Leicester City Centre

On leaving the railway station turn right – there’s and enormous social housing tower block named Elizabeth House.

Architect: John Middleton 1976-79.

Next door a noisy neighbour the former British Telecom – St George’s Tower now Premier Inn with its newly acquired cladding of many colours.

Photo Steve Cadman

Next to City Hall architects: Barnish and Silcock 1938- the modest opening ceremony took place on 7th November 1938.

Once home to the Electricity Board Sowrooms specially furnished with a model kitchen for housewives who are interested in the modern uses of electricity in the home. A special theatre also presented weekly cookery demonstrations and a Service Centre displayed, sold and hired out electrical appliances.

Opposite City Hall the former Assurance Insurance HQ now Ramada Hotel.

Adjacent Halford House – former Leicester Temperance Building Society.

It was partly occupied by the firm of architects who built it in 1955-1959, Pick Everard Keay and Gimson. 

With its stunning clock surrounded by The Four Winds, by locally based artist Albert Pountney – he was head of sculpture at Leicester College of Art from 1947until 1960

Look out for the concrete planters known as Beckett’s Buckets – named for John Leslie Beckett, Leicester’s City Engineer and Surveyor 1941–64.

Lewis’s Tower on Humberstone Gate is all that remains of this Art Deco department store.

Up around the bend to the Curve Theatre Opened in 2008 by Her Majesty The Queen, designed by acclaimed architect Rafael Viñoly.

Originally designed and built in 1936 in the Streamline Moderne style by Robert Arthur Bullivant, and operated as an Odeon Cinema. The terracotta panels, which feature mermaids, were hand-moulded by William Neatby at the Lambeth premises of Doulton and Co.

The cinema was opened on 28th July 1938 with a screening of A Slight Case of Murder.

Grade II Listed August 1997 – the building has been restored and converted into a venue for corporate and social events renamed ATHENA.

Onward now to the Pfister & Vogle Warehouse – built in 1923 architects: Fosbrooke and Bedingfield for the Milwaukee based leather manufacturers.

Calling next at the Cardinal House Telephone Exchange 1970 – at 84m the tallest building in the city.

A sprawling complex of tower and outlying buildings.

No longer taking calls the Wharf Street Post Office and Telephone Exchange.

On 11 December 1959, the United Kingdom’s first drive-in post office opened. It was situated at the new Wharf Street Branch Post Office under the centre archway of the Wharf Street Telephone Exchange building in Leicester, which had a private road running through it.

Despite being announced in a burst of fanfare, the drive-in post office was ultimately considered to be a failure. From the initial 60 to 70 customers a day, this fell to 20 to 25 a day and, by 1963, the number of customers had tailed off to three per day and even this was not always maintained.

Postal Museum

Let’s carry on and park it in the Auto-Magic Lee Circle Car Park.

Much beloved of Sid James.

One of the oldest multi-storey car parks in Europe. When it opened in 1961, providing space for 1050 cars, it was also among the first automated public car parks, using coin-operated barriers. Beneath the six parking levels, the supermarket chain Tesco opened their first store outside London. Tesco was integrated with the car park above so that staff could take customers’ purchases direct to their cars. For some years the new supermarket featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest store by floor area in Europe.

The opening of the Leicester Tesco was a landmark event in the history of UK retailing and marked the beginning of self-service shopping, with customers required to use one of the company’s baskets or trolleys. A crowd of 2,000 gathered to see the opening of the store by ‘Carry On’ comedian Sid James in the presence of Sir Jack Cohen, founder of Tesco stores, who helped to pack bags at the check-outs. This was the first ‘discount store’ opened by Tesco.

Story of Leicester

Leicester Progressive Spiritualist Church

Epic House architects: Andrews, Emmerson & Sherlock 1963-1967

Formerly home to the UK’s first local radio station.

Crown House home to the Benefits Agency and County Court in the 1970’s

Let’s take a look at the Corah St Margaret’s Works – currently not working.

Corah was established by Nathaniel Corah, who began buying hosiery in Leicester to sell in Birmingham in 1815. The first extension was in 1882, when the company was the first in Leicester to introduce electric lighting to a factory. 

At the outbreak of World War II Corah had 4,500 employees but over half of that number left to join the Services or undertake war work.  Regardless of the reduced workforce the company produced 26 million knitted items for the government and processed around 250 million clothing coupons.  The engineering department was also extended to allow for the production of 80,000 gun parts and 30,000 parts for tank landing craft.

Despite all the innovation, good working practices, quality products and special relationship with Marks and Spencer, Corah was acquired by Coats Viyella in 1994.  The company was soon broken up and the St Margaret’s Works site closed within a decade.

Story of Leicester

The remains of the old Corah factory in Leicester city centre could be almost entirely demolished to make way for hundreds of 1,187 new homes.

Leicester Mercury

However here comes the cavalry:

C20 Society has joined Historic England and Leicester Civic Society in condemning plans to demolish the former Corah Factory, at the St Margaret’s Works site in the East Midlands city.

Leicester University

Way back in 1972 the nation thought fit to celebrate its Modern University Buildings, rightly so, as many campuses represented the very best of the era’s architecture.

Leicester was foremost in this innovative use of C20 constructions.

Attenborough Tower

The Attenborough Building is the tallest building on the campus, and houses arts and humanities departments.

The building comprises three distinct elements: an 18-storey tower block containing 270 offices and tutorial rooms; a low-rise building, known within the University as the Attenborough Seminar Block, containing seminar rooms and computing facilities; and an underground area housing two large lecture theatres and the University Film Theatre.

It was designed by Arup Associates and constructed between 1968 and 1970, with Ove Arup as the chief engineers.

The university’s development plan at the time called for two other similar towers, but these were never built.

The building was named after Frederick Attenborough, who was principal of the then University College from 1932 until 1951, and father of Richard and David Attenborough. By the time of the opening ceremony Frederick was elderly and frail, so the building was opened on his behalf by his youngest son John.


Engineering Building

Opened in 1963 and widely regarded as one of the most architecturally important buildings of its era, the Engineering Building at Leicester is utterly distinctive.

Between them, architects James Gowan and James Stirling, plus engineer Frank Newby, created a unique piece of modern architecture designed around both the specific needs of the Engineering Department.

Atop the two cantilevered lecture theatres sit two joined towers containing labs and offices, their design inspired by the superstructure of an aircraft carrier. The rippling ‘waves’ of the two large glass roofs, angled at 45 degrees to the towers, face north to provide illumination without direct sunlight – which could affect delicate instruments.

There are actually two types of glass in the roof: translucent ply-glass with an inner layer of fibreglass, and opaque glass coated with aluminium. The distinction between the two only becomes noticeable at night when the building is illuminated.


The building’s walls are constructed of red Accrington brick and red Dutch tiles. Atop the taller tower is a water tank to provide hydraulic pressure, while the corner of the shorter tower is cambered to avoid overhanging part of Victoria Park. Within the ground floor workshop space, which is partitionable to provide flexibility, the floor is a series of concrete slabs that can be removed to provide foundations for machinery as required.

Visually stunning it may be, practical too, but the complexity of its design makes the Engineering Building very difficult – and hence expensive to keep in good repair, a situation exacerbated by the restrictions of its Grade II* listing.

Leicester University

Like Kahn at Philadelphia or Rudolph in New Haven, Stirling and Gowan at Leicester have given future architects and building committees a qualitative solution that can form a challenge for future efforts. They were not, themselves, forced into the strait-jacket of a local modernist cliché that was already established on the far side of the campus, and they refrained from setting up a rival one on their own quarter of the site-one which would have only required undoing at some future time. Instead, the architects addressed themselves to the immediate demands of the programme with devotion and respect.

Architectural Review 1963

Charles Wilson Building

Sir Charles Haynes Wilson was a Scottish political scientist and university administrator. As Principal of University College Leicester, he led the institution to university status in 1957 and served as the first Vice-Chancellor of the new University of Leicester, before becoming Principal of the University of Glasgow in 1961.

The building was designed by Sir Denys Lasdun in the brutalist style, and completed in 1963.

It is Category B listed. 

It is the university’s main social and catering building, and is licensed as a venue for civil weddings and civil partnerships.


A walk from the Cosmos to a sculptural wall via the sun.

Apart from the establishment of the now defunct AIR index of artists, recently revamped by the ACGB, both of which were ill-tended to help foster and promote private and public commissions, no moves have yet been made towards Percentage for Art legislation or even towards the creation of informal schemes.

Art Quest UK

We are taking a stroll through work commissioned in the main by Schools, Colleges and Universities.

We have of course been here before visiting Mitzi Cunliffe and her work – Cosmos.

American born, living in Didsbury, Cunliffe developed a technique for mass-producing abstract designs in relief in concrete, as architectural decoration, which she described as sculpture by the yard.

This example of modular fibre glass panels named Cosmos, is set in the wall of the student halls of residence in Owens Park – a BDP designed tower block.

Modelled by hand, they were manufactured in a Lancashire plastics factory.

Her Trellis concrete reliefs can be seen adorning WH Smiths in Macclesfield.

And the extension to Parklands Hotel in Collyhurst Manchester

Also this Slough example is visible in the opening title sequence of the BBCs hit TV show The Office.

Over the road to the Manchester High School For Girls where we find Mitzi Cunliffe’s carving in Portland Stone, entitled Threshold – unveiled September 30th 1953

Panel One – Britain’s Past

Panel Two – Companionship

Panel Three – Growth

The work embodied a sense of renewal, following the school’s travails of the 1940s.

Also reinforcing the continuing need for educational establishments to own and display living works of art, a need exemplified by the Pictures for Schools movement.

Returning to Wilmslow road a digression to a Concrete Totem by William Mitchell

Formed in clay then cast in concrete, one of four produced for Manchester Corporation.

Next stop Whitworth Park – a cornucopia of contemporary sculpture.

Hippocratic Tree 2015 – Christine Borland

A reproduction of the man-made steel skeleton of supports that now sustains Hippocrates’ tree on the Island of Kos – the tree beneath which Hippocrates first taught medicine.

Phalanx 1977 – Michael Lyons

The Whitworth Park Obelisk  2011 – Cyprien Galliard

The obelisk is made from the crushed brick and concrete of demolished housing in nearby Moss Side and Hulme.

Tree 2015 – Anya Gallaccio

Gallaccio’s new sculptural commission reinstates a missing tree in stainless steel, appearing as a ghostly negative form.

Bending 2017 – Raqs Media Collective

Bending distorts the form of European imperial sculpture, raises questions about commemoration and colonialism. The quotations on the three plaques are taken from George Orwell’s essay – Shooting the Elephant.

Coronation Park refers to a park on the outskirts of New Delhi that hosted mass rallies organised by the British Raj, celebrating the coronation of British monarchs as rulers of India and where Indian subjects were expected to demonstrate deference to their colonial oppressors. Britain withdrew from India in 1947, yet monuments to British rulers remained. In the 1960s, these were removed from New Delhi and relocated to Coronation Park. Today, they stand in disrepair and decay. Once symbolising an oppressive history, their power has been allowed to deteriorate.

Big Issue Leanne Green

Terminal and Untitled 1964 – Bernard Schottlander

On display at the Whitworth is Hans Tisdall’s tapestry – a partner to his mosaics, commissioned for the ChemistryBuilding at UMIST and currently on loan to the gallery.

At the Royal Northern College of Music there was once a wall hanging in the main auditorium, removed during the recent refurbishment.

This is the work of Elda Abramson, assisted by many local hands and a year in the making 1977.

I have been unable to ascertain wether it will be reinstated.

Up the road now to the Stopford Building 1972 – topped with an Anthony Holloway trim, formed from repeated cast concrete modular panels.

His work in Manchester is in the main the result of his relationship with architect Harry Fairhurst.

Working as a consultant designer with the architects’ division of the London County Council. He learned how to deal with architects and builders, and became adept at getting as much out of the money available – never enough – for his projects. He remained linked with what became the Greater London Council’s architects department until its closure in 1968.

Over the road the Ellen Wilkinson BuildingBDP 1964 covered with William Mitchell concrete panels.

Hiding behind the building a not so secret secret garden with a mysterious concrete sculpture – no attribution available.

Next to the Schuster Building 1967 – Harry Fairhurst and the recently restored and reinstated The Alchemist’s Elements 1967 by Hans Tisdall.

Formerly sited in the alcoves at the since demolished Faraday Building.

For a number of years stored outside on the UMIST site The Mosaic Restoration Company are to be applauded for their diligence and skill.

Across the way it’s Hans Tisdall again – a work always known to me as the Four Seasons 1964.

Four circular mixed media panels intersected by the café wall – built into the Chemistry Building another Fairhurst work.

This work he undertook for Edinburgh Weavers echoes these forms.

Were you to visit on a weekday you could view the mosaic tucked away inside the Schuster Building.

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.

High atop the lecture theatre an abstract sculpture by Michael Piper.

Back to Oxford Road and possibly my favourite local work of public art Manchester Sun 1963 – Lynn Chadwick.

He received Carborundum Company’s Sculpture Major and Minor Awards to produce circular sculpture in fibreglass, Manchester Sun for the University of Manchester’s Williamson Building.

Also available in an edition of two 24″ diameter fibre glass maquettes.

Walking toward town and we encounter the Anamorphic Mirrors 1989 – Andrew Crompton, regionally sited outside MOSI Lowe Byron Street. They were intense to reflect the images of John Dalton, James Joule, Henry Rutherford and Bernard Lovell formed in paving slabs by concrete artists Richard and Jack Doyle.

This context is now lost.

Leaving Oxford Road and heading for the former UMIST site we pass under the Mancunian Way – with its 1968 Concrete Society Award.

Around the corner and the towering Faraday Building 1967 tower, towers over us – HS Fairhust & Son clad in Anthony Holloway cast concrete panels.

Complemented by his concrete banding on the adjacent building.

Inside the lobby of the Renold BuildingVictor Pasmore’s 1968 Metamorphosis.

Of note is Pasmore’s work at Peterlee where he worked alongside architects on the housing scheme also designed his renowned Apollo Pavillion.

Which finds an almost near relative in Antony Holloway’s 1968 Concrete Wall – the only listed element on the whole darned campus site.

Park Hill 2022

To begin at the beginning.

Park Hill was previously the site of back to back housing, a mixture of two and three storey tenement buildings, open ground, quarries and steep ginnels connecting the homes.

Picture Sheffield

John Rennie, the city’s Medical Officer of Health, concluded:

The dwelling houses in the area are by reason of disrepair or sanitary defects unfit for human habitation, or are by reason of their bad arrangement, or the narrowness or bad arrangement of the streets, dangerous or injurious to the health of the inhabitants of the area.

Following the war it was decided that a radical scheme needed to be introduced to deal with rehousing the Park Hill community. To that end, architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith under the supervision of J L Womersley, Sheffield Council’s City Architect, began work in 1953 designing the Park Hill Flats.

 Park Hill Part One was officially opened by Hugh Gaitskell, MP and Leader of the Opposition, on 16 June 1961.

Following the ethos of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation.

The development integrated playgrounds, schools, shops and pubs into the scheme.

Riba Pix

Picture Sheffield

Government restrictions on how potential tenants were allocated to flats, the limitations of the building’s fabric which decayed when not maintained, poor noise insulation and issues with resident security caused their popularity to wane.  For many years, the council found it difficult to find tenants for the flats.

Despite the problems, the complex remained structurally sound, it was controversially Grade II* listed in 1998 – making it the largest listed building in Europe. A part-privatisation scheme by the developer Urban Splash in partnership with English Heritage to turn the flats into upmarket apartments, business units and social housing is now underway.


I first visited the then almost uninhabited site some years ago – meeting the handful of remaining residents.

Mark – “Why are all these photographers coming here from Manchester?”

Chatted with Billy the lone cleaner.

The majority of the site was tinned up and secured in an insecure fashion.

My thanks to all those happy souls who braved the cold winds, sunshine and threat of snow on Sunday 28th October 2018 as part of the Sheffield Modern Weekend

Sharing ideas, memories and animated conversation, as we circumnavigated the fenced perimeter of Europe’s largest listed structure, in search of a personal photographic response to the site.

Subsequently I have lead tours of the site under construction at the behest of Urban Splash, in conjunction with Falconer Associates and the Modernist Society.

Observing the site’s transformation first hand.

October 2019

Following the hiatus caused by the Covid epidemic, building work has recommenced.

It’s joy to return and view the developments that are taking place – a structure that seemed doomed returning to life, providing new homes within a unique architectural experiment, which continues to evolve.

Each stage designed by a team of architects willing and able to link the wealth of heritage to new possibilities.

Urban Splash appointed architects Hawkins\Brown and urban designers Studio Egret West for the renovation of Phase One.

The first businesses and residents moved in during 2013. This phase includes 260 homes – of which 96 are affordable homes and 28 shared equity homes on the Government Help to Buy scheme.

Stirling Prize winning architects Mikhail Riches were appointed to undertake the new designs for Phase Two. Demand has been high for the one, two and three homes that also include three two bedroom townhouses.

Phase Three is unique student accommodation with the block being configured into four and eight bed townhouses, two and four bed apartments and classic studios for 356 students. The development partner is the Alumno Group and Places for People who have named it Béton House.

It’s May 2022 time to take a post Covid look at work in progress.

Highlight of any tour is the sight of the restored mosaic which adorned The Parkway pub – my heart literally leaped with joy.

The palette of the mosaic forms the colour coding of the development’s colour coding.

The last word goes to Mr Tom Bloxham:

We were the only ones stupid enough to take it on.

So says Tom Bloxham, the founder of Urban Splash.

He is sitting in the vegan cafe that now occupies one of Park Hill’s ground floor commercial units, dressed in a black Prada x Adidas tracksuit, with a matching hat.

When I first looked at the place online, I thought: F*ck*ng h*ll, that looks like a disaster. From the outside, it looked really crap. But as you get inside it, you see there is this object of beauty.

The Guardian

Derby Walk

On leaving the station one is met with a delightful row of brick railway terraces.

The houses were occupied by 1843 and are believed to be the earliest example of purpose-built dwellings for railway workers.

Derby Gov.

Along with a more modern response or two.

Switch to the left and we’re heading for the Post Office delivery office.

Just along the way there are graphic remnants of the analogue photographic age.

Onwards to Ozzy Road.

Osmaston Road Baptist Church.

Back down the road to the Cosmo formerly Gaumont Palace and its attendant buildings.

Architects: William Edward Trent and W Sydney Trent 1934.

When the Rank Organisation closed the nearby Odeon Cinema on St. Peter Street, the Gaumont was renamed Odeon in 1965.

The cinema was called the ABC Trocadero Entertainment Centre opening on 24th August 1983 with Roy Schneider in Blue Thunder. The cinema changed its name one final time when it became the Cannon.

The Cannon was set to struggle on, then one morning shortly before the cinema opened for the early morning kids club, part of the ornate plaster ceiling collapsed, wrecking the auditorium. The final film to play was Sean Penn in Willow on 17th December 1988.

Cinema Treasures.

Curious almost Deco almost Burton’s details.

Around the corner to Prosperity House.

Formerly St Peters House, Gower Street, Derby DE1 1SB, Prosperity House is a large eight-story building located in St. Peter’s Quarter, Derbyshire.

Prosperity House has been constructed in two phases, with work to convert the first 91 apartments being completed in March 2017 and the remaining 65 apartments completed in August 2017.

Rhodes Builders

Across the way the Derby Hippodrome – between 1930 and 1950 it operated as a cinema but reopened in 1951 as a theatre before succumbing to the bingo craze in the early 1960s.

Originally designed by Derby architect Alexander McPherson, it still features a number of large circular windows but hit the headlines in 2008 when, after standing empty for a time, repair work caused part of the Grade II listed building to collapse.

An earlier claim to fame was that Flanagan and Allen wrote Underneath the Arches in one of the theatre’s dressing rooms and the building is now the subject of a restoration plan by the Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust.

Derby Heritage.

By the end of 2023 the Trust aims to have completed a basic restoration of the Hippodrome which would include dismantling some of internal structures where appropriate, rebuilding damaged walls, replacing the roof and re-establishing essential facilities such as toilets, lighting, water and heating. The building will then become a flexible space which can be used by amateur performing arts groups in Derby and become a focal point in the local community.

All that remains of the Pennine Hotel.

No more Pink Coconuts.

Thousands of people will have been to events at the Pennine Hotel, which first opened in 1965, and was for many years professional footballers’ favourite place and also a boxing venue, but it finally closed its doors as the St Peter’s Quarter Hotel in 2015.

Derby Telegraph

Contracts have been signed between the major players who are due to build and operate a new £45.8 million performance venue in Derby by late 2024. This means that work on the site will start soon and construction could start next January.

Derby Telegraph

Off to the former Job Centre

Forester House, once home of the Job Centre, is situated on the corner of Newland and Becket Street within Derby City Centre. The property comprises a detached 5 storey office building extending to approximately 42,565 square feet.

The premises have been recently acquired by Universal Total Care Limited for £1.6m.

Located on the corner of Newland Street and Becket Street, Forester House has been earmarked for transformation into a one hundred and eleven bedroom easyHotel, a restaurant that would seat 160 people and a function room. The ground floor of the 1970s building, which formerly housed JobCentre Plus staff, would become home to the large-scale eaterie and the first floor would have space for weddings and conferences.

JSA Architects have plans for a one hundred and ten bed hotel – what happened to the missing room?

Never mind – let’s take a look at the Telephone Exchange.

Onwards to the Museum and Art Gallery.

The Art Gallery designed by Story opened in 1882 and in 1883 the museum had electricity supplied for new lighting.

In 1936 the museum was given a substantial collection of paintings by Alfred E. Goodey who had been collecting art for 50 years. At his death in 1945 he left £13,000 to build an extension to the museum. The extension, which now houses the museum, was completed in 1964. Refurbishment to parts of both the new and old buildings were undertaken in 2010–11


Let’s take a look at the nation’s safest car park – Park Safe.

Located in the Cathedral Quarter area of Derby, our 315 space Derby car park has been completely refurbished in 2010. We are proud to be partners with Derby City Council since 1997.

Next to another carpark

Then a shortish long walk to Kedleston Road to visit St Alkmund’s Church

Architects: Naylor Sale and Widdows 67-72

Then tracking back to the Rycote Centre

Princess Margaret, right, hands a turquoise cuddly toy dog gift to her lady-in-waiting at the end of her visit to the Rycote Centre, Kedleston Road, Derby, in June 1973.

She was then taken to the Rycote Centre, off Kedleston Road, where she was greeted by Councillor Bill Pritchard, chairman of Derby Town Council and Social Services, and presented with a rather unusual gift.

It’s a shame that these photos from our archive are in black and white, for the Princess, who was wearing a tomato red coat and bright green hat, was presented with a turquoise cuddly toy dog – quite a clash of colours by the sounds of it!

Derby Telegraph

Down a narrow alley to look at some housing.

Heading back into town to see yet more houses.

Where next?

To the Assembly Rooms!

Architects: Hugh Casson and Neville Conder

The current Assembly Rooms building was completed in 1977 to replace an 18th-century building of the same name that was destroyed by fire. In 2014 a fresh blaze obliterated the plant room of the new structure, which has been largely vacant ever since.

This summer the city council applied to its own planning department for permission to demolish the building to save the cost of maintaining it.

Architects’ Journal

The Twentieth Century Society’s trustee Otto Saumarez Smith also slated the plans, describing the demolition and pop-up market proposal as a grotesque failure of imagination.

Burton’s has gone for a Burton.

The Co-op is no longer a Co-op.

It was built 1938-40 and designed in-house by Derby Co-Operative Society’s own architect – Sid Bailey.

And having been built by the DCS’s own Building Department it is completely Made In Derby.

Has anyone seen Debenhams?

Tameside Tram Trek

We set sail from Piccadilly tram stop, all aboard for Ashton-under- Lyne.

First stop the Velopark stop – where we find Cruikshank and Seward’s former CIBA Clayton Aniline Offices

At its peak in the 1970s, the site occupied over 57 acres and employed over 2,000 people. However, due to the gradual demise of the British textile industry, most textile production shifted to countries such as China and India with the textile dye industry following.

In 2002, the company made 70 members of staff redundant and in 2004 the announcement was made that the site would be closing with the loss of over 300 jobs. A small number of staff were retained to assist in the decommissioning of the plant. The last workers left the site in 2007 and the remainder of the buildings were demolished shortly afterwards.

And a lonely bank.

And another former bank.

This was an area once teeming with workers, all requiring top-flight financial services on tap.

Including those from the Stuart Street Power Station closed in 1975 and Bradford Colliery closed in 1968 – which was on the site now occupied by the Etihad Stadium, built to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Arup designed the stadium to be:

An intimate, even intimidating, gladiatorial arena embodying the atmosphere of a football club. 

Nearby is the the Manchester Velodrome which opened in 1994, designed by Faulkner Browns Architects – cited as the major catalyst for Britain’s successes in track and road cycling and has been described by Cycling Weekly as the:

Beating heart of British Cycling’s ascension to the top of world cycling.

Onwards now walking along North Clayton Road to St Willibrord’s 1937-38 by Reynolds and Scott built in buff brick of a Modernist Byzantine style.

The church was Grade II listed in June 1994.

Back on the tram and up to Droylsden and the Concord Suite

Architects: Bernard Engles & Partners.

Around the corner next along Greenside Lane towards the New Inn no longer the New Inn.

Then around another corner to Chappell Road where we find St Stephen’s RC Church.

The church and attached presbytery were built from designs by Greenhalgh & Williams in 1958-9, the church being consecrated on 12 May 1960. A reordering took place, probably in the 1960s or 70s, when the altar rails were removed and the altar moved forward. Probably at the same time, the font was brought into the church from the baptistery.

Back to the tram and onwards to Ashton-under-Lyne.

Pausing to take a look at the almost brand new Transport Interchange – one of four Ashton Bbus Stations that I have seen come and go.

Architects were Austin Smith Lord.

Where we discover that son of the desert Beau Geste.

Across the way the Ladysmith Car Park.

Off now to the seriously neglected Tameside Hippodrome.

Originally opened on 21st November 1904 as a music hall theatre for the Broadhead’s Theatres chain. Films were screened as part of the opening programme. The Empire-Hippodrome Theatre’s auditorium was completely gutted in 1933 and the present stalls, plus single balcony, Art Deco style interior was constructed. This replaced the previous two balconies plus box arrangement. The exterior was largely unchanged.

The architects responsible for the present auditorium are Drury and Gomersall, the exterior and original were by JJ Alley.

It reopened as the New Empire Cinema on November 4th, 1933 and was equipped with a Compton 3 manual, six ranks organ, which had an illuminated surround. It was taken over by Union Cinemas in 1937 and then by Associated British Cinemas – however it was not renamed ABC until 1963. In 1964 the council took over the building and the Compton organ was removed.

It closed on 5th April 1975 and reopened as a live theatre in May 1976 with a summer film season which lasted until 1986.

Taking Stock

Around the corner to the former Pavilion cinema – known locally as the Bug Hut.

The Picture Pavilion opened on 21st December 1908.

The Pavilion Cinema was rebuilt in 1947 to the plans of architectural firm Drury & Gomersall who at the same time redesigned the adjacent Alexandra Billiard Hall. The Pavilion Cinema became the first cinema in the town to be equipped with CinemaScope, opening with Richard Burton in The Robe on 29th November 1954.

The independently operated Pavilion Cinema closed on 8th October 1966 with Donald Pleasance in Cul de Sac and Barry Sullivan in Intimacy. It became the Star Bingo Club, which in later years was operated by Coral Bingo and finally by Gala Bingo Clubs, until they moved into new premises in 2000.

Cinema Treasures

Off now to The Odeon

Architects: Arnold England

Opened 22 April 1920 with The Forbidden City the Majestic Picture House was part of the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres circuit. With 1,233 seats in stalls and balcony and a splendid facade faced in white faience tiles on two sides of the building on its prominent town centre corner site of Old Street and Delamere Street, the cinema was a great success.

It had an oak panelled foyers which had beautiful coloured tapestry’s on the walls. The interior was in a Georgian style and it was equipped with a pipe organ and a seperate tea room and cafe which were located on the upper floor.

The Metro Cinema continued as a single screen operation until the middle of 2003, sometime after a multi-plex had opened in the town. In 2008 the building was unused except for the long foyer area, linking the front and back elevations of the Metro, which was a Slotworld Amusement Arcade. By 2011, the entire building had been stripped out and stood empty and unused.

Cinema Treasures

little now remains of the original period integrity of the Sixties Shopping Precinct.

Up the road now to the monolithic Telephone Exchange.

Turning back now to Burton’s.

Sadly the current occupants have covered up the mosaic.

Turning again towards the Magistrates’ Courts in search of the ever so mysterious Concrete Totem.

Jump the tram home or why not linger longer and sample yet more Tameside treats!

Ardwick Walk

Let’s begin at the Holloway Wall 1968 – the only part of the former UMIST site that’s listed.

Soon this all may well be gone.

Across London Road the former BT Building – JW Hammond 1973

Currently the MacDonald Hotel.

Out the back of the hotel Central Manchester Primary Substation on Travis Street.

The building was cladded with a COR-TEN® steel envelope, the nature of which was relatively complex.

Architect: Walker Simpson

Under the Mancunian Way extension – opened 4th September 1992.

This was to be one end of the planned A57 M M67 crossing the Pennines via Hyde Road where many properties are demolished and the rod widened – for the motorway that never was.

The road was originally conceived as the first section of a trans-Pennine motorway between Manchester and Sheffield that would connect the A57(M) motorway with the M1 motorway; however, the motorway became the only part to be built.


Here we are at the TA Headquarters.

But where did the Co-op go?

Architects: Messrs. Pennington and Bridgen 1865.

Turn left and we are outside Tanzaro House 1907 once home to J&B table waters and fruit squashes.

It’s neighbour Crown Mill once home to JT Dobbins flag makers.

The company were makers of flags for steamship companies, the War Office and the Admiralty. They manufactured wiper and cleaning cloths, bunting flags and decoration and cotton waste.

They had a department store on Oldham Street – which burned down in June 2013.

JT Dobbins was also responsible for the Tom Dobbins Club for old people.

On the corner of Cakebread Street the former CWS Bakery.

Currently home to Yummy Food.

We are on the edge of Ardwick Green.

During the 18th century, the principal focus of the emerging township was ‘Ardwick Green’. The three acre recreation ground was originally created for private, residential use. Georgian townhouses were promptly constructed overlooking the Green, with a number of grand country villas occupying the outskirts.


In 1948, the Green was partially redesigned with new grassed lawns, flowerbeds, shrubberies and walks, with a children’s playground being added in 1951 on the northern side. Between the 1940s and 1960s the majority of early property surrounding the Green was demolished and in part redeveloped with residential properties.

Much of Ardwick has been and gone – including these post war prefabs.

New social housing appeared in the late Fifties.

It still stands later additions and improvements not withstanding.

Across the road a Neo-Georgian telephone exchange.

Up the road to the Apollo – seen here in 1950.

Architects: Peter Cummings Alex M. Irvine

Opened on 29th August 1938 the interior decorations were carried out by noted interior designers Mollo & Egan with the Holophane lighting designed by R. Gillespie Williams.

In April 1960, the World Premiere of the film Hell is a City starring Stanley Baker was held at the Apollo Manchester. The film was shot on location in nearby Levenshulme. The Apollo Manchester was re-named ABC Ardwick in 1962.

It was taken over by an independent operator from 30th January 1977 and began to stage pop concerts, with the occasional use for films to fill in dates. Eventually films were dropped.

This stunning Art Moderne style palace became owned by Apollo Leisure, followed by Live Nation. Now independently operated by the Academy Music Group, it serves as a 2,693-seat capacity – 3,500 with standing room concert venue.

The cafe and ballroom have been unused for several years.

The O2 Apollo Manchester is a Grade II Listed building.

The Ardwick Empire has not survived.

Architects: Frank Matcham

Built as a large variety theatre for Oswald Stoll, and opened on 18th July 1904 with a variety bill topped by Fred Karno and Company in a sketch entitled Saturday to Monday. The opening night also featured animated pictures on the Bioscope.

There were plans proposed to convert the building into a ten-pin bowling alley. This never happened, as it was badly damaged by a fire in February 1964, and was demolished in August-November 1964.

Neither have Naughton and Gold.

Next door a concrete construction Clovella Rainwear and still extant.

It became Kwik Save and then a furniture warehouse – currently has a brightly clad fascia and operates as a storage unit.

Much of Hyde Road and the Ardwick area has changed radically, housing, pubs, industry and retail in retreat

The sides and rear remain unclad.

Into the so called Knitting Area – a collection of industrial buildings including the former Methylating Co Warehouse.

Its decorative details just about intact.

Around the corner to this Sixties office block.

Back down Hyde Road now to the City of Manchester Transport Department.

This typographical gem has recently been covered up by the current occupants.

Department of Transport Offices

Architects: Taylor Young and Partners.

Universal Square the former HQ of Great Universal Stores.

Universal Stores was founded in 1900 as a mail-order business in Manchester, England by Abraham, George and Jack Rose. In 1930, the company changed its name to Great Universal Stores Limited.

In 2004, the company sold its traditional home shopping division in the UK and Scandinavia and its Reality business, which included the White Arrow business to the Barclay Twins for £590 million, who later merged the Littlewoods mail order operations into it. This included the iconic Great Universal Stores catalogue, from which the company took its name, and completed the departure of GUS from its original business areas. Around the same time, the Barclays announced the closure of the Littlewoods Index catalogue showroom chain, the principal rival to Argos in the UK, selling around 35 stores to Argos.


GUS HQ – Architects: Harry S Fairhurst.

Recently re-clad ad marketed as mixed use multiple occupancy office space – principally The Global Banking School.

The earlier HQ Universal Buildings.

tameside moderne

This is a selection of twentieth century buildings from around Tameside.

Concrete Totem Dale Street East Ashton

Tameside Hippodrome Oldham Road Ashton

Originally opened on 21st November 1904

Architects: JJ Alley Francis Edison Drury Joseph and G Gomersall

Pavilion Cinema Old Street Ashton

The Picture Pavilion opened on 21st December 1908

Architects: JJ Alley Francis Edison Drury Joseph and G Gomersall

Metro Cinema Old Street Ashton

Opened 22 April 1920 

Architects: Arnold England

Ladysmith Car Park Gas Street Ashton

Burton’s  Stamford Street Ashton

BT Exchange  England Street Ashton

Beanland House #2 Hartshead Avenue Ashton

Beanland House #2 Gambrel Bank Road Ashton

St Christophers RC  Lees Road Ashton

Architect: Francis A Kerr 1955

Waterloo Methodist Church Vale Street Ashton

Architects: JC Prestwich and Son 1968

St Marys RC Market Street Denton

Architects: Walter Stirrup & Sons job architect Kevin Houghton 1963

BT Exchange Manchester Road Denton

Substation Ashworth Street Denton

TSB Clock Ashton Road Denton

Factory  Windmill Lane Denton

Architects: Taylor Young and Partners 1959

Concord Suite Manchester Road Droylsden

New Inn Greenside Lane Droylsden

St Stephens RC Chappell Road Droylsden

Garden Village Broadway Fairfield

Architects: Edgar Wood and James Henry Sellers 1914-1920

Princess Cinema King Street Dukinfield 1913

Housing King Street Dukinfield

Odeon – St Pauls Church Stockport Road Guide Bridge

Architects Drury & Gomersall 1936

Festival of Britain Mural Hyde Town Hall

Artist: Harry Rutherford 1951

Theatre Royal – Masjid At Tawheed Corporation Street Hyde

Architects: Campell & Horsley 1902

Co-operative Store Market Street Hyde

NatWest Bank Market Street Hyde

Martins – Barclays Bank Market Street Hyde 1965

BT Exchange Water Street Hyde

Indoor Market  Market Street Hyde

Indoor Market Clarendon Street Hyde

Supermarket Sign Borough Arcade Hyde

Jobcentre New Beech Street Hyde

Astoria Cinema New Beech Street Hyde 1914

Kerry Foods Ltd Godley Hill Rd

Bus Shelter Wakefield Road Heyrod

St Josephs RC Curzon Street Mossley

Architects: Desmond Williams & Associates 1965

Substation Market Street Mossley

Old Post Office Manchester Road Mossley

Substation Mill Street Mossley

Palace Cinema Stamford Street Stalybridge 1913

Labour Exchange Queen Street Stalybridge

Clinic Waterloo Road Stalybridge

Shopping Precinct Melbourne Street Stalybridge

BT Exchange Corporation Street Stalybridge

Methodist Church High Street Stalybridge

Architects: HG Briggs 1966

St Raphaels RC Huddersfield Road Stalybridge

Architects: Massey & Massey 1961

Salford Nouveau

We begin in Old Manchester, leaving Town behind as we cross the Irwell into Salford Nouveau.

Behind us sits Albert Bridge House, currently under threat from the developers, currently resisted by the 20th Century Society.

Designed by EH Banks for the Ministry of Works, Ian Nairn in Britain’s Changing Towns, believed it to be:

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

Across the way the People’s History Museum – formerly the Pump House.

Built between 1907 and 1909 the Pump House was designed by City Architect Henry Price.

The station was electrified in 1925, and was the location for the closing ceremony at the end of 1972. After closure, it was used as a workshop by the City College. In 1992, it was designated a grade II listed structure. One of the pump sets has been moved to the Museum of Science and Industry, where it has been restored to working order and forms part of a display about hydraulic power. The pumps were made by the Manchester firm of Galloway’s.

Its vast Engine Hall is now where People’s History Museum holds events, learning sessions, workshops and community exhibitions.

Austin Smith Lord were responsible for the recent extension.

The Doves of Peace sculpture was created by Michael Lyons and unveiled on September 8th 1986.

The World’s First Nuclear Free City.

To the left the Manchester Civil Justice Centre 2007 by Denton Corker Marshall.

Commissioned by the former Department for Constitutional Affairs – now the Ministry of Justice, the building was funded as a Public–private partnership and is the centrepiece of the Spinningfields development. The building opened to widespread acclaim for its expressionist dynamism, environmental credentials and high-quality design. It was nominated for RIBA’s Stirling Prize in 2007.

Named one of the Best British buildings of the 21st century – by Blueprint magazine in 2011.

Crossing over the Albert Bridge take a look to the left – the now derelict Mark Addy, a POMO dreamworld of 1981, closed in 2014, subsequently drowned by the rising tide of the river.

Mark Addy was a true hero in Salford back in the late 19th Century, being awarded the Albert Medal by Queen Victoria. A keen swimmer and oarsman, he is credited with rescuing more than 50 people who fell into the River Irwell, saving them from drowning and certain death.

Jim Ramsbottom was a Salford entrepreneur and bookie who wanted to create a classy joint on the waterfront.

Photograph – Lizzie Pluta

Albert Bridge is a Grade II listed skew arch bridge. A replacement for an earlier structure, New Bailey Bridge, it was completed in 1844.

An 1843 investigation of the earlier structure, built between 1783 and 1785, revealed that it was in such poor condition it would have to be completely replaced. A special committee decided on a design by George W. Buck, costing about £9,000.

The new bridge was opened on 26 August 1844.

The first vehicle to cross was a donkey cart, from Manchester.


Washington House aka City Wharf came and went – demolished in 2015

Before that the land, between New Bailey Street and Irwell Street and between the Irwell and the railway viaducts, was home to the New Bailey Prison.  It was built in 1787 and operated until Strangeways Prison was built to replace it.  The New Bailey Prison closed in 1868.

Work is progressing on the new BT Building.

Contractor Bowmer + Kirkland has started construction of Four New Bailey, a 175,000 sq ft office building at English Cities Fund’s Salford scheme.

The BT letting was a huge endorsement for what we’re trying to achieve here at New Bailey and this commitment confirmed to us that we’re creating a neighbourhood that leading names want to be part of – said Phil Mayall, regional director of the English Cities Fund, a joint venture between Muse Developments, Legal & General and Homes England. 

Four New Bailey, designed by Make Architects, is the fourth office to come forward at the consortium’s New Bailey scheme, part of the wider £1bn Salford Central masterplan. 

Place North West

One New Bailey by Renton Howard Wood Levin Architects

A 125,000 sq ft state-of-the-art office development funded and owned by Legal & General, occupying a prominent position in the heart of the city. With large, regular and efficient floorplates of over 17,000 sq ft, One New Bailey has been developed to the latest BREEAM Excellent specification.

Following the success of One New Bailey attracting leading international law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, as its long-term base for its Global Centre, the English Cities Fund is proud to introduce Two New Bailey Square – a 188,500 sq ft state-of-the-art of office development occupying a prominent position in New Bailey and the city as a whole. Two New Bailey Square perfectly balances the characteristics of a high quality, sustainable office building with an honesty and integrity that will a provide truly unique development.

Architects – Alford Hall Monaghan Morris

Three New Bailey by Make Architects

We’ve designed a building that people will enjoy working in, along with new, welcoming spaces around it that will become assets for the community.

Stuart Fraser Lead project architect

Skyscraper City

New Bailey NCP Car Park

English Cities Fund and National Car Parks have officially launched the new 615 space, nine storey car park at New Bailey, which is due to open in early December. 

The £12 million car park, which was designed by architect Renton Howard Wood Levin Architects and constructed by Morgan Sindall has been forward funded by Legal and General and let to NCP on a 35 year lease.

This purpose built flagship multi-storey car park features a number of benefits for customers. These include state of the art larger and quicker lifts, energy efficient LED lighting and automatic number plate recognition. The online booking service includes pre booking facilities and level monitoring communicates to drivers which levels have available parking spaces. There are also direct links to the NCP customer contact centre via a number of help points throughout the car park, as well as 27 CCTV cameras for increased safety and six charging spaces for electric cars.

The car park is also conveniently located adjacent to Salford Central train station.

Muse Developments

On the opposing side of the road other multi storey car park nears completion.

The car park has been designed by AHR Architects.

Phil Mayall, development director at ECf said:

The addition of a second car park is key to the New Bailey masterplan and we’re delighted to once again be working with NCP to help bring that forward.

Manchester Evening News

Yet more residential blocks- The Slateyard by  AHR Architects

Our stylish collection of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments near Spinningfields are supported by an extraordinary catalogue of amenities, including a state-of-the art gym, landscaped garden, games room and much, much more.

But if you want to experience renting at its finest, you’ll just have to take a look for yourself.

Walking the Ring Road alongside and under the Ordsall Chord 2017 – BDP

Structural engineers WSP and Aecom with Mott McDonald who created the stunning ribbon form in Corten steel

Place North West

Ordsall Chord, also known as the Castlefield Curve, is a short railway line in Ordsall, Salford, England, which links Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road to Manchester Victoria, designed to increase capacity and reduce journey times into and through Manchester.

The ferocious Factory pulling faces from Manchester.

OMA designed the factory to be ultra-flexible, enabling large-scale artistic work of invention and ambition.

Dance, theatre, music, opera, visual arts, popular culture and innovative contemporary work incorporating the latest digital technologies will come together in ground-breaking combinations.

Here, the world’s best artists will let their imaginations run free as they experiment and embark on new collaborations, the fruits of which will be premiered in Manchester before traveling the world.

Design Boom

Next stop Middlewood Locks by Whittam Cox Architects.

The site is located in Salford, on the edge of Manchester City Centre. We were appointed as Lead Consultant to develop the vision and design for this vibrant new neighbourhood of over 2,000 new homes and 750,000 sq.ft for commercial use. The 24 acre brownfield site has been in a dilapidated state for decades, formerly occupied by terraced housing, mills, warehouse, rail and industrial uses. The design intent for the whole scheme is to provide for a long-term sustainable, liveable community, with strong ties to the local history and character of the area.

Forward to get the lowdown on some low-rise housing on the site of the Stella Maris Hostel.

Carpino Place – The development is named after Archbishop Francesco Carpino who, in 1966 along with the then mayor of Salford, laid the foundation stone of The Stella Maris Seaman’s Mission, which previously occupied the site.

Construction of the homes, which were designed by Buttress Architects, was completed in 2018. 

About Manchester

En passant who can ignore this elegant BT Telephone Exchange?

Now we are off to Timekeepers Square – a development of 36 townhouses that forms part of the English Cities Fund’s Salford Central regeneration scheme.

A primary urban design aim for the project was to reinstate the area’s historic street pattern, where this had been destroyed, and re-introduce a legibility to the streets that would strengthen the area’s centrepiece – St Phillips Church. The strategic plan for Timekeepers Square, therefore, has been to create clearly defined rows of terraces that relate in a sensitive and contemporary manner to neighbouring Georgian terraces, responding to them in height, massing, and rhythm.

Buttress Architects

Valette Square has been shortlisted for a prestigious Housing Design Award in the projects category.

Castlegate, Salford; buildings are simplified to simple blocks of colour against the pale sky, indistinct dark figures walk the streets depicted in the bottom left corner. Sacred Trinity church can be seen to the right of the painting, with other surrounding buildings in red and light brown. The result is a depiction of a busy street in an industrial city context, to the left a dark shape extends vertically across the canvas.

Pierre Adolphe Valette

Designed for The English Cities Fund, the project brings forward 33 innovative two, three and-four bedroom townhouses, situated just off Chapel Street, Salford’s historic and civic core.

The townhouses’ design responds to the area’s existing Georgian vernacular and echoes the appearance of Timekeepers Square, providing a close visual relationship between the two developments. The proposed brick picks up on the grey and white blend found at the neighbouring homes and incorporates red multi-tones, referencing local, historic red brick buildings, which allows the scheme to sit sensitively within its context, while also being read as a new distinct community.

Buttress Architects

The Filaments designed by OMI Architects – The development, which has now been handed over to Grainger, is split across three blocks: Neon, Halogen and Lamp.

Place North West

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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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 concrete reliefs.

The first is an example of Trellis by Mitzi Cunliffe.

The second on the former BHS is unattributed.

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.


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.