manchester modernist society

Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Manchester Modernist Society unilaterally designate Conservation Area Status to the former UMIST Campus

In architecture, news on June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm

On the 24th of June 2012 we, the Manchester Modernist Society unilaterally designate Conservation Area Status to the former UMIST Campus.

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and here’s the Degree, awarded on Campus Day to our newly graduated Bachelors, Masters and Doctors of Modernism

 

Degree certificate designed by Jonathan Hitchen

 

© the modernist society 2012

 

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The CAMPUS buildings

In architecture, uncategorized on June 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm
  1. CHANDOS HALL, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1962-4

Designed for 160 students with study beds and common room with kitchen on each floor, this 15 floor hall of residence was a prototype for student living. The top floor housed a warden’s residence, roof terrace and a communal room for parties…how modern!

  1. RENOLD BUILDING, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1962

Strikingly beautiful with its distinctive concertina wall and the 1968 Victor Pasmore mural Metamorphosis running the length of the lower level of the grand duplex entrance, a 6 storey tower on 2 storey base, cleverly incorporating mixed lecture theatres including one for 500, 2 for 300, 6 for 140, and 12 smaller ones. The potential crush of so many students leaving and entering for hourly lectures ameliorated by multi entrances, vast staircase and double height hallway.

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  1. BARNES WALLIS BUILDING/WRIGHT ROBINSON HALL, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD 1963-6

Podium with 15 floor tower of residence behind, unusual in that the two parts of the building have different names and different uses, despite the fact that the building is a single structure, purpose built by a single architect – the union is on free standing columns to give a fluted effect like the Renold building.

Barnes Wallis section housed the main campus refectory (closed June 2009), and until 2004 was also home to UMIST Students’ Association.

The naming of internal parts of the building was for many years a good indicator of the current political balance of the UMIST Student Union – the Large Assembly Hall was at times called the Lenin Assembly Hall. Conversely, the Small Assembly Hall was at other times named the Sharansky Assembly Hall, after Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky.

The Renold Building, and the Barnes Wallis Building, originally faced each other across a bowling green, which later became a landscaped garden. For this reason a bar in the Renold Building was originally named the Bowling Green Tavern.

  1. STAFF HOUSE, THOMAS WORTHINGTON, 1960, EXTENDED 1968 slotted in behind former retained mill buildings

Not part of the Gibbon masterplan but constructed earlier by Hubert Worthington of the Manchester firm Thomas Worthington. Suitably sober for UMIST’s chief bigwigs and boffinhood.

  1. CHEMICAL ENGINEERING PILOT PLANT, H M FAIRHURST OF HARRY S FAIRHURST & SON, 1966

Another bespoke and ingenious design, with its innovative use of brick and glass. The open plan glass half for students to erect their own large scale experimental rigs. Exposed cooling pipes on the roof adds to its credentials as a precursor to later international ‘Pop’ architecture, such as Paris’ Pompidou centre – how cool!

  1. HOLLOWAY WALL

A bit of an MMS obsession – 1968 buffer wonder-wall, sculpture and engineering construction! Prefabricated textured panels slotted into concrete columns and an experimental collaboration between the architect Fairhurst and artist Holloway who later worked together on stained glass at Manchester Cathedral.

  1. MATHEMATICS & SOCIAL SCIENCES, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1966-8.

The highest building on Campus, a 15 storey tower, its twin circulation towers extending above the main roof levels, creating an even taller impression, is a powerful landmark sweeping along the Mancunian Way. It is flanked by a windowless lecture block also in UMIST’S trademark white reinforced concrete. A Brutalist delight.

The building was used largely for staff offices, with some teaching rooms. The 10th to 14th floors (called floors M-Q) accommodated the Department of Mathematics.

  1. FERRANTI BUILDING, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1968

Low reinforced concrete box for electrical engineering/ High Voltage Laboratories, acoustically designed to shut out traffic from the motorway yet low enough to allow sunlight to the lawns beyond. Stark yet elegant.

  1. PARISER BUILDING, H M FAIRHURST OF HARRY S FAIRHURST & SON, 1963

Classical, reserved modernism in brick and copper cladding, typical of the firm’s stoical style, mirrored in the Victoria University’s own post-war Brunswick St science campus. The low 3 storey building attached to the east is the Hydraulics Lab.

  1. FARADAY BUILDING, H M FAIRHURST OF HARRY S FAIRHURST & SON, 1967

This high slab and 4 storey block ingeniously used the existing topography, and housed its library on the bridge running across Sackville St – the block to the east for undergrads, west for graduates. The abstract patterning adorning the tower walls was designed by Anthony Holloway, whilst in the coffered arcaded entrance nestles the gloriously textured mosaic, the Alchemist’s Elements, by Hans Tisdall, 1967

  1. GEORGE BEGG, FAIRHURSTS, 1974.

For the mechanical engineering department and comprising huge basement labs, upper drawing offices and lecture rooms. To the north was the Paper Science Lab on the front of the road.

  1. The multi-storey car park with the legendary UMIST watering hole the Swinging Sporran, gone but not forgotten –  now the Retro Bar.

 KEY TO INTERESTING SPOTS –

The Godlee Observatory, home to the Manchester Astrological Society, sits in the dome of the original Municipal School of Technology

Vimto Monument, 1992

Technology Arch, 1989

Archimedes, 1990

Generation of Possibilities, 1999

The Bowling Green – the former Campus bowling green between the Renold and Barnes Wallis Buildings is now a landscaped garden

Mural: Metamorphosis,1968

Mechanics Institute Sundial, Renold Building, 1974, replica of the presented to UMIST by Lord Bowden the principal to mark the 150th anniversary of the Institute.

Combustion, 1994, (adjacent Renold Building) by Marshall Hall

The insulator family, 1987

The Alchemist’s Elements, 1967

Hollaway Sculptural Wall, 1968

Concrete Society Award, 1968

COLOSSI OF SCIENCE….

In background, science, society on June 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm
you cant move around campus or much of the city without constantly bumping into these LEGENDARY FIGURES …here’s their best bits!! (thanks wiki & MOSI websites….!)

 

John Dalton (6 September 1766 – 27 July 1844) was one of the founding fathers of the Manchester Mechanics Institute, a chemist, meteorologist and physicist. Hailing from Cumberland in the Lakes, Dalton presented his famous atomic theory to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society just over 200 years ago, and later became its president, presenting over 100 papers to its esteemed members.

His humble beginnings as son of a weaver and his informal education, plus his outsider status as a Quaker, was pivotal to both his own future prospects and that of the institute. Religious non-conformists or ‘dissenters’ as they were known at the time were barred from attending or teaching at English universities. The formation of a non sectarian college, open to all, was to prove critical in the city – both UMIST and the Owens College were founded in the face of such restrictions.

A polymath – or perhaps just a by-product of the region’s famously gloomy weather – Dalton kept a meteorological diary for 57 years, from childhood to his death, during which time he entered more than 200,000 observations!

A naturally quiet character, he preferred a simple lifestyle and routine with only a few close friends, never even maintaining his own household,  lodging instead with the Rev. W. Johns and his family in George Street where his daily round of laboratory work and tuition was broken only by annual excursions to the Lake District and occasional visits to London. Yet at his death approximately 40,000 people filed by his coffin as it was laid in state in the Manchester Town Hall. He was buried in Ardwick cemetery which is now a playing field – perhaps appropriately for a man embarrassed by attention.

And what he would think of the proliferation of buildings, statutes and streets named in his honour today is anyone’s guess…..

James Prescott Joule (24 December 1818 – 11 October 1889) was the son of a leading Salford brewer.

At 16 he began studying under John Dalton at the Lit & Phil Society. Fascinated by electricity, it wasn’t long before he began to conduct electrical and magnetic experiments at a laboratory built in the cellar of his father’s home. He and his brother apparently constantly gave electric shocks to each other and to the family’s servants in their home adjoining the Joule Brewery in New Bailey Street.

He is perhaps most well known as the first person to prove that heat is a form of energy – that’s why the international unit of energy, the joule, is named after him – which led to the theory of conservation of energy which led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics. But as a pupil of Dalton it’s also no surprise that he held a firm belief in the atomic theory, despite many scientists of his time remaining sceptical.

He became President of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society in 1860, and received a civil list pension of 200 pounds per annum in 1878 for services to science.

Joule died at home in Sale and is buried in Brooklands cemetery. The gravestone is inscribed with the number “772.55”, his climacteric 1878 measurement of the mechanical equivalent of heat and a quotation from the Gospel of John “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (9:4)

His statue now stands in Manchester Town Hall opposite that of Dalton, his mentor and inspiration.

George E. Davis (July 1850-1906)- As befits its roots in the early chemical industry of the region, ‘the Tech’ pioneered Chemical Engineering as an academic subject in Britain with Davies’  key lecture series in1888. Here’s the story….

Davis was the eldest son of George Davis, a bookseller, and though apprenticed at 14 to a local bookbinder, he swiftly abandoned his trade to pursue his burgeoning interest in chemistry. Davis studied at the Slough Mechanics Institute while working at the local gas works, then spent a year studying at the Royal School of Mines in London (now part of Imperial College, London) before leaving to work in Manchester, the absolute epicentre of the chemical industry in the UK.

Once in Manchester he held a variety of chemist jobs and became an inspector for the Alkali Act of 1863, a very early piece of environmental legislation requiring soda manufacturers to reduce the amount of gaseous hydrochloric acid released to the atmosphere from their factories. Then in 1872 he became manager at the Lichfield Chemical Company in Staffordshire and it was here that his capacity for innovation flourished.

Davis identified broad features in common to all chemical factories, wrote the influential A Handbook of Chemical Engineering and published that pivotal lecture series at Manchester Technical School – a dozen lectures that defined and positioned Chemical Engineering as an academic as well as an industrial discipline.

Initially criticized for being common place know-how since it was designed around operating practices used by British chemical industries, his ideas helped initiate new thinking in the Chemical Industry, as well as spark Chemical Engineering degree programmes, at several universities in the USA. The world followed suit and the rest is history….

Today in the entrance to Jackson’s Mill, the building that houses the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Sciences, there is a display and memorial to Davis. The George E. Davis Medal of the Institution of Chemical Engineers is named in his honour.

Sir John Douglas Cockcroft (May 27th, 1897 – September 18, 1967) is a name and portrait that crops up all over the place on campus – mainly it seems as an illustrious alumnus ‘done good’ and a famous physicist on the international stage, awarded the Nobel prize in 1951for his pioneering work with Rutherford and Walton on the transmutation of atomic nuclei by artificially accelerated atomic particles.

Basically, Cockcroft spilt the atom…!

A Todmorden boy, Cockcroft came from a family of cotton manufacturers and studied mathematics at Manchester University under Horace Lamb from 1914–1915. After serving in the First World War in the Royal Field Artillery he returned to Manchester to study electrical engineering at the College of Technology, followed by an apprenticeship with Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company. He went on to study mathematics at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and began research there under Ernest Rutherford. In 1929 he was elected a Fellow of St. John’s College.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, he took up the post of Assistant Director of Scientific Research in the Ministry of Supply, working on radar. In 1944, he took charge of the Canadian Atomic Energy project and became Director of the Montreal Laboratory and Chalk River Laboratories. In 1946, he returned to Britain to set up the Atomic Energy Research Establishment AERE) at Harwell, charged with developing Britain’s atomic power programme.

Famously, his insistence that the Windscale nuclear reactor coolers be reinforced with high performance filters, at huge expense, became known as Cockcroft’s Follies – but in 1957 when the core of one of the two reactors caught fire, his filters prevented the disaster from becoming a catastrophe…

The Colossi of UMIST…..

In ideas, science, society, uncategorized on June 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm

John Henry Reynolds (February 8, 1842 – July 17, 1927) is a crucial figure in the development of the institution that would eventually become UMIST. And the story is typical of the radical, self made Manchester Man era to boot!

Born in Salford the eldest son of a bootmaker, he attended the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel and Manchester Grammar School before apprenticing to his father at twelve years of age. He also assisted at the Sunday School at Cross Street where he met William Fairbairn (engineer, shipbuilder and President of the Manchester Lit & Phil society) and William Gaskell (minister, educationalist and key figure in the formation of the Mechanics Institute).

By the 1870s, the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute was in decline. Despite its original ambitious mission to bring technical expertise to working men, its core activities had shrunk to the provision of elementary education in the face of new competition from the state-funded schools being established by the Elementary Education Act 1870. In 1879, Reynolds was appointed Secretary to the Institute and set about reasserting its lead – by all accounts a persuasive advocate, he grasped the city’s appetite for more effective vocational education and led its reinvention as the Manchester Technical School in 1882. Before long he had further secured the college’s future by adopting the London Institute’s new City and Guilds system and exams, recapturing the lead that was being threatened by strong establishments and schools starting to flourish across Germany, Switzerland and the USA.

A grant from the Whitworth Institute enabled him to realise his ambitions for a state-of-the-art institution with the construction of the buildings on Sackville Street, opened in 1902 by Arthur Balfour. The institution was renamed as the Municipal School of Technology and Reynolds became its principal and director for higher education of Manchester.

In 1904, the newly-autonomous Victoria University of Manchester recognised the status of many of the courses that Reynolds had developed by establishing a faculty of technology at the Institute. Reynolds became dean of the faculty, ensuring that the Institute’s newly appointed professors were recognised by the university.

And, consistent with Reynolds’ radical sympathies and formative years, the bulk of the Institute’s work remained devoted to vocational, rather than academic, education.

Sir Charles Garonne Renold (29 October 1883 – 7 September 1967) was Vice President of the Manchester College of Science and Technology and chairman of the planning and development committee. Born in Altrincham, he was the son of Hans Renold, a Swiss born engineer and businessman who became chairman of the family business Renold Chains and Gears in Manchester.

A respected expert in industrial administration, he was knighted in 1948 for services to the cause of good management and the development of humane and progressive ideals in industry.

The brand new Renold Building was fittingly named in his honour, and in fact he laid the foundation stone himself on June 24, 1960…

Bertram Vivian Bowden (18 January 1910 – 28 July 1989) was a noted scientist in his own right but it’s his tireless efforts as an educationist and with the development of UMIST as a successful independent university that he is most known.

Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, he graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge with a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1931 and in 1940 he was conscripted to the Telecommunications Research Establishment to work on radar and later from 1943 at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, establishing himself as an effective administrator. The post war period however saw him take up a variety of jobs, including selling early computers manufactured by Ferranti – an experience that made him understand the enormous impact that new technology was about to make.

In 1953, Bowden became principal of what was then still the Manchester College of Science and Technology, but as our previous postings have shown, the post-war expansion in university education, coupled with his ambitions for the institution soon brought about the college’s transformation into UMIST.

In 1964, he was created a life peer as Baron Bowden of Chesterfield and appointed Minister for Education and Science, an appointment which didn’t really suit him – by 1965 he had returned to UMIST, where he remained until his retirement in 1976.

 

Roy Chadwick (30 April 1893 – 23 August 1947) became the Chief Designer for the Avro Company, responsible for practically all of their aeroplane designs, and is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest aircraft designers. And it all started at the Tech…!

After attending a church school in Urmston, young Chadwick studied at night school from 1907 – 1911 at the Manchester Municipal College of Technology, whilst working as a draughtsman in Trafford Park.

Diploma under his belt, he so impressed Alliott Verdon-Roe that he became his personal assistant and swiftly rose to be the firm’s chief draughtsman at A.V.Roe and Company (AVRO) in Manchester. Under the direction of AV Roe, Chadwick drafted the AVRO D, a two seated tractor biplane, the AVRO E, which was converted to a floatplane and in 1912, the AVRO F, the world’s first monoplane and cabin machine.

He is famous in particular for designing the Lancaster bomber, its follow-up the Lincoln and preliminary designs of the Vulcan V bomber. He also converted the Lincoln into the much-used Shackleton, and his Avro Yorks carried one third of the entire British tonnage during the Berlin Airlift!

In 1943 Chadwick was awarded the CBE for his role in the Dambusters raid, the production of the Lancaster and the special modifications which allowed Upkeep to be delivered to Germany. He was also made a honorary Master of Science at Manchester University in 1944.

His final involvement with Avro was overseeing the initial designs of the Vulcan from 1946. He died tragically on 23 August 1947 during a crash on take-off of a test flight of his latest prototype Avro Tudor.

Is the Past a foreign country? a personal reflection….

In background, ideas, society, uncategorized on June 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm

We are delighted to include a Guest Post by Modernist magazine regular and Chair of the C20 Society North West Group, Aidan Turner – Bishop, a personal reflection of what UMIST means to him….

Is the Past a foreign country? Perhaps it’s more like Danzig/Gdansk: the original landmarks are still there but their context, and often the original people, have changed or gone. We see, sure, but do we get it? As I, a fifties child, get older I feel this increasingly. Did we then really enjoy vintage cup cakes, mismatched china crockery and hatless, ungirdled, red lipsticked ladies? What about the damp, cold and smell of gas and soot? The darned shabby clothes and food rationing?

UMIST campus makes me feel like that. We see a peaceful oasis of smart modernist buildings and mature landscaping set away from the busy city centre. But we don’t feel its original context: striking modern architecture next to endless small sooty workshops, corner pubs, slum housing stretching all the way fromLondon Road railway station to theStockport boundary. Many poor people with bad haircuts, shabby frocks, faded headscarves, and poor teeth. Red Corporation trolleybuses. Steam and soot from jangling goods trains on the viaduct. Yellow smog.

UMIST was revolutionary. It was Change: electric –nuclear electric – clean and plentiful, promising so much. It evokes the promise of the post-war “white heat of technology” era: electronics, nuclear engineering, chemicals, artificial textiles, aeronautics and computing. Hope after so much austerity. New buildings on cleared rubbled bomb sites. UMIST was led then by Lord Bowden appointed in 1955. He made UMIST – as it was to become – an international centre of high technology. Have a look at his biography  at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._V._Bowden,_Baron_Bowden and his entry in the Oxford DNB.

He used to appear on the wireless programme “Any questions” [BBC Home Service, chaired by Freddie Grisewood] or on jolly serious, two-pipe, programmes on Granada TV, probably interviewed by a young Brian Redhead: authoritative, calm, brainy, modern. He knew where we were going. He was the arch-boffin in a time when delta-winged Vulcan bombers were being tested at Woodford (I lay on my back in a field to get a good view of one). When Ferranti’s was a large employer and Metro-Vicks made electrical equipment for the USSR or Southern Rhodesia. Vickers were selling their successful Viscount and Vanguard aeroplanes across the world. Britain even had a space programme then with intercontinental Blue Streak rockets being tested at Spadeadam in Cumberland. Dan Dare flew his personal spaceship ‘Anastasia’ in Eagle.

Lord Robens, Chairman of the National Coal Board, argued in his no-nonsense Yorkshiregrowl, that our resources of coal –although plentiful and growing – should be used to produce oil and plastics. Those were the days when chairmen of nationalised industries, and their counterparts the great trade union secretaries, were satraps in the land. Courtaulds led the world in rayon production. Leyland lorries and buses were sold widely throughout the Commonwealth and Empire and South America. I still remember being shown one of the newly imported Xerox ‘photocopiers’ at Warwickshire County Library service. It was all heady stuff, eh?

When Eddy Rhead and I visited the staff room at UMIST it reeked of that atmosphere: Danish-style 1960s wooden armchairs, pipe-smoked fabrics, shabby tweed jackets, chaps reading the Manchester Guardian and muttering about NationalService inMalaya, CND wallahs in duffle-coats, and undergrads in striped scarves. “Fancy a wad and a jar, old man?” Perhaps there were a very few lady boffins on campus: white coated hearty types, mostly unmarried, of course. They worked in fearfully modern architecture, generously funded by the UGC. Did you know that in 1948 there were 25,000 students in all British universities, fewer than in one modern ‘uni’ today? UMIST was elite and very special.  It still is.

Aidan Turner-Bishop, Chair of the C20 Society North West Group, www.c20society.org.

Campus Day

In news, uncategorized on June 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm

CAMPUS –  a celebration of the UMIST Campus

As part of RIBA lovearchitecture festival 2012 & Cornerhouse MicroCommissions, the Manchester Modernist Society invite you to a celebration of the 1960s campus at UMIST.

Sunday June 24th

Join us for cake, the conferring of Degrees from the Modernist University of Mancheser and a tour around the campus during which the Modernist Society will declare the campus to be a 20th Century Conservation Area.

2pm – RECEPTION AND PICNIC LAUNCH

2.30pm – AN INTRODUCTION TO UMIST

3PM – CEREMONY/CONFERING OF DEGREES

3.30 – DECLARATION  OF CONSERVATION AREA / WALKING TOUR OF CAMPUS GROUNDS

4.30pm – CELEBRATION ENDS WITH A GRAND VIEW & PHOTO OPPORTUNITY FROM THE CAR PARK ROOF FOLLOWED BY A WELCOME RETREAT TO THE RETRO BAR

All attendees will receive a specially commissioned map of Campus designed by Lisa Barlow & Nick Yates

Special thanks also go to Jonathan Hitchen & Sue Platt of Manchester School of Art, Graphic Design.

Places are limited – reserve your ticket here

https://umistcampus.wordpress.com/

http://www.manchestermodernistsociety.org/

http://lovearchitecture.org/

http://www.microcommissions.org/

some gentle science for the weekend – boffins, science dudes & some nice pipes….

In background, ideas, science, uncategorized on June 1, 2012 at 11:46 am

a mooch around Campus gets you up close and personal to plaques, signs, memorials and portraits of a plethora of intriguing boffins, scientists and their inventions.

so here are a few clues to whet your appetite for next weeks Science Stories Section….