Thursday, 14 October 2021

Memory Mixtape #6: Demolition

I don't know if this is another mid-life crisis thing or what, but I found myself shedding a sentimental tear for an old multi-storey car park in the town centre when I drove past the other day and realised it wasn't there anymore.

The Market Hall car park in Huddersfield has been closed for the past year or so after somebody at the council decided it wasn't safe anymore, and its demolition has been on the cards ever since. This being the modern age, there's even a video online of them pulling it down... and I found that quite upsetting too.

There's a lot of memories swirling around in my head about that car park. It's the one my mum would park in whenever she took me shopping, and our Saturday morning ritual would be to stop there, go our separate ways, then meet back up in an hour or so. I'd go to the comic shops, maybe later on to Our Price and Woolworths, while mum did the boring adult shop. I don't know from what age, but I suspect I went off on my own around town far younger than Sam will ever be allowed to... different times.

I have a vivid memory of one time returning to the car park to find my mum's car was gone. I panicked, ran all around looking for it, started to consider going to the police station. In the end, I went back outside and found Mum sitting on the wall waiting for me. She'd realised I must have got lost... some kind of parenting sixth sense told her to wait out there for me. I'd been looking for the car on the wrong floor, that was all.

Later, when I started driving myself, this was the place I parked when I attended lectures and classes at Huddersfield University. Another vivid memory of Monday mornings, parking in there and running across the ring road to the campus for my 9.15 lecture... after having been up till 3am the night before. No late night student parties, just working on the radio phone-in. 

Then graduation day: I drove my mum and dad into town and we parked in the car park before I slipped on my cap and gown, bought a pay and display ticket, then led them up the market hall steps towards the Town Hall where I'd collect my certificate. In my graduation photos, the three of us are standing in our best clothes outside C&A... another institute long gone.  

The Market Hall Car Park was not a building to love. It was a 70s concrete monstrosity; a carbuncle, to quote Prince Charles, who wouldn't have dared set foot in there. The pillars were stained with graffiti, the stairwells smelled of piss, and you'd have to be mad to risk the lifts. But even hideous buildings hold special memories, and I'm saddened now by its absence.

The song that kept going through my head as I wrote this post was Come Dancing by The Kinks. Ironically, that's a song about the local dancehall having been demolished and replaced by a car park. And here I am mourning a multi-storey in similar fashion...

They put a parking lot on a piece of land
Where the supermarket used to stand
Before that, they put up a bowling alley
On the site that used to be the local palais
That's where the big bands used to come and play
My sister went there on a Saturday

The video is very nostalgic too... with a great bit of acting from Ray Davies.

The day they knocked down the palais
My sister stood and cried
The day they knocked down the palais
Part of my childhood died, just died


  1. Funny what resonates, isn't it? There used to be a multi-storey in my home town that looked almost exactly like this. It too is long gone and it too held memories for me.

  2. I've never been fond of multi-storey car parks. Most ones I ever used were dark, dingy places with pools of water all over the place.

  3. I had a nasty experience in the one next to the Glasgow Concert Hall when I inadvertently put the ticket to get out in the bin and had to fish it out causing a considerable tailback!

  4. Lovely memories of what was not a particularly attractive place, but key to many significant times in your life. The song ironically is very apt.

    Our local multi-story car park had a makeover a few years back so much nicer now and even safe to use the lifts. It’s called the Rose Street Car Park but someone in the council decided to put a giant letter P right at the front of the name so it now known as the Prose Street Car Park.


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