Once widely admired, Ian Nairn esteemed architectural writer, thought it an exemplary exposition of modern integrated shopping and parking, sitting perfectly in its particular topography – way back in 1972.
This German magazine dedicated several pages to coverage of Merseyway back in 1971.
Note the long lost decorative panels of Adlington Walk.
Many thanks to Sean Madner for these archive images.
Mainstream Modern has recorded its conception and inception, as part of a wider appreciation of Greater Manchester’s architecture.
The architects were Bernard Engle and Partners in conjunction with officers of Stockport Corporation and the centre opened in 1965. The separation of pedestrians and cars, the service areas, the multi level street, the city block that negotiates difficult topography to its advantage, are all planning moves that are of the new, ordered and systemised, second wave modernism in the UK. The aggregate of the highways engineering, the urban planning and the shifting demands of retailers frequently arrived at a form and order such as this. In this way Merseyway is unremarkable, it’s like many other centres in many other towns – consider the rooftop landscape of Blackburn. It is, however, typical and has been typically added to and adjusted during its life and presents perhaps the face of the last retail metamorphosis before the out-of-town really made the grade.
Each successive remaking and remodelling has seriously compromised the integrity of the development. We are left with dog’s dinner of poorly realised Post Modern and Hi-Tech additions, along with a failure to maintain the best of the original scheme.
Commercial building with ground-floor retail units and offices to the upper floors, c1883, by W H Crossland with sculptural work by C E Fucigna. Sandstone ashlar, slate roof, substantial ashlar ridge stacks. C19 Queen Anne style with French influences and classical Greek sculpture. One of the ground-floor shop units was remodelled in 1935 by Sharp and Law of Bradford with Moderne shopfronts and interior fittings.
The cultural and visual collision is immediate – the pairing of Huddersfield’s grand Victorian manner with the latest of European Moderne.
Neaverson’s – purveyors of pottery and glass began life in 1893 in premises on Cross Church Street, before moving to the Grade I-listed Byram Street building in 1935.
Set to the ground floor of bay 4 is a 1935 Moderne shopfront by Sharp and Law of Bradford. The shopfront is of grey and pink/beige marble with unmoulded windows that are curved to eliminate reflection, and has a glazed door set within a recessed porch. Set below the top of the shopfront is a ribbon window with dark tinted glazing and slender vertical and horizontal muntin bars arranged in a geometric pattern. The original metal signage in stylised sans-serif relief lettering reads ‘NEAVERSONS’, ‘pottery’ and ‘four’.
Thought to echo Susie Cooper’s London shop and unswervingly now – the fascia must have been something of a shock to the taciturn Tykes.
This time of year, with limited light and an inclement climate, it’s far easier to travel by picture postcard. Researching and searching eBay to bring you the finest four colour repro pictures of our retail realm.
Cycling back from Town, zig zagging between the A6 and Birchfields Road, I headed down Beresford Road and bumped into a behemoth.
A huge inter-war Whitbread boozer long since closed, now a retail food outlet and badged as the Buhran Centre, also trading as Burooj.
This change of use is far from uncommon, the demographics, socio-economic conditions and drinking habits which shape this and countless other pubs, have since shifted away from the lost world of this immense, roadhouse-style palace of fun.
No more outdoor or orders here – the supermarket now supplies the supplies for the self satisfied home drinker.
The sheer scale of the building guaranteed its demise, a three storey house with no more stories to tell.
Searching online for some clues as to its history there is but one mention, on the Pubs of Manchester:
This is my attempt, in some small way, to redress the balance, snapping what remains of this once top pub.
I found a typical inner Manchester suburban thoroughfare, a healthy mix of homes socially and privately owned, industry, independents shops, schools and such. Kids at play, passers-by passing by, captured in 1971 by the Council’s housing department photographers.
This was not a Golden Age – wasn’t the past much better, brighter, cheerier and cleaner reminiscence – simply a series of observations.
Now here I am in Colwyn Bay generally minding my own and everybody else’s business, when all of a sudden I noticed a cast iron glazed awning.
Proudly announcing the proprietors – sadly supported by a distressing modern addition – now I’m not one to decry and debunk the rising tide of modernity, I’m all in favour of unisex clothing and central heating.
But the unchecked encroachment of vacuous vinyl really is the limit.
Businesses displayed a degree of dignified permanence unknown to the current high street trader. So here it is writ larger than life in stained glass and Carter’s Tiles.
Loud and proud.
And as an addendum here are the delightful tiles from the Llandudno branch, snapped two years previously.
In almost every town or city worth its salt stood a modern white tiled tailor’s shop, almost every man or boy wore a Burton’s suit.
Harry Wilson had become the company architect by the early 1920s, and was responsible for developing Burton’s house style. Montague Burton, however, maintained a close personal interest. The company’s in-house Architects Department was set up around 1932 under Wilson. He was followed as chief architect around 1937 by Nathaniel Martin, who was still in post in the early 1950s. The architects worked hand-in-hand with Burton’s Shopfitting and Building Departments, who coordinated the work of selected contractors. Throughout the late 1920s and 1930s they were kept phenomenally busy: by 1939 many of Burton’s 595 stores were purpose-built.
The very first made to measure gear I owned came from Burton’s in Ashton under Lyne – mini-mod aged fourteen in a three button, waisted, light woollen dark brown jacket, four slanted and flapped side pockets and an eighteen inch centre vent.
Topped off with the company’s distinctive logotype.
This example in Doncaster is one of the few remaining examples many having been removed – as the stores have changed ownership and usage.
This Neo-Classical Burnley branch is a rare example of a Burton’s which hasn’t gone for a Burton.
The group maintained a distinctive graphic style in labelling signage and advertisements.
Often including ornate mosaic entrances, ventilation covers and obligatory dated foundation stones – as seen in this Ashton under Lyne branch.
Stores often housed dance halls or other social spaces.
In 1937 Burton’s architect, Nathaniel Martin, collaborated with the architects Wallis Gilbert & Partners on a subsidiary clothing works on the Great Lancashire Road at Worsley, near Manchester. Conceived as a Garden Factory and built in a modern style, this was dubbed ‘Burtonville Clothing Works’. It opened in October 1938 .
Where machinists worked on Ashton built Jones equipment.
Time changes everything and the inception of off the wall unisex disco clothing saw the made to measure suit fall into a chasm of loon pants and skinny rib grandad vests.
The Ashton branch becomes a motorcycle then fitted kitchen showroom, topped off with a succession of clubs and various other modern day leisure facilities.
Currently home to the Warsaw Delicatessen and Good News Gospel Church
Formerly Club Denial.
This is the tale of the modern high street grand ideas, architectural grandeur, entrepreneurialimmigrants, style and fashion – disappearing in a cloud of vinyl signage and fly by night operations. Though if you look carefully the pale white shadows of Burton’s are still there in one form or another, however ghostly.