Preston Bus Station – the Beauty or the Beast ?

EAST SIDE facade
EAST SIDE facade

Preston Bus Station is an iconic building that has (together with the car park above) recently received protected Grade II listed status from English Heritage and its’ future is therefore safe for the foreseeable future. After many years with the threat of demolition hanging over its’ rather majestic “Brutalist” facade, public outrage at the news drove local people to demand a referendum in September 2013 which resulted in 80% of Preston people voting to keep the building as it is.

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Doreen

Doreen comes into Preston every Saturday morning, when I met her I’d just been in the cafe having a cup of tea and heard a local guy getting irate at the cafe owner about the price of a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee is £1.35 in the cafe, that’s white coffee, no latte or cappuccino at Preston Bus Station, you can get that in the City Centre but at the bus station there are no frills, bells or whistles. He shouted that he could get a coffee for 80p “down the road” and upstairs in the drivers canteen it was 20p a cup so why was the cafe “SO EXPENSIVE?”. I got the impression he wasn’t typical of Preston and I wanted to get a human side to the concrete monolith. I spotted a lady who looked busy, you know, just a “busy” person, she settled down to wait for a bus and I sat down beside her. Within 5 minutes of sitting next to Doreen, I knew she was from Brownhill, she visits Preston every Sauturday morning to go to “the very nice shopping centre”. With a glint in her eye, and a flicker of a smile on her face, she told me how good value the charity shops were with the Red Cross shop being the best “…’coz everything is £1 in there” she whispered, just so she didn’t let everyone else know the secret. After shopping in Preston, she gets the 10:40 number 280 bus from stand 58 (there are 80 bus stands – Preston has the longest (with the most stands) station in Europe) to Clitheroe where she continues her tour of the (charity) shops. Once she has cleared Preston and Clitheroe of their bargains, she heads home to Brownhill, with a final stop at Preston Bus Station to catch the bus home.

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The Cafe – where they sit as though they are already on the bus

I had scrambled eggs on toast with a cup of tea and thought £3.60 was very reasonable, and was just what the doctor ordered for me after my long drive north

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Walkway to the Guild Hall
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Top (ninth) floor of the car park (also Grade II listed)
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Reserved parking

Preston Bus Station is here to stay and for one I am over the moon it is. It is a stalwart to northwest travel – people were travelling to far off places such as Glasgow and London. There was an air of anonymity, there was very little interaction between people but what there was was light hearted and good humoured (unless you thought coffee was expensive at £1.35) and with its’ Grade II listing now secure it will be around for a long time to come.

Be good to hear your stories of iconic buildings or places near you.

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