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Preston bus station

Coordinates: 53°45′40″N 2°41′46″W / 53.761°N 2.696°W / 53.761; -2.696
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Preston bus station
Pictured in October 2007, before the renovation that began in 2016
General information
LocationPreston, Lancashire
Coordinates53°45′40″N 2°41′46″W / 53.761°N 2.696°W / 53.761; -2.696
Operated byLancashire County Council
Bus stands80 (1969–2017)
40 (since 2017)
Bus operators
ConnectionsPreston National Rail (800 metres (870 yd))
Opened12 October 1969; 54 years ago (1969-10-12)
Listed Building – Grade II
Official namePreston Central Bus Station and Car Park
Designated23 September 2013; 10 years ago (2013-09-23)
Reference no.1416042
Preston bus station is located in Preston city centre
Preston bus station
Preston bus station
Location within Preston city centre

Preston bus station is the central bus station in the city of Preston in Lancashire, England. It was built by Ove Arup and Partners in the Brutalist architectural style between 1968 and 1969, to a design by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson of Building Design Partnership with E. H. Stazicker.

In the 2000s the building was threatened with demolition as part of the City Council's Tithebarn redevelopment project. After two unsuccessful attempts, it was granted Grade II listed building status in September 2013. It was then refurbished and officially re-opened in 2018.[1]


Built in the Brutalist architectural style between 1968 and 1969, designed by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson of Building Design Partnership with E. H. Stazicker, it had (until 2017) a capacity of 80 double-decker buses, 40 along each side of the building. Some claimed that it was the second largest bus station in Western Europe.[2] Pedestrian access to the bus station was originally through any of three subways, one of which linked directly to the adjacent Guild Hall, while the design also incorporates a multi-storey car park of five floors with space for 1,100 cars. It has been described by the Twentieth Century Society as "one of the most significant Brutalist buildings in the UK".[3]

The distinctive curve of the car park balconies

The building's engineers, Ove Arup and Partners, designed the distinctive curve of the car park balconies "after acceptable finishes to a vertical wall proved too expensive, contributing to the organic, sculptural nature of the building. The edges are functional, too, in that they protect car bumpers from crashing against a vertical wall. The cover balustrade protects passengers from the weather by allowing buses to penetrate beneath the lower parking floor."[4][5]

Threatened demolition[edit]

The building was threatened with demolition as part of the City Council's Tithebarn redevelopment project. After the Tithebarn development was abandoned, there were still proposals to demolish the bus station and replace it with a small interchange near the railway station.

In 2000, opposition to demolition led to a failed application for listed building status by English Heritage. Preston Borough Council (as it was then known) opposed the application.

Putting forward the case for a smaller terminus, a report, commissioned by the council and Grosvenor in 2000, stated that "buses arriving and leaving the bus station have very low bus occupancy rates indicating that passengers alight and board elsewhere in the town centre. The bus station car park similarly suffers from the poor pedestrian linkages."[6] Listing was subsequently rejected.[7]

A survey conducted by the Lancashire Evening Post in May 2010 found that Preston Bus Station was Preston people's favourite building.[8]

A further application to list the bus station was rejected in 2010 [9] and a review of the decision was turned down in 2011.[10] It featured on the 2012 World Monument Fund's list of sites at risk.[11][12]

In 2012, John Wilson of Fulwood in Preston and a member of the "Save Preston Bus Station" campaign presented a petition of 1435 signatures to Preston City Council calling for a referendum on the future of the bus station and argued that 80% of Preston people surveyed supported keeping the bus station and investing in it. Councillors voted to reject a referendum, with only 1 councillor, Terry Cartwright of Deepdale ward voting in favour.[13]

On 7 December 2012, Preston City Council announced that the bus station would be demolished.[14] They said that it would cost £23m to refurbish it and more than £5m just to keep it standing; although they also conceded that demolition would cost an estimated £1.8m. The Twentieth Century Society, which opposed the scheme, stated that a fraction of this amount would maintain the building while proposals to retain it were being worked up.[3]

In 2013, listed building status was applied for again by The Twentieth Century Society and this time it was granted Grade II listed building status.[15][16]


The new concourse, replacing the western bays
The interior in February 2020

In October 2014, the Lancashire County Council announced plans for a £23 million renovation of the bus station, including "Youth zone" facilities for young people,[17] along with a new public square on the western side of the building to improve public access to and from Fishergate, St John's Shopping Centre and the Preston Guild Hall.[18]

The council announced an international competition for the design of the new bus station, to be run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the selection criteria would include a public vote.[18] Over 90 entries were received and short-listed to five finalists, with more than 4,200 members of the public voting for their favourite design. In August 2015, New York-based (with offices in London) architecture company John Puttick Associates' entry was chosen as the winning design.[19] Preston-based architecture group Cassidy + Ashton, who finished a close second (just four points behind the winner), were named as a partner on the project.[20]

While the "Youth Zone" was later cancelled,[21] refurbishment work for the bus station commenced in 2016. In 2017 bus stands 1–40 on the western side were closed, and stands 41–80 on the eastern side were renumbered 1–40.[22] The station was officially re-opened in 2018, although the works continued.[1] In March 2019, the second and final stage of the project saw the construction of a public square in place of the western bus stands commence, with work completed late that year.[23]

50th anniversary[edit]

Historic buses on display for the 50th anniversary of the bus station in October 2019

In March 2019 the Preston City Council announced a series of events would take place in the summer and autumn to celebrate the bus station's 50th anniversary.[24] An exhibit Beautiful and Brutal was held at the Harris Museum from 21 September–24 November 2019,[25] and the public were asked to submit relevant photographs and personal memorabilia, some of which were also displayed at the bus station.

On Saturday 19 October 2019, almost 50 years to the day since its opening on 12 October 1969, festivities were held on the new public square in front of the bus station, which included free public entertainment and three historic buses were provided by the Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust "so the three main users of the bus station were represented".[26]


In May 2019 the bus station's refurbishment project received three Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) North West regional awards:[27]

  • The project won the overall Regional Award
  • Project consultants John Puttich Associates and Cassidy+Ashton won the Conservation Award
  • The Lancashire County Council won the Client of the Year Award

As a regional winner, the bus station was also a nominee for and won a RIBA National Award and received long-listing for the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize[28] but did not make the short list.[29]

Media appearances[edit]

The bus station featured in a song on the children's show All Over the Place.[30]

On Good Friday 2012, it was the venue for the Preston Passion, a passion play involving thousands of people forming a "human cross", broadcast live on BBC Television.[31]

The bus station was featured in a two-part television series by Jonathan Meades, Bunkers, Brutalism, Bloodymindedness: Concrete Poetry (2014).[32]

It is the subject of 56,000, a short film by Paul Adams and Andrew Wilson.[33]

It was used as a filming location for scenes in the film Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019).[34]

The station was the subject of a collection of publications by Craig Atkinson of Café Royal Books, which were put together as a set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the station.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Preston bus station's grand reopening after £19m facelift". Lancashire Evening Post. 10 July 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Second-best city". Lancashire Evening Post. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Twentieth Century Society deplores Preston bus station demolition plans". Twentieth Century Society. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Keith Ingham for Building Design Partnership. Ove Arup and Partners, Structural Engineers. 1967". Retrieved 31 January 2007.[dead link]
  5. ^ "Risky Buildings Transport". The Twentieth Century Society. 2006. Archived from the original on 22 June 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  6. ^ "Preston Town Centre Analysis Précis document" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2007.
  7. ^ "Department of Culture, Media and Sport: Minister's Decision on Central Bus Station and Car Park, Preston". The Save Preston Bus Station Campaign. Retrieved 31 January 2007.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Preston's Favourite Building", Lancashire Evening Post, 17 May 2010
  9. ^ "Preston bus station will not be listed". Lancashire Evening Post. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Preston bus station to be bulldozed". Lancashire Evening Post. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Preston bus station on UK monument 'at risk' list". BBC News. 5 October 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  12. ^ "British Brutalism-World Monuments Fund". Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Plea over bus station falls flat". Lep.co.uk. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  14. ^ "Bus station to be bulldozed". Lep.co.uk. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Preston Bus Station wins listed status". Lep.co.uk. 23 September 2012. Archived from the original on 25 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  16. ^ Historic England. "Preston Central Bus Station and Car Park (Grade II) (1416042)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Revamped Preston bus station will be home to new Youth Zone". Lancashire CC. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  18. ^ a b "Preston Bus Station Refurbishment". Visit Preston. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  19. ^ "John Puttick Associates wins competition for £13 million Preston Bus Station overhaul". De Zeen. 17 August 2015.
  20. ^ "Preston Bus Station – Competition Finalists". Cassidy + Ashton. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  21. ^ "Preston Youth Zone has been scrapped despite protests". Blog Preston. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  22. ^ "How Preston Bus Station's signs are being lovingly restored". Blog Preston. 7 November 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  23. ^ Matthew Ord (25 March 2019). "Final Stage of Preston Bus Station Works Underway". Insider Media Limited. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  24. ^ Megan Titley (18 March 2019). "Preston Bus Station to pull out all the stops for 50th anniversary". Lancashire Evening Post. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  25. ^ Sara Jaspan (6 September 2019). "Beautiful and Brutal: 50 Years in the life of Preston Bus Station at Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library". CreativeTourist.com. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  26. ^ "Preston bus station birthday". Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust. 20 October 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  27. ^ "C+A project news: Preston Bus Station scoops three RIBA awards". Cassidy + Ashton. 21 May 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Cassidy + Ashton project wins national award and RIBA Stirling Prize nomination". Cassidy + Ashton’. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Meet the six buildings on the RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist". BBC Arts. 30 September 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  30. ^ "CBBC – All Over the Place". BBC. 1 January 1970. Archived from the original on 11 April 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  31. ^ http://www.lep.co.uk/news/opinion_2_1845/passion_play_will_make_shining_star_of_station_1_4073247 [dead link]
  32. ^ "Jonathan Meades :: Bunkers Brutalism and Bloodymindedness Concrete Poetry - Two".
  33. ^ "56,000: a film about Preston Bus Station". Paul Adams, photographer. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  34. ^ Staff reporter (22 July 2018). "Cast and crew of upcoming martial arts film Ip Man 4 spotted at Preston Bus Station". Lancashire Evening Post. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  35. ^ "Craig Atkinson — Preston Bus Station".

External links[edit]