Following the recent article in the AJ announcing proposals to demolish the Manchester Magistrates' Courts designed by Yorke Rosenberg and Mardall, I contacted The Twentieth Century Society, which informed me that it had already written to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, requesting the building to be urgently spot listed. The Twentieth Century Society was very complimentary about YRM's building and considers it to be worthy of preserving as a fine example of modern architecture.
In my letter to the society, I outlined the sad state of affairs which seemingly still exists within some of our city council offices. I am not against progress and I understand that modern buildings do, from time to time, need modifying to provide commercial users with the most up-to-date facilities. It is possible to upgrade and to integrate 21st century technology into buildings rather than to demolish them, otherwise the offices in Pugin's Palace of Westminster would have been demolished long ago. There are not many buildings completed during the middle of the 20th century which merit listing by the secretary of state for their architectural interest.
Churchill College, Cambridge, by Sheppard Robson is one built during this period, and has been deservedly listed and the same honour should be given to the Manchester Magistrates Courts as an example of outstanding 20th century architecture.
If the AJ were to conduct a poll for the top 100 buildings built during the last century, as the BBC did for the 100 best singers, then I am sure Manchester Magistrates Court would appear towards the top.
The AJ did publish an extensive article on the courts when it first opened in 1971 and later revisited the building and published an article in its 'working details revisit' series (7.12.88).
Perhaps some further publicity would be useful in helping the endeavours of The Twentieth Century Society to have the Manchester Magistrates Courts spot listed.
Robert Hall, Purcell Miller Tritton