Portwood – 2023

Where are we?

We once were lost, but are we saved?

A remnant from a discarded photographic album locates us in Cornwall.

The Ordnance Survey places us at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

Now we are in the shadow of Tesco Extra and a recently opened Porsche dealership.

As of 2022, the supermarket chain had a brand value of roughly 9.91 billion US dollars.

Porsche Automobile Holding SE net worth as of January 2023 is 16.51 US dollars.

By the side of the River Tame and the M60 Motorway

The 19th-century industrial concentrations in the above-named urban areas resulted in the Tame being a much polluted waterway. As well as industrial pollution from the dyes and bleaches used in textile mills, effluent from specialised paper-making cigarette papers, engineering effluents, including base metal washings from battery manufacture, phenols from the huge coal-gas plant in Denton, rain-wash from roads and abandoned coal spoil heaps there was also the sewage effluent from the surrounding population. Up to two-thirds of the river’s flow at its confluence with the Goyt had passed through a sewage works. The anti-pollution efforts of the last thirty years of the 20th century have resulted in positive fauna distributions.

Wikipedia

There is a plot of land to the left of Porsche which remains undeveloped, I often walk around this area, what would have once been for myself and others the place of childhood high jinx.

Now it is the domain of the fly-tipper, the home of the homeless, a war zone for a species which has declared war upon itself.

A desert of detritus, interpolated with tangles of brambles, seas of teasels and the ubiquitous buddleia.

This is the unofficial showroom for the unofficial Anthropocene Epoch – always crashing in a different car, during increasingly unseasonal weather, the superabundance of abundance.

It seems that the sun may set on us, before the sun finally sets.

Let’s take a peep at Portwood.

Game over.

Vehicle use affects our whole quality of local life. Traffic can be dangerous and intimidating, dividing communities and making street life unpleasant, whilst air pollution and traffic noise can make urban living uncomfortable.

Environmental Protection UK

The impacts of mass consumption are: Misuse of land and resources, exporting pollution and waste from rich countries to poor countries, obesity due to excessive consumption, a cycle of waste, disparities and poverty.

Global Issues

Lancastrian Hall & Central Library – Swinton

Completed in 1969 to designs by Leach Rhodes and Walker in collaboration with the Borough Engineer John Whittaker

Constructed at the tail end of the Sixties – the last gasp of Municipal Modernism in the Borough, providing education, edification and entertainment for the local population.

The fountain is gone, the building is closed – the party’s over.

The Fast Cars are history – well they were history, until I was told that they are still speeding along!

A council has spent £348,000 on a masterplan for a town centre that the public has never seen.

Consultants have been used to come up with ideas to regenerate Swinton in Salford.

The town centre is dominated by the imposing Lancastrian Hall, opened in 1969, with an adjoining shopping mall.

The hall housed a council library and was used for civic and community meetings, wedding receptions and election counts.

But it has been closed since 2015 after the library moved to the new Gateway Building on the other side of Chorley Road.

Manchester Evening News

So this magical structure of stairways, undercrofts, elevated walks and majestic concrete clad volumes is under threat.

Swinton and the Lancastrian Hall deserve much better.

Over 550 people took part in the recent visioning work, and we are grateful for their time and valuable contributions.

An overwhelming majority of those who shared their views saw Swinton as a good place to live and bring up a family – somewhere friendly, with a strong sense of community.

People valued their local green spaces, but strongly felt that there needed to be more investment in the town centre, and a plan to tackle empty buildings and shops.

Overall, people felt that Swinton needed to be a more vibrant place, with more going on – and more reasons for people to visit and spend their leisure time there.

The Swinton Vision

This is an opportunity to create tomorrow’s local centre, but that does rely on removing the Lancastrian Hall, rethinking the shopping centre, and repurposing the Civic Centre and the spaces around it. 

Middleton Walk

Middleton has not the gloom of so many South Lancashire towns its size. It benefits from its position close to the hills, but it has also the advantage of a large medieval church on a hill and of a number of buildings by one of England’s most original architects of the period around 1900.

Nikolaus Pevsner – The Buildings of England

He refers to Edgar Wood 1860-1935

He was the most advanced English architect of his generation, stylistically moving through through art nouveau, vernacular, expressionist and finally art deco phases a decade or more before other designers. He became England’s uncontested pioneer of flat roofed modern buildings. He worked more like an artist than an architect, designing buildings, furniture, stained glass, sculpture, metal and plaster work.  His buildings are mostly clustered in the towns of Middleton, Rochdale, Oldham, Huddersfield and Hale.  Influenced by the writings of William Morris, he saw himself as an artisan serving the people of these localities.

We begin our tour at the Queen’s Jubilee Free Library of 1889 located on Long Street.

Sixty-seven sets of designs for the proposed free library at Middleton were received by the Corporation of that borough in response to their advertisement; and a joint committee comprising of six members of the Corporation and six non-members has awarded the premium to Mr Lawrence Booth, architect of this city.

Curiously, we encounter an anchor.

Around 10pm that evening when weather conditions deteriorated to near hurricane-force gales, with the Sirene making little headway despite tacking.

Losing her helm, her sails in tatters and within sight of the Great Orme, the gales drove her back through the night towards the Lancashire coast. Eventually, and with great difficulty, Captain Gjertsen and his crew managed to manoeuvre the stricken vessel between the Central and North Piers. Becoming increasingly unmanageable, and swept in by the rushing tide and gale force winds, the Sirene looked a doomed vessel. She was helpless in the close shore currents, and unable to drop anchor she was at the mercy of the waves. She was carried alongside the North Pier, tearing off a section of the pier superstructure and part of her own keel.

Thousands of people lined the Promenade to witness the spectacle as she came in on the south side of the pier; many more stood on the pier itself, but there was a mad rush for safety when the ship collided against the structure.

Heritage Blackpool

The captain and crew survived, including the ship’s cat, many offers were made for the cat, but the captain refused them.

Onwards through Jubilee Park opened in 1889 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

In 1906 Alderman Thomas Broadbent Wood commissioned his son, Edgar, to design a flight of steps to lead up to a contemplation spot in the park – the inscription reads:

Who works not for his fellows starves his soul.

His thoughts grow poor and dwindle and his heart grudges each beat, as misers do a dole.

Nearby we find a memorial to the Middleton Flood – following torrential rain, the canal embankment at Mills Hill broke, flooding the already swollen River Irk, subsequently deluging the town.

Up the hill to Grade 1 Listed Parish Church of St Leonard.

Much of the present building was erected in 1412 by Thomas Langley – born in Middleton in 1363, who was Bishop of Durham and Lord Chancellor of England. He re-used the Norman doorway from an earlier structure to create the tower arch. Also distinctive in this region is the weather-boarded top stage to the tower.

The church of St Leonard was enlarged in 1524 by Sir Richard Assheton, in celebration of the knighthood granted to him by Henry VIII of England for his part in the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The Flodden Window, in the sanctuary, is thought to be the oldest war memorial in the UK. It commemorates on it the names of the Middleton archers who fought at Flodden. The church also has one of the finest collections of monumental brasses in the north of England, including the only brass in the UK depicting an English Civil War officer in full armour, Major-General Ralph Assheton.  

George Pace designed a war memorial and, in 1958, added a choir vestry and installed new lighting.

Wikipedia

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Middleton Old Cemetery once the Thornham and Middleton Burial Ground, which became the local authority cemetery in 1862.

Retrace to the Library – adjacent is the Parish School 1842

Across the road the Old Boar’s Head

Part of the timber framing to the right of the front door has recently been tree-ring dated and confirms a building date of 1622. The first tenant was Isaac Walkden, son of Middleton schoolmaster, Robert Walkden. Isaac died during a typhus epidemic in the summer of 1623. His will, preserved at Lancashire Archives, includes an inventory of all his possessions listed on a room by room basis. There were a total of 9 beds and 20 chairs or stools in the 6 rooms. This, together with barrels, brewing vessels, pots, glasses, etc, strongly suggest the building was an inn. The Walkden family went on to run the Boar’s Head until the end of the 17th century. They also farmed nearby land including what is now Jubilee library and park.

In 1888, the fledgling Middleton Corporation purchased the building from the church with the intention of demolishing it to build a town hall. Discussions were held in 1914 but, thankfully, the plan was abandoned due to an outcry from the public spearheaded by architect Edgar Wood.

Down the road is Wood’s Methodist Church and School Rooms 1897.

Tucked away is the Durnford Street Clinic.

Further down Long Street to the Assheton Arms Hotel.

Then around the corner to the Manchester & Salford Bank again by Edgar Wood

Next door the former Market Place Bank latterly RBS.

Plans to convert a long-vacant town centre bank into a nightclub have been revived despite previously being rejected over anti-social behaviour concerns.

An application to change the use of the former Royal Bank of Scotland, in Middleton, was refused by Rochdale council’s planning committee eighteen months ago, with members citing a history of alcohol-fuelled trouble in the area.

Rochdale Online

Further up Market Place the faience fronted Bricklayers Arms formerly a Bents and Gartsides boozer – delicensed in 2012 and Converted to a takeaway.

Moving along Wood’s much altered Guardian Buildings 1889.

The Guardian Buildings, were commissioned by Fred Bagot, the proprietor of the Middleton Guardian newspaper and a man with a reputation at the time for keeping a tight control of finances. In consequence, Guardian Buildings were one of Edgar Wood’s low budget buildings, of which there are several in and around Middleton. The building housed the operations of the newspaper with the cellar containing the printing machines and the tall ground floor housing a shop, office and more machines. The whole of the first floor, with its pair of oriel windows, was taken up by the composing room.

Time has not been kind to the Grade II Listed United Reformed Church 1860.

28 Days Later

It fell into disrepair after the church moved to smaller premises in Alkrington in the 1960s.

The building collapsed in July 2012, when it was hit by a fire.

On Townley Street Lodge Mill built in1839 beside the River Irk battling on despite recent setbacks.

In August 2019, Martin Cove and Paula Hickey opened a small ice cream shop on the ground floor of the mill – named the Ice Cream Shop at Lodge – selling locally-made ice cream from Birch Farm, Heywood.

Across the way the magnificent Sub Station and Electrical Department Offices.

Then taking a turn around the banks of the Irk down Sharp Street onto Lance Corporal Joel Halliwell VC Way, where we find the Middleton ArenaBDP 2009

Then over the road to Oldham Road and Grade II Listed Warwick Mill 1907 G. Stott of J. Stott and Sons.

The mill recently changed ownership and new owner, Kam Lei Fong (UK) Ltd, has been working with Rochdale Borough Council over the past nine months on proposals to redevelop the site.

The plans will form the cornerstone of a new masterplan for Middleton town centre focusing on delivering new homes, business space, highway and environmental improvements, new walking and cycle routes to pave the way for the planned extension of the Metrolink into Middleton Town Centre.

The Business Desk

In 2005, the new Middleton Bus Station was opened – Jefferson Sheard Architects.

The station, with 13 stands, cost £4.5 million and replaced the previous station which dated to the 1970s.

The Middleton Arndale Centre commenced trading in 1971, although it was officially opened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent in March 1972.

Once home to The Breadman designed by Rochdale’s town artist of the time, Michael Dames.

Photo: Local Image Collection – Touchstones

Now trading as the Middleton Shopping Centre

The brick reliefs illustrating the town’s history are by Fred Evans of Dunstable, who completed the work in one week during May 1972 using a high powered sandblasting blaster.

Thanks to Phil Machen for the top tip.

At the centre of the public domain the Middleton Moonraker 2001 by Terry Eaton

According to folklore, the legend has several different interpretations. One version is that a traveller came upon a drunken yokel trying to rake a reflection of the moon in a village pond, convinced it was cheese.

This version conveys the notion that the men were drunk and acting foolishly.

However, an alternative narrative – and perceived to be the most reliable version – tells a different story and dates back to the time when smuggling was a significant industry in rural England.

It appears that many residents wish to rid themselves of the Moon Raker moniker and presumably become Middletonians.

There’s so much more to Middleton’s history than the Moonraker. Why did they spend all that money on a fairytale?

There were 3,000 Lancaster bombers built in Middleton during World War Two, a magnificent contribution to the effort to beat Hitler.

The bulbs inside the moon which light it up at night haven’t worked for five years.

Bernard Wynne

Along Long Street the Cooperative store what was – next door the long gone Palace Cinema demolished in 2001.

More Edgar Wood – three shops 1908.

Tim RushtonMiddleton Gateway

Middleton celebrates its history and rightly so – now is the time to take stock and plan for the future.

More green space, public transport, pedestrians and cyclists prioritised to meet the Green Agenda.

Mixed development for housing, retail and leisure in the town centre.

Take some time to explore and dream.

View the Masterplan click here

For more information on Edgar Wood click here

Eccles Congregational Church

Wellington Road Eccles M30 9AL

Architect: TD Howcroft 1969

Once upon a time there was a Gothic church.

The Cornerstone of the building was laid in front of a crowd of 2,000 on Good Friday 1859 and the church was opened for public worship on Good Friday 6th April 1860. In the press of the day, the church was described as – a Cathedral looking church.

Photo: Flickr cabinet photograph by Enos Eastham of Eccles.

In 1965 it was announced that a new Eccles motorway would be built through the church land.

Work began to demolish the Church and replace it with a new smaller church, but the old church did not go down without a fight as workers could not pull down the steeple. After eleven days of battering and buffeting by eighteen pounds of gelignite and two eight ton bulldozers, the steeple finally surrendered.

Then there wasn’t – then there was this:

On Friday 11th July 1969, the new church officially opened with a splendid ceremony. A minor hitch occurred when the organ blew a fuse during the second verse but the Congregation sang through it while organist Mr Kenyon frantically fumbled about and rectified the matter.

Eccles Congregational Church

TD Howcroft was also responsible for St Wilfrid’s in Pevensey Bay – I happened to cycle by in 2015.

My thanks to Mr Tony Flynn – the acting Lord Mayor of Eccles, for arranging our visit through church member Mr George Cross.

To the rear the exterior is, as Mr Pevsner would say – unprepossessing.

The elevation facing the main road more than somewhat less unprepossessing.

A curved apse along with a raised and canted roof – a window up above illuminating the altar.

The main body of the church is bold and voluminous – strong verticals to the rear and right.

The pews, organ pipes and other furnishings appear to be of a piece.

There is a dynamic timber roof with supporting beams.

Previous Pastors.

Relocated War Memorials.

IRK VALLEY #TWO

Having walked and cycled twixt Victoria Station and Blackley, I returned once more to the Hexagon Tower to resume my explorations towards the source in Royton.

Beginning on Delaunays Road and onwards along Blackley New Road.

The footpath falls away from the main road to the wooded valley.

Returning to the road I was distracted by Sandyhill Court and the reliefs which I discovered there.

I was also taken with with this electrical substation.

We are encouraged to be wild about Blackley Vale a reclaimed landfill site.

Across the Victoria Avenue Bridge and down the other side.

Emerging by Sainsbury’s and picking up the path again.

Onwards under the M60 Motorway.

The M60 was developed by connecting and consolidating the existing motorway sections of the M63M62, and an extended M66. It came into existence as the M60 in 2000, with the completion of the eastern side opening in October.

The original plan called for a completely new motorway, but policy change led to the plan which created the current motorway. As soon as it opened, the motorway got close to its projected maximum volume on significant sections.

Hey look there’s Alkrington Hall!

This Palladian mansion was designed and built in 1736 by renowned architect, Giacomo Leoni, who had also been responsible for significant alterations to Lyme Hall during the same period.  

Offering an infusion of historical significance coupled with an abundance of living space throughout, Alkrington Hall East, simply must be viewed to be appreciated in full.  

During the early 1770’s, the Hall became the largest museum outside of London, when the Hall’s owner, Sir Ashton Lever, exhibited his private collection of natural objects, including live animals. Remaining as an imposing symbol of Leoni’s work, Alkrington Hall remains one of only a few surviving examples throughout England.  

In modern times, the Hall has since been carefully and sympathetically separated into 4 sections, and we are pleased to be offering for sale the largest portion of the Hall, with a total floor area comprising of over 7500 SQFT, and living accommodation spread over 4 floors.  

Sold for £825,00 in 2021 Savills

Seen here in 1870

Next thing you know you find yourself in Middleton, where the Irk sort of disappears – you sort of get lost and sort of follow the wrong track, eventually ending up back where you should have been in the first place.

Don’t follow Wince Brook – it’s so far from right that it’s wrong – right?

Take a walk up Oldham Road to see Warwick Mill instead.

1907 by G Stott of J Stott and Sons – Red brick with internal cast-iron frame.

Grade II Listed

There was and Oval Partnership planning for a retail development in 2014 which failed to materialise.

The converted building will provide a showcase for Chinese manufacturers of construction-related products looking to enter the UK and wider European markets. Products on display will include tiles, lighting, furniture, kitchenware, sanitary ware and curtains. A second phase will see the construction of a new building alongside effectively doubling the floor space. In addition the brief includes a range of restaurant, leisure, culture and entertainment facilities threaded through the building. The conversion will open up the existing building in a dramatic way, maximizing permeability and providing a strong visual connection back into the town, promoting public access through the building to the attractive south-facing waterside of the mill.

Permeability failed to be maximised, sadly.

Ambitious plans to refurbish Grade II listed Warwick Mill to create new homes and breathe life into an important building and part of Middleton’s history have been drawn up. 

Warwick Mill has recently changed ownership and the new owners, Kam Lei Fong (UK) Ltd, have been working with Rochdale Borough Council over the last nine months to develop proposals to redevelop the site.

Rochdale Council

So far so CGI good- the town eagerly awaits a surfeit of high end SUV owners.

Former clog wearing mill workers remain silent on such matters.

The Job Centre steadfastly remains a Job Centre.

The river reappears here in back of the Middleton Arena.

Proceeding in a disorderly manner.

Emerging by this substantial substation.

Across the way is Lodge Mill.

A Middleton couple has saved the oldest surviving mill in the town after a two-year renovation project.

Located on Townley Street, Lodge Mill was built in the mid-1800s and was originally a silk weaving mill. It went on to cotton weaving and cloth dying, then to a home for many different small local businesses. Sadly, in the early 2000s, it fell into disrepair and became derelict.

Martin Cove and Paula Hickey bought Lodge Mill on 1 April 2019 and immediately set about replacing and repairing the roof. They also installed a 19.4kw solar PV system so the mill became its own little power station that summer.

In August 2019, the couple opened a small ice cream shop on the ground floor of the mill – named the Ice Cream Shop at Lodge – selling locally-made ice cream from Birch Farm, Heywood.

The ice cream is made using cream from Tetlow Farm’s dairy herd at Slattocks – Martin explained.

Rochdale Online

It was £2.25 for two scoops and a flake – a welcome oasis on a warmish day.

Sadly in December 2021 there was a serious fire, work has since been done to repair the roof.

A poorly signed footpath takes you back riverside by way of assorted industrial debris.

Still very much in use the Vitafoam Mill

Founded in 1949 on £100 capital, Vitafoam started its original operation manufacturing latex foam products in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

After establishing the business, the company made a major move to its current site in Middleton, Manchester in 1955, acquiring two empty former cotton mills to cope with increased demand.

By 1963, Vitafoam had added the manufacture of polyurethane foam to its business and was providing product speciality for upholstery and bedding markets.

As Vitafoam entered the new millennium the company had made great strides in supplying external foam converters. These rely on Vitafoam to be their business partner and provide their foam needs. This trend continues to grow from strength to strength and is supplemented by our own group conversion companies.

Regaining the river at Chadderton Hall Park.

Its roots stretch back to the 13th century being the land on which Chadderton Hall once stood. It contains a large field area with a small football pitch, a playground area, several flower gardens and a small café situated next to the Park’s bowling green.

Chadderton Hall was first built in the 13th century by Geoffrey de Chadderton, this first hall was in Chadderton Fold slightly to the east of the current park. In 1629 a new hall was built at the site of the current park and was present there until the 20th century when it was demolished in 1939. It was at the end of the 19th Century that the area surrounding Chadderton Hall began to be used for public recreation. A boating lake and a menagerie, including a kangaroo and a lion, were established as part of a Pleasure Garden. These features have long since been demolished but evidence of the boating lake can be seen by the hollowed out area where the playing fields now stand.

Wikipedia

Diminishing now the river thin and shallow, as we rise into the hills on the outskirts of Greater Manchester.

Passing by Royton Cricket Club as the river disappears again.

Based in the heart of Thorpe Estate – Royton Cricket, Bowling & Running Club offers a family friendly environment whilst hosting strong, competitive cricket throughout the summer. Bowling throughout the summer along with a Running section – Royton Road Runners, who operate all year round. Along with seasonal events such as our well known firework display along with St Georges Day celebrations – with plans in the pipeline for improvements on current events as well as new exciting projects – it’s a great time to be apart of the club & community!

I have very fond memories of visiting with my dad Eddie Marland as he followed Ashton in the Central Lancashire League – both watching cricket and seeing my dad crown green bowling here.

The river has gone underground again.

To be found on Salmon Fields – in pool form.

Site of a Life for a Life Memorial Forest

These now full memorial forests were originally donated to Life for a Life by Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council. Salmon Fields meadow sits adjacent to a lovely pond that is used regularly by fishing enthusiasts and is frequently used as a breeding site for Canadian Geese.

Life for a Life planting areas are natural environments where we encourage wildlife and plantlife to flourish, as such additional items should not be added to the tree or the space around it, especially as they can cause damage to the tree. 

Please be aware that any prohibited items left on or around memorial trees will be removed. 

Although these sites are now full to the planting of new memorial trees if you have an existing memorial tree dedicated you can still upgrade memorial plaques, add additional ashes to a memorial tree, order memorial keepsakes etc.

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

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.

Hilton House – Stockport

Once the head office of New Day Furniture.

A local company which designed, manufactured and retailed furnishings around the North West.

Oldham Street Manchester
Rochdale Road Harpurhey
Wythenshawe

The office building is a highlight of my Stockport Walks – it has a lightness of touch incorporating a partial podium, slab block and lower rise extensions.

There is a sensitive mix of glass, stone, concrete and brick across a variety of scales and volumes.

May 2020 – plans are submitted to remodel the exterior of Hilton House

Marketing Stockport

The remodelling of the building include reparations and repainting brickwork, render and cladding as part of wider plans to rejuvenate Hilton House to rebrand as a more attractive and contemporary office location in Stockport town centre.

Studio KMA have proposed conversion to apartments.

Conversion of existing 1970s office building to apartments.

A combination of one-bed, two-bed and three-bed units ensure a new sustainable use in Stockport town centre.

The proposal incorporates the use of coloured glass panels to create a modern, fresh aesthetic.

As of July 2021 the property is under offer.

Post-Pandemic it may well be that the demand for office space is in retreat and the conversion to modern living space the more likely end use.

Stockport Bus Station – Closed

April 1979 work begins.

Opening on March 2nd 1982.

Closing on Saturday 28th August 2021.

I have been in in and out of here for some forty odd years, writing of its history and recording its decline.

No more cold damp shelters, no more cavernous and grimy public conveniences, no more chips and shop.

Bye bus station.

East Didsbury Station

East Didsbury Station was opened in 1909 by the London and North Western Railway and, until 6 May 1974, was called  East Didsbury and Parrs Wood.

From 1923, the line was operated by the London Midland and Scottish Railway. Following the formation in 1948 of British Rail, rail services were operated by the London Midland Region of British Railways, then North-Western Regional Railways.

The station was rebuilt in the 1959 by the architect to the London Midland section of British Rail, William Robert Headley – who was also responsible for Coventry, Oxford Road and Piccadilly Stations.

Services to Manchester Airport began in 1993 upon the opening of the Manchester Airport spur.

With the privatisation of rail services in 1996/7, East Didsbury was served by the North Western Trains franchise.

Although it’s just up the road from me, this is the first time I’ve ever travelled back to or from there.

I was off to Eccles – live and direct!

The southbound side has been tastefully replaced by nothing in particular.

In a style to match our austere privatised times – provincial bus stop chic.

happy the northbound side’s still stood standing – on stilts.

The waiting room more or less intact.

The last of the few, get it while you can – all aboard for Patricroft, right away guard!

Archive images: JF Harris 1959

Stockport Bus Station 2021

Your days are numbered, work has begun at the temporary site on Heaton Lane.

You are to be demolished, no more in, no more out.

I have tracked your history and slow decline.

You are to become a transport interchange.

So here’s a record of your lost chippy, closed lavatories, control centre, relocated information office, slowly ticking clock, soon to tick no longer.

Say hello and wave goodbye to RS McColl’s kiosk.

So so long my draughty, cold, deserted old pal.

Poundland née BHS – Stockport

Stockport council bought the building in 2019 following the collapse of BHS three years earlier.

The report says the store is now in a poor condition, looks ‘dated and tired’ and ‘contributes to negative perceptions’ of Merseway.

MEN

You were conceived as an integral part of the Merseyway development, which on its inception, was held in the highest regard.

Innovative architecture with confidence, integrity and a clear sense of purpose.

The failure of BHS was a national disgrace, venal management, asset stripping, avaricious, grasping rodents ruled the day.

Dominic Chappell, who had no previous retail experience, bought the high street chain from the billionaire Sir Philip Green for £1 in March 2015. The company collapsed with the loss of 11,000 jobs 13 months later, leaving a pension deficit of about £571m.

Guardian

A sad end for a company with a long history and presence on the high street.

With an architectural heritage to match:

BHS’s chief architect at this time was G. W. Clarke, who generally worked alongside W. S. Atkins & Partners, as consulting engineers. The stores – like Woolworth’s buildings – were composite structures, with steel frames and concrete floors. Clarke sometimes appointed local architects.

At first, like C&A, BHS retained the narrow vertical window bays and margin-light glazing that had characterised high street façades in the 1930s, but by the end of the 1950s Clarke had embraced a modified form of curtain-walling.

This architectural approach became firmly associated with BHS, with framed curtain wall panels – like giant TV screens – dominating the frontages of many stores.

Building Our Past

Of note are the Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins concrete panels on the Deanery Row elevation.

There have been moves to have the work listed, without success.

Of late the store has been home to Poundland – though time has now been called.

Poundland’s retailing concept is extremely simple: a range of more than three thousand – representing amazing value for money.

Our pilot store opened in the Octagon Centre, Burton-upon-Trent, in December of 1990, followed by new stores in High Street, Meadowhall and other quality trading locations.  Shoppers loved the concept and so did fellow retailers and landlords.  The stores proved to be a huge success. Meadowhall’s success was repeated by further stores opening by the end of the year.

The store has been a success even during COVID restrictions, let us hope that the planned return goes ahead.

So here is my record of the building as is, a tad tired, but in its day a simple and authoritative amalgam of volumes and materials.

Mixing variegated grades of concrete, tiling, mosaic, brick, steel and glass.

Carrington Moss

Flat as can be, between rail and river, flat.

Crisscrossed by tramways and drainage ditches.

Carrington Moss is a large area of peat bog near Carrington in Greater Manchester, England. It lies south of the River Mersey, approximately ten miles south-west of Manchester, and occupies an area of about 1,100 acres..Originally an unused area of grouse moorland, the moss was reclaimed in the latter half of the 19th century for farming and the disposal of Manchester’s waste. A system of tramways was built to connect it with the Manchester Ship Canal and a nearby railway line. During the Second World War the land was used as a Starfish site and in the latter half of the 20th century, a large industrial complex was built along its northern edge. More recently, several sporting facilities have been built on Carrington Moss. Today, the land is still used for farming and several nature reserves have been established within its bounds.

Parts of Carrington Moss are accessible to the public over several rights of way.

On Carrington Moss 1851 David Cox

Industrialisation of the moss took place from 1947–1952 when Petro-Carbon ltd began to build what would later become known as the Shell Site. The estate was leased on 1 October 1968 to Shell Chemicals, who in 1957 had purchased a propylene oxide plant along the moss’s northern edge. Shell had built an ethylene oxide plant in 1958 and began to produce polyether polyols the following year. Council housing was built nearby, at Carrington and Partington, for workers and their families. By 1985 the Shell plant had a turnover of about £200M and employed 1,150 people, but a major restructuring of the business reduced the workforce to less than 500 by 1986. By 1994, four distinct plants operated on the 3,500-acre (14 km2) site, producing a range of chemicals, and materials including polystyrene, polyethylene and polypropylene. In 2005 it was reported that Shell would close their polyols and ethoxylates units, a decision which came into effect in 2007. The estate is currently managed by chartered surveyors Bell Ingram. Lyondell Basell operate the last remaining chemical plant on site.

Wikipedia

This is the beleaguered site, still farming, remnants of rail, traces of tipping and vestiges of industry.

Plans are afoot – including of course indicative multi-modal routes.

Trafford Gov UK

Hundreds of campaigners fear endangered wildlife at Carrington Moss will be ‘decimated’ if plans to build a new town on green belt land go ahead.

They also argue the development would be ‘catastrophic’ in terms of how it would impact the environment.

Manchester Evening News

Storm Christoph showed that Manchester is susceptible to the adverse effects of extreme weather events, which are forecast to become more regular occurrences.

Greater Manchester Labour for a Green New Deal argue that we must abandon the idea of developing on greenbelt, and instead embrace bold alternatives which reflects the urgency of the climate crisis﹣starting with sites like Carrington Moss.

The Meteor

This is an area in liminal limbo, the pressures of the modern world leaning on its very being, as ash, alder, badger, field mouse, and kestrel give way to Wainhomes.

Where then will the wanderer wander, in search of solace?

Ending our journey at the long gone Partington Station

The remains of the subway.

The company of J. C. Edwards Ruabon Ltd, was based in Ruabon, Denbighshire, and was active from 1903 to 1956 as a brick, tile and terracotta manufacturer from its works at Tref-y-Nant, Acrefair, Albert Works, Rhosllannerchrugog, and Pen-y-bont, Newbridge, Denbighshire.

James Coster Edwards (1828-1896) founded the company; it was sold in 1956.

Stockport Viaduct

Stockport Viaduct, carries the West Coast Main Line across the valley of the River Mersey in Stockport, Greater Manchester, England. It is one of the largest brick structures in the United Kingdom, as well as a major pioneering structure of the early railway age.

Stockport Viaduct was designed by George Watson Buck for the Manchester and Birmingham Railway. Work began in 1839 and was completed in 1840. Roughly 11 million bricks were used in its construction; at the time of its completion, it was the world’s largest viaduct and a major feat of engineering. The viaduct is 33.85 metres high. Stockport Viaduct is a Grade II* listed structure  and remains one of the world’s biggest brick structures.

In the late 1880s, the viaduct was widened to accommodate four tracks instead of two. In the 1960s, overhead catenary lines were installed by British Rail for the West Coast Main Line electrification scheme. In the second half of the twentieth century, the M60 motorway was built, passing through two arches of the viaduct.

Wikipedia

The structure is central to the visual landscape of the town – it has been the subject of both literature and art, most notably in the work of LS Lowry.

I believe that this composite composition of a northern landscape, is firmly embedded in the psyche of Stopfordians.

A notion that we are able to apprehend the whole of the structure in one panoramic sweep.

Our present perceptions are inextricably linked to past experience, possibly an illusory past.

It even featured in a feature film – A Taste Of Honey

My photograph below, was taken before access was prohibited.

Though has this uncluttered view ever actually existed?

The area has been a constantly evolving jumble of buildings, in, under and around the viaduct.

This raises the question – when did you last see your viaduct?

I live moments away on Didsbury Road – so why not take a look, circumnavigating the site in search of an answer?

From the recently constructed pedestrian and cycleway a view south across multiple roadways.

Approaching the arches from the west.

Looking east from Wellington Road North and the newly constructed A5154 link road.

Looking along the M60.

Looking along Heaton Lane, to the left Regent House.

Looking along the River Mersey

The Lowry Steps.

The view over the soon to be redeveloped Bus Station.

The view along Daw Bank.

One of the most complete perspectives along Swaine Street.

Swaine Street and Astley Street junction.

Crossing the new bridge to Heaton Lane.

Looking back towards the Crown Inn.

The view over Kwik Fit.

Looking east along the River Mersey, beside the rear of Weir Mill.

The view between the Stagecoach Bus Depots.

Looking east along Daw Bank.

Another clear perspective along Viaduct Street.

Beside Weir Mill.

Beneath the M60.

Looking east along Travis Brow.

This is one cold day in Covid February, the traffic a little lighter, few folk on foot.

Another day would produce another series of views, the light shifts, leaves appear on trees, the regeneration of Stockport sees the built environment shift and shimmy with an alarming regularity.

The landscape formed by the second Ice Age, gouging out a glacial valley and subsequently a conjoined river, is all part of a passing parade; it is acted out over millennia, you yourself are party to but one small part, make the most of it, get out and about take a look.

All this life is but a play, be thou the joyful player.

Pedestrian In A Car Park

One of the great glories of cinema is that it has the power to take the mundane and make it magical. To most of us, car parks signify a world of pain, where fearsome red-and-white crash barriers dictate our fate and where finding a space is often like finding meaning in the collective works of Martin Lawrence. To others, they meant lost Saturday afternoons spent waiting for your mum to finally come out of Woolworths so you could rush home to catch Terrahawks.

Either way, car parks are grey and dull. In the movies, however, they are fantastic places, filled with high-level espionage, and high-octane chases. 

According to The Guardian

I beg to differ, the cinema and TV has helped to define our perception and misconception of the car park.

The modern day pedestrian may reclaim, redefine and realise, that far from mundane each actual exemplar is different, in so many ways. The time of day, weather, light, usage, abusage, condition, personal demeanour and mood all shape our experience of this particular, modern urban space.

To walk the wide open spaces of the upper tier, almost touching the sky.

Is a far cry from the constrained space of the lower levels.

To walk the ramps with a degree of trepidation, visceral and fun.

This is an inversion of the car-centric culture, walking the concrete kingdom with a carbon-free footprint.

I was inspired by a recent viewing of All The Presidents Men to revisit my local multi-storey on Heaton Lane Stockport.

Cinematographer Gordon Hugh Willis Jr constructs a shadow world where informer and informed meet to exchange deep secrets, ever watchful, moving in and out of artificial light, tense and alert.

Look over your shoulder- there’s nobody there, and they’re watching you.

But they have been here.

To party.

To tag.

To live.

Pay here, your time is time limited, your presence measured.

Let’s explore this demimonde together, wet underfoot, lit laterally by limited daylight, walking through the interspersed pools of glacial artificial glow.

Time’s up, check out and move on – tomorrow is another day, another car park; in a different town.

Cinema and car parks wedded forever in the collective popular cultural unconscious.

Telephone Exchange – Stockport

Typically, as with timid police officers, telephone exchanges seem to travel in pairs.

An inter-war brick building, of a utilitarian brick Classicism, restrained in nature, along with a post-war concrete construction.

These are pragmatic architectural forms, constrained within a typology, and responding to the nature of the technology contained within.

Here is the building of 1934 – BT Archives

In 1961 – when Exchange Street was but a rough track, the area was also known as Blueshop Yard.

Stockport Image Archive

The concrete cousin constructed in 1971.

So here we are in 2021 taking a close look at these BT beauties, without further ado.