Sunday, 15 March 2015

RIP Greyfriars Bus Station

It's the most hideous building in Northampton, which is something of an achievement in itself. But, it's also the place I took my first independent bus ride to at 13, the place I came home from after earning my first pay packet at 15, the place I changed buses on the way to losing my virginity at 17 and the place where I bumped into the woman who is now my wife at 19.

To others it represents terrible architecture, but to me it was part of my adolescent history. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be blown up, but I'm a little nostalgic about it going.


Mark Wadsworth said...

They could auction of bits of rubble, then you'd have your little bit of history to be embedded in your garden wall/rockery or used to keep your front gate open or something.

Ian B said...

It was a servicable bus station, which kept you warm and dry and all the buses in one place, and connected straight into the shopping centre. It has been replaced by an isolated, inadequately sized shed and a wide scattering of barely sheltered bus stops; the new bus shed exits into a hopelessly inadequate side street rather than the purpose built roads of Greyfriars.

If I get a bus into town, it goes up the Drapery, past the bus stop, dawdles through a mess of snarled buses around and through the bus station and eventually ends up back at the bus stop it went past ten minutes before. Which means getting off even soner, and an even longer walk through the weather to get where Greyfriars dropped you off.

And the cause of this disaster- the council leader who got a bunch of dodgy quotes to "prove" we couldn't afford Greyfriars- expects us to elect him as Conservative MP this year. If UKIP can wipe the smile off his face, it will be one thing to celebrate.

I really do not give a damn if Greyfriars was, in the opinion of some people, ugly. It was, at least, a bus station, which is more than the replacement pile of crap is.

DBC Reed said...

I am nostalgic for the whole era of building and expansion in Northampton including the legendary "60 miles by road and rail" a public sector sponsored hit record (among sniggering hippies).

Ian B is right: the Greyfriars Bus Station (which is mentioned as being haunted by Mark Haddon in "The Dog..etc") led straight under cover into the Grosvenor Centre.The new arrangement is not as bad as the whole town was hoping, although spirits lifted briefly when the opening brought traffic chaos,but it is still crap.

All the massive building of the era, of houses, the FE College, schools ,shopping centres etc linked by dual carriageways , was doubtless seen as socialist and statist by the kind of Tory nihilist who waits for the private sector, preferably the SME's to build it all with their own piddling capital( derived from untaxed rising land values).So its a surprise to see Binley's replacement( Mackintosh?) talking of big building schemes and corporate joint projects, coming on strong like old Labour reborn.

I thought the Conservatives thought if the private sector wasn't interested ,it wasn't worth doing?

Ian B said...

I just hope that fuckwit Mackintosh comes to my door canvassing, so I can tell him why he'd have more chance of being acquitted of an historic sex crime allegation than getting my vote.

The Stigler said...

I'll find out.

Ian B,
I'm not local any longer, so that's interesting and sounds bad. There's a bit too much form over function nowadays - spending hundreds of millions on St Pancras was daft - it's a place to get on and off trains, who cares what it looks like?

DBC Reed,
I had a copy of that record, from a family friend. Odd, but it did generate publicity.

Personally, I'm not getting political about buildings here, and I take back what I said about Greyfriars being the most hideous, in favour of Weston Favell Centre which isn't just ugly to look at but dysfunctional in many ways.

Ian B said...

Factoid: 60 Miles By Road Or Rail/Energy In Northampton was sung by Linda Jardim, she of Video Killed The Radio Star by Buggles. I think my sister still has our family copy of the single (my Mum worked for the Development Corporation, so she got one free. Oh, the perks!).

DBC Reed said...

@IB Many thanks for interesting conversation stopper (in Northampton) about Linda Jardim being in Buggles.In return, did you know that Half Man Half Biscuit had an epiphany about Billing Aquadrome?In a song called Epiphany funnily enough.

I think its pretty inevitable that a blog much exercised by land ownership should debate the quality of planning and number of buildings built by public sector entities like development corporations that basically compulsorily purchased agricultural and low value land, gave themselves planning permission for residential development and pocketed the uplift in land values, using it for further development.In my view ,for the development of whole new towns and districts, this method of collaring land value uplift is probably better than LVT, which still relies on Adam Smith's private developer"..monopolists" who "by keeping their markets constantly understocked ,by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell ..much above the natural price". Yes I know Smith's LVT would have made this rent-seeking more difficult.But you cannot trust the developers to develop.

The Stigler said...


Really? I lived not far from Billing Aquadrome and used to sneak in the back door and play the arcade games. I knew a few people in town who had caravans there, which always puzzled me.