The photo on the left looks an awful lot like Hashima, the abandoned Japanese island where important bits of the James Bond movie, Skyfall, was filmed.
In fact it shows the demolition of the civic offices for Tameside where I grew up and is yet another example of how we seem incapable of building anything worthy to stand the test of time these days.
The swanky new offices opened in 1981 amid a fanfare of platitudes about how it represented the council’s ambitions for a modern future, having been formed in 1974 when the previous ten local councils amalgamated into one. There was a lot of disquiet as those ten towns and townships lost their identity, especially when it was suggested that the old town halls be knocked down.
Fortunately, the councillors saw sense, or more likely spotted a vote-loser, and the old buildings were preserved for other civic purposes and it’s ironic that now that the bright future symbolised by the multi-storey office block now lies in ruins and rubble, the council staff have been re-housed in the old ‘not fit for purpose’ town hall in Dukinfield.
The old town hall was built and opened in 1901, a solid and reliable red brick totem of civic pride right in the heart of the town. It has a sense of permanence and purpose that modern buildings don’t try to aspire to and my question is why not? Are we so fixated on the now that anything beyond the next election isn’t worth thinking about?
And the late and unlamented civic HQ didn’t even have a proper town hall clock.