Monday, December 12, 2005

Northampton bus station

Today's Guardian lists Britain's most hated buildings, as nominated in a poll for a forthcoming Channel 4 programme called Demolition.

Amongst them is Northampton bus station, which the paper describes as a "1974 behemoth that dominates an otherwise small-scale historic town". Maybe that is a little kind to Northampton, but the building is awful. Despite its size, it still manages to house the bus stops in a fume filled chasm somewhere in the basement.

Before it opened there was an older bus station squeezed into a narrow street in the town centre. To get the buses in and out required precision timing, and the operation was in the sole charge of a uniformed inspector with a moustache. He was meticulous in his work and clearly loved the power. His hand signals were a wonder to behold. Imagine him as a cross between Adolf Hitler and Blakey from On the Buses.

The the new station opened and he was no longer needed. I saw him there once, watching the buses come and go without any need for his assistance. He looked a sadly diminished figure.

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