The Ark Royal – Harpurhey

Lathbury Road Harpurhey M9 5SY

Looks to me as though the pub was launched in the 1960’s along with the surrounding houses and shops.

In 1910 Lathbury Road looked like this.

In 1968 the area was part of the Manchester slum clearance programme.

Photo: Tommy Brooks

The real Ark Royal was built by Cammel Laird at Birkenhead, completed in November 1938.

Torpedoed and subsequently sunk on 10th November 1941.

The pub closed in 2007 – here it is in 1992.

Photo: Alan Winfield

Another great looking estate pub that was on the same estate as the Hipp which it was also fairly close to.


There was the usual two rooms inside, I had a drink in the bar room which was quite busy on my Friday afternoon visit, there was also a more comfortable lounge.


The pub was a Robinsons tied house, there were two real ales on, I had a drink of Robinsons Bitter which was a nice drink, there was also Robinsons Mild on.


Another pub that was was well pleased to do.

Never Ending Pub Crawl

Here its is in 2007.

Photo: Mikey

The pub currently trades as the Pathfinder Church.

We are committed to the growth and development of individual, our local and international communities. In the interim may I use this medium to invite you to be part of the move of God in our church, the Pathfinder.

The Lord bless your richly as you navigate through in Jesus name.

Sainsbury’s Stockport

Warren Street Stockport, north of Lancashire Bridge beside the Mersey – seen here in the 1920s a mix of retail, dwellings and industry as was most of the town centre.

The river was culverted and covered as it passed through in 1936

The Merseyway Shopping Centre was completed and opened in 1965 – architects Bernard Engle and Partners

A later extension followed along Warren Street.

The Sainsbury’s building can be seen beside the river – opened 29th October 1985

The branch closed in January 2021 – the Asda is still open.

Store Images – Sainsbury’s Archive

Plans to build hundreds of new homes – including a 15-storey tower block – on a vacant Sainsbury’s site in Stockport town centre are set to get the go-ahead.

Proposals that would bring more than 500 flats and 34 townhouses to the three-acre plot, in Warren Street, are set to go before the council’s planning committee next Thursday night. The 573 homes would be spread across a trio of buildings – rising in height  from five to 15 storeys. Two of these would  also have space for a range of potential uses, ranging from shops and cafes to gyms and creches.

Manchester World

Martin Halsey, operations director at Amstone Ventures, added:

We can see that Stockport has untapped demand for quality homes within its town centre, offering a vibrant lifestyle and everything Stockport town centre has to offer, all on the doorstep.”

Took a look around the site before it’s no longer possible to look around the site.

Peter House – Manchester

Currently trading as Spaces.

Take in all the best that Manchester’s creative scene has to offer and let your imagination go wild.

In 1807 you really had to use your imagination to discover the creative scene.

The site was home to the Prince’s Theatre:

Constructed by Metcalf and Waterson at a cost of £20,000, and designed by the architect Edward Salomons. The Theatre, which had seating for 1,590, opened with a production of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ on Saturday, October the 15th 1864, under the management of Charles Calvert.

Arthur Lloyd

Sadly the Prince’s Theatre was closed in April 1940 when it was sold to ABC Cinemas who planned to build a new Cinema complex on the site, the Theatre was subsequently demolished but because of the war – the new Cinema was never built

It was replaced by Rediffusion House – later Peter House architects Ansell & Bailey.

Topped out in 1957 with a pint of Chester’s Mild.

Peter House gracefully hugs the curve of Oxford Street as it leads into St. Peter’s Square. This was one of the earliest commercial buildings to be completed post-war, which demonstrates the slow economic recovery of the region. Built on a site that had been bombed, the Portland stone seemed to marry with the material narrative established by JW Beaumont and LC Howitt in their buildings of the 1950’s and following earlier interwar commercial buildings. This scheme has more panache than the rather serious facades of the Student Union building or the Law Courts though.

The stepped massing and the articulation of the wings of the building preclude the accepted commercial norm of developing to the edge of the site and instead promote a satisfying formal interplay between the six and eleven storey elements. The building has been sensitively modified despite a lack of any listed status and remains commercially viable as offices and as retail. The continued success may be attributed to the air of quality afforded by the stone, certainly it has ensured the longevity, particularly when one considers the fate that befell the easement hugging concrete of Elizabeth House – Cruickshank & Seward, 1971 across the road; it was demolished in 2012.

Mainstream Modern

Rediffusion was the first independent commercial TV franchisee, in 1956 Associated-Rediffusion struck a very lucrative deal with Granada Television, the franchise holder for weekday broadcasts in the North of England.

The company offered a low-bandwidth cable TV and radio distribution system, provided in most United Kingdom towns. Selection of TV or radio station was by means of a rotary switch, usually mounted on a wall or window frame close to the point of entry of the cable into the home.

The Rediffusion retail chain, renting and servicing TVs, radios, VCRs and hi-fi systems, was common on high streets until it was bought by Granada Rentals in 1984.

The days of the monolithic mono-culture of the sole occupant are in decline – we live in the age of the co-working space and homes of multi-use creative scene.

Peter House prevails a pale white Portland Stone embodiment of different days and different ways.

Let’s take a walk around.

As a footnote – once in the shadow of Peter House, Tommy Ducks was demolished overnight.

Apparently, its supporters managed to arrange a preservation order for the building but, according to the excellent Pubs of Manchester website, that order expired at midnight on February 12, 1993, and the pub was literally reduced to rubble before anyone could seek a renewal on February 13th.

Glasgow Central Signal Box

Situated at the junction of Salkeld Street and Cook Street

Glasgow Central Signalling Centre, located in the vee of Bridge Street Junction, opened on 2 January 1961. It replaced signal boxes at Central Station, Bridge Street Junction, Eglinton Street Junction and Eglinton Street Station. When initially opened it was capable of handling 1,000 routes.

Glasgow Central Signalling Centre closed on 27 December 2008, when its area of control was transferred to the new West of Scotland Signalling Centre – WSSC at Cowlairs. The NX panel is to be preserved. The station is currently signalled by two Westinghouse Westlock Interlockings which are controlled via an Alstom MCS control system.

Wikipedia

Swinton Square – Shopping Centre

Opened in 1966 along with the slightly later Lancastrian Hall and Library, the Swinton Square shopping precinct provided an integrated modern setting for shopping, living, learning and entertainment.

The late 60s and early 70s was a time of general prosperity – and the hard landscaping offered a soft option for the local folk.

This was the age of the Precinct, celebrated nationally with postcard after postcard.

My local haunt in Ashton under Lyne.

Local traders and national chains rubbed shoulders.

There was even a Job Centre opening- there was even a wide range of vacancies.

Following a challenging year, the letting reinforces Swinton Square as a pillar in the local community. Whilst retail has been heavily affected throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, footfall at the scheme has remained buoyant, with shoppers staying local, favouring the convenience and independent retailers of Swinton Square. Renovations began on the site of the new, temporary job centre at the beginning of the year and is due to be completed in May. The centre is expected to boost footfall and support for local, independent businesses.

Avison Young

Despite Swinton’s many strengths, it faces similar challenges to other towns. The shopping centre and other buildings in the town centre are dated and in need of investment. Demand for local housing has grown by 23% in the last five years, but there is a lack of high-quality family and affordable housing in the right locations in the area.

The vision is just the first step of the journey, the next is to appoint a developer partner who can take this vision and help shape it, through ongoing consultation and engagement with the community, into a framework and plan for Swinton that will guide future investment.  

Salford Gov UK

The road to Swinton is paved with good intentions – rather than gold.

Sadly I was too late for August’s Dino Crazy Golf.

Bonny Street Police Station – Blackpool 2022

I have been outside several times in 2016 again in 2020 – never inside.

Let’s take a look:

Photos – Blackpool Gazette

So whilst in town for a stroll I strolled by once again, the main block now tagged and tinned up.

Whilst the Courts are still in use, until they make their move in 2025, stasis seems to be the order of the day.

There are no signs as yet of the proposed redevelopment of the site.

Some day maybe

Councillors have approved a compulsory purchase order to complete the land assembly for the £300m Blackpool Central project but still hope to negotiate terms with property owners.

Blackpool Council’s executive unanimously agreed the recommendation towards enabling the Central Car Park to be transformed into a leisure destination boasting a flying theatre, virtual reality rides, a thrill and gaming zone, multi-media exhibition space and themed dining areas.

Lancs Live

Let’s veer off the promenade and assess the situation.

Lancastrian Hall & Central Library – Swinton

Completed in 1969 to designs by Leach Rhodes and Walker in collaboration with the Borough Engineer John Whittaker

Constructed at the tail end of the Sixties – the last gasp of Municipal Modernism in the Borough, providing education, edification and entertainment for the local population.

The fountain is gone, the building is closed – the party’s over.

The Fast Cars are history – well they were history, until I was told that they are still speeding along!

A council has spent £348,000 on a masterplan for a town centre that the public has never seen.

Consultants have been used to come up with ideas to regenerate Swinton in Salford.

The town centre is dominated by the imposing Lancastrian Hall, opened in 1969, with an adjoining shopping mall.

The hall housed a council library and was used for civic and community meetings, wedding receptions and election counts.

But it has been closed since 2015 after the library moved to the new Gateway Building on the other side of Chorley Road.

Manchester Evening News

So this magical structure of stairways, undercrofts, elevated walks and majestic concrete clad volumes is under threat.

Swinton and the Lancastrian Hall deserve much better.

Over 550 people took part in the recent visioning work, and we are grateful for their time and valuable contributions.

An overwhelming majority of those who shared their views saw Swinton as a good place to live and bring up a family – somewhere friendly, with a strong sense of community.

People valued their local green spaces, but strongly felt that there needed to be more investment in the town centre, and a plan to tackle empty buildings and shops.

Overall, people felt that Swinton needed to be a more vibrant place, with more going on – and more reasons for people to visit and spend their leisure time there.

The Swinton Vision

This is an opportunity to create tomorrow’s local centre, but that does rely on removing the Lancastrian Hall, rethinking the shopping centre, and repurposing the Civic Centre and the spaces around it. 

Another Brick In The Wall – Leeds

Here we are at the Stan and Audrey Burton Gallery – an exhibition with a Pink Floyd-ish hue.

Curiously brick-ish, for work largely concerning concrete.

Did they not know the Madcap Syd wrote See Emily Play down the road at the now demolished Leeds College of Technology?

A fact I discovered whilst researching my Leeds Walk.

Myself I would have gone with – Borrow Somebody’s Dreams ’til Tomorrow.

For here we have an exposition of the architecture of three Universities, exploring the possibilities of a new age.

An age typified by the expansion of minds and opportunities in higher education, rendered corporeal in glass, steel and concrete – with some concession to the use of brick.

Basil Spence at the University of Sussex

Denys Lasdun at the University of East Anglia.

And Chamberlin, Powell and Bon at University of Leeds.

I was minded of the political context to these campuses, radicalised by the events of the late Sixties and early Seventies.

Myself a student at Portsmouth Polytechnic during these heady days, where several Maoist, Marxist-Leninist, Stalinist and Trotskyite factions played out ideological debate and display, against these Modernist backdrops.

Epitomised by the Hornsey School of Art sit-in.

On the day of my visit to the Leeds campus, I saw three students stood behind a hardboard paste table, selling the Socialist Worker.

Along with staff building support for the following day’s UCU strike.

So to the exhibition – Another Brick In The Wall at the Stan and Audrey Burton Gallery until Saturday 25th March.

Photographer Simon Phipps shines a contemporary light on the innovative designs of this period. He has produced new work of a variety of campuses, including the University of Leeds, exclusively for the exhibition. 

Alongside these contemporary photographs, the exhibition displays archival material from the Universities of Leeds, Sussex and East Anglia.

Rarely seen material from the Arup archive is also exhibited.

Let’s take a look at a topic from a bygone age that seems to come of age – there’s never been a better time to be Brutal!

Go and take a look, we really do need education – and exhibitions.

Ambulance HQ – Glasgow

48 Milton Street and Maitland Street Glasgow G4 0LR

Scottish Ambulance Headquarters on Maitland Street and the adjoining St Andrew’s House with it’s entrance on 48 Milton Street. Designed by Skinner, Bailey & Lubetkin in the late 1960s. Originally two linked buildings, they now act independently with St Andrew’s House occupied by St Andrew’s first aid and the Headquarters next door currently lying vacant April 2011.

Berthold Lubetkin in top hat beside caryatid at the entrance to Highpoint Two – North Hill Highgate London.

ribapix

One of the only two buildings in Scotland designed by this architectural practice with Lubetkin acting as a consultant. Lubetkin is one of the outstanding figures of pre-war British architecture – penguin pool, London zoo & Highpoint Flats, London. Lubetkin designed the main cross of the north elevation and the main staircase, Bailey was the lead architect on this project. Both buildings are A listed.

Architecture Glasgow

By the mid 1960s, Lubetkin was based at his farm in Gloucestershire, Skinner in London and Bailey in Glasgow. Bailey asked Lubetkin to work out the design of the main staircase and parts of the principal elevation, notably the large cross. Lubetkin’s staircases are particularly spectacular and the St Andrew’s one is no exception. Allan notes that the Lubetkin leitmotif was the controlled collision of straight and curved geometry and this would appear to be exemplified here in the triangular plan geometric staircase which ends in a gentle curve at the ground floor. It is possible that Lubetkin may have influenced the vertical timber panelling in the boardroom. While that in the main hall is smooth and varnished, the boardroom has been sandblasted to present a weathered appearance. At Highpoint Two Lubetkin designed the interior and furniture for the penthouse flat with walls of vertical roughened sand-blasted pine panelling.

Historic Environment Scotland

ribapix

Acorn Property Group has applied to Glasgow City Council for permission to convert the Maitland Street property.

The developers want to repair and refurbish the building, at Cowcaddens, before offering managed workspaces.

Glasgow World

This is a walk around the street view of the building during my first visit to Glasgow in April 2022 – there was no evidence of any redevelopment work taking place.

Chorley Walk

I arrived at Chorley Railway Station.

The current railway station is a modern version from the 1980s that was built on top of the original station. The level of the old platforms can be seen under the existing station’s two platforms which are connected by underpass. The initial station was opened on 22 December 1841 by the Bolton and Preston Railway – which later became part of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and was subsequently served by the Lancashire Union Railway between St Helens, Wigan North Western and Blackburn from 1869.

Passenger trains over this route between Blackburn & Wigan were however withdrawn in January 1960. Further work was done in 2016 and 2017 in connection with the electrification of the line between Euxton Junction and Manchester.

Wikipedia

Crossed over to the Interchange – which was formerly a humble bus station, opened in February 2003 replacing the previous structure.

Across the way a stand of shops with distinctive faience fascias.

Further along the Shepherds’ Victoria Hall – once home to the Jubilee of the Ancient Order of Shepherds’ Friendly Society which was quite prominent in Chorley in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s

Down the way a ways a Baptist Chapel of 1845 on Chapel Street – currently trading as Malcolm’s Musicland.

Next door the Chorley Town Cafe with some excellent stained glass.

Hang a sharp right to the Market – where there is this newish piece of public art Pattern of Life a bronze relief by Diane Gorvin and mosaic work by Tracey Cartledge

This piece involves an innovative combination of cast bronze and ceramic mosaic. Two bronze relief panels display female figures holding out rolls of fabric, each decorated with patterns and images that are particular to the town of Chorley. Payphones, for example were invented and manufactured in Chorley, the crested newt is protected here and you might also notice the famous Chorley Cakes. As the fabrics tumble down, the designs are translated from bronze relief on the wall surface into 2D mosaic in the pavement.

Looking down Fazakerley Street to where Fine Fare once was.

We’ll return to such matters in a moment – we have to get to the Post Office – which is no longer a Post Office.

Architect Charles Wilkinson.

It was a Post Office in 1935 – it also has a later extension.

The local list declares that the post office dates from 1935. This is almost certainly erroneous since the contract documents date from 1924, and from contract to completion the average construction and fitting-out time was about 18 months.

British Post Office Buildings

Happily, the Library is still a library.

Plans supplied by the Architects Messrs. Cheers & Smith of Blackburn which were approved by the Education Committee on the 18th August 1904design proposals for the new Technical School entitled Light and Air.

The considerable task of erecting the school was given to the local builder Mr. William Hampson of Pall Mall.

Surely the envy of his trade, the total contract was worth a mouth- watering £10,041 15s. 9d. – approx. £720,000 today.

The building was officially opened by the 16th Earl of Derby on September 24th 1906.

Chorley History Society

Heading to the Council Offices.

Over the road the town’s newest retail development Market Walk – the work of AEW Architects.

Chorley Council bought the shopping centre from Orchard Street Investments for £23m in 2013 and commenced a large-scale regeneration scheme in 2018 involving a £15m, 79,000 sq ft retail and leisure extension led by main contractor Eric Wright Group and designed by AEW Architects. Here, Conrad Heald of Chorley Council tells his interviewer, AEW director Phil Hepworth, how the scheme came to fruition and has rejuvenated the town centre.

Place North West

The memorial re-sited in 2018 commemorates the Chorley Pals.

In less than 20 minutes, 235 of the 720 men from the 11th East Lancs. were killed. Another 350 were wounded, of which 17 would eventually succumb to their wounds. Many of the Battalion died where they fell, in No Man’s Land.

As a result of the attack on the morning of the 1st July, the Chorley Pals – Y Company, had 31 men killed and three died within a month of their wounds received on that day. 21 have no known graves and their names are transcribed on the Thiepval memorial to the Missing on the Somme battlefield. A further 59 were wounded, making a total of 93 casualties out of approximately 175 men from Chorley who went over the top that morning.

Landscaping of the public realm by CW Studio.

Reversing now to the former Barclays Bank – which closed earlier in 2022.

We return now to the former Fine Fare.

The company began as one single supermarket in Welwyn Garden City in 1951, as an offshoot of the Welwyn Department Store, owned by Howardsgate Holdings, the company of Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the garden city movement.

Wikipedia

Now here’s a thing a bank which is a bank NatWest not gone west.

Next to the former Woolworths, opened in Chorley in 1930 on Market Street, with its pale Deco faience fascia.

They traded from this building for sixty five years, before closing in March 1995 in order to move to a new store on Market Walk – it became an Argos, then it didn’t.

Woolies Buildings

Here we are now at a Post Office that is a Post Office but was an RBS Bank.

The new location is at the former Royal Bank of Scotland on Market Street in the town centre.

Since the Post Office that was based at WH Smith on New Market Street came to an end, when that store closed in January, it relocated to a temporary unit in Market Walk until a permanent solution could be found.

The unit, which had been provided by the postmaster from Burscough Bridge Post Office, closed on Tuesday.

Kenny Lamont, Post Office Network Provision Manager, said a Post Office is important to a community.

Lancashire Post

This had been a Methodist Church – then, it became the HQ of the Lancashire Electric Power Company.

The Lancashire Electric Power Company was one of the largest private electricity companies in the UK. It was established in 1900 and generated and supplied electricity to 1,200 squares miles of Lancashire from 1905 until its abolition under nationalisation in 1948.

Wikipedia

Time to back track to the Cop Shop – the work of County Architect Roger Booth and crew.

The Magistrates’ Courts are closed and up for sale.

Next door the White Hart once upon a time the Snooty Fox, a pub with an up and down trajectory – currently open and described online as plush.

Down the road a pub no longer a pub but an Urban Spa.

We offer you a full range of professional treatments tailored to your own personal needs. We treat every client as an individual and offer an extensive range of treatments and professional products making your visit one to remember.

Let’s go to the theatre – The Empire tucked away at the back of town.

The Empire Electric Theatre opened, as the town’s first purpose-built cinema, on 3rd September 1910. In 1912 Archie Hooley began his connection with the cinema business at the Empire Electric Theatre. By 1927 it had been re-named Empire Cinema and by 1930 it was equipped with a Western Electricsound system and was operated by the Perfecto Filmograph Co. Ltd. By 1939 it was operated by the Snape & Ward chain. According to the Kine Year Books, in 1940 the seating was for 800, while by 1952 it had been reduced to 679 – still a far cry from today’s 236 seats. 3D films were shown in the early-1950’s. Archie had died in 1944; his son Selwyn closed the cinema in 1957, apparently “because of the taxes”.

1959

Wrestling took over for a while before Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society – CADOS acquired the building and renamed it the Chorley Little Theatre. Since 1960 CADOS have been putting on high-quality productions, presenting at least six productions per season – from September to July. It is also the home of the award-winning Chorley Youth Theatre who meet every Saturday, putting on shows throughout the year; and Chorley Empire Community Cinema who present the cinema experience on their 21ft wide screen with 8-Speaker Surround Sound. Run entirely by volunteers the theatre has state-of-the-art sound systems and a full range of lighting equipment. There are two spacious dressing rooms, space for costumes and props and the Empire Bar. The building has disabled access throughout the public area, including a toilet, and the auditorium is fitted with a hearing loop. There are three spaces for wheelchairs in the auditorium. It was re-named Chorley Empire Cinema at Chorley Theatre in October 2019 and films are still part of the programming.

Cinema Treasures

Spare a thought for the town’s lost cinemas:

The Odeon Market Street was built for and operated by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain, it opened on 21st February 1938 with Jack Buchanan in The Sky’s the Limit.

Architect Harry Weedon was assisted by PJ Price.

It was closed by the Rank Organisation on 6th February 1971 with George Lazenby in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. After laying closed and un-used for over two years it was sold to an independent bingo operator and re-opened on 9th August 1973 as a Tudor Bingo Club. It later became a Gala Bingo Club which was renamed Buzz Bingo Club in June 2018. It was closed on March 21, 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. On 15th July 2020 it was announced that the closure would be permanent.

The building was handed over to Chorley Council who decided that asbestos removal would be too costly and the building was demolished in August 2021.

Located on Salisbury Street, off Cunliffe Street, built in 1888 as a military warehouse, it was converted into a roller skating rink around 1909. It opened as the Pavilion Picture Palace on 14th September 1911, operated by George Testo Sante, a music hall strong man, who also operated the Grand Theatre as a cinema. By 1915, music hall acts were also part of the programme. After the end of World War I, the flat floor of the cinema was raked, allowing for better viewing of the screen. The proscenium was 30ft wide, the stage was 16 feet deep and there were two dressing rooms.

The Pavilion Cinema was the first in town to screen ‘talkies, when an Electrochord sound system was installed in 1929. It was taken over by the J.F. Emery Circuit in 1932 and they operated it until the end of 1933. The sound system was upgraded to a British Talking Pictures sound system. In 1954 it was the first cinema in town to be fitted with CinemaScope and the proscenium was widened to 36 feet.

The Pavilion Cinema was closed by 1962 and converted into a bingo club. In 1972 it was re-opened as a cinema again, but due to Star Cinemas chain barring it from showing first run features – they operated the Plaza Cinema, it was closed after 5 months of operation. It was later demolished and the area was redeveloped for housing.

Cinema Treasures

No trace of The Hippodrome Theatre on Gillibrand Street, which was built and opened in 1909, or the Theatre Royal, opened on 30th September 1911, It was demolished in 1959.

A supermarket was built on the site which later became a McDonalds, which is now a Pizza Hut.

Last but not least – located on the Flat Iron Parade, aka Cattle Market, The Grand Theatre was a wooden building built in 1885, which presented melodramas and plays. In June 1909 it was taken over by George Testo Santo, who had been a music hall strongman, and his family. It went over to operating as a Picture Palace for a short season.

By 1914 it was operating as a full time cinema, but was destroyed by fire in 1914.

Chorley Theatre Cinema History Map

This was a splendid day out – there is much more to see, these have been some of the less obvious landmarks.

Go see for y’self!

Chorley Police Station and Magistrates’ Court

St Thomas’s Road Chorley PR7 1RZ

The police station and magistrates’ court at Chorley was designed to replace a building from 1896 – a weights and measures plaque from the original building was retained and remounted at the foot of the new building.

The two buildings were set adjacent one another and around a newly formed square with one side made up of the rear of the existing town hall. This small civic group was intended to relate to one another in scale, but was markedly contrasting in its material make-up.

County Architect’s Report: 1963-64.

The design team was Roger Booth, Lancashire County Architect; C.A. Spivey, Assistant County Architect; D.B. Stephenson, Design Architect; and D.G. Edwards, A.G. Gass, responsible for the detailed design and construction. The seven-storey in-situ concrete framed main block was the last bespoke police station to be built in Lancashire, following this the department developed a systemised concrete construction method which was deployed across the county. The dramatic cantilevers gave the new building a stature and presence that signalled authority. The lower levels were accessed by ramps and provided space for police vehicles. To enter the police station one ascended a set of external stairs across a pool that once contained koi carp – fittingly, one boy described the new building as a ‘fishtank’ upon its completion. The magistrates’ court was finished externally in a grey brick and carried the signature pyramid rooflights that were synonymous with the Department.

Many thanks to Richard at Mainstream Modern

This is one of many Roger Booth police stations I have visited – Bonny Street Blackpool under threat, Bury long gone and the extant variant in Morecambe

The Magistrates’ Court is up for sale:

Coun Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, confirmed that the council had enquired to take ownership of the building but that this was knocked back.

He said: We’ve enquired about taking the building on but the owners, the Ministry of Justice, has said they want to take it to market.

Lancashire Post

The building is being advertised as a potential site for a future office, residential, restaurant and bar, leisure, entertainment, and hotel.

Asked about its future, Chorley councillor Aaron Beaver told Lancs Live he had heard no news of developments but desperately wanted to see something happen with the building, he said:

It’s a perfect location. There’s lots of things it could be used for. 

If you were to knock it down, there’s all sorts of things which could be built there. If you were to convert it to something like flats, it could be tricky because there’s not many windows.

Commenting on the progress of the sale since it’s closure, he added:

I wouldn’t say it’s slow moving, I’d say it’s not moving.

Lancs Live

We eagerly await any possible developments.

Whilst walking around the adjoining Police Station.

St John The Baptist RC – Rochdale 2022

I was last here in 2020 – made ever so welcome in this Byzantine cathedral like church.

The apsed sanctuary is completely covered in a mosaic scheme with the theme Eternal Life designed by Eric Newton. Newton was born Eric Oppenheimer, later changing his surname by deed poll to his mother’s maiden name. He was the grandson of Ludwig Oppenheimer, a German Jew who was sent to Manchester to improve his English and then married a Scottish girl and converted to Christianity. In 1865 he set up a mosaic workshop, (Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd, Blackburn St, Old Trafford, Manchester) after spending a year studying the mosaic process in Venice. Newton had joined the family company as a mosaic craftsman in 1914 and he is known to have studied early Byzantine mosaics in Venice, Ravenna and Rome. He later also became art critic for the Manchester Guardian and a broadcaster on ‘The Critics’. Newton started the scheme in 1932 and took over a year to complete it at a cost of £4,000. It had previously been thought that he used Italian craftsmen, but historic photographs from the 1930s published in the Daily Herald show Oppenheimer mosaics being cut and assembled by a Manchester workforce of men and women. It is likely, therefore, that the craftsmen working on St John the Baptist were British.

Historic England

There had, as ever, been issues with the structure, water ingress and such, given several flat roofs and a temperamental ferro-concrete dome.

Happily, a successful Lottery Heritage Fund grant has covered the cost of two phases of repair to the physical fabric.

Thanks to the Parish Team, for once again making us all feel so welcome, and thanks also for their efforts in securing the finances which have made the restoration possible.

We were all issued with our hard hats and hi-vis at the comprehensive and informative introductory talks.

Followed by a detailed explanation of the mosaic work being undertaken by Gary and his team from the Mosaic Restoration Company.

This involves skilfully cleaning the whole work, whilst repairing and replacing any damaged areas.

We were then privileged to ascend the vast scaffold, the better to inspect the work up close and personal.

And this is what we saw.

Many thanks again to our hosts, the contractors and all those involved with this spectacular undertaking.

Althea McNish – Whitworth

Oxford Rd Manchester M15 6ER

Recently opened and on for a while, I was here first thing Saturday morning – here are the details of Colour is Mine.

Althea McNish was the first Caribbean designer to achieve international recognition and one of the most influential and innovative textile designers in the UK. Drawing on extensive new research, this exhibition explores McNish’s extraordinary career and her transformative impact on mid-century design, along with her enduring influence today. Highlights include items from McNish’s recently uncovered personal archive – much of which has never been seen before. Also on display will be examples of McNish’s original designs alongside her most celebrated textile and wallpapers.

Althea McNish: Colour is Mine is a touring exhibition from the William Morris Gallery, London, and has been curated by Rowan Bain, Principal Curator at the William Morris Gallery and Rose Sinclair, Lecturer in Design Education at Goldsmiths, University of London. Althea McNish: Colour Is Mine is part of a three-year research, exhibition and archiving project generously supported by the Society of Antiquaries through its Janet Arnold Award.

An extensive biography can be found here.

Her work collided with new technologies in printing and fabrics, along with developments in design which were very much of their time: a freer more expressive approach to drawing and colour – using observational drawing from natural forms and geometric pattern

Typically employing the techniques of wax resist and a wandering Indian ink line.

Her work for the leading manufacturing and retail companies extended across fabric and dress design, wallpaper and accessories.

I urge you to go and see it – several times, the show is so wide ranging and joyous, a fitting testament to a creative life well-lived.

Seaside Shelters – Colwyn Bay

Here I go again – just like Archie Bell minus the Drells.

Here I go again, thinking with my heart

But every time I see ya, I keep running back for more

April and October 2019 walking from Rhos to Colwyn.

Pandemics come and almost go – as do seaside shelters it seems.

The shelters of 1860 are quite literally a thing of the past.

Thye have become host to Niall McDiarmid‘s snaps of local business folk – the project developed when local residents raised concerns about the appearance of the shelters on the promenade.

Cllr Roger Parry said

The shelters are nearing the end of their lifespan and these sections of the prom will be upgraded as part of the waterfront project.

In the meantime, State of Independents will make great use of the shelters; celebrating our hardworking local businesses and hopefully encouraging footfall from the promenade to our high streets.

The last of the Rhos on Sea shelters is a dangerous customer suitably secured.

There remains two exemplars of the typology located at the Colwyn end of the bay.

The second shelter lacks the pierced concrete blocks.

So work progresses on the coastal defences, the promenade is refashioned after a fashion in the fashion of the day.

There is no longer a place for these unique exemplars of Municipal Modernism.

Before the work began, the promenade was a tired, uninviting and underused public space. Poorly lit and often host to anti-social behaviour, the uneven surfacing and crumbling shelters were the results of years of patchwork repairs.

The project has transformed the area into a public space which the local community can take pride in and make use of all year round.

ice.org.uk

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted

On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore

Is there, is there balm in Gilead?

Tell me, tell me, I implore

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Middleton Walk

Middleton has not the gloom of so many South Lancashire towns its size. It benefits from its position close to the hills, but it has also the advantage of a large medieval church on a hill and of a number of buildings by one of England’s most original architects of the period around 1900.

Nikolaus Pevsner – The Buildings of England

He refers to Edgar Wood 1860-1935

He was the most advanced English architect of his generation, stylistically moving through through art nouveau, vernacular, expressionist and finally art deco phases a decade or more before other designers. He became England’s uncontested pioneer of flat roofed modern buildings. He worked more like an artist than an architect, designing buildings, furniture, stained glass, sculpture, metal and plaster work.  His buildings are mostly clustered in the towns of Middleton, Rochdale, Oldham, Huddersfield and Hale.  Influenced by the writings of William Morris, he saw himself as an artisan serving the people of these localities.

We begin our tour at the Queen’s Jubilee Free Library of 1889 located on Long Street.

Sixty-seven sets of designs for the proposed free library at Middleton were received by the Corporation of that borough in response to their advertisement; and a joint committee comprising of six members of the Corporation and six non-members has awarded the premium to Mr Lawrence Booth, architect of this city.

Curiously, we encounter an anchor.

Around 10pm that evening when weather conditions deteriorated to near hurricane-force gales, with the Sirene making little headway despite tacking.

Losing her helm, her sails in tatters and within sight of the Great Orme, the gales drove her back through the night towards the Lancashire coast. Eventually, and with great difficulty, Captain Gjertsen and his crew managed to manoeuvre the stricken vessel between the Central and North Piers. Becoming increasingly unmanageable, and swept in by the rushing tide and gale force winds, the Sirene looked a doomed vessel. She was helpless in the close shore currents, and unable to drop anchor she was at the mercy of the waves. She was carried alongside the North Pier, tearing off a section of the pier superstructure and part of her own keel.

Thousands of people lined the Promenade to witness the spectacle as she came in on the south side of the pier; many more stood on the pier itself, but there was a mad rush for safety when the ship collided against the structure.

Heritage Blackpool

The captain and crew survived, including the ship’s cat, many offers were made for the cat, but the captain refused them.

Onwards through Jubilee Park opened in 1889 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

In 1906 Alderman Thomas Broadbent Wood commissioned his son, Edgar, to design a flight of steps to lead up to a contemplation spot in the park – the inscription reads:

Who works not for his fellows starves his soul.

His thoughts grow poor and dwindle and his heart grudges each beat, as misers do a dole.

Nearby we find a memorial to the Middleton Flood – following torrential rain, the canal embankment at Mills Hill broke, flooding the already swollen River Irk, subsequently deluging the town.

Up the hill to Grade 1 Listed Parish Church of St Leonard.

Much of the present building was erected in 1412 by Thomas Langley – born in Middleton in 1363, who was Bishop of Durham and Lord Chancellor of England. He re-used the Norman doorway from an earlier structure to create the tower arch. Also distinctive in this region is the weather-boarded top stage to the tower.

The church of St Leonard was enlarged in 1524 by Sir Richard Assheton, in celebration of the knighthood granted to him by Henry VIII of England for his part in the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The Flodden Window, in the sanctuary, is thought to be the oldest war memorial in the UK. It commemorates on it the names of the Middleton archers who fought at Flodden. The church also has one of the finest collections of monumental brasses in the north of England, including the only brass in the UK depicting an English Civil War officer in full armour, Major-General Ralph Assheton.  

George Pace designed a war memorial and, in 1958, added a choir vestry and installed new lighting.

Wikipedia

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Middleton Old Cemetery once the Thornham and Middleton Burial Ground, which became the local authority cemetery in 1862.

Retrace to the Library – adjacent is the Parish School 1842

Across the road the Old Boar’s Head

Part of the timber framing to the right of the front door has recently been tree-ring dated and confirms a building date of 1622. The first tenant was Isaac Walkden, son of Middleton schoolmaster, Robert Walkden. Isaac died during a typhus epidemic in the summer of 1623. His will, preserved at Lancashire Archives, includes an inventory of all his possessions listed on a room by room basis. There were a total of 9 beds and 20 chairs or stools in the 6 rooms. This, together with barrels, brewing vessels, pots, glasses, etc, strongly suggest the building was an inn. The Walkden family went on to run the Boar’s Head until the end of the 17th century. They also farmed nearby land including what is now Jubilee library and park.

In 1888, the fledgling Middleton Corporation purchased the building from the church with the intention of demolishing it to build a town hall. Discussions were held in 1914 but, thankfully, the plan was abandoned due to an outcry from the public spearheaded by architect Edgar Wood.

Down the road is Wood’s Methodist Church and School Rooms 1897.

Tucked away is the Durnford Street Clinic.

Further down Long Street to the Assheton Arms Hotel.

Then around the corner to the Manchester & Salford Bank again by Edgar Wood

Next door the former Market Place Bank latterly RBS.

Plans to convert a long-vacant town centre bank into a nightclub have been revived despite previously being rejected over anti-social behaviour concerns.

An application to change the use of the former Royal Bank of Scotland, in Middleton, was refused by Rochdale council’s planning committee eighteen months ago, with members citing a history of alcohol-fuelled trouble in the area.

Rochdale Online

Further up Market Place the faience fronted Bricklayers Arms formerly a Bents and Gartsides boozer – delicensed in 2012 and Converted to a takeaway.

Moving along Wood’s much altered Guardian Buildings 1889.

The Guardian Buildings, were commissioned by Fred Bagot, the proprietor of the Middleton Guardian newspaper and a man with a reputation at the time for keeping a tight control of finances. In consequence, Guardian Buildings were one of Edgar Wood’s low budget buildings, of which there are several in and around Middleton. The building housed the operations of the newspaper with the cellar containing the printing machines and the tall ground floor housing a shop, office and more machines. The whole of the first floor, with its pair of oriel windows, was taken up by the composing room.

Time has not been kind to the Grade II Listed United Reformed Church 1860.

28 Days Later

It fell into disrepair after the church moved to smaller premises in Alkrington in the 1960s.

The building collapsed in July 2012, when it was hit by a fire.

On Townley Street Lodge Mill built in1839 beside the River Irk battling on despite recent setbacks.

In August 2019, Martin Cove and Paula Hickey opened a small ice cream shop on the ground floor of the mill – named the Ice Cream Shop at Lodge – selling locally-made ice cream from Birch Farm, Heywood.

Across the way the magnificent Sub Station and Electrical Department Offices.

Then taking a turn around the banks of the Irk down Sharp Street onto Lance Corporal Joel Halliwell VC Way, where we find the Middleton ArenaBDP 2009

Then over the road to Oldham Road and Grade II Listed Warwick Mill 1907 G. Stott of J. Stott and Sons.

The mill recently changed ownership and new owner, Kam Lei Fong (UK) Ltd, has been working with Rochdale Borough Council over the past nine months on proposals to redevelop the site.

The plans will form the cornerstone of a new masterplan for Middleton town centre focusing on delivering new homes, business space, highway and environmental improvements, new walking and cycle routes to pave the way for the planned extension of the Metrolink into Middleton Town Centre.

The Business Desk

In 2005, the new Middleton Bus Station was opened – Jefferson Sheard Architects.

The station, with 13 stands, cost £4.5 million and replaced the previous station which dated to the 1970s.

The Middleton Arndale Centre commenced trading in 1971, although it was officially opened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent in March 1972.

Once home to The Breadman designed by Rochdale’s town artist of the time, Michael Dames.

Photo: Local Image Collection – Touchstones

Now trading as the Middleton Shopping Centre

The brick reliefs illustrating the town’s history are by Fred Evans of Dunstable, who completed the work in one week during May 1972 using a high powered sandblasting blaster.

Thanks to Phil Machen for the top tip.

At the centre of the public domain the Middleton Moonraker 2001 by Terry Eaton

According to folklore, the legend has several different interpretations. One version is that a traveller came upon a drunken yokel trying to rake a reflection of the moon in a village pond, convinced it was cheese.

This version conveys the notion that the men were drunk and acting foolishly.

However, an alternative narrative – and perceived to be the most reliable version – tells a different story and dates back to the time when smuggling was a significant industry in rural England.

It appears that many residents wish to rid themselves of the Moon Raker moniker and presumably become Middletonians.

There’s so much more to Middleton’s history than the Moonraker. Why did they spend all that money on a fairytale?

There were 3,000 Lancaster bombers built in Middleton during World War Two, a magnificent contribution to the effort to beat Hitler.

The bulbs inside the moon which light it up at night haven’t worked for five years.

Bernard Wynne

Along Long Street the Cooperative store what was – next door the long gone Palace Cinema demolished in 2001.

More Edgar Wood – three shops 1908.

Tim RushtonMiddleton Gateway

Middleton celebrates its history and rightly so – now is the time to take stock and plan for the future.

More green space, public transport, pedestrians and cyclists prioritised to meet the Green Agenda.

Mixed development for housing, retail and leisure in the town centre.

Take some time to explore and dream.

View the Masterplan click here

For more information on Edgar Wood click here

School of Art & Design – Wolverhampton

Ring Rd Wolverhampton WV1 1SA

The Municipal School of Art and Crafts officially opened on 21st June, 1885.

In May 1950 the School of Art and Crafts became Wolverhampton College of Art.

Its aims were to maintain and develop the closest possible relations with industry, collaborate with employers to develop new training courses, and to maintain a high level of achievement in the fine arts.

In 1963 the college began running its first degree-level course in the form of a Diploma in Art and Design. Three years later the college had a new Principal, Robin Plummer who oversaw the building of a new college alongside Ring Road St Peters. Work on the new site began in the summer of 1967, and by early 1969 the new building had appeared. 

Architects: Diamond Redfern and Partners with A Chapman Borough Architect

The first degree show was held there on 12th June, 1969 and the first full academic year started in September 1969. The building was officially opened by an ex student, Sir Charles Wheeler on 23rd October, 1970.

Wolverhampton College of Art merged with Wolverhampton College of Technology to form The Polytechnic Wolverhampton – which was founded on 1st September 1969.

History Website

A group of interested parties visited the College, as part of a photographic walk lead by Black Country Type aka Tom Hicks with the cooperation of the School of Art, organised by the Modernist Society.

Being a product of the Great British Art School Challenge I was delighted to find the college to be in rude health. Floor after floor of well equipped studios and workshops which service the needs of hoards of eager students.

Accessed by raw shuttered concrete stairwells.

As a historically inky individual I was particularly taken with the extensive printmaking facilities.