Take a look at some of Worcester’s ugliest buildings

If there was a competition to find the ugliest building in Worcester, I can think of a few entries to start, two rather depressing examples of 60s architectural chic.

First, the university complex at the end of Deansway Cathedral, which began life as Worcester Tech and was renamed Heart of England, and its equally ugly sister, the former seat of this newspaper along the river in Hyton Road, which currently has a new gold costume clothing courtesy of the local university.

But step back almost 200 years and there was a place that was not only considered the ugliest in Worcester, but also in the county. And his name did not evoke his unpleasant appearance.

The description “skating rink” evokes visions of people gliding gracefully on an icy enclosure. It does not infer lack of attractiveness. But that’s exactly how most people saw the ice rink built as part of the romantically named Worcester Pleasure Grounds in the 1850s.

Privately run, the Pleasure Grounds occupied part of the former Trubshaw-Withers estate in the city’s Sansome Fields neighborhood. They covered 25 acres and were landscaped by the eminent landscape designer William Barrow with terraces, flower beds and walkways.

There was a large central fountain, a cricket pitch, a bowling green, tennis courts and archery goals. There was even a crystal pavilion at the end of the main driveway, now Arboretum Road, on either side of which were two Russian cannons taken during the Crimean War.

The whole was magnificent, and the pleasure grounds of Worcester were considered among the finest in the provinces. Unfortunately, the financial side was not there and the company went bankrupt.

The Crystal Pavilion was dismantled and sold and the Russian cannons were taken to the Shirehall forecourt, where they remained until used for scrap at the start of World War II. But before the dull habitat covered the area, and in a nod to the ideal of pleasure gardens, a public ice rink was built on the site.

However, local historian Bill Gwilliam was to observe: “Although for purposes of enjoyment, the rink building did not have a spark of cheerfulness about it. Constructed from corrugated iron with cast iron pillars, it was one of the ugliest buildings in Worcestershire.

“It was also used for public meetings and circuses. Great political rivals like Asquith and FE Smith, Lord Randolph Churchill and Sir Charles Dilke appeared there to debate the issues of the day.

“Later, the ice rink was used as a laundry room. During World War I it became a Midland Red bus garage, then a fruit and vegetable market and once again a main bus depot for Worcester. Ugly until the end,

it was finally demolished in 1972. And it’s perhaps understandable that no one seems to have taken its picture.

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