St George’s Shopping Centre – Preston

Once upon a time the future was shop-shaped and utopian, the Modernist reliefs a welcome relief from post-war doom and gloom, public decorative art was off the ration for good, or so it seemed. Small retail units, housed small local operators, their shiny well-washed fascias, glowing with graphic pride and diversity, slab serif and decorative script the order of the day.



Architects J Seymour Harris and Partners envisaged a brave new water-coloured open-aired world for the grey austerity-tinted folk of Preston.

And lo it came to pass and underpass – the future was here yesterday.



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Get off the bus on Fishergate and walk right on in.



The shopping centre opened on 22 March 1966 as St George’s Shopping Centre.







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It was originally an open air centre, and was roofed over during refurbishment in 1981. It was further refurbished in 1999.

In May 2004, when The Mall Company took over the centre, they were greeted with an ageing shopping centre. The shopping centre was rebranded as The Mall, and a massive development scheme was planned. Small stalls, main shops, cafes, restaurants, toilets, and escalators were overhauled.

In March 2010, the shopping centre was acquired by Aviva Investors for £87 million. In September 2010, The Mall was rebranded under its original name St George’s Shopping Centre.



So welcome back to today – stripped of distinctive decoration, covered in and given the international sheen of absolutely nowhere at all.

In intemperate template for the future.


Archival images from the Preston Digital Archive and Peter Reed.


Preston Indoor Market

Built in 1973 scheduled to be closed and demolished in ten days time.

The future is not so red rosey for yet another traditional local market.

A typically boxy arrangement of steel, concrete, asbestos glass and brick, the complex of trading units, stalls and parking is not without charm. Though as with many other developments of its type, it seems to be without friends, then inevitably without customers and traders.

Following a template originated at London’s Borough Market, developers and councils seem to favour the modern artisan over the proletarian . This concept when meshed with the multi-plex and chain restaurant/bar amalgam, provides a shiny new future, for the shiny new shape of all our retail and leisure needs.


So ta-ta to another world of hats and socks, fruit and veg, workwear for workers.

You’ve just about time to pop in for a brew.

Two sugars, stirred not shaken.

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R.E & J. Parker Bakers – Leigh

I do have a particular penchant for pâtisserie – though close in spirit to their Euro equivalents, the vernacular bakers of the North are by comparison, sadly now a seldom seen, rare and precious breed.

My dad’s three sisters Alice, Jenny and Lydia all trained as confectioners, and he himself was a van man for Mother’s Pride. In my turn I worked as a van lad at their Old Trafford base.

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Flour, eggs, sugar and fat are in my blood.

In their way the growth of the mass-market bakers, along with the motor car and supermarket hegemony sealed the fate of the local bread, cake and pie shop, along with the demise of the associated skills and attendant early morning work patterns. When I visited Cochrane’s in Audenshaw, it was clear that their youngsters no longer wished to take on the family baking business. So the once unremarkable sight of remarkable rows of fancies, growlers and tarts, is now a thing of familiar folk memory, rather than a sweet and savoury reality.

On both of my visits to Leigh I have passed Parker’s – the windows warm from the freshly baked confectionery – including the almost unique Singing Lily – sweet double crust pies, a large circle of shortcrust pastry folded over dried fruit and rolled until the fruit is visible, sugared and baked.

Next time I’ll go in and try one or two treats – get it while you can.

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Sam’s Bar – Wigan

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Sam’s Bar – Orchard St, Wigan WN1 3SW.

Once there was The Ball and Boot – oval or round, no dubbin required.

A Tetley Walker pub on the edge of the then new Scholes Estate – seen here in 1987.

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Photograph Tower Block

This is the one and only photograph of its former black and white self.


Though an internet search revealed a rich heritage of pool, football, fancy dress and trips to Lloret De Mar, for the lads and lasses of Lower Scholes.






The pub now named Sam’s Bar, has retained its jolly jumble of modernist volumes and angles – though having lost the harlequin panels and off licence. Mid-morning the lights were on and the pub was surrounded by cars taking advantage of the £1.90 a day parking.


The online reviews seem to divide opinion as to the quality of the current provision.

This pub is not a nice place to visit. If your not a regular you get leered at all night, the people and staff are absolutly terrible. You will wait at the bar all night waiting to get served, whilst all the regulars get their drinks. Then and only then will you get yours. You will see a fight at least once a night. Karaoke is only for those of us who are blessed with the ability to sing – they wont let you up again if not. This pub needs knocking down it’s a menace to society, out of 10 a big fat 0.

Solid, dependable and well-run. Friendly bar staff and regulars, local and national newspapers, rugby league memorabilia, jukebox, pool table, and very fair prices. Has been my local for years, ever since I got tired of the landlord turnover at the Cherries. I’ve never seen anyone refused a go at karaoke, including me, and I can’t sing, and rarely pick a song anyone likes. So you carry on spouting tripe, and I’ll carry on drinking at Sam’s Bar Scholes.

Beer in the evening.

You’ll have to swing by and judge for y’self – my own karaoke tune of choice as ever:

In The Ghetto.











Wavertree Liverpool – Pathfinder

How does the modern world treat the past?

With a disdain bordering on a sociopathic destructive indifference it appears.

New Labour with an eye to rehouse the housed, tinned up hundreds of homes prior to demolition and redevelopment. They were and still are solid late Victorian terraces possibly in need of improvement – during the 1990’s, period housing stock was refurbished with central government funding, through a system of easily obtained grants. Improving the living conditions of many, maintaining the structures, and  supporting the local self-employed building trade.

So several years down the line, I visited the streets of Wavertree discussed in Owen Hatherley’s article of 2013.

Little or nothing has changed there are some tenanted houses, interspersed between the blanked out windows in sadly deserted streets, save the two camera shy free runners, who had lived and played in the area for some seven years.


When one door closes another door closes.

If working-class areas are to defend themselves, they need confidence, both in themselves and in the places they live, otherwise the whole grim process will go on, with councils making the same mistakes and the same lives being destroyed, without interruption.



















Police Station – Blackpool

I’ve been here before, innocently snapping – without incident.

A super-large Roger Booth cop shop and courts, concrete combo.

So why not go back just one last time, prior to demolition and redevelopment.

So I did.

Following the acquisition and demolition of Progress House the Bonny Street Station is to be relocated, and the former site, under the ownership of Blackpool Council, set to become who knows what – who knows?

Progress House, Clifton Road, Marton.
Progress House, Clifton Road, Marton.


The Council knows, it plans to develop a new site for the defunct Central Rail Station

A giant of the steam age that became a car park


It is 50 years since Central Railway Station closed with the land being used for a car park ever since. It was proposed as the site for the super-casino until that bid failed to win government backing. Since then plans for an indoor snow-based attraction have also failed to make any progress.

Today happily, snow-based attractions are still failing to make any progress.

Blue skies and chill early March air greeted me, across the wind swept, precast concourses and piazzas – warmish grey, against brightish blue.

I simply didn’t expect the boy in blue – ten minutes of light/half hearted interrogation.

“Who, what, why, where are you?”

Responding in a clear concise and non-confrontational manner, I was free to go about my legal business, taking these pictures for you.

































Police Station – Morecambe

It seems that post-war Lancashire police stations are under threat, often the work of County Architect Roger Booth, and to my mind buildings of both interest and quality, they are nevertheless disappearing fast.

Wigan is now a smart new hotel, now cracks a noble heart good-night, sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest – in your merrily clad Premiere Inn.



Blackpool and Bury are both to be demolished.

What is going on, are we running out of crime?

On the day of our visit to Morecambe, there was no obvious evidence of miscreants on the prowl, though appearances can be deceptive -consider this incident of  March 2008:

Morecambe Police Station was evacuated on Wednesday night after an elderly man took a suspicious package into the building. 

Police said the man brought the object into the reception, said it was suspicious and quickly left. 

Officers called the Bomb Disposal Team from Chester who said it was an ‘improvised device’. All houses near to the station in Thornton Road were evacuated and the area was cordoned off for two and a half hours. 

 The area was declared safe shortly before 8.30pm. 
Further research reveals:
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Though locals are also encouraged to use online services:

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The modern day cop shop faces an uncertain future it seems. So get out there toot sweet, take a look behave responsibly at all times and remember folks it’s not a crime to snap a Bobby or their place of work.

It is not illegal to take photographs or video footage in public places unless it is for criminal or terrorist purposes.

There will be places where you have access as a member of the public, but will have to ask permission or may be prevented altogether. These could include stately homes, museums, churches, shopping malls, railway stations and council or government buildings. You need to check the situation out on a case by case basis.