UK The rise and fall of the giant estate that stood behind Arighi Bianchi last minute news

MetiNews.Com - 20 years after demolition began, residents of Victoria Park Flats look back on life on the ill-fated estate

UK The rise and fall of the giant estate that stood behind Arighi Bianchi last minute news

MetiNews.Com - 20 years after demolition began, residents of Victoria Park Flats look back on life on the ill-fated estate

UK The rise and fall of the giant estate that stood behind Arighi Bianchi last minute news
22 November 2020 - 08:00

Breaking News ! The Victoria Park flats used to loom over the centre of Macclesfield. Trains pulling in from Manchester were met with the brutalist view of the estate, which stood behind iconic furniture store Arighi Bianchi for decades. When the first families were welcomed to the estate in the 1960s, Harold Wilson's housing minister, Anthony Greenwood, described it as 'the finest housing development in the country'. But, by the year 2000, bulldozers had moved in. By then, like so many other modernist, public housing developments in the region, the estate had become infamous. The flats dominated the landscape of Macclesfield town centre (Image: MMU archive) Nonetheless, twenty years on, former residents look back with the fondness on the estate's good side - which didn't get talked about much at the time. The estate was the work of British development giants John Laing PLC, who bought the rights to a Danish building system - Jesperson -  in 1963, and it was designed by the borough architect, along with Laing architect Sydney Greenwood. A vision from the future: A trio of children look at the newly-built flats in Macclesfield in 1969 (Image: Historic England archive) Jesperson was typical of the industrialised system builds of the post-war era - they promised to house large numbers of people, on a small footprint of land, quickly and cheaply, in a futuristic, utopian environment, but then aged like milk, as a combination of construction quirks and a worsening economic backdrop saw them labelled as 'sink estates'. By the 1980s, Victoria Park was blighted by a small number of residents who brought drugs and vandalism to the estate, a rabbit warren of deck access properties built of pre-cast concrete units, linked by overhead walkways. The flats were based on a Danish design (Image: MMU archive) After consultation with the residents, followed by a ballot, it was decided to demolish the flats, rehouse the residents and redevelop the area with traditional properties. More than 1,000 people would be moved from the 543 homes. The flats were a distinct example of post-war brutalist architecture (Image: MMU archive) In March 2002, a ceremony was held to mark the departure of the last few residents, in front of Ely Court, the last surviving block on the estate. Then Mayor Muriel Clampett, said: "Victoria Park has been a major impact on the skyline for over 30 years.  "This occasion will mark the beginning of the final demolition. It's a great pleasure to see the final phase. A lot of people will say thank goodness for that." But not everyone. Former resident Louise Newton recalls how her mum worked at the local Kwiksave and her nana was in the Victoria Park Residents' Association. "I can say I know a lot [of people] that came from the flats that went on to be pillars of the community and a lot have trades and their own businesses. Not bad for those that say we came from a socially dysfunctional background! "I loved it when all the community came together around the huge brick circle in the lower park area and had a huge bonfire and sparklers, I use to get so excited for this night. "We came from poor backgrounds so we know how community works from grass roots." The Victoria Park flats in the late 1960s, before conditions on the estate declined (Image: MMU archive) Amanda Rylance has fond memories of the community too.  She remembers the day trips and the playscheme, and how all the neighbours' doors would be unlocked and all the kids played together on the balconies.  "They just went into each others houses like it was their own.

. "We loved living there as kids and they were very happy times and good memories." Another former resident, Ann Smith, recalls moving into York Court in 1969 where she lived until 1987. "I had some good times and made a lot of friends. I remember going over when they were demolished and I got quite upset about that." The train from Manchester to London passes Arghi Bianchi, but the council estate that stood behind it has vanished from the landscape (Image: MMU archive) Ann Lee also remembers how upset some in Macclesfield were when the estate came down. "I worked in the community and spent some time in the flats - some good, some not," she said. Annie Joyce remembers watching a building burn from her home at Victoria Park in the 1970s. "I watched the factory over the road go up in flames from my bedroom. I could feel the heat on the window!" Carol Bennett says she saw 'things I didn't believe' - and the 'best and worst' of people on that estate. Now, she worries that 'all the flats that are being thrown up yet again in Macclesfield will bring it all back.' A mural of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis by graffiti artist Akse on Port Street in Manchester (Image: ABNM Photography) The estate has a place in rock history, as Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis lived there as a teenager, moving out in 1973, at the age of 17. "It was supposed to be some kind of social experiment in the mid-1970s. It was notorious!" Roy Naden says. He lived overlooking Arighi Bianchi at 36 Canterbury Court in a five-bedroom flat with five other blokes. "The 'Young Ones' had nothing on it", he says of those days. "It got ridiculous and I moved out within a year, just before it was raided by the police for obvious reasons! "I still feel guilty for what the neighbours put up with during that time. Cool experiment, though." Read More Related Articles 'They were built with so much grand ambition and civic pride': Why we should learn to love Manchester's most hated buildings...before it's too late Read More Related Articles Ravers, crusties, all night parties: What it was like to live in a squat in Hulme Crescents Get breaking news first on the free Manchester Evening News app - download it here for your Apple or Android device. You can also get a round-up of the biggest stories sent direct to your inbox every day with the MEN email newsletter - subscribe here. And you can follow us on Facebook here.

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UK The rise and fall of the giant estate that stood behind Arighi Bianchi last minute news


UK The rise and fall of the giant estate that stood behind Arighi Bianchi last minute news


UK The rise and fall of the giant estate that stood behind Arighi Bianchi last minute news


UK The rise and fall of the giant estate that stood behind Arighi Bianchi last minute news

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