Crossens Pumping Station

I recently called at the Crossens Pumping Station at Banks in West Lancashire. Its architecture I rather like; there is just a hint of art deco in its symmetry, but it also anticipates the brutalism of the following decades. I judged it be mid-fifties, and was gratified to see a date stone bearing the year 1959. The expanses of glass, the concrete and brick combo walls and the flat roof all suggest its mid-century origin.

Yet this is no token architecture, but a useful, working building. Despite previous plans for its closure, this station preserves the fertile plains of West Lancashire from flooding. Not only does this prevent damage to 6000 homes but it would turn the county’s ‘salad bowl’ (the fertile area known for its vegetable produce) into marshes, forcing up the price of food. The pumping station keeps those fields from water-logging and the veg nicely growing. So a pleasant building style, but an even better utility.

Too many people admire church buildings while ignoring the purpose for which they were built: the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting- in a dry place. If you attend a lovely building on a Sunday but hear not the words of life, then you have switched off the pumps and the fertile soils are become dead marshland.