St Mark’s Church, Upper Duke St 1803

St Mark’s Church of England, Upper Duke St 1803 – 1908

What was one of Liverpool’s largest churches, and lasted over a century before closure and demolition, did not get off to the most auspicious of starts…… more

St Mark's c1910

St Mark’s c1910

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Wolstenholme Square, Liverpool

Laid out c1750 as a tree lined square and Ladies walk on land owned by the Wolstenholme family, the square has a fascinating history being built up since c1756. During the following 250 years it has gone through many phases as Liverpool developed. It suffered badly in the Blitz of 1941, has become a night club phenomenon, is home to Penelope, and  it is soon to see some re-development once again……

read more……..


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St Thomas’s, Park Lane, Liverpool

St Thomas’s Church, Park Lane, Liverpool

1750 – 1905

Despite being built in 1750, closed in 1905 and demolished in 1911, the Church of St Thomas is still closer to us than many people realise. Equally so are the legacies of many who were buried at the church. Just 0.5 of a meter below your feet as you walk around the Memorial Gardens at the end of Paradise St/Park Lane lay the remains of early ‘elite’ Liverpool citizens in brick lined vaults capped with gravestones. In the process of researching into St Thomas’ it has been exciting to uncover what appear to be some previously unrecorded facts, and be able to help fill in some gaps in previous accounts. Amongst some unrelated books I was fortunate to find …….read more

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Wellington Rooms, a place for dance and laughter

Another of Liverpool’s empty buildings that creates much discussion and debate, and one that holds many memories for many people. How fantastic would it be to see this gem alive once again with the sounds of laughter and music. What else could it be used for? Perhaps a Liverpool Medical Museum to celebrate the cities many contributions and firsts in the field?

Wellington Reading Rooms - opened 1816

Wellington Rooms – opened 1816

The Grade II* Wellington Rooms is a neo-classical building designed by Edmund Aikin, erected by subscription, and located on Mount Pleasant. It was built 1815 – 16 and the first function was the Ladies Charity Ball held on 31st Dec 1816. The Wellington Club became a key part of the Liverpool social scene in the 19th Century as a venue for dancing, drama, and other entertainment. Read more…..

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Liverpool Libraries and the City’s key role in the library movement

#supportliverpoollibraries – use them!

Andrew Carnegie, benefactor of many Liverpool libraries:

‘A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert’

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As Liverpool faces the very real and disturbing prospect of losing up to 11 of its public libraries due to government austery cuts it is worth reflecting on our city’s proud history with regard to library provision.

Timeline of Key Events

1715 – Seamen’s Library opens at the Parish Church of St Peter

1758Circulating library  starts in Princes St, moves to North John St then Lord St 1787

1800Athenaeum Library opened on 1st May

1802Lyceum in Bold St (newsroom and library)

1820 – Mechanics and Apprentices Library on School Lane

1850Public Libraries Act championed by Liverpool MP William Ewart

1852 – 18th Oct Free Public Library opens in Union News Room Duke St

1853 – At a council meeting on 21st Sept Liverpool’s Mayor, Samuel Holme, announced that William Brown had come forward with an offer of £6,000 to build a library and museum if the council would provide a site for it

1855 – Liverpool Improvement Act 15th July allows for work on Shaws Brow/William Brown St to accommodate museum, library

1860 – William Brown Museum and Free Library opened 18th Oct

1875 – Peter Cowell is appointed as Liverpool’s third Chief Librarian and is responsible for commissioning the Carnegie/Shelmerdine libraries

1879 – Picton Reading Rooms opens 8th Oct – named after Sir James Picton who had been chairman of The Museums and Library Committee for 25yrs

1882Bootle Town Hall, Library and Baths opens

1889 Kensington Library opens. Extended 1897

1896Everton Library opened. Closed as library 1998, empty sine 2002. GradeII*

1902Toxteth Branch Library – Gifted and opened by Andrew Carnegie 15th Oct. GradeII Listed

1903Wavertree Library

1905 – Kirkdale Branch Library – Brock St – opened 21st June by Alderman J. N. Stolterfoht – destroyed in The Blitz.

1905Lister Drive Library opened, again funded by Andrew Carnegie – closed 2006. ‘Lister Steps’ now working to restore via lottery funding

1906 – Hornby Library extension to rear of Picton Reading Rooms

1909Garston Library opened, funded by Andrew Carnegie. GradeII

1911Sefton Park Library opened by Andrew Carnegie on 3rd Aug. GradeII

1911 – 23rd Nov Walton Library opens

1914 – Oak Room added to Picton Library

1931Edge Hill (Lodge Lane) Library – closed 2012

1938 – Harold Cohen Library – Liverpool University – opens 21st May

1941 – William Brown Library was hit during The Blitz resulting in over 150,000 books being lost

1957 – 25th June – Queen Mother unveils plaque to mark rebuilding of William Brown Library

1974 – Sydney Jones Library – Abercromby Sq.

2009Toxteth Library becomes the 17th community library in Liverpool to have been refurbished in 10 year period

2012Library closures and reduced opening hours announced

2013 – May 17th – Central Library re-opens after major £50m refurbishment. 23rd Sept – HRH The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward unveils a special plaque, marking the official opening.

Thomas Shelmerdine – architect of many Liverpool Libraries

 #supportliverpoollibraries – use them!

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Time travel on a zip wire……

With the news that thrill seekers are going be offered the opportunity to speed down a zip wire high above Church Street here are few things they may see if they hit a few time warps!

All additions gratefully received!

Timeline for Church St

c1671 – Laid out
1671 – Bridge built across Whitechapel from Lord Sttemp 014 copy
1704 – St Peters Church built
1708 – School Lane in place – Bluecoat
1740 – 45 Parker St/Clayton Sq
1760 – paved
1780 – Dr James Currie lived here – site of TK Max
1782 – Dispensary- corner of Church Alley
1797 – No.40 Original Athenaum opens
1818-  mcadamised
1824 – No. 46 Pantheon Theatre
1828 – Hendersons Dept Store
1829 – No. 46 Liver Theatre – shops from 1850’s
1858 – No.25 – was Elkington’s
1867 – No. 83 – by date on building
1868 – Street widened, burials exhumed from St Peters
1872  -Seels Building
1884  -Bank of Liverpool 84 Church St – later Martins, then Barclays, now Santander
1909 – First UK Woolworths – No.25
1912/14 – Premier Bldgs – now LloydsBank, was Boots
1912/18 – Bon Marche rebuilt, upper floors added 1923ZipWire
1920 – Coopers Bldgs
1922 – Street widened, St Peters demolished
1922-24 – new Woolworths, also Burtons
1924 – widened, and original Athenaeum demolished
1928 – sweep around Parker St corner rebuilt
1930 – 17 Church St – Lloyds Bank, now Vodafone
1951-55  -Spinney House – Littlewoods, now Primark
c1957  – Bunney’s Store demolished, now site of ForeEver21
1960 – Henderson’s rebuilt after tragic fire
1974 – Pedestrianised
1994 – ‘The Great Escape – horse sculpture – removed 2006
2000-  C&A closes – after more than 70yrs

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‘To Demolish or not to Demolish that is the Question’

Heaps Mill – Liverpool

I wonder what Joseph Heap (1762-1833) himself would have thought about the current debate on saving his early-mid-C19 warehouse? I’m sure he would firstly be amazed that it has survived so many years including changes of use, fires, wars, and demolition all around.

AlPacino-Heaps 079 copyNew proposals for demolition and new developments so close to the Liverpool World Heritage site have raised a good level of debate both for and against saving the warehouse complex. The immediate outcome has been the Grade II Listing of the building by English Heritage, and the initial refusal by Planning for demolition.

What do you think? Are we in danger of losing what makes this city different? Should we  just get on with modernising and stop standing still? Are we disrespecting Liverpool’s rich heritage?

Read more here……….

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Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse

Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse – Built 1897 -1901

Whether viewed from the distant St Georges Hill in Everton or from the bascule bridge in its shadow, the Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse is a structure of imposing and bewildering mass.

‘If any single building expresses Liverpool’s role in a great trading network, this is it’ – Storehouses of Empire, English Heritage

Read more here………

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I hope someone is keeping track…..

Boy is there a lot of coming and going around the Church St/Ranelagh/Bold St. junctions and just off. I guess this is the normal ebb and flow in a dynamic city centre such as Liverpool but you do hope someone is keeping an eye on the bigger picture.

We have closures and empty units in the once Waterstones and Argos opposite the boarded up Lyceum on Bold St. There is the row of early period shops just past Parker St to Ranelagh St. On Ranelagh St itself there will soon be an empty Millets (moving across the road), the old Santander on the corner of Cases St. the old Greenwoods, and other empty units on the opposite side of the road.

Of the other currently closed premises there are things in the pipeline. A small Morrison’s supermarket on the corner of Church/Ranelagh which will thankfully take that often changing hands ‘pound type shop’. We have the much welcomed redevelopment of the Clayton Square shopping complex including new units closing off the previous Church St entrance. Smokie Mo’s pub chain taking over the old Spice Spice Indian Restaurant on the corner of Ranelagh/Lime St (will they keep all their other pubs open?). There is of course the considerable and recently recommenced Lewis’s Building development which on paper looks mightily impressive with hotels, retail including a Lidl supermarket, and leisure components.

All this without mentioning the proposed long-term developments all around: Lime St, Mount Pleasant, and Brownlow Hill.

As I say let’s hope some wise souls are keeping an eye on the bigger picture and how all this fits together.

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Liverpool Giants – Memories of August 1914

Memories of August 1914’
Liverpool Giant Spectacular


Check out my snaps of the weekend here  

As Grandma and the Little Girl Giant slowly disappeared from Liverpool’s historic Canning Dock in a French engineered mist, many collective and individual memories would long linger in the minds and hearts of Liverpudlians and visitors alike. Xolo knew that they would be missed, and even the meanest of souls must have been touched by the sight of the Little Girl’s best friend, front paws on the dock railings, peering longingly through the mist as the boat appeared to glide out of port.

My personal plans for following and viewing the Giants as they made an epic journey around Liverpool over the 3 days were jeopardised by a badly timed running injury, which ruled out any cycling and at one point threatened walking the many upcoming miles. With a hop and a skip though I managed, and every sharp pain was more than compensated for by seeing the utter joy of fellow spectators, and the opportunity to take in the heart-warming sights and atmosphere across the city.

Barriers disappeared as strangers engaged in excited conversations……….about Giants! We chatted about the glorious sunshine, our pride in Liverpool, the incredible crowds, the price of ice-cream, train delays, relatives war time memories, real grandmas, the brilliance of the Lilliputians, and yes even Joe Anderson! Visitors were amazed and appreciative of ‘friendly scousers’. I met one London couple on their second journey to their “favourite city”….. “were everyone talks to you”. A recently reunited brother and sister from the Wirral had no qualms about claiming Liverpool as their ‘own’

Of course there have been detractors, but critical self-reflection will no doubt come later, and yes there are lessons to be learned. Let’s make no mistake though, this was Liverpool at its glorious best, showing all who viewed with open eyes what a vibrant, innovative, efficient, welcoming city it is. We had ‘City Stars’ with permanent smiles welcoming and directing visitors to the next hot-spot, we had under-pressure transport workers showing the kind of human-touches that did them such credit. Even G4S staff seemed to drop their guard and engage with people. Liverpool Police officers demonstrated something akin to a true community policing approach, many a smile was evident.

This was indeed a gigantic undertaking, one which would see in excess of 1.25million spectators converge on Liverpool, and the sheer scale of the logistical operation is to be applauded. The speed and efficiency of the clean-up operations alone was highly impressive. Those outlets and businesses which took a proactive approach undoubtedly reaped the benefits, as will the city for many years to come.

This amazing city of ours was displayed, warts in all, in all its glorious diversity. Locals ventured out of their normal domains, sometimes in wonderment, perhaps not always appreciating its diverse richness…”you wouldn’t get me marryin in an arl warehouse”, as one happy couple was doing on the Dock Road. The comments of first-time visitors amongst the 40,000+ who ventured to St Georges Hall just sent shivers of pride down my spine – “what an incredible gem Liverpool has here”. Such extinguished past visitors as Charles Dickens, Henry Morton Stanley, William Gladstone, and of course Lord Derby would have no doubt agreed. I wonder if Grandma knew about the origins of Whitechapel as the bed of the ‘pool’? What would military hero Noel Godfrey Chavasse make of his park as a gallery for viewing the marching Liverpool Pals volunteers?

Newsham Park one of Liverpool’s magical ribbon of parks, dating from 1868, provided the perfect outdoor theatre. I wonder if the visiting Buffalo Bill extravagances of 1891 and 1903 were as dynamic. This was a great demonstration of engaging often under-supported communities, and spreading both the social and economic benefits of such events outside of the city centre. Even a longer than anticipated wait due to Grandma’s neck mishap did not dampen the community spirit. Picnics continued, children were ushered forward to gain a better view, refreshments were shared, and there was even sporadic singing. The assistance of the British Red Cross (North) was greatly appreciated by those struggling in the heat, and gave a small hint back to their much greater heroic efforts in World War One John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, played on a giant record player, soothed the Giants to sleep and the thousands of spectators slowly dispersed ready for the Saturday morning show which promised, and I believed delivered, equal wonders. The efforts of local volunteers in making the park look at its best were well rewarded.

Clarence Dock, dating back to 1830, holds a key part in Liverpool’s mercantile and social history. Some 1,300,000 Irish immigrants passed through the dock in the period 1845-52. It was much later home to the Clarence Dock Power Station and its famous three chimneys. Its mightily impressive graving docks remain, and now a new life as an outdoor drive-in cinema adds to this rich history. I doubt however if it has ever witnessed a show such as that enjoyed again by thousands on the Saturday evening. Giants on buses, drummers on cars, a dancing dog, big big symbols, energetic and expressive Lilliputians, proud veterans, and of course ‘that hug’. The interaction of the crowd both with each other and the magical theatre in front of them was genuinely warm.

Giants_Clarencedock 132 copyCity centre office blocks became the theatre balconies of the street. Roads, historic and relatively new, were filled with expectation, and crowds moved in unison to follow the genius of the giants. Churchill Flyover gave another hint of what could be its future contribution as a ‘promenade in the sky’  The Old Haymarket weigh-scales would surely have strained under the bulk of these Giant bundles. Where else could provide the setting of Chinatown, its magnificent Arch, and The Blackie. The route to Newsham acknowledging the city’s many historic communities and arteries. The image of Nan in her equally giant wheelchair passing the Metropolitan Cathedral, and even giants dwarfed by the magnificance of the Anglican Cathedral. How proud would Sir William Brown have been of the part played by his namesake street? …….and oh if Castle Street only still had its castle! The Three Graces did just that and provided the perfect back-drop. Surely the Liverbirds were for one moment tempted to temporarily fly their roosts and follow the parade! The Strand echoed a roman chariot arena, its broad dimensions coming into its own.

We read that the family unit is no longer as strong as in previous generations, but perhaps under the magical influence of a time-travelling Grandma, here it was evident everywhere. Children on dads’ shoulders, brothers and sisters looking out for each other, mass family picnics in Newsham Park, Nans’ centre stage, generations of the same family sitting on steps and walls in eager anticipation of what was to unfold. Members of my own family migrated back ‘home’ to Liverpool from around the North West and Wales.  This was more than just days out.

My viewing point for the finale was, quite by accident, between the Pumphouse and Canning Dock. A superb morning was enhanced by a few unexpected beers and the temporary frienship of a couple from London, a lady from North Wales and her daughter, a brother and sister from the Wirral, a young G4S steward who originally hailed from Nigeria, and a couple of Scouse lads. We laughed, we chatted, we appreciated, and we all wanted it to happen again – tell me this weekend did not benefit our city and its residents.

The finale was dynamic and allowed many people to view various elements, though some suggesting it fell short of that offered for the previous Giants event in 2012. The site of the brave recruits to the Liverpool Pals and their grieving widows with black umbrellas was poignant, and hopefully refocused all on the underlying sadness of the ‘story’.

Let us again reflect on the commemoration Royal de Luxe came to support, and the sacrifice made by not only the four Battalions of Liverpool Pals but volunteers across the UK. These were real men from real families many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice and endured torrid times. ‘Memories of August 1914’ is just one element of the 14–18 NOW cultural programme and further details can be found at the link. A memorial to the men of the Liverpool Pals is set to be unveiled at Lime St Station on 31st Augustread here 

As Twitter sang to the praises of the city, the organisers, and the creators the BBC produced a smashing range of pages covering the events. Great credit should be given to all of our local media outlets for doing such an upbeat and comprehensive coverage of the Giants in Liverpool.

A TV documentary is scheduled for BBC NorthWest at 19:00 on Tuesday 5th August…I for one will be glued to the box!

The BIG question now of course is will the Giants be back?

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