Modernism in Preston


The most stunning building in Preston hidden behind the shops and offices.  It has been brought to national attention (on the Radio 4 Today programme, no less) now that it is threatened with demolition.

A striking example of what post-war architects were building for the people of this country.  A functional building with a functional purpose, but made absolutely beautiful.

Built in the Brutalist architectural style between 1968 and 1969, designed by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson of Building Design Partnership with E. H. Stazicker, it has a capacity of 80 double-decker buses, 40 along each side of the building. Some claim that it is the second largest bus station in Western Europe. Pedestrian access to the Bus Station is through any of three subways, one of which links directly to the adjacent Guild Hall, while the design also incorporates a multi-storey car park of five floors with space for 1,100 cars.
The building’s engineers, Ove Arup and Partners, designed the distinctive curve of the car park balconies “after acceptable finishes to a vertical wall proved too expensive, contributing to the organic, sculptural nature of the building. The edges are functional, too, in that they protect car bumpers from crashing against a vertical wall. The cover balustrade protects passengers from the weather by allowing buses to penetrate beneath the lower parking floor.”


The building is threatened with demolition as part of the City Council’s Tithebarn redevelopment project. In 2000, opposition to the demolition led to a failed application for listed building status by English Heritage. Preston Borough Council (as it was then known) opposed the application.
Putting forward the case for a smaller terminus, a report, commissioned by the council and Grosvenor in 2000, stated that “buses arriving and leaving the bus station have very low bus occupancy rates indicating that passengers alight and board elsewhere in the town centre. The bus station car park similarly suffers from the poor pedestrian linkages.” Listing was subsequently rejected.
On October 11, 2005, Preston City Council and developer Grosvenor Holdings signed an agreement to go ahead with the Tithebarn redevelopment project, which calls for the demolition of the current bus station.
A survey conducted by the Lancashire Evening Post in May 2010 found that Preston Bus Station was Preston people’s favourite building.
A further application to list the bus station was rejected in 2010 and a review of the decision was turned down in 2011. It featured on the 2012 World Monument Fund’s list of sites at risk.
It featured in a song on the show All Over the Place.

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