Preston Bus Station is one of those modernist structures that condemned the pedestrian to the bridge or subway giving the surrounding ground plane or ‘apron’ to vehicles i.e. buses. The people of Preston are characterised by their disdain for motorised traffic and inevitably a number of people have been killed in the past forty years crossing the apron as buses reversed out of one of the eighty (yes eighty!) bus stands. The building has been neglected and unsecured throughout it’s existence and the bus drivers have resorted to improvisation in dealing with various antisocial problems. It is a routine procedure to position a double-decker bus to break the fall of a determined jumper (or attention seeker, see picture below).
Suddenly a revolution. For some unknown reason (perhaps prompted by threats under safety or DDA legislation?) the council have installed substantial, simple and useful temporary crossing points allowing pedestrians an easy route from the bus to the markets. Buses stop at zebra crossings, families amble across in the summer sunshine.
The alterations bode well for the continued survival of the building, due for demolition to make way for the always delayed Tithebarn town centre redevelopment (our Liverpool One). Listing has been refused once by EH but I believe the C20 Society are trying again. The temporary interventions, introducing discipline and civility to the environs of the building provide a simple vision of the ground plane reclaimed and the possibility of a rethinking of the building based on it’s relationship to public space.