April 1979 work begins.
Opening on March 2nd 1982.
No more cold damp shelters, no more cavernous and grimy public conveniences, no more chips and shop.
Bye bus station.
Your days are numbered, work has begun at the temporary site on Heaton Lane.
You are to be demolished, no more in, no more out.
I have tracked your history and slow decline.
You are to become a transport interchange.
So here’s a record of your lost chippy, closed lavatories, control centre, relocated information office, slowly ticking clock, soon to tick no longer.
Say hello and wave goodbye to RS McColl’s kiosk.
So so long my draughty, cold, deserted old pal.
Stockport Viaduct, carries the West Coast Main Line across the valley of the River Mersey in Stockport, Greater Manchester, England. It is one of the largest brick structures in the United Kingdom, as well as a major pioneering structure of the early railway age.
Stockport Viaduct was designed by George Watson Buck for the Manchester and Birmingham Railway. Work began in 1839 and was completed in 1840. Roughly 11 million bricks were used in its construction; at the time of its completion, it was the world’s largest viaduct and a major feat of engineering. The viaduct is 33.85 metres high. Stockport Viaduct is a Grade II* listed structure and remains one of the world’s biggest brick structures.
In the late 1880s, the viaduct was widened to accommodate four tracks instead of two. In the 1960s, overhead catenary lines were installed by British Rail for the West Coast Main Line electrification scheme. In the second half of the twentieth century, the M60 motorway was built, passing through two arches of the viaduct.
The structure is central to the visual landscape of the town – it has been the subject of both literature and art, most notably in the work of LS Lowry.
I believe that this composite composition of a northern landscape, is firmly embedded in the psyche of Stopfordians.
A notion that we are able to apprehend the whole of the structure in one panoramic sweep.
Our present perceptions are inextricably linked to past experience, possibly an illusory past.
It even featured in a feature film – A Taste Of Honey
My photograph below, was taken before access was prohibited.
Though has this uncluttered view ever actually existed?
The area has been a constantly evolving jumble of buildings, in, under and around the viaduct.
This raises the question – when did you last see your viaduct?
I live moments away on Didsbury Road – so why not take a look, circumnavigating the site in search of an answer?
From the recently constructed pedestrian and cycleway a view south across multiple roadways.
Approaching the arches from the west.
Looking east from Wellington Road North and the newly constructed A5154 link road.
Looking along the M60.
Looking along Heaton Lane, to the left Regent House.
Looking along the River Mersey
The Lowry Steps.
The view over the soon to be redeveloped Bus Station.
The view along Daw Bank.
One of the most complete perspectives along Swaine Street.
Swaine Street and Astley Street junction.
Crossing the new bridge to Heaton Lane.
Looking back towards the Crown Inn.
The view over Kwik Fit.
Looking east along the River Mersey, beside the rear of Weir Mill.
The view between the Stagecoach Bus Depots.
Looking east along Daw Bank.
Another clear perspective along Viaduct Street.
Beside Weir Mill.
Beneath the M60.
Looking east along Travis Brow.
This is one cold day in Covid February, the traffic a little lighter, few folk on foot.
Another day would produce another series of views, the light shifts, leaves appear on trees, the regeneration of Stockport sees the built environment shift and shimmy with an alarming regularity.
The landscape formed by the second Ice Age, gouging out a glacial valley and subsequently a conjoined river, is all part of a passing parade; it is acted out over millennia, you yourself are party to but one small part, make the most of it, get out and about take a look.
All this life is but a play, be thou the joyful player.
One of the great glories of cinema is that it has the power to take the mundane and make it magical. To most of us, car parks signify a world of pain, where fearsome red-and-white crash barriers dictate our fate and where finding a space is often like finding meaning in the collective works of Martin Lawrence. To others, they meant lost Saturday afternoons spent waiting for your mum to finally come out of Woolworths so you could rush home to catch Terrahawks.
Either way, car parks are grey and dull. In the movies, however, they are fantastic places, filled with high-level espionage, and high-octane chases.
According to The Guardian
I beg to differ, the cinema and TV has helped to define our perception and misconception of the car park.
The modern day pedestrian may reclaim, redefine and realise, that far from mundane each actual exemplar is different, in so many ways. The time of day, weather, light, usage, abusage, condition, personal demeanour and mood all shape our experience of this particular, modern urban space.
To walk the wide open spaces of the upper tier, almost touching the sky.
Is a far cry from the constrained space of the lower levels.
To walk the ramps with a degree of trepidation, visceral and fun.
This is an inversion of the car-centric culture, walking the concrete kingdom with a carbon-free footprint.
I was inspired by a recent viewing of All The Presidents Men to revisit my local multi-storey on Heaton Lane Stockport.
Cinematographer Gordon Hugh Willis Jr constructs a shadow world where informer and informed meet to exchange deep secrets, ever watchful, moving in and out of artificial light, tense and alert.
Look over your shoulder- there’s nobody there, and they’re watching you.
But they have been here.
Pay here, your time is time limited, your presence measured.
Let’s explore this demimonde together, wet underfoot, lit laterally by limited daylight, walking through the interspersed pools of glacial artificial glow.
Time’s up, check out and move on – tomorrow is another day, another car park; in a different town.
Cinema and car parks wedded forever in the collective popular cultural unconscious.