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.


Holy Rosary – Fitton Hill

The first mission in the Fitton Hill, a post-war housing estate, was due to the work of Fr Buckley, an assistant priest at St Patrick’s Oldham. He arranged for the purchase of land in the Fitton Hill area in 1940, before the new housing was built. Once the estate had begun to be developed, Fr Buckley said Mass in an upper room in Maple Mill. The foundation stone of Holy Rosary was laid by Bishop Marshall on 2 October 1954 and the church was officially opened by Mgr Cunningham in July 1955.  The presbytery was built in about 1970. The first campanile blew down and had to be rebuilt.  In 2009, the parishes of Holy Family and Holy Rosary were merged.

Taking Stock told me so and will tell you even more.

Architect: W and JB Ellis who were also responsible for Our Lady of The Assumption in Langley.

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I first passed by one sunny day in April 2016 – happily snapping the exterior of this ever so pleasingly prosaic Italianate brick building.

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Following a cue from pal Tim Rushton, I was alerted to the significant decorative work within.

The mosaic and fresco work of Georg Mayer-Marton – born in Hungary 1897, died in Liverpool 1960 was one of Britain’s very few experts in the art of face or facetted mosaic.


Sadly the fresco is no longer visible – painted over with emulsion when thought to be too tatty – a tiny fragment has been revealed by conservators.


There is currently a campaign to restore and preserve these important works.

The church is now closed, but we were ever so fortunate to have Bernard Madden on hand to open up and show us around, a warm welcoming space once full to overflowing.

Now sadly silent.

We all deserve better.













Hastings – Sea Front Shelters

The very first time I visited Hastings, I was immediately enchanted by the seafront and its enchanting shelters.

Perfectly formed cast concrete poetry, facing the swelling channel.

Offering shade and respite from coastal sun, wind and rain.

Temporary home to some.

Decorated in the finest style.

A short endless walk, sea to the right, back again, to your left.

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Leeds – The Garden Gate

Friday afternoon, clouds gather along a long walk from the Leeds city centre, following an unforgivingly long dual carriageway, not without its hard won charm, we reached the Garden Gate.

A Tetley Heritage pub the most beautiful in Yorkshire, clad in warm glazed ceramics of the highest decorative order, a terrazzo porch and open door welcomes the weary walker.

Ready for a pint?

Leeds Pale Ale £2.60 a pop and a fine drop it is too, why not stay and have another!

The interior arrangement of rooms cluster around a fine tiled bar, linked by corridors, clad in curved wood and large etched windows, lit with the original fittings – all in an intoxicating Nouveau style.

The cellar is lined in heavy glazed white brick and retains its rugby league history with extant showers and physio room, former home of the Garden Gate ARLFC – it says so on the first aid kit.

A thinned bar of green soap rests on the side of the long-dry bath.

The staff and customers were warm, chatty and informative – my thanks for their generous hospitality.

Its worth the walk.

My thanks to Ms. Natalie Ainscough for her cheery company, innate sense of direction and can do attitude.