Beautiful and Brutal – 50 years in the life of Preston Bus Station


2019 marked the 50th year of Preston Bus Station, an internationally significant piece of architecture built for everyday use by the people of Preston. Charles Quick, of In Certain Places collaborated with the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library to re-present and reveal Preston Bus Station through archives, collections, artists’ public art commissions and interventions. The exhibition permeated spaces throughout the Harris from 21st September  24th November 2019 

Built in 1969 byBritish Design Partnership (BDP), Preston Bus Station was the largest in Europe – a space-age structure created the same year the moon landing took place. Its strong architectural presence has inspired a wealth of artists, filmmakers and photographers, including Shezad Dawood and Nathaniel Mellors. 

Beautiful and Brutal – 50 years in the life of Preston Bus Station featureed existing work alongside new commissions by contemporary artists LOW PROFILE,Keith Harrisonand Anna Raczynski, revealing aspects of the architecture both on site at the bus station and in the Harris Museum. LOW PROFILE  explored the role of people in the building’s identity through a large-scale artwork. Keith Harrison, known for his sculptural and audio work, created the performative work Conductor and artist/filmmaker Anna Raczynski a series of video portraits of a diverse group of users.

Preston Bus Station was saved from demolition after a 13 year campaigninitiated by the people of Preston resulting in Grade II listing. It has been revitalised through an extensive restoration programme by Lancashire County Council and John Puttick architectsIts beautiful and brutal form has regained its former glory – loved by many and loathed by some. Whatever your opinion it is one of Preston’s most distinctive pieces of architecture and is a place where the daily transactions of the city take place. 

A complementary events programme at Preston Bus Station and the Harris also included films, talks, tours and workshops to contextualise the social architecture of the building and its role in the city.  

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Archive photographs of Preston Bus Station courtesy of BDP

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