Conversations with a magic bus station

20 06 2014

‘For any one firm to have done two buildings of that scale and quality in 10 years, I would call a lifetime’s achievement’

Iain Nairn on the Preston Bus station and Halifax Building Society HQ

I don't want to cause no fuss

So what do you do when a work meeting takes you to a city you have never visited before? Clearly you go and visit the bus station.

Well you do if you if the city is Preston and the bus station is a magnificent example of brutalist architecture.

But can I buy your Magic Bus?

Approaching from the north side it is one of the long sweeping curves up to the car park that is first seen. You walk under this ramp and into the station building. Close to you can see that some care and attention is needed but the structure still looks strong and purposeful.

Thruppence and sixpence every day

Inside, it feels like you are back in the 1970s but the strong, functional design appears to still work well. With only a little extra cleaning and some limited modernising of the retail spaces the passenger concourse would be as dynamic and fresh as when it first opened. It has the atmosphere of a successful building, albeit one that has been harshly treated over the years.

I wanna drive my bus to my baby each day

The building was designed by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson of Building Design Partnership with E. H. Stazicker and built by Ove Arup and Partners between 1968 and 1969. Whilst rightly recognised as one of the most striking and important buildings of its type in the country for many years it was threatened by demolition in the various schemes for the redevelopment of the area.

You'll be an inspector, have no fear

Campaigns to keep the building, by groups such as the Twentieth Century Society and Save Preston Bus Station, were successful and the building was granted Grade II listed status in 2013.

Every day I get in the queue

Gillian Darley explains the importance of why PBS should be kept and Martin Baker’s article The Battle for PBS captures the flavour of the arguments from both the buildings supporters and detractors.

But it is the short film 56,000 by short film by Paul Adams and Andrew Wilson that is the best way to understand the importance of the building’s architecture and history.

The campaign to save PBS was justly successful but other butalist masterpieces are still at risk.

The equally important Madin Library of Birmingham is threatened with impending destruction and must be saved.

I don't care how much I pay


With apologies to The Who for the titles


– words & pictures by Paul

– more pictures on Flickr

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One response

29 06 2014
Chance

Arup wouldn’t have built it, they would have been the engineers for the building.

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