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.

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.

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 – who 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

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.

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.