TV presenter Loyd Grossman recently highlighted the campaign to save Preston Bus Station as an example of ‘the rise of people power’ in heritage.
In a presentation on heritage activism (he is chairman of the Heritage Alliance) Grossman commented: “We are witnessing the death of the expert [in heritage]. Instead of one expert opinion, there are tens of thousands of opinions, and public opinion is proving more powerful than the established ways of getting things done.
“Preston City Council had no idea what extraordinary love Prestonians had for their building.”
The event was part of the London Festival of Architecture. He also discussed the social value of buildings in deciding whether or not a building should be saved.
“Brutalism was seen as very much antithetical to what people wanted from architecture. But Preston Bus Station showed that Brutalism was loved. The Twentieth Century Society and English Heritage tried to save the building, but what really worked was public protest… a very un-English example of people power.
“The task for those involved in heritage is how we engage with this new assertion of people power, but I welcome the rise of public opinion in the debate over heritage.”
However, Grossman highlighted that “Public opinion is a double-edged sword,” adding: “The old formal process gave the – sometimes spurious – idea that long-term values were being taken into consideration… What should or should not be preserved must not just be a popularity contest.”
Loyd Grossman is a gastronome with a successful food range and is currently a judge on ITV Food series Food Glorious Food.