Buildings of Distinction - Preston Bus Station

Buildings of Distinction - Preston Bus Station

Feb, 14 2024

Over 50 years ago builders were hard at work in the city of Preston creating what is now known as the largest bus station in Europe. Built between the years 1968 and 1969 to a design by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson of Building Design Partnership with E.H. Stazicker.

It has been described by the Twentieth Century Society as “one of the most significant Brutalist buildings in the UK”. But it wasn’t all plain sailing. In the year 2000, opposition to demolition led to a failed application for listed building status by English Heritage. Preston Borough Council (as it was then known) opposed the application.

Ten years later it rejuvenated it’s status as a survey conducted by the Lancashire Evening Post in May 2010 found that Preston Bus Station was Preston people's favourite building.

However, in 2012 rumours of a demolition surfaced again. Yet in October 2014 instead of a demolition Lancashire County Council announced plans for a £23 million renovation of the bus station which would include a ‘youth zone’ for young people.

To spark up local interest the council also revealed an international competition for the design of the new bus station, to be run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The ‘youth zone’ never occurred, however refurbishment took place in 2016 with an official re-opening in 2018.

In March 2019, the Preston City Council announced a series of events would take place in the summer and autumn to celebrate the bus station’s 50th anniversary.

In May 2019 the bus station's refurbishment project received three Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) North West regional awards:

  • The project won the overall Regional Award
  • Project consultants John Puttich Associates and Cassidy+Ashton won the Conservation Award
  • The Lancashire County Council won the Client of the Year Award

As a regional winner, the bus station was also a nominee for and won a RIBA National Award and received long-listing for the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize but did not make the short list.

In addition to being a transport service, the bus station has experienced a series of media appearance. It was featured in a two-part television series by Jonathan Meades, Bunkers, Brutalism, Bloodymindedness: Concrete Poetry (2014).

It is the subject of 56,000, a short film by Paul Adams and Andrew Wilson. It was also used as a filming location for scenes in the film Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019).

Not many people know this but the station was the subject of a collection of publications by Craig Atkinson of Café Royal Books, which were put together as a set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the station.

 On Saturday 19 October 2019, almost 50 years to the day since its opening on 12 October 1969, festivities were held on the new public square in front of the bus station, which included free public entertainment and three historic buses were provided by the Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust "so the three main users of the bus station were represented"

If you’re new to Preston or you’re visiting the city, The Central Bus Station is found at Tithebarn Street, Preston, PR1, 1YT. You will be most welcome and I hope you enjoy exploring the city.

Click on the link to find out more –

^Alex Ashworth CCG UK Blogger