After visiting Northcote, I convinced the other half to go to Preston. Last time we took a detour home via a North West town, we ended up in the Magical Moomin Valley, so I have form in delivering quality experiences.
The reason I wanted to go was to see, first hand, the marvel that is Preston Bus Station and car park. Preston Bus Station is a Brutalist masterpiece, a structure built to last, to provide a public service through pure form and design.
Unlike Park Hill flats, it had an application to become a Listed Building rejected some time ago. Unlike Park Hill flats, it is impossible to gentrify something that runs a working class service. Unlike Park Hill flats, it is the town’s favourite building. Unlike Park Hill flats, the council want to demolish it.
The arguments for this is that it doesn’t get great numbers, that more people get buses from streets in the city, rather than the terminus. That demolishing it would provide a large area of land for Preston City Council to redevelop, put a mall or an array of chain shops, a John Lewis, M&S and Cineworld. Perhaps they could put some aspirational flats to leave rotting until the recession picks up. The replacement would cost more than refurbishment, and might not even happen at all.
As I’ve written before, I’m quite distressed at the historical myopia of town planners and councils. The desire to demolish the recent past and build inferior buildings, at a great cost — both economically and culturally — to the public.
Here are some photographs (passed through Instagram) from our wander around PBS:
Preston Bus Station feels stuck in time, generally. The corporate signage is all in the Helvetica of its time, and there are a lot of informal, more hand-type style signs. Most of them have been there since its opening in 1969, and nothing much has been updated.
Far from being a relic or stamping its own demolition papers, it acts as a record of its inception, a moment of hope, pride and of making a public statement.
I’ll be upset if it is torn down, but not surprised. You can do your part by signing this petition, then go and visit it on bus and spend a shitload of money on eggs, bacon, chips and beans in the café.