I was taking a band of merry Modernist Moochers around town, so I stopped to snap this BDP behemoth once again.
On a sunny September morn.
David Lees informs me:
Halifax Building Society HQ, designed by BDP in an a multi-consultant appointment. Bill Pearson, partner and lead designer, John Ellis, M & E partner, David Cowler, Industrial Designer for the conservatrieve document storage and recovery terminals.
Rod Morris, Graphic Designer designed the sculptural Corten air vents. Richard Saxon, Americanophile introduced the theory of the open plan office. The building has twin fourteen foot deep steel beams clear-spanning between the four corner stair towers, within the chamfered soffit, a floor that also houses all the plant rooms. Lower floor of curtain walled cladding is a one acre open plan beaurolandchaft office, based upon analysis of workflow, the first in the UK and the biggest order for Herman Miller action office furniture at the time.
The office ceiling is a development of BDP’s coffered ceiling creating diffuse, glare free light and massive sound deadening, needed in open plan. Yellow cylindrical air inlet terminals by David Cowler. There ended up being so many duct penetrations in the fourteen foot beams that Harry Halsall, the structural engineer, had to prop them centre span. To create strong columns that could be lost in the window walls he used solid square section forged steel. No holds barred on this building’s cost. Executives suits of offices on the top floor with lavish bespoke joinery have recessed landscaped courtyards.
The building sits on a vast chasm that is storage for physical title documents the society had to keep. Its roof is a crash slab that can take the full weight of the building above collapsing. Large vertical robot arms travel the racks to retrieve the documents that get delivered to the office floor by a conveyor system. Office terminals designed by David Cowler who went on to design the iconic Samsonite Suitcase.
Nobody thought about the groundwater effect when the concrete basement was built. Without the weight of the building on it, it floated eleven inches. Luckily when the water was pumped out it settled back down precisely.
BDP Manchester’s golden years.
I arrived fresh from Uni just as it was finished.
Thanks to David for the inside information, here’s what it looks like on the outside.
Now I want to look in detail at the exterior ceramic art.
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.
The enormous abstract art panels weigh almost 50 tons.
The Carlton Picture Theatre in Anlaby Road was designed by the firm of Blackmore & Sykes and was built by Messrs. Greenwood and Sons.
It was run by Hull Picture Playhouse Ltd.
This was a lavish suburban cinema, with an elaborate green and gold sliding dome utilising Venetian glass and housing hundreds of concealled lights. Roman marble mosaics and painted plaster panels on the walls added to the sense of occasion engendered by a trip to the flicks.
A Fitton & Haley organ was installed, but this was later removed to the more central Cecil Theatre and was destroyed when that theatre was bombed during WW II.
The cinema had two entrances, one in each of the two towers on the front corners of the building. Above the proscenium was the inscription, rather inapt given how soon talkies arrived :
“A Picture is a poem without words”.
There was a single balcony and, for its date, a surprisingly large car park.
It continued unaltered, save for minor war damage, until its closure in April 1967, after which it was simply converted to bingo usage which continued as a Mecca Bingo Club until 2008.
Built in 1928, this church was designed with some care and is an attractive, if fairly modest, Lombard Romanesque-style essay in brick. The use of a semi-circular apse, narrow brickwork and use of tile for decorative effect give it a pleasing appearance, typical of restrained but elegant work between the wars.
I arrived and took a look around, first time in town, here’s what I found.
Whilst cycling twixt Redcar and Newcastle one sunny Monday morn, I espied a tower on the distant horizon.
I pedalled hurriedly along and this is what I found.
Dawson House aka Kingsway.
A fifteen-storey circular tower block of 60 one-bedroom flats and 29 two-bedroom flats, making 89 dwellings in total. The block was built as public housing at the western fringe of the Town Centre development that began in 1952. Approved in 1973, the block is of triangular concrete-beam construction.
The architects were Elder Lester Associates.
The block was built by Teeside County Borough Council.
Stanley Miller Ltd.’s tender for the contract was £778,850.
The tower block was opened on 3rd April 1975 by the Mayor of Stockton Borough Council, John Dyson.
The block is described as ‘gimmicky circular tower block’ in The Buildings of England: County Durham by N. Pevsner.
In November 2013, a time capsule was buried in front of The Family, under a stone with the inscription Forever Forward 30 11 2013.
The capsule is not to be unearthed until the year 2078.
Twenty million pound bid to take back control of the centre of Billingham.
The council says: Proposals include addressing the physical condition of Billingham town centre in support the Council’s ambition to take back control of the centre. Redevelopment would solve the challenges of changing retail trends that are contributing towards excess retail space and high vacancy rates.
This includes exploring options for mixed-use redevelopment and high-quality public spaces that improve accessibility within the town centre and a modern retail offering.
Built in 1968 by local architects Elder Lester and Partners as part of the expansive plans for the town centre along with the Forum, La Ronde nightclub was to form part of the expansive plans for Billingham focused on the pursuit of increased leisure time.
La Ronde’s distinct cylindrical form comes from the car park access ramp that winds around the stair core to the upper floors of the club. The elevated drum-like form inset with cross latticed concrete webs was cast entirely in-situ.
In 2006, the council demolished La Ronde and Forum House at the cost of £500,000 to make way for a supermarket.
In 1960, Billingham Urban District Council, began one of the most ambitious new leisure centres in Europe. The Forum was funded by the district’s new-found wealth – a product of the local petrochemical industry. It was designed by local architects Elder Lester and Partners and brought together a variety of recreational activities including an ice rink, swimming pool, sports centre, theatre, and bar all under one roof. The Forum opened in July 1967 to great enthusiasm. Weekly attendance over the first six months was between 20 000 and 30 000 people, far exceeding all expectations.
The inclusion of the theatre alongside the sports facilities broke new ground in recreational planning and in the shift from sport to the broader notion of ‘leisure’, the Forum predated architectural thinking of the time by nearly a decade. The building’s form is derived from the functions within, expressed in a variety of bulbous elements. The most distinctive is the canopy of the ice rink roof which is hung using steel cables running the length of the roof and cross-braced to achieve a clear 73m span.
When Hull City Council founded KCOM back in 1904, as Hull Telephone Department, it was one of several local authorities across the country granted a licence to run its own phone network.
Gradually, over time other authorities gave up control of their networks to the Post Office which wanted to create a single national service, but Hull City Council decided to keep its network and continue to go it alone.
While the Post Office network eventually became BT, Hull’s network, like the city itself, remained fiercely independent. That’s why today Hull has its own distinct cream phone boxes in contrast to the red ones you’ll find elsewhere.
At the entrance to the park on Holderness Road are eight concrete walls.
They are covered in square, cast concrete modular panels.
Said to be the work of the City Architect in 1964.
Municipal Dreams lists the City Architect at that time to be JV Wall, having replaced David Jenkin in that same year.
My money’s on Wall – well it makes sense don’t it?
I had taken the bus from Hull Interchange on a chill April morning.
The driver obligingly giving me a shout at the appropriate stop – right outside the gates.
They are not universally loved:
A further testament to the concrete pourer’s art is to be found adorning the entrance to East Park. They are so horrible that I could find nothing on the net to indicate who designed them, shame is a powerful motive for reticence. So here they stand to welcome the visitor; after this the actual park couldn’t be any worse.
It’s remarkable – here are my photographs from February 2020.
I advise you to get along and take a look, just as soon as humanly possible.
Recently John Mann was granted permission to snap the deserted interior.
The ghostly gasps of the exercising public exorcised forever.
Eileen Ayres, who has worked at Richard Dunns from before it even opened to the public said:
When I came here this place was super, super modern – state of the art. Now we’re moving to Sedbergh it is great to be in a state of the art facility again. The younger staff are so excited about the move to a new, modern sports centre.
I have a lot of memories of here, a lot of staff I’ve met and become friends with over the years. We’ve had a lot of events here, international events that have taken place here over the years. When Richard Dunn was new a lot of people wanted to hold these events here. Now we have a new leisure centre I hope some of these events come back to Bradford.
I started at 23, I said I was just coming for a year. Here we are 41 years later.
When asked if she thinks it is right to be closing down Richard Dunn she said:
In my heart no, but realistically it has to go. It is run down – it would be way too expensive to run or refurbish. You can’t keep putting money into old things.
I first came here some twenty years ago or so and on each subsequent visit little seems to change.
The exterior signage and fascia remain intact.
The orange light shades are still hanging limp and bright from the suspended ceiling.
The furniture and scarlet carpet unmoved, as the cheery waiting staff weave merrily in, out and round about with meals and drinks.
The distinctive white relief sits in the same place on the wall.
Almost inevitably I order a mug of tea.
Along with a plate of eggs chips and peas.
Eat and drink the lot and leave happy and contented – who can resist a well run, well appointed classic café?
A well-known and respected figure in the Bradford business world, Mr Paul Georgiou ran Fountains Coffee House in John Street for just shy of 50 years alongside his wife Mary, and has run cafés and other businesses in the city for almost six decades.
Other ventures created by Mr Georgiou include the Hole in the Wall nightclub, which was one of the first underground nightclubs in the city centre.It hosted acts including Sir Tom Jones and rockers Thin Lizzy as they rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970.
Sadly he passed away in 2019.
His main business Fountains Coffee House is now managed by his son Michael, but when it opened it was one of the first businesses to open in the John Street Market, as the Oastler centre was known then.
Positioned above the entrance/exit and either side of the exit/entrance.
They have had over time various companions to keep them company.
They are currently friendless – the Kirkgate Market is to be closed, its future uncertain – and by inference Big Bill’s public art is under threat too.
The Council has announced to its traders in Kirkgate Market and the Oastler Centre that it will not be carrying out the proposed refurbishment of Kirkgate Market as the new market in Darley Street will now accommodate non-food sales on one trading floor with the other trading floor being dedicated to fresh foods and the 1st floor for hot food and beverage sales.
As per they are unlisted, largely unnoticed and as such very vulnerable, get it while you can, take a trip to Bradford real soon.
Mention must also be made of the tiled ceramic mosaics which adorn one wall and the three panels on the raised area above the stalls.
I was most intrigued by these tiles – I have not seen this type before – they have a resemblance to to Transform tiles that were produced in Staffordshire in the 1970s, but they are different in several ways.
The November 1973 T&A microfilm appears to have been stolen from Bradford Library so I can’t check reports and features from the time of the opening of the market on November 22 1973.
There comes a time in everyone’s life, when one simply must go to Rotherham, at least once – so I did.
To keep company with my personal town guide, Sheffield Modernist and local resident, Helen Angell.
I arrived early at Rotherham Central, so went for a solo wander.
The station was originally named Rotherham, becoming Rotherham and Masborough in January 1889 and finally Rotherham Central on 25 September 1950.
The newish Rotherham Central station was opened to passengers on 11 May 1987, the present iteration on Friday 24 February 2012, as part of the Rotherham Renaissance plans for the regeneration of the town.
Opened 22 December 1934 as the Regal Cinema with Leslie Howard in Girls Please. Sandy Powell, the famous comedian attended opening night this 1,825 seat. It was designed by the Hull based architectural firm Messrs Blackmore & Sykes for local exhibitor Thomas Wade and was leased to the Lou Morris chain.
By 1937 it was operated by the London & Southern Super Cinemas Ltd. chain. The Regal Cinema was leased to the Odeon circuit in 1946 and was re-named Odeon. It was sold by the Rank Organisation to an independent operator in 1975 and renamed Scala Cinema, by 1981 using the circle only.
Closed 23rd September 1983 with the film Porky’s.
Became a bingo hall initially named Ritz but now Mecca. On 20th February 2020 the building was put up for sale by auction at an asking price of £600,000+, but failed to sell, with the maximum reached £590,000. Mecca bingo continues in the building.
Main contractors J. Finnegan it’s thirteen storeys high – housing forty eight dwellings.
Interwar Technical College – Howard Building
From the 1930s, it provided technical-orientated education from the Howard Building on Eastwood Lane, Rotherham. In 1981, three neighbouring colleges of arts, technology and adult education were merged into one. As a result, the college became known as Rotherham College of Arts and Technology.
Revised plans to convert the historic Howard Building in Rotherham town centre into self-contained studios and apartments have been approved by the planning board at Rotherham Council.
The prominent former college building was sold prior to going to auction last September after it was advertised as a development opportunity and given a guide price of £250,000 by local auctioneers, Mark Jenkinson & son.
A group of rogue property directors with links to a prominent derelict building in Rotherham have been banned for a total of 54 years. The six, of Absolute Living Developments, were found to have misled more than 300 people to invest at least £12 million in residential properties.
The firm was linked through a lender to Avro Developments, which had plans passed in 2015 to renovate former college block the Howard Building in Rotherham town centre.
With a strident high tech canopy, very recently added – though Rotherham’s history stems back 800 years when it is thought that the original royal market charter was granted by King John in the year 1207.
There are traces of the 1970’s rebuild.
Bunker-like The Trades former music venue/pub, which replaced the former riverside Trades Club.
The PA now silenced.
This was an amazing event. The bands were really good and the drinks offers, while limited, were good. The ceiling in the ladies toilets had fallen through and was dripping, presumably there had been a leak from all the rain, but this didn’t lessen the awesome experience.
The cooling towers and flats are long gone – the coal-fired power station operated from 1923 until October 1978.
The Prince of Wales Power Station in Rotherham was located on Rawmarsh Road and was opened by the Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VIII.
The former Grattans catalogue offices can be seen to the left.
Renamed Bailey House and still in use by the local authority, its days it seems are numbered.
The building is named after Rotherham-born engineer Sir Donald Bailey whose ingenious bridge designs played a key role in shortening World War II, the house in which Bailey was born, 24 Albany Street is still standing.
Sadly no longer home to the Harlem Shuffle
No big names – just big sounds.
There are some surviving power station buildings.
Along with electrical infrastructure.
Up the road next, to the former fire station, which now houses J E James Cycles.
It is surrounded by typically atypical inter war housing.
I could make the wild assumption, that these flat roofed maisonettes were originally homes fit for firefighters.
Ernest Whiteley opened the shop on Easter Sunday 1901
His first week’s taking were £7 14s 1d.
He thought that he had done very well – says granddaughter Ann Clough.
Grandad lost his sight in 1940, I became his eyes. When he lost his sight and he handed over the till keys to mother, they had a little weep.He handed over to my mother because father had died three months before.
Ann has run the shop for the last sixty years, along with Sue, a full-timer for some thirty years.
The rep isn’t coming any more, ordering is online, that’s no good to us.
This is a cash only low-tech, high stock operation.
If they don’t have it – it probably doesn’t exist.
From the outside little has changed sine the 1930s, wide glass, well arranged windows, displaying a wide array of wondrous haberdashery.
All contained within an arcade with Art Deco detailing.
There are many, many mannequins from another age.
One man from Scotland stayed for hours, he had a fetish for the mannequins, we couldn’t get rid of him.
The side of the shop is largely given over to net curtains of every size, shape and design, labelled Monica, Daisy, Andrea, Vicky or Sarah.
The names were chosen by Sue, it’s a lot easier for people to say, I want Vicky, 36 deep, than the one with the squiggly flowers, or to remember the manufacturer’s number.
Inside is a haven of domesticity, dusters abound, along with all the other attendant cloths and towels to ensure household cleanliness.
Not forgetting the correct clothing for those domestic chores.
The original display units are a delight.
Almost every surface is awash with lady’s unmentionables – winter draws on, wrap up.
There are covers and doilies of every description.
And the finest display of sensibly priced handkerchiefs, fancy and plain.
Every sign and tag hand written with pride.
It was, as ever a privilege and a joy to spend a short time in another world, thanks ever so to Ann and Sue for their time and patience.
If your passing pop in spend a pound or two – I bought three dish cloths.
One customer told me he was going to a party dressed in a white mini-dress, purple wig, thigh boots and black tights, he came to look at nighties and tried one on in the changing cubicle. You’ve got to be broad-minded. It can be very disconcerting when you hear a man zipping up a corset.