Derelict Art Deco

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2018 - Fire destroys Littlewoods Pools Factory

Littlewoods Pools Factory Clock post fire

One Liverpool's most glamorous clock face - Caption and image courtesy and © of Angie Sammons via

The Littlewoods Clock Now and Then

The Littlewoods instantly recognisable iconic Art Deco Clock as it was and during the fire - images courtesy of the Press Association

Post fire panormaic view of the Littlewoods Building

The charred and blackened facade of the Littlewoods factory post-fire - image courtesy and © of Angie Sammons via

Littlewoods building: blackened, bowed but not beaten

Twickenham Studios reveals it is still coming to Liverpool after huge blaze at landmark. It was a cathedral of treble chance dreams. A touch of Hollywood opulence perched high and mighty over the post-war factory landscape of Wavertree. For tens of thousands of workers below and beyond, Littlewoods personified pinned hopes and waiting fortunes just a shilling and a score draw away. "When we win the pools", the working class mantra that Camelot killed one night in November 1994. But back then…

An entire wing reduced to crumpled girders: rusty red under a blue sky September morn, 2018, and as the world awakes to its first autumn commuter crawl, John Moores' art deco monument lies blackened and bowed following one of the most dramatic blazes the city has seen in decades. An entire wing reduced to crumpled girders: rusty red under a blue sky. On its central tower, the city's most glamorous clock face: teary, tarred, scarred. It's been a bad night, a shocking night, a suspected arson attack has ripped through an entire wing of the 85,000 sq ft site. "The most interesting wing, the bit with the walk-in safes, with all the grand old fittings," one insider, tells me, head shaking as he surveys the aftermath. And all as it was about to be reborn as Twickenham film studio's northern outpost. A £50m deal with two 20,000 sq ft sound stages, supporting workshops, wardrobe and prop storage and the prospect of hundreds of real "Hollywood" jobs coming to Edge Lane. Curtain up on a golden age of film that those factory workers could never have imagined in their wildest…

Will it still happen? Can it still happen? Yes, says Twickenham's commercial director Andrew Boswell, who confirmed today: "Our plans remain unaffected despite the unfortunate fire which was in a different wing of the existing building." A man with a clipboard wandering up Edge Lane - turns out he's the loss adjuster - says there are tentative reasons to be cheerful, testament in no small part to Sunday night's fire crews who successfully battled to contain the ferocious flames from spreading across the complex. Testament, too, to the integrity of the original 1938 construction; they really don't make them like that any more. It seems, then, that Lady Luck didn't entirely leave the building when it closed in 2003. Now the only Spend Spend, Spend looks likely to come from the insurance company. Source :

Littlewoods renovation still set to go on

Will Twickenham film studio's northern outpost still go ahead? - Caption and image courtesy and © of Angie Sammons via

Imaginative encapsulation using old art work of Littlewoods Factory

Imaginative use of the old and new - derelict and original

Current aeriel view of the Littlewoods Factory

Current view of the old Littlewoods Factory

Envisaged view of the new Littlewoods Studios

Proposed view after restoration - images sourced from the BBC

A huge blaze has destroyed part of the Littlewoods Pools building, one of Liverpool's most famous landmarks. The roof and upper floor of one wing of the "iconic" structure were feared to have been lost after the fire took hold shortly before 20:00 BST on Sunday, 2nd September 2018. Merseyside Fire Service said there had been no injuries and there were no concerns over the building's integrity. The fire is under control and crews are damping down at the art deco structure, which has been empty since 2003. A fire investigation officer is at the scene to try and ascertain the cause of the blaze. Source and full story : BBC

The Littlewood Clock Tower ablaze 2018

The building's art deco clock tower is a local landmark - image courtesy of the BBC and © of the PA

Littlewoods ablaze

At its height nine fire crews were tackling the blaze - image courtesy of the BBC and © of the PA

Fire officers damping down the Littlewoods Building

Firefighters were damping down on Monday morning - image courtesy of the BBC

Inferno blazes at the Littlewoods factory

Image - sourced courtesy of The Sun

Charred remains of the Littlewoods Name

Such a scene of devastation as firefighters tackle the blaze at the Littlewoods building - image courtesy of the BBC and © of the PA

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson tweeted: "Absolutely heartbreaking news that the iconic Littlewoods Building is ablaze, looks pretty bad at this stage, let's hope and pray it's salvageable." The fire service said it was called at 19:52 BST and was on the scene within four minutes, but firefighters were confronted with a "significant" blaze across an area measuring 200m by 100m. It was brought under control by 01:30 as crews managed to prevent the spread of the fire beyond the one wing. Source : BBC

Recent image of Littlewoods falling into disrepair

A recent image of the former Littlewoods Building which has been sold and will now become a major film and TV hub - image courtesy of :

A piece of Liverpool's history has been left scarred after a blaze at the former Littlewoods Pools Building last night. The iconic site which has been empty for years, was built in 1938, went up in flames on Sunday evening, leaving many who remember it in its heyday devastated. The building is set to be revived by developers Capital & Centric, who plan to turn it into a major film and TV studio to be named 'Littlewoods Film Studios'. Source and full story : Liverpool Echo

Boarded up exterior in August 2011

August 2011 - boarded up to prevent further deterioration and damage - image courtesy & © of urbandegeneration

Littlewoods Building Pamorama Derelict

Former Littlewoods John Moores building on Edge Lane (presumably post 2003) - image courtesy of the Liverpool Echo & © Colin Lane

There is still hope that the building will be saved and there is a very positive article from the Architects Journal, dated 3rd September 2018, available here | The BBC have created a very interesting archive here

2016 - Saltdean Lido

Has secured lottery funding and is in the process of being transformed back to its former glory more here

Saltdean Lido - neglected

Image courtesy and © of the Heritage Lottery Fund

Image courtesy of the Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company

2016 - The Tropicana, formerly 'Dismaland', originally named 'The Weston Swimming Pool'

In the summer of 2016 - a new timeline appeared on simply stating "Summer 2016 – The renaissance of The Tropicana continues as it transforms into a pop-up amusement park ‘Funland’, welcoming thousands of visitors to enjoy its thrills and spills. It also shows its versatility as a venue playing host to a diverse programme of events including theatre shows, street art festival, Hazy Days music festival, Stars of Time and Weston Food Festival." No further update that I can see .....

Then, in 2015, 'Banksy' stepped in shaming everyone wanting to demolish a piece of history!

Dismaland Logo

The image that so incensed 'Disney'!

Dismaland Map

A plan of 'Dismaland' - images sourced from Visit Bristol ('Disney style' logo above) and the BBC (Disney style map below)

Visit Bristol wrote : "The whole of the South West is currently a-quiver with excitement following the official announcement this week that Britain’s most famous graffiti artist, Banksy, will be holding his latest exhibition 'Dismaland' at Weston-super-Mare’s derelict Tropicana Lido, opening on Saturday 22nd August and running for 5 weeks.  Unveiling details in a characteristically elusive way, following weeks of speculation and media-hype, the ‘Bemusement Park’ is a sinister twist on Walt Disney’s Disneyland and the entire exhibition appears to embrace some dark themes. Described by its creators as ‘a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism’, the exhibition promises ‘the finest collection of contemporary art ever assembled in a North Somerset seaside town’ and a quick scan down the lengthy list of other artists involved include some big names from the art world, like Damien Hirst. Check the Dismaland website for more info. Weston-super-Mare is certainly bucking the English seaside town trend with this latest event!" Typically but not unexpectedly, Visit Bristol is not really bothered about promoting the plight of the former Swimming Pool but rather extolling the virtues of Banksy and his art whilst quivering with expectation (their description not mine!)

The Dismaland site no longer carries information of this event but has lots of very interesting images and one quote on the opening page : "After Dismaland closed in September 2015 nothing was wasted. All the building materials were recycled into shelters for homeless migrants and the specially trained surly and unhelpful staff were relocated to Virgin customer services." Go on, smile, you know you want to!

In 2012 'The Weston Swimming Pool' had reached rock-bottom judging by these images :

Swimming Pool Fountain destroyed

I always hate seeing these fountains destroyed - they always represented sun and joy and freedom and 'no school' for me!

Aerial view of Swimming Pool site

Screenshot from a short video by 'Eye in the Sky' on You Tube (well worth watching) to reinforce/complement the waste of the destroyed fountain (above)

Swimming Pool front facade boarded up

Swimming Pool perimeters festooned with dumped rubbish

Images sourced from the 28 Days Later site courtesy of Petzl (Explorational Urbanite) who added the following information :

"The site was first developed as a 950 square metres (10,200 sq ft) swimming pool in 1937 and included an art deco diving board. At the time it had the highest diving board and was the largest open air swimming pool in Europe. When it was opened it was simply known as "The Pool" becoming branded as Tropicana in 1983. The reinforced concrete diving board was demolished in 1982 and was refurbished. In 2000 the Tropicana closed, and developer Mace Estates was selected to work on a new project for the site. Although the Council promised that the Tropicana would be open in 2004, the Mace plans were rejected and the company bowed out. In 2005 Henry Boot was chosen as the developer, but the recession meant they pulled out. Then early in 2011 developer Richard Nightingale pulled out over a dispute with the Council over his plans. On 23 August 2011, the Local Authority announced it was giving developers one last chance to rebuild the old complex which has now been shut for 11 years. But it was announced on 28 November 2011 that a working group has made a recommendation to North Somerset Council to demolish the Tropicana. The cross-party Tropicana Working Group voted by six votes to three in favour of knocking it down. It will cost the council £250,000 to demolish the site, rather than leave it hanging on. It is expected that Councillors will decide the site's fate on 6 January 2012. The decision is to demolish it."

2010 - The Tropicana 'Concept' Design

Concept Design – The Tropicana, Weston Super Mare

Concept Design - Tropicana rear view with cafe hub - designs and images © of Stride Treglown

"Stride Treglown have prepared a concept design for the regeneration of The Tropicana, a seafront leisure attraction in Weston super Mare. The building, which was originally opened in the 1930’s as an open-air lido, and was then refurbished and launched in 1980’s as The Tropicana. The building has been vacant for 10 years and local people are keen for it to be redeveloped in support of the ongoing regeneration of the seafront and surrounding areas."

We can but hope that another Art Deco masterpiece can be saved using modern technology whether using this design or one of the others submitted. (The failure or otherwise of capitalising on this reminds me of the 'Kalber' promises made around the same time concerning the Midland Hotel)

2016 - Jubilee Pool, Penzance

As with the Saltdean Lido, this Art Deco open air Lido is once more as new and shiny as it was in its 1930s hey day.

Entrance to the Pool in 2016

Looking into the visibly derelict pool through the ornate wrought iron gates - image courtesy & © of

Jubilee Pool side looking out onto the sea

From or on the battery rocks a truly dismal sight although the legend of the Jubilee Pool stays defiantly visible - image courtesy & © of Cornwall Muddy Stilletos

Neglected Jubilee Pool

Neglect is visible in this view of the Jubilee Pool prior to its restoration

Jubilee Pool aerial view

Aerial view of the Jubilee Pool - from this distance you can't see the deterioration to any great extent

Jubilee Pool damaged by storms at sea

In addition to a battering from the waves, storms have added to the dereliction of the Jubilee Pool - image courtesy & © of

From Jubilee Pool :

Described as one of the most unusual and pleasingly designed lidos of the era, the Jubilee Pool was designed in the early 1930s by Captain F Latham, the Borough Engineer. The pool was opened with great celebration in May 1935, the year of King George V’s Silver Jubilee.

The Pool was built upon a traditional bathing spot at the Battery Rocks near the harbour at Penzance. Cleverly designed to cope with the full ferocity of the Cornish seas, The pool is triangular in shape yet with gentle curves, making it a most pleasant environment.

A guide book from 1938 tells us that: “In many respects the design is unique architecturally, partly from a point of view of necessity in conforming with existing conditions of wave elements and rocks which controlled the outline. Streamlines have been used to the greatest advantage in meeting the direction of the storm waves, while a Cubist style has been adopted in the interior in providing diving platforms and steps… The whole pool is surrounded by high streamlined sea walls terraced up within the interior so as to give aspect and effect. They also serve to strengthen the structure.” These walls also protect swimmers from strong, offshore winds and form terraces for spectators.

The pool was a popular amenity for over 50 years. However, by 1992 the pool had become dilapidated to the extent that its future operation was in doubt. But fortunately a retired local architect, John Clarke, who recognised the pool’s importance came to the rescue. He was alarmed when a proposal to build a copper coloured pyramid structure over the pool was suggested. He formed The Jubilee Pool Association with other local supporters, and thanks to his direct input the pool was listed. In the following two years, John and members of the JPA worked voluntarily with Penwith District Council to secure essential grant funding to contribute to the pool’s restoration over two phases. In 1994, after essential restructural works, the pool reopened to much acclaim, and the jubilant scenes witnessed when the pool first opened in 1935 were repeated some 60 years later.

Since 1994 the Friends kept a watchful eye on the pool, continued to keep it in the public eye and helped ensure it received the vital funding it required to remain open. In recent years Cornwall Council have recognised its importance as a local amenity and national heritage asset. In 2012 Cornwall Council transferred the operation of all their leisure services to a new charitable trust, Carrick Leisure Trust, which became Tempus Leisure Trust and they took over the operation of the pool on behalf of Cornwall Council.

In February 2014, severe storms hit Cornwall and the pool suffered serious structural damage. The Friends immediately began campaigning to ensure repairs were made to the pool. They persuaded local stakeholders to support the repair and restoration of this much loved building, with the overwhelming backing of the wider community. Cornwall Council and local councillors were thankfully also very supportive and as a result an application for government funding via the Coastal Communities programme was prepared by Cornwall Council. By this stage however other serious structural issues were identified, and it became clear that the pool required significant investment if it were to survive. Pending the outcome of the grant application Jubilee Pool remained closed throughout the summer of 2014.

2015 - Philco Factory Fire

Businesses were decimated after the fire

Philco Factory on Fire 2015

Firefighters battling to put out the fire whose pall was seen all over London

Burnt out shell of Philco Building

Philco Derelict

The aftermath of the fire and the once proud building stands decimated

2013 - The Manor Road Garage - East Preston

Manor Road Garage pre conversion

Unloved: The Manor Road Garage was built in the art deco style in 1934 but it closed in the 1970s and was left abandoned for four decades.

Manor Road Garage Petrol Pumps

Eerie: With weeds growing in the forecourt and the facade boarded up, the garage in East Preston was a shell of its former self.

Images courtesy and © of John Connor Press

I love this eerily 'silent' photo and its washed out colours submitted by Sharon Read in 2010 via British Listed Buildings

Manor Road Garage

I have to say I would have hated living next door or across the road from this and having to look at it daily - great picture submitted by Mary Martin in 2011 via British Listed Buildings

Derelict Manor road Garage

What an eyesore but with humour as the 'Open' sign attests - this building never gave up hope - image submitted by Mandy Armstrong in 2010 via British Listed Buildings

So what do you do with a derelict old garage built in 1934, closed in the 1970s and then abandoned for four decades, which like much of Art Deco/Moderne is becoming an eyesore and locals are itching to have it pulled down, especially those rusty old petrol pumps? You get the building listed and then convert it and keep the petrol pumps - read about it here - look at the restoration here

2012 - Weston Super Mare Swimming Pool

Demolishing the Diving Board

The demolition of the truly iconic diving board in 1982 - image source Flickr via

Demolished Weston Super Mare Swimming Pool

'The Pool now lies in ruins' - image source The Times in 2012

Banksy re-styles the derelict swimming pool into 'Dismaland' parodying 'Disneyland'

An entrance ticket into Dismaland

Deckchairs at the ready in Weston Super Mare

1,000 Somerset residents were allowed in to Dismaland today ahead of the official public opening the following day - Images sourced from SWNS via the Daily Mail

Taking the Mickey? Disney refuses to comment on Banksy's dystopian 'Dismaland' - where tour guides where Mickey Mouse-like ears

Disney has refused to comment on notorious street artist Banksy's latest work of art - a seaside theme park called 'Dismaland' that skewers the Happiest Place on Earth. 

The theme park opened Friday (21st August 2015) in the British seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, where hundreds waited in line for hours to see what has been described as a 'festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism'. Despite the name being an obvious play on the word Disneyland, Banksy insists his ironic theme park is not a dig at Disney and told the Guardian that he has 'banned any imagery of Mickey Mouse from the site.' However, the amusement park's guides were seen wearing Mickey Mouse-like ears and at least two of the works of art depict the Disney stylized versions of the princesses Ariel and Cinderella. 

When reached for comment on Friday,  Disneyland Resort spokesman Suzi Brown declined to comment on Banky's park. The silence from Disney is strange, considering the company's history of fiercely defending it's copyright of Mickey's image. In 2012, the company filed a complaint against the EDM artist Deadmau5, who performs wearing a Mickey-esque face mask. And in 1989, they threatened to sue three day care centers in Florida for painting Disney characters on their walls. The centers gave in an repainted the walls with Universal cartoon characters. Read more

1989 - Pan Pacific Fire

A fire in May, 1983 damaged the northern end and on the evening of May 24, 1989, six days after the fifty-fourth anniversary of its heralded opening, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was destroyed by one final and incredibly spectacular fire that was visible for miles. Prior to the fire, deterioration and dereliction were slowly but surely damaging the structure.

More deterioration evident at the Pan Pacific Building

The first signs of dereliction and decay, the once smooth entrance how hosts weeds in the gaps between the slabs.

Weeds sprouting up around the once proud Pan Pacific Building

The weeds are surviving well but the fortunes of the Pan Pacific building are not so lucky.

The Pan Pacific Building struggling to stay upright

The start of the graffiti and vandalism sounds the beginning of the end for the Pan Pacific - image courtesy of yeahelvis.blogspot

Pan Pacific covered in graffiti

Pretty as the wild bushes are - the graffiti and neglect is very apparent.

Over grown and with more graffiti signalling the end of this building

And rust as well!

1986 photo of Pan Pacific showing the deterioration

1986 photo of Pan Pacific showing the deterioration

Two images from the 1986 collection of John Gately as seen on Flickr

Pan Pacific on Fire

The 1989 fire that destroyed the Pan Pacific could be seen all over the LA basin. Image courtesy & © of the LAFD Historical Archives

Aftermath of fire

Word is out - the fire is creating severe damage.

Aftermath of the fire at the Pan Pacific

The final collapse of the iconically recognisable Pan Pacific towers after the fire had been extinguished.

Fire engine at the sceme of the PP fire

"It was a giant wall of smoke and flames for a long time when this famous Sci fi looking Auditorium in Los Angeles went up on May 24, 1989. Too bad but the Pan Pacific Auditorium was completely destroyed, but luckily no one was in it at the time. Xanadu the movie was filmed here, Elvis Presley in 1957, Presidents and lots of others. For 35 years people came to this art deco place right next to CBS in Television City. Engine co. 61 of the Los Angeles fire department right there on the scene."
Image and narrative sourced from Ted MacKnight on Flickr

From the LA Times

Fire Destroys Pan Pacific Auditorium

May 25, 1989|GEORGE STEIN and NIESON HIMMEL | Times Staff Writers

A suspicious fire Wednesday destroyed Los Angeles' Pan Pacific Auditorium, a 54-year-old landmark that for decades served as one of the city's major sports and entertainment centers and commanded a worldwide reputation for its distinctive architecture.

"I think it could be arson," said Assistant Fire Chief Tony Ennis. "We got inside for a quick look, but we couldn't tell anything," said Capt. Gary Seidel of the Fire Department's arson squad. "Everything was all wet. It will be a couple of days before we know the cause."

Investigators said late Wednesday that they want to question a man who arrived at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's emergency room suffering from smoke inhalation. "Right now, we just want to talk to him in regards to what he observed at the time of the fire," said Seidel.

The fire began shortly after 7 p.m. At times, flames from the dilapidated, boarded-up auditorium at 7600 Beverly Blvd. shot 200 feet into the night sky and could be seen from as far away as the Civic Center and the Silver Lake area. Streets were closed for four blocks in each direction from the blaze, but spectators by the hundreds walked to the scene, just east of CBS' Television City, and watched flames write the final chapter in the auditorium's uncertain recent history. "We have lost a monument here," said Stanley Treitel, head of a community group working to revitalize the Fairfax district. He said the county was moving toward rehabilitating the building and preserving its facade.

The spectacle created a tremendous traffic jam. "People were still coming home from work, and the streets were gridlocked," said Carol Botney, 27. "People were getting out of their cars, and some were fighting. With the huge smoke cloud, it looked like a scene after they dropped the bomb." The fire started in the building's southwest corner, Ennis said. Two firefighting task forces arrived almost immediately, one going inside and another going to the roof to open it for ventilation, he said. "Our first fire units in found a man either just in or just out of the building when they arrived," said Fire Marshall Craig Drummond. "He appeared to have suffered slight burns, and they took him to the rescue ambulance for treatment. But he bailed out and disappeared into the crowd." Officials believe this was the same man who later appeared at Cedars. No other injuries were reported.

The smoke inhalation victim left the hospital before he was treated, Seidel said, but a witness jotted down his license plate number. Arson investigators went to an undisclosed address where the car's registered owner lives. The man had not arrived by 11 p.m., Seidel said. Seidel said the man was not considered a suspect. He said preliminary indications were that the man was a passer-by who tried to help put out the fire. Firefighters said it was virtually impossible to fight the fire from outside because the fire's "seat," or point of origin, was inside. "If you can't get to the seat of the fire, you'll never put it out," said firefighter Roy Rodriguez, a member of the first company to arrive at the scene. "We're going to let it go, then we're going to put it out."

Within an hour, the building's east wall and roof had collapsed. Witnesses said they heard what sounded like two large explosions before the roof was engulfed in flames. John Ewing, 48, a vice president of a heating and air conditioning firm, said he saw at least 10 firefighters "up on the roof cutting holes. The flames came through the holes. You could see them backing away." Officials said they ordered firefighters off the roof when it became evident that they could not "stay ahead of the flames." Fire Capt. Keith Massey expressed disappointment in the inability to check the blaze. "We've been out here every month for the last 15 years, practicing how to fight this fire," he said. Officials said the fire traveled along the roof very quickly. Ten minutes after firefighters left the roof, part of it collapsed. "It sounded like a big tree falling, crackling noises at first and then a big crash," said Scott Vincent, 29, of the roof's collapse. "Standing across the street, you could feel the heat."

Martin Echivibel said he first "saw the smoke from Venice, then from Culver City. I decided to come watch. The flames were big. Watching from Culver City, it looked so close." At the fire's peak, more than 200 firefighters from 50 companies, some from as far away as the San Fernando Valley-battled the blaze. As firefighters contained the flames, all that was left standing were three charred walls and the distinctive fin-shaped pylons at the entrance. The pylons began to collapse about an hour later. The fire was stubborn. By 10 p.m., it finally was controlled, but the damage was done. Only one pylon remained standing, and it fell about 15 minutes later.

Opened in 1935, the once-magnificent auditorium was an early home to the Ice Capades, car shows, circuses, conventions, political gatherings, concerts and hockey and basketball games. Considered a prime example of the short-lived architectural style called Streamline Moderne-an expression of America's romance with machines and transportation, the auditorium has stood empty since 1972. Contributing to this report were Times staff writers Edward J. Boyer, Mathis Chazanov, John Kendall and John H. Lee. Source : L.A. Times

From L.A. History (to follow)

1988 - The Portobello (Outdoor) Bathing Pool, Edinburgh demolished

From the Scotsman : The advent of cheap package holiday’s abroad played a pivotal role in the area’s sad decline. As a result, the future of Portobello Bathing Pool was bleak and fortunes worsened in 1978 with the closure of the power station. What little heat the water had harvested before had now disappeared altogether. The 1979 season turned out to be the last and demolition was finally approved in 1988.

Portobello Diving Board derelict

From the BBC - an image of the once splendid now decaying 32ft diving board - image source rcahms

Derelict Entrance to Portobello Open Air Pool

Image of Entrance sourced from Pinterest

Portobello Bathing Pool 1983

Signs of decay in 1983 sourced from Pinterest

Portobello Bathing Pool 1985

Portobello Bathing Pool 1985

The two images above were taken by Miles Cumming on 26th September 1985 and sourced from

Entrance from the road in 1987

"The old art deco Portobello pool was closed and demolished sadly. Here it is in 1987 looking very run down after closure." Image and strapline sourced from Steve S on Flickr

Today, the area bears little resemblance to how it once looked. A leisure centre and 5-a-side football complex now adorn the site where the pool was formerly situated. Portobello Bathing Pool survives chiefly within the fond memories of summer holidays long passed

1980 - Wanton destruction of the Firestone Building

Source : Brentford & Chiswick Journal 2 (1981)

In February 1980 the Firestone Tyre Factory on the Great West Road closed and 1,500 people lost their jobs. The building was sold to the Trafalgar House Company – run by Lord Victor Matthews and Nigel Broakes – and contracts were finally exchanged on Friday, 22nd August.

Demolition in progress

No escaping now - men in hard hats on site!

During that August week an Inspector from the Department of the Environment had visited the factory and had decided to ‘spot-list’ the building – an emergency procedure which would protect it from demolition. No senior civil servant could be found to sign the papers before the Bank Holiday weekend. On Saturday 23rd August Lord Matthews ordered demolition men to destroy the main features of the facade – the ceramic tiles around the entrance, the white pillars, the pediment above and the bronze lamp standards.

Firestone demolition in progress

The image and the banner describes everything - the demolition starts the picture © of Getty appears in the Evening Standard

The Great West Road was once known as The Golden Mile. The factories along it were built in the late 1920s and the early 1930s, often by American companies which relied on advertising to promote their products. The factories themselves were used as advertising, which is why they were so eye-catching and exciting. They had to boast their modernity. Apart from Firestones, there was Trico (American windscreen wipers), Sperry Gyroscope, Pyrene fire extinguishers, Macleans, Gillette and Jantzen American swimwear. A similar company, Hoover, built their factory on the Western Avenue. Of British and European companies there were Henley’s – ‘The world’s biggest petrol station’ – the Garden Bakery of Macfarlane Lang, Coty Cosmetics, and Simmonds Aerocessories (now the Beecham building).

The Firestone factory was designed in 3 weeks by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners; it was built in 18 weeks. This firm was famous in its day for its industrial buildings, for example, the Wrigley’s factory in Wembley, Huntley and Palmer’s in Reading, the Victoria Coach Station, Glaxo in Greenford and Champion Spark Plugs in Feltham. Douglas Wallis himself felt that his buildings were only temporary, a part of the manufacturing process, and that he was not building long-lasting monuments. Many of the workers in the factory will appreciate the contrast between the clean, white exterior and the actual manufacturing process inside; it was dirty, hot and pungent with the smell of rubber.

Our area of west London has derived a lot of its wealth from the Great West Road and the Airport. The demolition of the Firestone factory is symptomatic of a change that is occurring along this road as manufacturing is being replaced by warehouses, distribution centres and offices. The large sites and favourable transport conditions may even tempt retailers here with hypermarkets. The value of the Firestone factory was that it contained in its shape and appearance the means to interpret what has happened in this area since the end of the first World War. It was the best example. Local people felt very bitter about the hasty way it was destroyed and they felt they had been robbed of one of the area’s landmarks. However there is one consolation for the historian who is interested in recording and observing the process of change. The confidence of its construction contrasts noticeably with the lack of confidence surrounding the saga of its destruction.

Remembered 25 years on ....

1st September 2005 source : Richmond & Twickenham Times

The August bank holiday brought a nasty shock to conservationists in Brentford 25 years ago. Over the weekend, the famous Firestone factory on the Great West Road was suddenly demolished. Moves were afoot to protect the building through listing, and many at the time believed the demolition had been rushed through to circumvent such action. The attractive factory was built in 1928. Firestone set up the plant to save the cost of shipping tyres from America to Britain.

One of the first purpose built new factories on the Great West Road, it was designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Brothers and built on what had been 26 acres of orchards. The Art Deco frontage was set back from the road, with lawns in front and the company's sports ground to the west. The building was a landmark of Brentford for 50 years, but eventually its fate was sealed by events across the Atlantic. Firestone faltered in the 1970s with its steel-braced radial model 500 tyre, which was widely criticised on safety grounds and eventually withdrawn, plunging the company into millions of dollars of losses. In November 1979 Firestone announced the closure of its Brentford plant and it shut its doors for the last time in February 1980, making 1,500 workers redundant.

In the last few weeks, a temporary job centre set up inside the factory succeeded in finding work for a third of the employees, a large proportion being taken on by London Transport. The factory stayed empty for some months and was then sold to Trafalgar House. Hounslow Council and the Department of the Environment were both looking into listing the building. However, the developers had other ideas and the impressive frontage was reduced to rubble over the August bank holiday weekend. Conservationists complained that the Art Deco architectural features, such as the doorway mosaics, the Egyptian style entrance and the lamps, had been destroyed first, removing any possibility of salvage.

In the aftermath of the destruction, the council and DoE both blamed each other for failing to save the factory. Each authority said the other should have used emergency powers to prevent work starting. At the time, Trafalgar House remained unrepentant, denying that the demolition had been hurried through to beat preservation measures. Simon Jenkins, deputy chairman of the Thirties Society, commented: "If ever there was a building from the inter-war period of British architecture that should have been retained, it was this one." The West Cross development was subsequently built on the site.

2015 (?)- Shoreham Airport, West Sussex

A right royal mystery here - the images show Shoreham Airport needed restoration, at the very least a facelift, but no-one knows anything about it! Searching ..........

Shoreham Airport restoration stalled as company goes into administration

This disturbing headline comes up in Google and is dated 9th September 2016 - read the full (and uninformative) Argus article here

Bramber Construction advertise their restoration contract here

Shoreham Airport early image

Shoreham Airport early image

These unedifying images come from Art & Architecture and throw very little light on anything but the cars could be either 1960s or 1960s so the Airport was not very glorified during that time span.

Welcome to Shoreham Airport under scaffolding

Shoreham Airport encased in scaffolding

Two 'proof of restoration' images as seen on for which many thanks - the images carry a 2015 reference but the comments state that no specific information is available anywhere.

Airport Terminal clothed in scaffolding

Airport Terminal clothed in scaffolding

Two examples from an excellent gallery in Trip Advisor showing the scaffolding which has been placed around the terminal building in preparation for the restoration.

Shoreham Airport dated 2014 showing cracks to terminal building

Shoreham Airport dated 2014 showing cracks to terminal building


Shoreham Airport dated 2014 showing cracks to terminal building

Panoramic view of deteriorating Terminal Building

Images courtesy & © of Chris Ashurst on Flickr - the cracks in the rendering (and possibly structure of the building) are very apparent and his use of monochrome and possibly some additional photographic 'magic' emphasizes the key areas. His photographs are helpfully dated 2014

Shoreham Airport Terminal beginning to deteriorate 2013

Image © of Richard E Flagg as seen on the UK Airfields website dating the deterioration in 2013

Royal York Hotel, Ryde, Isle of Wight

Royal York derelict

Most recently circa 2013 - another Art Deco derelict wreck - this image courtesy and © of Benjamin Tonner

Roayla York Stairwell

Looking up the spiral stairwell to the roof ceiling

Royal York Hotel Stairwell

Descending the stairwell next to the atrium

Royal York Hotel Stairwell

Ascending the stairwell next to the atrium

Royal York Hotel Stairwell

Top of the stairwell and skylight roundel - all above images courtesy of the 28 days later site

Excellent Daily Mail article from 2014 here extract below

The ghost of seaside holidays past: Inside abandoned hotel that was a hit in the 1930s but forced to close due to falling visitor numbers

Built in 1938, the Royal York Hotel in Ryde, Isle of Wight was once a popular destination for wealthy tourists, It was forced to close in 2006 after decades of declining visitor numbers, and has stood empty ever since.

At one time the Art Deco stylings of this abandoned hotel would have been the height of fashion - but now the building stands as a crumbling monument to another era. Built in 1938, the deserted Royal York Hotel in Ryde, Isle of Wight quickly became a popular destination for high-society holiday-makers but was forced to close in 2006 due to a dwindling number of guests. Today the hotel stands ruined and abandoned, but retaining the same period features that made it popular. Urban explorer Darren Finch, 26, went inside the dilapidated but 'beautiful and spooky' building to take these stunning photographs. 'It was really nice to walk around thinking of all the families who must have good memories of happy times there... But at times the old corridors made the hotel look like a scene from The Shining,' he said.

Despite being a fixture on the Ryde skyline for more than 75 years, the building may not be around much longer as a recent application details proposals to turn the site into a new 30-bed hotel and four flats.

You Tube video posted August 2016 here - the author of this film confirms that it does look as if some restoration/renovation/change of premises work is going on (those avocado coloured baths - or is it just sludge - all in a row) but nothing else seems forthcoming yet.

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