9.4.13

Preston Bus Station

Preston Bus Station

On Easter Monday I took the train from Scarborough to Manchester, seeing some magnificent scenery between Huddersfield and Stalybridge, to stay in Bury for a few days. On the Tuesday, I took the bus to Bolton and the train up to Preston to see the famous Brutalist bus station, which is under threat of demolition. I took a bus from the station so as to arrive in style and what a fine building it is. I had a wander round the interior taking photos, lunch (egg and tomato sandwich and a mug of tea - I could have had a potato and butter pie, but resisted the temptation) in the cafeteria and even made use of the gents. I took a lift up to the car park decks too. What I didn't realise is that it is double sided with plenty of spaces for buses. The far side has older signage, some in need of repair.

  Preston Bus Station

Unless there's something drastically wrong with the concrete I don't see why it has to go. It is a beautiful structure surrounded by ugly buildings. What else does Preston offer? Read on...

Afterwards I headed for the Harris Museum, which has a truly superb art gallery on the top floor, with lots of wonderful Victorian and early 20th century paintings. It also houses a fine collection of ceramics and the 13,500 year old Poulton Elk. The star however is the building itself, the interior of which is decorated with friezes and murals depicting all ages of art history. The Egyptian balcony (not accessible) features murals painted by John Somerscales between 1909 and 1913.

Baptistry gates from Florence (replica)

From their website:
As part of the design Hibbert also obtained plaster copies of Classical and Renaissance sculpture to illustrate the “whole range and history of the world’s greatest achievements in art”. These started at the top with Assyrian art, then classical Greek sculpture and down to Renaissance art on the ground floor. Only the Greek and Assyrian friezes on the upper floors of the central hall and copy of the Gates of Paradise, Lorenzo Ghiberti (c.1378-1455) from Florence on the ground floor still survive [see photo above]. The friezes are reproductions of the frieze from the palace of King Ashurnasirpal at Nimrud (885 to 860 BC), the frieze and the metopes from the Parthenon in Athens (438-32 BC) and a cast of the frieze of the temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Greece (420-400 BC).
And unlike Scarborough art gallery, it's all absolutely free. I had a 75p tub of parched peas (black peas, pigeon peas, maple peas, carlins) from the stall outside, then wandered back to the station and home to Bury via Bolton.

  Northern street food

Now, I probably wouldn't have visited Preston if it wasn't for the Bus Station being under threat, and so I wouldn't have discovered the Harris Museum (there's also the Ribble Steam Railway, down by the docks to see). So a top tip to tourist boards: announce that one of your iconic buildings is to be demolished, and they will come!

Liquorice root

On Wednesday, I had a wander round Bury Market, bought some dried black peas to take home, and had a (free - I'm a member) round trip on the East Lancs Railway, pulled by Standard 4 tank 80080 (made in Brighton). I also made my way to Bury Art Gallery to find many of its most famous paintings were abroad, in China, so there were some substitutes from the vaults to admire. I also had a cappuccino in the new cafe on the balcony. The woman asked me if I wanted one shot or two. I had no idea and opted for the one - I should have asked for two! Thursday was to be my most ambitious excursion - to Haworth and the Keighley and Worth Valley railway.
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