Chris Donald, former editor of Viz magazine, raises a cheer for Victorian station houses and two fingers to a 1960s office block
My favourite building would be any one of the station houses dotted along the old Alnwick to Cornhill railway line in north Northumberland.
They were built of sandstone, with distinctive half-hipped roofs, mullioned windows, extravagant joinery details and ornate roof finials. They date from 1887 and were the work of the North Eastern Railway’s architect William Bell. The railway is long gone, but the buildings survive as handsome private houses. I liked them so much I bought and renovated three of the stations myself!
A building I loathe is Swan House, a brutal office block that sprang up in the heart of Newcastle during the 1960s. It sits in the middle of a busy roundabout and is only accessible
via a series of dingy pedestrian subways. At its core they built a dingy, pointless, fume-filled reproduction of the Georgian Royal Arcade, which was flattened as part of the development. This arcade housed the city’s depressing dole office, and I used to sign on there every Thursday at 10.30am. Swan House recently underwent a transformation and a name change. It’s now 55 Degrees North, a prestigious residential and leisure development. But it’s still stuck in the middle of a roundabout, and it still looks crap.
Chris Donald founded Viz magazine in 1979.
His book, Rude Kids: The Unfeasible Story of Viz, is published by HarperCollins, price £20