June 29: Sixties concrete slabs should be ground to dust, not praised

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From: Martyn L Scargill, Chantry Meadows, Kilham, East Yorkshire.

WE were most appalled by your article (The Yorkshire Post, June 13) which praised the awful 1960s brutalist buildings in Sheffield. The old streets that preceded these monoliths only needed to be modernised and updated to create a pleasant inner city environment. Not destroyed.

Anything connected with the atrocious 1960s needs to be cast forever into the dustbin of fearful mistakes and totally erased from memory. This period should be redefined as “Brainstorm Britain” not “the Swinging Sixties”, unless one likes to think of everything debased as “swinging”.

We feel that the vast amount of the remaining ghastly concrete slabs from the era should be ground to dust by the cherry pickers before any more of these modernist boffins agitate for their preservation. After all, such things are not even “endangered” unlike beautiful Victorian schools, for example, which we are still losing, unless an enlightened developer chooses to convert them into very beautiful homes, as is sometimes the case. It is quite unreal that we still lose such buildings whilst certain people rant on about preserving the urban homes of the 20th century.

You see, the preservation of any of these monstrous “carbuncles” as Prince Charles so perfectly describes them, could well set a precedent, and the entire grim mess could be saved, and, pure horror, repeated with the unthinkable resulting scenario that seemed set to overtake all our cities and towns in the crazy 60s, but was fortunately averted at the 11th hour by common sense.

If other lands wish to cover themselves with endless slabs of concrete depression, it does not mean that Britain should follow suit.

When we had the lovely and characterful Victorian towns and cities, they consisted mainly of a pleasing variety of street patterns, mostly two or three storey houses of the Georgian and Victorian periods. These always had much interesting architectural detail.

Dotted in an among these pleasing “built environments” were myriad church spires and towers, and very elegant mill chimneys like Listers in Bradford. Other lofty structures like water towers and windmills etc further enhanced the skylines. However, when the “planners” took it into their misguided heads to destroy all this after the War, any protestors were simply bluntly ignored and derided. Even brilliant minds like Sir John Betjeman had themselves difficulty in making them see any daylight.