I WAS sneaking around Oxford Road Station taking pictures for one of my Good, the Standard and the Ugly architectural articles when I came across a wooden hut. This, I thought, needs pointing out on its lonesome. This shouldn't get lost as a subsidiary point.
Now to replace some shocking and inappropriate shelters Northern Rail has spent some time and money and care to achieve the correct solution with curving free forms. It's encouraging.
I took some photographs.
"How long has this been here?" I asked a man cleaning the windows on the hut.
"A month or so," he said, "but you'll have to stop taking pictures, it's not allowed on station property."
"Won't stop," I said and took another picture. "Why must I?"
"Security," he said.
"Nonsense," I said, "you can examine the whole building on Google Earth in about four seconds flat."
"Oh all right then," he said and gave up.
All of which irritating banter has got me off the point.
Recently passengers have been able to enjoy improvement work at Oxford Road.
This includes new platform shelters, refurbished public toilets and new anti-slip stairs. (The use of the word ‘improvement’ with regard to the toilets is interesting as previously they resembled the single water closet in a Victorian tenement serving forty families after the drains had backed-up - only here the situation was spiced with a dash of drug abuse.)
The improvement project cost £500,000, with money coming from the Department for Transport’s National Station Improvement Programme (NSIP), Northern Rail and Transport for Greater Manchester.
What's interesting is that Northern Rail who provided the shelters took account of the listed status of this beautiful timber station and acted accordingly.
As Lee Wasnidge, Area Director for Northern Rail, told Confidential: “The new shelters are made from cedar timber cladding, which provides not only a warm and dry waiting area, but is also compliant with the Listed Building Consent Process.”
Apparently the work is only the start of things to come to Oxford Road, with further investment and improvement planned by Network Rail under the DfT’s Access for All programme.
Oxford Road Station was completed in 1960 from designs by the Midland Railway architectural team headed by Max Clendinning assisted by Hugh Tottenham of the marvellous sounding Timber Development Association. The pair used laminates of softwoods, curving and sculpting them to create an impression of modernity and movement. More of this in the full write-up to come.
Over the last fifty years the purity of the original design became clogged with all sorts of temporary cheap rubbish - take a look at the horrible canopy on the picture above. Now to replace some shocking and inappropriate shelters Northern Rail has spent time and money and care to achieve a correct solution, with curving freer forms.
It's encouraging. The shelters capture the spirit of the 1960 classic building which surrounds them. It shows how sensitive handling can enhance or at least complement rather than detract from an original.
Well done to the designers Michael Cunningham Architects based in Portland Tower on Portland Street - and thanks to the reader below for supplying the information about the name of the designers that Northern Rail didn't.
But if I were the station authorities I'd be letting as many people as possible on to those platforms to take pictures and admire their work.
You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield
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