In December 1956 Basil Spence and Partners were commissioned to design St Francis Church in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. The project was part of a large building programme by the Manchester Diocese and was to service the new post-war housing estate at Newall Green. The site housed an existing hall that had been serving a dual-purpose as church and church hall but which reverted to use as a church hall once the new church was opened. The foundation stone was laid by Colin Skinner CBE on 23 April 1960 and the church was consecrated on 25 March 1961 by the Bishop of Manchester, W D L Greer.
The main building is predominantly brick; it is set back from the road by a landscaped courtyard that includes a brick tower and 73ft concrete cross. Another large cross rises from the front wall of the church itself making it highly visible from the surrounding neighborhood.
The church can hold a congregation of 250. A small chapel is separated from the main church by a sliding screen and can be used independently for private prayer and mid week-services. On busy days the screen can be retracted to provide additional seating to the main church. A gallery over the entrance porch houses two organs and the choir.
Embroidery for the Church was designed by Anthony Blee and carried out by Beryl Dean and Associates, and Communion silver was specially designed by Gerald Benney.
An austerely simple deign, saved from bleakness by a few deft touches – Pevsner.
The lettering on the font cover is by Ralph Beyer, the painting on the east wall by William Chattaway, who came specially from Paris to paint.
2010 – John Richards
The church also contains four stones brought from prominent Christian locations across the globe including a rose hued stone from Assisi itself, these are embedded in the walls and floor around the building.
St Francis of Assisi’s Church in Wythenshawe stands testimony to the vigour of its first priest, the Reverend Ronald Pitcher. It was Pitcher who organised a local campaign to raise money for its construction, even before William Greer, Lord Bishop of Manchester, launched a wider appeal to fund churches and vicarages in new housing areas throughout the diocese.
It was probably also Pitcher who chose the architect, since he made initial contact with Basil Spence late in 1956. Drawings and a watercolour perspective were prepared by the beginning of 1958, when the scheme was priced at £17,500, exclusive of professional fees.
Following discussions with the congregation it was modified to provide side-aisles, and the estimate increased to £27,000, including an organ. Although the diocese believed the final cost might be as high as £35,000,the design was accepted and Spence formally commissioned at the end of the year.
A church forced to close three years ago after its congregation dwindled to just two has been reborn – as a community centre.
St Francis of Assisi, in Wythenshawe, was forced to shut its doors when its popularity waned and repairs became too expensive.
Now, thanks to businessman James Munnery and Pastor William Simoes, the former Church of England building is rising again as a beacon of hope for the neighbourhood. The pair have teamed up to re-open the church as the New Life Opportunities Centre. Ambitious plans for the not-for-profit venture include sports pitches, a recording studio, and a hall for events and dancing.
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.
While working for George Wimpey and Co. Ltd, and together with J E Tyrrell, Chief Architectural Assistant to Gosport Borough Council, Kenneth Barden was responsible for tiled murals on Seaward Tower and Harbour Tower, two sixteen-storey tower blocks built in 1963 on the Esplanade in Gosport.
The surfaces of the tower blocks are covered in mosaic murals designed by Barden that rise the full 135 foot height of the buildings. They were controversial initially but are now a tourist attraction.
When Hull City Council founded KCOM back in 1904, as Hull Telephone Department, it was one of several local authorities across the country granted a licence to run its own phone network.
Gradually, over time other authorities gave up control of their networks to the Post Office which wanted to create a single national service, but Hull City Council decided to keep its network and continue to go it alone.
While the Post Office network eventually became BT, Hull’s network, like the city itself, remained fiercely independent. That’s why today Hull has its own distinct cream phone boxes in contrast to the red ones you’ll find elsewhere.
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.
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.
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.
According to local historian Diana Leitch, the site has been in use since 1465; the first house was built in 1603 as part of a large estate with a deer park.
In 1740 the site was purchased by the Broome family, and a new house was constructed after 1785 by William Broome, extant today as the front part of the university’s former administration building, now known as Sandhurst House.
By 1812 the house was occupied by a Colonel Parker, and in the 1820s and ’30s it was a girls’ school.
The site was purchased by the Wesleyan Methodist Church on 18 March 1841 for £2,000, and opened as a theological college on 22 September 1842.
The Old Chapel building, originally the college chapel, is a two-storey building constructed in gothic style, with Flemish bond brickwork, built on a sandstone plinth in 1842.The structure consists of three wings, containing a central hall range, with two domestic wings on each side, initially used as tutor accommodation, forming a symmetrical appearance with the gable end of the upper hall. For many years it was used as a library and lecture theatre.
The ground floor eventually became the student union, and contained a bar and café.
During both world wars the site was used as a military hospital. In 1943 the Board of Education had begun to consider the future of education, following reforms that would inevitably come after the war ended. It was estimated that with the raising of the school leaving age, following the 1944 Education Act, about 70,000 new teachers would be needed annually, almost ten times as many as before the war.
In 1944 a report was produced by the Board of Education on the emergency recruitment and training of teachers, and it was decided that there were to be several new training colleges set up. These colleges were to be staffed by lecturers seconded from local authorities, with mature students selected from National Service conscripts. In 1945 the theological college, which was no longer required by the Wesleyans, was leased to the Manchester Education Authority.The new emergency training college was officially opened on 31 January 1946, with Alfred Body as its first principal.
By 1950, the emergency college was purchased by the City of Manchester and made permanent as Didsbury Teacher Training College, with an initial enrolment of about 250 male and female students. As a result of becoming a permanent college, Didsbury became part of Manchester University’s School of Education.
Over the next two decades, numerous buildings were constructed on the site; Behrens, Birley and Simon were all named after prominent local families with ties to the college.
Didsbury became part of Manchester Polytechnic in 1977, renamed Didsbury School of Education.
The adjacent Broomhurst halls of residence have since been demolished.