he Black & White Picture Place

Old Photographs & Drawings of Chester

aerial view of Newtown
St. Anne Street and Northgate Station, Chester

This interesting view from the 1960s shows a part of Chester on the edge of the city centre known as Newtown, much of which has changed out of all recognition in the decades since the photograph was taken.

St. Anne Street runs diagonally up the centre of the picture with its terraced railway worker's houses. Many on the righ hand side of the road survive today but all the property behind and to the left of the pub were pulled down to make way for new housing and the St. Oswald's Way section of the Inner Ring Road.

northgate arenaNorthgate Railway Station can be seen on the right. This was demolished and the site is now occupied by Chester's excellent swimming baths and sports hall, the Northgate Arena (illustrated right) - one of the better modern buildings to appear in Chester during the great changes of the time. Much of the surrounding walls of the old station with their distinctive arches were incorporated around the car park of the new building and remain with us today.

Chester is not renowned for the quality of its 1960s / 70s architecture but the Arena, to my mind, is an exception. The building would benefit from an extension to provide extra sports and leisure facilities, but there is, in theory, plenty of room to allow for that. Encased in parts in maturing greenery and surrounded by trees, the Northgate Arena is a handsome building that does much to relieve the somewhat grim environment of the Inner Ring Road and its pools and other facilities are extremely popular with local people.

A shame then that, in their wisdom, our planners have expressed the view that, after a mere thirty years, the Arena is "tired" and "out of date" and proposed that its replacement should be sited well out of the city centre near the windswept wasteland of the Greyhound Retail Park. This writer's children are regular visitors to the Arena- and we don't need to drive them there. All that, of course, will change if this ludicrous plot comes about. The facts that the council apparently hatched deals with a company by the less-than-inspiring name of Steel Tower to erect a Hilton Hotel on the site and with West Cheshire College- who wished to flog off their spacious green belt campus (doubtless a very attractive location for the speculative house builder) in Handbridge and, ludicrously, build a new one on the Arena's relatively cramped car park- are, of course, completely coincidental.
The college scheme, after a great deal of public ridicule and unknown quantities of wasted money, now thankfully seems to have come to nothing but the hotel scheme continues to gain pace...

The large pub in the centre background is the Northgate Arms which (just about) survives today, albeit no longer serving beer but as offices for the comapny constructing the vast and unsightly 'super surgery' near by. When the picture was taken it stood on the corner of Victoria Road and Delamere Street and doubtless did good business from users of the station. Today, it is a victim of planner's blight and exists in a cheerless no-man's land on the edge of the Inner Ring Road, connected to the arena only via an unpleasant underpass.

northgate arenaDelamere Street was much wider at this time, part of it being used as a bus exchange until the new bus station was built here (but then demolished in 2006!) spreading onto the adjoining site; this and an undistinguished block of shops have halved the former width of the street.
Behind the Northgate Arms runs the ancient line of Upper Northgate Street. Virtually all of this section up to the black tower of the still-surviving Northgate Church- seen in the background- disappeared when the Fountains Roundabout on the Inner Ring Road was built.

Here we see the scene as it appears today, looking across the Northgate Arena (right of picture) car park, site of the old Northgate Station, towards the flats from where the top photograph was taken. The tall tower in the centre of the picture is part of the fire station on the corner of St. Anne Street. This too, is apparently scheduled to be disappear in the near future.

Please note: this page will be updated in the near future!

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