diamond geezer

 Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Slough's bus station used to be a gloomy thing. A dark brick Brutalist box with a car park on top, and passengers doomed to wait inside until their means of escape arrived. An echoing vault, devoid of comfort, sunlight and joy. You'll have seen it featured in the opening credits to The Office, as not sponsored by the local tourist board. Well, as of last weekend, Slough's old Brunel bus station is no more. The final number 81 bus rolled out just after midnight on Saturday morning, and the entire building was sealed off ready for demolition. A few hours later the first number 81 of the day pulled in at Brunel's replacement, just round the back, in The Heart of Slough. This is a very different beast - silver, curved and swooping with a long double tail. I can best describe it as a frogman's flipper with a headlamp at one end, the latter being the first-floor window of the bus drivers' canteen. Passengers get to wait out in the open air again, though mostly sheltered beneath a long aluminium swoosh. A series of automatic doors lead out to ten numbered bays, which appear quite easy to drive a bus into but take a fair bit of reversing to get back out of. Residents of Slough have swiftly got the hang of using the new building, because it's not rocket science, it's only a bus station. But not everybody's impressed. "Was the new Slough bus station designed by a knob of an architect who doesn't actually use a bus?" asks Susie on Twitter. Lemonpillows reckons there's "pitiful cycle rack provision". And toyosi says "Waste of space, no shelter from the elements" and wonders if it was built by a "dick head scientist". Maybe it looks better than it performs. But then it isn't quite finished yet. Once the old bus station is demolished, which should be by the end of the summer, the architects will nip back to extend the tail on the roof into the vacated space. With a new entrance off the main road, and a prime position near the railway station, councillors hope their new modern infrastructure will revitalise the public profile of the town. Whether those who'll have to use the bus station every day will love it quite so much remains to be seen.

I tell you all this not because you're interested, but because you may be watching reruns of The Office one day and I'd hate you to think it still looks like that.

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