When the figures say crime is falling, why are we more frightened than ever? Could our towns and cities be creating fear and mistrust? More property is being built in Britain than at any time since the Second World War – but it’s owned by private corporations, designed for profit and watched over by CCTV. From the Docklands boom to cities such as Manchester, gated apartment developments, gleaming business districts and plazas have sprung up over the country.
Has this ‘regeneration’ really made our lives better?
I’m returning to the MMU Didsbury Campus, the site began life as a baronial deer park and estate, in 1740 the site was purchased by the Broome family, and a new house was constructed after 1785 by William Broome, from 1812 owned by Colonel Parker. Following a succession of uses and owners the School of Education is established.
I studied for a PGCE in Art there in 1984.
Subsequently, fun and fashionable free-market economics, have increasingly governed the management of education and its assets.
MMU sold the site for an undisclosed sum to the developers PJ Livesey.
This is Sandown House, formerly the administrative block, redeveloped as private homes, each valued at £675,000 and upwards.
St James Park is an exclusive collection of beautifully converted heritage buildings and individually designed luxury homes offering opulent living accommodation finished to an uncompromising specification. Beautifully styled and perfectly connected, this gated development is located moments away from the heart of Didsbury Village.
So why choose a gated community?
The fear of fear it would seem, is on the increase, whilst crime itself is decreasing.
Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors says that although residents feel safer in gated communities, it is more of a perception than a reality. Research in the US suggests that gating may not deter criminals and initial studies in the UK suggest the same.
If they are allowed to develop unchecked, it will breed hostility and threaten the social cohesion of the UK’s cities, the surveyors warn.
Social exclusion, the bitter taste of economic apartheid is obviously the plat du jour here in St James Place – there is limited pedestrian access and secure gates to inhibit unwanted automotive ingress.
There is an exciting array of CCTV devices, encoded gates and doors, ever higher railings in evidence.
Security for the terminally insecure.
It is possible to live in an open environment in East Didsbury, here on Ford Lane folks come and go, hopefully interacting with friends, neighbours. family and strangers passing idly by.
Though this is one of the most affluent areas of Manchester, and happily one is unlikely to find oneself with an unemployed collier as a neighbour.
Community minded, demographically diverse cities, will produce safe, secure, healthy places to live.
There is no evidence that gated communities are in any way safer, in fact they may well be socially divisive – this is the never never land of smoked glass Range Rover windows and mirrored wardrobes.
Architectural critic Ian Nairn makes a convincing case for a socially mixed residential development, which still maintains a regard for the area’s heritage.
I visited Lillington Gardens Estate in August 2018 – now a mature development, where those residents I spoke with, seemed happy and content with their homes.
Sir John Bland 5th Baronet 1691 – 1743 of Kippax Park and Hulme Hall, was a British landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1713 to 1727.
His mother was Anne Mosley, daughter of Sir Edward Mosley of Hulme.
He retired from Parliament aged 35 and moved the focus of his local political activity from Yorkshire to Lancashire, where his mother had inherited Hulme Hall and the Lancashire estates which covered most of Manchester.
This is the celebration of privilege, power and property in pressed aluminium and print, saluting the progenitors of the Mosely Family, who once upon a time, were Manchester’s wealthiest landowners.
We live in an owned landscape where access is an issue.
Mr and Mrs Andrews would not the that little or nothing has changed since Gainsborough’s time.
Completed shortly after Mr. Andrews’ marriage to the daughter of a neighbouring gentry, a marriage that enhanced his estate, the image captures the unchanging power of property relations in pre-industrial England.
“They are not a couple in nature as Rousseau imagined nature,” John Berger comments. “They are landowners and their proprietary attitude to what surrounds them is visible in their stance and their expressions.”
The first thing I’d say is this is going to be an aspirational site within an aspirational area – PJ Livesey
So how did we get here?
Baroness Thatcher makes massive tax cuts for the wealthy, funded by North Sea Oil revenues, impoverishing the public purse, undervaluing the privatisation of public assets, encouraging the right to buy, yet inhibiting the building of social housing, hot housing the property owning democracy.
The term ‘property-owning democracy’ emerges from a discursive history of use. Coined by British MP Noel Skelton in 1920, the concept compounded the terms ‘property-owning’ and ‘democracy’ as a conservative response to left-leaning ideas of liberalism and socialism. At this stage, the term represented the necessity of protecting property rights from democratic organisation.
More recently stamp duty holidays, houses as speculative assets not homes, low interest rates, massive middle-class inheritances, deregulation in the financial sector, all fuel the upwardly mobile housing boom.
Whilst for the lower orders years and years of pay freezes, attacks upon trade unions, the continued decline in manufacturing, small state austerity, zero hour contracts, rent hikes, attacks on the unemployed, universal credit and indexed benefits, have all fuelled reduced social mobility.
Looks like we have a schism on our hands.
The UK became a much more equal nation during the post-war years. The data available shows that the share of income going to the top 10% of the population fell over the 40 years to 1979, from 34.6% in 1938 to 21% in 1979, while the share going to the bottom 10% rose slightly.
Since 1979 this process of narrowing inequality has reversed sharply, inequality rose considerably over the 1980s, reaching a peak in 1990.
Come, now, you rich men, weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothing has become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted away, and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh. What you have stored up will be like a fire in the last days. Look! The wages you have withheld from the workers who harvested your fields keep crying out, and the cries for help of the reapers have reached the ears of Jehovah of armies. You have lived in luxury and for self-gratification on the earth. You have fattened your hearts on the day of slaughter.
St James Park is an exclusive collection of beautifully converted heritage buildings and individually designed luxury homes offering opulent living accommodation finished to an uncompromising specification. Beautifully styled and perfectly connected, this gated development is located moments away from the heart of Didsbury Village, where residents can enjoy an abundance of independent café bars, restaurants and boutiques, as well as Didsbury Park on the doorstep.
Alderman Moss bequeathed the house and gardens to the City of Manchester on his death in 1919 because he wanted the house and its contents to remain, as far as possible, intact “to show what a comfortable house of the olden times was like”.
Everything’s gone grey, in the aspirational race for the neutral high ground of individualism, they have painted you into a corner of dull, monochromatic conformity.
Welcome to the professional world of self interested, low-interest, the get rich quick deregulated go-getter.
Now get out.
I dreaded walking where there was no path And pressed with cautious tread the meadow swath And always turned to look with wary eye And always feared the owner coming by; Yet everything about where I had gone Appeared so beautiful I ventured on And when I gained the road where all are free I fancied every stranger frowned at me And every kinder look appeared to say “You’ve been on trespass in your walk today.” I’ve often thought, the day appeared so fine, How beautiful if such a place were mine; But, having naught, I never feel alone And cannot use another’s as my own.
This is a revamped version of my original post, I was contacted by residents, who had reservations concerning the photographs that I had taken of their homes, whilst on their private roads, without their permission, in contravention of current legislation.
I have replaced these with photographs taken from public roads and also from pictures found on the developer’s website.
Places are different: Subtopia is the annihilation of the difference by attempting to make one type of scenery standard for town, suburb, countryside and wild. So what has to be done is to maintain and intensify the difference between places. This is the basic principle of visual planning. It is also the end to which all the other branches of planning – sociology, traffic circulation, industry, housing hygiene – are means. They all attempt to make life more rewarding, more healthy, less pointlessly arduous.
We begin at the beginning of the end – fields full of fields
Dotted with farm buildings – then, along comes an Aerodrome.
A serious problem arose in 1924 when Avro was notified that the current airfield used by the company at Alexandra Park would be closing. After a hurried search to find an alternative location, Avro settled on New Hall Farm at Woodford and completed the move later that year.
In 1999, Woodford became part of BAE Systems as a result of the merging of British Aerospace with Marconi Electronic Systems. Plans to build the Avro RJX airliner at Woodford were shelved in 2001 which left production of the Nimrod MRA4 as the only active project at the site. Woodford Aerodrome finally closed in 2011 when the Nimrod MRA4 project was cancelled, ending almost 80 years of almost continual aircraft manufacture at the site.
Redrow has started construction on the first phase of 950 homes at the 500-acre former Woodford Aerodrome site near Stockport, nearly two years after planning consent was granted.
Preparatory works are underway and sales of the houses are expected to launch in June with the opening of show homes on the site.
The redevelopment of the 500-acre site, which is being brought forward by a joint venture between Harrow Estates, part of Redrow, and Avro Heritage, will also feature a primary school, employment area, pub, shops, community facilities, and areas of open and recreational space.
However, the architectural style owes more to Baron Hardup, than Flash Gordon.
The Tudor-Bethan style of Metro-Land, that oh so very, very English pantomime tradition of the village green, merry boys and girls dancing around Maypoles clutching wicker baskets, full of plastic daffodils.
For every raw obscenity Must have its small ‘amenity,’ Its patch of shaven green, And hoardings look a wonder In banks of floribunda With floodlights in between.
This is progress realised as regression, a pastiche of a pastiche, of a pastiche, of a pastiche.
Finding some small comfort in the imitation game, hurtling along radial roads, encased in the biggest, live now pay later motors, which borrowed money can buy.
Seeking succour in the certainty of an illusory past, whilst peering through the nets and blinds, at a seriously uncertain future.
You’re as pretty as a picture, a picture torn from a yellowing scrapbook, scanned and enhanced, to remove any unseemly rough edges and/or ruffians.
This was tomorrow calling, wishing you weren’t here.
Work is still underway and the surrounding landscape feels raw, windswept and wounded.
All of the plots on this phase are now reserved, but don’t miss out on the available homes on our other phases!
Just minutes from Wilmslow, Poynton and Bramhall, and within easy reach of Manchester for both work and leisure, Woodford is perfectly placed to offer the best of both the thriving city and the glorious Cheshire countryside. This makes it the perfect location for our high-quality Heritage Collection homes, which combine the very best of classic Arts & Crafts architecture with modern, family friendly interiors of the very highest specification.
I live just around the corner and often walk by, intrigued by this small rectangle of rectangular sheltered homes, I chose to take a closer look.
On adjoining Craig Road there are a group of interwar semi-detached homes, social housing built in 1930, facing on to open ground which leads down to the Mersey.
There is an arc of post war social housing on Hamilton Crescent, which surrounds Russell Gardens.
The homes that constitute Russell Gardens built in 1947 were illustrated in the town’s 1948/49 guide book, considered to be something of value.
Designed as a diminutive Garden Village, smaller in scale to those found in Burnage or Fairfield, but based on the principle of shared green space and community services.
In the 1970s the land to the south, now occupied by the Craig Close development, was yet to be built upon.
And the Cadbury Works still stood close by on the Brighton Road Industrial Estate:
Built in the late 1800s this was originally Silver Spoon (Pan) Fruit Processing Works, then in the 1920s was Faulders’ Cocoa and Chocolate Works. By the 1930s it was Squirrel Chocolate Works and in 1960s became a distribution depot for Cadbury’s. A friend remembers playing among the pallets of the ‘chocolate factory’ in the 1950s. Later it was occupied by small businesses. The works comprises a large rectangular block with sawtooth roof, and central entrance house with tall chimney. The adjacent rail line, built in 1880, branched into the site.
Though many of the surrounding homes were sold off during the Right to Buy era:
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 (May 1979) 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.
Russell Gardens remains the estate of Stockport Homes managed as sheltered housing for the over 60s.
33 one bedroom flats built in 1947
Non-resident part time management staff and Careline alarm service
Lounge, Laundry, Garden
The houses are now some fifty years old and in good order, the residents with whom I spoke, seemed more than happy with their homes.
Would that more and more affordable homes for folks of all ages could be built.
The post-war consensus and political will that created this upsurge in construction, has been swept away by market forces.
Let’s take a look at the vestiges of more enlightened times.
Having started in the middle, let’s fast forward to the end – the beginning will have to wait.
We take up our walk along Fred’s Way once more by Mirrlees Fields.
Following the brook along the narrow shallow valley, betwixt and between houses.
Briefly opening out into green open space.
Crossing the road and entering the detached world of the detached house.
No two the same or your money back!
Diving feet first into Happy Valley, home to the Lady Brook stream.
And quickly out again.
Emerging once again into the space between spaces.
The suburban idyll of the Dairyground Estate home to very few semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers; those on state benefit/unemployed, and lowest grade workers.
But home to an interesting array of Post War housing.
Including examples of the style de jour, à la mode conversions and updates extended and rendered, black, white and grey symbols of success or extensive extended credit facilities.
Though the more traditional fairy tale variant still has a space and place, in the corner of some well behaved cul de sac.
Under the railway – through a low tunnel darkly.
We struck oil, black gold, Texas Tea – Tate Oil.
The area of Little Australia – so called as all the roads are named after towns in Australia, is bordered by the West Coast Main Line to the north, the Bramhall oil terminal to the east, Bramhall village centre to the west and Moorend Golf Club to the south.
We emerged into a warren of obfuscation, dead ends and conflicting signs, having made enquiries of the passing populace, we realigned with the new bypass.
Passing over the conveniently placed footbridge over the bypass and beyond.
Emerging amongst faux beams and real Monkey Puzzles.
It was at this point that, unbeknownst to us, we followed a twisted sign, misdirecting us along an overgrown path – to Handforth.
We failed, in the end we failed to arrive to arrive at the end.
Heading west like headless chickens towards the Turkey Farm.
Making our way mistakenly to Handforth Dean Retail Park – rear of.
Crossing slip roads with no pedestrian access and the forbidden territory of an industrial sized gymnasium car park.
Woodford will just have to wait, another day another dolorous excursion.
Almost opposite the entrance to the museum, now set in shrubbery, are the foundations, laid in September 1860, of what was to be a forty metre high Observatory Tower. Despite a series of attempts, funds for the tower could not be raised and the ‘Amalgamated Friendly Societies of Stockport’ eventually had to abandon the idea.
Out east and passing alongside the running track.
Lush meadows now occupy the former football field, twixt inter-war semis and the woodland beyond.
Out into the savage streets of Offerton where we find a Buick Skylark, incongruously ensconced in a front garden.
The only too human imperative to laugh in the face of naturalism.
We have crossed over Marple Road and are deep in the suburban jungle of mutually exclusive modified bungalows.
Off now into the wide open spaces of the Offerton Estate – the right to buy refuge of the socially mobile, former social housing owning public.
People living on Offerton Estate have been filmed for a programme entitled ‘Mean Streets’ which aims to highlight anti-social behaviour in local communities.
Deneway almost but not quite, literallyon my doorstep:
High above the Mersey Valley and 70 meters above sea level Deneway Estate stands proud, affording views of the Pennine White Peak to the south east and nothing but some other houses in all other directions.
Built in 1964, by architects Mortimer & Partners it was an award winner from the word go – coming first in an Ideal Homes sponsored competition.
Very much in the tradition of the Span Estates, it consists of small groups of two and three storey terraced homes, with communal open, well tended front gardens. At the entrance to the estate stands a single low tower block of flats.
The architecture sits quietly and confidently in the landscape, well behaved, prim and proper. Interiors are open plan and afforded ample daylight by generous windows. Detailing is tiled and wood panelled, with low pitched roofs.
Jump the train, walk, cycle, bus or tram, but arrive with eyes and heart wide opento enjoy this suburban gem – it’s right up my street.
This was my very first piece that appeared on the old Manchester Modernist site way back in 2014.
Six years later I walked up the road again and found the flats clad in a funny colour cladding and the plaques moved, much else was as was. I assume, that under deed of covenant, fencing and guerilla gardening within open areas is verboten, along with fancy extensions.
The estate therefore retains its original integrity.
The sun in the meantime however – had gone in.
Here are the pages of Ideal Home which featured this award winning estate.
2020 mid-lockdown and overcast, I took a walk to take another look.
There is a perennial appeal to this well ordered island of tranquility, an archetypal suburbia incubated in 1906, a copy book estate.
The housing estate of 136 houses known as Burnage Garden Village, a residential development covering an area of 19,113sqm off the western side of Burnage Lane in the Burnage ward. The site is situated approximately six kilometres south of the city centre and is arranged on a broadly hexagonal layout with two storey semi-detached and quasi detached dwelling houses situated on either side of a continuous-loop highway. The highway is named after each corresponding compass point with two spurs off at the east and west named Main Avenue and West Place respectively. Main Avenue represents the only access and egress point into the estate whilst West Place leads into a resident’s parking area.
The layout was designed by J Horner Hargreaves. Houses are loosely designed to Arts and Crafts principles, chiefly on account of being low set and having catslide roofs.
At the centre of the garden village and accessed by a network of pedestrian footpaths, is a resident’s recreational area comprising a bowling green, club house and tennis courts. The estate dates from approximately 1906 and was laid out in the manner of a garden suburb with characteristic hedging, front gardens, grass verges and trees on every street.
Verges and paving were freshly laid, hedges and gardens well tended, cars parked prettily.
The central communal area calm and restful, but lacking the clunk of lignum vitae wood on jack, hence the scorched earth appearance of the normally well used crown green.
The canal received its Act of Parliament in 1792. It was built to supply coal from Oldham and Ashton under Lyne to Manchester. The first section between Ancoats Lane to Ashton-under-Lyne and Hollinwood was completed in 1796.
The Great Central Railway in England came into being when the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway changed its name in 1897, anticipating the opening in 1899 of its London Extension. On 1 January 1923, the company was grouped into the London and North Eastern Railway.
I had walked beside the elevated path, alongside the canal coming home from school, rode by it whilst working as a Guide Bridge goods guard.
This was busy railway, steel coal, oil and people hurtling back and forth across the Pennines, under the DC wires of the Woodhead Line.
Thomas Chadwick later joined Bradbury & Co. William Jones opened a factory in Guide Bridge, Manchester in 1869. In 1893 a Jones advertising sheet claimed that this factory was the – Largest Factory in England Exclusively Making First Class Sewing Machines. The firm was renamed as the Jones Sewing Machine Co. Ltd and was later acquired by Brother Industries of Japan, in 1968. The Jones name still appeared on the machines till the late 1980s.
The site is now home to new homes and homeowners, as the are seeks to capitalise on the spread of wealth from Central Manchester.
Arnfield Woods is an exclusive development offering two, three and four bedroom homes, located adjacent to the Guide Bridge train station, which provides direct access into Manchester City Centre and direct access into Glossop.
The world turns:
Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.
The Wall, along with the low rise dwellings built to its south, replaced Victorian slum terraced housing. There were nearly 1200 houses on the site at Byker. They had been condemned as unfit for human habitation in 1953, and demolition began in 1966.
The new housing block was designed by Ralph Erskine assisted by Vernon Gracie. Design began in 1968 and construction took place between 1969 and 1982. The architects opened an office on site to develop communication and trust between the existing residents. Existing buildings were to be demolished as the new accommodation was built.
The new high-rise block was designed to shield the site from an intended motorway, which eventually was never built. Construction materials for Byker Wall were relatively cheap, concrete, brick and timber. Surfaces were treated with bright colours, while brick bandings were used on the ‘Wall’ to indicate floor levels.
Its Functionalist Romantic styling with textured, complex facades, colourful brick, wood and plastic panels, attention to context, and relatively low-rise construction represented a major break with the Brutalist high-rise architectural orthodoxy of the time.
When Historic England awarded Byker its Grade II* listing in 2007, they praised both its ‘groundbreaking design, influential across Europe and pioneering model of public participation’. The estate’s main element, the Byker Wall, is – like it or loathe it – an outstanding piece of modern architecture. The conception and design of the estate as a whole was shaped by unprecedented community consultation.
I went for a walk around one morning in May 2017, the photographs are in sequence as I explored the estate. It’s hard to do justice to the richness and variety of architecture in such a short time, but I only had a short time.
It has a canted front which is triangular in shape which has a large white cross at its apex.
The interior features full height stained glass windows of the Virgin Mary and St John by John Baker Ltd.
Born in 1916, John aka Jack studied at the Central School in London and worked under James Hogan at the Whitefriars stained-glass studios before joining Samuel Caldwell junior at Canterbury Cathedral in 1948 to help reinstate the medieval glass removed for safekeeping during the Second World War.
He subsequently authored English Stained Glass; the revised edition of this work, English Stained glass of the Medieval Period , which was to become one of the most popular soft back books on English medieval glass ever published.
Apart from his conservation skills, John was also an inspired teacher at Kingston College of Art. He produced windows for a number of churches, including eleven windows for the church of the Holy Name, Bow Common Lane, Mile End; two windows and a brick sculpture for the church of Little St Peter, Cricklewood; eighteen windows for St Anne’s church, East Wittering, Sussex; two large abstract windows for Broomfield Chapel, Abbots Langley; ten large concrete and glass windows for the new parish church, Gleadless Valley, Sheffield; and twenty-two glass windows for the Convent Chapel, St Michaels, Finchley. He also created a huge Jesse window for the church at Farnham Royal. The church was demolished in 2004, but the glass is now in storage, and some of the panes will be installed in the welcome are of the new church.
His favourite works were the windows he produced for Auckland Cathedral, New Zealand – as seen above.
John Baker, born Birmingham, 11 March 1916, died Hastings, 20 December 2007.
Why is there just one remaining tower block dancing unclad around Ancoats?
Let’s go back in time and see if we can find out – it seems that back in 1807 there wasn’t a Woodward Street to be found, the ever expanding industrial might of Manchester had not yet reached these particular green fields of Ancoats.
By 1824 it shows a fresh face to the world christened Woodworth Street, sparsely dotted with new development.
Almost fully formed in 1836 and renamed as Woodward Street, the area begins to accumulate the familiar domestic and industrial clutter of a burgeoning Victorian City.
By 1860 the street is fully formed and open for business.
Workers finding homes in austere and functional brick back to backs, typical of the period’s housing.
Fast forward to the early Sixties and the street is showing signs of age – the century old industries are already in decline, steady jobs, mills and factories gone west and east, well-worn housing looking terminally tired and in need of a little care and attention.
But wait what’s this coming around the bend?
The first wave of urban regeneration, post war optimism incarnate, a bright new shiny future – out with the old and in with the new, as Municipal Modernism stamps its big broad architectural feet all over Woodward Street.
Our story is far from over, this optimism is short-lived the homes, houses and industry are swept away yet again, replaced with two story modern terraced housing and an all too obvious absence of regular employment – yet the tower blocks prevailed.
Former streets were over written and remain as poignant vestigial marks in the landscape.
Though their future was built on more than somewhat shifting and uncertain sands.
A tower block has been left lying empty for a whopping 18 years. The 13-storey building at Saltford Court in Ancoats has been unoccupied since Manchester council closed it in the 1990s. It was bought by top developers Urban Splash six years ago but residents have now hit out about it still being empty. Neighbours of Saltford Court say it has become an ‘eyesore’ and magnet for vermin since the firm bought it.
A large group of blocks stood tinned up and unloved, yet owned, for a number of years, victims one supposes of land-bankers, developers speculating on an even better return, as the warm waves of gentrification washed slowly over them, from nearby New Islington.
All but one was refurbished, clad and re-let.
Woodward Court was spared – set aside for the homeless.
A period piece surrounded by Post Modern and Revivalist pretenders.
One fine day – whilst walking back to and/or from happiness, in the general direction of Blackburn town centre, I happened to chance upon three towers.
Whilst not in any sense Tolkienesque – for me they held a certain mystique, wandering unclad amongst swathes of trees and grass.
Trinity, St Alban and St Michaels Courts – three thirteen storey towers each containing sixty one dwellings.
Three thirteen-storey slab blocks built as public housing using the Sectra industrialised building system. The blocks contain 183 dwellings in total, consisting of 72 one-bedroom flats and 111 two-bedroom flats. The blocks are of storiform construction clad with precast concrete panels. The panels are faced with exposed white Cornish aggregate. Spandrel panels set with black Shap granite aggregate are used under the gable kitchen windows. The blocks were designed by the Borough architect in association with Sydney Greenwood. Construction was approved by committee in 1966.