During last summer Stockwell Bus Garage had an open day as part of Transport for London’s 2014 ‘Year Of The Bus’ celebration and I had the opportunity to go along and check out this remarkable piece of 1950s architecture.
Stockwell Bus Garage was opened in 1952, built by the architectural firm of Adie, Button and Partners, with engineer A E Beer. It’s a remarkable, perhaps even outlandish structure – huge ribs of concrete separated by skylights describe enormous arcs high above, allowing for over 73,000 sq feet of usable space below. It’s actually capable of storing 200 buses under its enormous barrel vault…
Even that most cynical of cultural commentators, Will Self, loves Stockwell Bus Garage’s airy vastness:
“it’s a lovely building – sinuous, curved, organic – and yet it exhibits the best constructivist principles… I could live in it for a year”
As you can see, the open day involved lots and lots of buses of every description, all of which have travelled the streets of London in the decades since the introduction of motorised vehicles in 1902. The London Transport Museum even brought along their renovated Type B bus, which was brought into service in 1910. In lots of ways it bears a much closer resemblance to the double decker horse-drawn carriages that it replaced rather than the much bulkier London buses that came along in later years.
Just in closing, I suspect that the architect of West Ham Bus Garage probably had Stockwell in mind when he designed its series of arches – what do you think?