St Francis of Assisi – Wythenshawe

66 Chalford Rd Wythenshawe Manchester M23 2SG

Sir Basil Spence 1959-61

In December 1956 Basil Spence and Partners were commissioned to design St Francis Church in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. The project was part of a large building programme by the Manchester Diocese and was to service the new post-war housing estate at Newall Green. The site housed an existing hall that had been serving a dual-purpose as church and church hall but which reverted to use as a church hall once the new church was opened. The foundation stone was laid by Colin Skinner CBE on 23 April 1960 and the church was consecrated on 25 March 1961 by the Bishop of Manchester, W D L Greer.

The main building is predominantly brick; it is set back from the road by a landscaped courtyard that includes a brick tower and 73ft concrete cross. Another large cross rises from the front wall of the church itself making it highly visible from the surrounding neighborhood.

The church can hold a congregation of 250. A small chapel is separated from the main church by a sliding screen and can be used independently for private prayer and mid week-services. On busy days the screen can be retracted to provide additional seating to the main church. A gallery over the entrance porch houses two organs and the choir.

Embroidery for the Church was designed by Anthony Blee and carried out by Beryl Dean and Associates, and Communion silver was specially designed by Gerald Benney.

CANMORE

An austerely simple deign, saved from bleakness by a few deft touches – Pevsner.

The lettering on the font cover is by Ralph Beyer, the painting on the east wall by William Chattaway, who came specially from Paris to paint.

2010 – John Richards

2015 – John Richards

The church also contains four stones brought from prominent Christian locations across the globe including a rose hued stone from Assisi itself, these are embedded in the walls and floor around the building.

Mainstream Modern

Construction.

Completion.

St Francis of Assisi’s Church in Wythenshawe stands testimony to the vigour of its first priest, the Reverend Ronald Pitcher. It was Pitcher who organised a local campaign to raise money for its construction, even before William Greer, Lord Bishop of Manchester, launched a wider appeal to fund churches and vicarages in new housing areas throughout the diocese. 

It was probably also Pitcher who chose the architect, since he made initial contact with Basil Spence late in 1956. Drawings and a watercolour perspective were prepared by the beginning of 1958, when the scheme was priced at £17,500, exclusive of professional fees. 

Following discussions with the congregation it was modified to provide side-aisles, and the estimate increased to £27,000, including an organ. Although the diocese believed the final cost might be as high as £35,000,the design was accepted and Spence formally commissioned at the end of the year.

Warwick University

2012

Manchester Evening News 2013

A church forced to close three years ago after its congregation dwindled to just two has been reborn – as a community centre.

St Francis of Assisi, in Wythenshawe, was forced to shut its doors when its popularity waned and repairs became too expensive.

Now, thanks to businessman James Munnery and Pastor William Simoes, the former Church of England building is rising again as a beacon of hope for the neighbourhood. The pair have teamed up to re-open the church as the New Life Opportunities Centre. Ambitious plans for the not-for-profit venture include sports pitches, a recording studio, and a hall for events and dancing.

It will also hold church services.

Businessman James Munnery outside St Francis of Assisi

The sound of the pipe organ

Stoke Launderette

I was walking away from the town centre along London Road, killing time.

It was the day of the Modernist’s Stoke Walk, I was as ever early for my assignment.

So following my pie, chips, peas and gravy at Jay’s Café I took a look along the way.

Arrested by the fascia of the Launderette I took a snap, moved on.

Returning minutes later, having crossed over the road, I went in.

Here’s what I found.

Several lost socks later I left.

For more wishy-washy fun search launderette right here on Modern Mooch!

Rex Launderette

318 Slade Lane Levenshulme Manchester M19 2BY

Following a brief interregnum we’re back in the soapy study world of the local launderette.

One of many Rex operations – including those which I visited in Hull and Hull.

I am of course nationally and internationally renowned as Rex Launderette – author of the multi-ward winning eight laundrettes.

Should you care to search this wishy-washy blog there are also countless other laundry related posts.

Anyway, I jumped the 197, alighting at the junction of Albert Road and Slade Lane.

I popped into my local Rex and chatted with owner Steve, who had operated the business for some years, in addition he and his dad had run the late lamented Kingsway branch.

I hung around a while chatting and snapping – here’s the snaps.

Coventry Station 2021

Here we are again, we have been here before – one of the nation’s finest post war railway stations.

Gateway to the City of Culture.

Though I freely admit that my heart belonged to Stoke’s failed bid.

So much so I bought a shirt.

Stoke Sentinel

The station is the work of architects WR Headley and Derrick Shorten who worked with John Collins, Mike Edwards and Keith Rawson.

Outstanding architecturally, particularly for its spatial qualities and detailing. 

It’s Grade II listed and rightly so.

Alan Murray-Rust April 1963
John Maltby RIBA Pix
March 1962
Warwickshire Railways

So here is my exploration of its spatial qualities and detailing. 

Hilton House – Stockport

Once the head office of New Day Furniture.

A local company which designed, manufactured and retailed furnishings around the North West.

Oldham Street Manchester
Rochdale Road Harpurhey
Wythenshawe

The office building is a highlight of my Stockport Walks – it has a lightness of touch incorporating a partial podium, slab block and lower rise extensions.

There is a sensitive mix of glass, stone, concrete and brick across a variety of scales and volumes.

May 2020 – plans are submitted to remodel the exterior of Hilton House

Marketing Stockport

The remodelling of the building include reparations and repainting brickwork, render and cladding as part of wider plans to rejuvenate Hilton House to rebrand as a more attractive and contemporary office location in Stockport town centre.

Studio KMA have proposed conversion to apartments.

Conversion of existing 1970s office building to apartments.

A combination of one-bed, two-bed and three-bed units ensure a new sustainable use in Stockport town centre.

The proposal incorporates the use of coloured glass panels to create a modern, fresh aesthetic.

As of July 2021 the property is under offer.

Post-Pandemic it may well be that the demand for office space is in retreat and the conversion to modern living space the more likely end use.

REX Launderette Hull #2

Having been to REX Launderette #1 – seemed rude not to visit REX Launderette #2.

It’s a ways up the road on foot and then you can jump the bus back.

Give it a go!

Deal To Margate

We awoke, we dawdled around Deal, prior to our delightful breakfast.

Though the pier appeared to be closed.

Extending elegantly over a still, still sea.

The present pier, designed by Sir W. Halcrow & Partners, was opened on 19 November 1957 by the Duke of Edinburgh. Constructed predominantly from concrete-clad steel, it is 1,026 ft in length – a notice announces that it is the same length as the RMS Titanic, but that ship was just 882 feet, and ends in a three-tiered pier-head, featuring a cafe, bar, lounge, and fishing decks.

The lowest of the three tiers is underwater at all but the lowest part of the tidal range, and has become disused.

Wikipedia

Deal is home to some of the most extraordinary concrete shelters.

Home to some understated Seaside Moderne homes too.

Well fed, we set out along the private road that edges the golf course, encountering some informal agricultural architecture.

We took time to explore Pegwell Bay Hoverport – currently trading as a Country Park.

Pausing in Ramsgate to admire Edward Welby Pugin’s Grade II Listed – Granville Hotel.

The Granville development, so named after George Leverson Gower, second Earl Granville (1815-1891), was a venture undertaken by Edward Welby Pugin, together with investors Robert Sankey, George Burgess and John Barnet Hodgson on land acquired from the Mount Albion Estate in 1867. The scheme was to be an important new building in the eastward expansion of the town and the emergence of a fashionable new suburb. At the outset, the intention was to build a relatively restrained speculative terrace of large townhouses with some additional facilities. However, as the scheme progressed and it became apparent that buyers could not be secured, revised plans for an enlarged hotel complex were adopted in 1868 and brought to completion in 1869. These plans, which added a series of grand rooms including a banqueting hall, receptions rooms and an entrance hall in addition to a tunnel to connect to the railway line on the seafront, gardens, a complex of Turkish baths and a vast landmark tower (originally 170ft high, although truncated at a relatively early date), were remarkably ambitious. Ultimately, as it would transpire, the scheme was rather too ambitious on Pugin’s part; with his increasing reliance on loans eventually culminating in bankruptcy in October 1872, an event which precipitated his demise as an architect, tragically followed by his death just three years later.

Historic England

Overlooking the sea, the ornamental gardens were laid out and presented to the Borough of Ramsgate by Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills in 1920 and opened to the public in June 1923 by the Mayor of Ramsgate Alderman A. W. Larkin. They are maintained by Thanet District Council and were Grade II listed on 4 February 1988. 

The gardens were designed by the architects Sir John Burnet & Partners, and constructed by Pulham and Son. The main feature of the gardens, is a semi-circular shaped colonnade carved into the pulhamite recess.

On the upper terrace, approached by broad flights of steps, the gardens proper are reached. In the centre, and immediately over the shelter, is a circular pool enclosed on the north side by a semi-circular Roman seat.

Wikipedia

Broadstairs was alive with Bank Holiday activity.

On leaving the town we encounter this engaging flint church – Holy Trinity

Erected 1829-1830. David Barnes Architect, extended 1925.

Built of flint and rubble.

One of the first visitors to this church was Charles Dickens who offered a very unflattering description in his work, Our English Watering Place:

We have a church, by the bye, of course – a hideous temple of flint, like a petrified haystack.  Our chief clerical dignitary, who, to his honour, has done much for education, and has established excellent schools, is a sound, healthy gentleman, who has got into little local difficulties with the neighbouring farms, but has the pestilent trick of being right.

In Margate the tidal pools are full of waveless sea water and kiddy fun.

The former crazy golf course is undergoing an ongoing programme of involuntary rewilding.

The Turner Contemporary was hosting an impromptu al fresco sculpture show.

Dreamland was still dreaming.

And Arlington House staring steadfastly out to sea.

Time now for tea and a welcome plate of chish and fips at the Beano Cafe.

I miss my haddock and chips from Beano in Margate, brought to you with a smile and he remembers everyone.

Great customer service and friendly staff, see you soon.

The food is awful and the customer service is even worse: when we complained about the food the staff argued with us and wouldn’t do anything to change the food or refund, avoid at all costs!

Trip Advisor

Time for a wander around Cliftonville.

Discovering a shiny new launderette.

And a launderette that wasn’t a launderette – it’s a Werkhaus that isn’t a workhouse.

And a patriotic tea rooms.

So farewell then the south coast – we’re off home on the train in the morning.

But first a pint or two.

The Clean Scene – Denton

75 Manchester Rd Denton Manchester M34 2AF

Not unusually, whilst on my way somewhere else, quite by chance, I came upon The Clean Scene.

Sadly soon to be CLOSSING DOWN.

Pleas such as: Are you open Christmas Eve I need the dryers

– will from hereon in remained unanswered.

Having almost abandoned the wet and dry world of the laundrette, following the publication of the era-defining, runaway success of my eight laundrettes, I almost walked on by.

For just one brief moment I hesitated, then walked right on in.

Tony’s Barbers – Manchester

913 Stockport Rd Levenshulme Manchester M19 3PG 

I passed by almost every day, cycling back and to, to work.

One day I stopped, popped in, asked to chat and snap – Tony obliged.

Cypriot George in the city centre had already give me salon time.

These photographs were taken in March 2104 – Tony’s still there, cutting hair.

Since 1971, presiding over his empire of mainly masculine ephemera, rival football clubs fight it out for space on the crowded walls. Motorcycles race around the dado rail, stood stock still, gathering another dusting of dust. A slow accretion of memories and memorabilia, tracing a lengthy short back and sides life, of short back and sides, as stylists’ style snaps come in and out of style and back again.

Let’s take a look.

Thanks again Tony a privilege to spend some time in your world.

George’s Barbers – Manchester

7 Paton Street M1 2BA

I came here on February 25th 2014, arrived early the shop was still closed, I’ll pop back.

Walked around the block and found that true to his word, he had re-opened.

I explained my intentions, asking to spend some time in the salon, chat and take some snaps as he worked away.

He was more than happy to accommodate my needs, he worked, we chatted, I snapped. This was some seven years ago now, typically, I forgot to make any written notes. Suffice to say he had been there some 48 years finally retiring on Christmas Eve 2014.

As city centre Manchester changes for good or for bad, the likelihood of a neighbourhood barber appearing is negligible. It was a privilege to spend some time with George, one of many Cypriot immigrants who found work here between and after the wars, we were more than happy to welcome him here.

Let’s take a look around.

A companion to Marilyn and Sheila.

Abbey Hey FC – Manchester

Abbey Stadium Goredale Avenue Gorton Manchester M18 7HD.

Abbey Hey FC was formed in 1902 in the Abbey Hey district of Gorton, some three miles away from the centre of Manchester. During their formative years and through the two World Wars, the club was disbanded and reformed on a number of occasions. Starting in the Church Sunday Leagues, they progressed through the Manchester Amateur Leagues during the intervening years but the club really came into it’s own in the 1960s after it took in the players of the Admiralty Gunning Engineering Department following it’s closure.

In 1978 with the club decided to apply for a position in the Manchester League, this meant that the club had to find an enclosed ground suitable for playing their home games. The nearest ground available at the time was in Chorlton at Werburghs Road.

In 1984 the club at last had their own home, improvements to the ground could only have been achieved by the hard work and dedication of the committee, who not only raised the money to carry out the improvements but also carried out 90% of the work themselves.

Promotion to the 1st Division meant that the club had to install floodlights. True to form, they designed, ordered, erected and wired them within a couple of months. The biggest job during the ground improvements was the building of the new clubhouse and dressing rooms. Planning permission was given with the majority of work once again being carried out by the club’s own members.

Abbey Hey FC History

This is a story of persistence and commitment from members, managers and players – keeping a viable non-league football team alive at the centre of a Community.

I have cycled by here for years, along the Fallowfield Loop – and worked down here in the Seventies when the rail link was still extant.

PhotoNeil Ferguson-Lee via Robert Todd and Levy Boy.

So today seeing the gates open, I decided to take a look around the ground – many thanks to groundsman Simon for taking the time to stop and chat.

Everything is spick and span, the playing surface in excellent nick, and all the stands seat and fences standing smartly to attention, having had a fresh coat of paint.

So let’s take a look around:

I’ll be back to watch a match, just as soon as the rules and regulations allow!

Rotherham Modernism

There comes a time in everyone’s life, when one simply must go to Rotherham, at least once – so I did.

To keep company with my personal town guide, Sheffield Modernist and local resident, Helen Angell.

I arrived early at Rotherham Central, so went for a solo wander.

The station was originally named Rotherham, becoming Rotherham and Masborough in January 1889 and finally Rotherham Central on 25 September 1950.

The newish Rotherham Central station was opened to passengers on 11 May 1987, the present iteration on Friday 24 February 2012, as part of the Rotherham Renaissance plans for the regeneration of the town.

Wikipedia

Opened 22 December 1934 as the Regal Cinema with Leslie Howard in Girls Please. Sandy Powell, the famous comedian attended opening night this 1,825 seat. It was designed by the Hull based architectural firm Messrs Blackmore & Sykes for local exhibitor Thomas Wade and was leased to the Lou Morris chain.

By 1937 it was operated by the London & Southern Super Cinemas Ltd. chain. The Regal Cinema was leased to the Odeon circuit in 1946 and was re-named Odeon. It was sold by the Rank Organisation to an independent operator in 1975 and renamed Scala Cinema, by 1981 using the circle only.

Closed 23rd September 1983 with the film Porky’s.

Became a bingo hall initially named Ritz but now Mecca. On 20th February 2020 the building was put up for sale by auction at an asking price of £600,000+, but failed to sell, with the maximum reached £590,000. Mecca bingo continues in the building.

Cinema Treasures

Curious corner retail development and sculpture of the Sixties – with pub archeology.

Art Deco detail and tiling.

Royal Mail Sorting Office.

Retail detail.

Beeversleigh Flats – built between 1968-71. 

Main contractors J. Finnegan it’s thirteen storeys high – housing forty eight dwellings.

Interwar Technical College – Howard Building

From the 1930s, it provided technical-orientated education from the Howard Building on Eastwood Lane, Rotherham. In 1981, three neighbouring colleges of arts, technology and adult education were merged into one. As a result, the college became known as Rotherham College of Arts and Technology.

Revised plans to convert the historic Howard Building in Rotherham town centre into self-contained studios and apartments have been approved by the planning board at Rotherham Council.

The prominent former college building was sold prior to going to auction last September after it was advertised as a development opportunity and given a guide price of £250,000 by local auctioneers, Mark Jenkinson & son.

2015

28 Days Later

A group of rogue property directors with links to a prominent derelict building in Rotherham have been banned for a total of 54 years. The six, of Absolute Living Developments, were found to have misled more than 300 people to invest at least £12 million in residential properties.

The firm was linked through a lender to Avro Developments, which had plans passed in 2015 to renovate former college block the Howard Building in Rotherham town centre.

Rotherham Advertiser 2019

Clifton Building

Next to the market.

With a strident high tech canopy, very recently added – though Rotherham’s history stems back 800 years when it is thought that the original royal market charter was granted by King John in the year 1207.

There are traces of the 1970’s rebuild.

Bunker-like The Trades former music venue/pub, which replaced the former riverside Trades Club.

The PA now silenced.

This was an amazing event. The bands were really good and the drinks offers, while limited, were good. The ceiling in the ladies toilets had fallen through and was dripping, presumably there had been a leak from all the rain, but this didn’t lessen the awesome experience.

October 2019

The cooling towers and flats are long gone – the coal-fired power station operated from 1923 until October 1978.

The Prince of Wales Power Station in Rotherham was located on Rawmarsh Road and was opened by the Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VIII.

The former Grattans catalogue offices can be seen to the left.

Renamed Bailey House and still in use by the local authority, its days it seems are numbered.

The building is named after Rotherham-born engineer Sir Donald Bailey whose ingenious bridge designs played a key role in shortening World War II, the house in which Bailey was born, 24 Albany Street is still standing.

Sadly no longer home to the Harlem Shuffle

No big names – just big sounds.

There are some surviving power station buildings.

Along with electrical infrastructure.

Up the road next, to the former fire station, which now houses J E James Cycles.

It is surrounded by typically atypical inter war housing.

I could make the wild assumption, that these flat roofed maisonettes were originally homes fit for firefighters.

A passing nod towards a former Methodist Chapel.

Further on up the road to Peck House.

And the attendant tiles.

Just around the corner Backer Heating – still trading.

Returning toward town and enchanted by a giant 13 amp plug.

Under the underpass.

Then the other underpass.

Finally through the last underpass.

With a final notable note regarding Rotherham’s hand painted council commissioned signage – I’d like to think that they have a sign writer in their employ.

Many thanks to my learned companion Helen – thanks for a fine day out, so much to see and do!

The Trawl – Bridlington

5-7 Cliff Street Town Centre Bridlington YO15 2NJ

The best chippy in Bridlington

I first bowled up in 2011 – walking the wild streets of East Yorkshire – eager to eat.

I was instantly enchanted by your fragrant fish and chips, peg board menu and marvellous tiles.

It would have been rude not to walk right in, sit right down and order a Haddock Special with tea – so I did.

Delightful.

Fast forward to 2014 and here we are again, some minor adjustments to prices and layout, but essentially business as usual.

One more time please – a Haddock Special with tea.

2020 and this time it’s serious I’m going in, armed with an insatiable curiosity, a Panasonic Lumix TZ70 and a healthy appetite – in that order.

I ordered a Haddock Special with tea.

The food was as ever superb, served with winning smile and cooked to perfection by the same owner who had dealt a winning hand nine years ago.

Whilst I awaited my food, I sat patiently taking in my surroundings and a few snaps.

Noting the notice my host observed that she loved children but couldn’t eat a whole one.

For the very first time I noticed the illustrative pictorial panels adorning the range counter.

And the menu above the entrance.

Replete, enough is as good as a feast – I complimented the chef, thanked all and sundry, exited stage right.

Once out on the streets once more, I surveyed the fascia, its tiles and newish fascia.

One thing is for sure I will return, if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creeks don’t rise.

So a big Bird goodbye from the old fish.

And hello to the new.

Peck House Rotherham

Peck House, a long vacant commercial property on a prominent route into Rotherham, could be flattened for redevelopment as the owners begin discussions with the Council over its future.

The building on Eastwood Trading Estate, and its unique stylings, was the headquarters of Joseph Peck departments stores
.

Rotherham Business News 2017

The owners of the site, Backer Electric, occupy the adjacent building where they continue to manufacture heating elements, supplying products in high volume to the majority of household brand names. Options to reuse Peck House and the site have been investigated for a number of years.

A structural survey was carried out which found the building to be structurally sound and secure and therefore the Council has not been in a position to insist on its demolition.

In 1985, plans came forward to change of use of the retail/wholesale store to a church. In 2004, outline plans were submitted for a development including a hotel, restaurant, hot food takeaway and petrol station for the wider area. In 2014, Peck House was one of a number of sites discounted as the location for a new £5m primary school.

As of Wednesday 26th August 2020 it’s still there underdeveloped and overgrown.

In the company of local resident Helen Angell and having become aware of the site through the paintings of Mandy Payne and the photographs of Sean Madner – I was eager to pay a visit.

Joseph Peck departments stores originated in Rotherham in the late 1800s and had branches in Worksop, Barnsley and Sheffield.

I have only been able to find evidence of the Sheffield store – which may not be linked.

Though there are references to a Rotherham store on Bridgegate.

Joseph Peck was in Bridgegate in Rotherham, and in the late 40’s at Christmas, they had a grotto and a Father Christmas. The queues of parents and children would go down the yard and up Bridgegate. My mum and dad always took my brother and I to see Father Christmas and get a present from him. The store was a department store selling just about everything that was available just after the war. Mum took my brother and I coming up to one Christmas, she was trying to find a bicycle for my brother and I, but they didn’t have one. As we came out of the store, one of old fashioned three wheel railway delivery lorries was just pulling out of the yard. On the back was a blue bike. Mum stopped the driver and asked him where he was taking it. He told her ‘Redgates at the bottom of Ecclesall Road in Sheffield. She shouted ‘Taxi’, and told the driver to ‘follow that lorry’. Just before the lorry arrived on The Moor, she told the taxi driver to overtake the lorry and go to Redgates. We rushed in, she found the manager and asked him about the bike. He hadn’t known that one was being delivered so Mum told him she’d have it without even asking the price. The lorry driver didn’t even have to take it off the lorry, and delivered it to our house next day.

My elder brother had it first, then me, then my younger brother, and finally our young sister. It was still being used when I flew the nest in 1959. 

Merry Christmas everybody.

Sheffield Forum

So here we are confronted with some tip top architectural type high atop the low-rise industrial facility.

What’s more there is a panel of ceramic tiles many with a pronounced profile in relief – a fugue in lemon, grey and a deep Prussian Blue.

No reference to the manufacturer or date online sadly, suffice to say that they are truly enchanting – look!

Hastings 2015

I had completed my journey from Weston super Mare, with a final day’s cycle ride from Eastbourne and had two days to spare.

So I took some time to have a mooch around and this dear readers is what I did see.

I have snapped the seafront shelters previously and put together one post after another.

These are an integral part of Sidney Little’s concrete promenade scheme

Lurched toward London Road Launderette in St Leonards – which was featured in my 2020 book eight laundrettes.

Next door is this Post Office mosaic.

Back to the front for a more traditional seaside shelter.

Exploring the backstreets in search of fitness for purpose and secret signs.

Then diving in for a delicious dosa at the long gone St Len’s Lakshmi Mahal – since moved to Bexhill on Sea.

Snapping the plaques at the White Roc