Monday, 30 May 2011

Oh brave new world!

The Library has recently acquired a set of around two hundred 35mm slides taken by Prestwich resident Margaret Openshaw Newbold (1905-1998). These form part of a collection donated by Ian Pringle of Prestwich, and are largely concerned with the wholesale demolition of Victorian buildings in Manchester city centre that occurred in the 1960s and 70s, and the subsequent redevelopment.

The image below shows two of Margaret's photographs of the Ramada Hotel site taken during the demolition of the Deansgate Hotel building and after the 'improvements':

Here are the foundations being put in once all the demolition is complete:

Round the corner on Victoria Street, these passers-by are stopping to take in the scale of the destruction:

And here is the site of the glorious Arndale Centre:

Margaret's shot of the billboard advertisement heralding the changes:

It is staggering to see the extent of the demolition of high-quality Victorian and Edwardian brick and stone buildings for which society has now developed much more of an appreciation. Demolition on a scale like this would now be perceived as indiscriminate vandalism. It is also interesting to note that many of the new concrete buildings erected as replacements have themselves been demolished and replaced as part of the rebuilding programme of the last ten years, provoking the inevitable question of whether buildings of such beauty and quality will ever be constructed in our cities again.