Here we are again – having previously travelled back to the inception of the estate in the 1970s.
Structurally little has changed, politically and economically things have shifted.
The Conservative Party had committed itself to introducing a Right to Buy before Margaret Thatcher became Party leader. After the election of May 1979 a new Conservative government drafted legislation to provide a Right to Buy but, because this would not become law until October 1980, also revised the general consent to enable sales with higher discounts matching those proposed in the new legislation. The numbers of sales completed under this general consent exceeded previous levels. Between 1952 and 1980 over 370,000 public sector dwellings were sold in England and Wales. Almost a third of these were in 1979 and 1980 and it is evident that higher discounts generated and would have continued to generate higher sales without the Right to Buy being in place. 200,000 council houses were sold to their tenants in 1982, and by 1987, more than 1,000,000 council houses in Britain had been sold to their tenants.
The Right to Buy: History and Prospect
The post war policy of building and renting local authority housing was swamped by the phrase property owning democracy, on which the popular conservatism of the 20th century rested, and with it a vision of the good society, was coined by the Scottish Unionist Noel Skelton in a quartet of articles for the Spectator entitled Constructive Conservatism, written in the spring of 1923. The appeal of Popular Capitalism proved compelling, however the periods of de-industrialisation, and the subsequent lull in the building of new affordable homes, has created a myriad of obstacles for those simply seeking somewhere to live and work.
The estate illustrates this historic shift, replete with homeowners decorative amendments and addenda, managing agents and trusts and an end to the architectural integrity of the development.
One could become all Ian Nairn about this, swathed in Outrage.
I myself feel that despite the cosmetic surgery, this remains a homely enclave, residents going about their business in a relatively orderly and happy manner.
Take a look:
Baguley is derived from the Old English words Bagca, badger, and Leah, wood.
Historically in Cheshire, Baguley is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, it was incorporated into Manchester in 1931.
It has a Brook though babble heard I none, it had a Station now long gone.
I idled by on my bike to snap the homes around Bideford Drive, which I dutifully did. My curiosity suitably aroused I pursued the Manchester Local Image Archive, in search of clues. Planned in 1969 complete in 1971 main contractor Laing architects the City Office.
A rich mix of scale and typology, two differentiated blocks, tower and slab, short rows of compact terraces, open spaces, shops, car parking and limited planting. The interlocking geometries, paths and walkways make it an intriguing and entertaining estate, full of small surprises and ideas – these pictures are of 1971.
There is a sharply attenuated and clean feel in the air, optimism on a largely overcast day, a totality – planned integration – homes and architecture of distinction.
Do you come here often?
Well actually I do!
Here’s my account of my previous visits to Stopford House.
The large open public space that has almost everything except the public.
On the many occasions I have walked its concrete piazza, not once have I encountered another purposed soul – save the odd passing civic employee.
Unusually unchallenged by the diffident G4S or like as I snap away.
So come/go here, take a look – municipal concrete in the raw, softened by the controlled ingress of flowers and greenery.
Oh and not forgetting the recent addition of some curious coloured lines.
We here in Stockport have our own BHS murals, happily so does Newcastle.
The work of acclaimed artists Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins, they worked on a large number of murals and exhibition designs for amongst others, Jamestown Festival, USA; Brussels Exhibition; Expo 70; Japan; Shell Centre; GPO Tower, London; Grosvenor House, London; Ind Coope Ltd; Philips Business Systems; Sainsburys; British Home Stores; Cwmbran Arts Trust; Essex County Council and IBM, London.
They never worked on the site itself, but used a regular contractor Hutton’s Builders Ltd Colchester, who cast the concrete in panels around four feet square. There are two relief panels, depicting events in the history of Newcastle. Highly stylised, the relief is moulded to a depth of 5cm and features some charming Geordie characters.
The left panel contains the following inscriptions and images Monkchester with Roman head and Newcastle coat of arms. Roman ship and golden coin. Collier Brig 1704-1880 with ship. Oceanus with anchor and seahorse with trident. The right panel contains the following inscriptions and images: Jupiter Fortuna with two figures. Engineering; Davy and Stephenson; coal mining ship building with images of same. G & R Stephenson; Armstrong Whitworth; Rocket 1829 with image of first steam engine. Armstrong 12 Pounder RA with image of gun. 1878 J.Swan Pons Aelius with bridges depicted below. Turbinia and image of ship. Various churches with names carved about including Grainger Dobson 1865; 1838 Green Stokoe; Bewick with a swan; a figure and Brigantia. Final section on far right has Geordie over two figures, then the Keel Row with a loading boat at the bottom.
Information from – PMSA
The building was originally developed by C&A and it is thought that funding for the reliefs might have been provided by the store and/or Northern Arts. It became BHS which subsequently closed last year, the building is now occupied by Primark, C&A estates still own the site.
The mural illustrated the cover of the 1975 Newcastle Festival.
Everything is up in the air.
Tyneside is self evidently enamoured of elevation – they simply adore bridges, having five and another one as well. Walking driving, running trains across the mighty Tyne Valley, why they even write songs about them.
In the Swinging Sixties T Dan Smith vowed to create a Brasilia of the North, which as good as his word he did, though sadly lacking the requisite regard for the law of the land.
What remains is a complex interwoven structure of urban motorways, walkways, multi-storey car parks and tower blocks. To explore is to enter a world of the sublime, exhilarating and still yet mildly confusing.
Can you get there from here?
Following a path from the Grand Entrance and Council Chambers, my genial host and erudite guide Debbie took me behind the scenes into the back rooms.
Further delights unfold in this most remarkable of buildings.
Firstly into the Banqueting Hall – beneath your feet Arabescato Marble, inset with a sprung dance floor and on the vaulted ceiling hand carved African walnut. The slightly sloping walls are of Clapham Stone, with the only double glazed arrow slit windows in the country.
The chandeliers are hand cut crystal from Westphalia and have the Newcastle castles on the top part of the fitting.
The seahorse carpet was recently replaced, digitally designed and woven to perfectly match the original.
The facing wall is graced by a John Piper tapestry, which represents the mineral resources of the area.
Grilles by Geoffrey Clarke cover the alcoves and have an orange backlight to simulate a medieval fireplace.
The room can seat up to six hundred people and is available for hire, in regular use for a wide variety of functions.
The Model Room houses a magnificent architectural replica of the city.
It is also blessed with a living, walking talking spiral staircase, cast in one single piece of steel, it moves with you as you ascend and descend.
This ante room dressed with Arne Vodder furniture, walls clad in raw silk and hand carved wood, is a place green oasis, a sea of calm.
Opened on 14th November 1968 by King Olav of Norway, opened for me by Debbie Harvey on Friday 5th May 2017, thanks ever so much.
This takes us into architect George Kenyon’s Civic Centre
Cast Aluminium portals and reveals to Ceremonial Entrance by Geoffrey Clarke.
Staff on reception were once able to notify officials of the arrival of guests and dignitaries, using this right bang up to the minute electrical intercom.
To the right is the engraved John Hutton Screen engraved glass panels depicting – the inventive genius of Tyneside’s most famous sons and daughters.
From left to right: George Stephenson the steam locomotive, Sir Charles Parson the turbine engine, Sir Joseph Swan electric light bulb, Lord Armstrong the gun.
Brigantia – Celtic Goddess of the tribe, The Three Mothers – offering fruit for fertility, Mithras – the slaying of the bull , Coventina the goddess of a well, she reclines on a water-borne leaf and below her are three intertwined figures of nymphs of streams, for in those days every self-respecting stream had its own tutelary deity. All have been found when Roman temples have been unearthed on the Roman wall.
A twenty three foot high, eleven tiered chandelier of hand cut Bavarian crystal from Westphalia, hangs above your head. This chandelier was commissioned on behalf of Newcastle City for the opening of the building in 1968. It has 119 light bulbs, the crystal on the top is in the shape of a castle on the base of the chandelier are sea horses. The walls are lined with random English oak, the floor down stairs is Portuguese Verde Viana marble.
Elegant Arne Vodder designed sofas litter the entrance, this truly is a palace of delights a temple of Municipal Socialism, take your shoes off set a spell.
Y’all come back now!