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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > History > Local Heroes > The demolition of Unity House

Unity House - in it's glory days!

Unity House before it was knocked down

The demolition of Unity House

Unity House in Hanley was Stoke-on-Trent's tallest building but now it's been demolished! We give you some of the facts and you give us your views...

 Stoke-on-Trent’s very own skyscraper has now disappeared off the Hanley skyline altogether. Some people are happy others are sad - here are some facts…

What was Unity House?

Unity House was once home to Stoke-on-Trent City Council and also to some departments of Staffordshire County.

It was the biggest demolition job Staffordshire has ever seen.

Previously, it was branded an eyesore. It featured on Midlands Today’s “Demolition” series and when I first came here I had to take a double take look as I drove along the Potteries Way!

BBC Radio Stoke's Liz Roberts was on the last official tour of Unity House (April 2005) Listen to the report by clicking on the link above:

Some Unity House Facts:

• Unity House was 18 storeys high
• There were 148,000 square feet of floor space
• The structure was 240 feet high
• It was built in 1973
• Local people dubbed it ‘Fawlty Towers’

The demolition of Unity House

Unity House - almost gone in Feb 2006.

Why was it demolished?

Advantage West Midlands, which helps regeneration in the region wanted to make way for a new “professional” quarter.

Falling into disrepair...

Unity House stood 240 feet above the Hanley skyline – you couldn't miss it. It might have been part of the city’s history but it was ugly.

It was empty for over ten years after the council left and was analysed as having "sick building syndrome".

Some locals have told me that they’ll be sorry to see it go. Why?? What on earth can something like that offer and what company in their right mind would want to move in there? 1960s architecture is much better as a comical memory.

Local fimmakers Michelle Martin and Chris Darwen produced a video tribute to Unity House, which dominated Stoke's skyline since it was built in 1973.

Click on the link above to view the video:

How it's been knocked down...

You’d hope for a nice explosion and a gathering for a few hundred city folk to see Unity House fall to the ground! It wasn’t quite be that simple though – it was too dangerous to have an explosion so it had to come down brick by brick during 2005 and 2006 - a very slow process.

The cranes started at the top and worked their way down for Staffordshire’s biggest demolition job. Soon Unity House will, thankfully, be a memory for the people of Stoke-on-Trent.

Plans for the new 'Professional Quarter'

The authorities are promising it won’t become a bit of redundant waste land – there are grand plans for a professional quarter and new office blocks to encourage business into the city.
I'll be keeping an eye on that promise!

Let’s just hope the architects think a bit harder about what goes there this time!

Your thoughts on Unity House?

You sent us your views on Hanley's landmark building - read what you had to say:
Newest messages appear at the top of this thread.

Gerald Mee
In one respect I am sad about the demolition! I filmed its construction in 1974/5 when I was taken up on an outside lift with my film camera, standing on top of the cage! I got off at the 10th floor and climed in through a window and walked up the stairs to the roof where I filmed the Hanley skyline. I then walked down all the way to the ground floor. The lift/cage was too 'hairy'!!! I have since videoed the building and am now recording its demise!...all in 30 years.

carol wilkinson
Well I only left stoke to live in turkey in 2004 and you have broken unity house well done I remember going in there to register my mothers death in 1980 and it was falling apart then great work but what is being put there after the land is freed up

Jane
Why demolish what was a good building. Apparently developers were interested in it, its only coming down because of political reasons. It should have been re-developed.

Angela
It's about time something was done with that piece of land, the building was an eyesore and it's been lying idle for too long, good riddance. Perhaps now the land can be used for something more useful, but knowing our local government they will probably build something equally useless. They could consider asking the people of the area what they would prefer being built there for a change.

Pete Davies, Blurton
I think it's a shame to lose this Stoke landmark. When you stood at it's base it looked like a massive gothic cathedral. Such a powerful building...then again...I suppose we have to move on. The extent of Stoke's regeneration in the past few years has been remarkable. When you live here you don't realise how much has changed for the better and how much more better the future will be.

Adrian Romano
Having seen the "Demolition" series starting on Channel 4, people in Stoke can take some consolation from the fact that Unity House is coming down ahead of other eyesores in different parts of the country. Can it be that Stoke-on-Trent is going to be something of a trendsetter for the future?

moley
about time, it must have taken up thousands of pounds in council debate time, feasibility studies, not to mention the dereliction that it proclaimed to all far and wide. sooner it's gone the better.

jenny
After a long day out with the children in the summer holidays seeing the UN building always meant that the kettle was not far away. What will now tell me that home is only another 5 minutes drive away.

Neil
I think that building is long overdue to be forgotten by Stoke on Trent People. The land can be put to better use failure on behalf of the Stoke On Trent People.

Neil
Good, It was a bad building a waste of time. It was never been ussed. Good

Mark
Lived in Stoke for 13 years after finishing Uni and now back in Lincolnshire. Yes UH or Fawlty Towers may have been a run down eyesore and there were no buildings of the like in the surroundings, but it was certainly a landmark. Whichever way you entered Stoke, you knew you were close to home when you saw it. I think greater efforts should have been made to turn it into something useful, rather than to let it rot and pay for it to be demolished (not with my council tax now Mr Wolfe). Will be sad not to see it when I visit. Tarra Duck

tekkers
ahh unity house - shame to see it go really.. many mornings in my misspent youth i've found myself completely LOST after a heavy night out clubbing - or after being to some crazy house party ... (i dont know why but people in the 90s just seemed to have better and more house parties - decent music and an up for it crowd? instead of just getting drunk till sick and being about as interesting as a snail on ketamine :|) but ya - totally lost untill i see the great beastie of unity house on the horizon - just head towards that and eventually i'll be home - reassuring. now just how are generations of future hanley peeps gonnna navigate home the morning after without use of personal GPS now UH is not there? maybe some big glowing blimp over hanley or somat.. and burn down that 'hanley shopping center' or whatever it is by the busstation - that area has had NO USE TO MAN OR BEAST since the closing of TANDY - the greatest store ever for wires and little plug things that could just about connect anythin to anythin - kinda like the UN of cables. fantastic. :|

Roy Naylor
I am glad this building is finally comming dowm. But what a waste of funding that was used to paint the boards around the building site. These will be pulled down, where as if the funding had gone on a project that would remain for many years. A typical City Council application for funding, squanded as usual, can't we tell Labour are again pulling this proud City to its knees.

jumbo
Would you like to live or work on the top floors of a building that is too tall for the fire services to reach you?

blotto
it was a blot on the landscape!!

Chrissie .. Fenton
Growing up in Shelton, we used to call it the 'doggy building' as from where we lived it looked like a lego poodle! it was an eyesore, but there are many other places that need demolishing...all around that are of Broad st, the buildings need demolishing, and the space should be utilised effectively! One thing I will say... although Stoke is put down by the rest of the UK.... in general, they won't EVER meet nicer folk! so stuff what they think about us!

Chris Cox
I am really sad that this building is being demolished.It was better on the eye than the grey monstrosity thats BT

Aufo8mycow
Good Grief people. What I cannot fathom, is peoples inexplicable nature to hang on to old buildings just because of a memory. Our city is already littered with unused, decayed bad architecture from years gone by. Its about time we bit the bullet and got rid. Never mind this area, all of stoke on Trent needs regeneration and it has to start somewhere. Unity house was not only an eyesore, it was dangerous. Repair was never going to be an option, so enough of this what it could of been lets now look forward in in a Euphoric trance of mouthwatering anticipation that the joke of a council that we have don't mess this project up! They all know, individually, who they are....

Francis Bettany
An engineering masterpiece, yet utterly hideious. Bring it down, build an arhitectural masterpiece and perhaps one day stoke-on-trent can regain some of its past prestige.

Dawn
About time it was knocked down. Be interesting to see the finished product. Wonder how long it'll be before we all forget what it looked like in the future

ditchill foo'
skated there before, good o'le little ledge and flatbank, miss it....nah werent too good anyway..but still lil respect for the beasty building thats hacked a good ole lifetime..RIP foo'

Adrian Romano
All I will say is, good riddance to this eyesore which till recently I never knew was Unity House which I used to pass on the Number 101 bus to Stafford. I am glad, however, that at least Bethesda Chapel's future looks to be secure as a more deserving building, I am biassed, you understand, as a member of the Methodist Church....

saqib
i was in stoke on trent now im in pakistan back , but i was surprised why they demolished the huge building u can convert it into shpoing mall ,,or any public liberey , i realy feel sory for that thanx

Sammi
I will be sad to see unity house go. I used to go in there with some of my friends and the veiw from the top is amazing. it could have been turned into a view point or something like that to add some money to the local community. also...it is haunted...woe betide any one who disturbes these spirits.....

Daren
Just goto derby and see what how smaller city can grow, just goto pride park and see the development there, thats what we need here now, jobs, and prospects for the city and the people of the city.

Delia Holland
Disgraceful waste of public money. It has only been up just over thirty years so should not be being pulled down. That aside someone should shoot the architect that designed it as it has always been an eyesore.

laura
Its ugly !

John Flackett
Unity is so important for us in Stoke / North Staffs. It is sad to see one symbol of that Unity going. I have decided to name my own house in Northwood, Hanley UNITY HOUSE. I assume the Council will not object as they seem set on demolishing their own Unity House!!!

Barry
I will always remember unity house for the time I stood on the roof and looked over the city to see the city like I had never seen it before. I will also always remember the young man who was working on the lift when he fell to his death in the lift shaft.

Janet - Smallthorne
Good riddance....what a white elephant. All c tax payers should receive a rebaye in acknowledgement of its costs over the years.

kenneth clarke
Unity house is being demolished as it is a standing testament to the incompetence of the council.

last updated: 03/09/2008 at 17:41
created: 15/02/2006

You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > History > Local Heroes > The demolition of Unity House



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