Brutal and honest architecture

A couple of weeks ago, travelling to South West of Scotland, we pulled into the Services. Services are services, nothing new. However, this is not an ordinary motorway service but rather a second-ever station on the motorway in the UK!


The Forton on M6, or the Lancaster Services these days, is famous for its tower. It is known as a Pennine Tower, standing proudly at 20m high. It served as an observation/restaurant area in the 70s and 80s. In fact, it opened its doors in 1965, closed in 1989 and got listed in 2012. I would list it too because structurally, it is a magnificent building.

You can check a video made for the "Dickie Davies Eyes" song by Half Man Half Biscuit. The services are visible at 1:52. Honestly, looks surreal and not at all changed. Well, maybe something has been built up.

Unfortunately, inside the services, you won't be able to go up the tower, but at least you have some images on the walls to see the view from the top. It is crazy how the landscape has changed both nature and traffic over the years. In the image below it shows the 28th August 2018 on the left compared to the 28th August 1968 on the right.



Have you also noticed the surroundings? Because it is Lake District, the area is very hilly, and you can enjoy the view from the bridge too. In my case, I have simply snapped standing in the car park.


Can the tower be classed as a radical architectural structure of those times?
I recon, yes!

The tower was designed by Sir Thomas Bennett. By the number of exposed materials and pure minimalism, I believe it reflects the brutalist architectural style. It was the movement around that time in the UK too. The pure joy of the brutalist style is the "raw canvas", or the exposed materials which allow for the naked structure. My eyes were instantly drawn to the cantilevered top and the rectangular concrete blocks. It is rather impressive from an architectural point of view and a bit puzzling to think how they sit like that without falling on your head.


You can see many buildings in the UK in the brutalist style. I have always thought of this vibe as the '70s. Well, it turns out it began its movement in the '50s and lasted for around 30 years. In theory, these concrete buildings (most of which don't even look great) are history and definitely worth your attention!


The future of the tower is unfortunately uncertain. On the one hand, it is a historical building which would attract visitors. On the other hand, it was difficult to keep the profits in the past. Right now, someone would have to think twice before investing in refurbishing the Pennine tower as it is a risky business. I fear that it would have to come down at some point because the cost of keeping it safe would be too high.

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