IF there was a competition to find the ugliest building in Worcester I can think of a couple of entries for a start, both rather depressing examples of Sixties architectural chic.

Firstly the college complex at the Cathedral end of Deansway, which began life as Worcester Tech and has been renamed Heart of England, and its equally ugly sister the former headquarters of this newspaper alongside the river in Hyton Road, currently having a new suit of gold clothes courtesy of the local university.

But flip back almost 200 years and there  was a place that was not only considered the ugliest in Worcester, but in the county too. And its name gave no hint of its disagreeable appearance.

The description “skating rink” conjures up visions of people gliding gracefully  across an iced enclosure. It does not infer unattractiveness. But that’s exactly how most people saw the skating rink built as part of the romantically named Worcester Pleasure Grounds in the 1850s.

Run by a private company, the Pleasure Grounds occupied some of the former Trubshaw-Withers estate in the Sansome Fields area of the city. They covered 25 acres and were laid out by eminent landscape gardener William Barrow with terraces, flower beds and promenades.

There was a large central fountain, a cricket ground, bowling green, tennis courts and archery butts. There was even a crystal pavilion at the end of the main drive, now Arboretum Road, either side of which stood two Russian guns taken during the Crimean War.

The whole scheme was a thing of beauty and Worcester’s pleasure grounds were considered among the finest in the provinces. Unfortunately the financial side did not stack up and the venture went bust.

The crystal pavilion was dismantled and sold and the Russian guns removed to the forecourt of the Shirehall, where they remained until being used for scrap at the start of WW2. But before drab housing covered the area, and as a nod to the pleasure gardens ideal, a public skating rink was  built on the site.

However, local historian Bill Gwilliam  was to observe: “Although for the purposes of pleasure, the skating rink building had not a spark of gaiety about it. Constructed from corrugated iron sheeting with cast iron pillars it was one of the ugliest buildings in Worcestershire.

“It was also used for public meetings and circuses. Great political rivals like Asquith and FE Smith, Lord Randolph Churchill and Sir Charles Dilke appeared there to debate the issues of the day.

“Later the skating rink was used as a laundry. In the First World War it became a Midland Red bus garage, then a fruit and vegetable market and once more a main bus depot for Worcester.” Ugly to the last,

it was finally demolished in 1972. And perhaps understandably, no-one seems to have taken its photograph.