Yuri Gagarin Manchester 1961

Exactly three months to the day after his flight in Vostok I had ushered in a new age of space exploration, on 12 July 1961, the trim figure of Yuri Gagarin strode down the gangway of a British Viscount airliner and walked briskly out across the runway of Manchester airport towards a sea of expectant faces, and flashing camera bulbs.

Working Class Movement Library

There are many excellent accounts of his visit – for a detailed view Gurbir Singh’s book Yuri Gagarin in London and Manchester is hard to beat.

It is from this source that I was able to retrace Yuri’s journey, from the then Ringway Airport, to the offices of the AUFW at Brooks Bar.

Archive photographs – Local Image Collection

Thousands lined the wet streets of Manchester that day as he passed by in his beige open topped Bentley – standing proud waving to all and sundry.

This is Yuri’s journey via the Manchester Local Image Collection.

A loose approximation of what he may have see on that day in 1961.

We were allowed out of Brownley Green school to line the road as he passed, great memories.

I stood on Chester Road with my mum, I was 4 years old, but still remember it.

At that time, I was a student, working my socks off in the Central Library, I went outside into St. Peter’s Square to watch him pass, he gave everyone a big smile.

Still tell my children, tiny at the time – you saw the first man in space, I remember his smile.

Worked in an office in Albert Square – had a grandstand view of him arriving at the Town Hall.

I can remember a police escort taking Yuri to Albert Square via Princess Parkway through Withington, Fallowfield and Moss side, there were hundreds of people lined up watching a waving at him.

When Gagarin visited Manchester he was given a bronze bust of Lenin made by the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers. Four were made in total and my Dad owns one of them.

My Grandad’s funeral was on the day he came, as we passed down Altrincham Rd onto the Parkway policemen who were holding back the crowds saluted, he would have loved it.

Yeah I seen him stood up in a big car with a green uniform on. It was going down Brownley Rd passing Meliden Crescent heading for the Airport in Wythenshawe, I was about 6 years old.

Working for Manchester Parks as a 20 yr old on Princess Parkway and he came past me as I was mowing the grass, in an open top Rolls or Bentley, he saluted me personally as he passed, of course I stood to attention and returned the salute – Magic Moment

Ringway Road

Shadow Moss Road

Post-war social housing

Simonsway

Brownley Road

St Andrews Church JCG Prestwich and Son 1960

Housing built 1934

1960 development

St Luke The Physician1938-9 by Taylor and Young

Benchill Hotel – demolished Autumn 2012

Altrincham Road

Royal Thorn – demolished 2001

Princess Parkway

St Ambrose A well-detailed, relatively modest post-war design by Reynolds & Scott, with an impressive and largely unaltered vaulted interior.  The dedication relates to St Ambrose Barlow, a Catholic martyr from nearby Barlow Hall. 

Barlow Moor Road

The Oaks demolished in the early 1990s following a brief life as the Sports Bar

Manchester Road

The Seymour – demolished 2002

Upper Chorlton Road

The Whalley Hotel closed in 2014

Chorlton Road

Imperial Picture Theatrewas opened in 1914. Seating was provided in stalls level only. It had a 5 feet deep stage and two dressing rooms. There was also a café in the cinema. Around 1929 it was equipped with a Western Electric sound system.

Architect W.H. Matley

The Imperial Picture Theatre was closed on 15th January 1976 with Charlotte Rampling in Caravan to Vaccares and Jean-Claude Brialy in A Murder Is a Murder Is a Murder.

Cinema Treasures

164 Chorlton Road Hulme Manchester – offices of the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers, it was at their invitation that Yuri had visited Manchester.

Hastings 2015

I had completed my journey from Weston super Mare, with a final day’s cycle ride from Eastbourne and had two days to spare.

So I took some time to have a mooch around and this dear readers is what I did see.

I have snapped the seafront shelters previously and put together one post after another.

These are an integral part of Sidney Little’s concrete promenade scheme

Lurched toward London Road Launderette in St Leonards – which was featured in my 2020 book eight laundrettes.

Next door is this Post Office mosaic.

Back to the front for a more traditional seaside shelter.

Exploring the backstreets in search of fitness for purpose and secret signs.

Then diving in for a delicious dosa at the long gone St Len’s Lakshmi Mahal – since moved to Bexhill on Sea.

Snapping the plaques at the White Rock Theatre.

Currently closed but hopefully open in time for the We Love The Spice Girls.

Popped into Arthur Green – former gent’s outfitters, current bric a brac brokers.

Before we know it, we’re in another laundrette, once more without washing in the Wash Inn.

Back along the front to the well appointed and freshly painted Marine Court.

Time to pop into the not always open subsequently closed St Leonard’s Church.

When World War II broke out, Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea were considered vulnerable to attacks and invasion from abroad. On the night of Saturday 29 July 1944 a doodlebug was hit over the English Channel. Damaged, it nevertheless continued to fly towards the coastline of St Leonards-on-Sea. It was approaching Marine Court which was hosting a servicemen’s party – but it veered and crashed in front of the doors of St Leonard’s Church, making a deep crater. The tower fell into this, and the rest of the church was brought down as well. Although there were no casualties, the church was completely destroyed. Although the problem of rock falls and subsidence associated with the cliffs had continued throughout the life of the church, the War Damage Commission would only pay for it to be rebuilt on the same site. The architectural partnership of brothers Giles and Adrian Gilbert Scott were commissioned to design the new building.

Patrick Reyntiens stained glass

The unique features were inspired by Canon Cuthbert Griffiths, rector from 1929 to 1961. Following a dream, he went to Israel and had the prow of a Galilean fishing boat constructed to form the pulpit.

Marble work on the floor depicts locally caught skate and herring.

Beyond the communion rail are loaves and fishes set in different marble patterns bordered by scallop shells, a copy of the Byzantine mosaic in the Church of the Feeding of the Five Thousand in Galilee.

The structure set into shifting cliffs is subject to subsidence.

Procedures have been completed for St Leonard’s Parish Church on Marina to be closed for worship. 

The service will be next Saturday August 4 2018 at 3pm. 

Because the building cannot be used the service will be at St Ethelburga’s in St Saviour’s Road.

St Leonard’s has been called the church with an inbuilt message.  Even the very stones cry out to those who have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand and accept the Good News of the Gospel.

St Leonards Church

Bournemouth to Portsmouth

Sunday 2nd August 2015 – you awake and you’re still in Bournemouth and still in one piece, the possibility of late night stag and hen madness passed over without incident.

A quick look around town, then let’s get off to Pompey – where I was very proud to be a Polytechnic art student 1973/76, in good old Lion Terrace.

Last night’s late night drinking den with its fabulous faience frontage and doorstep mosaic.

Close by this tiled porch at The Branksome.

Built 1932 by Seal and Hardy as offices for the Bournemouth Echo, steel-framed, the main elevations faced in Monks Park Bath Stone.

Plans to redevelop the listed Daily Echo offices in Bournemouth were withdrawn shortly before they were due to be discussed by councillors.

That Group’s application to extend the Richmond Hill building to create more work space as well as a 30-bed hotel, café, gym and events space had been recommended for refusal before it was pulled from the agenda for Monday’s meeting.

Daily Echo

Vandale House appears to have been refurbished as flats, having lost its architectural type.

The property benefits from modern and contemporary décor throughout, large balcony and views over the Town Centre itself. 

This art deco cinema was built for ABC and designed by their regular architect William Glen, it opened in June 1937.

The ABC, originally the Westover Super Cinema, entertained audiences for almost 80 years before it was closed in 2017 – along with the nearby Odeon – to make way for a new Odeon multiplex at the BH2 complex.

In its rejected plans for the site, Libra Homes had pledged to restore the cinema’s original Art Deco frontage, if it survives under the cladding that was added in the 1960s.

Cinema Treasures

Boscombe Pier – is the perfect vantage point to watch volleyball, table tennis and mini golf. If you are feeling adventurous, try scaling the nearby, purpose built boulders next to the pier or have a go at slacklining!

There are nearby are cafés, takeaways and beach shops all within walking distance from Boscombe Pier. The pier is free to enter and has a plethora of activies that individuals and families can enjoy! 

Designed by Archibald Smith, the 600 foot pier opened on 28th July 1889. In 1924/5 and 1927, the head was renewed in high alumina concrete and, between 1958 and 1960, the neck was reconstructed using reinforced concrete.

The neck building is a design by the Borough Architects, demonstrating great verve and vivacity. The contemporary style associated with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses and made popular with Californian homes in the 1940s was well suited to the requirements of an architecture that combined ‘sun and fun’. The contemporary style made a feature of expressing different elements or planes of a composition with different materials, and here the combination is honest and each element well detailed. The sweep of the cantilevered, boomerang-shaped roof is a particularly joyous feature. It is a building that would have been despised as being exactly of its date until recently; now it is a building that can be celebrated for that very reason, and a rare example of pier architecture from these years. 

Historic England Listing

San Remo Towers a block of 164 flats, with penthouse and office, over basement garage. 1935-8 by Hector O’Hamilton.

Facilities offered as inclusive in this price included centralised hot water and central heating, an auto vac’ cleaning system, centralised telephones, a resident manager, a porter, daily maid, boot cleaning and window cleaning services. There was a Residents’ club with a reading room card room, billiard room and library, and a children’s recreation and games room. There were kiosks in the ground-floor lobbies selling tobacco and convenience items, where the staff took orders for the local tradesmen. The fifth-floor restaurant offered a la carte meals, which could be taken at pension rates of 38s per week. A simpler dinner cost 2/6d. The use of an American architect, Hector O Hamilton, may be an explanation for the building’s large range of facilities, including the grand underground car park and sophisticated servicing

Two bed flat £183,000

Carlinford benefits from commanding views over Poole Bay looking to the Isle of Wight across to the Purbecks. Included in the annual service charge is a Caretaker, Gardener & the communal areas are kept in good order. A fabulous location and a great place to call home. 

Two bed flat £350,000

Crossing the New Forest and arriving in Hythe.

Running the length of the pier to catch the ferry across Southampton Water.

Where one is able to see many large ships.

St Patrick’s Catholic Church 1939

W.C. Mangan’s last church in the diocese, with a moderne Gothic character rather than the basilican style he favoured elsewhere. The design is not without character and is in the mainstream of brick church building around middle of the twentieth century.

Taking Stock

First siting of Stymie Bold Italic/Profil since Devon

Sadly the Hovercraft Museum was closed – Founded 1987 as a registered charity, the Museum Trust is the worlds greatest collection of Hovercraft archive, film, and historic craft, dating back to to John Thonycroft’s 1870 air lubricated boat models and the then Dr. Cockerell’s 1955 annular jet experiments.

So excited to be boarding yet another ferry.

Seeing Portsmouth for the first time in a long time.

Finding cheap digs at the Rydeview Hotel.

My partner and daughter stayed here recently and the warm reception we received was great, thought it was going to be real value for money however when getting into the family room, which was a decent size, the curtain was half hanging down, iron marks and stains on the carpet, dirty windows, mould on the bathroom ceiling, hole in the bathroom floor and a very random shower head coming from the toilet that was very unpleasant. When we checked in we asked about breakfast and we were told this was going to be an additional £3 – we thought this was great value for money for a full English only to be left hungry and out of pocket! My daughter had one slice of toast, we asked for the full English what we received was cold and hard beans, and un-cooked egg and a rank sausage, the eating area was dirty – cobwebs everywhere.

I too stayed in the Family room with a delightful mouse for company and enjoyed one of the worst meals I’ve ever not eaten.

I headed for the 5th Hants Volunteers where I formally kept company with Felim Egan, Norman Taylor and Ian Hunter way back when.

Drinking Gales HSB – formerly a local brew now owned by Fullers

Established in 1847 Gales Brewery (George Gale & Co. Ltd) was an old brewery situated in Horndean, on the edge of Waterlooville. It made the nutty HSB – Horndean Special Bitter and the newer Gales Bitter. It took its water from its own well situated under the brewery which is fed from the South Downs, and the yeast and liquor, coupled with the local brewing style, produced beers with a sparse head, quite dark in colour.

In late 2005 Fuller’s Brewery bought Gales for £92 million. In January 2006, Fuller’s began cutting jobs at the Horndean brewery, and it was announced on 27 February 2006 that the brewery would close at the end of March 2006, although distribution and warehousing would continue in the area.

It didn’t tater the same and the pub had been gutted – gutted.

I beat a retreat to the Barley Mow – where I fell in with a gang of former Poly students from the 70s – they had studied and never left.

Eventually we all left.

Night night.

Bridport to Bournemouth

Grub up at the Lord Nelson and saints preserve us, the first sighting of fried bread – not a single hash brownie to be seen. The square plate very much in keeping with the naval nomenclature.

This ‘square plate’ theory is one of the best-known examples of folk-etymology. The phrase exists, the square plates exist, and two and two make five. To be more precise, what we have here is a back-formation. Someone hears the phrase ‘square meal’ and then invents a plausible story to fit it.

Spoil sport!

Anyway it’s Saturday 1st August 2015 and time to make tracks another sunny day in prospect, so much to see and do in Dorset!

The White Horse is a Dorset country inn located in the picturesque village of Litton Cheney in the heart of the Bride Valley. A warm welcome awaits at this traditional rural pub with a roaring log fire, with honest home cooked food using seasonal, locally sourced, produce. Popular with walkers and cyclists, families alike. A perfect place to enjoy good food, great ales, wines and even better company.

My lamb was average but the vegetables were very, very poor, some of the peas were stuck together with ice.

Trip Advisor

Steady rolling hills, I’m a steady rolling man.

The Hardy Monument stands on an exposed location above the village of  Portesham in Dorset. It was built in 1844 in memory of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Flag Captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Amongst other things, Hardy became famous as it was in his arms that Nelson died, saying the immortal words ‘Kiss me Hardy’.

Contemporary historians argue that this explanation is a Victorian invention, since the earliest recorded use of the term ‘Kismet’ in the English language does not appear until after 1805.

Others also claimed that Nelson had said “Kiss Emma, Hardy”, referring to his mistress and lover Lady Emma Hamilton.

Thomas Hardy was unavailable for comment.

There’s a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing
And the white moon beams.

A song my dad would sing me to sleep with, one of my earliest and sweetest memories, his lullabies were often those songs he remembered from his army days.

Following a morning of historical and linguistic conjecture we enter a land of architectural and historical conjecture, right here in Poundbury.

Poundbury is an urban extension to the Dorset county town of Dorchester, built on the principles of architecture and urban planning as advocated by The Prince of Wales in ‘A Vision of Britain’.

Poundbury, the Prince of Wales’s traditionalist village in Dorset, has long been mocked as a feudal Disneyland. But a growing and diverse community suggests it’s getting a lot of things right.

Poundbury should be completed by 2025, by which time it will be home to an estimated 4,500 people, increasing Dorchester’s population by a quarter. Then the Duchy will leave it to run itself. Krier, who is writing a book on Le Corbusier, says he and Prince Charles will then embark on their ultimate project: “We are going to build a small modernist town and show them how to do it.”

Guardian

Fake, heartless, authoritarian and grimly cute.

I myself cycled through in stunned silence, there was nobody about and the overall feel was one of a living filmset, opinion is deeply divided, I remain impartial – ride on.

Dorchester ghost.

Tiny vernacular bus shelter awaits bus and the sheltered.

Woodsford Castle is the surviving range of a 14th-century fortified manor house. King Edward III granted William de Whitefield a licence to crenellate in 1335. The house has the largest thatched roof in the county and has been restored by the Landmark Trust. 

One of our favourite Landmarks, love the table-tennis, the new decor and carpet, spacious but warm.

The house is a Grade I listed building.

I passed by a delightful café – sorry to say that the name escapes me, and ate the most tasty cheese scone with chutney and cream and a brew, thank you ever so much nameless café.

Well let’s go to Wool via Giddy Green.

I live here

St Joseph’s RC Wool

An impressive 1960s church design, responding thoughtfully to the needs of the post-Vatican II liturgy. The function clearly dictates the form, resulting in a building that is visually memorable as well as fit for purpose. Little has been changed since 1971. The Triodetic spaceframe roof structure is not generally associated with churches but enables a large uninterrupted space for the celebration of the Mass. The interior furnishings and fittings are essential to the totality of the design.

Taking Stock

The Roman Catholic Church of St Joseph of 1969-71 designed by Anthony Jaggard of John Stark & Partners is listed at Grade II – a bold exterior employing exposed brickwork, a mineral render, vertical glazing and sparse ornamentation.

Historic England

I fell in love the very moment what I saw it, having climbed over a fence by the railway, as I remember.

Next ting you know I’m in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Cycling down yet another leafy lane.

Catching the ferry with several other cyclists on our way to Poole.

Walked the bike along the crowded promenade into Bournemouth.

Passed the Grand Cinema.

Located in the Westbourne district of Bournemouth, the Grand Cinema Theatre opened on 18th December 1922 with a production of Anthony and Cleopatra performed on the stage. The following day it screened its first film A Prince of Lovers plus a Harold Lloyd short comedy.

It had a facade coverted with Carter’s Architectural Tiles, manufactured at the Carter pottery in Poole. There was a central bay over the entrance which was topped by a revolving globe, which was illuminated at night. The auditorium had a sliding roof which could be opened in hot summer weather. There was a lift which could be taken instead of the stairs to the balcony level and the cafe. The front of the orchestra pit barrier was also covered in Carter’s tiles.

It was taken over by an independent Snape Entertainments from 21st December 1953 and they operated it as a full time cinema until 8th October 1975 when the film They Love Sex was the last regular film shown. It went over to become a full time bingo club, until a mix of part week bingo and films were introduced from 27th March 1976.

The Grand Cinema is a Grade II Listed building.

Cinema Treasures

Finally found, following another find a room farrago – a less that grand tiny room in a big hotel, full of stag and hen parties – as was the whole town.

Seeking solace in the Goat and Tricycle – a beer house that boasts a huge range of hand pulled cask ales including Wadworth classics: Horizon, 6X, Swordfish and Wadworth IPA. The pub also has up to six Guest ales which change every few days, so there is always plenty of variety to choose from.

I would have chosen to keep the original names, the recent trend for the comic rebranding is quite literally ridiculous.

It was originally two separate pubs The Pembroke Arms to the left, it’s old Marston’s Dolphin Brewery tiles intact. The Pembroke Shades where the bar is now, was on the right. The Shades ran a boxing club where Freddie Mills, who lived opposite, is said to have trained, he went on to win the World Light Heavyweight belt.

I worked in the Shades on and off for 8 years. I still see a lot of the old crew, I am about to set up a Shades Re-union – we had one some years ago it was fab!

Do you remember John Bell, he was part time glass collector, full time alcoholic. Mary the Irish Landlady – she ‘s still going strong, unfortunately John Bell passed away.

Cheers Linda Jones

With a pint of beer.

I walked up the road aways for a pint elsewhere.

Finally returning to the Triangle.

Enough is enough it’s been another long day.

Night night.

Weston super Mare

Although there is evidence in the local area of occupation since the Iron Age, it was still a small village until the 19th century when it became a seaside resort, and was connected with local towns and cities by a railway, and two piers were built. The growth continued until the second half of the 20th century, when tourism declined and some local industries closed. A regeneration programme is being undertaken with attractions including the Helicopter Museum, Weston Museum, and the Grand Pier. The Paddle Steamer Waverley and MV Balmoral offer day sea trips from Knightstone Island to various destinations along the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary. Cultural venues include The Playhouse, the Winter Gardens and the Blakehay Theatre.

Wikipedia

I arrived mid-morning on Saturday 25th July 2015 – having travelled some two hundred miles or so from Stockport by train.

The Iron Age seemed to be over and regeneration slowly but surely under way.

This marked the start of another coastal tour, following last year’s epic which began in Hastings.

This time I was heading for Hastings – but that can wait until tomorrow, let’s have a look around town.

Directly opposite the station is a group of Seaside Moderne homes in various states of whiteness – standing in line along Neva Road.

Reasonably priced, cheaper than Frinton – check it out

I pushed my bike along the prom heading for my pre-booked digs in a stylish seafront hotel.

Past the Marine Causeway linking the shore to some kind of modern day Post Modern Shangri-La.

A mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains, possibly not.

You can stroll onto Knightstone Island, where you will find some cafes serving light snacks and refreshments, or to the other side which takes you along the causeway, accessible to walk across according to the tides. At the other side of the Causeway you will find a small rocky beach with tidal rockpools ideal for exploring.

Just along the prom stands one of my all time favourite seaside shelters.

Even further along – what’s all this here then?

The foundation stone of the Birch-designed Birnbeck Pier was laid in 1864. It opened on 5th June 1867 and consisted of a 1040 foot cantilever construction to Birnbeck Island and a short jetty extending westwards from the island.

National Piers Society

It seems to have changed hands several times in its relatively short life, including the stewardship of the infamous Urban Splash and the mysterious mystery owners, the current custodians it seems, have done little to secure a secure future.

It remains alone and untended, stretching aimlessly out to sea.

In April 2015, Friends Of The Old Pier Society created a novel fund raising scheme in which 1p and 2p coins would be lined up to stretch from the Grand Pier to Birnbeck Pier.

September 2019 Councillor Mr Crockford-Hawley said:

It’s this end of Weston which is the sore, it’s the carbuncle, it’s clearly well past its prime and it needs some serious attention. I mean it would be wonderful if somebody came along with an open ended bank account and said ‘yup, I’d love to restore it for the sake of restoring it’, but quite clearly there’s got to be an economic future for the pier, there’s got to be a purpose for the pier.

Possibly a wealthy Beatle could bail the ailing pier out of deep water?

Having made a bob or two since they appeared here in 1963.

Next thing I know I’m outside the imposing and impressive sounding Ocean Hotel. Sad to say on the day/night of my visit it wasn’t just this weary traveller that appeared to be over tired, happy to report the the New Ocean Hotel has been revamped and in tip-top condition by all accounts.

Any road up, let’s get out, take a walk up the road – have look at some local type.

Watney’s mythical Red Barrel.

Watney’s was the Evil Corporation which sought to crush plucky small brewers and impose its own terrible beer on the drinking public. It acquired and closed beloved local breweries, and it closed pubs, or ruined them with clumsy makeovers.

Its Red Barrel was particularly vile – a symbol of all that was wrong with industrial brewing and national brands pushed through cynical marketing campaigns.

A page-spread from Design Research Unit 1945-1972 – Koenig Books 2011 via A Practice for Everyday Life via Boak and Bailey – who examine the truth behind the myth.

A palimpsest ghost within a ghost.

A seaside outing for dear old Brush Script – a casual connecting script typeface designed in 1942 by Robert E. Smith for the American Type Founders.

The face exhibits an exuberant graphic stroke emulating the look of handwritten written letters with an ink brush.

It came third as a Least Favorite nomination in a 2007 designers’ survey.

It was rated fifth in The Eight Worst Fonts In The World list in Simon Garfield’s 2010 book Just My Type.

Why have just one identity when you can have two, welcome to the 21st Century schizoid Savoy – don’t it jus’ make you want to stomp?

First but surely not the last sighting of Profil aka Stymie Bold Italic – in a none inline variant.

Classical kerning down at the local estate agents, tasteful Gill Condensed Bold – from the hand and eye of the far from tasteful Eric.

Ay up it’s a launderette that almost thinks it’s a scooter!

Cheap beer, raffle, singer and bingo on a Wednesday afternoon.

Amazing and great atmosphere with friendly service staff and atmosphere, love it, real nice people

Facebook

Russell Davies Flickr

Keeler Productions has taken over Locking Road Car Park, opposite Tesco, and The Regent Restaurant, in Regent Street, to film a BBC period series The Trial of Christine Keeler, based on the Profumo Affair in the 1960s.

Weston Mercury

Enough of all that period drama, let’s have a look at some period architecture.

Madeira Court – 67 flats built in 1988.

Weekly Social Activities include – coffee mornings, card evenings and occasional days out, organised by social club. New residents accepted from sixty years of age, both cats and dogs generally accepted.

I can find no reference for this dalle de verre stained glass window.

Boulevard United Reformed Church – Waterloo Street

Architects Gordon W. Jackson and Partners 1959

Constructed on part of the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema, the Odeon Theatre was opened on 25th May 1935 with Jack Buchanan in Brewster’s Millions. Built as one of the original Odeon Theatres in the then emerging Oscar Deutsch Odeon Theatres circuit, it was built on a prime corner street position in this sea-side town and was the first of several Odeon Theatre’s to be designed by architect Cecil T Howitt.

The Odeon was Grade II Listed on 21st August 1986.

Cinema Treasures

The Weston-super-Mare Odeon was built by C Bryant & Son Ltd of Birmingham on the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema. It opened on 25 May 1935, at which time it was described in the souvenir programme as ‘modernity at its best’, with seating accommodation that was ‘luxurious and spaced to give ample room for true comfort’.

A short walk along the prom snapping shelters and the sheltered – no two the same.

I then chanced to fall into a Beer Festival and bad company – the rest is a blur, see you all tomorrow there’s some cycling to be done.

Night night.

Southend to Clacton

Day three Wednesday 3rd September – leaving Southend under a cloud.

The huge slab of the Civic Centre shrouded in sea mist.

Designed by borough architect – PF Burridge.

Queen Mum Opens Civic Centre – It took a while to get there, since 1958 when the council agreed to embark on a quest to build a new home for itself;  but on 31st October 1967 HRH the Queen Mother did the honours and formally opened the spanking new Civic Centre.  During its build Southend was classed as being in the top ten in the country for full employment, due to this workers were hard to come by and bus loads of workers were brought in to complete this and the many other projects shooting up along Victoria Avenue at the same time. 

Cllr Beryl Scholfield commented later on the day – The Queen Mother opened the Civic Centre in 1967, when my husband was chairman of the town hall committee, and we had lunch with her at Porters.  We were presented to her when she came in. There were no more than about 30 of us there.  It was a most exciting day.

She was as natural as you see her on the television.

Postscript 2002

A Union Jack lowered to half-mast in tribute to the Queen Mum has been stolen from Southend’s Civic Centre. A council spokeswoman today denounced the theft as – a despicable act at a time of great sadness and national mourning.

The outrage has caused extra sadness for royalist residents in the town because of the Queen Mother’s special place in the history of the Civic Centre.

The Leda and the Swan statue by Lucette Cartwright, which used to be in the Civic Centre atrium, gets a polish in May 1987.

A bronze statue depicting a mythological rape has finally found a new home at the mayor of Southend’s official residence. The controversial statue of Leda and the Swan was specially commissioned by Southend Council in the Sixties and first stood outside the courthouse in Victoria Avenue.

Later it was moved to the Civic Square and then to the courtyard of the Palace Theatre, in Westcliff. Later, it was moved to the Civic Centre when it caused outrage among staff. Workers claimed the statue, representing the rape of Leda by the Greek god Zeus disguised as a swan, glorified rape as an art form.

Last week, the statue was removed from the Civic Centre and is now at the mayor’s residence, Porters, in Southend.

Rob Tinlin, Southend Council’s chief executive and town clerk said – The statue of Leda and the Swan was located at the Civic Centre until a suitable location was found. The statue is permanently on display in the garden of the mayor’s residence, Porters in Southchurch Road.

It is in an appropriately landscaped area next to the pond.

Photo Phil Parsons

Misty eyed I missed the sculptural fountain – William Mitchell I presume?

Said farewell to Neptunes unilluminating assorted fish.

Heading out of town past noisy scenes of quiet despair, no more fancy goods, no more confectionary – shake that.

Heading inland, away from the wibbly wobbly estuarine coast of higgledy piggledy Essex, through freshly mown pasture and solitary haywains.

This is Constable country:

Like many artists practising at the time, Constable used sketches as source material for fully worked-up compositions. He did not find the production of finished paintings easy, which probably contributed to his late recognition by the art establishment.

V&A

Passing by solitary bus shelters, patiently awaiting passengers.

Waterworks works in the palatial neo-classical manner, with a restrained nod to incipient Art Deco.

Encountering the occasional leafy lane.

I eventually found myself on the outskirts of Colchester, outside St Theresa Of Lisieux .

A striking pre-cast concrete frame design of 1971, with a dramatic and well-lit interior, lively modulation of wall surfaces and some furnishings and artworks of note.

Architect – JH Dabrowski 

The entrance façade has a large gable and projecting entrance canopy, above which is a bronze statue of the Risen Christ, by local artist Tita Madden – 1977

This is a large modern church, built with a pre-cast concrete frame with a crossover roof beam system, allowing for dramatic internal effects. Within the bays created by the frame, the walling is mostly brick, with some pre-cast concrete panels, and large areas of glazing. Concrete is also used for the window mullions and surrounds. Each bay has the brickwork slightly angled or faceted, giving the design a great sense of movement and liveliness, both inside and out.

Taking Stock

Struggling to go around a Straight Road.

£240,000 will get you an Art Deco maisonette in Vint Crescent from Wowhaus:

This one is a ground floor apartment, which has undergone a complete refurbishment, but with one on keeping those period features to the fore – period features such as original radiators and those distinctive windows and doors are intact, rubbing shoulders with some new, high-end finishes like oak floors and updated kitchen and bathroom.

Foolishly I became more than somewhat lost and on making enquiries concerning my whereabouts and destination, I was met with gently derisive laughter. Therefore, I bypassed Colchester, took the wrong route along a mainly main road and ended up much too quickly in Clacton.

Home to several shops to let, as we shall subsequently see.

Also home to a fabulous concrete frieze on the exterior wall of the library.

Quickly ensconced in my bijou digs – I hit the town to take a look around.

I was staying right opposite this here boozer – a little too early for a pint, I’ll pop back in a bit.

Seaside shelter in a faux vernacular manner, calm seas ‘neath an azure sky – perfect.

Artifice and authenticity the sunbathing citizens sit beside an inflatable pool – perched above the sea on the pier.

Clacton Pier, which opened on 27 July 1871 was officially the first building erected in the then-new resort of Clacton-on-Sea. A wooden structure 160 yards in length and 4 yards wide, the pier served as a landing point for goods and passengers, a docking point for steamships operated by the Woolwich Steam Packet Company, and a popular spot for promenading. By 1893, Clacton had become such a popular destination for day trippers that the pier was lengthened to 1180 ft (360m) and entertainment facilities, including a pavilion and a waiting room, were added to accommodate them.

Wikipedia

The pier seems to have changed hands several times, as is the way with such things, subjected to fires, storms and pestilence – yet still prevails.

Key attractions include Stella’s Revenge – a family Galaxi rollercoaster. Formerly operated at Barry Island Pleasure Park as Galaxy, and later Viper.

Pause to consider the prospect of magical fun, fun, fun.

Let’s return to dry land, where we find certain signs of decline in these uncertain times.

Hope springs eternal in the Arcade hairdressers.

We place our trust in the tried and tested condiments of this most sceptered of isles.

Life goes on at the Linen Shop – yet another Profil/Stymie gem!

A limited choice is widely available from the far from extensive menu, though mushrooms do come with princely, premium price tag attached.

Another long day closes with a well deserved pint – God bless the Old Lifeboat House and all who sail in her.

Night night.

St Christopher RC – Ashton under Lyne

Lees Road Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 8BA

Architect: Francis A. Kerr 1955

A post-war design consisting of an upper church over a lower hall, the prominent campanile making it something of a local landmark. The portal frame construction, materials and design are standard for the time. The interior has been reordered but retains some original furnishings. 

A new post-war parish was created to serve the growing residential area in Hurst Cross, previously served from St Anne’s, Ashton. Fr Kelly built the new church, whose foundation stone was blessed by Bishop Marshall on 5 June 1954.  The first Mass was held on Easter Monday, 1955. 

The church is conventionally orientated with the sanctuary to the east. Less conventionally, it is a two-storey building, with a ground floor parish hall and a first floor church. The church is reached from Lees Road by a reinforced concrete bridge and steps. A brick campanile marks the southwest corner. The structure of the portal-framed building is expressed externally by raking brick buttresses to side elevations.  The west gable end is faced in aggregate panels with a concrete relief depicting St Christopher over a plain three-bay flat-roofed portico.  The aisles are faced in ceramic tiled panels to the upper level with render to the parish hall level. The nave is lit by three-light clerestory windows with smaller windows to the aisles. The shallow-pitched roof is laid with mineral felt.  A two-storey block containing a large sacristy connects to the contemporary presbytery.

Inside, the six-bay upper church has a plain west gallery above a narthex with glazed screen. The aisles have arcades of square brick piers and plain plastered walls. The clerestory windows are leaded with coloured glass margins. The ceiling is lined with acoustic panels and the concrete floor is laid with carpet or linoleum tiles. The reordered sanctuary retains the original polished concrete altar in a forward position; the 1950s altar rails and pulpit have been removed. The east wall is now hung with wallpaper, but was originally fair-faced brick; the Crucifix and painted timber high altar canopy are part of the original arrangement.  The side chapels also retain original 1950s polished concrete altars. The octagonal font with oak cover dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, of unknown provenance. The hardwood pews were designed for the church.

Taking Stock

I have known this church for some fifty years – living just up the road.

It was probably along with St Mary’s Denton my first experiences of Modern Architecture.

I went to the youth club in the social area beneath the church.

St Mary

It is typical of the Italianate styling of the time, a functional mix of glass brick and concrete, far from ostentatious – and sitting comfortably in its setting.

On the day of my visit the country is in lockdown, Mass suspended and the body of the church used as a homeless shelter, prior to rehousing – signs of the times.

Holy Angels – Hale Barns

The magnum opus of the architect Arthur Farebrother, who was a parishioner. The church is executed in monumental style and has a powerful and little-altered interior which owes a debt to Dom Paul Bellott’s design for the Benedictine Abbey of Quarr, Isle of Wight.

The parish was formed in 1958 and fundraising for building a church started almost immediately. The church was designed by Arthur Farebrother, a parishioner, and the contractors were Browns of Wilmslow, a craft firm with a high reputation particularly for woodwork and carving. The building was finally opened in 1964.

Holy Angels is a building of great presence, of pale brick executed in free early Gothic style with Romanesque overtones. It has a powerful pylon-like west tower, transeptal chapel, attached southwest baptistery with a conical copper-clad roof, and a plain presbytery attached on the north side. The interior is dominated by the powerful brick arches which continue into the ceiling as vaulting. Narrow processional aisles and ambulatory. The north side confessionals are framed by a timber surround. Elevated forward altar with choir seating around in an arc. The simple modern furnishings are probably original.

Taking Stock

I was in search of All Saints just along the way in Hale Road, but came upon Holy Angles looming large on the corner.

A commanding essay in pale brick, though referencing architecture of the Middle Ages, it has a transitional modernity in its angular Arts and Crafts details.

All Saints Church – Hale Barns

Hale Rd Hale Barns Altrincham WA15 8SP

As Hale Barns grew in the 1950s and 1960s it was clear that the small daughter church was less than adequate in terms of size and facilities, and under the leadership of the Rev Fred Cox, the then Vicar, a new church was planned for the site. Designed by Brian Brunskill, All Saints Church was consecrated in 1967.

Outside it can seem a rather stark building, of brown brick, set back from the busy Hale Road but inside it is full of light and space.  The influence has clearly been that of the French architect Le Corbusier, and there is a wonderful interplay of curved and straight walling.  At first there was no stained glass, but in the early 1980s glass by the Japanese artist Sumiko was installed in the north windows.  This includes a stylised tree-of-life design. In the baptistry there is some Victorian glass brought from St Mary’s Church.

In 2009 a radical and daring re-ordering of the building was completed. The church was carpeted and new furniture of high quality, designed and made by Treske, woodcarvers  of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, was installed.  The tree-of-life design in the 1980s glass has been echoed in the glass inserts to the Lectern and High Altar and also in the metal uprights of the Altar Rail.  All the fittings are moveable, giving a flexible space.  This flexibility give opportunities to explore how the building itself can enrich worship at different seasons of the Church’s year. 

All Saints

My first time in Hale Barns – hence my first visit to All Saints.

Small in scale, but large in ambition – a wonderful exercise in the calm controlled use of brick, rich in small details, along with an expressive mix of warm curves within a rigid grid.

Of particular note is the sculptural concrete bell tower, the exterior use of pebbles in the porch which flow into the interior space, along with a discrete palette of grey tiling.

It demands to be circumnavigated – fresh surprises await around each turn, simple hard landscaping of flags, softer restrained planting and open areas of lawn, so very well tended.

Let’s take a look around.

Here are some images of the reworked interior taken from the All Saints gallery.

St Mary’s RC Church Denton – Again

I’ve visited before and posted a post previously.

That’s no reason not to pay another visit, especially on a sunny lockdown day – so here we are again on Duke Street.

All masses suspended, life on hold – let’s take a look around:

Coventry Cathedral

On the night of 14 November 1940, the city of Coventry was devastated by bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe. The Cathedral burned with the city, having been hit by several incendiary devices.

The decision to rebuild the cathedral was taken the morning after its destruction. Rebuilding would not be an act of defiance, but rather a sign of faith, trust and hope for the future of the world. It was the vision of the Provost at the time, Richard Howard, which led the people of Coventry away from feelings of bitterness and hatred. This has led to the cathedral’s Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation, which has provided spiritual and practical support, in areas of conflict throughout the world.

Her Majesty the Queen laid the foundation stone on 23 March 1956 and the building was consecrated on 25 May 1962, in her presence. The ruins remain hallowed ground and together the two create one living Cathedral.

Ralph Beyer carving the foundation stone for Coventry Cathedral.

© Historic England Archive, John Laing Photographic Collection.

Coventry Cathderal

The new Cathedral was itself an inspiration to many fine artists of the post-war era. The architect, Sir Basil Spence, commissioned work from Graham Sutherland, John Piper, Ralph Beyer, John Hutton, Jacob Epstein, Elisabeth Frink and others – most still to reach the peak of their artistic careers.

St. Michael and the Devil on the southern end of the east wall. It was sculpted by Sir Jacob Epstein, who, sadly, died in 1959, and therefore didn’t live to see his masterpiece mounted on the cathedral wall a year later.

Entrance to the cathedral is through the Screen of Saints and Angels – it is seventy feet high and forty five feet wide and is supported by a bronze framework hung by wires from the roof for added strength.

This unique screen formed part of Sir Basil Spence’s first vision for the new cathedral. As he stared out from the ruins of the bombed cathedral, he saw the shape for the new church through a screen of saints. This transparent wall would link the old and new – making each mutually visible from within each other. Provost Howard set out to draw up a scheme consisting of all the saints who were responsible for the bringing of Christianity to Britain. As John Hutton began to make initial designs, he soon realised that row upon row of saints would need to be broken up in some way, and suggested that angels be inserted between the saints.

The eighty one foot high Baptistery Window containing a total of one hundred and ninety five lights of stained glass in bright primary colours designed by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens, with the Stone of Bethlehem for a font just in front. Each individual window contains an abstract design, but the overall effect is breathtaking. Basil Spence himself designed the stone containing the glass.

Study for the the seventy two foot high tapestry designed by Graham Sutherland – collection of The Herbert Art Gallery

The great tapestry was another example of a re-think in design. Basil Spence’s original intention was to depict the Crucifixion but Provost Howard suggested that the subject be Christ in Majesty and from there on, this idea prevailed

Altar cross and crown of thorns by Geoffrey Clarke, large ceramic candlesticks by Hans Coper.

Chairs by Russell Hodgson and Leigh.

The Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane is approached by following the aisle from the Baptistery window towards the altar which is at the north end. The mosaic depicts the Angel of Agony by Steven Sykes and becomes more impressive when seen from a distance through the wrought iron crown of thorns designed by Basil Spence.

A short passageway takes you through to the Chapel of Christ the Servant – also known as the Chapel of Industry due to the view of Coventry workplaces from its narrow windows. 

Monumental inscriptions to walls and floor by Ralph Beyer

Stained glass to aisle walls by Lawrence Lee, Geoffrey Clarke and Keith New.

At the far end of the aisle, opposite the Baptistery Window is the Chapel of Unity, with its detailed mosaic floor, donated by the people of Sweden, representing the nations of the world and lit by shafts of light from the narrow stained glass windows around the circumference of the star shaped chapel. 

This design was Basil Spence’s vision of a chapel representing the star which began the story of Christ – from the outside it appears shaped similarly to a Crusader’s tent.

The chapel is intended for prayer by all denominations, not just Anglican, and for this reason was purposely built with no view of the great altar. 

Historic Coventry

Church of The Latter Day Saints – Stockport

Bramhall Lane Stockport SK3 8SA

Built 1961-1963 – architects Ivan Johnston & Partners of Liverpool.

The proposed modernistic architecture of the building, caused some qualms among members of Stockport’s Planning and Development Committee, which was still discussing the plans early in 1962, but in the end it was built much as the architect had intended.

A 70ft. spire on Bramhall-lane Davenport, will be a new landmark in Stockport next year when the no-labour-cost £41,000 chapel of the Mormons – The Church of Latter-Day Saints, from America – is expected to be complete. The Stockport branch of 150 members will fund over £8000 of the cost and will provide food, shelter and pocket money for volunteer builders from all over the country. 

Text and archive image Davenport Station

A striking A Line addition to the Stockport skyline – its steeply pitched roof punctuated by prominent triangular bays, and partnered with a prominent remote tower of wood and steel.

The front elevation is of concrete, constructed with panels of a rough grey aggregate.

Take a walk around, there have been some additions of single storey ante rooms.

This remains a simple, confident and assured building.

I had gone along today as a blood donor – so granted access to the splendid, elevating well-lit interior.

The front portion of the main body is given over to worship, furnished with light wood pews, altar and panelling.

The suspended lighting groups are of particular note.

St Saviour’s Church – Bradford

St Saviours 25 Ings Way Bradford BD8 0LU

What a delight – the stunning surprise that awaits you, around one particular suburban corner of Bradford.

I had called ahead, to arrange the visit – the Reverend Dorothy Stewart had gracefully invited me to join members of the community and herself, one wild and windy Wednesday.

Steel frame and shuttered concrete with dark red brick walls in stretcher bond, and slate roofs.

Church of 1966 with attached hall of 1971, both designed by architect George Pace. Characterised by asymmetric arrangement of roofs, exposed structure and juxtaposition of materials, this is a complete and largely unaltered example of Pace’s work. The asphalt roof and windows are in very poor condition. Repair works to the roof were carried out in 2016 with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s former Grants for Places of Worship scheme.

Listed November 2007

The exterior is stark and angular, the body of the church is a broad rectangle with no division between nave and chancel, with a bell tower to the east, vestries to the north-west and a chapel to the west. At the western end is the church hall, added in 1971. Externally a single asymmetric roof covers the main body of the church, rising at the east end to form a mono-pitch section over the altar area and incorporating the bell tower. There is a porch at the east end of the north side, and a transept with a double pitch roof. To the west is a single storey, flat roof section with an entrance to the north, extending to the transept. West of the main body of the church on the south side is a separate roof, housing a chapel. To the west is the church hall, with a north-south asymmetric roof. All the windows are rectangular, of varying sizes, with plain glass in rectangular leaded lights. Lintels over the doors and the parapet of the flat roofed block are of shuttered concrete, as are the window surrounds.

The body of the church contains Victorian stripped oak bench pews derived from St John’s church in Little Horton, arranged with a central aisle. To the north side is a range of contemporary pews in wood with vertical slatted fronts, in front of the organ, recovered from St. Chrysostom’s Bradford , by Driver and Haigh of Bradford, which is housed in the transept with a matching front of vertical wooden slats.

Let’s take a look.

To the rear is the cylindrical font in white concrete with a wooden lid, set on a raised platform. Suspended above it is a large light fitting in black metal, inscribed around the edges with the words: “This font is erected by relatives and parishioners in memory of/ Beatrice May Parkin, for over forty years a Sunday School teacher and/ worker for St Saviour’s Church, who died 2nd March 1961”.

There is no separate chancel, and the finishes throughout are exposed brick, shuttered concrete and limed oak. The sanctuary area is in the south-east corner and consists of a tall angled purple brick reredos, topped with concrete, and a lower detached, angled purple brick pillar to each side each holding a shelf and incorporating a wooden seat. In front of the central reredos is an integral wooden bench with three backs, and a large black metal cross in the same style as those on the exterior but with more elaboration, fixed to the floor on a raised concrete block. To the fore is the altar table on a low raised platform. The whole is enclosed within an altar rail of iron and wood, open to the centre.

The main roof has exposed wooden trusses supported on concrete pillars and beams, with rafters and purlins also exposed creating a latticework pattern.

The whole interior order is orderly, calm and coherent, a simple consistency of materials and architectural intent.

The solid wood, studded chapel door has the words “I am the Good Shepherd” engraved on it. The chapel has exposed beams and rafters, and an altar to the north with iron and wood altar rail in front. Pews are as in the church. There is a mosaic plaque behind the altar which came from St John’s church in Little Horton.

Beyond to the west is the narthex, with shuttered concrete ceilings pierced by circular skylights, exposed brick walls and doors to the chapel, service rooms and hall. 

Such a pleasure to visit such an enchanting church – it was a precious privilege to be welcomed by the congregation, warden and Reverend Dorothy.

Once again – many sincere thanks.

See also: William Temple Church of St Mark’s and St Mark’s Broomhill

The Avenue Methodist Church – Sale

Wincham Road Sale M33 4PL

Wandering Washway Road on a windy wash-day with local lad Bill Mather, I was lead down the Avenue in search of a Methodist Church.

I was ill-prepared to meet such a suburban ecclesiastical behemoth, a giant of a building – It opened in 1963, and was designed by Halliday and Agate.

My thanks to Matthew Steele of Sacred Suburbs for this information.

They were also responsible for the Ordsall Secondary School and designs for Battersea Power Station.

The Avenue Church is no less monumental – a steel, brick and glass octagon with attached single storey hall – set in a shimmering sea of grass and tarmacadam.

The interior is open and light illuminated on four sides by large plain glass windows, broken up by a vertically unchallenged grid.

Artificial lighting is provided by suspended groups of lamps.

The seating a mix of plain wooden pews and portable chairs.

The altar a simple statement of panels and cross.

Treat yourself to a walk down the Avenue – take a look around.

St Anthony and Our Lady of Mercy – Hull

667 Beverley Rd Hull HU6 7JL

Set back from Beverley Road – we just about found this delightful Modernist gem. Tucked in amongst student accommodation and approximate to the Endsleigh College.

It was well worth the circuitous bust journey from the Interchange to St Anthony and Our Lady of Mercy

The church built in 1965 is fan-shaped in plan. Concrete portal frame with yellow brick infill. Shallow-pitched sheet metal clad roof. The main rear wall is flat and blind, with a parapet, and extends across the building at full height. From this wall the main body of the church radiates, three facetted bays to either side, with a saw tooth eaves line, then a projecting square block which houses the narthex and west gallery. The saw tooth eaves continue just above the entrance block to complete the fan shape. Attached to the other side of the main wall are the low, square projections of the side chapels and sacristies and a concrete framed bell tower with shallow pitched roof. The entrance block is clad is artificial stone, has a wide, glazed screen with central doors and a thin flat canopy. 

We had arrived some twenty five strong as part of Manchester Modernist’s Hull Mooch – we were very warmly welcomed and left more than satisfied by the riches both within and without.

My thanks to Deacon Rev. Robert Shakesby

Above this an inset panel of decorative mosaic by Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd of Manchester -the firm ceased trading in 1965. The facetted elevations have large glazed areas set in a bold concrete grid of mullions and transoms, tripartite in the centre with a border of smaller divisions. The bell tower is placed in the centre of the east wall and has a port cullis-like bell-opening facing west.

The mosaic is surrounded by decorative abstract panels in light relief

Let’s take a look inside.

The interior is a light and spacious essentially single cell, with the shallow canted projection of the sanctuary – top lit by a row of seven small circular skylights, the low side chapels and the organ gallery. The concrete portal frame provides a dramatic grid radiating from the centre of the east wall. Sanctuary fittings in contrasting marbles, by Toffolo & Son of Hull, designed as a piece. Similar marble altar in the northeast side chapel. The chapels have subtle shallow-pitched arches. West gallery also with circular skylights. Organ pipes at either end arranged within a striking double-curve enclosure, like a grand piano in plan. Open-backed pews and original light fittings. Stained glass by Leo Earley of Earley & Co. of Dublin. Stations of the Cross, wooden relief panels set within integral frames, somewhat stark.

Thanks to Taking Stock for the facts.

Holy Cross Church – Gleadless Valley Sheffield

Spotswood Mount, Sheffield S14 1LG

Constructed between 1964 and 1965 and designed by the architects Braddock & Martin-Smith.

Completed in 1936 John Keble Church in Edgware was also designed by DF Martin Smith 1900-84.

Martin Smith later went into partnership with Henry Braddock and together designed St. Mary’s church in Crawley. 

Holy Cross is positioned in a spectacular position among the houses on the Rollestone hillside.

Holy Cross is a church for people of all ages and stages of life.

Apart from the warm welcome at Holy Cross, you will always find something that is relevant to your age and stage in life – however old you are and whatever walk of life you come from.

Built to serve the Gleadless Valley Estate perched high above the Sheffield city centre.

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.

Vidimus

The concrete altar is set on a raised paved podium, complemented by a silver cross and distinctive Arts and Crafts style oak chairs.

The original seating seems to be no longer in use, replaced by a newer more comfortable alternative.

There is a large carved stone font.

The main body of the steeply pitched roof space is illuminated by slotted windows.

Many thanks to the key holders and parishioners at Holy Cross, our Sheffield guide Mick Nott and Claire Thornley at Eleven Design – for making our visit possible.

Thanks also to all those who turned up on Saturday to walk a very, very wet Gleadless Valley.

St Stephen RC – Droylsden

Chappell Road Droylsden Manchester M43

One fine sunny Monday morning I set out cycling to Ashton-under-Lyne to buy an enamel pie dish. Almost inevitably I was pushed and pulled in a variety of unforeseen directions, incautiously distracted and diverted serendipitously – towards Droylsden.

Idly pedalling down Greenside Lane looking this way and that I was drawn magnetically to a pitched roof tower, towering over the red brick semis. Rounding the corner I discovered the delightful St Stephen’s RC church, stood high and proud on a grassy corner, glowing golden in the March sunlight.

I leaned my bike against the presbytery wall and with the kindly bidding of a passing parishioner, I went inside. 

Thanks to Father Tierney for his time and permission to snap the interior. It was a calm space, the large open volume side lit by high octagonal honeycomb modular windows. The elegant plain pitched concrete gambrel roof beams a simple engineered solution.

The church and attached presbytery were built from designs by Greenhalgh & Williams in 1958-9, the church being consecrated on 12 May 1960. A reordering took place, probably in the 1960s or 70s, when the altar rails were removed and the altar moved forward. Probably at the same time, the font was brought into the church from the baptistery.

Taking Stock

The altar and apse beautifully restrained in colour form and choice of materials. The design and detailing on the pews so warm and understated.

I was loathe to leave.

The exterior does not disappoint, the repetition of modular window shapes, the integration of doors, brick and mixed stone facing.This is a building of elegant grandeur, well proportioned, happily at home in its setting.

I suggest you set out there soon.

St Mary’s RC Church – Denton

Duke Street Denton Manchester M34 2AN

I remember you being built.

I remember our visit with the Manchester Modernists in 2015 – arranged by Angela Connelly and Matthew Steele of Sacred Suburbs

I popped by to see you yesterday – a truly remarkable structure set amongst the terraced housing of an unremarkable street.

The foundation stone for the present building laid by Bishop Beck in August 1962. He returned to bless and open the church on 25 June 1963. The new church was built from designs by Walter Stirrup & Sons – job architect Kevin Houghton, at a cost of about £60,000. The church is notable for its dalle de verre glass, by Carl Edwards of Whitefriars.

The church is a very striking and characterful building with a hyperbolic paraboloid roof rising in peaks on four sides, with clerestory lighting in the angles, that on the west side jutting out to form a canopy over the entrance. It was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘wildly expressionist’.

Taking Stock

I suggest that you do the same and pop by to see St Mary – Our Lady of Sorrows soon.