This time as an interchange, where bus, tram and train converge – the most modern of modern ideas.
The brand-new Ashton-under-Lyne Interchange is now open, providing passengers with much-improved facilities and a modern, accessible gateway to the town.
The Interchange supports the economic growth of the town and helps people to get to and from their places of work as well as Ashton’s great shops, markets, restaurants and bars in a modern, safe and welcoming environment.
The Interchange has been developed by Transport for Greater Manchester in partnership with Tameside Council and funded with support from central government’s Local Growth Deal programme.
The building contractor was VINCI Construction UK.
This building formed part of the later phasing of the proposed Garden Suburb of Wythenshawe. It was intended to house up to 100 double-decker buses but was put to use as a factory for components for Lancaster bombers during the war. It is included here for the functionalist qualities of the building and the acknowledgement of the daring of the City Architects Department. Academic papers, as late as 1952, cited this simple structure as exemplar of its type; Elaine Harwood notes, ‘this was the pioneering example of the means of construction, and the model for larger shells at Bournemouth and Stockwell’. The arches that support the shell have a span of over fifty metres and are spaced at twelve metre intervals. The concrete shell roof is of the short-barrel type commonly used on single span buildings such as hangars, it is uniformly around seventy millimetres thick. The only single span structure larger than this was indeed an aircraft hangar, at Doncaster Airport, demolished around 1990. This building is now in the ownership of an airport parking company that utilise it as vehicle storage; close to its original function.
The Cheshire Lines Committee CLC operated Stockport, Timperley and Altrincham Junction Railway line from Portwood to Skelton Junction, a section of what became the Woodley to Glazebrook line.
It remained a part of the CLC, which was jointly owned from 1923 by the London and North Eastern Railway and the London Midland and Scottish Railway , until 1948 when it became part of the British Railways London Midland Region.
Closed in 1982, following the demise of the Woodhead route; the track was subsequently lifted in 1986.
What remains is a triangular island faced in glazed and blue engineer’s brick, topped out with trees.
I have entertained the idea of accessing the area by ladder, exploring and possibly setting up camp – though I think the proximity to an almost constant flow of traffic, would prove less than commodious.
It evokes for me an elevated affinity with Ballard’s Concrete Island.
He reached the foot of the embankment, and waved with one arm, shouting at the few cars moving along the westbound carriageway. None of the drivers could see him, let alone hear his dry-throated croak, and Maitland stopped, conserving his strength. He tried to climb the embankment, but within a few steps collapsed in a heap on the muddy slope.
So here it is as is complete with tags, signs, cracks and all.
It remains as a monument to those who built and worked on the railway.
I have shuffled and shopped up and down Castle Street for some forty years or so – things have come and things have gone – and continue to do so. High streets have always been subject to so many external forces, they reshape and reform, in rhythm with the times and tides of history.
Horse drawn carriages and trams are long gone, along with the double-decker bus, people powered people rule in a pedestrianised precinct, charity begins at Barnardo’s, the Co-op has been and gone and returned, just up the way.
Two whole chapels, pubs and cinemas seem to have just disappeared.
So let’s take a short trip through time and space along a short strip of Stockport’s past.
On my most recent visit the most distant shelter was receiving a wash and brush up, a brand new coat of paint or two, restored to bright red and white shipshape order, this land locked delight looked ready to set sail across the adjacent Channel to who knows where.
Offering a somewhat occluded view of blue skies and faraway shores, the bus stops here and goes on forever and forever.
The station was originally built as Store Street Station by the Manchester and Birmingham Railway in 1842, before being renamed London Road Station in 1847. It was shared by the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne & Manchester Railway and it has been rebuilt and added to a number of times, with two news spans added to the train shed roof in 1881 and island platforms added linking to Manchester Oxford Road in 1882 (replacing two old Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway platforms which were built next to the station).
An imposing classical façade with a substantial cast iron and glass train shed, the approach sloping up to the frontage, as of necessity the line entered the city on a raised trackbed.
Initially the approach was lined with railway warehousing, subsequently demolished to make way for the redevelopments of the 1960s.
Detailed plans are made to reshape the station concourse and entrance.
Dreams are turned into reality, as near as makes no difference.
The newly electrified lines opening up the city to a world of high speed intercity travel.
The Krays it seems were deemed to be unwelcome visitors, everyone else came and went, met with equanimity and a bright new modernist vista.
The brand new shiny buffet replaces the archaic dining rooms, as Brylcreemed, bow tied and moustachioed waiters are consigned to the scrapheap of history.
Likewise the gloomy destination boards – out with the old!
And in with the new.
We have a fully integrated modern interior to deal with the modern passengers’ every need – including crystal clear signage, seating and bins.
Stars of screen and stage are guided through with consummate ease, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in his brand new baby seal skin coat arrive in 1968 to dance Swan Lake at the Palace.
Esteemed footballer Eusebio on his travels during the 1966 World Cup.
In 1969 Gateway House arrives, Richard Sieffert & Partners wavy hello and goodbye to Manchester’s premier railway station.
Piccadilly has now seen several revamps, the concourse an exercise in contemporary cluttered retail/airport chic, a 125mph Pendolino journey away from the carefully considered internal order of yesteryear.
Who knows what the future holds?
HS2 to name but one – sit back let the train take the strain.