Sunday, 30 May 2010


Two structures one should be saved, the other demolished immediately. Most towns have a large abandoned building which should have been pulled down years before but is just left to decay while the windows smash and the graffti grows. Some big ugly landmark blighting the area like a big puss filled spot on the edge of a nose. I remember pulling into Temple Meeds station in Bristol where a ghastly old tower block is the first thing travellers see of the city which hardly gave a good impression. The former college building is just one of many around the country. The planning and development system should be changed to encourage such blot's on the landscape to be torn down as soon as possible.

The other building is from the Victorian era in what seems to have been re-branded as the heritage area but is known to many locals as the railway village. 

The Mechanics Institute was one such building that avoided the attentions of demolition happy post war town planner, a lot of whose efforts have been torn down themselves. It was the site of one of the first public library in Britain and the Medical Society Fund the sort of cradle to grave care that the NHS was modelled on, a century later. Sadly it has seen better days, having been left to decay for as long as I can remember.

I'm tempted to try and start up some sort of meme where I ask others to suggest a building in their area that should be demolished immediately and one that should be saved.


  1. All a bit eye of the beholder, but there are some buildings we all agree on... well, sometimes :)

    Did you catch the TV show about the giant 60s sprawl low rise in Sheffield? If you like architecture - personally, I come at it from a time passing point of view, I know none of the names - it was a very interesting programme. Certainly, the disappearance of the (supposed) slums, the arrival of a fancy new 60s style rolling towerblock ("a street in the sky"), it's demise in later years to sink estate status and now the rebirth as it's gutted.

    As to a meme... great idea! There are some lovely buildings in Nottingham: some old, some not so old. Sadly the old Evening Post building has gone - shame they didn't keep the facade at least - by a large cinema complex ('The Corner House' - although that whole area of town has been torn up and rebuilt).

    Honestly, I'd tear down Nottingham Castle because it isn't a castle. It's a rather poor looking grey stone house that sits on castle rock. Honestly, I do feel sorry for tourists when the stroll up and see it. I really would rather see a Vegas/Disney style Nottingham Castle. Hell, if you're going to put a fake one, might as well revel in the fakery :)

    Stuff to keep: Nottingham Trent Uni's Newton Building (fab 30s brutal) and the awful looking hotel on the Maid Marrion Way roundabout - just so future generations don't repeat the situation. Co-Op House, which has been redeveloped, had a wonderful art deco staircase, I hope they've kept it... Oddly, a local pub was listed for being art deco too. Nice boozer.

  2. In my town everything that could be torn down has already gone to make way for piles of nasty buy-to-let flats. I'd tear some of them down in a flash, pile-em-high slum tenements of tomorrow with that dreadful Victorian pastiche for which I blame the Prince of Wales.
    On a county level there are two structures I'd hate to see go. One is RAF Bicester, currently mothballed and the last intact pre-war expansion period RAF base that hasn't been extensively modified and the other is the Queens College Florey Building, the wild and crazy 1960s at its most far-out. The former is under some threat, the latter is still very much in use.

  3. One of my concerns isn't so much what should be taken down so much as when too contemporary features such as PVCu window frames are installed on Victorian former public buildings that have been sold off following the construction of their replacement.
    I'd like to change the planning system here to one that actively encourages conservation - finding new uses for older buildings (and tax exempting repairs and alterations just like new build) - and allowing the planning authority more say over how land is best used to serve the public need rather than automatic presumption in favour of any development even if it's outside of existing built up areas.

  4. @Lynn It is indeed a subjective view which buildings are worthy and which are not. I do remember catching things on Sheffield, from the bright new concrete its shabby decline and the attempts to renovate.

    @Jenny I agree about the Victorian (and Georgian) style pastiches that seem to be everywhere.

    @C B I've noticed that as well. I'm not an expert but it does seem the system still favours new builds over conservation.


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