Bolton Walk

Organised by the Twentieth Century Society

Text by Eddy Rhead and David French.

Bolton Town Hall – 1873 was designed by William Hill of Leeds, with Bolton architect George Woodhouse.

The original building was extended in 1938 by Bradshaw Gass & Hope – hereafter BGH.

Le Mans Crescent by BGH 1932-9 well complements the Town Hall extension. Its neo-classical design is assured and confident. Pevsner remarked that:

There is, surprisingly enough, no tiredness, the panache is kept up.

Three arches pierce the Crescent’s centre but today they lead only to a potential development site. One end of the Crescent contains the Art Gallery and Library; the other used to house the former Police Headquarters and Magistrates’ Courts.

George Grenfell Baines, the founder of the Building Design Partnership, was involved in this project when he worked for BGH in the 1930s

The Octagon 1966-67 originally by Geoffrey Brooks, the borough architect, rebuilt 2018-2021. The hexagonal auditorium has apparently been retained. Pevsner states of the former building:

A welcome dose of honest Brutalism.

The Wellsprings successfully fitting with the Town Hall

The former 1931 Cooperative Society Store, on the Oxford Street corner, is by BGH. The entrance has Doric columns in deference to the Town Hall’s Corinthian ones – and Le Mans Crescent uses the Ionic for the same reason.

We pass Paderborn House 1968 -69 Sutton of Birmingham clad in moulded concrete, with Traverine around the entrance.

Former Lloyds Bank on Deangate corner, clad in white faience, looks BGH-ish but it’s not listed in the Lingards’ BGH monograph.

Across the way the unlisted Post Office – complete with listed phone boxes.

Whitakers 1907 by George Crowther.

Pastiche timber-framed with pepper-pot turret.

Incorporates genuine Tudor timbers from a demolished building nearby.

To the north of Deansgate, down Knowsley and Market Streets, is GT Robinson’s 1851-6 Market Hall. The interior is, according to Matthew Hyde: a lucid structure simply revealed.

He contrasts it with Market Place Centre 1980-88 by Chapman Taylor Partners: In that most ephemeral of styles, a jokey Postmodernism.

It does however echo Victoria Hall 1898-1900 BGH.

Chapman Taylor also did the 1980-8 Market Place Shopping Centre. The Market Hall was built over an impressive brick undercroft above the River Croal which has recently been opened up and is a destination.

At the Oxford Street corner, Slater Menswear, above Caffé Nero, has Art Deco white faience upper storeys.  Further down is the imposing Marks & Spencer, faced in dark stone 1965-67.

The mansard roof was added later.

Along Market Street, Clinton Cards is clad in white faience with Art Deco window details.

At the corner of Bridge Street is a charming 1960s clock; the building would not look out of place in Coventry.

Other buildings of interest on Deansgate include Superdrug – with some Art Deco features; Greggs by Ernest Prestwich of Leigh who trained with WE Riley. 

Sally Beauty and the Nationwide – entrance by William Owen of BGH.

The former Preston’s jewellers, on the corner of Bank Street, has terracotta, by Thomas Smith & Sons 1908-13, a prolific local firm. It had a time ball, on the clock tower, which was raised daily at 9am and dropped at 10am, on receipt of a telegraph signal from Greenwich.

The 1909 Bolton Cross, in Dartmoor granite, by BGH replaced an earlier one which is now kept at Bolton School. Churchgate contains the 1636 Ye Olde Man & Scythe; the former coaching inn Swan Hotel, reconstructed in the 1970s to look more genuinely Georgian and Ye Olde Pastie Shoppe 1667. 

Stone Cross House 1991 was built for the Inland Revenue in an aggressively red brick and spiky style. It has a rather desperate chandelier in the foyer. 

The gates of St Peter’s church EG Paley 1871 are framed by Travel House, Newspaper House -1998 and Churchgate House and Huntingdon House 1974.

St Peter’s has a Neo-Gothic font and cover by N Cachemaille-Day 1938. The gates and gate piers may look early C20 but they are late C18.

Samuel Crompton 1753-1827, the inventor of the mule, is buried under the large granite monument, erected in 1861.

At the corner of Silverwell and Institute Streets is WT Gunson & Son’s 1970 Friends Meeting House: decent with a light elevated roof corner.  It has a tilted roof floating on the glazed upper walls.

Scott House has a charming 1926 plaque commemorating Sir James Scott and his wife Lady Anne. Scott started the Provincial Insurance Company.

The two storey offices of Fieldings and Porter are a successful piece of infill by BGH.

Nip around the back to get a glimpse of this cracking stairway.

Silverwell Street 1810 is named after the Silver Well. Bradshaw Gass & Hope now self­-described as Construction Design Consultants, not architects, are at number 19. Note the plaque to JW Wallace, founder of the Eagle Street College, dedicated to the works of the American poet, Walt Whitman. Wallace worked there from 1867 to 1912. The plaque is ringed by a quote from Whitman:

All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it.

Whitman corresponded with his Bolton admirers; the Museum contains early editions of his works and his stuffed canary. 

Further down Silverwell Street is the 1903 Estate Office of the Earl of Bradford who still owns a large area of Bolton.  At the end of Silverwell Street is the former Sun Alliance House, now converted to flats, the colourful panels are a later addition.

Bradshawgate and Silverwell lane corner has a former café bar with original curved Moderne windows. This was originally Vose’s tripe restaurant, later UCP – United Cattle Products. It was most stylish and elegant, decorated in 1930s streamline Moderne style, with starched white tablecloths, silver service and smart waitresses. 

Nelson Square was opened on March 23, 1893. The cenotaph memorial to the Bolton Ar­tillery is by Ormrod, Pomeroy & Foy 1920. Calder Marshall sculpted the statue of Samuel Crompton 1862. The shiny red former Prudential Assurance office 1889 isn’t by Waterhouse but by Ralph B. Maccoll of Bolton. Matthew Hyde in Pevsner describes the early C20 faience facades of Bradshawgate as:

A plateful of mushy pea, ginger nut, liver, tripe and blood orange shades.

Infirmary Street has a 1970s office block with an octagonal, nicely lettered plaque to WF Tillotson, newspaper publisher. Round the corner in Mawdsley Street, the former County Court 1869 TC Sorby, 1869. Opposite, at the corner, is GWBD Partnership’s 1987 St Andrew’s Court, containing a somewhat whimsical recreation of a Victorian shopping street in miniature. The job architect was J Holland. Matthew Hyde says:

Neatly contrived on a tight site. 

Into Exchange Street and through the former Arndale Centre 1971; low and mean according to Pevsner 2004, now re-branded as Crompton Place 1989 Bradshaw, Rose & Harker and still dreary, we go to Victoria Square and the Town Hall. The classical building on the left is the former Bolton Exchange 1824-5 Richard Lane.

The square was pedestrianised in 1969, to the Planning Department’s designs, under RH Ogden. It was quite an early scheme which won three awards including one, unsurprisingly, from the Concrete Society. The fountains  were designed by Geoffrey Brooks and the trees were planted by the Earl of Bradford.

Owen Hatherley in Modern Buildings in Britain says of the town

It feels as if you’re in a real city, like in Europe, and you can drink your cup of tea in repose while admiring the monuments. 

Portsmouth to Bognor Regis

Monday 3rd August 2015 one finds oneself wide wake in the Rydeview Hotel.

Faced with a breakfast best described as indescribable.

I arose and departed, not angry but hungry.

Made my way to the corner of Southsea Common, where once we drank – Tim Rushton and I were often to be found in The Wheelbarrow together.

A boozer no longer, now named for the city’s long gone famous son.

How bad a pub is this? I walk past it to get to my local. Most nights there are six people max in the bar, all huddled around the bar itself, backs to the door. – this often includes the landlord and landlady. They have live music there once in a while and you can’t get served by the one bloke behind the bar – the landlord and landlady never help out, they don’t seem to give a toss.

Beers crap, not worth a visit.

It was never like that in our day.

Visiting our former abode on Shaftesbury Road – where I once dwelt along with Tim, Catherine, Liz and Trish.

Yet more Stymie Bold Italic.

Back to the front for a peer at the pier.

Clarence Pier is an amusement pier located next to Southsea Hoverport. Unlike most seaside piers in the UK, the pier does not extend very far out to sea and instead goes along the coast.

The pier was originally constructed and opened in 1861 by the Prince and Princess of Wales and boasted a regular ferry service to the Isle of Wight. It was damaged by air raids during World War II and was reopened in its current form on 1 June 1961 after being rebuilt by local architects AE Cogswell & Sons and R Lewis Reynish.

Low cloud grey skies and drizzle.

This sizeable two bedroom apartment situated on the seventh floor of the ever popular Fastnet House is offered with no onward chain and the option of a new 999 year lease as well as a share of the freehold. With panoramic views over The Solent towards the Isle Of Wight and Spinnaker Tower, situated in a central location and close to all amenities, this lovely apartment offers luxury living for any prospective buyer. With lift access, the apartment comprises; entrance hallway, a large lounge diner with box bay window boasting stunning sea views across the city and The Solent, master bedroom with built in wardrobes and sea views over The Solent, a spacious second bedroom, fitted kitchen with breakfast bar and a recently updated modern shower room.

On The Market £365,000

We are fully stocked with house coal, smokeless coal, kindling and fire lighters, fire grates, companion sets and fire tools.

Christmas lights have also arrived.

Brockenhurst’s traditional hardware shop since 1926

Ghost garage.

Ghost post.

Coal Exchange Peter and Dawn welcome you to their traditional pub in the heart of Emsworth adjacent to the public car park in South Street and close to the harbour.

Lillywhite Bros Ltd is a family run business established over 60 years ago in Emsworth, which is ideally located between Portsmouth and Chichester. It is currently run by brothers Paul and Mike who continue to keep up with modern techniques and equipment, as well as maintaining their traditional values and high standard of customer service.

Next thing you know I’m in Pagham, having become very lost somewhere between there and here, asking for directions from the newsagents and buying a bottle of Oasis.

The newsagent was mildly amused by lack of map, sense and/or sensibility.

I spent many happy hours here in my youth playing the slots with The King.

We would stay here in Tamarisk with my Aunty Alice and Uncle Arthur and Smudge the cat, an idyllic railway carriage shack two rows back from the pebbled seashore.

We would enjoy a shandy at the King’s Beach with Lydia, Wendy and David.

All gone it seems.

On to Bognor a B&B and a brew – a brief glimpse into my luxury lifestyle.

I’ll take an overcast Monday evening stroll along the prom, where I chanced to meet two landlocked Chinese lads, gazing amazed at the sea – they were on a course in Chichester learning our own particular, peculiar ways.

There was no-one else around.

Who can resit the obvious allure of the novelty item?

Or an Art Deco garage fascia.

Fitzleet House was built in the 1960s architects: Donald Harwin & Partners, it consists of seventy four flats, fifteen of them are in a three-storey block next to the main building.

PS&B are pleased to offer this sixth floor flat which is situated conveniently close to the town centre and within close proximity of the sea front. The accommodation is newly refurnbished and is offered unfurnished with south/west facing lounge with small balcony with far reaching views to the sea. Kitchen and bathroom with shower over bath and one double bedroom. Further benefiting from having modern electric heating and double glazing, telephone entry system, lift to all floors, communal sky dish and white goods. With regret no pets and no children – £685 rental is payable calendar monthly in advance.

For many years, a gentleman called Todd Sweeney collected sunshine statistics from the roof of Fitzleet House, which were then forwarded to the Met Office in London to assist with national statistics, and in 1983 one group of Cubs arranged a special tea party on the roof of the building as part of the national tea-making fortnight.

Bognor Regis Post

Highlight of the day or any day for that matter the Health Centre.

Paul English Conservative Felpham East – asked about the life span of the building given it was built in the 1960s, describing it as ‘incredibly old’.

Mr Clavell-Bate replied – NHS Property Services say it is structurally sound, it has a life expectancy going forward.

Bognor Regis Observer

I was looking forward to going forward Wetherspoon’s – ideologically unsound going forward, with hindsight.

Let’s take a last late night stroll along the promenade.

Night night.

Long Lane Post Office – Heald Green

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190 Wilmslow Rd, Heald Green, Cheadle SK8 3BH

The original Long Lane Post Office is still there but not here:

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However – I digress.

One fine day, some time ago there popped into my consciousness a Sixties retail mosaic in the Heald Green area – I tracked down its precise whereabouts online, in the modern manner.

Thinks – one fine day, just you wait and see I’ll pay a visit to the Heald Green area.

So today I did, it started off fine and finished up less so.

Jumped the 368 from Stockport Bus Station alighted at The Griffin.

Walked aways up the road and there it was, almost intact – it’s original name obliterated with lilac exterior emulsion – did it once read healds?

Why of course it did – the local dairy and retailers were the shop’s original owners.

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A few tesserae are missing otherwise the piece is as was – a wobbly jumble of text, shape and colour.

Self service – at your service.

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Post Box – Chesterfield

Time’s definitely running out:

But the post office has been stolen and the mailbox is locked.

The age of elegant modernist street furniture, has been and almost gone, the previous centuries are under threat.

But does anyone want this neglected postal self-service technology?

Stamp dispensing is being dispensed with, insert 5p and wait forever.

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We have our own disabused facility in Stockport, I pass it almost every day.

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And have posted two previous postal posts – here and there.

This new discovery, with thanks to Sean Madner, is situated on the wall of the sorting office in Chesterfield. A faded Festival of Britain charm along with a delightful terrazzo surround, has done little to arrest its slow decline into redundancy and subsequent neglect.

Still in situ, take a walk, take a look – wait for the coin to drop.

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Stockport – Postal Sorting Office

What happens to functionalist architecture when it ceases to function?

It ceases to function.

Standing on the A6 in the centre of the town, once home to a warren of postal workers, sorting mail in preparation for the two delivery a day walks. This was a communications hub before they even thought of communications hubs.

The office stands empty, inside the paint slowly peels.

Following changes in working practices the posties now sort their own round, for a single daily delivery. The process has become mechanised, requiring new technologies and an appropriate anonymous architecture, on the edge of town.

The building however, continues to reflect a 70s optimism, monumental – fading, as optimism is apt to do.

An exciting composition of curved tiled volumes and boxy glass and steel modernism, in a delightfully battered brown and cream. Now in the ownership of the Greater Manchester Pension fund, its future would seem, to say the least, uncertain. This whole Grand Central site clustered around the railway station has been subject to a series of speculative leisure developments. As in other locations they seem to fade, just as quickly as the boarded hoardings, shrouded in designers’ digital piazza visualisations.

So we stand and stare at each other lovingly,  our heads in a cloud of municipal stasis.

Inside nothing moves.

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Stockport – Post Box

I fall in love too easily
I fall in love too fast
I fall in love too terribly hard
For love to ever last

My heart should be well-schooled
‘Cause I’ve been fooled in the past
But still I fall in love so easily
I fall in love too fast

I fell for you the very first time I saw you – imbedded in the wall of the Postal Sorting Office.

Though now each time I pass by and try my best to look the other way, I’m helpless and hopelessly can’t resist.

But you’re closed – all I can do his stare at your stopped clock.

And wonder what might have been.

It’s twenty three minutes to seven – forever in my heart.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zrSoHgAAWo

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