Monday, 29 August 2011

An Architectural Gem?

The number 40 bus that passes the end of my road ends up at Preston Bus Station, built in 1969 and now considered by some to be an icon of 1960s architecture worthy of preservation in the face of the council's redevelopment plans. There is a vocal campaign to save it with, naturally, its own website
I suspect, however, that it's not so much the bus station itself that attracts attention but rather the car park above with its multiple rows of curved concrete beams. I've no idea what motorists feel about the parking arrangements but the bus station is pretty dire. Now over 40 years old and with the threat of redevelopment leading to a backlog of maintenance the bus station wasn't exactly passenger-friendly to begin with. Pedestrian access to the buses was officially only possible via subways, and when in the 1980s an underground supermarket was built so that one subway ran through the store it was allowed to be closed off when the store was closed! In practice, many people used to walk illegally across the bus apron - a procedure which has now been formalised by the provision of a pedestrian crossing.
So, what's the bus station like from a bus passenger's point of view? Well, judge for yourself:
The "official" entrance. (Reminds me of the crossing point between East and West Berlin at Freidrichstrasse station circa 1984!) (Eastern side!)
Officialdom's preferred mode of access by the public.
Bus Station?, or Abbatoir?!
Welcome to Preston!
Lancashire does have some nice bus stations, provided in recent years by the County Council, so which would the bus users of Preston prefer: This one, or this one, in nearby Chorley
(Even if the passenger information system isn't working).


Tony said...

It has seen better days.
At least they've removed the analogue clock thats been broken since 1987.

Tony said...

Sorry, NOT removed the clocks.

Save Preston Bus Station said...

I don't think that Chorley bus station will look that good in 40 years time if it had not been maintained or modernised - mismanagement and underfunding has been the main issue with Preston Bus Station. It's sad to see that the passenger display in Chorley isn't working already, these things can lead to a downward spiral. The campaign isn't just about saving a car park but it's about the bus station too; there are currently no plans in place for a replacement so commuters/passengers will be dispersed to bus stops across the city centre. Of course bus travellers would prefer a bus station with a modern interior and there's no reason why Preston Bus Station can't be modernised up to such a standard. I think everyone agrees that subway access to the bus station isn't ideal, the ground level access has certainly been welcomed even if it has been executed in the most unappealing way possible. The exterior of Chorley bus station compared to Preston's is quite bland and generic, the hope is that Preston Bus Station will be kept as part of the Tithebarn regeneration scheme; after all it is the original architects (Building Design Partnership) who are in charge of the scheme. It would be sad if they demolished one of their most popular buildings.

Tony said...

The Bus Station is one of the defining sites of Preston. Like the largest civilian cemetery in the UK, the largest single dock etc. The place is scored into my soul as I spent many hours as a kid there waiting for buses that had either broken down on the way or had been missed off the schedule. I lived near Longridge at the time.