VIDEO: Ten years since Kevin McCloud ‘mouth of hell’ tag for Northampton’s Greyfriars bus station

Greyfriars Bus Station NNL-150602-103827009
Greyfriars Bus Station NNL-150602-103827009

The Channel Four documentary that first described Greyfriars bus station as the ‘mouth of hell’ was a turning point in the fate of the brutalist building, the then leader of the borough council has said.
Demolition, filmed in 2005, saw Grand Designs presenter, Kevin McCloud, tour the UK’s most-hated buildings in a bid to get them knocked down.

And number three on that list of despised structures, voted for by members of the public, was Northampton’s Bus Station.

The seven-minute package of film featured co-presenter Janet Street-Porter interviewing the then leader of Northampton Borough Council, Phil Larratt, as to why the depot remained standing, when it was already leaking acid into a car park area. This week Councillor Larratt (Con, East Hunsbury) said the show had a big effect in getting the building demolished, albeit 10 years later.

“I think since the building has been in existence it has always had its critics,” he said. “But that show certainly was a catalyst in raising the profile of the whole situation.”

The 2005 programme, which described Greyfirars as the country’s ‘worst station’ began with clips of Northampton residents speaking on how they wanted to see Greyfriars demolished.

“It’s just two upside-down skips that need to be removed,” said one woman.

It’s great news

Janet Street Porter

“It spoils the centre of Northampton with its dark grey concrete caverns,” said a man.

But many will remember the description of presenter Kevin McCloud, when he visited the building by bus.

“Oh my God,” he said. “It’s like a great big mouth of hell. It’s a big black ship to count souls. It really does feel as though this is the end. Abandon hope all ye who enter.”

This week Channel Four said it was glad to see the back of the bus station – which opened in 1976 – and Janet Street Porter provided a short statement to mark the building’s demise. She told the Chron: “It’s great news.”