Shopping Precincts – UK

I was brought up with Sixties’ shopping precincts and centres, they are so very dear to my heart, I spent my teenage years here in AshtonStalybridge, and latterly in Stockport’s Merseyway.

I’ve visited Hanley, Preston, Salford, and Coventry in search of a certain something – that exciting sweeping swoop of concrete, brick, glass and steel. Underpasses with overarching designs and luxurious layouts of leisurely interlocking levels. Each one different in a different way yet essentially similar – embodying a sense of civic pride, a sense of the future realised.

1571 – The Royal Exchange, a trading market in the City of London, is officially opened by Elizabeth I. Above the open-air piazza where dealers buy and sell commodities, there is a two-storey shopping mall, with 100 different kiosks – making it Britain’s first shopping centre.

1964 – It was a monument to provincial pride in reinforced concrete and glass. When the Duke of Edinburgh opened the Birmingham Bull Ring in May 1964, it was the largest indoor shopping centre in Europe, with a total floor area of 23 acres. Inspired by American suburban malls, the Bull Ring promised coatless shopping in an air-conditioned, temperature-controlled hall maintained at late-spring level.

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2017 – Many are now no more, or redeveloped beyond recognition. The integrity of the architecture, street furniture, public art, space and usage a thing of folk memory.

So come with me now on a whirlwind picture postcard tour of this Nation’s saving grace – it’s modernist shopping spaces.

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Aberdeen

barlaston

Barlaston

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Bedford

Bracknell copy

Bracknell

brentwood a

Brentwood

brighton

Brighton

burton

Burton on Trent

butts reading

Butts – Reading

chelmsford

Chelmsford

corby b

Corby

cov

coventry a

coventry

Coventry

cowplain

Cowplain

crawley

Crawley

crewe

Crewe

croydon

Croydon

cwmbran

Cwmbran

dudley

Dudley

elephant and castle

Elephant and Castle

great yarmouth copy

Great Yarmouth

hanley

Hanley

harlow

Harlow

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Hartlepool

Hebburn

Hebburn

immingham

Immingham

irvine

Irvine

leamore

Leamore

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Letchworth

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Leyland

liverpool

Liverpool

mexborough

Mexborough

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MK

MKa

Milton Keynes

nantwich

Nantwich

norris green

Norris Green

plymouth

Plymouth

runcorn

Runcorn

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Sleaford

southampton

Southampton

stockport b

Stockport

swanley

Swanley

telford

Telford

wakefield

Wakefield

walton on thames

Walton on Thames

westway frome

Westway – Frome

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Wolverhampton

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Worksop

 

Coventry – Upper Precinct

Here we are again wandering the pedestrianised precincts of Coventry  – having previously travelled by picture postcard and archival image.

https://modernmooch.com/2016/10/10/coventry-the-precinct/

Back to the future.

Today much of the original footprint and well-built brick, stone, glass and concrete structure prevails, with more recent retro fitted additions.

The Cullen mural has been renovated and re-sited.

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Sadly only one of the neon sculptures, remains illuminated – they may have been listed by Historic England, they have certainly given them a coat of looking at. I myself was approached whilst working away by a crack squad of precinct management, questioning my methods and motives. I reassured them I was a serious student of post-war architecture and they allowed happily to go about my business – assuring me that I was following in the footsteps of HE.

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The elevated café, pierced screenwork, mosaics on the former Locarno, now Library and town clock are still every much in situ, Lady Godiva dutifully appearing on the hour, every hour with an ever attendant Peeping Tom for company.

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The area is well-used bustling busy, with a smattering of empty units which are sadly typical of most provincial town competing for custom and prosperity on the high street.

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