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Twentieth Century Society fears for future of BHS stores' post-war murals

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The Twentieth Century Society has failed in a bid to have three murals listed on now-closed branches of collapsed retailer British Home Stores (BHS) 

Historic England rejected the society’s applications to Grade II list the post-war murals in Hull and Stockport.

Describing the murals as ‘significant’, the society said the artworks now faced the threat of demolition following the demise of BHS over the summer. 

Two of the murals on the chain’s Hull store, formely a Co-op, were designed by muralist and sculptor Alan Boyson, an influential figure in post-war public art and a lecturer at the School of Ceramics in Wolverhampton College of Art (see Listed: Rare 1960s mural saved from demolition). 

One of the Hull murals, a 20m² mosaic known as the Three Ships, sits above the shop entrance. It contains more than one million cubes of Italian glass and, at the time of its installation in 1963, was believed to be the biggest mural in Britain. A petition to save the mural currently has 2,670 supporters

The other, on the fourth floor of the building, is smaller and depicts ceramic fish swimming in a tiled background of bubbling water.

Twentieth Century Society conservation adviser Tess Pinto said: ‘Following the recent closure of BHS, and with [Hull] town centre set to undergo a major redevelopment, the future of both murals is uncertain.  We have been informed that the internal mural in particular is vulnerable to demolition.’

In Stockport, the mural on the outside of the building is made up of five concrete panels with a coloured mosaic illustrating the history of the town over six centuries. The work was designed by Henry Collins and Joyce Pallot, who also created commissions for Sainsbury’s, IBM and Philips.

Pinto said that Stockport Council had purchased the shopping centre, which houses the former BHS store, threatening the future of the mural with redevelopment. 

She added: ‘Coupled with the demise of the BHS chain, this obviously puts this set of important murals at risk and it is of deep concern that our listing application is being recommended for refusal.’

Historic England’s decision to reject the listings comes despite the heritage body recommending listing for 41 post-public war sculptures earlier this year. 

Bhs stockport 2

Bhs stockport 2

Source: Gerald England

Mural on BHS building, Stockport

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