William Temple Church – Wythenshawe

The Anglican Church of William Temple was opened in 1965 on the corner of Robinswood Road and Simonsway as the church of the Civic Centre.

We have been here before, here’s the background info and snaps.

Hopefully we will all be here again and again.

It’s one of my all time favourite churches and one of George Pace’s most distinctive.

Here he is in Keele, Doncaster, Bradford, Sheffield and Chadderton.

An exterior which betrays only a little, of that which lies inside.

And here is what lies within a range of fittings and fixtures which sympathetically mix and match materials and form.

Perfect.

Many thanks to Brenda and the Wythenshawe team for making us feel so welcome.

Wythenshawe Walk

We begin at the William Temple Church

1970

The Anglican Church of William Temple was opened in 1965 on the corner of Robinswood Road and Simonsway as the church of the Civic Centre. The mission was already well-established, having begun many years previously in Shadow Moss School Room, latterly operating in a dual-purpose building on Simonsway. The architect, George Pace, agreed with the proviso that he should not design a ‘pseudo’ building, but that it should be modern in concept. This he did and particular attention was paid to the acoustics with a view to music and drama being performed there. One of Pace’s stipulations was that, as with all the churches he designed, there must be no plaques attached to the walls commemorating the dedication of the church or in memory of anyone, for he said he built his churches to the Glory of God. The only lettered stone is on the back wall of the church and it has on it the date of the consecration and a symbol, which is Pace’s original sign for William Temple Church.

The internal supports of the church are black-painted steel girders, not romantically symbolising the industry of the area, as it is sometimes said, but because when it was discovered that the church had been built on swampy ground an extra £2,000 was needed for foundations; the wooden beams of the original design had to be changed for cheaper steel ones. There is symbolism, however, in the placing of the font between and beneath the three main weight-bearing supports of the church.

The pews have an interesting history, having been brought from derelict churches in and around Manchester. 

The present lady churchwarden said:

“whenever we heard of a church being demolished we borrowed Mr. Owen’s coal cart and went off to see if we could buy any of the pews. Many times I’ve sat on the back of the wagon, in the pouring rain, with the pews, bringing them back to Wythenshawe to be stored until our church building was completed!”

Some time after the building was opened, a fire damaged some of the pews. With the insurance money all the pews were stripped and bleached, giving an element of uniformity and a bright welcoming atmosphere in the church generally. An interesting thought was voiced that as many people living in Wythenshawe now had their origins near to the centre of Manchester they may be sitting in the same pews in which their ancestors once sat.

Onwards to St Anthony’s RC – seen here under construction.

An imposing and monumental building by Adrian Gilbert Scott.

The church has a rich, little-altered interior with strong architectural qualities and notable furnishings. The church is described as ‘one of the few real landmarks of Wythenshawe’ and ‘beautifully built’, by Hartwell, Hyde and Pevsner 2004

The church was listed Grade II in 2014.

Taking Stock

It replaced the Green Hut.

Backtrack to St Andrews Architects JCG Prestwich and Son 1960 – as seen by Comrade Yuri Gagarin 12th July 1961 – detailed here.

We now take a secular route around the back of the Civic Centre to look at Centron and Delta House.

Built in 1972 to encourage white collar jobs into the area, formerly occupied by Shell and the TSB, currently partially unoccupied.

Across the way the former Barclay’s Bank IT HQ by DLG Shuldham the bank’s chief architect.

Just around the corner.

There were four eight-storey blocks of ‘Sectra’ flats that Laing built in Wythenshawe for Manchester County Borough Council, completed in 1967. The blocks were described by Laing in their monthly newsletter ‘Team Spirit’ in January 1968 as four blocks of specially designed eight-storey flats for elderly people.

Showing skeleton cladding, patterned end wall units and access balcony.

They were named Park Court, Violet Court, Birch Tree Court and Edwards Court.

Park Court and Violet Court have since been demolished to make way for retail space.

Violet Court

Tower Block 1987

Architect J Austen Bent

Local Image Collection 1972

Onwards to the most exotic magenta fire station.

Then down the road to St Luke’s 1939 by W Cecil Young of Taylor and Young.

No striving after sensational effect is strived at – Pevsner.

Down the road we go to St Martin’s.

The church is the the work of Harry Fairhurst Architects 1958.

Opened 21st March 1959.

Across the road to Tin Town.

A mini-estate of impeccably kept, neat steel-framed prefabs, designed in 1946 by Frederick Gibberd. We got a tour around one, home to former Durutti Column drummer Bruce Mitchell. The space standards and architectural quality are, as Phil Griffin points out, way above those of contemporary central Manchester luxury loft living. 

Owen Hatherley – The Guardian

New residents were given the choice of an apple or pear tree.

Finally arriving at Sir Basil Spence’s St Francis of Assisi.

2012

In December 1956 Basil Spence and Partners were commissioned to design St Francis Church in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. The project was part of a large building programme by the Manchester Diocese and was to service the new post-war housing estate at Newall Green. The site housed an existing hall that had been serving a dual-purpose as church and church hall but which reverted to use as a church hall once the new church was opened. The foundation stone was laid by Colin Skinner CBE on 23 April 1960 and the church was consecrated on 25 March 1961 by the Bishop of Manchester, W D L Greer.

The main building is predominantly brick; it is set back from the road by a landscaped courtyard that includes a brick tower and 73ft concrete cross. Another large cross rises from the front wall of the church itself making it highly visible from the surrounding neighbourhood.

The church can hold a congregation of 250. A small chapel is separated from the main church by a sliding screen and can be used independently for private prayer and mid week-services. On busy days the screen can be retracted to provide additional seating to the main church. A gallery over the entrance porch houses two organs and the choir.

Tin Town – Wythenshawe

Prior to the end of WWII, the British Iron & Steel Federation worked closely with Architect Frederick Gibberd & Engineer Donovan Lee, to develop several steel framed prototype houses and flats, which could be erected quickly and efficiently with limited use of skilled labour.

Frederick Gibberd

These prototype were duly named BISF which is a acronym of the originating  sponsor, The British Iron & Steel Federation.

However, it was in fact the newly formed company, British Steel Houses Ltd, that went on to develop and manufacturer the BISF houses we see today.

Over 34,000 three-bedroom semi-detached houses and 1048 Terraced Houses were erected across England, Scotland and Wales.

Non Standard House

The final production design incorporated rendered mesh ground floor walls and the now familiar, profiled steel sheeting panels affixed to the upper storey. The preferred roofing material was generally corrugated asbestos cement, or corrugated metal sheeting.

The frame of the prototype ‘B’ house was of the same general design as the type ‘A’ frame, but fabricated from flat light steel sections.

Northolt

The roof trusses were also of light steel sections and the roof cladding was the same as that used in the type A house. 
Both prototypes had been designed to accept a variety of external wall materials, including traditional brick masonry if desired.

The external steel cladding that was affixed to the upper storey of the original BISF house appears visually similar to the external cladding that was used during the production of the unrelated Hawksley BL8 temporary bungalow.

This visual similarity caused many people to wrongly assume that the BISF House was a semi-detached version of the temporary bungalow, despite the fact that the BISF House was built as a permanent dwelling.

The vast majority of BISF houses were built as two-storey semi-detached pairs. A smaller number of terraced houses were also built by replicating the standard semi-detached frame.

A number of variations relating to the layout and materials used in the construction of this house have been noted, but in all cases, the original construction, design & construction of the steel framework, remains largely as described.

The area in Wythenshawe where the BISF houses were built, is known locally and colloquially as Tin Town.

Here are the homes in 1955.

Here are the homes in 1972.

JF Hughes Local Image Collection

In 2012 we visited the home of former Durutti Column drummer Bruce Mitchell.

Bruce in Greater Mancunians.

Owen Hatherley wrote about this White Bus Tour in The Guardian – at the behest of Richard Hector-Jones.

New residents were given the choice of an apple or cherry tree for their back gardens.

Here are the photographs I took in November 2021.

St Francis of Assisi – Wythenshawe

66 Chalford Rd Wythenshawe Manchester M23 2SG

Sir Basil Spence 1959-61

In December 1956 Basil Spence and Partners were commissioned to design St Francis Church in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. The project was part of a large building programme by the Manchester Diocese and was to service the new post-war housing estate at Newall Green. The site housed an existing hall that had been serving a dual-purpose as church and church hall but which reverted to use as a church hall once the new church was opened. The foundation stone was laid by Colin Skinner CBE on 23 April 1960 and the church was consecrated on 25 March 1961 by the Bishop of Manchester, W D L Greer.

The main building is predominantly brick; it is set back from the road by a landscaped courtyard that includes a brick tower and 73ft concrete cross. Another large cross rises from the front wall of the church itself making it highly visible from the surrounding neighborhood.

The church can hold a congregation of 250. A small chapel is separated from the main church by a sliding screen and can be used independently for private prayer and mid week-services. On busy days the screen can be retracted to provide additional seating to the main church. A gallery over the entrance porch houses two organs and the choir.

Embroidery for the Church was designed by Anthony Blee and carried out by Beryl Dean and Associates, and Communion silver was specially designed by Gerald Benney.

CANMORE

An austerely simple deign, saved from bleakness by a few deft touches – Pevsner.

The lettering on the font cover is by Ralph Beyer, the painting on the east wall by William Chattaway, who came specially from Paris to paint.

2010 – John Richards

2015 – John Richards

The church also contains four stones brought from prominent Christian locations across the globe including a rose hued stone from Assisi itself, these are embedded in the walls and floor around the building.

Mainstream Modern

Construction.

Completion.

St Francis of Assisi’s Church in Wythenshawe stands testimony to the vigour of its first priest, the Reverend Ronald Pitcher. It was Pitcher who organised a local campaign to raise money for its construction, even before William Greer, Lord Bishop of Manchester, launched a wider appeal to fund churches and vicarages in new housing areas throughout the diocese. 

It was probably also Pitcher who chose the architect, since he made initial contact with Basil Spence late in 1956. Drawings and a watercolour perspective were prepared by the beginning of 1958, when the scheme was priced at £17,500, exclusive of professional fees. 

Following discussions with the congregation it was modified to provide side-aisles, and the estimate increased to £27,000, including an organ. Although the diocese believed the final cost might be as high as £35,000,the design was accepted and Spence formally commissioned at the end of the year.

Warwick University

2012

Manchester Evening News 2013

A church forced to close three years ago after its congregation dwindled to just two has been reborn – as a community centre.

St Francis of Assisi, in Wythenshawe, was forced to shut its doors when its popularity waned and repairs became too expensive.

Now, thanks to businessman James Munnery and Pastor William Simoes, the former Church of England building is rising again as a beacon of hope for the neighbourhood. The pair have teamed up to re-open the church as the New Life Opportunities Centre. Ambitious plans for the not-for-profit venture include sports pitches, a recording studio, and a hall for events and dancing.

It will also hold church services.

Businessman James Munnery outside St Francis of Assisi

The sound of the pipe organ

St Anthony’s RC Church – Wythenshawe

Dunkery Rd Wythenshawe Manchester M22 0WR

Grade II listed in March 2014.

The Roman Catholic Church of St Anthony’s, 1959-60 by Adrian Gilbert Scott, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: the church has a strong composition and imposing presence derived from its bold design and cathedral-like scale, which is enhanced by the use of elegant building materials, including narrow and very pale buff bricks, Portland stone dressings and copper roofs, and a dramatic west end incorporating a giant camel-vaulted arch containing the recessed west entrance.

Architect: it was designed by the notable architect Adrian Gilbert Scott who trained under Temple Moore and specialised in ecclesiastical commissions for the Roman Catholic Church, and it is one of his major works.

Interior design: the elegant interior maintains stylistic continuity with the exterior through its incorporation of Gilbert Scott’s characteristic soaring camel-vaulted arches, which are derived from ancient Persia and are successfully reinterpreted here in a modern form; rendering the arches and treating them as parabolas. The dignified space is also enhanced by a dado of buff-coloured Hornton stone that contrasts with plastered walls above, and tall windows that serve to maximise light.

Interior quality: the interior decoration is kept to a minimum overall to enable the beauty of the building to be fully expressed, but the furnishings are of a high quality, including inset Stations of the Cross, an unusual carved wall pulpit, and an elaborate marble, gilded and mosaicwork baldacchino.

Historic England

Prior to the construction of St Anthony’s RC Church in 1959-60 Mass was celebrated first in two green Nissen huts knocked into one

Archive photographs Local Image Collection.

St Andrews Church – Wythenshawe

Brownley Road Wythenshawe M22 0DW

JCG Prestwich and Son 1960

As seen by Comrade Yuri Gagarin on his visit to Manchester and on our recent recreation of the route.

B&W photographs Local Image Collection

A solid Italianate brick structure with a til distinctive campanile.

Currently home to the Emmaus Community

Emmaus South Manchester is gearing up to support vulnerable people in Wythenshawe and surrounding areas.

Our charity aims to support homeless people and those suffering deprivation and social exclusion in the local area. Thanks to generous support from St. Andrews Church, we have set up a workshop in Wythenshawe and are now looking for retail premises to sell handmade items produced by local volunteers.

The Road to Emmaus 1877 – Robert Zund

Stoke Launderette

I was walking away from the town centre along London Road, killing time.

It was the day of the Modernist’s Stoke Walk, I was as ever early for my assignment.

So following my pie, chips, peas and gravy at Jay’s Café I took a look along the way.

Arrested by the fascia of the Launderette I took a snap, moved on.

Returning minutes later, having crossed over the road, I went in.

Here’s what I found.

Several lost socks later I left.

For more wishy-washy fun search launderette right here on Modern Mooch!

St Martin’s Church Wythenshawe

2 Blackcarr Rd Wythenshawe Manchester M23 1LX

Sadly all tinned up with nowhere to go.

Services are now held in in the adjoining Church Hall.

The church is the the work of Harry Fairhurst Architects 1958.

Opened 21st March 1959.

The building has seen better days.

The interior a restrained delight.

Archive Photographs – Local Image Collection

The site is sodden with sadness, that such a gem is in such serious decline.

Hanley Tiles

What a pleasant surprise to visit the flats adjoining Wellington Street and find two of the 1965 tower block tiled walls intact.

Two colour ways in Modernist geometric order, displaying the Malkin Tiles to full effect.

As seen in Eastbourne.

BT Hanley Tower

You’re nobody ’til somebody loves you,
You’re nobody ’til somebody cares.
You may be king, you may possess the world and it’s gold,
But gold won’t bring you happiness when you’re growing old.

Hanley GSC represents a major telecommunication facility for BT and is positioned within the City boundaries of Stoke-on-Trent, on a very congested site.

The building fabric was starting to degrade and in need of structural refurbishment.

Works comprised of cleaning down the externals by high pressure water jetting, carrying out concrete repairs, applying an anti-carbonation coating, anti-corrosion treatments, painting the windows and applying sealants to windows and various joints around the structure.

All work was carried out whilst the exchange was fully manned and operational.

Works were carried outover a 26 week period, utilising mast climbers around the structure, with a limited amount of scaffolding on the low level structures.

Contract value £580,000

Makers.

Derided locally as an eyesore, currently the tallest building in town following the demolition of Unity House.

It has an antecedent as an immediate neighbour.

Former telephone exchange and offices – circa 1900.

Brick and terracotta with plain tiled roof. Eclectic style, with main block of three storeys, and three 3 narrow bays with flanking towers, all vertical spaces elongated.

The Potteries

Let’s take a look at the young upstart.

Hanley Housing

A tale of tower blocks and low rise terraces and maisonettes.

The first group of 1965, the work of City Architect JW Plant grouped around Westwood, Wellington and St Lukes Courts three 12-storey blocks containing 138 dwellings named Bucknall New Road Stage I.

Photographs Tower Block

From a time when civic pride celebrated the development of social housing with a small plaque.

Two blocks have retained their distinctive tiles.

Similar to the Burslem produced Malkin Tiles I have seen in both Eastbourne and Halifax.

The second group Bucknall New Road Stage II 1968 – also the work of JW Platt Seddon, Northwood and Lindop Courts.

There are plans afoot awaiting finance to demolish and replace some of the terraces, as part of a wider plan for the City’s social housing.

The project would see the council join up with a social property investor and apply for government funding for the works.

The plans would see 226 apartments at Bucknall New Road, and 51 flats and 62 houses at Pyenest Street.

A total of 155 low rise flats and maisonettes at Bucknall New Road would be cleared, creating a net gain of 224 new affordable homes.

Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “This is a major initiative for the city and the first time a scheme of this scale and ambition has been developed.

Insider Media LTD

Staffordshire University

Moments from Stoke Station lies the central campus.

Staffordshire University was founded in 1914 as a polytechnic intistution, and was officially given University Status on 16 June 1992. Our University is famous for its forward-thinking approach, and has become a figurehead for its vocational and academic teaching, innovative grasp of industry, and student employability.

Although our campus continues to expand to create dynamic opportunities, we are proud of our heritage in the great city of Stoke-on-Trent. Steeped in the history of ceramic manufacture and production, industry in Stoke-on-Trent has been fuelled by Staffordshire University for over 100 years.

The Flaxman Building 1970 was designed by City Architect Thomas Lovatt and built by the City Works Department – the last public works assignment before competitive tendering opened up public restrictions to private enterprise.

Named for to Wedgwood’s famous modeller the classical artist, John Flaxman RA 1755-1826. 

Fred Hughes

The Regional Film Theatre opened in College Road, on the premises of North Staffordshire Polytechnic now Staffordshire University in 1974.

The North Staffordshire Film Society moved there to screen films one evening a week, while the Film Theatre operated on three nights a week. 

 

Across the way is the assertive slab tower of the 1950’s Mellor Building with its curvy cantilevered porch cover.

Currently Pozzoni are undertaking posed refurbishment.

Out back is the wavy roofed Dwight Building.

Over the road the new build of the Cadman Studios 2016 ABW Architects.

Keele University Chapel

I got on the 25 bus in Hanley and remained seated on the top deck until I reached Keele.

The chapel was just over the way from the bus stop, behind some trees.

Multi-denominational university chapel. 1964-65 by G.G. Pace. Blue vitrified engineering bricks. Slated pitched roof to eaves. Two copper covered pyramidal roof lights to paired towers and two copper-covered dormers. Rectangular building with paired apses at one end and a gallery along one side, with vestries and entrance below. Main space designed to be flexible, with movable furniture and a hydraulic screen which can be lowered to make two smaller spaces. One of the apses is dedicated to Roman Catholic worship; the other is for Anglicans and Non-conformists.

Exterior is dominated by the paired apses, which rise to form a pair of towers, each with panels of vertical strip windows with square-headed lights of irregular length, separated by brick tracery. Similar windows in irregular patterns to the flanks, which are otherwise unmodelled, and to the asymmetrical gable end. Rectangular leaded lights. Square-headed entrance on flank with concrete beam over. Double timber doors, recessed. Projecting concrete gutter spouts, three to each flank. Interior of exposed pink brick and unpainted board-marked concrete. `Y’ shaped laminated timber uprights and trusses, supporting timber roof, partly with timber rafters with exposed boarding behind, and partly with white acoustic tiles, forming a decorative contrast to the timber panels. Patterned brick screen with exposed, unpainted board-marked concrete frame divides the space at the higher level up to the roof, and a hydraulic screen of rust-stained timber, decorated with a cross motif, can be lowered to complete the division. Two similar, but smaller screens can be lowered to close off the apses.

Below the gallery a brick and concrete wall with groups of vertical windows. Broad, light timber handrail/bookrest, to `chunky’ concrete balustrade. Concrete pulpit of organic form attached to left of the screen wall. Also part of the Pace scheme is the limed timber altar, lectern, priest’s chairs, benches and other furnishings and the altars and furnishings in the semi-circular chapels. Also original are the pendant light fittings in black-painted metal. Floor with panels of parquet and polished concrete flags. Liturgically unusual as a multi-denominational chapel of this period, this impressive building is a fine example of Pace’s work.

Historic England

I’m something of a George Pace fan having previously visited William Temple, Doncaster, Chadderton, Bradford and Sheffield.

I was made more than welcome by Niall from the Chaplaincy Team.

The Chapel is open to the public Monday – Saturday and for worship on Sundays.

Let’s take a look around the exterior.

Followed by a tour of the interior.

ill was kind enough to show me some original documents related to the Chapel.

Milton Square Gateshead

As a companion to the adjacent Poet’s Estate – let’s take a look at Malory, Milton, Masefield and Wordsworth.

This is a similar mix of boxy terraces and traffic free walkways.

Possibly of a later date.

Humberston Fitties 2021

Here we are again.

Having visited in 2008, I returned in April 2021 to wander this magical area and take some more snaps.

Previously on Modern Mooch.

In the interim the ownership of the estate has changed hands, passing from the local authority to private ownership.

Tingdene are now responsible for the site.

Council chiefs remain tight-lipped on how much Northamptonshire-based Tingdene paid for the site but it is estimated to be more than £2 million.

Grimsby Telegraph

Accordingly costs have risen, some tenants are displeased.

During Covid restrictions the demand for coastal property has increased, the gentle gentrification has begun.

New build, restoration and the national pandemic of home improvement are all apparent, changing the nature of the formerly informal architecture.

Take a look