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.

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

And a passageway Victor Pasmore Mural.

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

Turn around and there’s the Pariser Building.

Clad in merry mosaic.

The Maths and Social Science Block.

Seen here framed by the magnificent Mancunian Way

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

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

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

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

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

Staff Net

As of last week this was not the case.

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

The walkway has also gone walkabout.

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

Reimagined by the marketing imagineers as Retro.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archive material from Manchester Local Image Collection

Multiple links to Mainstream Modern

Manchester Walk #1

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

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

1967

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

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

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

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

Nikolaus Pevsner described the building as:

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

1937/39 Manchester Evening News

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

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

This now and happening pet shop.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twentieth Century Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The architect Stephenson Bell says of the project that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It currently seems to almost be a Premier Inn.

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

Pausing to observe a mysterious ramp to nowhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All archive photographs Manchester Local Image Collection

Sheffield Walk

To begin at the beginning high on a hill overlooking the city – Park Hill.

Park Hill was previously the site of back-to-back housing, a mixture of two and three storey tenement buildings, waste ground, quarries and steep alleyways. Clearance of the area began during the 1930s.

Following the war it was decided that a radical scheme needed to be introduced to deal with rehousing the Park Hill community. Inspired by Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation 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.

Construction began in 1957 – officially opened on 16 June 1961.

The complex remained structurally sound, unlike many system-built blocks of the era, and controversially was 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.

Plan for Sheffield 1963

I’ve been here before and again, visited pubs that don’t exist – The Parkway, Scottish Queen, Link or Earl George are all long gone.

Let’s go down town.

Take a look at Elements Fire Steel Brian Asquith’s work unveiled on May 10th 1965 at the former Westminster Bank – subsequently sited here on the Sheffield Hallam campus. He was also responsible for the sculptural work in the Peace Gardens.

Onwards to the Co-op’s former Castle House Store.

Grade II Iisted  Co-operative department store described by Historic England as  ‘1964 by George S Hay, Chief Architect for CWS, with interior design by Stanley Layland, interior designer for CWS. Reinforced concrete with Blue Pearl granite tiles and veneers, grey granite tiles and veneers, buff granite blocks, glass, and brick.’

The original branch was destroyed in the Blitz, to be replaced by a temporary prefabricated shop.

Seen here in Sean Madner’s wonderful photographs.

Vulcan by Boris Tietze commisioned by Horne Brothers 1961 for their head office building No. 1 King Street. Glass fibre on a metal armature the 8 foot high figure holding a bundle of metal rods.

Off to court – Sheffield Magistrates Courts of 1978 designed by B Warren City Planning Officer and Architect, along with the adjacent Police Headquarters of 1970. Described by the Pevsner guide as – coherent in design if not particularly loveable.

Under construction 1977

1989

Passing the Graves by City Architect WG Davies 1929-34, with a friendly nod to inter-war Modernity. Intended to form one side of an unrealised civic square proposed by Patrick Abercrombie in 1924. The exterior carved work is by Alfred and William Tory.

Visualisation by Geo Daniels

There were major exhibitions in both 1945 and 1963 illustrating the plans down up for the redevelopment of the city.

1945

1963

Off to the shops and the former Cole Brothers Stores by York, Rosenberg and Mardall, clad in their trademark white tiles opened in September 1963 – currently trading as John Lewis.

1969

Tucked around the corner my go to guy for up to the minute cast concrete public art William Mitchell.

Along The Moor to the Moorfoot Building of 1978 by the Property Services Agency, former Manpower Services Commission HQ – now home to council offices.

Under construction 1977

Crucible by Judith Bluck located outside the Manpower Service Commission Building, commissioned for the Property Services Agency of the Department of the Environment in 1979. It is a large bronze-coloured plastic fountain sculpture. The artist referred to it as an exploding crucible.

Finishing up at the renowned Moore Street Power Station

Electricity substation. 1968 to designs by consulting architects Jefferson, Sheard and Partners, Sheffield, led by Bryan Jefferson, in association with the Regional Civil Engineers’ Department of the CEGB North East Region. Contractors, Longden & Sons Ltd, Sheffield. Reinforced concrete frame with board-marked finish with formwork bolt marks, construction and daywork joints emphasized, concrete floor slabs, blue engineering facing bricks, cladding panels of Cornish granite aggregate.

St Mary’s RC Church – Denton

Duke Street Denton Manchester M34 2AN

I remember you being built.

I remember our visit with the Manchester Modernists in 2015 – arranged by Angela Connelly and Matthew Steele of Sacred Suburbs

I popped by to see you yesterday – a truly remarkable structure set amongst the terraced housing of an unremarkable street.

The foundation stone for the present building laid by Bishop Beck in August 1962. He returned to bless and open the church on 25 June 1963. The new church was built from designs by Walter Stirrup & Sons – job architect Kevin Houghton, at a cost of about £60,000. The church is notable for its dalle de verre glass, by Carl Edwards of Whitefriars.

The church is a very striking and characterful building with a hyperbolic paraboloid roof rising in peaks on four sides, with clerestory lighting in the angles, that on the west side jutting out to form a canopy over the entrance. It was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘wildly expressionist’.

Taking Stock

I suggest that you do the same and pop by to see St Mary – Our Lady of Sorrows soon.

Sheila Gregory Hair Stylist – Manchester

142 Oldham Road Failsworth Manchester M35 0HP

I’m in a different world:

A world I never knew, I’m in a different world.
A world so sweet and true, I’m in a different world
.

A world of rollers, pins, grips, hair dryers and drying hair.

A world permanently waving within itself.

My thanks to Sheila – sixty years a stylist and her customers for allowing me into their world for a short time – a privilege and a pleasure.

Little seems to have changed here within – on the corner of Oldham Road and Mellor Street.

Let’s take a little look.

Shelia’s certificates of 1962 – so proudly displayed.

Leyland – St Mary’s Church

It never fails to surprise, turning the corner of a somewhat anonymous suburban street to find:

A building of outstanding importance for its architectural design, advanced liturgical planning and artistic quality of the fixtures and fittings.

Broadfield Drive Leyland Lancashire PR25 1PD

The Benedictines came to Leyland in 1845 and the first Church of St. Mary’s was built on Worden Lane in 1854. The Catholic population was small at this time, but had grown to around 500 by 1900. Growth was assisted by the industrial development of Leyland and after the Second World War the town was earmarked as the centre of a new town planned in central Lancashire. By the early 1960’s, the Catholic population was 5,000. Fr Edmund Fitzsimmons, parish priest from 1952, was a guiding force in the decision to build a large new church of advanced liturgical design, inspired by progressive continental church architecture of the mid 20th century.  The church was designed by Jerzy Faczynski of Weightman and Bullen. Cardinal Heenan blessed the foundation  stone  in  1962  and  the  new  church  was  completed  ready  for  its consecration and dedication by Archbishop Beck in April 1964.

Stained glass by Patrick Reyntiens.

Pink brick, reinforced concrete, copper covered roofs, zig-zag to main space and flat to aisle. Circular, aisled plan with projecting entrance and five projecting chapels.

Central altar. Entrance in large projecting porch with roof rising outwards and the roof slab cantilevered above the doors, its underside curving upward.

Large polychrome ceramic mural representing the Last Judgment by Adam Kossowski occupies the width of the porch above the two double- doored entrances.

Brick rotunda with projecting painted reinforced concrete chapels to left and right, of organic round-cornered form.

Folded radial roof above main space, leaning outwards to shelter triangular clerestory windows. Circular glazed light to centre of roof, its sides leaning outwards, culminating in a sculpted finial of copper or bronze.

Internally, sanctuary is floored in white marble, raised by a step, and the white marble altar is raised by three further steps.

Fixed curved timber benches are placed on slightly raked floor.

`Y’ shaped concrete aisle posts, designed to incorporate the Stations of the Cross, sculpted by Arthur Dooley.

Above these the exposed brick drum rises to the exposed, board-marked concrete folded roof. The aisle walls comprise thirty-six panels of abstract dalle-de-verre stained glass, totalling 233 feet in length, by Patrick Reyntiens, mostly in blues and greens. The theme is the first day of Creation. Suspended above the altar is the original ring-shaped light fixture, and also Adam Kossowski’s ceramic of Christ the King.

Further original light fittings are suspended above the congregation.

The font is placed in the narthex, in a shallow, marble-lined depression in the floor. It comprises a concrete cylinder with an inscribed bronze lid.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with its rising roof slab, contains a green marble altar with in-built raking supports.

Behind it is a tapestry representing the Trinity, designed by the architect J. Faczynski.

Text from Taking Stock

Many thanks to Father John and the members of the congregation for the warm welcome that they extended to us on the day of our visit to their exceptional Grade II Listed church.

William Mitchell – Newton Heath

On meeting an old friend in Manchester – following previous encounters in Coventry, Salford and Liverpool

Following a lead from Neil Simpson I cycled along Clayton Vale and emerged on Amos Avenue where the flats came into view.

I was in search of an an averaged sized totemic concrete municipal public art pillar – similar to the example to be found in Eastford Square.

It belongs to a time when Municipal Modernism was very much in vogue – the provision of social housing along with the commissioning of murals, sculptures, mosaics and tiled reliefs.

There has been some discussion regarding its authorship – it may or may not be the work of William Mitchell – both Skyliner and The Shrieking Violets have tried to find an answer.

Inevitably my only concern is art over authenticity – does it move you?

Let’s just take a little look.



High Street Estate – Pendleton

High Street Pendleton 1930s – the cast of Love on the Dole walk down High Street Pendleton, passing Hill’s Pawnbroker, author Walter Greenwood is ninth from the right.

This was a dense area of back to back terraces adjacent to pubs, schools, churches, mills, docks and cattle markets. Communities formed from shared patterns of employment, education, leisure and worship.

These communities survived into the 1960s and the coming of slum clearance, followed by an intense period of rebuilding in the modern manner.

Archival photographs Digital Salford

Patterns of employment, economic boom and bust, the exponential expansion in higher education, all contribute to the change in character of the area, along with slow and sudden demise in social housing.

2014 and the area begins to be reshaped yet again – this time by former resident Mr Peter Hook, who grew up in the area, the low slung former New Order bass meister described it in a book as – rotten and horrible, like a concrete wasteland

The Orchards tower block, the first of three, is removed piece by piece, each of the 14-storey blocks took around six weeks to be demolished.

The citizens of High Street Estate await the ‘dozers with apprehension and a sense of grim inevitability.

Clearance begins with the promise of new homes, tenants and homeowners are relocated, houses are tinned up or demolished wholesale. – a few remain in situ dissatisfied and afraid.

Altogether, 885 houses in Pendleton are being bulldozed and, to date, 584 have already been demolished, including houses on Athole Street and Amersham Street. Over the Pendleton Together project’s £650million thirty year life, only around one third of new houses being built will be affordable.

Meanwhile, after years of anguish and uncertainty, Fitzwarren Court and Rosehill Close, previously down for demolition, are being saved. Salix Homes will now bring flats in Fitzwarren Court and houses in its ownership on Rosehill Close up to the Decent Homes Standard

Salford Star

So welcome to Limboland – as financial arrangements shift, shimmy and evaporate – government policy, local authority pragmatists, private partnerships and funding perform a merry dance of expediency, around an ever diminishing circle of demolition, development, stasis and deceit.

Dorothy Annan Mural – The Barbican

I’ve been to the Barbican before, wandering the walkways without purpose.

This is a whole new box of tiles, the search for a re-sited mural, a first time meeting with what would seem at once like an old and well-loved friend.

Dorothy Annan 20 January 1900 – 28 June 1983

Was an English painter, potter and muralist, married to the painter and sculptor Trevor Tennant. She was born in Brazil to British parents and was educated in France and Germany.

Christmas 1944 – Manchester Art Gallery

Annan’s paintings are in many national collections, she is also known for her tile murals, many of which have been destroyed in recent decades. Only three of her major public murals are believed to survive, the largest single example, the Expanding Universe at the Bank of England, was destroyed in 1997.

Gouache Sketch

I was looking for her mural which illustrates the telecommunications industry – formerly of the Fleet Building Telephone Exchange Farringdon Road.

Michael Bojkowski

The murals were commissioned at a cost of £300 per panel in 1960. Annan visited the Hathernware Pottery in Loughborough and hand-scored her designs onto each wet clay tile, her brush marks can also be seen in the fired panels.

Charles Trusler

The building was owned by Goldman Sachs, who wished to redevelop the site and opposed the listing of the murals.

In January 2013, the City of London Corporation agreed to take ownership of the murals, and in September 2013 these were moved to a permanent location in publicly accessible part of the Barbican Estate. They are displayed in their original sequence within an enclosed section of the Barbican High Walk between Speed House and the Barbican Centre.

Commemorative Bowl

So following a discursive and somewhat undirected circumnavigation of the Center we were finally united – it only seemed polite to linger a while and take some snaps – here they are.

Stockport Moderne

A short circuitous tour around the town’s post war architecture.

Stockport along with every other town in the country was asked by central government to draw up a plan for reconstruction, to be implemented at the end of WW2. The result was invariably a wholesale rebuilding of bomb damaged and aged industrial, civic and domestic architecture.

Post 1945 such plans were seldom realised, Coventry and Plymouth being the exceptions. Changes in government, shortages of materials, labour and finance all played their part. We are left with a piecemeal implementation taking place over a much longer time scale than was originally envisaged.

The proposed Market Hall remains a fantasy in line and wash.

The Town Hall was spared and the planned civic sector took shape over some sixty years, the station approach area is now in its second phase of rebirth and rebuilding – the original 80s development of Grand Central now largely rubble – a new new plan is now in play.

A whole new transport interchange is to be built, replacing the existing 80s Bus Station.

Some 60s structures have been and gone, others are to be demolished or transformed into apartments, as towns strive to repopulate the centres following decades of abandonment to the moribund absence of a thriving night time economy.

So as of January 2019 we find ourselves at the centre of a town with change at its very centre, some of that which we see will be transformed, some will disappear.

All That Is Solid Melts into Air.

Petersgate House

A compact 70s block, that combines the roughest of precast panels, with the smoothest of *V* shaped supports, housing the car park below. The north face is a solid block of rough mid-toned aggregated recessed concrete, the remaining elevations pierced with windows and to the east a brick service tower.

Stockport Image Archive

I miss the Water Board offices, formerly adjoining the site.

Hilton House

Sixties built Hilton House is the former home of local furniture manufacturers New Day. It continues to impress, more or less unaltered, with its dramatic interlocking volumes confidently occupying the topography of the site. A commanding block of some ten storeys, with well proportioned bands of windows and mixed stone and concrete cladding. Linked to two further horizontal blocks, which are finished in contrasting styles. 

The building is currently in occupation as office space but there are imminent plans to convert the development into apartments following a Studio KMA concept design.

Stopford House

There had been proposals to extend the Town Hall provision since 1945, which were finally realised in 1975. Designed by JS Rank OBE and built at a cost of £1,500,000 – to provide additional office provision for the Local Authority. A further two blocks were planned but never built.

The main block is clad in 1400 exposed aggregate precast panels and the link blocks have ribbed walls constructed with in situ concrete, bush hammered to expose the limestone aggregate. The precast panels were carefully matched in order to harmonise with the existing Town Hall, the mix contained coarse aggregate from the Scottish Granite Company of Creetown, a fine Leemoor sand from the Fordamin Company, together with white cement.

There are tow levels of underground parking beneath the whole of the development. The piazza between the blocks was to have had a water cascade falling into a pond running the whole length of the area.

Though exciting and expansive in the modern manner the piazza area, sadly, seems little used.

Missing in action Covent Garden Flats once a little inter-war Berlin style low rise development now a Barratt Home urban paradise.

Merseyway

The story of Merseyway begins in 1936 with the quarter mile bridging of the river. It continues with a series of post-war integrateddevelopment proposals, finally completed in 1965. It has accommodated much earlier buildings, notably the Co-operative Store, now Primark, and the properties on the adjoining Prince’s Street. The multi storey car park with its pierced cast concrete screen and tower dominates the site. Many original features are missing, sympathetic paving, sculpture, exterior travelators, signage and kiosks. The use of the upper tier is negligible and piecemeal additions have left a rather cluttered feel, replacing a former well structured integrity. Just recently a small portion of the river has been exposed, following the repairs to the bridge of 1891. There have been discussions regarding the opening up of the whole extent of the river, revealing it through reinforced glazing.

Shopping Precinct

Opened in 1965, and extensively refurbished in the 1990s, it is a large pedestrianised area built on stilts over the River Mersey with two levels of walkways giving access to the retail units.

The scheme was developed by a consortium of interested parties who formed as Stockport Improvements Limited. In partnership with the Stockport Co-operative Society. The architects were Bernard Engle and Partners in conjunction with officers of Stockport Corporation. The separation of pedestrians and cars, the service areas, the multi level street, the city block that negotiates difficult topography to its advantage, are all planning moves that are of the new, ordered and systemised, second wave modernism in the UK.

Notable is the pierced concrete car park screen by Alan Boyson.

Constructed from three basic modules, each one being rotated to form six options in a seemingly random order.

BHS Murals

At the side of the BHS store in Merseyway are five concrete panels depicting local people, events and symbols. Commissioned by BHS in 1978 – To fill space on the blank wall at the side of the shop. They are the work of Joyce Pallot 1912-2004 and Henry Collins, 1910-1994 – two artist/designers, who along with John Nash, establishedthe Colchester Arts Group, during the 1930s. Their work was featured in the Festival of Britain, GPO Tower and Expo 70, along with other retail outlets in Bexhill, Cwmbran, Southhampton, Newcastle and Colchester.

M60

The Hatton Street footbridge has two spans of in-situ u-section deck, is at ground level on the north side, but is reached by steps or ramp from Great Egerton Street on the south.

By 1974, the motorway had reached the outskirts of Stockport , running onto the congested A560. The 2.5-mileStockport East-West bypass opened to traffic in July 1982 as far as the Portwood Roundabout, then junction 13 of the M63, now junction 27 of the M60. A significant feature of the bypass is where the motorway passes through two of the arches of the large railway viaduct  in the centre of Stockport – one of the largest brick-built structures in Europe. In much of the cutting on the eastern side of the viaduct, red sandstone, on which much of the town is built, can be seen very close to the motorway. The section of motorway was widened from two to three lane carriageways in 1999 and 2000, around the time when the M63 was renumbered to M60.