Motorways an Introduction

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Once upon time there was no such things as motorways, we made our way across country in a haphazard fashion, by way of of a raggle-taggle bunch of muddy, puddle strewn byways, tracks A,B and C roads.

Journey times were long and often unpredictable, it was not unusual for a traveller to never ever reach, their intended destination.

But then as if by magic:

On 5 December 1958, the day the 8 mile Preston bypass opened.

Robert Gornall was the AA’s first motorway patrol and he was on duty on the Preston by Pass – now the M6, from day one – he even attended the opening ceremony.

Robert recalls that in those early motorway days, when there was no speed limit or hard shoulder, things were very different when it came to dealing with breakdowns. Breakdowns came thick and fast because cars just couldn’t cope with the higher speed – engines just simply blew.

 

Robert said:

“This was entirely new and when we reached a broken down car we simply pushed it, bumper to bumper, out of the way to a place of safety where we could fix it – our vehicles were fitted with special rubber bumpers so as not to cause any damage.

Breakdowns came thick and fast because cars just couldn’t cope with the higher speed – engines just simply blew. The vehicles we used were Ford Escorts and even a soft top Land Rover.”

Having overcome these early teething troubles a whole complex network was developed.

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Opened by the transport minister Ernest Marples and other assorted worthies.

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Speed limits and controls were applied to quell the threat of crashes and blow-outs.

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Welcome to the fact packed modern world of the modern motorway.

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New typography and signage systems were developed by Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir.

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Special provision was made for provisions for the motorway motorist in special places, with special names – and their own unique approach to modern cuisine.

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Quite literally food on the move at the motorway services.

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Ever eager to communicate their fondness for the modern motorway, the modern motorist would often send a picture postcard to friends and/or family.

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A whole literary and visual culture built up over time, to celebrate a deep and growing affection for the motorway network.

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The rest is history, so break out the string backed gloves top-down hit the road!

Jacqueline and/or Jack.

 

 

 

Greenside Primary School – London

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Sunday 18th September and this enchanting school had thrown open its doors to an awaiting and admiring wider world – I know, I was there, having travelled down by train from Manchester with my pal Natalie, we were more than delighted by what we discovered, on our grand day out.

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This Grade II* listed building was one of two primary schools designed in 1949 by architect, Erno Goldfinger (1902 – 1987), an influential figure in the British Modernist Movement.  Opened in 1952, it was originally named Westville Road School, and in 1987, the same year Goldfinger died, it was renamed Greenside School.  The building earns the star on its listing due to the fine mural in the entrance foyer by architectural artist and urban theorist Gordon Cullen (1914 – 1994).

The school was built in response to the need to create a better Britain after the Second World War and inspired by the optimistic influences expressed in the Festival of Britain in 1951.  The school is on the site of a Victorian Board School, built in 1886 to accommodate 1200 children and offer a ‘serviceable education at very low fees.’  The old school was bombed in 1944, fortunately after the evacuation of the children.  The London County Council had plans to build temporary schools after the war as sets of Ministry of Works huts, but Goldfinger proposed an alternative scheme using a precast reinforced concrete frame with brick infill.  One of the reasons that the LCC were persuaded to adopt his scheme was that the main hall would be joined to the school via a covered corridor.

The Gordon Cullen mural in the entrance foyer is more evidence of Goldfinger creating an inspiring learning environment.  Goldfinger had worked during the war mounting exhibitions to send to the troops

on subjects such as ‘Food’, ‘Cinema’, ‘the Eastern front’ and ‘Planning Your Home’, so often working with Cullen to do the graphics and illustrations.  He then commissioned Cullen to produce a mural on school subjects:  Invention, History, The Sea, Geography, The Solar System and Nature.  Completed in 1953, Cullen’s mural takes on the character of simplified but nonetheless stimulating detail found in the new generation of factual books of the time, among which the Puffin Picture Books series has become the best known.  After many years hidden, we are delighted that the summer of 2014 we were able to unveil the restored mural. This was due to the commitment and dedication of the Friends of the Greenside Mural. It is a valuable source of inspiration for our students.

My thanks to the website of Greenside School

Preserving as much as possible of the building’s features and the ethic of its time, it was a pleasure to walk the corridors, explore the classrooms and main hall. I was particularly enchanted by the warm, wide sloping curve of the corridor which conjoins the two main volumes.

Emphasis is placed on experiential learning and full use is made of the outside spaces. The curriculum is currently constructed around cinematic themes, scholars participating in film making and an interdisciplinary approach to learning.

Take a look at lovely lively learning areas, and an architectural heritage that remains consistent with its intent,  whilst having a clear and steady eye, on a rich and rewarding future.

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Allied Ironfounders – Audenshaw

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As I walked out one morning, in search of an industrial access cover or two or more, I found more, much more, dug deeper, unearthed a can of worms, a murky past cast in cast iron.

This is the cover closest to my home on Didsbury Road Stockport, manufactured by Glynwed of Corporation Road Audenshaw, the closest foundry to my former school.

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Glynwed formerly Allied Ironfounders, the manufacturer of gas appliances, the humble Rayburn and the infamous stuff of sagas the Aga.

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And the Meridian Grate – great! The foundry was also known as the Planet Works, the adjoining rough ground Planet Fields, where on wet winter days we would form a mud spattered procession of ragged schoolboys engaged in the joys of cross country running, over a factory’s spoil tip.

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We never got to see the firm’s Mayfair showrooms, we never got to pass go – I guess it was just too far to run, cross country or otherwise.

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The sleek Modernist lines of the Allied Ironfounders’ showpiece contrasts with the conditions of the work force manufacturing the grates and Agas.

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So some fifty years and several miles separates me from my schooldays and my local gas inspection cover. Guess I’l just gas up the Thames Trader and head for the hills folks.

Yippie-aye-ay, yippie-aye-oh, ghost riders in the sky.

And underground.

 

Kirklees College – Huddersfield

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Kirklees College started life as Huddersfield Infirmary in 1831 up until 1967 when the Ramsden Technical College moved in, they paid £105,000 for the site. 

In September 1968 the first students began lectures and the first new building on the site opened in 1969. The main new block was built in 1971 – the year the college became Huddersfield Technical College. In 2008 Huddersfield Technical College merged with Dewsbury College to form Kirklees College and relocated in 2013.

The campus incorporates 10 buildings over a 6.1 Acre site ranging from the old hospital complex to modern blocks of classrooms. 

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Some of the buildings have been used for the filming of the dramas Black Work, Remember Me where they changed some areas to be a care home, a hospital and a police station and the film Extremis. 

The site is owned by Wiggett Construction Group, who have now confirmed they want to demolish the 1970s college buildings to make way for a Lidl supermarket.

Thanks to Derelict Places – they went inside, I didn’t, I don’t do that sort of thing.

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I walked the lengthy perimeter, bobbing in and out of nooks and crannies in search of nothing in particular. Chatted to a Kirklees employee who had worked at the site, he regretted its closure and passing.

“This building had character, it was great to work here – now it’s going to be a supermarket.”

A curious amalgam of municipal classicism and hard edged 70s modernity, presided over by a sombre, care worn and  patinated Edward VII.

“Worth a few bob, a bugger to shift.”

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Bus Station – Huddersfield

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Huddersfield bus station serves the town of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England.

Which seems both serendipitous and heartwarmingly convenient.

The bus station was opened on Sunday 1 December 1974 and is owned and managed by Metro. It is now the busiest bus station in West Yorkshire. The bus station is situated in Huddersfield town centre, underneath the Multi-storey car park. It is bordered by the Ring Road – Castlegate A62 and can be accessed from High Street, Upperhead Row and Henry Street.

There are 25 pick-up and three alighting only stands at the bus station.

Forever in the shadow of its Red Rose almost neighbour in Preston.

Some forty five miles and a fifteen and a half hour walk to the west.

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Yet still a thing of beauty and a joy forever  – given the recent repairs to the membrane covering of its multi-storey car park.

On the day of my visit it was clean, compact, cheerfully bustling and well used, passengers busy going about their business, of busily going about their business of going.

Light classics played soothingly upon the Tannoy, punters popped in and out of Ladbrokes, the kiosk plied its trade, the café was full and an air of calm, clear functionality reigned.

I walked quietly away.

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Caledonian Café – Huddersfield

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I often visit Huddersfield, and I often discover something new, exciting and different.

The Caledonian Café is everything that it isn’t, it’s the slow accretion of time, personal taste and accoutrements. Not frozen but slowly evolving, warm and welcoming. Owners Tony and Claire were more than happy to offer their company, tea and sympathy.

“The students come in to do their projects, sometimes they just ask to photograph the salt pots.”

I was more than happy to oblige and comply.

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The prices are more than reasonable, and Tony goes out of his way to accommodate his customers.

” The families don’t always have a lot, so I give them two plates and split the burger and chips for the two kiddies.”

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It was still early for me so I settled on a large tea, but I’ll be back before long for a bite to eat.

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So best foot forward, get yourself down to the Caledonian, you won’t be disappointed.

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Precinct – Ashton under Lyne

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Possibly my first brush with modernism and modernity, the shopping precinct in Ashton under Lyne. Typically in the mid Sixties, British towns reinvented themselves as space age retail experiences, in stark contrast to their middle aged, Middle Aged market centre, market centred identity.

Out with the cobbles and stalls, in with the travelator, frothy coffee, concrete and a pedestrianised, undercover, all weather, super convenient haven of heavenly fun!

And lo, it came to pass, let construction commence.

Simply add a few decorative embellishments courtesy of the Direct Works’ pavoirs.

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You have built it and now they will come:

Little did you know you had created a punk rock icon.

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Featured on the cover of fanzine Ghat Up #3 – many thanks to MDMA

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Many thanks to the Tameside Image Archive