Here’s my interview on Radio Manchester on the morning of Wednesday 10th of June 2015. The transcript is below. Due to a technical problem with YouTube, I have not yet managed to add subtitles to the video.
Phil: It’s nine minutes away from eight, Megabrain on the way in a couple of moments time, first though yesterday we were talking about the former Pauldens Department store in Manchester city centre
It was based on Market Street but the name was lost in the 1970s when Debenhams rebranded the store in their name. Let’s join our reporter Michelle Adamson, she’s in Piccadilly this morning to talk about those long lost Manchester department stores. Morning Michelle.
Michelle: Morning, yes beautiful blue sky is here in Piccadilly gardens this morning, and the backdrop to that beautiful blue sky is amazing different sorts of buildings. Actually, I’ve never really scrutinised the skyline year and I’ve just realised how many different architectural styles and dates of buildings there are here, and how they’ve changed as well, not only in the way they look but in the usage as well. In terms of how things have changed over the years there have been quite a few changes, and to tell us a bit more is Aidan O’Rourke, who’s a photographer, a local writer. He runs photography walks through Manchester City centre. Now we were scanning the skyline this morning and things have changed haven’t they over the years. Some of them quite recently over the years people will remember stuff that wasn’t that used to be here but isn’t now.
Aidan: Well for instance is Lewis’s which is now Primark. Lewis’s was the first department store in Manchester and it survived until not so long ago, and unfortunately it couldn’t continue, along with the one in Liverpool, so it’s just a memory now. I remember going there when I was a child and buying my first album which was Ziggy Stardust in 1972, and it cost £2.35.
Michelle: Wow [laughs]
I have many other memories of Lewis’s and so it was a great place to go, and recently as well, maybe 10 year 10 or 15 years ago, I remember giong there and I bought food there and clothes occasionally.
Michelle: And we’ve been talking about Pauldens.
Aidan: Pauldens, now Debenhams, It became Debenhams, I believe, in 1973 but prior to it being Pauldens, it was just a warehouse. It was just a department store, it was just a warehouse until Paulden moved in. I wasn’t aware of that until recently. We think of it as being a department store, it looks like a department store, but it was a warehouse and it was built by Rylands of the famous John Rylands, whose wife built the library in his memory
Michelle: And looking at some of the other buildings you’ve been pointing out how they’ve changed as well.
Aidan: Well we have Piccadilly Plaza on the left, which was completed in 1965. One notable change is the disappearance of Bernard house which was the building on the far end of the Mosley Street end which had a distinctive, and I’ve written it down here, hyperbolic paraboloid roof.
Michelle: Wow, that sounds impressive [laughs].
Aidan: Yes, but unfortunately the building was in quite a bad state, and it was difficult to let. I’ve just been reading about why they had to… I’m not sure that they really had to… it could’ve been kept, but for a number of reasons it was difficult to retain and so they demolished it in 2001, January to March. And another building has appeared in its place but it’s certainly not as impressive as the original it doesn’t really fit in the way that the old building did. Because I regard Piccadilly Plaza, in its own way, and people will disagree with me, I regard it is interesting and important as a cathedral. Now you wouldn’t knock down part of cathedral and stick up something off a trading estate, would you?
Michelle: [Laughs] Right, oh right! We are going to have the benefit of Aidan’s expert knowledge bit more. We’re going to scoot around to another part of the city centre a bit later… [fade]
Phil: Yesterday we were talking about the former Paulden’s Department store. Blimey, we’ve added a few layers to this, this morning, from where it was originally to buses that have crashed into it.
Alison: It was in 1957 that the fire gutted the original store that was in Hulme. They moved to the top of market Street then.
Phil: The Paulden’s name actually disappeared from Manchester is high street in the early 70s and the store was rebranded as Debenhams.
Alison: Our reporter Michelle Adamson is in Manchester City centre, Where she’s been hovering all morning, Michelle.
Michelle: We have, we’ve had a great time just nipping around the city centre looking at buildings that were once amazing iconic places and we’ve just hopped along from the Debenhams site which used to be the Pauldens store, and we’ve just come next to Piccadilly railway station, and we’re looking at are very unremarkable brand-new building. It’s a hotel, a brand-new hotel. Not much to distinguish it from any other modern building, a cream coloured building very plain really. But actually in its former guise, it was someone very important, A little clue is on the left hand side of the building there is a plaque and it says “Site of the former iconic Twisted Wheel club. pioneer of soul and R&B music the birthplace of Northern Soul”. Right here, we’re standing opposite, looking very different now. With me is Aidan O’Rourke, he’s a writer and photographer. One of our iconic buildings disappeared, but it’s got a plaque to remind us, but it’s looking very different now.
Aidan: Mm-hmm. Well if it was so iconic why did it disappear? Well, the buildings were rather run down, slightly quirky Victorian looking buildings there was a little gate in the the middle and I think it was unoccupied upstairs. But it reminded me of some buildings in Amsterdam, You know, it had a lot of character and with a bit of renovation it could’ve been turned into something really nice. But I’ve got the photographs I’ve got the before photographs from two angles and I’ve got the after photographs from two angles. I just wish the old building was there and in the future when and when the old fire station which is just behind us and I’m sure it will soon be restored. that old building just across the street, the site of the Twisted Wheel club, could’ve been a really nice place to complement the old fire station, But as you say we have a modern hotel.
Michelle: Now you were just telling me as well we are next to Piccadilly railway station now that’s seen some changes over the last few years not just the very recent modernisation but it’s undergone a couple of transformations.
Aidan: Yeah, the recent modernisation was in 2002 when the station was rebuilt and the train shed was restored, and that was by BDP architects, but it was also rebuilt in 1960 and so in the space of just over 40 years the station was rebuilt twice. I remember the 1960 rebuild and I remember going as a child and being very impressed with this entrance hall with lots of wood and the building prior to that was the old Victorian building, I think dated from the 1840s which was a bit of a ‘hulk’, smoke black and from the photographs. And that was demolished three.’s half of the old building was demolished with the new tower and then the old half demolished with the new concourse but then all that was swept away again 42 years later.
Michelle: Wow I wonder how many people remember that’s the first transformation in the 1960s, of Piccadilly railway station which was what used to be London Road railway station.
Alison: Fascinating stuff and thanks to Aidan who’s been with Michelle in Manchester City centre, photographer, just talking about the the iconic buildings which were proud to have. The phones have been alight all morning and it is a subject which I think were going to return to tomorrow.