Northampton Greyfriars bus station
|Greyfriars bus station|
|Locale||Lady's Lane, Northampton|
|Managed by||Northampton Borough Council|
|No. of stands||28 (1 - 20) & (A - H)|
|Operators||Stagecoach Midlands, Uno, Meridian Buses|
|Rail connection||Northampton 1 km away.|
The bus station is situated in the Northampton Town Centre between Greyfriars (street) and Lady's Lane. It could be accessed from the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, The Mounts and Sheep Street. The access from street level to the bus station is via subway, with the bus stands accessible via an escalator or lift.
Plans for the demolition of the station are in place. It will be relocated to North Gate bus station in 2014.
Built at a cost of £7,250,000 (£50,000,000 at 2013 prices), Greyfriars Bus Station was opened in 1976, replacing the previous facility at Derngate, and was designed by Arup Associates. The building was designed to accommodate 40,000 passengers and 1,700 buses a day and included a complex brief of a bus station, with car park over, topped by a three-storey office block (Greyfriars House). The office block was supported over the clear spans below by a complex structural design based around reinforced concrete trusses. The new station was built in response to the needs in the town at the time, namely bringing visitors into the town to the Grosvenor Centre.
Having been first proposed in 1972 with a budget of £2,578,000, construction work started in August 1973 with a revised budget of £3,308,000 and an original opening date of October 1, 1974. but the building eventually opened (although the office block was still under construction) on 25 April 1976. Initial reviews were mixed and some deficiencies in the design started to manifest themselves early on. On the first weekend of operation, one of the lifts broke down and just a month after opening the building was labelled “useless” by disabled bus users. Eighteen months after opening, in September 1977, mineral stalactites had started forming on the ceilings of some of the underpass walkways within the building, an issue which would continue throughout the building's life.
Greyfriars House was envisaged as a way for the building's owners, Northampton Borough Council, to pay off the increased construction cost of the building; however, despite being completed at the end of 1976, this section of the building remained empty until 1981. Council officials were able to broker a deal with the Dutch engineering firm Lummus whereby they would relocate from their offices in London, to Northampton. Whilst one of the conditions on the new tenants was that they would have to spend £1.5 million modernising the building, the Council granted a five-year rent-free period in exchange. In 1986, as the five-year period was coming to an end, Lummus announced plans to pull out of the UK and the offices once again became vacant. Barclaycard agreed to take the lease of the top floor of the building the same year, later taking on the whole three floors in 1987. A decade later, however, Barclaycard also left the building in a move which cost the Council an estimated £1,800,000 (1998 figures) in rental income. The office space has remained empty since.
In 2007, the 300-space first floor car park was closed, albeit temporarily, over concerns that chemicals were leaking through the upper stories of the building and causing damage to vehicles parked in the car park below. The car park later reopened although closed for good a year later after the Council were unwilling to make the investment (reported at the time to be on the order of £250,000) to rectify the situation.
Greyfriars Bus Station has a travel centre, operated by Stagecoach, as well as a newsagent and a hairdresser. As the bus station is below both Greyfriars House and the car park, only a small amount of natural light reaches the concourse, which has not helped the building's reputation.
Considered a prime example of brutalist architecture, the building was listed in a survey carried out by The Guardian for Channel 4's Demolition series, as the third most hated building in Britain.
National Express Coaches also operate to Northampton on routes serving many other parts of the country.
Northampton Borough Council announced plans, in 2009, to redevelop the bus station along with the neighbouring Grosvenor Centre. The current plans show that the bus station demolished in 2014 and relocated to land where the Northampton Fish Market stands, which is also set to be demolised. The extension of the Grosvenor Centre will be built on the land on which the Greyfriars Bus Station used to stand.
In September 2011 it was announced that the site of the former Fish Market was the preferred site for the new bus station and that work to build the new bus station could start as soon as September 2012. The building was expected to be finished by May 2013, although the date of completion was later delayed. At the time of this announcement it was claimed by the Council that the cost of refurbishing the building would be something in the order of £30,000,000. The building was costing a claimed £500,000 just on superficial maintenance and the claimed refurbishment cost of bus station alone would be £8,000,000 and the car park floor a claimed further £1,500,000.
Demolition work within Greyfriars House commenced in March 2013 with the commencement of works to strip the interiors of the office spaces and clearing of the overgrown landscaped courtyards within the office complex, which had lain untended since Barclaycard vacated some 16 years earlier.
- With plans to build a new bus station in Northampton expected to be approved within months and the demolition of Greyfriars to follow close behind, The Chron explores the history of the notorious bus station . . .. Chronicle & Echo. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- 'An Architects Vision of Northampton', Northampton with vision.
- ‘Demolition of bus station and offices is necessary’ claims Northampton Borough Council leader during site tour. Chronicle & Echo. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- "Safety concerns close car park". Northamptonshire Telegraph. 15 June 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- "Bus station car park may shut". Northamptonshire Telegraph. 12 June 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- "Britain's Most Hated Buildings". The Guardian. 12 December 2005. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "Grosvenor Centre Redevelopment". Northampton Borough Council. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "EXCLUSIVE: New-look Grosvenor Centre will open in 2017 after £350m extension". Chronicle & Echo. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "Work on £7m Northampton bus station scheme starts". BBC. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "‘Demolition’ of bus station to begin in few months". Chronicle & Echo. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.