Xanadu- BBC documentary about the Ashfield Valley Estate, Rochdale
BBC Words on film programme featuring poetry by Simon Armitage- influenced by his work on the Ashfield Valley estate, Rochdale.
Like many other estates built by local authorities to meet an increased housing demand back in the heady 1960s, the design ethic of Ashfield Valley was heavily influenced by French architect Le Corbusier and his utopian notion of “Streets in the Sky” – where deck access blocks of tenancies, interconnected by walkways would substitute and mimic traditional terraced streets- the idea being that community spirit and identity would be maintained and embraced – an aspect of life that traditional tower blocks were starting to become criticised for lacking; Ashfield Valley was an ambitious project for its time – over 1000 flats divided into 26 alphabetical blocks. It became known locally as “The Valley”.
The flats went up but were not maintained with the facilities and amenities that are essential to service the needs of over 1000 tenancies and the project rapidly fell in somewhat of a decline.
The death knell for the Valley was inevitable. Despite some attempts to improve it that were too little too late, a strong community spirit and hints of a distinct counterculture developing the estate became, a symbol of the failings of post war governments