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Brutal Ethics (Part 1): The Virtues of Preston Bus Station February 22, 2013

Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
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Recently, I chaired a debate amongst 2nd & 3rd year architectural technology students at UCLan, Preston.  The debate applied the three ethical standpoints described in my last blog post to the future/death of Preston Bus Station.  This added a new perspective to this national dilemma and offered an ethical logic to decision making, rather than a reliance on personal ‘feel.’

The first group presented their discussion applied a system of virtue ethics, using judgement based on personal and/or professional moral character.  Here’s a transcript of this part of the debate:

“We wouldn’t like to see Preston Station be demolished due to its significance.

This is one of the main landmarks, one of the things that makes the city stand out

It’s going to cost more to demolish and rebuild it than it is to leave it there, so it’s better to just leave it there

It’s a profit making building which not only generates a healthy bottom line but whilst employing many it also contributes to 100 of thousands of pounds so it’s good for the economy.  There’s been quite a large public attitude against it being demolished.  There’s been nearly 1500 signature petition calling for a referendum on future demolition.”

It’s also been put forward twice for grade II listing which just shows its importance

A lot of the arguments against it say that it’s ugly and an eyesore but it’s an emotional link for local people.  It has a lot of value for people who live in Preston and I think the Council are overlooking that aspect of its importance to people.

It’s one of the most important buildings in Preston.  It’s been there for a long time now and it’s used by a lot of people.  In a Daily Telegraph online poll, readers voted by 75% to keep it.

If it’s so important and it has been put forward to be listed twice, why hasn’t it actually been listed?

I think due to it being built in 1969.  It’s only been 40 odd years.  Compared to other buildings that have been listed, they are over 100 years old.

But do we work on the basis that anything older than 40 years is more listable?  We don’t have the distance from when it was constructed to actually understand its importance from a historical point of view.

I think the purpose of it being listed is from the design not the year it was built in.   That’s the major talking point.  It’s a bit like Marmite.

But is it good to spend Preston Citizens’ taxpayers’ money to preserve something just because it looks good?

I say it’s such a talking point in the city.  If it was demolished, what would people talk about?  Generations to come will have no recollection of it.

People still talk about the Town Hall by Giles Gilbert Scott, which was knocked down after a fire but was too costly to renovate.  But people still talk about it as one of Preston’s best buildings.

So what’s your view if you had to say yes or no, what would you say?

We’d say no.  It holds value to a large number of people

What do you mean by value?  I value Preston Bus Station because I have memories associated with it but is that a value that can be used?

I think so.  Because there’s heritage value.

Are my values more important because I’m a Prestonian or would someone who comes from Manchester or London if they have a recollection of it, would they….

It’s more of a communal value.  If somebody lives down London, demolishing it isn’t going to affect them as much as local people so it’s more of a communal thing.

But that’s my national heritage.  If they’re going to knock down that lovely castle in Scotland that has that bridge going over the loch that ‘s my heritage too but I don’t live there.

But this is more for local people and isn’t going to affect someone who comes up once a year to stand at the bus station and marvel at it – because people do that.

For someone who doesn’t know much about it, can you explain what’s so special about the building?

It was built in the year when the motor car was the next new thing and it represented the hope of the town so it was the hub of the town.  People would travel to work and would get the bus. The main importance of it was to get people into the town .  This major flagship building was built to show off about the new motor industry.

Preston Bypass:  Britain’s first motorway.
(Note ceremonious hedge removal)

It is a unique design as well.  I’ve never seen a building that looks similar.

It’s very important to look at it in terms of when it was built.  It was built in the late 60s It was at the back end of Beeching and his report, which basically said that the railways didn’t have a future.  So, when you look at Central Lancashire New Town, because this wasn’t just for Preston, this was for the whole of Central Lancashire New Town – and you picked up on the point – that this was a hub where cars and buses would come in and be an interchange for all the other areas.  It wasn’t built anywhere near the railway, but that wasn’t an argument back then because people didn’t think the motorways had a future. And if you think about how well Preston bus station is connected to the M6 and Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, the Lake District, Blackpool  etc.,  it’s in the perfect location.

And is that relevant now?

I think even more so.

It’s iconic

But is it the future?

If you look at H2 the idea of that and it will take Preston off the main west coast mainline anyway so maybe rail travel in Preston is becoming less of an importance, as a result of developments in the next 20 years

Though arguably from a virtuous point of view, as architectural technologists, one of the virtues that we subscribe to is one of sustainability and this is sustainable development – is this symbol of the city, one which is about the car, the bus, motorised transport, is that what we want to use as the icon of the city?

Possibly not but that’s not to say it couldn’t be a hub for electric cars, for electric buses, that we have an integrated transport system that connects the bus station with the railway station, well, that’s where the Preston Tram idea comes from.  But 3 million pounds mentioned for the new upgrade of Fishergate is talked about but then there is no mention of the tram in there.  Short sightedness.  Preston City Council.

Thank you”

Do you agree?  Feel free to post your comments.

I will, of course, blog the remaining two sections of the debate, where utilitarian and rule/duty based ethics were applied.  Soon.



1. Brutal Ethics (Part 2): Duty or Demolition? | Meme Cloud - February 24, 2013

[…] on from the last post (Brutal Ethics Pt.1: The Virtues of Preston Bus Station), the second group offered their views based on a system of deontological ethics or decision-making […]

2. drjenidoyle - February 25, 2013

Reblogged this on Centre for Sustainable Development and commented:
A very interesting article on student views of Preston Bus Station, written by Jenni Barrett (CSD member).

3. Preston station - September 11, 2013

Possible to get information on Preston station in terms of the components of the project to Ivadna study stations

4. nayef - September 11, 2013

Possible to get information on Preston station in terms of the components of the project to Ivadna study stations

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