The Twentieth Century Society

100 Buildings 100 Years

1942: Wythenshawe Bus Depot, Manchester

Architect: G. Noel Hill, Manchester City Architect’s Department
Location: Harling Road, Northenden, Manchester

Wythenshawe is Manchester’s garden suburb, created in the 1920s but never connected to the city’s tram network. Instead it was served by a ragtag of public and private bus services. A new garage was eventually built, but it was immediately commandeered by the Ministry of Aircraft Production for building Lancaster bombers. It was released only in 1946. Resembling a grey whale beached in an industrial estate, the drama of the interior is wholly unexpected.

Wythenshawe’s concrete arches have a span of 165 feet and are 42 feet high. The innovation is that the concrete shell roof between them is just 2¾ inches thick, a technique brought from Germany in the 1930s. More examples followed in the 1950s for schools, factories, and especially for bus garages as trams were replaced everywhere. Here aeroplanes have had the last laugh; the building now garages the cars of holidaymakers using nearby Ringway Airport.

by Elain Harwood

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