects 2013.

Onward to the Magistrates’ Courts now closed and auctioned for £6,316.

Rhona Pointon, here on site in 1971 – oversaw the work of County Architect Roger Booth.

The adjoining Police Station – also by Booth, has recently undergone refurbishment.

Let’s bob on to see the Seven Sisters – towering majestically above the town.

Building contractors were Wimpey and the flats were designed by Rochdale’s Borough Surveyor, Mr W H G Mercer and Mr E V Collins who worked with George Wimpey and Company’s chief architect D. Broadbent.

On Friday October 1 1965 the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Richard Crossman, officially opened the first of the College Bank flats – Underwood.

Charles Donald Taylor – The Construction of College Bank Flats

Constantly under threat.

Of note is the one remaining example of ceramic entrance murals, the work of George and Joan Stephenson 1966 – lecturers at the Rochdale College of Art.

All six murals survived until around 1995, when the residents were asked to vote on whether or not to keep them, five out of six blocks voted to have them removed.

As of November 2109 – the College Bank Support Group is working with a group of architects to draw up alternative plans. RBH has said it will consider them if they are feasible and sustainable, as well as safe and genuinely affordable for tenants and residents.

Under the underpass to Lower Falinge Estate.

And finally around the corner to St Patrick’s RC Church.

A striking and effective design from the early 1960s by Desmond Williams & Associates. The robust interior is well-lit and serves its purpose effectively, but the church does not contain furnishings and artworks of particular note.

Campus Capers – Manchester

Moving 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

Chandos Hall – demolished 2019

Former student residence.

Barnes Wallis Building

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.

And a foyer Victor Pasmore Mural

This is a maquette for the unlisted mural in the lobby of the Renold Building.

Turn around and there’s the Pariser Building.

The Maths and Social Science Block.

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 cladding is also by Tony Holloway

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

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.

Twixt the old and not so old this zigzag connecting corridor.

Off now to the RNCM 1968 Bickerdicke Allen Rich and Partners.

In the past fifteen years it has been slowly extended and modified by MBLA Architects, late MBLC. This has included a new library and teaching facility to the west and new practice suites to the eastern elevation as well as internal modifications to the kitchens, café and foyer spaces.

Mainstream Modern

Across the way and somewhat set back Lynn Chadwick’s Sun

Further art in the environment almost in the environment Hans Tisdall’s Four Seasons – half in half out of the café.

Opposite we find the Schuster Building contains a mysterious mosaic.

The Schuster Building houses the Department of Physics and Astronomy and is named after Sir Franz Arthur Friedrich Schuster. The building was designed by Harry S. Fairhurst & Sons and was completed in 1967. The roof of the largest Lecture Theatre in the building has an abstract sculpture by Michael Piper on it.

A Sixties photographer called John D Green was chosen by the architect – however it’s a mystery why he was commissioned.

It would seem John D Green was a man of many talents – he was also a regular racing driver at Brands Hatch, and author of the legendary book Birds of Britain, recently the subject of an exhibition at Snap Galleries in London.

Staffnet

Returning again to Oxford Road – we encounter the classical mass of the Students Union J.W. Beaumont  1956

Cutting into the campus towards the Ellen Wilkinson aka Humanities Building – BDP 1964

The sculpted and moulded panels on the two-storey block and on the gable ends of the larger blocks were designed in collaboration with William Mitchell. 

AQA HQ – Playne and Lacey 1962.

Around the corner the student homes of Whitworth Park

The Whitworth Park Residence has earned the obvious nickname of The Toblerones.  It offers accommodation to 1085 undergraduate and 153 postgraduate students.   The complex was designed by the Building Design Partnership and built in 1973-74. 

Manchester History

Cooperative Sunlight – Manchester Walk

This is a tale of two tales and one city – the collective philosophy of the CWS and the individualism of Joe Sunlight, all within the welcoming arms of Manchester free trade liberalism.

Born Novogrudok, Belarus, then part of Russia, his Jewish family were named Schimschlavitch, his father a cotton merchant. The family emigrated to England in 1890 to avoid conscription and settled in Manchester, probably choosing their new name from Port Sunlight.

Sunlight was apprenticed to an architect in Manchester in 1904 and by 1907 had his own practice in St Ann’s Square. Reputedly, by 1910, he had designed and built more than 1000 houses in Prestwich and claimed that by 1921 he had created more than one million pounds’ worth of property.

He also designed and built factories and warehouses, but his greatest memorial is Sunlight House – 1932. In 1949, he proposed a 40-storey extension, but it was rejected by the city council.

The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers was a group of 28 that was formed in 1844. Around half were weavers in Rochdale . As the mechanisation of the Industrial Revolution was forcing more and more skilled workers into poverty, these tradesmen decided to band together to open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. With lessons from prior failed attempts at co-operation in mind, they designed the now famous Rochdale Principles, and over a period of four months they struggled to pool one pound per person for a total of twenty eight pounds of capital. On 21 December 1844, they opened their store with a very meagre selection of butter, sugar, flour, oatmeal and a few candles. Within three months, they expanded their selection to include tea and tobacco, and they were soon known for providing high quality, unadulterated goods. By 1900, the British co-operative movement had grown to 1,439 co-operatives covering virtually every area of the UK.

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

Fruit and veg distribution.

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.

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 note must be made 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.

Over the road and we are in the heart of the former CWS realm – Cooperative cigs, matchless, currently home to new homes.

Crossing the Irk to our right this impressive utilitarian infrastructure.

Up and over the river heading for Strangeways.

The Strangeways family themselves are certainly recorded in antiquity at the site, although the name appears differently over time; Strongways in 1306, Strangewayes in 1349 and Strangwishe in 1473. In the late 1500s in records at Manchester Cathedral the surname is spelt Strangwaies.

In modern times home to the city’s Jewish community, followed by subsequent layers of immigrant groups from the Indian subcontinent and East Asia.

Amongst the Victorian development are Joe Sunlight’s industrial buildings.

Manufacture gives way to retail distribution, the post-war Cheetwood Estate, remade and remodelled as Miami Modes, or simply left to gently decay.

Nothing stands still in this ever changing landscape.

Tucked cosily in the middle is Manchester Ice Palace.

Opened by Lord Lytton on October 25 1910, clad in white marble, it hosted the National Ice Skating Championships a year later and the World Championships in 1922.

A plant across the road provided the ice. At the end of each day, the churned ice from the rink was pumped through an underground pipe to iceworks. Fresh iced water was then pumped back to refresh the rink’s surface overnight.

The Ice Palace was the only ice hockey rink in Britain during the early 1920s. A game between The Army and The Rest was played at the Ice Palace in November 1923 to select the British team for the 1924 Winter Olympics.

It was closed in 1915 and used to manufacture observation balloons for the war effort. It reopened on November 21, 1919. It was requisitioned by the Ministry of Aircraft Production in 1941 and later reopened as an ice rink on March 21, 1947.

Manchester Evening News

It closed as an ice rink in 1967 – adapted for use as a LHD bottling plant Adelphi Social Club and Mecca Bingo.

I leave you with Cheetham Hill Road’s brightest daytime neon star.

Court Road – Southport

Tucked cosily away in back of the former Sefton Magistrates’ Courts is Court Road.

Taking a lead from the Courts municipal modernism – the homes are a delightful example of flat roofed, inter-war brick built functionalism.

Perfectly proportioned and decorated with a delicate horizontal concrete quadruple stripe – they have survived almost intact.

Cursed with the modern curse of uPVC everything satellite dishes and such.

Not to mention the occasional carriage lamp.

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.